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Happy 2012

Happy 2012, everyone! This year has begun perfectly, and I am excited to see what unfolds this year.

I finished off the year with an amazing 11 mile run down at the beach. It was perfect running weather (in my opinion): mid 40’s and partly cloudy with no wind. I was supposed to run 10 miles on Sunday, but since that was New Year’s day, and I knew I would be celebrating the night before, I ran my long run on Saturday. The decision to run 11 miles was a last minute thought. 2011 was good to me. Very, very good to me. I thought running 11 miles would be a good tribute to a memorable 2011. It was an amazing run to finish off an even more amazing year. It was goal crushing, strength building, and growth stimulating.

Just a recap of the amazingness that was 2011.

Traveled to Mexico for the first time.

Kicked a couple of nasty habits

Learned how to take care of, and truly love, myself

Found my happy place. 🙂

My running “career” REALLY took off:

  • Placed 2nd in the St. Patty’s Day dash
  • PR’d 1/2 marathon
  • Ran my first marathon
  • Qualified for Boston in that first marathon
  • PR’d 5K

Met, and fell in love with, my “ethnic” boyfriend, S. 🙂

Lead my first climb

Continued to progress in yoga

Traveled to Costa Rica for the first time

Wrote…a LOT

Started a lot of projects (2012 is my year to finish them)

2012 is starting off busy! But busy good. I am going to apologize, in advance, to my friends and family. The next few months are going to be crazy busy: (more than) full time job, Boston training, and an exciting project I am working on. I (hopefully) will come up for air after Boston. 🙂

Exciting things are on the horizon. Stay tuned for more!

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in Happiness, Running, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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Adios, Costa Rica

Back to Seattle, I go. I was sad, but not overly sad. What I was most sad about was leaving S behind.

It was barely 5AM when S kissed me goodbye. He, and the majority of the group, were leaving for the next destination, and on the way, they were going white water rafting. Everyone was VERY excited about this. I was mildly sad I wasn’t going. I had only been once many, many, many years ago, and it didn’t go very well. It was cold, and rough, and our raft flipped and we lost our guide. It was all traumatic, and since then I have had no desire to go again. But, I think it’s time to go and get over this fear. Not in Costa Rica, this time, however.

So, I sadly said goodbye to S, and fell back asleep for a couple of hours. I was getting a ride to the airport with a couple in our group who was also heading home. A van drove us the couple of hours to the airport in San Jose. I was tired and desperately wanted to sleep, but I didn’t want to miss my last views of Costa Rica. So, I snoozed a bit, and stared out the window a bit.

I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and did some souvenir shopping and ate. I already missed S a lot, and wasn’t sure when I would talk to him again.

I slept most of my flight to Houston, and breezed through customs once I got there thanks to GOES. I recommend becoming a global entry trusted traveler to ANYONE who travels internationally. No custom lines at all. I had a short layover, and then watched a great movie from Houston to Seattle: Life in a Day.

I was back in cold Seattle. I was indifferent about being home, really. I had a great time in Costa Rica, visiting a part of the world I had always wanted to see. I met some amazing people, witnessed an incredible wedding, took part in some wild adventures, laughed, cried, got to know myself better, got to know S better, ate some great food, and made some priceless memories. I was more sad about being away from the group and from S than from actually not being in Costa Rica anymore. It was the people I was with who made the trip so memorable, and I look forward to the next time we all get together. A part of me was actually happy to be home. I was excited to see my friends, to run the race Sunday, to see my family, to go to yoga, to see Baby H, to sleep, and to get back to my hectic routine. This trip was a trip of a lifetime, and I am so grateful I was able to be a part of it. 🙂

My favorites from the trip:

Hotel: Margarita’s

Day: Beach Day with S in Mal Pais

Dinner: (this was TOUGH to choose we had so much amazing food) Brisas del Mar

Activity: Canyoning

Town: Mal Pais

Bar: Da Mon Key

Relaxing activity: Hot springs

Run: 8 mile mud run in Mal Pais

Breakfast: The Common Cup in Monteverde

Group Activity: Hot springs

Moment: The wedding ceremony

Funniest: The guys in our group performing Thunder from Down Under in the hot springs. 🙂

Scariest: Monkey grabbing bracelets off my wrist

Lunch: Da Mon Key

Wildest: Both nights at Da Mon Key

Coffee: The Common Cup

Dessert: Brisas del Mar

Drink: Smoothies in Mal Pais

Saddest (?) but also pretty funny: Finance falling in the ditch

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Food/Restaurants, Happiness, Travel

 

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My last full day in Costa Rica

Thanksgiving in Costa Rica. My last day in Costa Rica. My ninth day in Costa Rica. One of the funnest days in Costa Rica. 🙂

We slept in a bit, and I decided to skip my 8 mile run. It really wasn’t a tough decision, and I knew I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. It was my last day and I wanted to fully enjoy it without the stress of figuring out when to run, where to run, and feeling too exhausted to do all the other fun stuff we had planned. So, I said, “I have trained my butt off, I would actually benefit from NOT running today”. I think I needed the rest more than I needed to get that last 8 miler in. I was in shape. I was trained. I was as ready as I was going to be. My body needed this rest. My mind did, too.

After breakfast at the hotel, we got ready to go canyoning! I was SO excited for this! Canyoning is…rappelling down through waterfalls. Some of them 150 feet!!! I climb (and have rappelled) and I love the water! So, I was very excited. It was cold (lower 70’s) and cloudy and the water was cold, but I didn’t care! The whole experience was AMAZING! This was my favorite adventure activity we did, and I highly recommend the adventure company we went with. Desafio Adventure Company.

The tour guides were knowledgeable, and funny! It was such a fun day. I had a smile on my face the entire time. Even after I had to jump, and fully submerge myself, into the not-warm-at-all water. They fed us lunch after, and they drove us directly to…THE SPRINGS! We went BACK to The Springs to soak in the hot springs. We got to see the beautiful resort in day light, and…it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and we were only able to see the base of the Arenal volcano, which on a clear day is right in front of the hotel!

We all donned glow sticks and had an awesome time in the springs. We even dressed in togas (towels) and got a tour of the wildlife preserve, where we saw (wild) cats and monkeys. Some of the monkeys were not very nice and others were so sweet and shook our hands. I wanted a monkey hand shake, too! So, I stuck my hand out and the monkey went straight for my (glow stick) bracelets! He grabbed them, and it became a tug of war between us. S was telling me to give up (he didn’t want the monkey to bite me), but I didn’t want the little guy to get to the glow in the stick! I didn’t want him to get sick. I won the fight without a handshake from the little guy. 😦 It was very exciting!

We went back to the springs and played and sang and threw our glow sticks in the sky and had so much fun! None of us wanted to leave, but we all needed to eat. So, we went back to the hotel and changed for Thanksgiving dinner at Don Rufino.

We celebrated: Thanksgiving, a birthday, our last night in La Fortuna, my last night in Costa Rica, and an AMAZING day.

Back to the hotel and to bed. Everyone was getting up early in the morning to go our separate ways.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Food/Restaurants, Outdoor fun, Travel

 

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Day seven in Costa Rica

Woke up from the best night of sleep I’ve had in a LONG time. We fell asleep early (crashed) and slept in. When we woke up, everyone was already leaving for breakfast. We decided to have an US day and not rush. It was nice.

We got dressed and went for a run. I had 5 miles. We were at 1400 meters, and it was VERY hilly. I didn’t make 5 miles. After running UP, then DOWN, then UP, UP, UP, then DOWN…I decided to turn around when the DOWN continued DOWN, DOWN, DOWN…that would be UP, UP, UP on the way back, and I was already struggling. So, I decided 4 or 4.5 miles at elevation and extreme hills would be more than a normal 5 mile run. Not only was it hilly, but the roads weren’t paved. I was not only training for a half marathon, but for the next Warrior Dash! The scenery was beautiful, and the cooler, less humid air was a relief.

We got back from our run, showered, then headed into town to find some food. The rest of the group had gone on an Extremo Canopy Tour (zip lines, superman zip lines, and Tarzan swing), which all sounded very fun, but we opted for a day to ourselves. By the time we got out the door, I was STARVING, and open to eating just about anywhere. After snapping some scenic shots on the way,

, we found our food spot:

, The Common Cup, which, of course, had AMAZING coffee (we’re in Costa Rica!), and delicious food, too. As we were ordering we spotted a monkey in the tree outside. One of the ladies who worked there peeled a banana, and the little guy came scurrying:

As we were leaving, I noticed a flyer on the wall: 90 minute massage, $50. I was DYING for a massage. Everything on my body hurt. I was in my last week of training, and I had been using my body in other ways the entire time we were in Costa Rica, too. I desperately needed a massage.

We walked further in town, and passed the place that had the $50 massage. We stopped in, made an appointment for later, and went and booked a fun day ziplining. We opted to do the sky tram/zip line tour. http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/canopy/tour.htm

It was a lot of fun! After the sky tram up, up, up and into the cloud forest, we ziplined down nine ziplines (some of them we did tandem and went REALLY, REALLY fast!) It was so cool being up that high above the jungle. It was pretty windy and cool, but we still had a great time.

After we were done, we got back into town and ate at a Peruvian restaurant, then I went for my massage. Ahhhhhh…it was amazing! The masssage therapist, Karen Gordon (amara.bodywork@gmail.com), was AMAZING! She was exactly what I needed. She is a distance runner, does yoga, and also does Reiki. She is very passionate about what she does, and has a great story of meeting her husband (who is Costa Rican) and moving to Costa Rica, quitting her stressful job, becoming a massage therapist, buying a farm, and having a baby. I was/am in awe. 🙂

After my massage, it was dark, and I was a little apprehensive about getting back to the hotel. Karen offered to take me back since it was on her way, which was awesome! She dropped me off, S was waiting for me, and we went off the meet the group for dinner: The rest of the group had an amazing time on their Extremo Canopy Tour. Everyone was exhausted. Back to the cabin for another early bedtime before we got up early to go to our next (and my last) destination: La Fortuna.

 
 

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Day six in Costa Rica

Waking up this morning was a little painful again after the wedding celebration the previous night, and we had to pack. After four fun-filled and interesting nights in Mal Pais, it was time to venture on. We awoke to a gray, wet day, which was okay since it was going to be a long travel day to our next destination: Monteverde.

The wedding was over, and our group of about 30, had decreased to less than 20. Some went home and some went to other parts of Costa Rica to explore on their own. We stayed with the bride and groom. We piled into a van, which would be the cause of many upset stomachs later on, and drove the couple of hours to catch the ferry. We made a stop more than halfway to let the people with upset stomachs off to get some fresh air/throw up. It wasn’t the best mode of transportation for anyone who got carsick, unfortunately. Luckily and surprisingly, I was fine!

We made it to the ferry, and it felt familiar: ferry, water, gray skies, rain…BUT, it was warm, there were palm trees on the beaches! The ferry ride was about an hour, and then we got back in the van for about another two hours to our destination: Monteverde, 1400 meters above sea level. We stopped for dinner on the way, and watched a beautiful sunset. When we piled back in the van, it was dark, and the road started to get very bumpy as we made our climb up, up up!

We got to Los Pinos, and settled into our cabin. http://www.lospinos.net/ It was definitely much cooler up in the mountains. We were all exhausted from a long day of travel and went to bed early.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Travel

 

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CR Adventure, Day 3

We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, and then headed down to the beach for a S and J day. 🙂 The beach was still covered in debris and the ocean was still a shade of brown, but it looked better than it did the previous day, AND the sun was shining!!

We walked down the beach soaking in the warm sun, and enjoying the sand beneath our feet. We explored, climbed rocks, took pictures (all the pictures taken today were taking on S’s Go Pro cam), enjoyed each others company, and eventually went swimming! The surf was a bit rough, but the water felt amazing! We meandered down the beach a bit further until we spotted some hammocks on the beach and some people relaxing in chairs. We were curious, so we walked up to check it out. It was a yoga resort! We walked through the grounds, past a pool, until we came to their center bar and ordered…mimosas. 🙂 Ordering a mimosa was not a simple task with the language barrier. What we got was an entire bottle of champagne and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, squeezed right before our eyes. Absolutely delicious. (Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name of the resort. 😦 ) A bottle of champagne later, we were ready to get back on the beach and in the sun.

We walked along the beach some more stopping so I could (attempt to) walk on my hands. We then walked off the beach and up to the road, seeing a part of town we hadn’t seen yet. We walked by a cool place that served smoothies and sat at a low table. I ordered banana/berry and S ordered papaya. Mine was yummier, we both agreed. It was delicious! As we were sipping our smoothies, I noticed a child, probably not more than 2 years old, naked in the side yard of the cafe. Seeing her naked didn’t faze me one bit until I noticed her squat down, and poop. She then stood up, walked a little further, and pooped some more. She did this for several more minutes as S and I stared, jaws wide open. Her mother was standing a good distance from her, holding her daughter’s underwear, smoking, and deep in conversation with someone. When her daughter was finished doing her thing, she walked over to her mom, and her mom proceeded to wipe her…in the cafe. It was quite a sight! Only in Costa Rica, I guess. You just let your kids out in the yard to go poop.

We walked back to the hotel, lounged by the pool, had some nachos, and went into town to grab lunch. We ventured into Da Mon Key, and had the most amazing food! I had a salad filled with delicious fresh veggies and S had tacos. The bartender was from So Cal. Highly recommend the food here: https://www.facebook.com/damonkeycr

We had dinner at Pasta Basta: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pasta-Basta-Real-Food/100836066669212?sk=wall. The place itself was very hip, and the food was absolutely AMAZING!! I ordered the Amberjack, a fish local to Costa Rica, and it was SOOOOOOOO good! It reminds me of swordfish…thick and steak-like. I basically licked my plate clean. I did manage to share a bit with our dinner guest, Reef. Dogs are not kept on leashes, nor in yards (neither are children, apparently) in Costa Rica. All dogs are just wandering the streets…and the restaurants. Reef was so sweet, that we just had to share our meal with her. 🙂 Dessert was scrumptious as well.

After dinner, we headed out, in the rain, and back to Da Mon Key, which we quickly took over. It was dead in there, but we quickly livened the place up! They had no music, but we changed that. We bet someone in our group he couldn’t make it back the hotel, grab the boom box, and bring it back in less than 5 minutes. It was pouring, too! Well, he made it, way under time, actually, and the party was started. There was dancing on the bar, there were some champagne showers, some beer showers…there was a lot of fun being had.

Our night ended after 1AM.

*This was one of my favorite days…it’s actually tied with another day*

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Not Costa Rica related, BUT I went back to the Seattle Marathon website today to look at the pictures that are now up (I look in pain in every single one), and my chip time…the time I actually ran the race in, is…1:39.59! SO, I actually broke BOTH goals: place in top 10, AND break 1:40.00! I am one happy little runner who is looking ahead to (hopefully) win the Jingle Bell Run next weekend…

What were your 2011 goals, and did you meet/break them?

 
 

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Costa Rica Adventure, Day 2

5AM wake up call begins the longest day EVER. S was already up snapping pictures of the beautiful grounds. Margarita was already up and offered us coffee. She also packed us each a breakfast. She is awesome. I highly recommend her place.

We all piled in the van to make the short drive to the small airport, SantaAir, to catch our flight to Tambor. Our small, single prop plane seated 9 (I think?), and was a little freaky at first (the plane bumped around a bit), but then I relaxed and took in the amazing scenery. It was BEAUTIFUL! The flight was about 30 minutes, and when we started our descent, we noticed the runway in front of us. It started right at the beach, so it felt like we were landing on the beach! It was awesome. 🙂 We were greeted by hot, humid air when we departed, and then we piled in our van for our next adventure. We thought we were making the drive to our hotel in Mal Pais. We had no idea of the small hiccup we would encounter….

For the past few days, it had been raining extremely hard in Costa Rica. Torrential downpour rain. The most rain Costa Rica has seen in 20…100 years (we heard both accounts). Well, luckily it was dry for us (now), but we were reaping the aftermath. The rain had washed out a lot of the roads, including the road that took us to our hotel. Less than a mile from our hotel, we were stuck and couldn’t go any further. We came up with all sorts of ideas, each one getting shot down. Hours later (but it still was before noon), when none of us wanted to sit at the gas station any longer, a couple of the boys went to check out the damage. When they came back, they came up with a plan: we walk. I was so down for this adventure! I had purchased water shoes for this purpose! And, we had packs, so trudging through mud/water would be much easier. We donned our water shoes and packs and set out, S and I leading the pack. It was fun!

We came to the scene of the crime (er, damage), and it was a mess. We waited for quite a while two bulldozers cleared the road, one working from each side. They finally cleared a path for us to walk through, and there, just on the other side was our hotel! We checked in, and then came the next adventure…where to run!

I had an 8 mile run, and the roads were underneath mud/water! What was I going to do?? I was exhausted from traveling, and just wanted to run. Someone suggested running on the beach. Not ideal, but I would take what I could, so down to the beach I trekked. What I found was not what I was expecting. The once beautiful beach was covered in debris washed up from the storm. The, what I am sure is usually beautiful blue/green, water was brown from the mud washed off the roads. It was sad. But, I looked past it and started running, imagining I would run 4 miles down the beach, turn around and run back. I was met, however, with obstacle after obstacle. The water coming off the roads had washed out the beach and there were giant rivers going along the beach. Barefoot, I could have run through these without too much difficulty, but I had my brand new running shoes on. After tiptoeing over river after river, I came to a river I just couldn’t pass. It was far too deep and moving pretty fast. I had barely run 1/2 mile. I was becoming discouraged. Yet, I turned around, and ran the other way, until, I met another river I couldn’t pass. I was sad and frustrated, but I didn’t give up. I don’t know how to do that. I quickly problem solved. I would find the longest stretch of beach I could run, and just run it back and forth and back and forth. The stretch was barely 1/4 mile, and it wasn’t fun, but as I did it I kept repeating, “This is making you stronger. This is making you stronger.” 3 miles into it, and having felt like I had already run 10 miles, I decided I didn’t need to do this for 8 miles. 5 would be enough. So, I ran that 1/4 mile stretch back and forth for 5 miles, hopping and skipping over all the debris. I jumped over (and sometimes into) the smaller rivers, which were growing rapidly. I had given up on trying to keep my shoes dry. They’ll dry eventually. This training run was one of the hardest things, both physically and mentally, I have ever done.

I dragged my cranky, but exercised, self back to the hotel where everyone was eating/drinking. I couldn’t get in the pool fast enough. My crankiness quickly dissipated. I was so ready to relax. Day 1 of running in Costa Rica DONE! It can only get better/easier, right??

I had my first real Costa Rican meal, and I was exposed to “Tipico.” Typical (tipico) Costa Rican food is rice and beans with any meat you’d like. I chose fish. It tasted delicious and hit the spot! I washed it down with tons of water, and an Imperial.

We all hung out at the hotel/pool bar for a while and talked about our evening/dinner plans. The rain had started again, and apparently everything was closed because of the storm/closed roads. We talked about just having dinner at the hotel, but then discovered a restaurant in town that was open: “Las Piedras. It’s the $hit.” Yup, this place was called, “It’s the $hit.”

We all put on our rain gear and walked the short distance to the restaurant, over a bridge that was almost completely washed out. So…we’re walking along and I look up and someone in our group (we’ll call him FinANCE), was standing in a ditch. He had fallen in a ditch! There was a ditch right in front of the restaurant and apparently he didn’t see it and fell right into it! He was lucky the ditch was filled with water, but not so lucky because he lost his flip-flop. After I saw he was okay, I found it hilarious he didn’t see the ditch and fell in it! We would all give him $hit for the rest of the trip. 🙂

We all sat at a giant table at the back and had fun and got loud and obnoxious. Apparently you can bring your own liquor into restaurants, so at one point a couple of people made a run to the store and came back with liquor, beer and champagne, which just made us more obnoxious. We were having fun. It was our first night together in Costa Rica!

It was FINALLY time to head home to bed, and thus ends the LONGEST DAY EVER!

 

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