Tuesday, November 30, 2010


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. 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.


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......

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wine Monday

My running partner, canceled our running date, last night, due to sickness. He did the right thing. The last thing I need, right now, is to get sick. I feel healthy and want to keep it that way.
Sara Jo and I had wanted to spend Thanksgiving together--drinking ample wine, eating awesome food and generally doing what we wanted. Unfortunately, her job got in the way. She is an x-ray tech and has to work on Thanksgiving either the early morning or afternoon shift. She was unable to trade with anyone and so we waited to hear back from a few people if they would at least switch a shift. Her shift is from 3-midnight which allows for nada--no wine, no champagne, no alcohol--at least pre shift and afterwards, well, that didn't sound that enticing either.
So, we opted to celebrate last night. We went to Sienna which is a cute wine bar located on 12th/Steele. I had been there, before, when it had only been opened for three weeks. I liked the atmosphere and had been wanting to return for some time. Since I dined at Elway's on Sunday, it was no longer an option to suggest to Sara.
Sienna has a lovely wine list. There are several reds available for $8 a glass that I like. We wanted to nibble on something eventually. There was one bartender and she was doing everything---greeting diners at tables, the bar, and making all of the food--prep/arrange/deliver. She was impressive in that regard and had a positive attitude about it. We were surprised that she was the only person working.
We chose the cheese plate and added figs to it. Their menu is small and utilizes most of the ingredients in multiple dishes. I liked the cheese course but there was not anything else, different, that would be of use to us. I didn't want to order the bruschetta for another baguette.
The only negative about the bartender was that she waited, each time, until our wine glass was completely empty. Then, she would ask--would you like another glass of wine?
Me, I am a pusher. I try to anticipate the needs of the customer and suggest the drink sooner, rather than later. I want them to enjoy themselves.
Her method was lax.
We paid and headed back towards Capitol Hill. A lovely night, indeed, with fantastic conversation, wine and food. I wish their menu had more options. However, their prep space is limited to behind the bar. They have a small oven which is utilized but provides few opportunities for inventive appetizers. Plus, if they are full, I imagine, that the wait for food is long due to the one appliance available for use. I hope they are successful since the space is cute and a nice addition to the neighborhood.

Monday, November 22, 2010

16 miles

Friday's shift concluded. I was in bed by 2:45 and up at 6:30ish to stretch, hydrate, urinate (a thousand times it seems pre-run) and head to Lakewood for my final long run of this training season.
My preferred running partner just finished his marathon and so I would be running a long run, solo. Well, somewhat solo, since I was running with my group, but uncertain as to how many people actually would be running more than 8 miles that particular Saturday morning.
Since my Friday had been spent on my feet, I opted to drop back to the 4:10:00 marathon pace group. I wanted to take it easy since I didn't know how I would fare due to how I chose to spend my Friday.
The course was part trail/concrete, crush asphalt through Lakewood. I will be honest. Running in the areas of Lakewood that we have run has been my least favorite Saturday morning runs. Either it is boring, ugly or too urban. I don't know. I think I am being too critical of it.
Anyways, I showed up and there were twenty people in the initial group. We headed out from the Belmar Shopping Center and I listened to my ipod and snippets of conversation going on by those around me. Typically, I prefer to not talk to people that I do not know. I tend to ease into the conversation, later, when I want to. I don't want to force conversation and so my first few miles are inspired by my ipod.
As we neared the 8 mile turnaround, there was a definite drop in numbers. The only remaining runners, in my group, were all doing 16. I don't know how that happened but I was thankful. Saturday was gloomy, humid and basically a yuck day to be running at all. I took off with this older woman that was a competitive runner. Her and her husband both used to run until he hurt his back. Being a man, according to her, limited his desire to go to the doctor. He lived with pain instead of enjoying life. We had a nice conversation and she wanted to push the run whereas I wanted it to take it easy. There were four men behind us, with Garmin's, and I knew they were tracking the pace. I wanted to stay closer to them.
At mile Eight, our turnaround, we split up, again. Two guys went forward to make sure this solo gal was safe running through Lakewood and four of us turned back to the start. I ended up running with a guy and the lady ran with his friend.
I recognized this guy, but didn't know his name. He, too, is running Vegas and so we had that in common. He's married and so we talked about his life for the final 8 miles.
He was nice but not very positive about life. His wife is a former runner. She doesn't travel to his events because it's boring to travel with someone that is prepping for a race for two days. Did I mention that she doesn't drink? He does. He's British. He likes pubs.
Or, that she is a vegetarian? He is a carnivore and the 12 lb. turkey for Thanksgiving could be wasted.
She has a thyroid issue and cannot drink soy since it interferes with her medication. She's younger, with a child and he is closer to her mother's age.
I mean, is there any joy in this relationship? I am sure that there is, but it was so different running with him compared to the Barefoot Runner who inspires positive thoughts. It's funny when I look back on the conversation, how different people are. And, I say that, because the conversations I have had with women, in this group, generally tend to focus on their kids, their husbands, life as a mommy, if that is what they are. Few of the women--my age--are single and we talk about travel, dating, not having kids.
I love it all, though. It is fun to learn about people.
The 16 miles concluded and I never hit my fatigued point. I think it is because we were going really slow at that point. Instead of taking off, I chose to run with the guy who was struggling. He told me, three different times, to go ahead without him, but I was okay with going slow. I knew that I would be able to work, later, if I didn't push too hard to finish quick.
Now I am on the Taper. Yea, me~So happy.
I am nervous. December 5th is in two weeks--Yikes!
I made it through a successful training cycle...that counts for something, right?

You read what at Starbuck's?

Friday was an extremely long day. I had foolishly agreed to working a double knowing that I had my final 16 mile run to attack on Saturday morning. I know, not well thought out, but I figured it was good prep for the real thing. I plan on working the Friday before the marathon. I am used to it and want to stick to my normal activities.
The morning shift was decent. Consistent flow of people until about 4 pm. At which point, I was hoping to transfer my remaining tables to the new servers. However, I had a few tables that I wanted to keep. I didn't want to interrupt their eating to be paid. I believed they would finish soon, too.
It didn't work out the way I thought it would. I thought they would take up maybe fifteen minutes, not fifty. My window of opportunity to get out of the building was diminishing at a quick pace. I looked around and knew that the other two bartenders would be okay if I took off for fifteen minutes.
I needed coffee. I offered to bring back a few coffees to a few of my co-workers that also had worked the morning shift. There is a Barnes & Noble attached to a Starbuck's on Colorado Boulevard. It was convenient and I wanted to make it quick.
Three people were working the counter at the Starbuck's...one was taking orders, one made the espresso drinks and the other was stocking. It didn't seem busy. They were taking forever to get through the orders. I stood back and took stock of the place. There were many customers--already enjoying delicious coffee--at most of the tables. Families, ethnic groups, single people. It was 5 pm and the place was packed.
I waited more and started to get annoyed. I couldn't figure out why they didn't bring someone else over to make drinks. The girl that was making drinks was obviously not fast or efficient. She messed up a drink and took up more time fixing that than getting my drinks.
I looked around the place again. I see a blonde guy, stocky, sitting alone at a nearby table. I look at what he is leafing through and do a double take. No way is this guy looking at a nudie magazine is my thought? And, yet, he totally was. And not the normal "tasteful" Playboy. No, he had a Hustler with 8 other wrapped magazines right next to it.
Incredible. In a coffee shop? At 5 o'clock? Surrounded by families, children, ethnic groups that are anti skin revealing and you are displaying a nudie mag?
Yet, this guy remained calm in his demeanor. He looked completely at home and I knew that I was probably the only person that noticed it. Seriously, he seemed fine with what he was doing. I wonder why he felt the need to view them there? I mean, how does coffee inspire being turned on? Maybe it was an experiment like performance art? Or, a What would you do if you saw this behavior type of episode? It was a nonissue, for me, since I was on a time crunch and needed to return to work and tell everyone there about it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

day shift surprise

Yesterday was supposed to be a day off. I had tried, really tried, to pick up a day shift but was shut down quickly. Melissa was uninterested, Katie had an "amazon party" or something, and I knew Jena wouldn't be interested in giving up her shift. I have learned that you must time it right to get the positive results.
I woke up, refreshed, from a wonderful night of sleep. I needed that. Made coffee and headed to the laundry mat. Due to running, I am forced to frequent the laundry mat frequently.
Between washing/drying, I receive a text from Katie--saying, I know this is last minute, but I had a little too much whisky...would you want to work?
Of course, I agreed.
I have a marathon to think of and want fun money to celebrate post-race. I dream of food, wine and restaurants to enjoy these two fundamental needs in my life at. A day shift was welcome.
I arrive at work and find out that there are two large parties on the books. One was at Eleven and the other was at noon. The one at Eleven did not scare me. I knew that I would be able to avoid that one. When the party showed up, they were fun, all men, and mostly drinking.
The party at noon wanted separate checks. On the reservation slip, there was a notation about it and how they "tipped well". I think there is a difference of opinion in what tip well means.
I know that most people do not understand why separating a check is a huge pain in the ass. It is time consuming. It can be complicated to keep everything in order while taking care of the rest of your section. It is inconvenient. And, after everything is said and done, rarely are you compensated for your effort. I dine with friends, often, and we never ask for separate checks. I have good friends, though, that support my foodie love. They enjoy the food experience as much as I do, or they lead me to believe that they do.
Regardless, I really did not want this party. It was 10-12 women, flight attendants, and so I was scared of what they would need.
Of course, in rotation terms, it was my turn. They walk in, individually, with a cake, multiple balloons and big hair. Initially, there were four of them. I bring twelve waters and they tell me that there would be fourteen women. I make adjustments---add a table, two chairs and bring additional waters.
Meanwhile, they lawyers show up and they always are needy. They need a personal assistant to attend to their needs.
Anyways, while there were four women, one approaches me and says--we would like separate checks and we will compensate if you do it. If you choose not to, well, that is your choice.
I told her that as long as they remained in their designated seat, I would be happy to do the separate checks.
This woman, introduced herself to me and said--if you have any problems, please let me know. We do not want to be problematic.
Eventually, there were thirteen women, in all. The first lady to leave did not compensate well and I was annoyed. I had refilled her tea, countless times, and she was able to leave in a timely fashion.
A few of the women drank cocktails. Most of them preferred iced tea. I refilled and refilled and refilled. I saw their cake and brought forks, plates and arranged to have a knife available to them. They were surprised, I think. The main woman had brought paper plates but opted to use our plates when she noticed they were available to them.
I split the checks and handed them out.
Like I said, tip well does not mean the same to most people.
It was a mixed bag of compensation and I felt betrayed.
But, I still refilled the coffee that they ordered and cleared away some of the glassware that they were no longer using. The main woman asked me over, said thank you, and handed me more cash.
Yes, it was worth it. I was hasty in my judgment; yet, I had been handed all of their cashouts. I saw the return to my investment based on their credit card slip. Why would I think they would hand me an additional $30?
If every party did that, of course, I wouldn't mind doing separate checks. Tipping 12-15% on a separate check is not compensating. It always astounds me when people forget, conveniently, what they ordered or take in to account the tax/tip factor. Instead, they hand their friends, twenty dollars and figure they are done. They do not worry that they are screwing someone over. We all know these people. If I dine with someone that is cheap and does cover the tab, I won't go out with them again. It isn't worth it to me.
Alright, I will get off of my box. The day shift was surprising and lucrative. And, I did deserve the extra $$$. All of their needs were met.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday's workout

I have my final 16 miler on Saturday. Taper commences that afternoon. So thankful for the taper!

Since I fell yesterday, I opted to cross train, today, with a strength training video. Granted, my injuries are not that apparent, visibly or physically, according to the Barefoot Runner. When I told him of my humiliating fall, he said--you cannot even tell that you fell. You are walking well and have minor scrapes on hands and knee. Your ankle, well, that is a little swollen, but you are still walking.
We went to dinner to celebrate his awesome marathon finish in the Outer Banks Marathon. He finished his first marathon in 3:58:36. I was happy for him and so we went to dinner.

Well, today, I feel it. My left hip is sore. Must be where I absorbed most of the force of the injury instead of doing a face plant. That would be fun to explain. Yes, I am grateful that I managed to avoid hitting my face.
My ankle isn't too swollen but it's stiff and isn't functioning properly. I am unable to pop my ankle. I know that sounds odd to most people, but I adjust most of my joints daily. Yes, I am able to pop my elbows and do it frequently. That one seems to freak most people out. To me, it feels great.

My video is one of Gunnar Peterson's DVD's. He is associated with J. Lo. He was her trainer for years. He knows his moves and I like his one Training Camp dvd since it is a full body workout with emphasis on the arms. I need more upper body strength to propel through the marathon. If only I had not waited to tackle this part of the training plan, right?
I feel a little guilty about not running, today, but since I have 16 miles to do, Saturday, I wanted my ankle to rest/heal so that the 16 miles would be a breeze. In my mind it's going to be. Must be a breeze...
The weather was gorgeous and I walked around Capitol Hill before deciding to do the workout video instead of running. There is always tomorrow. I think after work, tonight, I will take another salt bath to further loosen up my achy joints/legs.
Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Strawberry on the knee

What an incredible day? Well, until about 3 pm when the clouds rushed in the weather headed south. Of course this was when I thought I should head out for my run.
Clad in my typical attire--shorts/t-shirt--I headed west to Logan. I was in a positive running place thinking about my night, meeting some friends and then celebrating my running partner's awesome marathon finish. I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing.
I headed down Logan and just as I approached 6th ave, I see this guy on a bike and a woman that I just walked past. My immediate thoughts were--why are you on the sidewalk, riding your bike when there is a bike lane sort of? I contemplated how to maneuver the cyclist who by the way had no helmet on and looked inept on the bike. As we started to pass each other, I stepped down, funny, and ate it. I scraped my left knee, elbow, twisted my right ankle and somehow managed to avoid my face. I guess there are some things to be thankful for.
I stood up and the cyclist goes--are you okay?
This is me---F*&K! Yes, I am okay.
The walker followed me about a 1/2 block to ask me if I wanted a ride home. Very sweet, but I didn't want my foot to cramp up. Instead, I walked and tried to work out the kinks in my legs. I noticed, then, that my water bottle was covered in leaves/shit and that I had apparently fallen on a cactus since I had multiple twills on my right hand. Brilliant move, right?
I made it home, iced my foot and then took a salt bath. I am okay. A little humiliated, but whatever. I shouldn't have been focusing on the cyclist. Once I saw him, I quit watching the sidewalk and fell, hard, due to my own ineptitude. Yes, I now have a strawberry on my left knee. I felt like a kid again when I got home and saw that.
Tomorrow, I will be more aware of my surroundings and not get hung up on the random cyclist....

Dinner with friends

My prep work commenced and soon Lindsay arrived bearing two additional bottles of Italian wine. The wine we brought back from Sonoma was of Italian varietals--a primitivo and aglianico. We found them at VJB Winery and were extremely happy with the find.
I had prepared bruschetta, diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. We had three different cheeses to consume, strawberries, roasted red peppers and a white bean hummos dip. Oh, and sausage for Lindsay. I knew she would be thrilled with that addition.
I opened the Primitivo and it was delightful--exactly the way I remembered it. We toasted our trip, future trips and friendship. I only regret that Sipper was unable to join in the night. Another time. I believe that Megan will be in Denver, in March, and so we should try to meet for wine then, too.
I opened the Aglianico and knew that it was tainted. I retrieved a new glass to sample the current wine. Lindsay tried it and said that it tasted bubbly. Sara tried it and said that it tasted a little off, but it wasn't bad.
I tried it and knew that it wasn't corked, but it was off, chemically, like cooked. I was bummed since it definitely was not the wine that we sampled at VJB. Rainbow Brite strikes again. That is what I call a wine when it tastes like this.
Lindsay brought two bottles of wine. One was great and the other was corked. So, two of the four bottles were exceptional and the other two were mediocre. Yet, we enjoyed the night anyways.
I love hosting get togethers. I wish that I would do it more often. The cleaning is not even a factor. I thoroughly enjoy the conversations that occur amongst my friends. Maybe I should look into that as a career path....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wine madness continues

Day Two of excessive wine drinking begins in an hour.
Different friends and stories to keep the entertainment factor alive. Soooooooooo excited!
Initially, Maghan was supposed to join the Goddess, Sara Jo, and me for wine. We brought a few bottles of vino back from Napa and it was our intention to share the juice with him. We had a fantastic lodging experience mostly, in part, to Maghan's connections.
A few weeks ago, I asked him if today would work and he agreed to the date. It can be challenging to coordinate four people's schedules. And, Sara tends to pick up shifts early in the week which further limits my ability to coordinate.
Last night, he called me to cancel.
Still, we are opening the wine, eating garlic, bread and cheese, and toasting life. My friends are amazing! I worry the hangover factor, but it is worth it, all things considered. I cleaned my house in preparation of the visit and went shopping with Sara at Tony's gourmet market. I had heard many wonderful things about this market, but today was my first visit. Impressed, too. A little spendy, but cute and had many options to accompany our wine tasting tonight.
I am trying to slow down my prep work and so I opted to blog about more wine stories.
Or determination.
I have a friend from high school that I have been fortunate enough to keep up with via facebook. I knew that she was a runner from viewing her page and that she and her husband both were marathoners. What I didn't know was that her husband had been run over after a 1/2 Marathon two years ago. I didn't know that there was a question to whether or not he would walk again.
This man decided he wanted to run the New York Marathon. He did a week ago with his wife. Talk about determination and inspiration. Truly, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Instead of becoming a victim, he chose to run again and has inspired me to fully embrace what I want from my life. Life is short. It's not like I don't know that, but sometimes, I need the reminder to give me a burst of energy. Instead of sitting back and watching life go on around me, it is time to figure out what I want to take from it.
Not the just wine....Although, how awesome would that be to just drink great wine daily? Or write about it? Or travel for it? Ahhhhhh, wine, inspires me, too.......Enjoy your night. It is time for me to get back to prep work....

Sunday Funday

Yesterday, I was a normal person.
Normal, in the sense, that I didn't work Sunday morning. I, too, was able to join the masses and be served mimosas and Sunday brunch.
At the Brown Palace no less. Talk about decandence, delight and enjoyment.
Brie and Melissa met me at the Brown Palace. They, too, typically work every Saturday brunch or both. A few weeks ago, I commented to Melissa that we should enjoy the weekend like normal people. I told her to pick the Sunday and we would make it work.
Of course, once we had agreed to the date, we needed a place to dine.
I love Elway's but knew that Brie only sort of liked it. Plus, it is too easy, for me, to go there. A friend of mine suggested Lucille's and that, too, is a fall back. They are known for brunch and extremely busy on the weekends. I love their corn bread and they make a decent bloody mary. It wasn't a draw enough for me to say there.
The Highlands area was recommended but I wanted to be able to cab it back to my house without spending a fortune.
Then, out of genius, one of my bartending friends said--you know, if you want to do it right, you should go to the Brown Palace.
I texted Brie and Melissa and asked them if they thought this would be a good idea. They did and so I made reservations for brunch.
It was lovely. There was a table covered with seafood, crab legs, sushi, sashimi. They had a carving station that I avoided and another table dedicated to individually made omelettes. Yummy!
And, the champagne flowed.
They have a 4 tiered system to price out the brunch. I have had Dom, before, but I was unwilling to pay $185 to mix it with orange juice. The Chandon was perfect for us.
I went running to prepare for the feeding frenzy that would commence. Truly, I ate, a lot, but not too crazy. I loved the sushi and omelette. The desserts were subpar. Disappointing, in all fairness. The server told us to save room and really pushed them. The desserts were not all that.
After brunch, we took the free mall ride to head to Larimer Square. It was a little cold and they thought about taking a cab. I prefer walking, but knew the bus was a fair compromise. Since it was 3ish, our options were limited. We walked into Capitol Grille and the bartender told us they were not open yet. Bummed since I wanted a Stoli Doli.
Around the corner is Euclid Hall. Open and ready for us to continue our own version of Sunday Funday.
Eventually, we did go to Capitol Grille and I did drink a stoli doli. Awesome day--full of lively conversation and drinks. Thankful for friends and work....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Post winery tour

Hiring a driver wasn't all it was cracked up to be. We returned to Napa and I declared to my friends....I could have driven. We could be at Chandon right now! It is such a great tasting room.

Next time, our next Destination Race, I will drive.

Probably not, but I felt fairly certain about my capabilities.

On a side note, I think we are going to do the Virginia Race, June 2011. I am going to sign up. I know Sipper is in and believe that the Goddess and Sara Jo are both interested, too.

Our wine tasting ended at 4:30. There was still too much of the day to explore. We had stocked up on snacks, in Sonoma, and so I cracked one of the bottles of wine that we purchased. I think we drank the Benziger wine while eating cheese, crackers and some of the sausage that Lindsay insisted we buy when we stopped at a gourmet shop in San Raphael. Lindsay bought a pound of sausage and we put a major dent on it through the course of the weekend.

After our mid-afternoon snack, we walked into the downtown area to continue to enjoy wine. We stopped by the waterfront. I had dined at a few of their eateries on earlier visits. Somehow, I had never been to The Bounty Hunter. We ordered a bottle of champagne. I wanted it. I felt we must since we were unable to get to Chandon. The Bounty Hunter is a lively bar, but with no tv's. Since there was a World Series Game on, we changed venues to watch the game.

Joe's was packed with many costumed people hoping to watch the Giants win another game. While in California, everyone was making baseball references, wearing attire of the Giants and happy/lively in general. It was awesome to see the energy of the area.

We returned to the Bounty Hunter to dine on bbq. Isn't that a ridiculous amount? Still, we devoured it with cole slaw and pickles. Those were awesome. I could still taste the cucumber aspect of it.
At this point, my night was done. We walked back to the house and I went to sleep. Somehow, I got smart. Typically, I continue to open wine bottles to keep the party going.
The next morning, my friends were thanking me for going to bed instead of opening another bottle of wine. And since I was "smart" we now had two bottles to utilize in San Francisco instead of none.
We packed up, everything, stripped the bedding, and did a walk-thru of the property. The Box was perfect for us. Two bedrooms/one bathroom and the location was ideal. We walked everywhere in Napa and were intelligent about leaving the car there instead of driving aimlessly around the Valley, high on wine.
Yes, the Box was ideal. My friends were not high maintenance or demanding in the lodgings or sleeping arrangements. I was fortunate that they all got along and have become friendly, individually, too. Isn't there a saying--3 days, max, to stay with friends or family since they are like fish...after 3 days it starts to smell?
We spent 3 days with Sipper and then she dropped us off at our hotel in San Francisco. Megan had to return to her life in D.C. Lindsay, Sara Jo, and I had opted to spend one day in the city. In a way, it renewed us. Being in a new location seemed like beginning the trip again. Or, perhaps, there is something magical about San Francisco.....

Driver experience

I have been to Napa/Sonoma Valley a number of times in the last four years. I love Napa.
This last trip, I decided to become a responsible adult and hire a car service. Sara Jo and I discussed it, at length, and I knew that Lindsay and Megan would be on board with hiring a car. Why limit the enjoyment factor because we were too cheap to hire a car? There was no reason to force someone to not enjoy wine while tasting. I was unwilling to sacrifice myself for the greater good. I didn't want to be the driver on Sunday.
Realistically, it made perfect sense and so Sara found us a car service. She called me before committing to a specific service. We had a few options. There was a limo service, a town car or a suburban.
Immediately, we rejected the idea of the limo. Too pretentious and cumbersome. Pulling into a winery seemed foolish in the limo since it shouted out our presence.
The town car was cheaper than the suburban, but smaller, too. Someone would have to sit with the driver and that wasn't part of the equation. And, the suburban service would be discounted due to our running the Healdsburg 1/2 Marathon. I told Sara to arrange the driver through them.
Our driver arrived on time. He was older, efficient and seemed willing to do whatever we wanted as long as it didn't go outside of the prearranged time limit. Driving to Sonoma took awhile and of course, we had the tram tour which further ate away at our 6 hour time limit. From Benziger, we asked the guy to drive to Imagery. Ironically, he had to look at the map to see which way to go. I had the comp pass with a map on it and so I handed it to him. First indication that he wasn't all that.
And, I noticed that he didn't have a wine opener with him. Why have a driver if you cannot drink in the car?
We walked up to Imagery and our driver accompanied us. For some reason, this was a service he provided. I didn't know I needed someone to hold my hand on the way to the individual wineries.
Imagery was fantastic. Jenna, our guide, was sweet and dressed in costume. We tried several additional wines and found Megan a port. From this point, Megan, had a new nickname---Sipper. They had port glasses with thin straws attached. When you sip port, you were forced to sip through the spot and the port touched your tongue's sweet area immediately. We christened Megan, Sipper, since she hearts Port. Ahhhhhhhhh, Sipper was born.
We asked Jenna where she enjoyed tasting. She said--St. Francis--done already, Chateau St. Jean--I had done that one on a previous visit and agreed that she had excellent taste or Ledson. Again, I had tasted at Ledson before.
Then, she said--Enkidu.
Intrigued, I looked at the Sonoma Tasting Magazine and decided that that should be our next stop. It was near Imagery and the wines were supposed to be fantastic! Why not head there?
And, Jenna knew one of the guides there since Maggie also worked at Imagery.
Returned to car and told driver of our next destination. He had purchased a wine opener, for us; yet, still had not glasses to taste from.
I told him that we wanted to conclude our tasting tour at Chandon. I like sparkling wines and know that the tasting room at Chandon is always lively and packed. A fun tasting for sure.
Our driver looked at his watch and expressed his concerns. Time would be an issue, but we could make it.
Enkidu was delightful. Small, intimate and had a wonderful story as to why it was named as such. Remember Gilgamesh? That's right. This is how Enkidu was named. I love details and historical accounts.
I purchased a wine and we decided food was our next stop. A market was around the corner and so sandwiches were chosen. I opened the wine from Enkidu and we toasted Halloween, friendship and wine tasting. I convinced the clerk at the store to give us four cups so we could drink wine.
I knew we were cutting it close on time, but felt we could squeeze one more winery in Sonoma before heading to Chandon. VJB was within walking distance of Enkidu and so our driver remained in his spot. We walked over to the winery.
VJB specializes in Italian varietals. I loved the Primitivo and Aglianico.
We returned to the car and I asked our driver, do we have time to make it to Chandon?
He turned around and said, no. However, if you want to go there, we can extend your time by 15 minute increments for this amount.
I asked him to return us to our home in Napa. Gratuity had been included in the prearranged rate. We were happy to pay that, but realistically, my friends are all service oriented and we would have tipped on top of it had be provided service. He didn't. Let's review.
No wine opener to start with.
No glasses to drink wine from.
I provided the direction to Imagery.
What did he provide?
A vehicle that drove us to three wineries.
He didn't drink and so his suggestions were limited to popular spots that others wanted to go too.
Unhappy with this service for the amount we paid.
However, it was the smart thing to do. If I choose to hire a driver, again, I will ask for recommendations from people that live in the area. I know there must be some hip driver that is knowledgeable about the area, enjoys wine and is willing to overlook some of the time constraints.
And, I would pay for it.

Official Wine Tasting Day--Sunday--first place

Sunday morning, we had one wine tasting set up. I figured that one place would lead to another, and another and another. I believe in being spontaneous when tasting. Why have such concrete/inflexible plans? I think of all of the experiences I have had based upon recommendations of others. This is the way to taste in my opinion. Thankfully, my friends agreed to letting me guide this portion of the trip.
I met a Napa contact while attending a wine dinner at Solera. I love Solera and all of the connections I have made from that restaurant. It is a gem of a place.
Anyways, because of my contact, we were set up to enjoy a complimentary wine tasting/tram tour at Benziger. Rob had set the appointment up 6 weeks prior to our tasting. Moreover, we had tasted at St. Francis because he arranged that appointment for me, too. We were driven to Benziger with the belief that our tour date had been set up and arranged for six weeks.
I approached the check-in spot and told the lady my name. I explained that I worked at a brewery in Denver, Colorado; and that a tasting had been set up, under my name, through a specific distributor.
The girl looked at her list and said--I don't see you here.
Confused, I tried to look at the list.
She noticed this and said--see, I have highlighted the two appointments during this time. I don't see you on the list.
At this point, I told her that someone else had made the appointment for us, six weeks ago, and that they should definitely have our information.
Since the St. Francis tasting went smoothly, I couldn't contemplate how this would be messed up. I mentioned, again, that they should have the appointment noted in their books.
She tells me that we could purchase the tasting for $15.
I will be honest. I didn't want to pay that fee especially since I knew we had been comped. Somewhere, there had been a breakdown in communication, but from my end, we were covered. I asked me friends who had patiently watched the entire interaction between myself and the girl at Benziger.
They agreed to the fee.
I approached her, again, and said--we are interested in 4 tours, but since I am industry don't you discount the price?
She said--well, you should have set something up.
Incredulous, I almost lost it at this point. Instead, I walked away from the window and asked to access Megan's phone so that I could look up my e-mail stating that we had been given a comp tasting at Benziger at 11:30 am. I had kept the e-mail with Rob's number for this instance. I didn't want to bother him, but it was an issue of principle now. I wanted to prove that I was right. We did have a prearranged tasting and we would not be paying a dime to this girl.
As I search for the e-mail, somehow, she locates our information.
She hands me the passes, never apologizes for her incompetence and bids us farewell.
My friends were amazed at my restraint and Lindsay kept saying--her customer service sucked. I mean, she obviously didn't understand the merits of her job. Why would you make up a story? You had the person's name, corporation, your job, etc., and still, she doubted you.
This entire interaction was time consuming. While I searched for my e-mail, other people walked up to check in or purchase the tram tour. I watched the girl give complimentary passes to Imagery. She neglected to give us, ours, when she handed me the comp tour.
The tour of Benziger was informative and interesting. They have a biodynamic organic system in place and have for quite some time. The winery is stunning. We saw the grapes, the wine press and caves where they store the wine. All, in all, a great experience.
Afterwards, I approached the guide to ask him where he would recommend trying in the area. As earlier noted, I rely on others opinions when tasting.
He said--well, you have the complimentary passes to Imagery. I would go there.
I stunned him with--no, the girl was confused when we checked in and did not give us the passes.
He insisted that we return to the check-in gate and tell the girl that Gary said we should be given our passes to Imagery.
I did just that after sampling 5 of Benziger's wine. I preferred the syrah to the others. Surprisingly, I liked the chardonnay, too.
I approached the gate, same girl, and said--I would like to be given our passes to Imagery.
She looked up, realized who I was, and said--here they are...and thank you for coming back up. She knew she was wrong. Truly wrong in how she handled the situation with us. I wasn't trying to pull one over on her or Benziger.
We returned to our car and I told the driver our next location....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Zu Zu

After we wine tasted in Napa and Santa Rosa, we had a beer at Russian River Brewery. The entire experience, up to that point, was lovely.

Granted, I was ready to shower, feel refreshed and consider dinner. Bouchon was out of question due to capacity and not wanting to drive to Yountville. I had heard many wonderful things about Zu Zu. They had tapas and since there were four of us, it would be an excellent way to sample the food.

We walked into the establishment and took the best table in the place. We were seated in the front window of the restaurant. I looked over and saw the couple from Failla. On their way out, the guy stopped over and thanked me for the recommendation. They decided to dine at Zu Zu after our conversation at Failla. His companion was boozy. I think the wine tastings were too much for the lady.

We brought a bottle of wine from St. Francis Winery to begin the night. Our waiter opened it for us and we began determining our meal.
We tried everything--queso frito, octopus, cheese, cod, beet salad, ceviche, and chilaquiles. I think I loved those the best! While we sat there, we drank two more additional bottles of wine and coursed our courses. It was a two+ hour meal and extremely enjoyable.
Thank goodness for my friends. Really, they didn't argue with me about price, selection or how much wine I was determined to drink. It was awesome. My idea of dining perfection. Plus, my day began at 4:15 am so that I could shower before the Healdsburg Half. Dining that way was the best way to end the night.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Black skies and unhappy runner visions

What happened to the sun?
Of course, on the day, that I had a running date set up, it is sleeting. YUCK!!! I hate this weather. Yesterday was glorious. I walked to Cherry Creek to savor the sun and how it made me feel.
When I woke up, this morning, the sun was shining and life was positive. Endless opportunities and growth. I foolishly believed that the weather forecasters were wrong. I hoped for sunshine.
My running partner (Barefoot Runner) texted and said--why don't we go now so we can avoid the rain/snow that is supposed to start at 2?
Had I not been working, I would have loved to have went running at Eleven am.
But, work won that round.
At noon, there was a hint of foreboding. The sun still was shining and I was hopeful that running would be doable at 5.
One o'clock and the sky changed. Black clouds and ominous sky. My running hopes were crushed.
By two, it was raining.
Now, I wait to stretch, grab my poncho and head to Wash Park. I found a poncho, somehow, remembered that Brian had one in our old apartment. I knew that it was in my junk drawer/junk box of stuff that I never seem to get around to unpacking.
This will be challenging, but I am committed to running. The marathon is in a month and my taper does not officially start for another ten days. I have one more 16 mile run to contend with before I can rest.
I want the sun back! Very sad..........

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Twenty Miles

It's November and 78 degrees--I love it!
This morning, I woke up, knowing this, and so I dressed appropriately--t-shirt and shorts. There was no need to bring a jacket.
I arrive at the designated spot and do some mild stretching. I check my ipod and realize that no, it would not be accompanying me on the 20 mile run. Damn ipod was not functioning.
The group was tiny and I feared that I would be running solo from mile 6-12 without any inspiration. That would suck! I had arranged to have one of my running friends, the Barefoot Runner, meet me at the turnaround point, mile 16. I knew that the final 8 would be challenging for me, but at least, I would have someone to talk to.
I joined the pace group and headed towards Cherry Creek. I think there were fourteen people and had overheard most of them saying that they were going 12-14 miles. I was screwed.
We ran up the bike path and headed south to Wash Park on Downing. I am extremely familiar with this area since this is my typical run. I was feeling great, too. The pace was decent and I felt confident in finishing the dreaded solo portion of the run.
We ran through Wash Park and started talking about food. This girl, Severin, mentioned the French Laundry and I started envisioning amazing food. She wasn't dining there. Instead, she and her husband were hoping to get in at Frasca. The som and chef both worked at the French Laundry at one point. Ahhhhhh, food, and how distracting it is, for me.
Mile 6, aid station. I knew that this was the end of running with others. Out of nowhere, this guy goes--anyone going 20?
I about fell over. Ecstatic, overjoyed, extremely happy.
We took off and b.s.'d about childhood, New Orleans, Vegas Marathon. I liked him and sensed that we were similar in age due to his stories.
I told him that the Barefoot Runner was plannning on meeting me at the Mile 16 turnaround. Ironically, he knew him, too. A few weeks ago, they ran on one of the Saturday long runs. Small world, but still in the runner's world.
As we approached the mile 9 mark, I wanted to find a porta potty. Of course, there weren't any in sight. And, I had no money and we were not near any convenience stores. We were in a residential area with a few small parks, here and there. I noticed a woman, walking. She looked like a native to the area and so I asked her if she knew where a porta potty could be found. No---there are none anywhere around here....
Focused on finding a potty, I noticed another park, with a small stucture. It wasn't a mirage. It was a bathroom. Eureka!
It was locked. Of course.
I saw a blue structure and headed that direction. It was available and a heavenly break from the 20 mile dread. Apparently, the woman passed by Rich and said--oh, this must be new. I hadn't noticed it before. Funny.
One mile later, we made it to the turnaround. We passed by the blue heaven, stopped at an aid station and had to slow down, twice, so that I could have reserve energy for the final 3 miles. I wanted it to be over and so I kept speeding up.
At the 16 mile turnaround, we picked up a solo runner---Grady. It was funny. He was hitchhiking to join us.
I was very envious of his fresh legs as we trudged back though the DU campus, Wash Park, Cherry Creek Path and Cherry Creek. The last two miles sucked. I was ready to walk.
However, I knew we were 7 blocks from the end and so I started telling them about the weekend in Napa. I could do it. I did.
Rich and I finished in 3.5 hours. I feel fantastic and great about Vegas.
Afterwards, we entered Runner's Roost hoping that bagels and coffee would still be available. It wasn't and I don't blame them. Like I mentioned, most of the group were running 8-12 miles. We came in late.
Now, I am resting on my purple couch and trying to delay the time. Closing shift be damned!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mid-afternoon break from wine

We had asked Rony where we could enjoy a snack. He suggested a gourmet shop near St. Francis. Normally, I prefer gourmet shops while wine tasting.
Ironically, we countered with wanting to go Russian River Brewery since I had met the brewer at the Great American Beer Festival. And, I like to take breaks between wine tastings with beer. Plus, Sara wanted to check it out. She mentioned that since we were so close to it, we should attempt to go.
Rony said--Oh, I love that place! Really? You are going there? I could meet you--Too funny.
We drove into Santa Rosa. Russian River Brewery is located in the downtown area. I am somewhat familiar with Santa Rosa from a previous trip to wine country. I remember wanting to watch the NCAA basketball finals at that particular spot. But, due to overcrowding, I returned to my hotel without sampling their amazing beer. I watched the Florida/Ohio State game at the Flamingo Hotel. Talk about letdown of a game and karoake ensued at the Flamingo.
This time, I was determined to enjoy a pint.
Of course, the brewer was not there. I guess this means I will have to return for another visit.
We entered the packed establishment and was seated by the wall, under a large screen tv. The World Series Game was about to begin. Lindsay loves baseball and so I knew a few of our collective needs were being met--location/beer for Sara, and baseball, for Lindsay. I think Megan just liked being there, like me.
We ordered water and beer and then the game began. Blasted from the sound, we moved to the last available open table. It was too much. I couldn't handle the sound. It was unbearable. I felt like an old lady; however, I wasn't alone with the sound factor.
We ordered some flatbread and drank a beer. I drank the porter, Lindsay tried the wit bier and Sara and Megan drank an IPA. We were sated.
Wanting to have an enjoyable dinner, we stopped at a Peet's coffee shop and drove back to Napa. I needed a shower! No more wine tasting without a change of clothes. I liked our costumes for the holiday and that everyone asked what race we had run. But, I was ready for a change.

Wine tasting

We drove to St. Helena to do a wine tasting at Failla.

This winery had been suggested to me by my friend, Huston. I value his palette, his suggestions, his knowledge when it comes to food or wine. He was the sommelier at Bouchon in Las Vegas. Absolutely, this guy knows his wine.

I e-mailed the winery to set up the tasting. The room, itself, was small, comfy, very familiar feeling. We were tasting with two other couples--one from Phoenix and the other knew each other from school.

I overheard our guide mention that he had a scholarship to Gonzaga, but turned it down. Looking at him, he seemed to small to be a football player and not tall/lean enough to be a basketball player. Either way, he had turned down the opportunity to attend Gonzaga.

Still, he retained the frat boy mentality.

He did use questions to engage us as a group. Where are you from? Where are you staying? Where are you dining? I fielded that one. I mentioned that although I had wanted to dine at Bouchon, they were booked til 10 pm, and had we gotten into the restaurant, we would need a car. Driving to Bouchon was not an option after a long day of wine tasting.

Instead, I told them that we were dining at Zu Zu.

The wines were decent. We tried a surprisingly good chardonnay. I say that knowing that typically, I do not like chardonnays. This one was lovely.

We tried a few different pinot noirs and a syrah. I enjoyed them and then, our guide, said--alright, you can purchase wine, pay for the wine tasting, and then we will go to the caves.

We opted to pay and leave. Short on time, still in our running gear and really not love-loving the wine, I told the guy we would pay for the tasting. I handed him my Bull and Bush business card/sticker and asked about utilizing a chardonnay barrel. The brewers want to age a beer in a used chardonnay barrel and I agreed to investigate.

Our guy lost focus at this point and I was ready to leave. We paid and left.

Headed back to Sonoma with the promise of Russian River Brewery soon.

We arrived at St. Francis Winery 30 minutes early. They had a full tasting room and from the windows, their grounds were stunning. We met our guide and he told us we could taste 4 wines.

He started us off and we enjoyed the wine. He became busy with a club member and so he gave us Rony, our Peruvian guide.

Rony was awesome. We tried several additional wines to the promised 4. Plus, he was knowledgeable, had an accent and coined the phrase--You will have happiness in the heart--which became our trip saying.

Yes, St. Francis was perfect. We bought wine, for later, and chocolate since we all agreed on the chocolate factor.
Day one of wine tasting was complete. Failla was a nice intro into wine country and St. Francis was delightful. The service we received made a huge difference in our experience and perspective.

Race Day Photos

Candid shots from Saturday. My friends are AMAZING and they all got along extremely well......

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

1/2 Marathon

Healdsburg Half Marathon
I woke up at 4:30 to shower. I wanted to feel refreshed and I knew that that would be the only time to do it. My friends were uninterested in the shower factor and so I woke up, completely, alone.
15 minutes later coffee was served. I had nerves and rushed around trying to make sure that I did not forget anything.
I had my shoes. My chapstick. Visor. I considered not bringing it, but knew, that yes, the visor is my security blanket. I have run twice without it since I began this journey as a runner.
I left my ipod at the Box (our lodgings) since I knew that Lindsay and I were running the race together. The ipod was unnecessary.
Somehow we wasted 45 minutes. Originally, we planned on leaving at 5:15 in order to drive to Healdsburg and catch the last shuttle at 6:30. The race had shuttle stops that were conveniently located around Healdsburg. I felt if we parked at the Dry Creek Best Western that would be the best option. Post race, that particular shuttle, was supposed to run back to the location every twenty minutes. It would work.
Megan drove to Healdsburg in the complete dark. Our road was windy and there were stretches of one lane only. Thankfully, there wasn't much traffic. Still, we arrived at the Best Western at 6:30.
We arrived as a shuttle was departing. There was a considerable amount of people waiting in the parking lot and so I knew that they would send another shuttle. We took the Charter Bus and arrived at Francis Ford Coppola. I needed another potty break and so, Sara and I headed to the line and waited, and waited and waited. Seriously. That line didn't move and they kept saying---5 minutes til we start. The race started late since there were people still arriving from shuttles at 7:15.
Prior to the race, Megan decided that she would walk the race. She had an injury on her hip and was told if she ran, she would postpone her recovery by a month. Megan is a competitive person and waivered with what she wanted to do. I told her that she should listen to her body and decide what would work best. If she wanted to try to run, she should. Otherwise, she could take a shuttle to the end, I thought.
Race began with Sara, Lindsay and I running together. It was a beautiful day--overcast, humid, but incredibly beautiful landscape. We started off conservative. At mile 3, we listened to some chick yell---This is the only porta potty.....I am going here! It only stuck out since she was so loud about it.
Continuing on, I was a little ahead of Sara and Lindsay. Our pace was good and I felt the race was going extremely well. At mile 5, Lindsay and I separated from Sara. Sara is more of a solo runner and I knew that she wanted to focus on the race, figure out her pace/exertion rate; while, Lindsay runs for herself and prefers a conversation for the race. Me, I figured it was a training run and approached it as such. I felt awesome.
Mile 6 was in front of Quivira Winery. They had wine available at the aid station. We drank it.
The course was rolling hill and it was funny how easy it was to conquer the hills for us. I think elevation worked in our favor. Actually, I know it did. A little humid, but otherwise, the conditions were perfect.
At mile 10, Lindsay started to want to conserve energy. I wanted to race with her and so I hung back. We slowed down, a little. The next three miles, we ran and I felt that I definitely could have picked up the pace. I kept pushing for it, and she encouraged me to take off. I wouldn't though. I wanted to finish with her.
We passed by a male runner that had dehydrated. The Red Cross van was attending to him, but I didn't want to stare at this as we ran by since I had this unusual feeling that if I focused too much on his situation, it would happen to me. I know it was irrational. I just didn't want to feel his pain.
We crossed the finish line and was handed a lovely medal for finishing. I had turned around to get ready to root for Sara and she crossed before I could get my camera ready. Bummer! I wanted to cheer for her but was unaware of her proximity to us.
Our chip time (mine and Lindsay) was 2:15:57. Okay time--right dab in the middle, but I really enjoyed the race. I know that I could have competed and felt I could have PR'd that race had I not agreed to run with Lindsay. It was a training run, for me, and I ran it with someone.
We retrieved our bag which took too long and was about to head to the wine glass line when Megan showed up. She ran her first 1/2 Marathon, injured and all, and finished in 2:44:00. Amazing, especially knowing that she was attempting her first and not in the best condition to do so. Everyone told her that she should sit this out, but her determination aided her in tackling the 1/2.
At this point, we needed to head back to Napa, shower, and drive back to Calistoga/St. Helena area. We walked to the shuttle return area to find 3 huge lines. Disorganized. Messy to contend with. Other people had envisioned the great Best Western return, too, only to find that it wasn't every 20 minutes. More like 35-45 minutes. I was happy to be in line and grateful for the service. Unfortunately, there were many people that were bitching about the time it took to return to cars which did not help the situation.
I think that should be addressed when planning next year's race and even the porta potties, too. There were not that many available along the course. They definitely could have used more.
Instead of showering, we drove to St. Helena and arrived 5 til one. Wine tasting commenced in our workout clothes. More on that later.
I am so glad that we ran the Healdsburg Half. It was a beautiful course and something that I will always remember--food, wine, and friends.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

best day to travel

Of all days--Tuesday--is the best!
Absolutely amazing.
This morning, we walked around San Francisco in search of a breakfast burrito. Yes, I had to have a breakfast burrito. Lindsay agreed as I knew she would. I think she enjoys mexican food as much as I do.
We headed out of the hotel. We had to walk through the junkies (again) and head towards union station. I thought there would be a selection of mexican restaurants available to us. I did. I found one when I stayed in the city in August. We walked by it, this morning, and my friends considered that as an option. I declined.
We walked by numerous Thai, Vietnamese and Asian restaurants. No mexican.
Eventually, we utilized Lindsay's phone to speed the process up. We located a restaurant and walked in that direction. We found the spot and it wasn't open yet. Of course, it wouldn't be that easy.
We sought out the internet again amd found an alternate location.
They were open and offered breakfast burritos. Breakfast was served. AMAZING. Fantastic salsa and a delightful burrito.
Afterwards, we picked up the bag, checked out of the hotel and walked to the BART Station. I was surprised at the cost--$8.10 per individual--but I recognized that it was less than a taxi or shuttle service. Plus, it is efficient. The train leaves multiple times during the hour. Our ride to SFO was painless.
Upon arriving at the airport, we checked into the flight and walked to security. Five minutes later, we were in the terminal. Super quick.
Next, we drank a beer and waited out the two + hour wait until our flight departed. We reminisced the weekend, the photos and the saying--Happiness in my heart--coined by Rony, at St. Francis Winery. More on that later.
We headed towards the gate and realized that we were holding the flight up. However, in our defense, boarding started at 2:15. Apparently, it had been quick. Within ten minutes, we were the only stragglers.
Flight left on time. Arrived on time.
Lindsay took the shuttle to her car and Sara and I picked up her bag.
Each step required minimal effort and affirmed that, yes, Tuesday, is a wonderful day to travel. My trip to Healdsburg was remarkable. I intend a recap of the Healdsburg 1/2, wine country, food and San Francisco. Super eventful and noteworthy.