Monthly Archives: September 2011

Half Marathon Training Week Three Makes for a Busy Bee

In the last post I mentioned that I just wrapped up week two of half marathon training, so let me back up a little bit.  About two years ago I made a list of things that I felt I should do in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before moving away.  I’ve never had plans to stay here permanently.  When I moved here back in 2007 I told myself I would stay here for three years and then move on to another place.  Four years later and I’m still here.  It’s not that I hate Dallas.  It’s got some things going for it, but looking at it from an Urban Planning perspective, this place is a planner’s nightmare.  Everything is driven by the car.  You really can’t get anywhere without getting in your car and driving.  For example, we live right across the street from the grocery store, however I have never walked there.  I’d have to cross six lanes of traffic, going 50 miles per hour (and it’s not a highway, just a regular road), then walk though a huge and very unpleasant at the pedestrian level parking lot just to get to the grocery store.  Not to mention, half of the way doesn’t even have sidewalks.  At any rate, I’m ranting.  Like I said Dallas does have some good things going for it.  It’s affordable at the very least.  So anyway, I made this list of things I should do in the area so I take advantage of all that the DFW area has to offer.  Most of the items are silly or easy to cross off the list. 

Here are a few of the items I’ve already completed:
Eat a kolache at the Czech Stop in West, TX
Experience the Canton First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX
Order one item- from the three to choose from- off the menu at Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth, TX
See a rodeo at the Fort Worth Stock Show
Eat something fried (that wouldn’t normally be fried) at the Texas State Fair

And some that I still need to complete:
Go to a Cowboys game (only because so many people said I should)
Find a dinosaur footprint at Dinosaur Valley State Park (I’ve been once, but didn’t see any footprints)
Attend the AFI film festival
Take country dance lessons at Gilley’s
Run the Rock

In all the list is 22 items, so the above are just a few, but the last item I mentioned, Run the Rock is one of the more challenging items.  It’s the Dallas White Rock Lake Marathon. 

I never specified which race within the White Rock Lake Marathon I had to run- there is the full marathon, half marathon, and a five person relay.  So, once I finally got back into running this summer, I decided I would go for the half marathon in December.  After about a month and a half of going to the gym on a regular basis, I felt confident enough to pay the registration fee and do it.  I signed up during lunch one day and sent Nick a message right away to tell him that I’d officially signed up.  He told me that he would sign up too and we’d do it together.  This made me so happy to hear, I almost started to cry over my Kashi frozen entree lunch.  We hadn’t been working out together and he’d been so busy working on developing his iPhone games that I didn’t think he’d be interested in doing the race with me, but as it turns out, he’s also wanted to run in it as well, although he’s done the 5-person relay portion of it before.  I was just really excited that we would working towards this big physical goal together. 

I researched training schedules for half marathons and came across a good one for beginners and then I modified it to fit my schedule better. 

I’m sure that’s really hard to read, but the orange text represents my other commitments for the day and the green text, which is really hard to see, represents both the half marathon and smaller races that I’ve signed up for leading up to the big day.  We started week 1 in California, and well, we didn’t stick to the schedule very well.  We did a lot of hiking while we were out there, so that counted towards our cross training.  We ran once together in Tahoe and I ran a second time on the treadmill in the hotel in Berkeley.  We didn’t do any strength training during the whole trip, despite the fact that I went and bought resistance bands specifically for strength training during this trip.  Week 2 went much smoother, although some of the workouts didn’t go that well.  I had my best time yet on my short 2-mile run which was outside and then had the worst run ever the next day at the gym on the treadmill following 30 minutes of strength training.  The lesson learned: on days that I have to do both running and strength training, I need to break them up or do the running first.  Also another lesson learned: Now that it’s finally under 100 degrees out, running outside is much more enjoyable than running on the treadmill!  Remembering back now, the opposite was true in Michigan.  I ran more on the treadmill in Michigan during the winter on days when it was REALLY cold- like in the teens or below.  Otherwise I’d run outside.  Now in Dallas, running when it’s over 95 our is too miserable.  So now that it’s finally in the low 90’s as the high (and usually cooler than that by the time I run), the gym will only be for strength training and cross training until the weather is too unbearable.  

This week, week 3, is one of those weeks that is full of orange text, which means that training will be taking place in the mornings before work.  I consider myself a morning person, but more of a 7:00 AM  morning person.  Not a 5:00 AM morning person.  Unfortunately I will have to get up at 5:00 AM tomorrow through friday and probably 6:30 on Saturday in order to get all the training sessions in.  I’m not looking forward to it!  The hardest part of it all, though, is getting out of bed.  Luckily there are only a few weeks that are busy like this week.  Week 8 is also another crazy week and week 9 we will be in Mexico, which presents different challenges all togehter- vacation, humidity, questionable gym facitilities at the all-inclusive resort, etc.  Nick think’s I’m a little crazy, but we will be running 7 miles the second day we are there.  Our long run didn’t happen while we were in California, so we’ll see how well week 9 goes.  I’m hoping that we’ll be in full swing with the training that it will be easy to stick with despite the Caribbean-All-Inclusive distractions!

In other news, I heard about another race that takes place on October 13th.  The Santa Fe trail just opened and to kick it off, they friends of the trail are having a 5K race.

This is not one of the races I previously scheduled on the training calendar, but I think I’m going to do it.  Unfortunately I don’t think Nick will be able to do it since the race starts at 6:15 PM and he gets off of work at 6:00 PM about 45 minutes away from the race site.  So is there anyone out there reading this who lives in Dallas who wants to run it with me?  You can check it out at the friends of the Santa Fe trail website.  Let me know if you want to run in it with me!


Cross It Off the List

I have to say, it’s nice to spend a weekend home for a change.  Not that I didn’t like all of the traveling, but it’s nice to relax in my own home for the weekend.  Plus, I’m pretty crazy when it comes to making lists and being able to check things off, so this weekend was great to catch up on my lists!  Most of the weekend was dedicated to unpacking (finally) from Mexico and California, cleaning, and running errands.
Our computer room was the luggage room for the past three weeks.   It’s all picked up and put away (temporarily) now.  I went on a cleaning rampage to say the least.  All laundry including bath mats, comforter, and throw blanket is completely taken care of.  I ironed all the clothes that needed to be ironed (a task that I dread doing but usually get it done every weekend we are home).  I vacuumed the condo, including the stairs, which rarely gets done.  The bathroom has been scrubbed down.  The kitchen has also been scrubbed down.  And the kitchen, bathroom and entryway floors all have been mopped!

I also took Jackson (aka, Frederick Stonewall Jackson or Dr. Jackson) to the groomer for the longest grooming appointment ever!  Nick came with me for the first time to drop Jackson off and the groomer asked if we wanted the same as last time and Nick requested that she trip a little lower on his paws.  Jackson is very sensitive when it comes to his feet.  He doesn’t like anyone touching them.  It’s probably due to some distant memory he has of being completely declawed by his previous owners.  Anyway, the groomer took Nick’s request and ran with it.  Instead of Uggs, Jackson has little mittens on the tips of his paws.  It’s no wonder the appointment took 8 hours!  I can’t imagine Jackson being a happy camper when she trimmed the fir on his paws.
Here is Jackson before his haircut, playing dead kitty.
And here he is after, getting all curled up on his bed.

In addition to Jackson’s haircut, I managed to get my car washed, oil changed, shop for a bridal shower gift for my best friend from high school, Caitlin, apply to four jobs (one of which kind of relates to why I started this who The Urban Retrofit blog in the first place- but have completely been derailed by the rest of life since starting the blog), pay various bills, submit my credential maintenance to Green Building Certification Institute, which I just got an email about that everything went through and I don’t have to worry about being audited, and wrap up week two of half-marathon training (more on that later)!   I also made a trip to the grocery store and the pumpkins are out!  I couldn’t help myself, Central Market had so many different kinds of little gourds and a convenient bag to throw an assortment of them into.  I went to town.  Luckily they’ll last through Thanksgiving and it’ll put my urge to buy flowers at bay.
The gourds on the coffee table.
And the gourds on the kitchen table.

To top it off, I made a quick dinner from a Food Network recipe that I’ve modified.

What was Lobster Cob Rolls is now Shrimp Cob Salad.
Central Market makes really good herb-marinated grilled shrimp that I’ve used for another recipe and so I though I’d use them in this recipe as well.  I first made this salad back in grad school and since lobster meat was super expensive and hard to find without buying whole lobsters back in Michigan, I found great marinated shrimp in the shrimp bar at Whole Foods.  Much to my dismay, when I moved to Texas, none of the Whole Foods seemed to have the same shrimp bar that the one in Ann Arbor had, so I haven’t made this salad is quite a while.  Then, like I said, I discovered these grilled shrimp at Central Market for a different recipe.  It dawned on me that I hadn’t made this salad is a while and these shrimp were perfect for it, so I picked some up last night.  The challenge is to hide them well enough so Nick doesn’t snack on them before I use them for our meal.  I thought I did really well this time.  He was playing poker with his friends last night so I figured, surely he won’t even be digging deep in the fridge for a snack when he gets home, there was plenty of other stuff right up front that he could nibble on and the shrimp would be spared.  Sure enough, he found them!  Not too much damage was done, but I did have to start dinner fairly early this evening to keep from torturing him any longer.

All in all, it’s been a good and very productive first weekend home in the past month!  Just a few more items to cross of the list and I think this house will officially be in good order.  As best stated by the goddess of good-smelling cleaning products, Mrs. Meyer’s says, “A clean home is a happy home”!

Jetsetting Stop 2- NoCal

I’m going to try to make this quick as it is already WAY past my bedtime, but I wanted to post on my most recent trip before too much time passes.  So from my previous blog, you may have read that I was in route to San Francisco.  Nick was asked by his childhood friend, Dave, to be in his wedding, so we decided to make a long vacation out of it.  Prior to this wedding, all the out of town weddings we’d been to were very short trips- rush, rush, rush.  So this time we decided to slow down and enjoy ourselves.  We landed right around 9:45 AM on Saturday and after picking up our huge rental car (like 5 times the size of our rental car in Mexico) we headed straight to REI.  On our last trip out to San Francisco, Nick left his really nice Marmot jacket on the plane and since then, we’ve been in search for a replacement.  After spending 2 and a half hours and $500 dollars (most of which was returned midway through our travels) at REI, we finally walked out and headed over to Marin to see one of my best friends, Megan and her family.  They threw us a great backyard dinner in celebration of our engagement.  Mark, Megan’s fiance, made the most awesome greek-style turkey burgers!  Thanks for such a yummy dinner, Mark, Megan, and the rest of the Cherry family!

On Sunday, Megan, Mark, Nick and I headed up to Sonoma for wine tasting.  It was like old times, just a little classier!

Megan and I are about to take a chocolate wine shot.  Very yummy!

On Monday, it was off to Tahoe for Nick and me.  We stayed in South Lake Tahoe, but ended up going to the north side for the day on Tuesday.  Nick’s mom and step dad have a house (which they actually just sold a few days after we were up there) on the north side that Nick was eager to show me.  Lots of childhood memories for him in that house.  After swinging by the old vacation spot neighborhood, Nick and I ventured up the nearby trail to Five Lakes.  It felt really rough at first being at a high elevation already, but after about a quarter mile or half mile, I was able to catch my breath and hold a steady pace.

We aren’t too far up at the point of this picture, but I’m pretty sweaty already!  A storm was blowing in and the sky was getting dark, so worried that we might be caught in a downpour we picked up our pace to the top (instead of turning around and seeking shelter).  Alas, we made it to the top and got to see the Five Lakes, which seemed more like Two Lakes and a Stream.
On the way back down, we actually ran into some people who were from Dallas as well.  Small world!  Luckily we made it back to the car without getting rained on too badly.
On the way back to South Lake Tahoe, we stopped and one of the overlooks and took a few pictures.  It’s kind of hard to tell, but there is a waterfall in the background.  Once we got back to the hotel, it was into the hot tub we go!  After an afternoon of hiking the hot tub felt awesome.  Unfortunately a few hours later after I got out of the shower, I noticed that it turned my hair green!  Yikes!  Luckily it was just the tips that were hanging in the hot tub and not my whole head of hair, but still!  Green hair?!  I told Nick that it would probably wash out, but the next morning he decided to treat me to a day of pampering.  First up was a couple’s massage.  Then he dropped me off at the salon for me to get my hair cut and re-highlighted (bye-bye green hair).  After a 3 hour hair appointment, I walked back to the hotel to find out that Nick made reservations on a Dinner Boat Cruise around Lake Tahoe for our last night there.
On Thursday, we headed back down to the Bay Area, returned the rental car and checked into our hotel in Berkeley.  Friday we went into the city to pick up Nick’s tuxedo and we had lunch we two of my grad school friends, Claire and Peter.  It was great to catch up with them.  We hadn’t seen each other since we graduated four years ago.  Later that evening, Nick had the wedding rehearsal and both of us went to the rehearsal dinner and a cute little french restaurant in Berkeley.  The next day was the wedding.  Nick got all suited up and took off with the rest of the groomsmen.  I met him at the wedding in the Oakland Hills an hour or so later.  The wedding was very nice.  Ali and Dave, the bride and groom, got married overlooking the rolling Northern California hills on a beautiful, sunning afternoon.
While the photographer was taking pictures of the wedding party, I snuck in behind him and snapped a few myself.  Here the guys are doing a goofy pose.  Nick and I have made a name for ourselves as being horrible dancers so we were only on the dance floor for a little bit, but we did enjoy the photo booth that was at the reception.
All in all it was a great trip to Northern California- almost like having three vacations in one!  We definitely got refreshed, but Monday came and it was back to reality.  At least for a little while, until our next adventure begins!

It’s Like a Party in the Air

We are in route to San Francisco as I type, at an altitude of 38,105 feet.  According to the map on the screen in front of my seat, we are over New Mexico, with 822 miles until we land.  This is the first time I’ve ever flown on Virgin America.  We usually fly on American Airlines since the hub is in Dallas, but Virgin America has been having a great sale on flights from Dallas to San Francisco- $90 each way.  If you’ve never flown Virgin America before, let me tell you, it’s like being in a night club!  The overhead lights are pink and purple and the seats are black leather.  The media console in the back of the seat in front of me has not only the flight map (which I’m love in particular- being the control freak that I am, I like knowing exactly where I am and how much further we have to go), but OnDemand Movies and TV, as well as games.  There is even a keyboard/game control panel in the armrest that you can pull out and use to play the games with.  To top it off, google chrome and Virgin America have teamed up and were handing out laptops to use free of charge, including the free wireless internet that I’m connected to right now!  Talk about nice perks for an airline.  They even had a very cute video of safety instructions- by far the most entertaining of any airline that I’ve been on!  I even laughed a few times from the video.  The only downfall so far, is that if you  don’t live in the hub cities (San Francisco and LA, I believe) then you don’t have a ton of choices for destinations, but as a commuter flight to the west cost, I give Virgin America two thumbs up!

Jetsetting Stop 1- Tulum Mexico

Now that I finally feel like I have a moment to breathe, I’ll fill you all in on the exciting trip to Tulum, Mexico.  Nick and I departed Dallas on Friday afternoon for Cancun.  It was starting to get dark once we landed, which made for an interesting drive down to Tulum.  We rented a car and although Nick drove the whole time, it was a little unnerving driving in a foreign country!  There are these “wonderful” things in Mexico called Topes… in English, that means speed bumps, but they aren’t like the speed bumps in America that are well marked.  These just pop  out of nowhere!  In addition to the topes, Nick and I were staying in the very last hotel in Tulum, which seemed forever away.  Note- if you ever decide to go to Tulum and plan on driving, I recommend you do it in daylight.  Nick and I finally found our hotel and Jimmy, the owner invited us in.  The nice thing about Tulum is that pretty much all the hotels on the beach are small eco-resorts.  Totally different from what you would find in Cancun.  Jimmy, seeing that we were hungry after our hour and 45 minute drive, ran over to his place and grabbed us some of his leftovers and a few cold beers to enjoy.  After a quick tour of our room and lessons on the eco-friendly resort- conserve energy because it’s solar power, open the windows for air flow since there isn’t AC, don’t flush the toilet paper down the toilet (a VERY hard habit to break), compost any food scraps, etc, Nick and I turned in.  I slept horribly that fist night.  I was antsy to see the ocean, which we could hear from our room, but being late, it was too dark to see.  Nick was out, though, surprisingly, for the stress that he was carrying!

We got up at about 5 AM Saturday morning and went for a walk on the beach to watch the sunrise.  After about a mile to a mile and a half, we came across a bench that said “This is the only bench you will ever remember” written across it.  We sat for a few minutes and watched the sun come up before heading back to our hotel.  The rest of the walk is pretty much a blur, but something happened with Nick that caused me to turn around and he was on one knee.  He had a ring in his hand and I think he uttered out the question “will you marry me?”  Like I said, it was a blur.  I guess I grabbed the ring right out of his hand and said yes, which not only relieved him that I said yes, but he also wasn’t sure which hand it was supposed to go on.  I wish there was a video of the event so I could replay it and see how it all happened, but that’s as best as I can remember it!

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and enjoying the beach.  Nick got burned that very first day, so we didn’t spend a ton of time in the direct sun, but we had an awesome porch that overlooked the ocean.  We drank plenty of wine, beer, and margaritas and nibbled on food, all sitting on that porch!  Jimmy drew up a map for us, telling us where to eat.  We dined out a few times and went to the chicken, bread, and cheese places that Jimmy recommended and brought it “home” to enjoy while overlooking the ocean.  All in all, although it was just a short getaway, it was well worth the trip!  (Plus, I got engaged… what can beat that?)

Here are some pics from the trip:

The view from our porch

Our room at Casa De Las Olas

Nick proposed!

The Tulum Ruins

Jimmy’s Map of Tulum and where all we should go

The Breakfast Menu at Posada MargheritaNick enjoying a pre-breakfast margarita

Homemade quesadillas from leftover chicken and tortillas from Pollo Bronco and Mexican cheese from the cheese shop

Silly faces 🙂

Nick saying farewell to the ocean.

Next stop on our jetsetting tour: Northern California!  We head out Saturday morning and get to spend the night with my dear friend, Megan Cherry.  She and her fiance and Nick and I will head to Sonoma on Sunday, and then the two of us will be off to Tahoe on Monday and then back down to Berkeley for Nick’s childhood friend, Dave’s wedding on Saturday!  The adventures continue!

A Quick Update From Mexico

I’m going to make this a quick entry, since I’m writing it on my cell phone. Back in June, Nick and I were heading home from San Francisco and we ended up giving up our seats for $1000 in vouchers. About 7 weeks ago we decided to go ahead and use the vouchers over Labor Day weekend for a weekend getaway to Mexico. Knowing we’d be back in November for my best friend from high school, Caitlin’s wedding we decided to do something totally different. We booked a room at Casa De Las Olas in Tulum- a 5 room hotel. In addition to Labor Day weekend being a 3-day weekend, it’s also when Nick and I celebrate our anniversary. So anyway,I’ll write more about the trip and the hotel when we get home as this has already surpassed more than I can tolerate to type on my phone, but the exciting news, which I’m sure you all can guess at this point: Nick proposed! Of couse I said yes! The full story of how it happened will be in the next blog entry. Until then, adios!

Into the world of blogging I go!

It wasn’t too long ago that I told myself I would never blog… ever.  Haha.  Never say never, I guess.  I’m not one to consistently keep a journal, but I decided I’d give this blog thing a try.  The idea came upon me over the last few months in the search for a perfect job.

Let me take a few steps back… Nick, my wonderful boyfriend of 2 years (as of this Saturday officially, but a since July 2009 unofficially… that’s for another blog entry I suppose), had to go through the unfortunate experience of having his father pass away this past April.  We made a couple of trips out to California to deal with matters, and for some reason, this event triggered change for me.  Perhaps it brought back feeling of losing a parent of my own, perhaps it was getting out of Texas for an unplanned event, perhaps a combination of several things.  At any rate, these two trips  have caused a change or rather a reminder of what I once wanted to attain.

Back when I was in grad school at the University of Michigan, I was very focused on running of all things.  I’m sure my roommates, Anna, Austin, David, and Erin remember me being totally crazy about running; 3 miles every day, same route.  If I missed a day, I’d run double the next day.  With the running in my personal life, I really had a passion for designing communities for healthy living.  (For those who don’t know, which at this point in my blogging career, you all know me- I went to grad school for Urban Planning and Urban Design.)  Upon graduating, I got a job at an architecture firm in Dallas.  My running obsession completely stopped.  It was WAY to hot in Dallas to run outside and I was too poor to pay for a gym membership.  With that, my aspiration for finding a job that incorporated urban planning, physical activity, local food systems, public health and healthy living faded away.

Upon returning from our second trip to San Francisco and having gone through an emotional whirlwind during the spring, I decided that despite the money still not being there, I needed to join the gym.  I needed to do it for myself as a way to clear my mind.  Shortly after joining the gym, I realized that for the past four years living in Texas, I completely forgot about my aspirations and so the search has begun in the hunt for the perfect job that incorporates urban planning and design, public health, alternative transportation (rail, bike, foot), local food systems and healthy living.  Unfortunately I don’t know if that job exists.  So I thought, why not write about it.  Ultimately, I don’t want this to be a professional blog.  I want it to be fun to read; a way to friends and family to find out what’s going on in my life if they are interested.  It won’t all be about urban planning… I’m sure most of it won’t be, but at the very least, it will be a place for me to talk about life, professionally and personally as I’ve experienced it.

Well, entry #1 turned out to be much longer than anticipated, but I have to start somewhere!