Testing, testing… is this thing on?

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I’ve been grappling with whether or not to do my final race of the season. My training plan got completely thrown off with the layoff and while I’ve been getting back to it, I’m no where near where I wanted to be. So, I decided to do a little diagnostic test and see where my fitness was and let that help me with my decision-making. I mapped out an approximately 30 mile ride from Marymoor park to do with T (with a little out and back to add some bike mileage on my own without killing T) and then I planned to do an hour long brick run.

We were doing the same loop that we’d gotten lost on last time, but this time I thought I’d identified where we went wrong. Unfortunately, I still found a way to get lost and while we found our way back to Redmond, we had only ridden about 15 miles. Grrr… T graciously agreed to kill even more time at the Peets and I did my out and back on the multi-use path from Marymoor to bring my mileage up to 37 miles. As I fought the headwind back, I was pretty certain that I wanted to race but that I should do the shorter option. I pushed the pace hard to make up for the shorter distance and my legs were definitely feeling it when I got back to the car. I told T my thoughts on the race as I changed into my run gear and added a flip remark like “unless this run goes awesome, I’m doing the shorter race.”

As I headed out on my run, my legs felt like their usual crap and the first fifteen minutes felt like the start of every longer race I’ve done. Cramping, dead legs and generally off my game mentally. I was able to run at first, but then I started taking a few walk breaks and tried to regroup. I ate a gel and drank some water and started running again, hoping I could run for five minutes straight before the next walk break. And then a funny thing happened, I fell into the zone and felt great. I ran for the rest of the run without incident and ended the run feeling really strong.

So, the conflict goes on. Do I do the race I’m under-trained for and face the possibility of another half-iron death march? Or do I do the shorter race that might not be as satisfying? Time will tell…

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A wild wine tasting

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In an effort to break out of our usual entertainment rut, M, T & I decided to attend the Woodland Park Zoo’s Tasting Flight event. It was a “bring your own glass” wine tasting at the zoo on a Friday evening. Best of all, it was only 20 bucks and you could bring a picnic dinner to eat on the lawn where the event was held. T made some delicious bread that tormented us in the car with it’s delicious aroma and we stopped at our local market to get some meat, cheese and salads. It was quite the spread:

Everyone was feeling festive and we hadn’t even had any wine yet!

There was a pretty good-sized crowd and a nice selection of wineries to choose from:

Being the sophisticated oenophiles that we are, we picked our wines based on the sophisticated criteria of “that label looks nice” and “that line isn’t too long” (but still had a line, we learned quickly that no line was a bad sign!) I particularly enjoyed the little wine tasting tickets that looked like carnival tickets except they just said “wine.”

The bring your own glass aspect added a nice touch. It was fun to see what people brought. M had a tiny mason jar and we even spied a vintage Return of the Jedi juice glass. We also got to see our friends Jen and Bryan. Jen works and volunteers at the zoo and was the reason I’d heard of the event.

The zoo also had their Northern Trail exhibit open for the event and because it was dusk, we actually got to see the wolves out and about. It was very cool to see wolves so close, even in captivity. There was also a brown bear entertaining the guests by scratching his butt on a rock for about 20 minutes and a very cute arctic fox sleeping in a ball with his tail over his face. There was some discussion of stealing the fox and taking him home, but I’m happy to report no one was arrested.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable event and a nice change of pace from our usual routine. We’ll have to keep an eye out for stuff like this in the future.

Rockstar!

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After this week, I wasn’t sure what to expect from today. I had my phone interview scheduled, which was stressing me out a little bit. (Phone interviews are the worst!) During the e-mail exchange, the guy hadn’t mentioned the name of his company but after looking up his name on LinkedIn, I’d learned who it was. In a funny twist of fate, I’d already corresponded with another employee at this same company through one of the leads that a friend had sent me. So, I knew I had a connection to talk about, which made me feel a bit more at ease.

The conversation went pretty well and I knew it was a job that I could do and I liked the company’s product and mission. The guy and I had a good rapport and he enjoyed the funny small world coincidence of my corresponding with the company already and our having a mutual friend that had initially connected me to them. We ended the call with an in person interview set up for Monday morning, which was best case scenario, as far as I was concerned. As I was telling T about how well it had gone, I got another phone call from the guy, basically offering me the job and wanting to know if I could meet at a coffee place in my neighborhood in half an hour. Holy crap!

So, I hustled into the shower and into presentable clothing. We had a good conversation and outlined the projects on the horizon. It looks like it’s going to be a good project and should yield a steady stream of part-time hours for the next few months. It will make me a little more money than unemployment and help give my life some structure, both of which are desperately needed right now. I’ll still need to line up another contracting gig at some point, but I was feeling pretty good. (And it never hurts the ego to have someone offer you a job after talking to you for half an hour.)

I cruised on this high for most of the day and then my phone rang. It was my former boss. The contracting work was going to start next week, despite his being on vacation all week. He gave me a list of projects and a minimum of details. It was going to be weird walking through the doors of that office again, but given that I know exactly what I’m getting into and who I’m dealing with, I think it will be okay. And having another stream of income until I hear back on the full-time gig will be awesome.

I decided to end my Friday with a swim at Ballard’s pool. It wasn’t too crowded and I had the luxury of a lane to myself for much of it. My swim started to feel like it was coming back toward the end of the workout, which was encouraging. All of this called for a celebration, so I pulled out a Groupon I had for a local restaurant we’d been wanting to try and had a little date night with the boy.

The place we were going was called Root Table, a tucked away little Asian fusion place. I hate this place’s logo – I’d walked by it for months thinking it sold third world crafts and tye-dye. Just look at the menus:

But the place had gotten good reviews and seeing the Groupon for it sealed the deal. The interior was cute and filled with carved wooden tables, chairs and decorations. Here’s the boy enjoying the ambience:

We shared a series of tapas and each had a fancy cocktail. Most of the food was eaten too quickly to be photographed, but here are the lemongrass-chicken “lollipops” and my Lychee Kamikaze (both were delicious!)

It was fun to have a little night out with the boy, (especially one that only cost us 20 dollars.) It reminded me that we need to make time to do this kind of stuff, even during these money-stressed times. And it definitely ended the week on a high note!

Rollercoaster week

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This week went by really quickly and was a bit of a roller coaster. My big goals for the week were to get back on some kind of training schedule and get some job stuff taken care of. There’s a full-time design job that I’m really excited about and I’m very fortunate to have a friend who works there helping me out, so I spent the early part of the week getting my application materials finished up and sent in, but I knew it might be a while before I heard anything back. I had a few leads on contract work that some friends had sent me, so I diligently followed up with those as well.

Late last week, I’d started talking with my former company about doing some contracting work for them. (Yeah, I know.) On Monday, I had a phone call set up to discuss what I thought were the specifics of the arrangement, but it turned out the powers that be hadn’t given their final approval yet and instead here’s a long pitch about possible future opportunities to come back and work for them in October. Yeah, right. The whole phone call opened up all of the layoff emotions and the whole encounter felt like a bad high school break up. “No, baby… this time I’m totally going to change. I’ll totally treat you right this time, I swear!” Sigh.

As far as training went, it was pretty ugly. Monday, I went for a bike ride with T and felt like crap. Tuesday, went for a run and felt like crap. Wednesday, M & I ran some errands down in Renton and treated ourselves with a trip to the best pool ever – Colman. I was expecting the swim to be horrible, since it had been over a week since I’d swum last and that was a disaster, but it was okay. (Maybe the fabulosity of Colman makes a bad swim more bearable, who knows?) Encouraged by my Colman efforts, I came back and sent off a quick e-mail to a Craigslist contracting lead. They responded within 20 minutes with a request for a few more samples and we set up a phone interview for Friday. Since I still hadn’t heard anything from my former company, it was good to see some kind of work on the horizon.

Thursday, I woke up blue for no really good reason. The weather was gray and cloudy and it was just one of those days where it’s hard to see anything working out and everything just seems doomed to failure. I have enough experience with this state of mind to just sort of ride it out. I forced myself out onto the bike for some hill repeats in the neighborhood. (Maybe some external pain will shake up the internal blahs… ) T was nice enough to go with me and we had a decent 45 minute ride. (Legs still not 100% but better than Monday) After some lunch and a nap, I went back out for a run. Going out sucked, but coming back actually felt pretty decent.

We ended the evening having M & J over for pizza. Wally decided to help us manage our carbs by eating one entire pizza dough. Bad, bad dog! T was forced to improvise and divide the remaining pizza into two smaller doughs. It all turned out okay, the pizzas were small but delicious and our guests claimed to have gotten enough to eat. It gave T & I an excuse to go out and get a cupcake later in the evening, so it all turned out okay.

Fingers crossed that things will start to feel normal soon…

Yard sale!

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We’ve been working hard to get rid of excess crap that’s been cluttering up our house. In fact, T’s summer job has been selling said crap on Craigslist with some success. But the sheer volume was making us think that maybe a yard sale might be a good way to go. M had some stuff she wanted to get ride of as well and since she has a much better place for yard-saling, we decided to have the sale in her ‘hood.

I will confess that I was not wildly enthused about doing the actual sale. There’s something about sitting around with all of your crap haggling with strangers just doesn’t sound appealing. Go figure. But the prospect of having friends to hang out with did make it seem much more bearable.

The forecast was in the 90’s and M proposed we set up the shade tent that we sometimes bring camping. She’s a genius.

While the boys lugged the tables/boxes of crap out of the house, M & I went to hang the final signs. Here’s me fighting with the stapler:

Caught in the act!

It was pretty shocking how early people were driving by. We were frantically trying to get things out of boxes and set up as people were coming up. It didn’t help that there were 9 garage sales within a few block radius, so people were definitely targeting the neighborhood, even with the heat.

Here’s the boy, hard at work:

The shade tent was roundly declared to be the best idea ever. It gave people a chance to browse stuff out of the sun and us a chance to stay relatively cool. M had made some awesome iced tea and J figured out how to make homemade “Country time lemonade.” It tasted exactly like the drink mix, it was sort of insane. J rigged up some music through their TiVo, so we had some nice background music.

Because we had a ton of little odds and ends, I really didn’t expect to make too much money. I was just happy for things to be leaving the house. Our biggest ticket items were 10 bucks! But when I sat down to count our money, we’d made a little over 300 bucks, not counting the handful of change. It was pretty shocking. (And given the current state of our finances, a most welcome one at that!) Plus, we took a ton of stuff to Goodwill and now have a very manageable number of items to try and sell on Craigslist. Talk about win/win!

Space needle souvenir

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As part of our big Space Needle adventure, they do that obnoxious thing that tourist attractions have all started doing where they have you pose in front of a green screen and then try to sell you digital photos of you in front of a digitally placed background of whatever it is that you are visiting. But this time, they actually give you a free digital copy of your image AND let you pick from a selection of backgrounds.

I was so entertained at the cheese-tastic possibilities, that I had to take some screen shots t0 share with my tens of readers. Enjoy!

Look! We’re on a ferry!

Now we’re standing in front of the weirdest colored city skyline I’ve ever seen. Sunset after the nuclear holocaust perhaps? Or maybe we’re just standing next to a really big hippie van?

And now we’re… floating in space?

And finally, my favorite. This has to be the creepiest picture of Mount Rainier ever. All it’s missing is a unicorn or a rainbow or even better a unicorn AND a rainbow. Or a rainbow-colored unicorn…

Free Friday Fun

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Bargain-hunter extraordinaire, M found out that the Space Needle was going to have free admission all day today. (Take that, Friday the 13th!) M had been wanting to go to the top since they moved here three years ago, but it’s hard to work up a great deal of enthusiasm to spend 18 bucks per person to stand in a long line with fanny-pack wearing tourists. But for free? Sign us up! We got to Seattle Center around five, with the full expectation that we would have a lengthy wait ahead of us. (And wondering if there was some sort of catch… )

Oooh, free Space Needle:

But after passing the mandatory Peruvian flute band, we were directed to the box office and handed our free passes. The line was crazy-long, as expected, but it was at least largely shaded and fairly well organized. The gang was prepared for adventure:

What the gang wasn’t prepared for was our fellow line inhabitants. There were some of the ugliest people, wearing some of the most unfortunate fashion ever seen. Seriously. Terrible. We were also behind two women who thought it would be a great idea to subject their four young children to a really long line without actually keeping an eye on them or paying attention to them, so they sort of ran wild through the crowd, which was fairly stressful to witness. I totally understand wanting to bring your children to things, but toddlers aren’t going to do well standing in a long line. Bring a stroller/some snacks/your brain.

But aside from all of that, the line moved pretty briskly and before we knew it, we were on deck for the yellow elevator and rocketing to the top. After listening to the poor elevator operator’s spiel, we were on the observation deck, surrounded by the loveliness that is Seattle. Look at this pretty city:

Downtown Seattle, with a faint view of Mount Rainier in the background:

Lake Union:

Facing east, looking at Capital Hill and the shadow of the Space Needle:

Obligatory couple shots:

The Olympic Sculpture Garden:

Ugly building made uglier, the Experience Music project from above:

Puget Sound:

It was so much fun and since I’d only been up once before, (I had lunch with my mother there after the job interview that would eventually lead to my first move to Seattle) it was nice to be able to identify what I was looking at. After we were safely back on the ground, I had to take one last look:

We finished our evening at M & J’s place, enjoying Vietnamese salad rolls in their lovely backyard. It was a great summer evening and a lovely way to kickoff a hot August weekend. Thanks again to M for her crazy-awesome bargain-finding skills!