Saturday, September 17, 2011

Racing (Or, the One in Which I Brag)

My coworkers at last year's race. I clearly didn't get the memo about taking off my jacket for the photo. 

This morning was one of my favorite days of the year - Race for the Cure in Tulsa.

I wish I had pictures to share, but I don't. Still, it's worth mentioning with or without photographic proof that I was there.

Two years ago on this day, I was keyed up and nervous, because I was about to run my first-ever 5K. It was a pretty big milestone at the time. I had started running a few months before, and the first time I ran, I literally wanted to pass out after a mile on the treadmill. My goal in the race was simply to run the whole thing without walking, which I achieved.

After that, each race I ran, I set a new distance goal. I did a 10K, a 15K, and by November of last year, I was able to run my first half marathon. I'll tell you - there are a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into training like that. Well, not really much blood or tears, but there was a helluva lot of sweat. Seriously. The bulk of the training for that race is in the middle of the summer. We have to get up to run at 5:45 a.m., just to ensure no one dies of heat stroke on our long Saturday runs. And you know I must love it if I'm willing to get up at 5:30 on a Saturday and drive somewhere to run.

Anyway, I digress. Race for the Cure is a great race. This year it moved downtown, which was FANTASTIC. It's always been by ORU, and that's great and all, but I'm pretty sure I almost fell asleep both times I ran down there. I mean, it was almost an out-and-back course that stayed on Riverside Drive. Pretty-ish, but you stare at a Cherokee Casino for about 2/3rds of the race. Awesome. On this course, we ran right by the BOK Center, through the downtown area, and around some historic buildings. Not that I was really looking at them. Mostly, I was focused on the 55-year old man in grey in front of me, trying like hell to make sure he didn't beat me across the finish line. I wasn't about to let that happen again. (At least it's not like the 6-year old that beat me two years before. Embarrassing.)

The first year I ran, I crossed the finish line at 31:42, which is a really great time for a first race. Or even a third race. Or 15th race. Whatever. I think it's pretty decent.

But I'm pretty sure this year I set a new personal record. The time on the clock was right around 26:30 when I crossed, which means I'm a little under that for chip time. Did you read that? 26:30. That's UNDER 27 minutes, which is my previous personal record. It means I was running at a smooth 8:40 mile through the whole race.

It also means I've been bitten by the speed bug. After the half marathon this November, my next goal will be to start improving my 5K time. I'd like to see a chip time of 24:00 or less by the time I hit my 30th year.

Race me?

Friday, September 16, 2011

What the What?

So, for about eleventy-one years (or, like...two), I've been annoyed with the Blogger interface. I mean, honestly. When I upload photos, I have to do it in reverse order that I want them to appear, because they ALL go to the top of the page, and I have to painstakingly drag each one down bit by bit through the post, since it doesn't auto-scroll, and the window was soooo tiny. Still, I admit that I am too lazy to work in HTML or find a new WYSIWYG editor. I mean, Blogger is here, and it makes my life easy because it's all Google, right? So I was ready to suffer the consequences.

And then....well hello there new interface. Look how lovely and simple you are! Look how your area for type takes up more than 1/16th of the page! And how simple the picture uploader became? Awesome. It mad it so easy to put a blurry picture of the Mister sewing a button onto his pants in 2008 right in the middle of this post. The first time.

I don't know about you, but I have just one thing to say about this shake-up:

It's. About. Damn. Time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Belaboring Labor Day Weekend

First off, a disclaimer: I am not at this time pregnant, nor do I expect to be anytime soon.

That said, once we have kids, there is something I'm going to dearly miss -- the ability to pick up and go somewhere with only 2 days warning.Last week, on Wednesday, I suddenly thought, "Hm. It's Labor Day Weekend,
and we have no plans. We should go somewhere." I messaged the Mister, and within 12 hours, I had a hotel booked in Saint Louis for the weekend, and we had both gotten permission from our bosses to take Friday off. Sometimes spontaneity is really nice.

So, Friday morning-ish, we headed to Saint Louis, which is a 6-hour drive away. We began by going up historic Route 66, because really, who doesn't want to see a giant blue whale? I love that spot because it makes me think of a time when people were much less worried about lawsuits, and much more interested in having as much fun as possible. The Blue Whale is part of what used to be a swimming hole through the 60s and 70s. It was shut down in the early 80s, I believe. And although they maintain the whale, there are rotting corpses of other water activities that litter the pond, including what I assume used to be a boat, and a couple of docks that have clearly not been touched since the day the park closed for swimming.

Blue Whales can be under construction, too. It doesn't lessen the Mister's excitement.

Anyway, we headed onward and upward, getting onto 44 in Vinita and heading toward St. Louis. We arrived around 6:00 and checked into the hotel. There was a bit of
a heart attack on my part, because I discovered that I accidentally booked our dates for the following weekend. I suppose that's part of the risk when you do things in a rush. But the staff at the Renaissance Grand Hotel was so accommodating. Though my snafu clearly was a hassle, they never made me feel dumb, and just took the 10 minutes they needed to make all the switches and get us put up in a room. I couldn't have been more grateful for their kindness. I'll definitely be recommending the hotel for future visits, because in addition to their kindness, the room was well-kept, the hotel was beautiful and it was located in the perfect spot.

While in Saint Louis, we basically got our fill of all the sights we could - The Arch, Forest Park, the (FREE!) Zoo, City Museum (Greg had his mind blown over and over; I love that place), the Botanical Gardens, the Loop, the Anheuser Busch Brewery, and most of downtown.

I would like to say that I'm a giant, but really, no. That elevator is truly that small.

Some highlights include:
  • The Mister has owned a shirt that says "Rooster Cafe, Saint Louis" for about 2 years. He bought it at Old Navy in Tulsa, and always gets comments on it. ("Rooster Cafe? Have you been there? Is it really good or something.) So we couldn't help ourselves. We looked up Rooster Cafe in St. Louis, and low and behold, there IS a Rooster restaurant. It's not at the same address as on the t-shirt (which is clearly fake), but the stylization is so similar it's eerie. We actually ended up meeting the owner and he had HIS mind blown about it.
I mean, really. A coincidence? Both with art deco stylizing? Too weird.

Rooster = Delicious crepes and the greatest bloody mary menu I've ever seen.
  • On the Loop, there's a great restaurant called Pi that I would highly recommend. Of course it's pizza. It's called Pi. Great beer selection, friendly bartender, and excellent pizza. The most hilarious part is that the specially-brewed Schlafly beer for the restaurant costs $3.14. That made me laugh and the nerd in me rejoiced at their cheekiness.
The City Museum, which should basically be renamed "The Greatest Playground Ever" entertained us for a good long while. We don't have kids, so we got some strange looks when we decided to climb into small caves, and join the hundreds of children crawling through ceiling passages, but it never mattered to us. And PS - the 10-story slide is scary, but so worth the fear.I mean - look at this. You could literally crawl through the ceiling right about where I was standing.

This place is truly nuts. In the best way.

10 stories of sheer terror

St. Louis was a great weekend trip. I'd go back in a heartbeat. I feel like there's plenty more we could do, especially if we had some kids to take along.