Sunday, September 25, 2011

Home Invasion

When I walked into our lake house on Friday night, I knew something wasn't right. The baggy of dog treats that had been on the counter was torn apart on the floor, a candle was tipped over on the ground, the blinds on one window were down, magazines that had been on the coffee table were all over the floor and our wall sconce light was turned 90 degrees. I left the evidence as it was and ran out to tell Doug that someone or something had been in our house. I strapped on some "cajones" and started tiptoeing around from room to room looking for signs of our intruder. When I got upstairs to where the master bedroom is, it was really dark but I could see that our phone was on the ground. I yelled out to tell Doug that it had been in our bedroom and all of a sudden I heard this load rustle and then crash in our room. I hightailed it downstairs and right outside and stayed there for the next hour. At this point I still didn't know what the heck it was in our house.

Dog treats

Doug opened all of the doors to the house and armed himself with a broom to see if he could scare this thing out. I watched from a nice safe distance through the screened in porch. The next thing I know, Doug flipped on our bedroom light, let out a little yelp and I see this furry little critter flying down the stairs. Doug confirmed that the furry little critter was a arch nemesis in the animal world (sidenote: I was attacked by a squirrel while walking in college and I have been terrified of them ever since).

After the little thing ran downstairs, Doug poked and prodded around to make sure it had gone outside and when he was sure that it had escaped through one of the doors, I let the dogs in to double check. (I didn't let them in earlier because I could only imagine the Tom and Jerry chase scene that would ensue and the destruction it would cause.) The dogs didn't even pick up a scent, so I just assumed all was good. I spent the next hour cleaning up massive amounts of squirrel poop (ewwwwwwww) and then we all went to bed, shutting our bedroom door just in case.

Those are not just specks on the woods

No, our dogs did not pee on the rug, some other furry thing did

Saturday morning Doug got up to let the dogs out and when he got to the kitchen he found a couple bowls tipped over and my packet of GU, that I had laid out for my long run, torn open and gone. it has lots of energy

Crap, that stupid thing was still in the house. Our dogs are useless! They did more damage to the stuffed squirrel they have. (I wonder what intruder squirrel thought of this guy as he passed him on the stairs!)

We continued to hit things with the broom, look under couches, behind the fridge, everywhere and still couldn't see or hear anything.

We did notice that the fireplace door was a little opened, so we quickly shut it and barricaded it with a big, heavy bin. And then Doug secured it with duck know, because it's just not fully secure until the silver wonder tape is on there.

Look who finally seems to smell something. Good work Ciena, only 14 hours too late.

Since we barricaded the fireplace, we haven't seen any signs of the squirrel, so either it's still in the fireplace or it found a way out. I guess when we light our first fire of the year, we'll find out if it got out or not!

Monday, September 19, 2011

8 years of wedding bliss

The Slug and I are celebrating our 8th year of officialness (9/20) with an evening run and then a nice sweaty dinner afterward...romantic eh?! That's kind of the way that we roll, and have rolled from the beginning. I have more pictures like this

than I do wedding pictures, and I'm actually okay with that. It's been 8 years (and a few before that) of adventures and I'm hoping for 78 more years of the same.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blue Ridge Relay 2011

This is what my weekend looked like at the Blue Ridge Relay: 208 miles, 28 hours of running, 9 runners. This is my 3rd year doing this race and as long as I'm able, I will do it. Every year I say it's the hardest physical thing I do all year. Marathons are really hard, but more on the mental side. This race is purely physical.

The typical relay team has 12 runners, but we've been doing it with 9 because it gives us all an extra run and we end up not sitting in the van in between runs as long as a 12-person team would. And believe it or not, it helps the stiffness a lot. Here is a breakdown of my four runs...

Leg 1 - 7.5 miles
- 10:00am Friday

Starting a weekend of running with a 7.5 mile downhill bomb, losing over 1200 ft. of elevation, is pretty bad for the quads. Of course, they threw a really nice super uphill section in the middle of the downhill (which, for some reason, barely registers on the chart) to break it up. It felt like Mt. Everest after cruising downhill at a mostly out of control pace.

Leg 2 - 6.3 miles - 5:30pm Friday

Even though this wasn't supposed to be a very tough run, it was a struggle for me. It felt like once I started to climb, the road would make a turn and keep on climbing. There was a particularly tough long climb that I refused to walk up, but I should have because I'm quite sure I looked like a turtle. I tested out the Chi Running side shuffle up the hill and it saved me!

Leg 3 - 7.5 miles - 2:00am Saturday

Middle of the night running is heaven to me. It's so peaceful out, especially in this area. Before I took off, the volunteer woman, who was a local, told me "I hope you brought mace because there's some crazy people and some crazy dogs out there", no, I don't have mace...eeek! But, all went well. I only saw two other runners the whole time. I passed one guy a couple miles in and then got passed by one of the crazy ultra runners. I was a tad delirious on this run, so every mailbox I saw was a potential bear, every tree stump a rabid dog and every leaf a frog. This was probably the hilliest of all of my runs, but once again, my only goal was to not walk and I made it!

Leg 4 - 7.5 miles - 7:30am Saturday

This leg wouldn't have been bad if my legs didn't feel like tree stumps starting out. Every step I took hurt. I ended up charging as hard as I could and went a 7:51 pace. It hurt to go slowly and it hurt to go fast, so I opted for getting done as quickly as I could!

My total mileage: 28.8 miles
Total sleep: 1 hour

Here are some pics of our team and the beautiful scenery...

This is part of the uphill I was talking about on my first leg. No bueno.

On my way into transition after leg 2. I got all dramatic after I finished this one and threw myself to the ground gasping for breath.

Doug, not so slug-ish, charging to the finish

Our fearless captain, Mama CKH

Girl power

Goonies in the Boonies

My buddy Kelsey from NYC. Swooped in and filled a spot on our team at the last minute!

Doug and Meg-O

RunningJustAsFastAsWeCan Teams 1 & 2

Our team ended up 47th out of 120 teams with an average 8:26 min/mile, which we thought was great considering the mountains we had to climb!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


This trip to Italy couldn't have come at a better time. Work has been busy and really frustrating lately and I've been a lot more irritable and unmotivated because of it. Between two busy work schedules and two dogs, getting out of town is tough and takes a lot of arrangements. But once we stepped foot on the plane I was able to take a deep breath and just chill out for the rest of the trip. It didn't hurt that we got upgraded to first class and got to lay down flat the whole way to Italy!

We spent the first two days of the trip in Florence. We were there 10 years ago, and it was one of my favorite cities, so I was so excited to be back and take it all in again. This time with a camera (I guess 10 years ago I figured my nimble little memory would retain it all...I was very wrong. Damn concussions.). It was even more beautiful and enjoyable this time. The architecture is so amazing, some of the churches we went in were built in the 13th Century, like before Mr. Columbus was even born.

We did a lot of walking, eating and of course some shopping, despite the less than ideal conversion rate. Here are some highlights from Florence. I posted a whole crap ton of pics on Facebook, so go there for the full monty.

Hotel Brunelleschi - right in the heart of the city, about a block from the Duomo

The Duomo

The Arno River with the Ponte Vecchio in the background

13th Century Church (it had a name, but of course I forgot it)

Shopping (I was deciding between two colors so took pictures of myself in each so I could decide the one I liked. The green won.)

Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace (home of the Medici family)

Too many good captions - don't know where to start. Poor turtle comes to mind first.

We had our fair share of gelato, but this one took the er, cone. Doug asked for a small waffle cone with two flavors (as had a bunch of people ahead of us) and the girl just kept dumping ice cream on his cone and laughing. When we got up to the register she looked at the cashier, they both laughed and then he said 14 euros. Ughh. We got totally taken and most of that stupid thing ended up in the garbage can.

On Saturday morning we headed to the train station for our voyage to Santa Margherita, a coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea. Our friends got married there 10 years ago, so we were on our way to meet up with them and bunch of friends to celebrate their anniversary. Their official anniversary party was on Sunday night, so once we got into town, we checked into our hotel and made our way to the "beach."

The Imperiale Palace

Views from our room

Our "beach"

There aren't really sandy beaches anywhere in this area, but there are big rock outcroppings that the cabana boys/lifeguards set up chairs on. Swimming in the sea is a very salty, but refreshing experience. One of the hotels near us had a big water trampoline set up in their little swimming area, so naturally, our group took it over and made asses of ourselves doing flips off the thing. Luckily, we had some kids in the group, so we claimed that we were just trying to entertain the kids, really we were just a bunch of immature adults putting on a show for the people on the beach.

Saturday night we met up with a bunch of friends and went to a long dinner of catching up over delicious food and good wine. We hadn't seen most of the people since the wedding 10 years ago, so it was so great to get reacquainted.

Sunday morning Doug and I went for an awesome trail run up and over the mountain to the neighboring, posh town of Portofino. We had hiked this trail the last time we were there and thought we would take it up a notch and run it this time around...yowsers! 8.5 miles, hundreds of steps and lots of hills later, we made it to beautiful Portofino.

A little picture break


After our run we hung out on the beach and trampoline until it was time to get all gussied up for the party. The anniversary party was held at the same abbey that they got married at, so we knew we were in for a spectacular evening. This place was way up in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean.

Entrance to the Abbey

The beautiful bride and groom 10 years later. Now Gretchen is a high-powered Hollywood entertainment lawyer that just got partnered and Dan just released his first movie that he wrote and produced - Everything Must Go, starring Will Ferrell! And they have 3 beautiful little ones running around. So, yeah, 10 years have treated them right.

Italian Prom 2011

We ate, drank wine and danced the night away. And then as the night was finishing up, they rolled up a gelato cart and we all desserted!

The owners of the abbey (now good friends of Dan and Gretchen's) surprised them by lighting and floating 3,000 candles out into the sea to light up the whole port. It was such an incredible sight. They did this 10 years ago too and it was one of the most vivid memories I had from their wedding.

This picture totally sucks and doesn't do it justice, but if you look closely, you see the thousands of little lights in the water.

The next day we woke up late, wandered town and then chilled on the beach with everyone for the rest of the day. After one more dinner out in town, it was time to pack up for our morning flight back home. We were originally supposed to fly from Genoa to Rome, Rome to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to JFK. Luckily we got a call on Sunday saying that our flights were canceled and they had rebooked us on a flight to Paris and then to JFK, cutting out one of our layovers and getting us home earlier than the original flight. The best part was that they gave us each 300 euro's for our troubles. Sweet! This would never happen in the US! Our plane from Paris to JFK was a double decker monster!! I've never seen one of these things, but it was gigantic...holding 540 people. It was like being on the Titanic and yes, we were on the bottom deck and probably would not have been saved.

All in all we had a fabulous trip and came back with tighter pants, nice tans and a few less bags under our eyes.