Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tapaigh An Deis

"Seize the Day" in Gaelic.

Melissa and I are both fortunate to be in a phase of our lives where we could take a trip like this. We both have an only child who is old enough to be left in someone else’s care for a few days, our husbands have fairly stable work schedules, our jobs allow us to take a few days off when we want them, we have our health……etc. etc.

All these items are easily subject to change in an instant. And in this Age of Benefits Degradation in just about every industry, the airline could yank our perks at any time. It's not something to take for granted.

We had to do our best to make the most of this opportunity because who knows when the stars will align again.

So after anxiously watching the flight listings all day, we managed to snag the seats we wanted to our top choice destination….Dublin, Ireland!

We ate our faces off, watched movies, and basically got zero sleep chit-chatting on the way over. It was like a teenage girls’ slumber party at 30,000 feet.

Hot fudge sundae at midnight?, Yes, please.

While we were en route, Melissa’s husband did the leg work and found a good hotel deal for us. When we arrived in Dublin, all we had to do was pull up the email on our phones to get the reservation info.

He found a steal of a deal all right. We stayed at The Ashling Hotel, a full amenity hotel in Dublin City Center, for 149 euro! Yes, that was the total for two people, for two nights, and included a full breakfast as well.

Once we knew where we were staying, we boarded the Airlink Bus, which picks you up directly in front of the airport terminal. For 6 euro, it couldn’t have been more convenient. All we had to do was ride the double-decker bus to the very last stop, which put us right in front of our hotel.

It was 10:00 when we arrived, but out rooms wouldn’t be ready until about 3:00. They held our bags for us, so we’d be able to do some sightseeing in the mean time.

Our first stop was the Guinness Storehouse, as it was only a short walk from the hotel. If you’ve ever visited the World of Coke in Atlanta, you can almost compare it to that.

It’s not the actual factory, and teaches you very little about the brewing process. It is more about the history of the owners and the brand, with lots of pictures and memorabilia on display.

9,000 yr lease Arthur Guinness signed for the Brewery location

The best part of the tour was the Gravity Bar on the top floor of the Storehouse, with it’s 360 degree view of Dublin.

We found our second wind to keep going thanks to a tasty pint.

Shockingly, we ended up here for a bite to eat afterwards.
The scones were irresistible, and we may have consumed about 847 more of them (with jam and butter of course) during the rest of our stay.

We made a brief stop back at the hotel to freshen up, and to take a quick (ok, a 4 hour) nap, before heading out again for the night.

It was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel to Temple Bar, the nightlife area of the city. We stumbled across a bunch a "Pub Crawl" groups. We proved our old age by skipping the pub-crawl tours, although we created a mini one for ourselves before turning in for the night.

We wanted a relatively early start the nexy day.........

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Girls' Overseas Getaway

I met my friend Melissa a couple years ago through an internet message board ( Isn’t that how everyone meets these days? :)

We instantly clicked, as realized we have much more in common than just our husbands' profession. In the time that we’ve known each other, her entire family has kindly welcomed us into their lives, providing us with a new “home away from home” in Atlanta.

While having Easter dinner at their house a couple weekends ago, the question came up in conversation “Why haven’t you girls taken any getaway-type trips before?” Her husband is a pilot at the same company as Mr.Blondie, so we have the same travel benefits after all.

Well, you don’t need to ask us twice. The next day vacation requests were submitted, childcare was arranged, and we were surfing the internet for possible destinations.

Our travel dates were set, but the destination…not so much. All we knew was that we wanted to go somewhere in Europe. Like previous trips, we’d just pack a bag and make the game time decision of exactly where to go once we were at the airport.

It looked like we’d have more options to Europe if we left out of JFK instead of Atlanta, so we got an early start on Sunday morning and headed up to NY. We ate a nice lunch near Times Square and did some window shopping. We had more than a good laugh or two people watching as we killed some time wandering around NYC.

Thank you Steve Jobs for this life changing device.

All the while, we eagerly kept checking flight loads on our iPhones, as that would ultimately dictate where we’d end up going later that night. We made our way to JFK around 5:00, with our top 3 choices in mind:

1) Dublin
2) Nice, France
3) Madrid

At 9:00 our ride pulled up.

We called our husbands to let them know exactly where we were going, and then we were on our way......
Champagne in hand of course. This was the start of a girls' weekend afterall.....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Colors of the Rainbow (ATL Color Run & Easter)

I was fortunate enough to snag a free entry to The Color Run in Atlanta on Easter weekend. Thanks Vanessa! For the low, low price of free how could I pass up the chance to experience the latest trend in adventure racing.

We did the Atlanta encore race. The first Atlanta race was held the week prior at Piedmont Park. It sold out within a couple weeks and had over 10,000 participants, so they added a second one at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

According to the announcer about 5,000 people turned out for this one. 5,000 people seemed like an awful lot, so I can only imagine what it was like with a crowd of 10,000.

I think this is an excellent concept. It was a good mixture of people from all different age groups and ability levels. It think it would have been a blast if Emily were a bit older and we were doing it as a family with Mr. B, or if I was doing it with a bunch of girlfriends.

However, going solo, I have to admit I wasn’t very into it. I wanted to see what it was all about, but I had a bunch of errands and other things to do afterwards. Therefore, tried my best not to get too “colorful”.



Total lameness on my part. I told you so.

Since it’s all about the experience, and not competition, it’s more of a casual walk than a run. To further add to the lameness, I sort of wanted to get through the course quickly so I could move on to other things. At each kilometer was a “color station”, where they had people on either side throwing the color. I avoided the jam-ups, and getting hit directly with color, by breezing through the middle of each one.

The “color” is basically colored corn starch. The organizers say it’s safe and non-toxic, but I still wasn’t keen on the idea of it getting into our eyes and lungs. Even though I cut through the middle, there were huge powder clouds to run through at each color station. I ran with my sunglasses on and pulled the collar of my shirt up over my nose and mouth to limit my ingestion of it.

Emily was safely cocooned in the stroller with the rain cover over top. It worked beautifully to protect her. I had watched some other moms trying to cover up parts of their strollers with trash bags in the starting area. Amateurs :) I heard of lot of “Great idea, why didn’t I think of that?” along the way.

If you don’t get enough color on the course, never fear, there’s a color explosion at the end. I didn’t partake, but it did look quite fun.

How you were supposed to end up looking.....

And for a little bit of irony, after being painted like human easter eggs, later that day we went on a hunt for them.

We left with enough jelly beans to fuel a thousand marathons. Is anyone else still detoxing from Easter candy? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Is there a unique event or adventure race that's caught your attention recently?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Looks Better on Paper

While contending with the rising temps and lingering pollen last week, I told myself a few short, slow miles was better than nothing. After being parked in an office chair all day, I just needed some time on my feet. I felt like a total sandbagger with my longest run being 6 miles.

In sticking with my New Year’s Resolution, I’ve been good about logging my workouts. When I went back to tally up my miles for the week, I realized things weren’t so bad.

Sunday: 6.32 mi run (50:00, 7:55/mi), 10mins elliptical
Monday: off
Tuesday: 4.61 mi run (35:37, 7:56/mi)
Wednesday: 4.5 mi run (36:30, 8:06/mi)
Thursday: 5.0 mi run (40:46, 8:09/mi)
Friday: 5.11 mi run (40:00, 7:50/mi)
Saturday: Gym treamill workout: 5.2 mi total (30 mins @ 7.0, 1% incline, then 10 mins alternating 30 secs @9.0 and 30 secs @6.7, 5 min cd @ 4.0), 20 mins elliptical

Weekly Total: 30.74 miles run, 30 min elliptical

While 30 miles/week is a pittance for some, that’s actually quite good for me!

I started each run at what felt like a slow and relaxed pace, which led me to naturally pick up speed as the runs progressed. Overall, my average paces ended up being pretty decent, even though I felt like I was taking it easy.

Thanks to the shorter runs, my legs remained fresh. Only one rest day for the week was sufficient.

More importantly, since my week day runs only lasted between 35-45 minutes, it left me with an extra 20-30 minutes to squeeze in extra chores. Folding a few loads of laundry or wiping down the bathrooms doesn’t sound like a lot, but when I let those chores pile up as the week goes on, it ends up being an entire night’s worth of work.

Usually, that’s why I take a second rest day each week. Just to stay on top of housework. It felt so good not having a mound of housework to deal with at the end of the week.

I'll enjoy these short runs while they last. Marathon training official starts in June. I was leaning towards the Hanson Plan, but I’m still surveying my options before I commit to a training program. Since I won’t be able to haphazardly load up on quantity this time around, I want to get the most quality out of my planned miles.

A little light reading arrived this week.

Yes, I still read books printed on paper.

If you've follwed a training plan and really liked it (or not), please tell me about it :)

Do you have any tricks for finding more time in your day? What would you do with an extra 20-30 minutes?