Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Vegas 2018

A few weeks ago I headed out to Las Vegas for my annual family vacation. After getting stuck overnight in Charlotte I made it to Vegas on Friday morning.

We stayed at Sam's Town this year, which is way off the strip but still a fun hotel/casino with a western theme. After my parents picked me up at the airport we enjoyed lunch together, then spent the rest of the day at the casino, including the buffet dinner with my aunt and uncle. After dinner mom and I had a drink in the center bar where we could see the little light show they put on with animatronic animals.
Waterfalls and fake wildlife in Sam's Town
My dad loves the buffalo games.
Saturday my dad and uncle headed to the Nascar race, while my mom and aunt and I went shopping at the outlet mall. That night I made reservations for us to have dinner at Culinary Dropout at the Hardrock. We all agreed the food was good but it was a little too loud for the old folks' liking, and my uncle actually pulled out his earplugs from the race and stuck them in.

Sunday was another race day, during which mom and my aunt and I went to the Ethel M Chocolate factory to get some chocolate and walk around the cactus garden. Then we drove out to Red Rock Canyon and enjoyed the sights along the 13-mile loop.

Cactus garden at Ethel M

See the red rocks in the background?
 After our drive we stopped at Ikea just for fun, since neither my mom nor aunt had ever been to one. And that night I redeemed myself in the restaurant-picking department by choosing a good Italian place that was much quieter.

Monday we all went to the Neon Museum downtown and enjoyed our informative tour, followed by lunch at the Golden Nugget.

After our time downtown we drove to the Bellagio to see the flower display in the conservatory, but alas they were between displays. So most of the crew went back to our hotel but dad and I stayed on the strip for the rest of the night. We checked out his favorite autograph store at the Shops at the Forum, enjoyed a drink at Margaritaville, played some games at the Flamingo, ate dinner and played some more at the Paris, and played a tad more at MGM. Then we got a ride back to Sam's Town and another margarita and did a little more playing. Had to make that last night really count, you know?

We missed Ryan and Lauren on this trip, but we still had another fun Vegas family vacation.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Christmas in Richmond

I spent Christmas (a month ago...) with family in Richmond. My parents flew out from Santa Fe, and we enjoyed hanging out for a week.

I arrived Sunday evening, in time for a nice Christmas Eve service at my aunt's church. Then we ate our traditional New Mexican Christmas Eve meal of posole and tamales. (And chips and guacamole, of course.) The next morning we opened presents in our pajamas. Then it was on to getting the big meal ready. We had osso bucco, and I made rolls. After Christmas dinner their was music time around the piano singing carols.

The tree! And a fire!

Grandpa sharing a reading before we opened presents.
We were told we couldn't wear jeans for Christmas. So we both wore Sunni's denim skirts...

Other highlights that week included playing Scrabble with Dad at Isley Brewing Company, watching a movie with my parents (and trying to get Dad to actually stay awake), enjoying drinks and dinner with my parents at Fine Creek Brewing, finally getting to eat Mom's biscochito cookies, and several of us visiting the art museum with Grandpa to see the Terracotta Army exhibit.

Concentrating some more.
A terracotta warrior!

Saturday, December 23, 2017


I know Christmas is only two days away, but let me quickly go back and share some pictures from Thanksgiving. Patrick and I flew to Santa Fe for five nights, and had a nice time hanging out with my family. Thanksgiving morning Dad joined us for a Turkey Trot 5k downtown. I ended up only running the first 1.3 miles before pain from my IT band forced me to walk the rest of the way (a result of the marathon I'd run only 1.5 weeks before). Dad, who I thought planned to walk the whole thing, ended up jogging several downhill sections. Overall it was a fun way to start the day. Mom hosted Thanksgiving at our house, and we had a nice meal with relatives and friends.

Friday Patrick and I walked Canyon Road, checking into lots of art galleries along the way. Saturday all four of us visited Bandelier National Monument. It was a beautiful day to be out there!

 We also walked around downtown a lot, visiting the plaza (all lit up for Christmas), the Fine Art Museum, and walking up to the Cross of the Martyrs.

Good times in Santa Fe!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

26.2 in Richmond

Last weekend I ran the Richmond Marathon. I realize I haven't talked about running on the ol' blog for a long while, but I've been doing it. I joined a training group and followed a training program, spending the last many Saturday mornings getting up early to go out to beautiful places around the county and run. My training went pretty well, too. Two weeks before the race I started to worry about some tightness in one of my calves, but other than that I didn't have any injury problems. And with a lot of deep tissue massage the knot in my calf seemed to be almost 100% gone in time for the race.

The morning of the race was freezing. Below freezing in the 20s, to be exact. Patrick went with me to the start, which meant I could keep wearing extra layers to stay warm until the very last minute. Then I shed the sweat pants and fleece vest and sweatshirt and ear warmers just in time to hand them off to him and hop into my wave group.

Trying to stay warm.

Ready to go after shedding a few layers.

The first mile of the race I kept it slow, just like I was supposed to. I heard my coach call out from the sidewalk somewhere in there, which was a nice surprise. The second mile I also kept it relatively slow, per the plan. Gotta start slow and warm up. I also made a quick pit stop at mile two. After that I was supposed to ease into my marathon pace, which was supposed to be 9:25. I wasn't terribly far off from that (i.e., faster than I was supposed to be), but my coach had warned me not to go even 9:23. And I didn't follow that as closely as I should have. I tried to slow down, but it's hard. And I was feeling good, and I think the cold helped me move faster. We ran down Broad and Monument Avenue and Westmoreland and Grove and River Road and across the Huguenot Bridge and along the river on the South Side. It was chilly but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful fall day. I remember enjoying the party stop at mile 13, and there was lots of crowd support as we headed across Lee Bridge and back downtown. Patrick was stationed at the turn onto Main Street at mile 16.5, which was something to look forward to and nice to check in with him briefly as I headed into the last 10 miles. I'd been worried that my calf might act up and I might not even get to finish the race, but this was a chance to let him know things seemed to be going okay. And since he was tracking me he knew I was coming in ahead of schedule. Which didn't last long after that.

At about mile 20 as we headed into the North Side, I started to slow down. My calf was feeling okay but my old IT band problem started to worry me a little. And my hip flexors started to hurt, probably from picking up my speed on all the downhills. I took another pit stop at mile 22. I started to slow down and use the water stops. I think I stopped twice for short walk breaks during the last three miles or so. Everything was feeling pretty painful. I definitely had to use my head more than my body to make myself keep running those last few miles. I was so ready to be done.

I forced myself to push it a little more during that last mile. The race ends with a big downhill toward Brown's Island, but by that point downhills hurt a lot, too. I fought back tears of pain as I made it through the last stretch lined with cheering spectators. I spotted Patrick on the other side of the barrier straight ahead at the end of the street, and looked forward to seeing him again at the end of the finishers' chute (where I was given my medal and a fleece blanket and a finisher's cup) so I could finally hide my face in his chest and cry. I was exhausted and in pain and so glad it was over, and crying felt good.
At the finish line! Finally!
Aunt Judy and Mary found us at that point, and it was really good to see them, too. Apparently they'd been cheering loudly for me at the finish line, but I didn't see them. They were fun spectators and came decked out.

With my silly race fans.

After a short bit I was ready for my finisher's beer. It was still pretty cold out and Aunt Judy pointed out that they had free beer back at the house, but that wasn't the point. Patrick and I each enjoyed a beer while we all listened to live music and I did a little stretching on the grass. Then I was ready to head home and get warm.
Happy finisher.
My goal for the race had been 4:10, and I ended up finishing in 4:16:07. Not too bad, and definitely still a PR after my two Blue Ridge Marathons. Yes, the end really hurt, but it was still a fun race overall and I left a happy marathoner.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A Low Country Labor Day Weekend

A few weeks ago I headed to South Carolina to hang out with Ryan and Lauren and take advantage of the family discount at the resort where they both work. It was a fun long weekend.

I flew down Saturday afternoon and Lauren picked me up from the airport. We drove straight into Savannah, where we walked around with a beer by the river and checked out some craft booths, then ate a good noodle dinner before heading home to Bluffton, SC.

The next day I checked into the resort. They upgraded me to a cottage (instead of a hotel room), which was awesome. I had my own screened in porch, and all the cottages have bikes outside to ride around the property. 
My cottage and bike!

Me on the bike!
View of the river from my screened-in porch.
Overlooking part of the lagoon at the resort. That dark speck in the water was an alligator!
 Since Ryan wasn't working that day we got to hang out. We ate lunch at one of the resort's restaurants, then went kayaking on the river. We saw dolphins!

Afterwards we got cleaned up and joined Lauren (after she got off work) for a holiday oyster roast at the resort. They had steamed oysters plus tons of other food.

Oysters steaming over a fire with a five-story tree house in the background.


Say cheese!
The roast was next to the river, so while eating and drinking we also got to take in really pretty views.

Sunset moon over the river.

When I actually ate my cotton candy a stranger lady took a picture of me. Awkward.
Monday I slept in and enjoyed my cottage, then biked over to lunch and explored some more of the resort. I went kayaking again, only this time on the lagoon side so I could see alligators. Sure enough, I saw two: one on the bank of the lagoon, and another in the water not too far from me. I stopped paddling for a while just to hang out with him. There were also a ton of neat birds to see. Afterwards I biked over to the pool and read.

Ruins of the mansion that once stood on what is now the "village green."

One of the three pools.

That night after Ryan was off work he and I went into downtown Bluffton to walk around and eat dinner. When he dropped me back off at the resort I stopped by the s'mores cart and roasted a marshmallow before hopping back on my bike and heading to my cottage for the night.

Tuesday I went for a run, then got in a little more pool time before meeting up with Ryan and Lauren for lunch in Bluffton. After lunch I hung out with Ryan a bit and said goodbye to his dog Tess at their house before going back to the resort to pack up and check out.

One of the "canine ambassadors" in the lobby of the resort when I checked out.
On the way to the airport Ryan and I drove through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and looked for alligators. We saw two. We got out to look at one, but when Ryan made "mating noises" at it and he clearly turned toward us, we booked it back to the car.

Hard to see, but the dark spot in the middle of the murk was an alligator.
It was a quick trip but good to see Ryan and Lauren, and fun to hang out at the resort!

(P.S. They ended up evacuating out of South Carolina the next weekend due to Irma, so I saw them again in Virginia. Two weekends in a row with them is unheard of!)