Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year in Review

2010 began without my ritual cleanse. Foolish, I know. Typically, I cleanse the month of January. I was distracted last year.
My first trip, I went to Taos, New Mexico. Normally, I bypass Taos and and spend my time in Santa Fe. I went snowboarding which was stellar and dined at Joseph's Table. Loved that restaurant and thoroughly loved snowboarding.
A week later, Shari and I drove down to Santa Fe to breathe. We met Melody, ate at Coyote Cafe and enjoyed the scenery.
Trip #3 was spent in Seattle. I flew in, Michaela picked me up and we met Jean downtown. Finally, I met her brother Mark. I have known Jean since 97 and this is the first time I have met one of her brothers. We went wine tasting at Woodinville. I would recommend Efeste and Matthews. I watched her son play basketball and it brought back a plethora of memories. Michaela drove back to Eugene and Shari and I toured Pike's Market, How to Cook a Wolf, Ballard and Restaurant Zoe. Seattle was awesome.
NYC was trip #4. Stunning-food friendly-amazing trip. I dined at Daniel, Bar Boulud, Pizzeria Motorino and L'Ocanda Verde. Food was the focal point, but I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, all over Midtown and dined with Muni. Central Park offered live music, people watching and a glimpse of Law & Order--Criminal Intent. I have always been a Jeff Goldblum fan and had I been a little closer, I could have reached out and touched him. New York became too much food and too little time....
Santa Fe was trip number five. I received bodywork from Melody and dined at two new restaurants. Plus, I went running in the city for the first time ever.
Jan visited me for trip number six. We did an insane amount of touristy things and spent the night in Manitou Springs at the Avenue Bed and Breakfast. I think Jan enjoyed her time in Denver. The weather was perfect and I did show her all of my favorite spots--Elway's, Solera, Fruition, Falling Rock, the Bull...yes, life was grand in addition to the tourist spots Denver has to offer.
July offered my first passport stamp in two years. Overdue, but so worth it. I spent a week in the Bahamas with Shar and company. Shar is Canadian and I met her while traveling in Chile. Lovely lady and a gracious hostess. I hope to return 2011 or 2012.
August offered San Francisco. I love it there. I toured Napa, stayed in Healdsburg and ate at Cyrus. Cyrus was lovely, but no French Laundry. I sampled fare at Scopa, too, and that was fantastic. Intimate space and great food.
September is birthday month. Indecisive about how to celebrate, I convinced Sara Jo that we should do something. We drove down to Manitou Springs and toured the town after a day hike at Matthew Winters Park and lunch in the Tech Center.
October was challenging. I had made plans to visit my dad and Dori a week before my cousin invited me to his wedding in SLO. And, I had made my friends agree to sign up for the Healdsburg 1/2 Marathon over Halloween Weekend. So, I flew to Kansas City and spent two days with my dad and Dori. I ran in the crazy humidity and we had pints at a cute Irish Pub in Weston.
The SLO wedding was beautiful. Unfortunately, I was the only cousin, in attendance on my cousin's side of the family. I spent Sunday in Paso Robles which was delightful. I found Four Vines Winery which was heavenly and bought a sandwich.
Post Santa Barbara trip, I flew out to San Francisco to meet three of my friends to run a 1/2 Marathon. Amazing trip full of laughter, food and wine. I have proof too. Shari made me and my friends a commemorative DVD displaying all of the wine we drank.
November was somewhat lame. I did spend a night at the Broadmor which was an experience in itself. I still have trouble believing that the Broadmor is in the Springs.
Deember 5th--Vegas Marathon--enough said.
And no year would be complete without a trip for xmas. Hello, Key West. Different but in a good way. I needed a beach vacation and Key West was perfect. Eclectic, kooky, what have you. Ideal for me.
Next year, I hope to do 12 trips but 2-3 of them requiring a passport stamp. Ironically, I need to renew my passport by July. Fun times, indeed.
2010 was awesome. I found that I could be motivated by running, travel and food. Next year, I hope to choose a city based on the restaurant. Maybe San Diego. Or, New Orleans. I think they are both foodie friendly right?

Dining experiences of 2010












I wanted to reflect on some of the incredible meals of 2010. A few years ago I got sucked into the 25 things of me on facebook but instead of writing random facts of my life, I focused on meals.
Every now and then I go back through the list and recognize that I am fortunate and have eaten some amazing meals. It sort of inspired me to consider my top five of 2010. I even considered doing a decades top list, but in reality, I would have a hard time thinking about 2000-2002. Sort of like the Dark Ages, I think.
It is hard to whittle down the list of awesomeness to five. It is difficult since I have had many lovely dining experiences this past year.
However, if asked, this is how it would work out.
Top 5
Daniel--NYC--April
ZuZu--Napa--October
How to Cook a Wolf--Seattle--February
Bouchon--Las Vegas--December
Restaurant Martin--Santa Fe--May
Of course there are others that should be in the top five but based on dining companion or some other small factor, they were edged out.
Restaurant Martin is one of Martin Rios's places in Santa Fe, NM. I visited Santa Fe in May and convinced my friend, Melody, to check out this place and Max. I liked Max, but we were the only diners and the bottle of wine I ordered was cooked. After I explained that to the server and requested a different bottle of wine, he either didn't believe me or care. Frustrated with the service is why Max was not included on my list. The food was excellent, though.
I liked Restaurant Martin for the food and the family aspect. While I waited for Melody to arrive I chatted up a little girl. She was the chef's daughter and mentioned that she loved helping with the desserts. She told me that she had made some of the desserts the previous day. It was endearing, I guess.
We shared wine and ate the orzo pasta, chile mac and cheese and scallops--I think. Santa Fe is a food haven--Geronimo, Cowboy Cafe, Pasqual's, O Eating House, La Boca, Horseman's Haven, etc...too many options. I try to go there twice a year. 2010, I made it.
Bouchon. Well, I heart Thomas Keller and as much as I love the French Laundry, I have only dined there once due to availability. It is a rarity to dine there more than once a year unless you either have a hook-up or a lot of cabbage to spend there. I like to spread my trips around and dine other places, too. Still, I can always enjoy Bouchon--either in Napa or Vegas. This year, I dined in Vegas, post-marathon with Shari, Brett and Pete. The extravaganza began with champagne, the cheese and charcuterie board. Pete ordered the roast chicken, Brett tried the steak Bouchon and Shari and I shared the scallops. I insisted on sides (typical). Mac and cheese, brussel sprouts and squash. The meal was enjoyable and special since I had completed the Vegas Marathon and still felt euphoric.
How to Cook a Wolf is located in Seattle, the Queen Anne District. Shari and I spent Brian's celebration dinner there. First, though, we illegally drank Matthews Wine on the Pier near the Pike Market. A cop rolled up and I felt, for sure, that we were going to get a citation for open container. My mind always goes to the worst possible scenarios.
We sat at barside and enjoyed the eclectic atmosphere and food--hamachi crudo salad and pasta with pork and cauliflower. I enjoyed the dishes and dessert and raved about the coffee. Sometimes, that is all it takes, for me, to love a restaurant. The coffee factor.
Plus, that dinner was special for us. We were celebrating Brian's life, his love of food and friendship. Wherever I am, for the rest of my life, dinner on 2/28 will forever be in my top 5 yearly list.
Zu Zu, Napa Valley. Tapas delight! Post Healdsburg Half marathon, some wine tasting, World Series Game 3 at Russian River, and multiple laughs, we (Goddess, Sara Jo and Sipper) walked to Zu Zu. Initially, I had wanted to celebrate our victory at Bouchon but they were booked solid til 10:30. I knew that that was no longer an option for dinner. And, we would have had to hire a driver to get us to and from Yountville which also wasn't inviting. I checked out Zu Zu, called to make sure that we didn't need reservations and sold the idea to my friends. It worked. That was a meal. I think we tried everything on the menu. It was awesome. Basically, we created our own courses, accompanied with wine and b.s.'d the entire experience. A truly fantastic experience with special friends. I hope we can meet up, again, do a 1/2 Marathon and find another fantastic restaurant. I know that I loved the octopus, chilaquiles and flat iron steak.
My top experience of 2010 occurred at Daniel, NYC. First of all, I met him, right when I walked into the bar area. He was gracious, sweet and approachable. He offered me a cocktail and so I tried a white cosmo which was garnished with an orchid. Exquisite.
The food was amazing. My friend, Mark, is the pastry chef. My experience quadrupled as a result of him working there. I toured the restaurant and got a behind the scenes look at what it would be like to work there.
I met Daniel--did I mention that? And, when I asked for the bill, it had been taken care of. Talk about freaking awesome. I loved the cranberry lychee dessert. Pretty to look at, too. I would love to return to check out more the food options. That dining experience was incredible.
I think of all of my other meals--fresh lobster in the Bahamas with Shar, Erik and Simon that they had speer fished. That definitely rates as a wonderful experience. Or, my entire weekend in Napa with the girls. Any of those meals could have been on my top list because we all, equally, enjoyed the food/wine/conversation.
Or, when Jan visited me in Denver. For once, I acted like a tourist showing her the Botannic Gardens, Red Rocks, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Broadmor and not to mention the food we ate while she visited.
Did you notice that I didn't mention one restaurant in Denver which is also a tragedy. I think I talk about Elway's, Solera, Fruition, ad nauseum and so I didn't include them in my official list. But, in reality, they are special places in my life that I frequent regularly and am rarely disappointed with the experience. I have joined Steve and Pocketsize on numerous occasions and had splendid food and conversation.
I didn't even consider Mexican restaurants. That is tragic, too....when I travel out of the country or stateside, that is the first food that I crave. I love chips and salsa.
I know there are things that I left out in considering this list, but feel confident, that these were the right decisions. Food continues to be a huge factor in determining travel, for me. 2011 intrigues me and what I discover along the course of that year. I know that I will be heading to Belize in February and Italy, in May. I have never been to that mecca of food/wine, but cannot wait to experience it for myself.
Any suggestions on must do places are appreciated. I am travel friendly and willing to try just about any food genre as long as there is wine available. Enjoy your day and stay warm.....I am off to enjoy lunch with Sara Jo. Hoping that wine is in my future.....

Wine sail
















I hustled to the shuttle. I made sure that I would be able to change and get on the next departing shuttle scheduled to leave in 15-20 minutes.
The wind and wine sail was scheduled to leave the dock at 4:30. Since I was unsure of where I was supposed to be, I left on the 3 pm shuttle to make sure I had ample time to be lost if that happened.

I brought a book, grabbed a coffee and headed to the boat district. I found the check in point, immediately, but no one was manning the station. There were three to four other tourists milling around and so I sat on the ledge, opened my book and kept to myself. Eventually, this older couple and I started up a conversation. We were alone, still, and uncertain about whether or not the sail was going to happen since no crew had surfaced yet.
About 4:15ish, a guy shows up to check people in. We make our way down to the sail boat and I sit by Connie and David--the couple that I had been sitting by on the dock.
All, in all, I think the sail boat had twenty people and three crew members. The Captain, Brian, seemed friendly enough and then there was Kelly, the sommelier who didn't really know what wine she was serving, and Christian.
Kelly explained that they offered eight different wines and suggested if we didn't like one--just pour it off the side of the boat. Why suffer through a bad wine?
We began with champagne and then I moved on to red wine. They had a cabernet, a merlot, a red blend and a pinot. I had little interest in any of the whites and by this point, I had befriended Christian who took an interest in keeping me with wine. He was Argentinian and I mentioned that I was bummed that they didn't have a carmenere or malbec at least?
The next time he came around, he had found a bottle of Chilean Cabernet and opened it for me. I loved the wine sail. Absolutely loved the wine sail. The sunset was gorgeous and afterwards, I had dinner with Connie and David at Mangia Mangia. A win-win since I enjoyed our conversation and the food was lovely, too.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thursday spent in the Keys

Thurdsay morning, I took the shuttle to the Butterfly Reserve. Conveniently it was the second stop of the shuttle service too. Talk about door to door service.
I entered the Reserve and paid the $12 fee. It was lovely. I was there for about 25 or 30 minutes, completely, at peace with the surroundings. I took a boatload of photos and considered returning to explore during the afternoon.
I walked around the "southernmost" part of Key West. Near the beach, Hemenway's house, Louie's Backyard and several hotels. I wanted to check out Louie's Backyard to consider it as a dinner option. And, it was. I definitely believed that I would be dining there while in the Keys.
I walked up Simonton towards Trueman. I wanted to buy a book and the concierge told me there was a bookstore on Trueman called Bare Assets. In hindsight, I should have thought about the name of the store before committing to a walk there.
However, the walk provided more discovery of Key West. I began to feel familiar with the surrounding areas. As I approached Bare Assets, I understood the name. I couldn't believe the female concierge would send me to that adult shop.
Across the street, I found a bargain bookstore. The clerk was knowledgeable about restaurants and after buying one book and trading in the other, I found Sandy's Cuban Shop. The clerk suggested it as a great lunch spot or even, only coffee.
Sandy's was a walk up restaurant conveniently attached to a laundromat. Kinda funny, but I sensed that the food was amazing. Fantastic coffee and I decided, then, to return for a few more visits.
Unfortunately, xmas intervened and I was only able to grab a coffee on christmas eve.
I didn't have plans for dinner that evening or any sort of set schedule. My friend, Jenny, mentioned a sunset wine cruise. She knows that I love wine and felt this would be right up my alley. Still, I was undecided about whether or not it would be a good option for me.
I walked up Duval St and stumbled into a wine shop. Vino's on Duval which had recently opened and incredibly cute.
I met the owner, Clayton, and we discussed travel, food and wine. Somehow, he sensed how much I needed to use a lap top and generously allowed me to use his. I drank a few glasses of wine and relaxed. Vino's on Duval was an excellent find and another reason that I prefer traveling, solo. I am not forced to hold a concrete schedule or justify why I want to have a glass of wine mid-afternoon.
Moreover, I meet a bunch of people--always--and for the most part, we become friends and it expands my travel destination opportunities due to the friendship.
My afternoon was successful and pleasant. I wandered into Martin's and sampled the lobster bisque. Extremely rich. I had a few bites and then ran to make the shuttle back to the hotel. I wanted to shower/change before the sunset wine sail. I knew that my window of opportunity to do that was closing.

Monday, December 27, 2010




I arrived in Key West at 9:30 am.
I had been traveling since midnight and although I enjoyed that particular departure, I was unable to sleep or rest. I had a 3+ hour layover in Miami which I found to a dreadful airport. Really, I prefer the airport in Vegas. There seems to be more brightness/positivity there. Or, maybe I like the food options. Who knows? All I know was that I couldn't wait to get back on the plane and out of Miami.
I walked off the plane and into the Key West Airport. It was small and reminded me of the airport in Santa Barbara. I knew that my return flight would go smoothly due to location and size.
I considered taking a cab to the hotel inspite of the fact that I knew I was near my hotel. I asked the porter how much, approximately, the fare would be to the Double Tree. The guy said, well, you could walk. All you do is take a left and walk up the boulevard. I agreed with him and wanted to enjoy the sunshine.
Key West was amazing. Stunning. Even from the airport.
I headed towards my hotel, praying, that I would find a sympathetic clerk. I prayed (silently) that they would allow me to check in at 9:30ish instead of waiting til 3 pm. I dreamed of a shower, a bed, a nap.
I found a bathroom, freshened up and returned to the front desk. Eureka! The clerk let me check in. He said, and I quote---Yes, I will be nice and let you check in early.
The room was fine. My balcony overlooked the parking lot which I wasn't impressed with, but really, the fact that I was able to check in made all in the difference in the world to me.
I showered, considered a nap, but, opted to explore the town. I took the shuttle to the downtown area. My friend, Jenny, had supplied me with a bunch of restaurants to check out. I had written down directions, pre-trip, to most of the places that I was interested in. I walked towards Pepe's. Jenny had mentioned that the breakfast there was great. I noticed an internet cafe and inquired about rates. The hotel service was awful. Slower than wall paper drying is how I would describe that service. Free, but sucked. I used it but only when necessary.
Pepe's was packed. I sat at the bar between a couple that was traveling, and three locals. The bartender was attentive. He filled my water numerous times and was somewhat friendly. The couple next to me had been to Key West several times and had their favorite places and bartenders, it seemed, from their conversation.
The one local guy reminded me of a few of my regulars. They know everything and want to tell newcomers what to taste, drink or eat. He annoyed me right off the bat and I turned my body away from him to create space.
The girl seated next to him was equally annoying. I was trying to ask the couple questions about their travels and she kept interjecting with--Oh, I've done that, or I am only 44 but consume 12oo calories a day to lose weight. Good for you, but still not helping me out. I paid my tab and decided to walk around Duval St.
I stopped into Two Friends restaurant, eventually, to look at my map and use their bathroom. I found that there were not many options to use facilities outside of restaurants. Many shops to walk through, but few bathrooms available.
The bartender at Two Friends was excellent. She was user friendly and nice. She mentioned a bottle shop where I would be able to find great wine for good prices. In addition, she mentioned a place to watch the sunset, numerous restaurants and other bars to check out. Yes, I liked her.
Afterwards, I considered taking the shuttle back to my hotel, but felt, I could walk. Why not? It is only 3.5 miles. However, that was a long 3.5 miles somehow. Maybe I was tired. Some of the areas were nice; while, others were sketchy. Seedy, even.
I made it back and took a nap. I needed it.
I woke up and saw that it was night and noticed the amazing moon. Incredible.
I dined at the hotel restaurant due to laziness and being tired. I had a bottle of wine in my room that I purchased at the bottle shop. Yes, day one was a success.....

Some beauty found in Key West
















Images from the Butterfly Reserve.





Key West, Florida.





The best $12 I spent while visiting, seriously. I really

enjoyed my walk through the place. True bliss and loveliness.....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mexican Monday

Home.
Sunny here but it isn't quite like being in Key West. Although, supposedly, today the weather was supposed to cool off some. I guess I did choose a fine time to visit Key West.
I am glad to be home. I missed my bed and mexican food. Key West was not overrun with mexican restaurants and the one I wanted to check out--Salsa Loca--was not open on Christmas Day. I guess I will have to return for another visit.
That would be a bummer, right?
Tomorrow, I am experiencing "Mexican Monday" with Lindsay. We tried this out a few weeks ago and both agreed that it would be worthy to check out another time. The first Monday we dined at La Pasadita. I have dined there numerous times with Brian, his family and mine. It is a tradition for guests of mine while traveling in Denver.
As much as I enjoy La Pasadita, I wish they would update their menu. I love their salsa, guacamole and most of their offerings. I am a little bored with it, though.
I asked some of my co-workers where they preferred mexican food and margaritas. One girl suggested Rio which is my opinion is terrible. I sort of tuned out her response after she claimed that that Rio was her choice. Their margaritas are okay, but the food is awful.
One of my other co-workers said there was a delicious place near Shanahan's. To me, that was unavailable since I wasn't interested in the drive down south.
I asked Lindsay where she wanted to go and she texted me back--Have you heard about this place on 20th and Park Ave? It's called, Pasadita....Immediately, I responded with--yes, let's go there.
We did and now have another Mexican Monday set up.
Tomorrow, we are checking out La Cueva. That, too, is another favorite of mine that I found with Brian. I know that Steve and Pocketsize also enjoy La Cueva. I love that they have Chimay on tap in addition to a list of other bottled beer, wine and of course, margaritas. I haven't been there in a few years and so it will be a nice surprise.
Yes, I am glad to be home. I need to inhale Mexican food to rebalance.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Xmas Eve spent diving....

Merry Christmas!
I am still enjoying the life in the Keys and about to go scuba diving. I am trying to kill time and so I sought out an internet cafe instead of partaking in drinking. Drinks go better after diving and I plan on having a successful dive in the Keys. The weather continues to amaze and the visibility looks clear. Yes, life is grand.
I found the ultimate coffee shop connected to a laundry mat. It's called, Sandy's, and they serve Cuban fare. If only, I had two more days here. Of course, they close for the holidays and reopen on the 26th.
I was able to enjoy two coffees but no food. I should have gotten up, earlier, today to take the shuttle over to this spot of loveliness. Instead, I had a leisurely morning watching Ocean's 13 after dining in the hotel restaurant. Sometimes, it is even difficult for me to overlook the free included breakfast. And the hotel has a nice selection of items available. They have salsa and for that, I am most grateful.
Next time, I am definitely dining at Sandy's for a breakfast burrito or chicken soup. My shuttle driver was Cuban and he raved about the chicken soup and told me to ask for more cilantro. He said their soup was heavenly. After talking to him and him offering to drop me off at Sandy's I knew he knew his food. He wasn't trying to b.s. me.
The dive should go well and then I will be meeting a friend for a drink, followed by food and perhaps a walk on the beach. Somethings in beach vacations cannot be overlooked, right?
Enjoy Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holidays (my way)

Currently, enjoying sunshine and freedom in Key West.
Absolutely awesome.
How many people do you know who can say--I am scuba diving on xmas eve?
Really, I cannot wait to dive in the Keys. Even if there is a strong current. I do not care. Diving in the Keys on xmas eve is awesome.
I arrived yesterday and have had a splendid time. I will update everything when I return to Denver. My hotel service is S-L-O-W.....extremely slow.
I am sitting in a wine bar and the owner offered to let me use his lap top. How cute is he? Seriously, this was a bonus of my stumble into this wine bar on Duval St.
In a few hours, I will embark on a wine and sail venture. I am so thrilled that I decided to visit Key West instead of sulk in Denver for the holidays. Christmas just isn't my thing, nor has it been, for five years. To me, it is reason to leave town, explore the foodie options and sit on a beach or a casino. Yep, I have spent 3 of the last 5 in Vegas. No complaints, I was just ready to change it up.
So, enjoy your holidays, stay warm and enjoy a few or (many) baileys & coffee.....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The beauty of Sunday

This afternoon, while at work, I noticed a customer clipping his nails at the bar. Who does this? When would you ever think it is appropriate to clip your nails in public? That sound makes my skin crawl. Apparently, I caught it on the third go-around. And, who carries clippers on their person? Bizarre incident, indeed.
The kitchen loves me--sometimes. Today, I wanted eggs, tortillas and salsa. They upgraded me to a fresh made salsa with avocados and refried beans. It was delicious and just what I needed. This is a symbiotic relationship. They hope that I will reward them with tequila. Normally, I do, but today, I was the first one off and so I snuck out. There will always be another day to treat the guys to Cuervo shots.
I sat down to enjoy my meal and my friends, Steve and Sarah, arrived. I wish that I had felt like drinking champagne or wine, but knew that I needed a day off from drinking. Key West will be celebratory and I prefer taking a few days off before vacation.
And, I wanted to go for a run. The weather was beckoning/divine. I couldn't delay it any longer. I was ready. Yesterday was a missed opportunity; although, extremely cold. I know that holding off one more day was the right for me.
I stretched, grabbed my ipod, vest and took off. I had no expectation of what to expect, but the first few steps and I felt free. I can honestly say that I absolutely missed running. I did a five mile loop and feel that I will go either tomorrow or Tuesday, or both. Perhaps while in Key West, too. I am ready to continue running.
Last year, I couldn't contemplate going for a run for about six weeks after the Denver Marathon. Getting injured will do that I suppose. Thankfully, when I was ready, the Goddess wanted to run, too.
What a beautiful day inspite of the nail clipper at the bar. While running, I saw the moon and it, too, was glorious. Lovely.
I made dinner. An old favorite of mine. A friend of mine, Jean, gave me cook books for my 21st birthday. I have used one of them, religiously, for years. I am fairly certain that I made this specific meal for Brian early in our dating days. Good times.
Happy Sunday. I envision a relaxing night.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rest of the day....

I opted out of the Saturday run and relaxed instead. One more day of not running won't kill me, right?
That is what I told myself, earlier, when I chose to not go for a run. The sun was out. I have no excuse outside of that I just wasn't feeling it. Do you ever have a day or a moment like that? I knew that I could go, but it would be an awful experience.
I figured that if I delayed it one more day, my return to running would be relaxed and refreshing. Yep, one more day won't hurt me.
I went to work and walked into a clusterf**k. Unkept and annoyed for about 45 minutes. I prefer walking into a situation where the transition is smooth and efficient.
Then, one of my regulars decides to broach the political situation with four or five other guys. At first, I am able to block it out and act oblivious. This didn't last long. The instigator was getting agitated and loud. I knew that it would continue to escalate unless I shut it down. And, I knew that Tiffany was annoyed and aware of what was going on, but that she didn't want to take it on. I had went into office to make a phone call and could hear the altercation while in the office. I returned and said--"Enough~I am over this. Stop talking about this. We are in the holiday season, let's try to be happy."
Everyone seemed relieved except for the one guy. Five minutes later he tried to continue his point of view. At this point, most of the guys had closed out their tabs or were in the process of doing it.
New people walk in--two brothers, two other solo diners, a woman, and then the Politico remained~~a different guy that I call Politico since normally, he is the person, pushing the envelope with political discussions.
The woman asks Tiffany for weed. Really? You have never been in this bar before but you feel comfortable asking a complete unknown person if they have weed for you. Unbelievable.
Somehow, this woman managed to intrigue the brothers, Politico and the other solo diners. I opted to avoid that end of the bar. I was over it and their conversation.
Then, this guy, another semi-regular shows up. He sat on my end of the bar and I tried to switch with Tiffany at this point. This guy is nice, but super needy. I just wasn't feeling it tonight. I was polite and efficient but offered little more. Especially with this specific guy. He is too much. I think I changed my mind about him after he told me a dining story in NYC. He was hosting a gathering in Midtown at a swank place near Time Square. It was before a matinee performance and so the restaurant was packed.
This guy is gluten free and so he asked to see the menu for gluten free items. The restaurant, at this point, did not have items available, specifically for people that have gluten allergies. My customer asked to see the chef and the waiter told him that the chef was busy and would be unable to accomodate that request.
So, this guy didn't eat. He watched as his fifteen guests ate and drank and when the bill came---$1300, he paid, but didn't leave a dime for the server. He felt the need to relate this story to me and think that I would agree with him. I don't. In my opinion, if you that unhappy with the menu or feel that you aren't being accomodated, than dine elsewhere. I think that is all I see when I see him now. He gloated in retelling that experience. I cannot be fake and nice to him, anymore.
After those interactions, I watched the clock. I dreamed of a salt bath, a glass or two of wine and sleep. I returned home. There is a house party two houses down and they are in full throttle. Non stop music. I pray for an end. I don't want to be the old lady calling the cops; however, I am ready for bed and for a stop to the music.
Work. Work. Party. Work. Key West. Life is grand.....

Thoughts

Today was supposed to be my return to running. I am still a member of a local running group where they plan runs on Saturday mornings, equipped with route/map/weather information and other tidbits designed to make me a successful runner.
I like the group, I do.
Last night, I was done with work early, too. I have no justifiable reason to miss the run.
Yet, I woke up at 7:35. Over. Done. I had no way of making it to the designated spot within twenty-five minutes. The Whole Foods at Hampden and 1-25 was too far.
I do enjoy the group and I have run in numerous areas in the metro area because I am part of this group. Days, like today, I wish we would run in three areas, only, like Team in Training mostly did. I definitely would have made it to Wash Park within 25 minutes--no problem. Instead, I am drinking coffee, watching Rescue Me on Netflix and dreaming of the missed run. I have always been a fan of Rescue Me and thought that I had seen the beginning of the series. Apparently, I have not.
It is beautiful today and so there is hope that I can make it out for a run. Too bad Lindsay is in Phoenix this weekend. I would love to go for a run with her. I miss our weekly run-catch up-conversation.
Now that I am not training, I have all of this time to do nothing. But, think of how much I need a new project, vacation or event to train for. Or, we are having our holiday party on Monday night and I drew my Secret Santa person that I could be naughty or nice, too. I would prefer being funny, but I don't think my person will agree with my humor. It's funny how some people can dish out plenty of crap, but they have the most difficult time getting it back. So, I will probably be kind instead of humorous. I am still considering what to give this person.
Lindsay is my +1 to the party. She knows most of my co-workers, anyways, and the Falling Rock is a great venue to enjoy an evening.
I should conclude this so that I can go for a much needed run....Happy Saturday~

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

I cannot believe that Christmas is 9 days away. CRAZY. Simply crazy. Where does the time go?
This year, my intention was to have my xmas letters written before Thanksgiving. I like the idea of cards, but most of them, available for purchasing are either lame, religion focused or ugly. I always peruse what is available and that cannot imagine putting my name on the card. Seriously, some of the cards are ridiculous!
And, I am not crafty and so making my own cards were out which left the letter. I have sent a few of these in the past and I do enjoy writing letters.
I keep thinking about it and what I would say. Executing the letter has eluded me. I need to refill my printer cartridge or use the computer at work. That is the best option--I think, but then I need to do it when I am not interfering with someone else who is trying to work. Yes, sometimes my bosses actually try to improve the menu, the specials or beer list.
My window is closing and so I think I will send out letters in January. Maybe I will address what I did over the holidays instead of how 2010 worked out for me. Key West should provide ample opportunity to experience life and write about it in a letter. Christmas on a beach is always welcome in my mind. I am considering scube diving instead of snorkeling and I know that I will at least drink one pina colada. Somehow, this always happens when I am at the beach.
Although, 2010 was an excellent year and so I probably will share some of that. How could I not mention travel, food, wine or running?
Until I figure it out, I will continue to contemplate what I will write about. And, hopefully, collect a few cards of my own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Need for project and/or inspiration

The last few days, months actually--since the Healdsburg 1/2--I have been reflecting on my need to tackle a new project. I don't know what, but I am ready for anything.
This past year, running consumed a large part of my free time. Still, I could have added more events and felt healthy. Now that I have nothing to train for, I am bored, listless, restless.
I dream of being a gypsy, full time, and find myself gravitating to people who share that desire. My friend, Aron, sold his house and bought an Airstream. To most people, this is insane. He is completely free and I admire him, so much, for this decision. It would be difficult to let go of all convention and begin anew. Yet, he did it. I applaud him. Currently, he is somewhere in Arizona, soaking up the sun and settling into this new chapter of life.
My other inspiring friend, Troy, has been working for Canondale Bikes for the last 5 years. Hie decided to box up his life and split his time between here, Vegas, Connecticut and the world. He travels, everywhere, I love that. Yesterday, he was in Denver for 12 hours and so he took me to breakfast to catch up and b.s. I admire his desire to work and travel with his job. He is going to spending christmas in Belgium--talk about awesome. I intend to meet up with him in Italy, May 2011. There is a bike tour that goes through there and I had made plans to spend May in Italy with Agnese. Yes, life is grand.
I believe that 2011 will present more opportunities for running, travel and growth. Now that I am recovering from the Marathon, I dream of races for next year. I hope that my friends are up for another Destination Race, be it Virginia or California.
Actually, I could go to Oregon and do that race. That would achieve two goals--another destination race and spending time with my sisters. Jade and Michaela, both, live in Eugene and I neglected to make a trip out west this year. I suck as an aunt....I will rectify this next year. I have heard that that race is difficult with all of the rolling hills. Maybe it isn't an option.
Then, the need to find the marathon of 2011 looms, too. Remember, I want a FLAT course, with nice weather and spectator support. I am hoping that Shari will accompany me to the race and that we can meet more than twice on the course. I am still trying to figure it out.
I love having options and the desire to pursue it. The Paris Marathon would be lovely. Think of all of the wine I could consume post race and it is another passport stamp. One day, I will fill my book with stamps.....maybe that should be my project?!?!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Final day

Wednesday morning, Shari and I went to Pete's Greek Town. Definitely a family foodie place and somewhere that everyone in my family has been to. I heart the breakfast burrito or greek skillet.
One year, Brian and I dined there for christmas lunch. I remember watching an NBA game-Lakers, I think--while eating hummos. Yes, Pete's Greek Town is in my blood.
Afterwards, we headed west to Matthew Winters Park. Another spot on the Harmony loves Brian venture. In reality, it is the most freeing/peaceful place for me. I used to hike with Brian there. I always feel alive there.
I know that Shari feels the same way.
Typically, we visit Matthew Winters Park in February. The first year, it was gorgeous outside. Absolutely stunning weather.
2007 the weather sucked. Covered in snow and challenging to hike. Still, we took a family photo, hiked to our spot and released some of Brian's ashes. You could ask my stepmom how much she desired to be in that photo.
December, there, was different/pleasing/calming--all in one. We began the journey on a beautiful December day. We continued to hike to the turn off spot and turned around. Most of the hike, Shari and I, spent b.s.'ing life, the marathon, future. We decided to stop at our spot and immediately, I felt Brian's presence. I was overwhelmed by a calmness.
We stopped to just be.
Shari told me to look at the sky. The clouds formed a spoon, almost identical to the Taste Life spoon that we use for the scholarship foundation.
To me, it represented that Brian was with us. He supported Shari and I spending time together. It was an incredible feeling to see the spoon and know what it represented.
Afterwards, we walked to the Botannic Gardens and did a quick walk through. I love the Botannic Gardens, but during the winter, it is a little lackluster.
I napped. Well, mostly because, I needed it.
Then, we met the Goddess at Elway's. Need I say more?
Elway's rarely disappoints. We tried brussel sprouts, mac & cheese, au gratin potatoes and more comfy love. I really love comfort food....
All, in all, my marathon is Vegas was fabulous. No complaints, but amazing food, wine and conversation. Who am I to turn that down???

Leaving Vegas and re-entering Denver


After numerous days filled with rich food and red wine, I knew that we should take a break from excess. Still, Shari had not been to Solera in a few years.

We checked out of the most fabulous place in the world--Bellagio--and took a cab to McCarran Airport. Arriving early, since I was not a fan of the going through security at the Las Vegas Airport. Most people returning home have a stench of defeat about them. I suppose that losing money would do that to you.

The airport has slot machines. I find it funny that people still try to win something back.

For me, the airport provides Starbuck's, a store to purchase a magnet (always buy one to commemorate my trips), water, read magazines and sometimes, purchase a book. I have been trying to utilize the Denver Library instead of buying a throw away paperback.

I bought a gold magnet that displays the Strip. It is not accurate, but it illustrates most of the places that I ran by. Yes, it was perfect.

We settled into the gate area and waited. I ran into other runners based on their shirts, medals that they were wearing, or limping across the terminal. I ran into the guy that flew out to Vegas on my flight. I saw him in front of the Flamingo on Monday and we discussed our times. He killed it--03:40:00! Talk about a great first attempt.

I told him that I was happy with my time and had utilized the Bellagio Spa which aided me in the recovery phase. He said that he should have got a massage.

On Tuesday, while sitting in the airport, I watched him grimace and walk. He was in a lot of agony and I was thankful that it wasn't me. I was sore, but not, at all, like him.

Eventually, Frontier notified us that they had experienced a computer glitch which affected all of their flights. Our flight had been delayed by an hour.

I read more of my book and waited. I know that it could have been worse, but I did not relish the idea of more time sitting in the airport.

Finally, we boarded the plane and were rewarded with free tv access. I noticed a program on James Franco, Glee, and ESPN was showing the KU/Memphis game. I alternated between basketball/James Franco. The wait was worth it.

Sara Jo picked us up and I drove to Solera. It is like home to me. Exceptional food, wine and staff. I am friends with many of the people that work there and I respect Goose. He is a good man.
We treated ourselves to calamari, mac and cheese, and a cheese tray. We recapped the marathon and b.s.'d with Sara. Yet, another amazing day full of food, wine and friendship. I know that I am blessed....

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bellagio Spa

Yes, I wanted champagne at the spa.
But, other than that, it was amazing. Super. I loved the plunge pool and the wet and dry sauna. I love eucalyptus. I could have spent two hours in the wet sauna soaking up that aroma.
Massage, itself, was fine. I was hoping for more attention on my legs, but in the end, I relaxed and enjoyed the massage it its entirety. My lady was asian, older and fine.
I miss my guy at Elements. He rocks.
Post massage, Shari and I opted for a meal at Mon Ami Gabi. We shared a baguette, french onion soup and a sandwich with apples, brie and chicken. Sparkling wine accompanied the sandwich. Did I mention the fries, too? I was obsessed with dijon and fries. Bouchon had amazing fries. Mon Ami Gabi did not. The sandwich was lovely, but the fries severely lacked.
Onward, embracing the day, we walked to the City Center. I wanted to think about my dinner options. We looked at Julian Serrano's tapas place and Sage. Uninspired, we walked up to the Wynn. I ran into the guys I met on the plane out to Vegas who also were running the Marathon. One guy was fit, a little obsessive (I could tell) and his friend, well, he was out of shape. Obviously, he was finishing the race but not planning on being an elite runner this course.
His friend, Andy, was optimistic and told me--yes, I finished in 3:40:00...how did you do?
I remarked that I had finished and felt pretty good in how I was feeling today.
Shari and I headed up to the Wynn, checked out Alex and discovered that it would be black for ten days. BUMMER.
I insisted that we have a glass of wine at the lake terrace bar. We did.
Cab ride back to the Bellagio. Instead of showering in the room, we chose to revisit the spa and relax in the wet sauna. Lovely and delightful.
Choosing to walk again, we headed towards Caesar's Palace. My friend, Cedric, had agreed to meet us at Joe's Crab and Steak based on a referral from Steve and Sarah. They knew the bartended which translated into awesome cocktails. Pocketsize enjoys wine, but she loves, vodka. I knew we were in for a treat.
Cedric, Shari and I enjoyed a few appetizers and drinks. I love that Cedric wanted to meet us. When I told him that I was coming out for the Marathon, he told me that he would definitely spectate. He didn't, but he met me while I was in town. After trying to meet Shari on the course, I do understand why Cedric opted out of spectating. The second 1/2 did not create many opportunities for successful crossings.
Day 3 of Vegas adventure concluded with Shari and I meeting Brett and Pete at the Carnival Bar, briefly, and then heading to a Dueling Piano's Bar. The Piano Bar was interesting. Packed. And, they played Dr. Hook. I think that made Shari's weekend.
Day Two focused on the spa, a little on food and friends. I could walk still which inspired me to consider marathon #3....















After the marathon, I headed towards the family reunion area. I walked through the expo, collected my medal (made sure that I got it this time...the Denver Marathon, I managed to leave without retrieving my bling. Unfortunate and a definite oversight), grabbed a banana, bottle of water, and listened to Brett Michaels blaring Every Rose has its Thorn.
My watch said it was ten til noon. I had told Shari that if I was unable to make it to the finish line within 5 hours; well, then, I would meet her back at the Bellagio.
As I stood there listening to Brett Michaels, I realized that it was only after eleven (mountain time is how my watch is set) and that I had more time to stand and wait. I also knew that I only had twenty dollars on me, no i.d., no phone and 40 minutes to wait for Shari to meet me at the line. I was bummed.
Brett Michaels was loud. He was blaring. I did not relish the idea of 40 minutes of listening to Brett Michaels sing.
Suddenly, Shari appeared--thank god! Very happy that she found me. She told me that she watched me cross the finish line and was trying to find me within the expo area. After 25 minutes of trying to find me, she headed to the family reunion area.
At this point, we discussed our options.
1) monorail to Tropicana. Walk to MGM and board another monorail to Bally's
2) cab from either Mandalay Bay or Tropicana
3) walk from Tropicana to Bellagio. I had run that distance why not walk?
I thought the walk option was out. I suggested monorail. We walked through Mandalay Bay, boarded the Monorail and figured we would decide from there if we would board another train, hail a taxi or walk.
We joined the cab stand line at Tropicana.
Fifteen, maybe twenty people, were in front of us. One cab entered the designated area. The writing was on the wall. Walk from there or walk from Bally's.
Monorail won.
We deboarded and walked throughout Bally's. A little confusing, but eventually, we made it to the Bellagio.
Instead of meeting my group for maragarita's or napping, I headed to the Spa. Delish! Absolutely delightful. I could have lived there, had they offered me champagne. Really. Champagne would have inspired a full day spa for me.
Post awesome relax sesssion in dry/wet sauna/jacuzzi, I returned to the room to prep for Bouchon dinner. I absolutely love Bouchon. While in Napa or Vegas, I dine there.
Shari and I arrived. We had fifteen minutes to kill and so we checked out the Palazzo prior to heading up to Bouchon. I texted Brett to coordinate and then we waited.
Bouchon rocked, as always. It would have only been better had my sommelier friend, Paul, been there. However, it was his night off and so we met another guy. Our waiter, Paul, knew my friend, Huston, and so overall, it was a user friendly night.
Pete, Brett, Shari and I enjoyed cheese, charcuterie, roasted chicken, scallops, steak and dessert. We discussed the awesomeness of the Vegas Marathon, friendships and food.
Food was okay. I was a little disappointed. I had RAVED about Bouchon, but I didn't feel that it was stellar thar particular night.
And, my som friend, was absent. I heart Paul. I missed him and in hindsight, should have found out if he were working that night. Next time. I am a fan of Vegas and Bouchon. Plus, I figure, I do want to see the Cirque, Elvis show.
Or, run Marathon 2011 if it remains to be a during the day event....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Spectator Support


Shari is the ultimate spectator. Last year, she ran all over Denver while I ran the marathon. We met up six different places
In Vegas, it just wasn't possible. The monorail helped along the Strip but once we split off to the full marathon, the transporation options were limited. Plus, the course looped back and forth and around which also created some difficulty in meeting up.
I saw her at mile 4 and she chased me at mile 19. She was standing in the middle of the road and I was looking at the right side of the road. Instead of being defeated, she ran after me and handed me the golden gatorade.
She watched me cross the finish line too. I wish I had seen her there.
I didn't see the sign until we made it back to the Bellagio. Isn't it incredible?
She painted it and I absolutely loved it. Taste Life is the logo for the Brian Thompson Scholarship Foundation and very dear to me. When I ran the Healdsburg 1/2 with my friends--Sara Jo, Sipper and the Goddess, we made shirts with the logo on the front. If I had taken the time to have a tech shirt made, I definitely would have sported that during the Vegas Marathon. I didn't make the time. Next year, next Marathon, for sure. I want a shirt made.
I am so thankful for Shari for spectating both of my races. I pledge to spectate for her and her sister's upcoming 2011 1/2 Marathon. I am only waiting the when and where to go.
2011 brings possibility of more running. I think I have the Destination Virginia Race in my sights along with a few more 1/2 Marathons. I am undecided about the next full, but see it in my future. I look forward to my next sign and spectator support....

Recap
















I woke up at 4 am to prepare for the marathon. I wanted to shower, try to remain calm and meet my group to board their shuttle.





I urinated a few times. I had nervous energy.





And, I had hydrated for the previous few days. Although, I was bummed to discover that the Bellagio did not have G2 or Gatorade. They only offered Powerade. I am not a fan of Powerade. I purchased Vitamin Water, hoping, that I would like it.





We walked over to the Flamingo to meet the group. We saw several drunk people, gamblers and homeless people. One guy told me that he liked my camera. I was holding my water bottle.





The air was energized with the possibility of a great day inspite of the debauchery we encountered. When we entered the Flamingo, I watched this drunk chick take off her heels and weave up the stairs. She looked confused and in need of her hotel room.





I used the Flamingo bathroom three times. Like I said, I was nervous. I would pee and then three minutes later want to go again.





The shuttle was late and nowhere in sight. We still had time to get to the start line, but taking a cab, at that point, was not in the cards for me. The fact that it was suggested sort of annoyed me. I thought that the shuttle was a definite confirmed thing. Anxiously, we waited, took a photo and considered our options.





Then, it appeared. We asked the guy to get us as close to the start as he could. There was still some activity on the Strip, but mostly, it was empty. My friend, Brett, remarked that this was a first--being sober at 5 am, in Vegas. And, since it was him, that was true. I think it probably was the first time he was in bed by 9 pm in Vegas.





We leave the shuttle and again, I use the bathroom. The porta potty was clean and I apparently was the first person to use it. I had to unwrap toilet paper.





We walk to the start line. I look around and there are so many people.





At this point, we still have a substansial amount of time to think about the race. We walk to the designated meet post race spot and hang out. I go the bathroom again and again and again. Shari, Brett and Pete were all laughing at me, but I was so nervous.





I hug Shari and the two Canadians and walk to my corral. I was in the 14th wave and surrounded by running Elvis's. There was a gigantic group of them in my corral and they were unwilling to separate.





The race began at 7. I began my journey at 7:18. I heard that it took them an hour to get everyone over the start line. There were so many people.





Mile one went by fast. I felt great. I wasn't weaving in front of people, but by mile 3, I knew that I needed to slow down. Somehow, I was finding difficulty in achieving that. I just wanted to go.





The Strip was filled with spectators. Shari and I talked about meeting at mile 4, mile 9, mile 12, mile 19, 22 and of course, the finish. At mile 4, I saw her amongst the mass of people. I didn't see my sign, but I yelled a greeting to her.





About mile 5, this guy asked me what time I had. I think he thought I had a garmin on. I didn't. I still haven't bought one. I did have a pace band on which helped. From this point, I ran the next 12 miles with Dave from the East Coast. He and his family were moving to Connecticut from Seattle and decided to stop in Vegas to run a marathon. He was in the Navy and had lost 45 lbs. in the last year.





I enjoyed running with him, but our conversation was mostly me asking questions and him answering. He had this toughness about him. He was determined to finish in around 4 hours. He noticed other runners that were marathon maniacs or in the navy. Very respectful and polite.





During these miles, the pace was good. I noticed that we slowed down some between 14-16. I was starting to feel it. I also needed to urinate. I wanted to hold off since I knew that I would lose my running mate and some of my motivation.





At mile 17, I had to go. I couldn't avoid it any longer. I saw a porta potty and stopped, bid Dave adieu/good luck and stopped.





I felt better, but wasn't looking forward to the mile 9 miles. I turned my ipod on to my shuffle mix and restarted.





The first 1/2 of the race was up and down the Strip, full of spectator support and sights. The minute we veered off to continue the marathon, we encountered a bridge. It doesn't seem like much but up until that point, there were no hills. And, as we crossed the mile 13 marker, I could see the 25 in the opposite direction. I knew that I would remeet the hill at the end of my journey.





Plus, the amount of spectators decreased. The area, in general, was industrial and a little demoralizing for me. At mile 23 (I thought), I was ready to be finished. I saw all of these people around me stopping to walk and so I stopped. I thought it was okay since others did. I know that I could have kept going, but I stopped for a few minutes and restarted. I noticed the mile marker and saw that I was approaching mile 23, not 24. That sucked. It sucked badly. I don't know how I got ahead of myself, but I did.





Shari met me at mile 19 with gatorade. I was so grateful when I saw her. And, I drank the gatorade. The course offered water or cytomax. I knew, right away, that I did not like the cytomax.





At mile 25, I felt like I found my legs again. I was determined to finish strong inspite of the cramps in both of my calves. I refused to acknowledge it. I had to finish.





I ran the bridge, passing people that had stopped. I felt good, again.





The Strip welcomed us with a chorus of--You're almost there. I picked up my pace and searched for the finish line. I kept thinking--where is it? Why haven't I crossed it yet?





Then, there it was and it felt amazing to cross it. I received my medal and walked through the runner's only area. I picked up a banana and some water.





4:21:58--Redemption.





I felt fantastic! I had shaved 53 minutes off of my last marathon. Granted, I injured myself during the Denver Marathon. The last 12 miles were miserable and although I finished, it was not a strong showing.





I think from this experience, I learned that I can do it and that I intend to do it again. I need to figure out my nutrition during the marathon so that I do not break down midway through it. Cramps, salt loss, and being somewhat delusional during miles 21-26 lead me to believe that I can improve and want the chance to do it.





And, this time around, I could walk after the race. I wasn't dying from being stiff/sore. I could continue on with enjoying the Vegas adventure. Yes, I definite felt like a runner after this marathon....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day one of Vegas Trip







I worked Friday night. The night was slow and so I was able to return home early, repack, and try to get a good night's sleep.
Saturday morning, I woke up, drank some coffee and waited for Lindsay to pick me up. I was nervous, scared, but ultimately, ready to embrace Las Vegas. Shari flew to Denver and I met her at the airport.
From there, we flew to Vegas. Upon arrival, we headed to the Sands Convention Center. I had to go to the Expo to retrieve my bib, timing chip, and tech shirt. We hailed a cab and hoped for a quick arrival. The Expo ended at 5:00.
Of course there was an accident on the freeway and since our cabbie was hoping to "take us", he opted to go that way. Eventually, we got trapped on the Strip due to the amount of people trying to also get to the Expo or head to the Cowboy Convention. And, the Strip is notorious for being a slow cab ride. It is always packed with people.
The Sands Convention Center was full of people. It was chaotic. I was surprised at the amount of people that were signed up for the Vegas Marathon. I thought there would be between 20-25,000 people. When I walked in to find my bib number, I noticed there was a table for bib numbers up to 34,000. Crazy amount of people.
Instead of adding to the cab stand line that hadn't moved much since we walked through the expo, we opted to walk. I wasn't too concerned with walking.
We arrived at the Bellagio. Shari and I wanted to be "flash-packers" and instead of staying at the Flamingo, chose to book a room at the Bellagio. And, I was ecstatic! I love the Bellagio. Olives is there.
I had heard many rave reviews of the Spa. Shari booked us each a massage to enjoy post-marathon. Yes, the Bellagio would be lovely.
After settling in, I realized that it was 6:00. I needed to eat and quickly. Brett, my Canadian friend, had texted me saying that he and his friend were dining at Noodles. They thought it was a Noodles & Company. But, they were S.O.L. It was an upscale thai place.
Shari and I made our way down to Olives. I always dine at Olives when I am in Las Vegas. I like the food, the location and have met several of the bartenders from previous visits.
They were packed and would be unable to seat us at a table for a few hours. I asked about bar seating availability and the hostess told me that we needed to discuss it with the bartender.
I made eye contact with the bartender and noticed that there was one available stool. The guy told me that there would be two stools within 15 minutes. I told him that we would order a glass of wine and wait since we were interested in dining.
He handed me a wine list and took off.
I decided on a wine and waited for him to offer us assistance. He walked by us a few times, but never asked if we were ready.
Finally, the seat opened up next to where I was standing. Still, we waited.
I realized that the bartenders were not that attentive or interested in serving that particular night. I made the best of it since my focus was on the upcoming marathon.
We ate flat bread and mezzaluna with asparagus. I had a few glasses of wine and tried to calm my nerves.
The food was excellent, but the service severely lacked. I was unhappy with how inattentive the three bartenders were.
I had prepared for the trip by bringing almonds, craisins, 4 pairs of shoes, three jackets, numerous other toiletries/clothes, and epsom salt. I thought about buying it in Vegas but figured I could make room in my bag and enjoy a salt bath the night before. I did. After dinner, I utilized the tub with a relaxing salt bath.
Ready. Relaxed. Dreaming of finish lines and healthy races....



Viva Las Vegas.......

I love Las Vegas. Not for the gambling, excessive drinking or people. I enjoy people watching---don't get me wrong--I just don't like some of their habits that I am forced to encounter while in the city. Rudeness, obesity, drunken idiots.
Food, and food alone, inspires me to return to that city.
The shows are nice, too. I have seen Mystere, Love, Stomp and Zumanity (twice). Once with Brian and other time while attending Steve and Sarah's wedding. Jimmy and I watched the show and it seemed weird since he is like a brother to me and that show is sensual.
This time, around, I wanted to see the Cirque perspective of Elvis. Unfortunately, it was not available on Monday or Tuesday night. Actually, most of the Cirque shows were blacked out. Shari and I could have seen Mystere or Zumanity. Seeing that Zumanity is the erotic side of Cirque, I wasn't pushing that show. It just didn't seem right.
There is always another visit to the city. I know that I will return. Seeing the Elvis show would be fantastic. Who doesn't enjoy the King?
I signed up for the Vegas Marathon in July or August--I think. I wanted redemption from my showing at the Denver Marathon. And, I wanted a marathon in the fall. I wanted a flat course. I considered Phoenix but then felt Vegas would be preferable.
I signed up with Runner's Edge and put my best foot forward. I recognized that training for distance and not time made more sense. I committed to the training plan and diligently followed it.
I will do my race report. I want to.
Today, though, I wanted to touch base with my blog. While in Vegas, I had no internet access. I stayed at the Bellagio and considered using their business center until they mentioned the fee was $1 per minute. Excessive. Too much cost. Really? $1 a minute. Highway Robbery for sure.
I waited until I returned to Denver. But, then, Shari was in town with me. I felt that I should wait to process my feelings of the marathon, food factor and Vegas, in general. Plus, I wanted to entertain Shari while she was here. Updating my blog would have to wait.
So, I am here, today, and wanting to update my blog. I feel a little overwhelmed by everything that I want to address. I think I will stop for now and mull over it. I feel wordy.......

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Productive day

Somewhat productive day.
I woke up, late, due to an outing with Jenn. She continues to be a bad influence, but in a good way. We sort of egg each other on.
My intention was to meet her for one glass of wine. One glass of wine led to another, and another and a stop at Elway's. It is never difficult to talk me into a glass of wine there.
She had to attend a healthy lifestyle seminar and since I was with her, I also had the privilege of listening in. I found some of the information interesting, and some redundant. We attended the meeting at Izaka Sushi.
My idea to not drink until Saturday diminished yesterday. It happened and today, I woke up hungover.
Anyways, I did have a productive day. I bought new running socks and a few food items for the marathon. I had sports beans and honey, but I wanted to make sure that I had more food to work with.
I stopped at Target to stock up on G2. I live on a diet of red wine, coffee and G2. If you see my recycling, you will understand my need for G2.
After the shopping, I napped. I am trying to rest.
I met the Goddess for my final run of the training cycle. It was great. I felt strong, capable and of course, I love running with Lindsay. We always have interesting conversations. She is taking me to the airport on Saturday to see me off.
Post final run, I had scheduled a massage. Perhaps it would have been preferable to do the massage earlier in the week, but I felt that I could handle the massage tonight. Plus, my favorite therapist was available tonight. He runs and so I know that he understands my aches/pains. I told him to take it easy on me. He did.
Now, I am considering and reconsidering what to take to Vegas. I figure I can pack and unpack and repack until Saturday morning. I think I want to take too many things. I mean, I have definite needs associated with the marathon. Visor, shoes, water bottle, magenta sports bra, socks, ipod/charger, etc. And, boots, heels, dress, skirt, recovery clothes....yes, I have many things to bring to Vegas.
I consider the food that I will ingest pre-race. I want mexican food, everyday, but know that I need to limit it for the event. I am trying to hydrate and carb load and enjoy the food I eat. I enjoy the experience of food.
I am overanalyzing everything right now. I just need to relax....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

thoughts

Marathon.
December 5th.
I have been training for this since June.
I am ready. Or that is the mantra I continue to repeat in my head.
I am ready. I am ready. I am ready.
And, yet, I am so nervous. Did I train correctly? Should I have done more strength training? What should I wear?
This seems foolish, but it is important. I need to be comfortable and confident in my attire. My shoes are set--Saucony's and they are adequately broken in.
Pink shorts that I always wear.
The shirt is undecided. I have a Colfax 1/2 Marathon shirt that would suffice. I am comfortable in it and I have worn it several times on long runs. However, I want to wear my magenta sports bra. I don't know why I love this bra since it still bleeds the color. If I wear the white shirt, when I cross the finish line, it will look like I have lactated red. Yes, visually stunning, I know. Great photo shot to show off my friends. Me, with pink spots on my chest. Colfax shirt is probably out. I want to wear the magenta bra.
Or, I suppose I could wear a different sports bra.
These are things that are going through my head right now.
That and which wine I will drink the night before the marathon. I have come to the conclusion that wine is a staple in my diet and that I will relax if I have a glass or two. Last year, I was "good" and slept, poorly, and was stressed out pre-race. Yes, wine will be drank.
I need to stock up on substenance, get an oil change, massage, run with the Goddess on Thursday, relax, rest, hydrate.....I am READY, but super nervous, too.
I want to get more honey or gel for the run. Probably honey since it is easier to stomach and doesn't taste like frosting. Honey is definitely my preference.
I feel more confident as a runner. I have been healthy this training cycle and believe that the marathon will go extremely well. I have had multiple running partners, events and opportunities to better myself. I feel great!
And, I am nervous.
I am trying to distract myself with work and visiting friends, talking to family and planning an outing with my girlfriends in January. Or, figuring out events for 2011. And, travel. I still need to figure out my beach trip for Christmas. I think it will be stateside since I am heading to Belize in February to scuba dive with Tom and Shari. More on that later.
Until, then I am scared, nervous, happy, excited......

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Broadmor
















Broadmor. Colorado Springs--still trying to figure out how this amazing resort is located in the Springs. And, yet, it is and has been for years.
I have cocktailed, there, twice, in the last 6 months. Mentally, it has been added to places that I frequent and will frequent regularly. If only, in Denver....you know?
So, I spent my Thanksgiving there instead of with friends or family in Denver. In the past, I have enjoyed the holiday with friends (co-workers) and family. Bryn, my aunt, has an amazing family in Denver. They spend Thanksgiving, together, at her parent's house. I have attended many of these gatherings and have always been pleased with the conversation, food, and pie.
My co-workers are fun, but it always goes south fairly quickly. I remember, one year, Brian and I went to Tiffany's new condo. He and I had been drinking red wine, but the minute we arrived at her place, it hit him. We walked in to her place and were surrounded by my co-workers/friends. Brian had been skiing, recently, and wanted to talk about his epic day.
Instead of putting his wine glass down so that he could gesticulate, he mimicked his moves with a full glass of red wine in tow. Everytime he moved to demonstrate his skill, he spilled red wine on her white carpet. I was horrified; yet, unable, to stop the destruction. He really wanted to tell everyone about his day.
In hindsight, it wasn't that bad. Any, ironically, that is the one story that everyone remembered of Brian. How much he loved skiing and his desire to talk about the day.

This year, I wanted to do something different. My friends, Steve and Sarah (Pocketsize), raved about the Broadmor and how amazing Thanksgiving can be there. I thought about it and decided, months ago, that that is how I wanted to spend my Thanksgiving.
I approached Sara Jo. Interested; although, her work demanded that she work at some point on Thanksgiving. There would be no way around it. I asked her to work on it. Alter her hours and make it work. The 3 pm to midnight shift would not work for either of us.
She tried. I know that she did, but no one would work for her or switch a shift.
Undeterred, I decided to approach Steve and Sarah, again, and see which night they were staying. I really wanted to spend Thanksgiving at the Broadmor. I suppose that the prospect of cooking and/or any clean up was a huge motivator for me. I wanted to enjoy the holiday, not work it.
I decided to make reservations and make it happen. Of course, at this point, the dining reservations were full. The Golden Bee seemed like the only option unless there was a catastrophic downpour and I somehow managed to make it to the Broadmor unscathed and hungry.
Anyways, we checked in and inquired about the dining options. The clerk told us she would check on the Penrose Room if we were interested in dining there. I knew that a jacket was required and left it to my companion to decide if he felt comfortable dining there. He did; although, he had left his jacket in Denver along with his shoes as I would find out later.
The Broadmor considered Thanksgiving a "resort" day and opted to overlook the lack of jacket for the Penrose Room.
At 5, we arrived. Seated near a lake view, we perused the menu and opted for the 4 course tasting menu. I knew that he did not like seafood, but our options were limited to a choice of three salads, raviolis, crab bisque, scallops, or maine lobster salad. We had to try the scallops and crab bisque. Of the four, the scallops stood out. Decadent and prepared correctly, I didn't want to share with him.
The crab bisque was too rich. One bite was enough.
Goat cheese salad with pistachios was my first course. Beets accompanied the greens and it was lovely. I would have enjoyed more beets, but in reality, the first course was approachable and satisfying.
The mesclun green salad with crispy root vegetables was okay. I did enjoy the bitterness of the greens, but the root vegetables were all potatoes. Sorta lame.
Blue crab bisque--too rich. I did pick out the crab.
Scallops were perfect. Thank Goodness for that!
Our entree selections--traditional turkey menu and a beef tenderloin with a cippolini onion and risotto. I opted for the tenderloin since I knew my friend would enjoy it. He is a meat and potatoes sort of person.
He chose the turkey. Dry.
I did like the stuffing, but the turkey was dry.
Dessert arrived--green apple terrine for me and pumpkin tart for him. According to him, the marshmellow topping tasted like snot. Enough said.
The apple terrine had a dulce de leche ice cream--delightful! Of the desserts, mine rocked!
All in all, the entire experience was lovely. No clean up. No family craziness or awkwardness and yes, I have exprienced both. Instead, I had a wonderful meal at a 5 Diamond Resort. Amazing!!!!


Visuals from Thanksgiving
















I met with Morgan--Caution Redhead Running--post the Highlands Ranch Turkey Trot. I forgot the photos were on my camera, not my friends.
We toured the Airforce Academy before the run at Garden of the Gods. I have driven through Colorado Springs, numerous times, but never done more than stop for coffee, bathroom (returning from Santa Fe and unable to make it the hour to Denver), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Broadmor (recent stop in my favorite places to visit portfolio). I know there are other places to explore--Airforce Academy being one of them. Ironically, my last stay at the Avenue Bed and Breakfast in Manitou Springs, I met a couple that had been doing touristy things in the Springs. They mentioned the Airforce Academy and I sort of scoffed at the idea. Why would I want to go there?
However, after visiting on Thanksgiving, I was surprised that I hadn't stopped before. There was history, beauty, and photo opportunities. Their church is unique and stands out amongst the drab buildings. I should have taken a photo of the church.
And then there is the Garden of the Gods. Remarkable. Beautiful place to visit. Challenging, memorable run for Thanksgiving 2010. Hills. Hills and more hills.

Taper

I skipped the opportunity of the Turkey Trot and instead ran at the Garden of the Gods. I thought, foolishly, that that would be significantly easier. I have been to the park in the Springs on a few occasions. Driven through it and knew that it was immensely beautiful.
Somehow I had managed to overlook the hill factor. We began our run by choosing to tackle a hill, immediately, on the run. I laughed it off. I tried to tell the Barefoot Runner that it would be easier on the way back. Yet, it was incline, after hill, after more hill. We stopped midway through the run to climb the rocks. And, take a break. Our run was Grady's first run after his marathon. He was feeling a little off and I didn't want to overwhelm him. We climbed the rocks and I looked around the park. Beautiful.
We continued and considered how far we wanted to go. We could do a loop which extended the run or continue to the bottom of the hill, turnaround, and reclimb the incline. I liked that option. The loop back around the park represented unseen hills and I was unwilling to go that route. I told him we should do the hill and back to the car.
That hill reminded me of the Horsetooth Half Marathon. It was insane and never ending or so it seemed. We talked the way up. He talked me through it and I was grimacing because of how stupid I had been to suggest this way instead of extending the mileage. We made it to the top and he said--that is the last hill.
But it wasn't. It was one of many hills that we would encounter on the way back to the car. I kept thinking--it didn't seem like that much downhill. And, then I thought about driving through the park and didn't remember that many hills. I guess the lesson, here for me, is to research the area that I will be running. Be familiar with the course so that I am not freaking out about the amount of hills that are present.
Yesterday, my last long Saturday run, I ran with the Goddess and the Barefoot Runner. Flat course, familiar and awesome. Plus, I enjoyed the conversation that occurred from combining running partners.
We met at my house and ran Wash Park. I told them that we could run Wash Park and finish at Cheesman. I felt great through the first park and on the way back to Capitol Hill, slowed down some, and they followed my lead. I knew Lindsay would be happy with cutting the mileage short. She was and we did.
I am nervous/excited/scared/happy about next weekend. I cannot believe that it is already here. I am ready, though. I am.....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Meeting Redhead Runner and Spike




I wish that I had wanted to be more ambitious on Thanksgiving. I could have signed up for a 5k or a 4 mile race since both of these options were available. The Turkey Trot in Wash Park is 4 miles but I have heard mixed reviews of that race. Too many people, too many strollers to maneuver and not enough schwag at the end of the race. Plus, parking around this park is always problematic.
There was also a Turkey Trot in Highlands Ranch. Morgan of Caution Redhead Running has family in Parker and so I knew that she would be in the area for part of the holiday weekend. Last year we met for coffee and b.s.'s our way through life. She offered to meet me for a run, but I was lazy and wanted the chance to meet her and drink coffee.
This year, I was lazy, again, but I did try to spectate her race. Of course, I didn't know where, in Highlands Ranch, the event was. Typically, I do not head that direction unless I am driving to Santa Fe or maybe Manitou Springs. Rarely, do I make it that far south just because.
We arrived and the event was pretty much done. There were walkers and some runners crossing the line, but I knew that Morgan had finished the race.
We walked through the expo line and eventually found her with her boyfriend, Spike. I introduced her to the Barefoot Runner and we caught up briefly. It was frigid cold. I was wearing capri running pants and my exposed calves were feeling the frostbite.
I wish there had been more time to talk, but due to the cold and the fact that it was Thanksgiving, she was pressed for time and family obligation. There is always next year, I suppose. Maybe I will finally run with her 2011......

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Holiday shopping

I am thankful for today. Happy Thanksgiving!
I am thankful for the Turkey Trot and opportunity to see the Redhead Runner since she is in town for the holiday visiting her family. Her dad lives in Parker. I would love to do the 5k but am spectating. Ironically, I have run endurance races but never run a 5k Race. Maybe 2011.
I am thankful that I will not be returning to Argonaut until Friday or Saturday. Yesterday, I made the mistake of thinking I would have a clear shot of purchasing wine at 3 pm. Foolishly, I drove over with the hopes of restocking my wine cabinent and picking up a bottle of nice red to drink today.
The parking lot was packed. First indication that I should have turned on Colfax and returned home.
I park without incident and enter the store. OMG--there are people everywhere. I am overwhelmed by the amount of people shopping, frantically, for alcohol. I head towards the red wine area. I pass many people with shopping carts and baskets. Again, I fought the urge to duck and run. I am not a fan of mass chaos. It makes me feel claustrophobic.
I arrive at the red zinfandel aisle. I find a bottle of Four Vines and hope there are more options. There are so many people in the aisle that I grab and a bottle and maneuver to the next aisle over. More people. More chaos. More unrest for me.
As I ponder what to do, I hear my name and look over and there is chick that I used to work with from years ago and that is known for her chattiness. I mention that I am in a hurry and uncomfortable with how busy it is. Thankfully, she took the hint.
I think back on the experience and recognize that I was approached by two salespeople while wine shopping. I was surprised due to the amount of people that were in the store. Kudos to Argonaut for being helpful. I just didn't need help. I knew what I wanted.
I purchased two bottles of Four Vines and one bottle of the Petit Petit--I love that wine. I wanted something lovely to accompany me while celebrating my gratitude at the Broadmor. So thankful for that, too.
Of course, I felt cheated that I was unable to achieve the restock factor. Friday it will have to be. I am glad they were busy, but unhappy that I felt so uncomfortable in the space. However, I do not know anyone that enjoys the mass craziness of holiday shopping. I am sooooo grateful that I was able to avoid the grocery store......