Sunday, October 10, 2010
One needn't be insane to travel 30+ hours for a weekend just to turn around and travel 30+ hours back, but is sure helps! I signed up for the inaugural Hershey Half in gorgeous PA when the knee seemed to be doing better. I hoped to see FLORIDAFAN and DANI1855, and FOODGIRL even thought she might come. (You know that combining racing with seeing Sparkfriends has become a bit of a passion of mine - hee hee!) Sadly, the knee is becoming a much longer-term project than originally expected and seems unable to fully heal. As people got busy and plans changed, it looked like Hershey was going to fall by the wayside.
Then Dani said she was definitely going to run the race - her first. We don't get to see each other all that often, and I wanted to be there to cheer her on. I arrived in Philly late Friday and started the two-hour drive to Hershey. I passed the exit leading to my mother's house and almost surprised her but knew I was too tired to be companionable.
Those of you who read my last blog know the news that awaited me in Hershey. My grandmother had died. Instead of going to Hershey Park for the day while waiting for Dani to arrive, I called my parents. I thought they might be caught up in making arrangements, but they were really sweet and drove out to Hershey so we could be together. We ate lunch in a diner, served by a cheeky waiter and then decided to go to Chocolate World.
We took the tour and then made out own custom chocolate bars. It was quite the experience. We selected the innards and toppings and even designed the packaging!
Dad mugs for the camera
The parental units show off their creations
Next, we wandered over to the café, where we selected toppings for our ice cream. The portions were enormous!!! It's honestly no wonder Americans are fat - sheesh! While we waited for our confectionery masterpieces to arrive, we were invited to paint the paper tablecloth. Apparently a treat for children, the waitress recognized that we were children at heart.
My little Picasso
M&D living their second childhood
Dani and her entourage arrived. DH and the kiddies stayed in another hotel, while Dani stayed with me so we could catch up on girl talk. The more we talked about the race, the more excited I got. You all know what a raging bling ho' I am, and we speculated that the medal would be a chunky silver hershey kiss. Cool, right?
The forecast was for gray skies and rain, but Sunday dawned blue and bright, and the clear, crisp, autumn weather was a delight after months of 90+ weather in Beirut. A fun fact about the Hershey race: instead of planting the walkers in the back and letting us make do, this race allowed walkers to begin in the front with a head start. Dani was feeling strong and felt she would be able to run, but the head start got me to thinking. So I decided to start with the walkers and see how things went.
The course was fast, flat, and gorgeous. We walked through the park, under the enormous rollercoasters, and the little zoo. Part of the course was on the main street, and I saw a minister standing in front of his church, his arms clasped behind his back.
"Pray for me, Father", I called.
"I will", he answered solemnly.
Aren't the streetlamps darling?
Dani passed me in mile 7, looking fantastic. She jetted off, finishing in a mere 2:14. I felt great until mile 12, when my knee decided it had enough and pooped out. I was so close to the finish line, I couldn't bring myself to bow out and soldiered on.
Dani and her family were waiting for me at the finish line, which I finally crossed at 4:09.
Afterwards, Dani and I luxuriated at the Hershey Hotel Spa.
hee hee - with our bling
sipping hot cocoa before our cocoa massages
We headed home after that, and I enjoyed a quick visit with the 'rents before starting the long trip back. Lufthansa refused to change my ticket, so staying for the funeral wasn't an option, but I'd like to think that Nana knew I was near.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
My Nana with her dog Willie
1914 - 2010
I left Beirut Thursday evening to begin the 30+ hour trip to Hershey, PA -- "the sweetest place on earth". Right before I left, I called my mother to catch up. She told me Nana was really slipping. I have mixed feelings because I know she's ready to die and wants to be with my grandfather, but she has always been my biggest cheerleader, and I know I will miss the constancy of having her in my life.
I arrived in Philly, exhausted, having no slept in over 40 hours, rented a car and began the 2 hour drive to Hershey in rush hour traffic. I drove by the exit that would take me to my mother's house and almost went to see her, but I was too tired to be companionable and didn't want to impose on her just for respite before I dashed off again.
I got lost in charming rural Pennsylvania and imagined all the good food in the homey diners I passed, and, eventually, I arrived at my hotel. I had an email awaiting me. Nana died while I was enroute. I was planning to see her next month and suspected it would be our lst time together. Now I'm glad I saw her in June.
She was ahead of her time in many ways. She wore bikinis before they were fashionable and always advocated for women's equal participation in society. She hoped I'd run for president so she could vote for me. I still remember telling my grandparents that I'd been accepted at university. I invited them out to dinner, and when I told them, Nana's eyes filled with tears, and she looked up at Granddad and said, "Stuffy (her pet name for him), can you believe it? Our granddaughter is going to Oxford!" I'll never forget how good it made me feel to make her so proud of me.
So ... anyway, I am now in Hershey. My BFF is running her first ever 1/2 marathon tomorrow. Her DH and kids are coming to cheer her on. They're staying in one hotel, and Dani and I are staying in another. LOL Girl power! After the race, we're going to the Hershey Spa and getting cocoa massages. I wonder how much weight I'll gain from licking myself.
And I fly out on Monday to get back to Beirut by Tuesday night. It's crazy but it's life.
Nana and GD - I take comfort in believing that they are together again.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I'm in my last day of Dr. Hyman's one-week detox plan. I won't lie - it was tough in the beginning, and it's not especially easy now, but the scale is loving it! I'm down 6 lbs. with one day left. This is my lowest weight since April, 2009. Yay!
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
After the high of my June trip, July wasn't such a great month for me. Between work stress, family drama, Spark drama, friend problems, and health problems, I lost focus. When I realised that my three year Sparkiversary is just a couple of days away, I was ashamed of how little I have to show for it
This month, I'm returning to basics. To return to a positive focus, I'm making a series of small changes to build my confidence and self-esteem and get myself back on track. Girls Night In has been rocking it, and I'm counting on them to make this month a fantastic springboard to a brilliantly successful fourth year. I'm excited about my new teams like Charleys, Living Low Carb and Macrobiotic that will help me develop a healthy eating plan and looking forward to addressing money issues with my friends at Debt Haven and Debt Free Living. The 2010 team reminds me that this is a series of baby steps, and my amazing running family at Disney Distance and friends on WDW Marathon 2011 and Injured Runners are my inspiration and sounding boards as I train for the toughest physical challenge I've ever attempted. I love thinking of exercise in new ways with my Zumba team, and Head to Toe Beauty reminds me that health is more than weight and fitness. My True Blood teams feed my *sick* obsession with vampires, and, last but not least, Hogwarts will always be my heart and the main reason I Spark. You witches are brilliant!!
I have many wonderful friends who are not currently on any of the same teams as I am, but they are still a special part of my life and very important to me. I hope I can inspire others, but know that you all are the reason I don't just pack it in, sit on the sofa, and give up. Thank you!!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
A few days ago, I blogged about the first half of my super fabulous holiday. First half recap: did the San Diego 1/2, visited friends in L.A. before making my way up to Idaho to meet Sparkfriend Ems. Completed the Teton Dam 1/2, receiving both a medal and a rhubarb crumble, then enjoyed an amazing day in Yellowstone National Park.
Here's the second half:
My visit with Ems whizzed by and it was time to go before I knew it. From Idaho Falls, I flew to Seattle to visit a non-Spark friend. (I know! Who knew they even existed?) From Seattle, we moseyed our way up to Olympic National Park for a couple of days, including FORKS and LA PUSH! Yes, all my vampire loving, werewolf adoring friends, we were in "the Twilight Zone"!
I didn't see Edward, but I did bump into Alice.
I honestly didn't expect to have nearly as much fun as I did. One woman told me that this little town of just over 3000 people had more than 70,000 visitors last year! Most of the folks couldn't have been friendlier. We treated ourselves to the suite in the Forks Motel, and when the weather predictably turned to rain, we put our swimsuits to good use in the suite hot tub, watching "New Moon" on my computer. LOL
My friend checks out Sparkpeople.
From the Pacific Northwest, I traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Severe storms delayed me a few hours, but Sparkfriends AMUNET_RA (Bonnie) and DERBO (Derek) were at the airport to greet me when I finally made it. Wow! These two really know how to show a girl a good time! They spoiled me rotten! I was greatly amused to see that Manitoba license plates say "Friendly Manitoba" because both Bonnie and Derek repeatedly warned me about how people smashed car windows to steal and then damaged the cars if they didn't like their loot, and so on. Meanwhile, I just kept meeting the nicest people everywhere we went.
Continuing my racing streak, I attempted to complete the Manitoba Half Marathon for three races in three weeks. I still had a nasty chest cold, so I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to race. However, knowing that CJBAGGINS had signed up for the fun run made me decide to go for it.
On race morning, I was sitting on the ground, taping my knees, when I heard a voice from behind me call my name. I turned around -- and there was CJ! How she recognised me from behind remains a frightening mystery, but she did. She was all smiles as she introduced me to her DH and cute kids. The Bagginses were out in force to support CJ and her daughter, who were both racing.
CJ and I chatted until I had to line up, and it took my mind off all the things I normally stress about. I should take her to all my races!
The forecast had called for cold, overcast, and chance of thunder. Nope, nope, and nope. I hope these weather service guys aren't also giving lottery numbers and stock tips! Unfortunately, the organisers decided to pace the race at a quick 14-minute mile based on the fastest runners, not the slowest. The result? They "closed" the first mile before I'd even crossed the start line! This meant that as I worked my way through the course, the medical, food, and drink stops were closing before I was anywhere near. Why in such a hurry? Dunno. Maybe these were the people Derek was talking about, and they were late for their car window smashing. In any event, it was a stupid plan, and I hope they will revisit it in the future, as some runners had no support during their races. I didn't have any official support until the ninth mile, when the 1/2 rejoined the full, and I was ahead of the (marathon) pace.
However, for the first time in all my races, I had "peeps" and WOW! It makes SUCH a difference! Bonnie and Derek had very kindly driven me to the race starting area. I assumed that they would go home and back to sleep. No! I was plodding along in mile 6 when Bonnie and Derek just appeared with a cold sports drink for me. It was great to see them and know that they were pulling for me to do well. In mile 10, I heard my name and saw the Baggins clan lined up along the curb, all cheering. I thought it was incredibly sweet, given that CJ's race ended a couple of hours earlier. Bonnie and Derek met me again in mile 12, and again at the finish line. Usually, there's at least a couple of "dark miles" in a race, when I want to quit and ask myself why I'm holding myself up to such ridicule. I never experienced that in this race, and I think "my team" made all the difference. Thanks again, guys! You are stars!!!
What the official course lacked in the way of support, the locals made up for in encouragement and good cheer. Much of the race was in residential areas, and local people offered water, turned their sprinklers on us, offered us "showers" from their hoses, and made homemade music. Some people banged on household items; others pulled together an impressive and bewildering array of random instruments. My favourite "band" consisted of three accordions and a saxophone. Play that funky music!
Bonnie at our celebratory lunch
Once again, I found myself having to leave way too soon, as I enjoyed my Manitoba sparkfriends immensely. Finally, I was off to Philadelphia to see my mother, who has remarried and now lives in the Exton area. It was a wonderful visit, until Philly was pounded by an intense storm and her home was hit by a mini-tornado. The winds were 70 mph, trees got tossed around, and a huge old tree smashed her roof beams and made an unplanned "skylight" in her roof. They still have no power, and Philly's suffering a heatwave. I feel terrible for them. They worked hard to make it a nice visit for me, but their minds were on their situation. I'm glad they're ok and hope they can get something on the roof before the next wave of storms forecast batter them some more.
I'm currently in the airport, on my way home. It's been an amazing holiday full of little adventures, and a real thrill to meet my Sparkfriends in person!
Get An Email Alert Each Time CATIATM Posts