Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Run with Scenery

So running in and around San Francisco is going to kill me.  The elevation changes are so much more than I'm used to experiencing.  And there seems to be a lot more "off-road" running here -- complete with loose sand, stairs, etc.  Today's run included what is apparently referred to as a "sand ladder".  

Sorry for the iPhone pics, made even worse because it seems to get foggy when I carry it in my hand while running.  And I forgot the belt I can use to carry it.  

I guess the views make it all worth it! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

FMM: What If?

Quiet weekend -- I blame my boss.  He recommended we watch House of Cards and on Friday night, we decided to give it a shot.  Well, way too many episodes later, the weekend is over and I have to go back to work.  We are going to California tomorrow for big vacation number 2 and I haven't even started to pack.  Didn't even get out my suitcase...  Oops.  Guess it's going to be a late night tonight, especially since I'm expecting today will be very busy at work.  The only other things I did this weekend were run 13 miles and have a friend over for breakfast and to see our Europe pictures.  The run was a mess.  The slowest 13 miles I've done in more years than I can count.  I rolled my ankle on Wed and therefore took several days off from exercise.  The ankle is still swollen and actually seems to be bruising.  Ugh.  But the good news is that there is no pain when I'm walking or running, as long as my foot is on a level surface.  It hurts like crazy if I touch it or if my ankle rolls outward at all.  Not good since I'm supposed to do my first trail race ever while we're in California -- a half marathon in Muir Woods.  Oh well, hopefully a couple more days will make it get better. 

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

What If?
1. If you had something in your teeth would you want someone to tell you, or would you prefer to figure it out on your own?  I'd prefer to be told, but if for example, I were in my boss's office explaining what I want to do with a case and he said something, I have no idea what I'd do -- I guess excuse myself and go find a mirror?  That would be a waste of his time and I guess I can see why it would be easier not to say anything...  But I'd rather my secretary caught me in the hall before I even walked in there! 

2. If you had to listen to one song on repeat all day today, which song would you choose?  I like that song "Over and Over" by Nelly and Tim McGraw.  I'm not a huge music person, but for some reason, when I think of a song playing on repeat, playing over and over, that's the song that comes to mind of course, and I like it enough to hear it over and over today. 

3. If you could trade places with someone famous, with whom would you trade?  I don't particularly want to trade places with anyone.  Angelina Jolie?   Sure, she gets to travel a lot but she has all those kids and those funny looking lips.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg?  She's older and I can't imagine that would be fun, and she probably has a lot of pressure on her.  Hillary Clinton?  I couldn't handle the criticism.  Norah Jones I guess.  She has a pretty voice and while I have a general idea of what she looks like, she probably doesn't get recognized a ton in public. 

4. If you could speak another language fluently, which one would you speak?  Well, I am already fluent in Italian and French.  If I could pick another, I guess I'd go with Chinese or Arabic since either of those would be hard to learn, especially since I've worked on Chinese for about a year and I seem to be tone-deaf, which is most unfortunate with that language...

5. If you could read one person’s mind right now whose would you choose?  My boss!  I'd love to know what things I do bug him or could be done better.  He doesn't give a lot of criticism, which makes me feel good that I'm generally doing well, but I'd love to improve.  He's a VP, so it would also be interesting to see what the difference is to get one more step up the chain. 

6. If you were forced to go back in time, which period of your life would you choose?  It might be fun to go back to early elementary school?  I don't remember worrying about anything then!  I'm quite content where I am, but it would also be fun to go back to the semester that I studied in Italy in college and the summer I backpacked in Europe.  And going back to when I had first started dating and living with my husband would be nice -- maybe I could set some solid expectations early about dishwasher loading.  Haha! 

7. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?  Amazing Race.  I've never actually watched the show, but people have recommended it and I think I'd like it. 

8. If you had to give up twitter or Facebook, which would you choose?  Easy, twitter, since I've never used it!  I also went off FB on 1-1-13 (new year's resolution to stop wasting time on crap like that), but my profile is still there so my pics are still there and I can look up contacts if necessary. 

9. If you could have a present today, what would you want?  A gift card to cover the check for dinner for four on Thursday night at The French Laundry, with a few hundred dollars to cover some great wine too preferably! 

10. If you had to choose between celebrating Halloween or Christmas, which would you choose?  Christmas for sure.  Can't believe it's coming so soon.  I've only shopped for one person so far! 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments! Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Struggling with it all

Short post. 

Still alive.

Buried at work.

Went running and to boot camp for a whopping week after we came back from Europe, things felt like they were getting better.  Saw my paces begin to drop back into the "easy" run range (though it still didn't feel easy, at least I was sustaining it, which was more than I could say before). 

Rolled my left ankle yesterday at boot camp (height differential in a sidewalk that I was standing on to do high knees).  Ugh.  It's swollen and it hurts, but it seems somewhat better today and will hopefully be back to normal after another couple days. 

Cannot believe we are going out of town again on Tuesday.  Heading to San Fran for the first time as a couple (actually, I think hubby's first time ever, but I'm not sure).  We're going to stay until Sunday night.  Woot!

No idea how I will ever get caught up at work, even though I'm going to work from California. 

I feel like new lawsuits are coming in at an unprecedented rate. 

The day before I rolled my ankle, I'd just registered for a half marathon in California that I was dying to do on trails, but now of course I'm not certain I'll be able to run it. 

My work clothes are uncomfortably tight and I haven't lost any weight since we've been back, and I think I've actually gained.

The weight is going to get worse in Cali.  We have trips planned for wine tasting and to one of the (if not THE) best restaurants in the country. 

The house is a mess -- clutter, packing/unpacking, disorganized, leaking garbage disposal, clogged shower drain.  And a little star on the windshield of my car (hit by a rock kicked up by the vehicle in front of me on the highway) and it will certainly result in a huge crack any day now. 

Credit card is on fire.  I am adamantly opposed to carrying a balance, but between a couple thousand dollars spent in Europe, hubby's birthday present (purchased immediately before we left), and that upcoming Cali trip, yikes, I hope I find a money tree immediately.  And now the holidays are on the horizon! 

Fortunately, when we drop a cool G on dinner at that restaurant, we are going with my brother and his wife and we've decided the dinner will count as a mutual exchange of Christmas gifts.  But I still have a bunch of other brothers and family and I love picking out things to give friends and family...

But I know I can't really complain.  The ankle will heal.  Gaining weight (or inches) from trips to Europe and wine country is hardly worth complaining about.  I have a good job and will manage to pay my bills.  And eventually, I'll get counsel on all these new lawsuits and things will calm down (or things will stay crazy busy and some of my cases will be reassigned to someone else here to manage my workload). 

Big sigh.  More blog neglect definitely on the horizon!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Friend Makin’ Mondays: A New Season

I'm slowly getting caught up and hope to post more about our lovely vacation later this week.  But this weekend I was asked several times about the highlights.  For me, the highlight was definitely a gondola ride in Venice.  While I'd been to the city several times, I'd never done a gondola ride before, and it was so wonderful and romantic.  Other experiences in contention for trip highlights -- Neuchwanstein castle in Germany, Oktoberfest, and of course the marathon PR. 

But like I said, hopefully after I get my workload under control (maybe Wednesday?), I'll post more.  But for now, it's Monday and I might as well get back to my Monday routine!

Friend Makin’ Mondays: A New Season

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

A New Season
1. What is your favorite thing about Fall? I love the cooler weather for running.  Here in Dallas, while we have some freak very cold and very warm mornings in the Fall, generally you can run in shorts with long sleeves or short sleeves.  You can run faster and it just feels so good.

2. It’s not Fall until… I go to the State Fair.  So I guess Fall isn't coming this year.  The fair ended this past weekend (we were in Europe for the first few weekends) and we didn't make it.  The weekend was just too busy since we have our other vacation of the year coming up next week actually (very poor planning on my part!).  Usually I do the duo-Fall celebration of a local Oktoberfest, then the Fair and that means it's really Fall -- and I usually start Christmas shopping then. 

3. Apple cider or hot chocolate?   I like both a lot. If I had to choose, right now I'd pick hot apple cider since that seems like more of a morning drink. 

4. Share a happy Fall memory.  Going to the State Fair with my parents when they've come to visit.  The first time I tried fried butter was with them.  If only that day hadn't happened and I never knew the goodness that is fried butter (if only I'd been content to just think it sounded kind of gross)... well, at least I saved those calories and artery-clogging by skipping the fair this year. 

5. Do you have any hobbies that are seasonally specific? If so, what are they?  My main hobby is definitely running, and peak marathon season has traditionally been from about Sept. 20 until about Dec. 20 -- the main window for Boston-qualifying races back in th day before Boston filled up in less than a day or had a rolling admission plan.  So marathon season is kind of specific (though there really are great marathons year-round), but no other seasonal hobbies. 

6. What do you miss most about Summer now that it’s officially over?   The easy clothing choices that go with summer running.  Heck, easy clothing choices in general -- for work and play -- since the weather is 100% predictable.  It's a pain to run and realize you've made poor clothing choices for the weather. 

7. Do you prefer pumpkin pie or pecan pie?  Pumpkin.  I'm allergic to nuts so pecan isn't an option.  If the other choice had been apple, that would have been a tougher call.  I actually hated pumpkin pie growing up and didn't start to like it until sometime in the last ten years or so. 

8. Do you suffer from allergies?  Yes.  The worst of the allergy season in Dallas is wrapping up for me fortunately. 

9. How do you celebrate Halloween?   The last 4 or so years, I've gone to my friends' house to go trick-or-treating with her and my godson while her husband stayed home to hand out candy.  But this year, we'll be enjoying Halloween with dinner at what is frequently considered to be the best restaurant in the country! 

10. What is the biggest change that you expect to experience during this season?  Hmmm, no real changes expected.  I guess the biggest changes are travel experiences.  This fall included a first trip to Liechtenstein for me, and first time to share experiences with hubby in Germany and Venice, and next week, wine country! 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments! Happy Monday, friends. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alive and Back!

Just a quick post to indicate that against my better judgment, I have returned from vacation.  Hubby gained NINE pounds!!  He was saying in Venice one night toward the end of his trip that he felt too fat to untie his shoes.  I told him I was too fat to help from a standing position, but maybe if I laid on my stomach on the bed, I could reach them. 

While I didn't really gain weight (maybe a few pounds, but certainly less than five; kind of hard to tell since my weight always gets jacked up before a marathon), I definitely lost fitness.

It seems hard to go on a vacation that includes running a marathon (a PR and re-Q no less) and actually lose fitness, but trust me, it's possible.  We were away for just over 2 weeks after the marathon was over, and that entire time felt like Thanksgiving.  Eating and drinking non-stop.

Sure, we walked a lot in some of the cities.  My walking was limited in Munich because of that whole post-race soreness thing that took several days to resolve.  And my walking was limited in Nicastro, Italy where my husband's extended family lives because we don't go sight-seeing there. 

But hours and hours of leisurely walking are not going to maintain fitness for a person who a few weeks earlier was logging 40-50ish miles of running per week, as well as at least a couple boot camp classes per week.  Actually, if I'd been eating like a sane person, maybe it would have been fine. 

But instead, I went crazy with beer at Oktoberfest, and then we are essentially force-fed the entire time we're with hubby's family. 

I can't really blame Oktoberfest and his family though. 

When we finally left Lamezia and flew to Venice, we were talking on the plane about what we wanted to eat that day in Venice.  We both said that the only thing that sounded good were great big salads.  So what did we do when we got to Venice?  Found a restaurant that looked good, and each ordered an antipasto course, a pasta course, and a second course.  And THEN we walked around to find a gelateria that looked like it had good choices and there we had dessert.  And let me tell you, I've never ordered a single pallone of gelato in Italy and I certainly wasn't going to start now!  Ugh...

My clothes are so tight they leave marks on me.  My work in-box is out of control with over 100 messages needing attention.  There is a huge stack of mail to go through.  The house is all dusty and hot.  I am out of breath after a single flight of stairs.  My personal email inbox has lots of messages awaiting responses.  I don't think I could run 5 miles at marathon pace right now, and I'm not entirely sure about my ability to run 5 miles at an easy pace either.  I'm so jet-lagged that we were in bed at 5:30 last night (and correspondingly, I was up at 12:30, went back to sleep, and was then awake at 2 a.m. for good today!).  We have massive piles of laundry to do. 

But I wouldn't trade it for the world!  I love being gone so long we can't remember the alarm code for the house or any of the passwords to log-in to computers! 

Right now, it's 2:00.  My goal for the afternoon is to work on 3 cases (2 new ones, 1 old), and to try to stay awake until at least 7:00 tonight. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

China recap: Zhujiajiao

Since we spent a fair amount of time in Shanghai because I wanted to visit my friends who live there, we thought we should try to squeeze in time for a day trip to one of the nearby water towns.  After reading about them, we figured Zhujiajiao would be friend.

Fortunately, our friends were able to join us for the day.  We all drove out together (the four of us and their 8 year old son), and then since she had a board meeting that evening, her company sent a car to pick her up after lunch, while the rest of us stayed for the rest of the day.

One of the weirdest things was after our friend Frances had left to work.  We wandered and ended up getting lost.  And our friend, born and raised in China, lived in the US about 7 years for law school and some work, and living back in Shanghai for 7 years, couldn't ask for directions.  There were local people on the street, but he said he couldn't speak to them since they were older and didn't speak Chinese.  He had tried a couple times but they didn't understand him.  As he's a lawyer and works for one of the biggest firms in the world, I'm confident his Chinese is very, very good, but it was as useless as our English.  So interesting! 

Anyway, some pictures from the day trip to Zhujiajiao: 

Men out fishing: 

A very crowded tourist street: 

Inside one of the temples: 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

China recap: breakfasts

I believe all our hotels in China included breakfast, though I'm not sure about the one in Yichang, since we had a very early departure and were gone long before any breakfast would have been served.  And the hotel in Chongqing was pretty gross -- if breakfast was offered, I don't think we would have gone, but either way, we had no way of communicating with the staff so we had no idea if there was breakfast included or not. 

The hotel breakfasts were all set up as buffets, so most mornings for me featured about 3 plates of food, sometimes more.  I am a big believer in eating a good amount in the morning, particularly when traveling.  I love having the entire morning and even part of the traditional lunch hour where I don't have to feel like I'm in search of food. 

The biggest things I noticed about the breakfast buffets were 1. there were steamed buns, and 2. the Asian guests tended to eat a variety of cold vegetables and slaws that reminded me of a salad bar.

So here are some breakfast photos from our trip. 

Fun fruits and a cheese sandwich (Crowne Plaza, Beijing):

Mmm, steamed buns (Crowne Plaza, Beijing)!

Yes, this was breakfast, tofu, veggies, noodles, fruit (Crowne Plaza, Beijing):

A more familiar breakfast course, a mix of cereals (Crowne Plaza, Beijing):

Waffles, this was at the Crowne Plaza in Beijing, again, so plenty of Americans to enjoy them:

Another Beijing hotel breakfast including plenty of cheese this morning (Crowne Plaza, Beijing):

A final Beijing breakfast -- more steamed buns, adding a veggie sushi roll to the mix (and my pile of vitamins) (Crowne Plaza, Beijing):

Steamed buns (Beijing Crown Plaza):

Beijing again, this time with some of the bread products, and cheese and buns (Crowne Plaza, Beijing):

An interesting combination (Crowne Plaza, Beijing): 
 A very brown plate -- but one of the best croissants au chocolat I've ever had outside of Paris (Portman Ritz Carlton, Shanghai):

Another morning, another croissant au chocolat ... (Portman Ritz Carlton, Shanghai):

This had to be a second course because there's no chance I only had cereal (Portman Ritz Carlton, Shanghai): 

Loved the slices of cheese for breakfast, it was like a dream.  From the placemats, appears to be Crowne Plaza, Beijing: 

Waffles and a mushroom-vegetable mix (and an Asian pear to take along on our trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu that day) (Crowne Plaza, Beijing): 

Another plate of fruit, one for hubby also.  I swear, we were only in Beijing about 4 or 5 nights, I just had lots and lots of courses of breakfast, and I was also very into taking breakfast photos at that point, since it all seemed so different (Crowne Plaza, Beijing): 

We got to the breakfast buffet kind of late in Xi'an and there weren't tons of options along the "Western" breakfast variety -- pretty much just the pancakes and I took the last two.  The "Asian" breakfast options were plentiful (Huashan Mountain International Hotel, Xi'an):

Dessert for breakfast, why not (really, is it that different from a chocolate croissant?)  (Huashan Mountain International Hotel, Xi'an): 

Cereal and some interesting dried fruit  (Huashan Mountain International Hotel, Xi'an): 

Breakfast on the boat, probably the least enjoyable of the trip (Presidential Cruises, Chongqing): 
One difference I noticed on the second half of our trip (on the cruise and at the Portman Ritz Carlton, in Shanghai) -- we received silverware and had to request chopsticks.  The beginning of the trip was the opposite (silverware was by request only).  I'm glad my mom taught us to use chopsticks when we were growing up!  We didn't have Asian food very often (chop suey is one of the only things I remember), but it has proven to be a useful skill.