To Relay or Not to Relay?

Yesterday I did my 2nd 800’s series of marathon training.  In half marathon land, we did 400’s and maybe 1 800 thrown in per workout.  I liked 400’s.  They made me feel fast! 800’s make me feel sick.  And while I know I’ll build up my endurance, I was DONE after 3 (I still finished out my last required two, but they were noticeably slower than the first three).

My fastest split was about 15 seconds faster than my fastest split a few weeks ago, so at least that’s progress! But man oh man do those 800’s not feel so good.  I was dreading them all day. Plus, that promised rain storm never came so I was once again running in the 6:30 p.m. heat.

Also, some jerk had the audacity to GRILL FOOD in one of the houses next to the track, so I got a major gag reflex every time I ran by that house.

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Yesterday I also got a phone call from an old co-worker of mine.  She’s training for the RnR Denver Half, and she knew that we’ve been training for a marathon. I guess a few people had dropped out of their 12 person relay team for the Wild West Relay Race that runs between Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs, Co, and she wanted to know if we were interested in taking their places. I have been wanting to do a relay just because everyone (like Erika) seems to really enjoy themselves at these relays!  But it is easier to say that you WANT to do something than to actually do it.

A few of my fears:

1) I am terrified of the dark.  I can’t help it.  Running by myself in the dark sounds kind of nightmarish.

2) Wild creatures like bears, bobcats, mountain lions, SNAKES, bugs live in the forest.  I don’t want to meet my demise because my headlamp didn’t illuminate the giant bear until it was too late.

3) I watch a lot of crime shows.  Criminal Minds has let me know that running in the dark in the forest surly means I will be abducted by some serial killer who will lock me up in a cave.  This doesn’t sound like much fun. Caves are dark.  See #1.

4) Spending lots of time in a van with people who I might want to punch in the face.  I only know 1 girl going in.  What if I have the worst weekend ever because I have to spend it with truly terrible people? OR, what if they all want to punch me in the face?  That’s pretty awkward too.

5) Getting lost.  They only have signs at points where the course changes direction.  The website literally says that they can’t be held responsible for signs that get turned the wrong way by some funny person, or if signs blow away.  If you miss a sign, or if it isn’t there, or if it is pointing the wrong direction, then you are lost in the forest.  See #’s 1-3.

6) Getting run over.  The roads aren’t closed.

We aren’t sure yet whether we’re going to do this or not.  It will disrupt our training schedule a bit (MUST FOLLOW THE PLAN), and at $135 a person plus travel and accommodations, it starts adding up.  With friends getting married here soon (and all the shower/bachelor(ette) parties going on with that), plus Chicago and all of those fancy stores and restaurants that the city must certainly contain, the next few months are going to be expensive enough already.  Plus, Fort Collins isn’t exactly anywhere near Albuquerque, so we’d have to take days off work (I’m running out of those), and spend a weekend driving for hours, sitting in a van for hours, running for a few hours, and then driving for more hours back home.  I could be doing a lot with those hours back home.

So, we’re trying to make up our mind by this afternoon.

I think it would be fun, but I also think it would be more fun if it was something that fit into our plan a little bit more.  We’ll see what happens.

Happy Wednesday!

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Rain and Wine: Two of My Favorite Things (But Not Necessarily Rain IN Wine)

(This was written this morning, but I ran out of time to spell check and edit before having to head inside….And I was waiting on a few pictures (ahem, Aaron).  So, just pretend that you were reading this 5 hours ago for optimum effect!)

I am currently sitting outside in the perfect, cool, overcast early morning doing my blog catch up.  We had another fantastic, slow drizzle last night, so everything smells dewy and rainy (try topping that scent description, Pottery Barn!).  Add the yummy chai flavored coffee that I discovered at Trader Joe’s, and you get an Amy who has no desire to head inside to get ready for work.  I wonder if I could work from home today…

*Also, just a point of clarification.  When I said my long run this weekend was within my goal pace, I definitely did not mean that I ran it at my marathon goal pace.  I ran it at my long run goal pace which right now is between 1 minute and 90 seconds slower than my marathon pace (by the end I want it to be between 30 seconds and 1 minute slower).  This is the first long run of marathon training that I’ve actually hit those numbers, so I’m really excited, however I’m not quite cool enough to be running 14 miles at an 8 minute mile pace without actually being in a race situation.

This past weekend we headed up to Santa Fe for the Santa Fe Wine Festival.  If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of wine.  We have two local wine festivals that we go to every year.  The New Mexico Wine Festival is the next town over from Albuquerque during Labor Day weekend, and is the largest in the state.

But our favorite is the Santa Fe Wine Festival held over 4th of July weekend.  It is much smaller, but the lines are shorter, and the servers are usually actually the vinters as opposed to help hired off craigslist who wouldn’t know a dry red vs. a sweet red if it bit them in the face.  I wish I was kidding.  New Mexico is actually the oldest wine region in the country. Before Napa, little monks were growing and fermenting here way back in the early 1600’s.  Most wineries here still are family owned and have that “quaint” feeling as opposed to the ones in Napa that herd you in on guided tours (not that I’m complaining…I love Napa and Sonoma.  I’ll hang out at the Chandon complex anyday!).

I wrote an extensive post with lots of pictures of both the Santa Fe Wine Festival and the living history museum that hosts it last year, so I didn’t feel the need to go picture crazy this year.  We also didn’t buy any bottles since we’re still working on the 4 cases we bid on during the silent auction last month.

{We were pretty “wined” out, so we got glasses of bubbly}

After the wine festival, we were hungry, so we headed to a microbrewery near our house to get some grub.  The ladies next to us asked the server which beer was closest to Bud Light.  In a microbrewery.  Now, as far as running goes, I am 100% supportive of everyone and the journey they are on.  Fast, slow, short races, ultra distances, whatever.  I am excited for each and every one of you and where you are at.  But, if you ask for something that tastes like Bud Light at a microbrewery, oh my goodness I will go beer snob on you.  Might as well go to a Wolfgang Puck restaurant and ask for the thing on the menu that tastes most like a Big Mac (This may not be the best comparison…I’ve never actually been to a Wolfgang Puck  restaurant.  For all I know, they could offer something that tastes like a Big Mac).

I let out my rage on Facebook (which in retrospect, wasn’t the most classy thing I could have done, but at least people agreed with me!). For the record, if Bud Light is your drink of choice, more power to you.  I myself was a fan in college.  But maybe don’t advertise it at a place where someone has made it their life’s work produce something much better…and maybe try some of the good stuff every once in awhile.

Later, that same lady said something about the lack of domestics on the beer list.  Because beer brewed in the next room definitely isn’t domestic.

We took a picture of them, but I decided that it probably was a good idea not to post it lest they be part of the mafia.

SIGH. I’m fun to be around, I promise.

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Last night Aaron and I suited up and took Giuseppe for a run/walk in the rain.  I knew I wanted to vary it up a bit yesterday after all the running I did this weekend, so we walked around the neighborhood, let the puppy splash in the puddles, then found our way to the park to jog around the perimeter before heading back home.  Aaron splurged on some of that K-T tape because he’s willing to try just about anything right now to get back in the running game (you should see the arsenal of homeopathic products he’s been putting on his foot).  It is supposed to stay on for 4 days (good, since it is pretty pricey), and we definitely put it to the test by running around in the rain!  It might not help, but at least it stayed sticky.  Jogging on the grass also seemed to be more comfortable for his foot than jogging on the pavement.

We were soaked! You can see the one little dry spot on Aaron.

Eventually, we think we’d like to settle down somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  Even though I LOVE my sunshine and warm weather, I’ve been really craving a rainy climate lately.  I think becoming a runner has made me appreciate cooler/less barren desert places. And I get really jealous anytime one of you posts pictures of your green, lake/beach side runs.  Anyone want to give us jobs in Portland or Seattle?

I finished out the remaining .8 miles of the 3 on the treadmill which actually worked out pretty well.  I got a good combination of walking, running, and splashing into my workout!

It looks like we have one more day of rain before the temps start heating up and drying out again.  But this Tuesday morning has been perfect.

The FUN. Concert That Wasn’t and Post NRD Reflections

Before I get into my recap of what I DIDN’T do last evening, I wanted to acknowledge that my National Runner’s Day post was easily the worst one I saw.

First, I got the day all wrong.  What I thought was Runner’s Day (like, the day where you  honor and celebrate that special runner in your life and gift them with new shoes) was actually Running Day, a day celebrating the sport of running and our love and joy for it.

I saw lots (and lots) of beautiful reflections of what running means to people and how it has changed their life. So, I totally dropped the ball on having a meaningful Runner’s Day.  But I really enjoyed reading everyone else’s thoughts.  It is so great to see how so many people have found themselves through running! And it kind of felt like a joyous runner’s Christmas.  So much goodwill and shared excitement!

So, here’s a beautiful Pre quote that I think sums up running for me:

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

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Yesterday we were going to drive up to Santa Fe and see…FUN!!! Fun of course is the super popular band with the hit single “We Are Young” (trust me, you’ve heard it), and my personal obsession, “Some Nights.”

Nate, the lead singer is from Phoenix and a few years ago he was in a band called The Format. Aaron, who was living in Phoenix at the time was a fan. I know they had a following here, and even in Northern California where I was, but I don’t think they were quite mainstream.

So, when this song came out in a Super Bowl Commercial, not only were we in love with it, we were also excited to see that The Format dude had found himself some new bandmates, they were producing some pretty neat stuff, and they were getting major exposure.

Last night they were scheduled to play in Santa Fe.  It was actually a free show (probably booked before they become one of the biggest bands in the country), so we were prepared to battle some high school girls for optimum audience placement.  I ran my miles in the morning, I arranged to get off work early, I burned the album onto a CD and listened to it on loop both on my commute and in the office all day.  We were pumped and ready!

Until 12:15 p.m.

I was glancing at my Facebook feed, and I noticed:

WHATTTTT?????

And then this:

Apparently Nate was deathly ill with a fever and cough and couldn’t perform.  They are playing at Bonnaroo this weekend where Christina will get to see them, and probably being well for that performance is a bigger priority (they were on Jimmy Kimmel on Monday and the MTV Music Awards on Sunday.  They’ve had a long week).

Today’s post was supposed to be a lovely recap of the fabulous time I had at the Fun. concert.  I was going to have pictures of the band up close and personal, and there may have been a video of me jumping up and down in true fan girl style while they sang Some Nights.

But sadly none of this could happen.

I’m not a huge concert person.  I pretty much go see Journey every time they come because I LOVE JOURNEY SO MUCH, and I did have my Huey Lewis phase.  But I’ve never been a huge “let’s spend money on concerts” person.

I was REALLY looking forward to this concert.

Aaron was annoyed because the last time The Format was supposed to play in Albuquerque, the same dude got sick, they cancelled, never rescheduled, and never refunded tickets (that show wasn’t free).

So I’m hoping they reschedule.  Looking at their tour dates however, it seems kind of unlikely.  They are pretty much going non-stop, then heading to Europe.  I hate catching bands at the end of tours because they are so obviously worn out, but I’m guessing they won’t head to Albuquerque to conclude their tour right after flying in from Portugal, so I don’t know.  We may have missed our chance to see them for now.

After that disappointing news, we had all evening to do nothing.  We both ran beforehand, so we literally had hours on our hands.  There may be something to this “get it over with first thing in the morning” thing, because having a full evening to run all our errands was actually pretty convenient.

To console we went to a vegan Thai restaurant (called Thai Vegan no less).  Aaron tried (like, really really tried) to convince me not to order the tempura, but I was bummed enough to mask my sorrows through deep fried veggies and soy shrimp.  I immediately regretted it.  I’ve always known that the “healthy” part of this marathon training would be the hardest.

Life goes on, and today will hopefully bring less concert drama and less fried food!

I hope everyone has a lovely day!

Happy Birthday, New Mexico!

Today is New Mexico’s 100th Birthday.

{Incidentally, this right here is my 100th blog post…guess which I’m more excited about}

Way back in 1912, President William Howard Taft made New Mexico a state (yes, we ARE a state of this here United States, all of you naysayers). 

New Mexico Magazine

We are the 47th state, so…we were kind of late to the party.  But, hey, we’re here now and we’ve produced such valuable exports as Demi Moore, Neil Patrick Harris, Freddie Prince Jr., Minka Kelly, Brian Urlacher, and Janet Napolitano (who went to my high school!).

In order to celebrate, we’ve been asked to honk our horns for 30 seconds at 11:35 a.m., which apparently is the time that the official statehood confirmation occurred.  I probably won’t participate in this celebratory measure, and in fact I may even hide and cover my ears. But I WILL tip my Green Chile Beer Glass to the effort.

So, Happy Birthday, New Mexico, home of green chile, the World’s largest Balloon Fiesta, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Santa Fe, Microsoft (HA! Bet you didn’t know that, did you?), Pueblos, Roswell Aliens, luminarias, Navajo Code Talkers, Gallup (of the Route 66 song fame), “Western” style, Tony Hillerman’s novels, Dennis Hopper’s Grave, Breaking Bad, The Manhattan Project, the first wine in North America, and the miraculous El Santuario de Chimayo Shrine.

You don’t look a day over…well…you’re looking good!

nps.gov

newmexico.org

newmexico.orgnewmexico.org

Tailgating, Santa Fe Opera Style

As fore mentioned, my family is a little crazy about the opera

After seeing productions of Tosca and Madame Butterfly, I have a particular fondness for Puccini.  About 10 years ago I was a die-hard Rent fan, and I can still belt out almost every song on the soundtrack (Would you light my candle?), and get excited every time I see Idina Menzel on TV.  But, despite all this, I had managed to go almost 27 years never seeing what is one of the most famous of all operas, La Boheme.  I knew the basic storyline because of Rent, I know most of the music (Musetta’s Waltz = happiness), and thanks to Moonstruck, I hold the belief that this particular opera holds a special power over the people who see it.  

On Friday, I was finally able to experience La Boheme for myself at the Santa Fe Opera.  As much as I don’t LOVE Santa Fe like the rest of the world, I will say that the opera house is stunning with its outdoor theater concept and AMAZING view.  The productions themselves tend to be pretty world-class although I sometimes take objection with their set design.  All in all, it is a treat to be able to go to a show there every year.  Santa Fe’s La Boheme didn’t disappoint.  Even though I would have been ok if Mimi’s death scene was a little shorter, it was a perfect production. 

Not the best picture, but the view from the balcony

Again, not the best picture, but the Santa Fe Opera House from outside

Another unique aspect to the Santa Fe opera is the tradition of the pre-show tailgate.  Much like Seasoned football fans, seasoned Santa Fe Opera-goers have tailgate parties in the parking lot before the show.  Obviously, however,  this isn’t your typical Bud Light and burgers tailgate. 

Tailgaters

New Mexico sunset

I think every security guard needs a scooter

With no dinner plans, Aaron and I decided to try out this tailgating tradition. Turns out Aaron is great at picnic planning. We had sangria, a deli meat selection , a cheese selection, hummas, pita chips, apples, and bruchetta to munch on while enjoying the beautiful northern New Mexico sunset. Thanks to our friends at Trader Joe’s the meal was perfectly pre-packaged and very inexpensive. But even at that, our tailgate didn’t compete with some of the tables we saw complete with table clothes and flower vases. Maybe next year!

Well stocked cooler

Cheese!

 

Our humble table setting

Wine, History, Friends, Family and No Fireworks Whatsoever

Northern New Mexico Landscape

Well, the glorious 3-day weekend is officially over and dead,  and (thankfully) the work week is already half way done, but I’m just now downloading pictures and sitting down at the computer to think about it.   Because we were off in Jamaica for Memorial Day weekend, this is really the first 3 days that we’ve had at home since February, so we had a nice relaxing weekend.

We started off on Saturday by heading up to Santa Fe.  Because our puppy is still too little to be left alone for long periods of time, we left Giuseppe with his new friend Romeo (and I use the term “friend” rather loosely since apparently they had half an hour of friend time and about 5 of unfriend time).  Romeo is the new dog recently adopted by my parents and sisters.  He is a Peka-tzu  and he isn’t used to such white furball bundles of energy.  I think Giuseppe’s playful attitude may have been too much for poor Romeo to handle as evidenced by his mid-play asthma attack.  Giuseppe is having another Romeo playdate tomorrow which will hopefully go better.

While Giuseppe was hanging out with my family, Aaron and I drove up to the Santa Fe Wine Festival.  We almost always go to the Labor Day New Mexico Wine Festival but we don’t usually make it out to this one because it is smaller and in a big dirt area, not to mention that Santa Fe wine people tend to be a bit pretentious (think Fraiser, but more hippy).   

Aaron purchasing a bottle that will soon break through the bottom of the bag and shatter...

Aaron and I take our wine festivals pretty seriously. We normally take notes and hold up the tasting line to talk to the staff about their selections, and then we buy a lot of bottles.

 

The festival was held at Ranchos de las Golandrinas which is a “living history” museum showcasing everyday life on the 1800’s New Mexican frontier. American Girl Josephina’s world is actually based on this museum. Neither Aaron nor I have been since elementary school, so we took a walk around. The docents weren’t out, so we didn’t really learn anything, but the old buildings are always fun to look at.

 

Of course 4th of July was on Monday. Because fireworks and extreme drought conditions don’t mix and similarly because fireworks and timid baby puppies don’t mix, we didn’t partake in the usually festivities, but we did take a cue from our Jamaican vacation and drink some “American flag” drinks (equal parts daiquiri and pina colada mix, dark rum to top it off, and a splash of blue Curacao).

 

As is the case after any 3 day weekend, returning back to work yesterday was slightly painful, especially because I will be going crazy until next Thursday when the job fair I am organizing is over. But, I did get one last “weekend moment” last night when I got to hang out with friend Ariela and her husband James. Ariela and I were friends in high school, but she has since moved to Portland and only comes back home on occasion. Always nice to see old friends and to see that they are happy and doing well.

S is for Saturday

S is for Santa Fe.

With the weather finally warming up and road conditions finally safe for travel, Aaron and I decided to take the rather short drive 45 minutes north to Santa Fe.  Growing up in Albuquerque, I was never one to care too much about the highly hyped up Santa Fe.  Yes, walking around the Plaza feels like stepping into an antiquated European village, and the city boasts a world class art community, but, like any major tourist destination, the place feels a bit pretentious and unauthentic. 

However, despite being smaller and less accessible than Albuquerque (Santa Fe doesn’t have a major airport), I cannot argue that Santa Fe offers better (and higher end) shopping options .  For example, the only premium outlet center in New Mexico is in Santa Fe (http://www.fashionoutletssantafe.com/index.shtm).  While selection is much more limited than say, the Premium Outlets in Las Vegas, the Nike Factory and Coach Outlet are worth the drive. 

While we are up at the outlets we usually make a quick stop by the Santa Fe Brewing Company (http://www.santafebrewing.com).  We love to try out microbreweries wherever we go, and I really think the smaller ones, where the bar only seats as many customers as the bartender can keep up conversation with, are the ones worth visiting again and again.  If they also happen to have great beer, even better.

Santa Fe Brewing is one of those places.  Most New Mexicans know the Santa Fe Brewing brand with the Zia Symbol cap.  They are available in most grocery stores and restaurants.  We even served it at our wedding.  However, despite the availability, I am always pleasantly surprised at how quaint and personable the tiny brewery at the south end of Santa Fe is, even on a Saturday afternoon.  The bar seats 5.  There is probably room for about 10 more people in chairs down stairs, and room upstairs for people wanting to lounge on the couch.  You get your beer from the bar because the place is too small for a cocktail waitress. And, best of all, conversation with complete strangers happens naturally.  On this particular day we talked to a man just off a mountain climb in Turkey, and a man who, years ago, had been held hostage in Yemen. 

Every Saturday is Small Batch Saturday where an experimental brew, usually crafted by a home brewer, is featured.  This Saturday, the brew was Red Ginger Wheat (like Christmas in a beer).  We’ve also had Green Chile Beer and Hard Cider on other Saturdays that we’ve been there, and a pitcher on the bar begs for suggestions.  But our house brew picks are  1) the Java Stout (for the diehard coffee lovers) which is actually made out of coffee, 2) Pale Ale, 3) Nut Brown, and 4) Oktoberfest.  Needless to say, I was delighted that this late in the season, we were still able to pick up a 6-pack of the Oktoberfest before heading home!  I hear they have a good IPA, but I pretty much think IPA tastes as good as Lysol smells, so I don’t know from experience. The beer is great and original, and the Brewery is a delightful place to spend a Spring Saturday afternoon. 

S is also for Sun Tea.

To take advantage of the natural heat, Aaron put some sun tea out today.  That in itself isn’t too exciting, however, with the amazing Retro Camera app, even sun tea on our fence can look pleasant. 

Happy Spring!

-A&A