Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Wicked Thorn Trail Run at the Reno Galena Fest 2012

I was hesitant to sign up for The Wicked Thorn trail running race especially because my track record has been one or two runs in the last few months of no farther than 5K.  Not to mention, this run was 10K of trails which snaked up through the Galena Forest. A race I knew full well I would be ill prepared for after coming back from a leisure trip to the California coast.
 
Since I was struggling with motivating myself to run this past summer, I decided the race would be good for me.  It could be the catalyst to kick my butt back in to running and the chance to gallop across new territory will be a nice change.  Besides, my friend Joan was running so I won't be alone (at least not for the first few yards of the race anyway).
 
With John also present to support me, I didn't care how well I did as much as as long as I enjoyed participating.  This morning, after the Bloody Rose mountain bike race started we lined up by our pace to start the run.  The trail run is part of the Galena Fest where there are also vendors, food trucks, live music, and a 1.7 mile fun run for everyone to enjoy.

The first section of my run was uphill and without any warmup prior to the start, I have to admit I was having serious doubts as to whether I could finish the race. How disappointed would I be to give up now and by doing so, let down my best supporter after running not even a mile? So I kept going, following the thud of other runners' shoes hitting the solid dirt.  Then I came up behind a woman who was complaining to her husband about her thirst and being dehydrated (she had been drinking the night before) and it would be nearly two miles before we would come across the first water station.  Oddly enough and aside from the whining she did for me, she was my motivation and she didn't even realize it.  I told myself things are bad for her and if she is out here doing it then so can I.
 
After what seems like forever, the trail gave way to the downhill portion which I took in big long strides, caught up and passed several runners.  I could see the valley down below but I tried not to stare too long so I could watch my step and not trip on the rocky descent. 

At the water stations the volunteers offered moral support and nutrition.  Their smiles and encouragement pushed me onward.

The route was an out-loop-and-back (I'd have to look at the route profile but I felt there was an equal amount of inclines and declines) but the downhills I so loved were climbs that stood between me and the finish line.  Actually the run profile has 1,400+ of elevation gain over 7.3 miles (and I'm glad I didn't look beforehand or I would have chickened out LOL).

After an hour into the race, when the pain in my lungs weren't so great I had plenty of time to admire the surrounding forest and creek rushing along beside me.  I pretended I was running with my friend Joan and trying to keep up with her.  I channeled a teammate (who was the fastest runner on our running relay team) and imagined I was him running superfast!  Other times when my heart rate was through the roof, I feared that I would blow myself up and not finish the race.  So I slowed down to recover and to avoid the embarrassment of being carried down in a stretcher.
 
Up the road, my friend finished the race.  Meanwhile I was feeling good and wondered when I would use everything I had left in the tank to finish strong.  Then the finish line appeared around the corner and it was downhill the rest of the way.  Boy was I relieved to see it.  I would complete the race after all!! 
 
Like the Rock-N-River half marathon, I ran across the line on fire.  I was ready to run all the way back home!  I guess that's the runner's high we try to achieve. I couldn't help but feel a little regret for not pushing myself for fear that I couldn't finish or for not running past people over the last few downhills because I didn't want to be rude (nearly everyone was nice about giving the right away when I ran up behind them).  It was nice to run with people and cheer each other on.
 
True it was a race and I could've moved up in time and several places but I was there to have fun and get a good workout -- and THAT I did!!  Despite being ill prepared for The Wicked Thorn 10K Trail Run, I came in under an hour and 30 minutes (which was what I had hoped for).  Not a bad way to bring closure to our vacation. 
 
~-Update-~ My finish time was 01:30:17 at a 12:32 min/mi. pace. Out of 177 runners who finished, I came in 130. Placed 22 in my age group (Female 30 - 39 year old).  Now I have a goal for next year!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Work then Getaway to Sonoma, CA

With racing season is over for John, we wanted to get away where we can take liesurely bike rides together through wine country.  So after a half day of work, we escaped to the northern coast of California to Sonoma for a little rest and relaxation.
 
We drove westward into California until we reached the legendary Highway 1, a major north-south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the state.  Then headed north along the winding but scenic route.  At times the marine layer was thick and visibility was low which made it somewhat difficult to drive through the fog.  Fortunately we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere so we took our time, stopping to admire the view in the coves.
 
Eventually we reached our destination at Timber Cove Inn. It's a small hotel with about 49 rooms and one suite with views of the ocean and forest.
 
 
 
Our room was super cute. It's the only forest room with a hot tub and there was a wooden winding staircase which led to the loft bed above with a skylight.  After we freshened up, we made our way to the bar for drinks and appetizer of tuna tartar.  Then called it a night.
 
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rumble in Reno

One of the largest motorcycle gatherings on west coast (called Street Vibrations) was in town this past week. While I was downtown idling on my scooter at a stoplight, I was invited to participate in some street racing. Of course I said, "Heck yeah!" Little did they know my 49cc scooter could go from 0 to 35 m.p.h. in 15 minutes! Yet I had no problems smoking the guy and his "old woman" in a friendly game of racing ;-)

In all seriousness, I wish I had a good camera on me to capture what I had seen throughout the city. Thousands of bikes parked on streets that had been blocked off all over downtown. The sound of motorcycle engines rumbling everywhere, and riders cruising on their iron horses passing me by. It was neat to be around and see the events celebrating Street Vibrations throughout the city. And the weather couldn't have been more perfect.
My new Bell Custom 500 helmet with a bubble face shield
It's amazing how time flies. If I didn't take photos I wouldn't have evidence that I actually did some things. Nothing too exciting to share. John and I rode our bikes around some neighborhoods one weekend to look at some neighborhoods, house hunting. One day we pedaled to a cafe called Homage Bakery for coffee and pastries along a street that underwent a "road diet" and was once the center of some heated arguments at public meetings.
One day for lunch, I met John for tea on my scooter.
The surface street is a one mile stretch through a residential neighborhood but was used heavily by commuters to get across town. A lane reduction was needed in order to make room for sidewalks and bike lanes so that the street would be safer for the surrounding residents that it served. Some commuters were up in arms about the change when it first was proposed but I've ridden on the street for a couple weeks now and there was no backed up traffic to speak of. No carmageddon. Instead there was room and access for all modes of transportion and ultimately, the change will make it safer for drivers, cyclists, runners, pedestrians, and those who need handicap access.
 
One of the reasons I like living in Reno is having safe streets to able to ride my scooter or bicycle to work and to be able to run or ride on the same streets for fun on the weekends.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Lap Has Been Replaced

Ever since Elgy found this box and packing paper, she spends all of her time in it. When she is not eating or using the litter box, she is in there hanging out, grooming, and napping in her newly found home.  Last night I carried the box--with her in it, to bed (because she usually comes to bed with us at night). Now as I look at her chilling in the box, my lap is jealous and lonely. I think I am going to ship that box all the way to Hong Kong, of course without Elgy.

P.S. John just told me the box is not going to bed with us tonight LOL.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Front Bike Basket

I found the cutest front bike basket for my bicycle and they also have darling saddle bags for underneath a bike seat.

http://sherpani.com/womens-bike-bags.aspx

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fruit of My Labor

The radishes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs I tried to plant this year didn't work out but my tomatoes did.  Since there was only a handful of grape tomatoes that were ripe enough to eat, I had to make the most of it.  I made this Caprese Salad using oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and balsamic reduction from the glaze of the grilled peach recipe.
Home garden grape tomatoes turned caprese salad.
The rest of the tomatoes on the plant are still green.  They seem struggle developing into mature ones. Not sure what I am missing...

 
The grilled peach with glaze and feta (substituted for bleu cheese since I didn't have any in stock) was from a recipe I found on the Internet. It was good and I cut up the rest to put in a salad the next day.
 
The girls are doing great.  They love looking out the windows which is where much of their time is spent if they're not napping.
 
I like looking at the girls when they're perching at the windows. I admire that they can find such simple pleasure from looking outdoors.  Well there is so much to see and it is beautiful out there so I don't blame them for doing so.
 
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Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Reno Great Balloon Races 2012

All week John was in Bend, OR for the 2012 USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships.  Because the races were scattered throughout the week, I could not get away from work to attend the event with him (had it been on a different week, I probably could have).  Not only would I have liked to be there to support him but I also enjoy watching the competitions myself.
John waves as he hits the road for Nationals.

I love to take photos (though that doesn't mean I'm good at it, LOL) and one of the reasons is because cycling is a colorful sport.  I like to see the myriad of colors from the riders' kits which are as lively as the action whizzing by in front of me.

This weekend, I watched a different kind of race that was equally as colorful but the competitors fly by at a much slower pace, the 30th annual Reno Great Balloon Races!  Now you many wonder how a balloon race is similar to a road bike race, but in many ways it is.

When John started racing, we would get up super early because his group was usually the first to start.  There was no sleeping in for me this past Saturday morning.  I had to wake up before dawn to get to the balloon race.  How early?  About 3:40 a.m. because the Glow Show would start at 5 a.m.  I didn't make it to the Rancho San Rafael Park in time to see it but there are photos of it like this one.

What I did see was the launch of The Dawn Patrol where a handful of balloons qualified to fly in the dark put on a show.  Flying at this time is dangerous because atmospheric conditions change drastically as the sun begins to rise.  As still as the morning air seems, it wasn't calm enough for a simultaneous launch of the balloons so one by one, they rose up to the sky in sequence.  The balloons glowed, twinkled, and burned to synchronized music.  It was like watching fireflies.


By burning propane that is no preheated, the special glow effect creates a flame that is more yellow and bright, though less hot and less noisy than the regular burner used to control altitude (which is more efficient but makes more noise).
Glow, twinkle, and burn show by The Dawn Patrol.

Then the balloons landed back near the area where they launch, which to me was pretty impressive considering hot air balloons have no steering mechanisms or propellers.  Hot air balloon pilots can somewhat control the direction and speed of their balloon by adjusting their balloon’s altitude and using the different wind currents to move the balloon where they want it to go and at what speed.  
The Dawn Patrol landing on the field.

All this and it wasn't even 7 a.m. yet!  The schedule of events continued with the flying of the American flag over the crowd below...of course, hanging off the basket of the balloon named Patriot.  A young lady sang the national anthem, her voice as chilling (in a good way) as the morning twilight.  Then there was a T-6 "Missing Man" formation fly over to remember those who lost their lives during the tragic Reno Air Races last year.  Next weekend the annual air races begins but I will not be there in person to watch.
The American Flag hangs off the basket of the Patriot balloon for the singing of the national anthem.
Perhaps the most anticipated part of the event, like road bike racing, is the mass start.  One or two large inflator fans are used to fill the envelope (the vibrant, colorful part of a balloon that inflates) with air.  Most envelopes at this year’s race hold between 77,000 to 105,000 cubic feet of air inside. That is the same amount of air that would fill 4 to 7 - 2,000 sq. ft. homes!  
Once the balloon is filled with enough air then the air is heated with a burner.  Watching this was like watching a bunch of sleepy kids wake up from a nap and sit upright, LOL.  As the air inside the envelope continued to be heated, the balloons soon lifted off the ground.
Mass ascension launch of the Reno Great Balloon Races
It was MAGICAL.  Balloons were everywhere in the Sierra skies!! Special shaped balloons Darth Vader, Party Panda, Sushi (a fish balloon I didn't get to see), Smokey Bear, Annie the Ladybug, Strawberry Heights, Soccer Ball, and Pencil Boy to name a few.  Just like in a road bike race, Pepsi and Cent're Stage nearly collided!!  All in all there were about 87 balloons and you can see a list of the participating balloons and pilots here.

This is a 'balloon race' after all, filled with several competitions including Balloon Blackjack.  Pilots try their hand at throwing markers at jumbo-sized playing cards placed on the field. Those hitting 21, by hitting the closest to the center of the cards win the hand of the day.

 It was surreal...all of the balloons in the air, hovering around like big birthday balloons or UFOs.
The balloon race fills the Reno skyline.
From where we live, you could see the balloons on the horizon. And Friday I saw several balloons as I was riding my scooter through downtown on my way to work.
Balloons can be spotted from downtown Reno.
Although I wasn't able to watch John race, I am glad that I was able to catch the Reno Great Balloon Races.  I definitely hope to be able to see all of the events next year, the Glow Show and Balloon Boulevard.  Hopefully it won't conflict with the Master's Road National Championships so John could see it too.

By the way, John had a rough week in the time trial, road race, and criterium competition.  He is racing with a tougher group since his upgrade to the Men's Cat 2.  Although he crashed twice during the downtown crit, he crossed the line which 22 others in the same race were not able to do.  He has lost a lot of skin and I am sure it is a painful seven-hour drive home today.  We all are proud of him and miss him so we will be happy to have him home.

On the bright side, I will share these photos with him to help cheer him up.



There are many other awesome photos from this great event (it is free to the community).  Here are links to a few:
  1. https://www.facebook.com/renoballoon/photos_stream
  2. https://plus.google.com/photos/116235714265664045436/albums/5786167964369355169?banner=pwa
  3. https://plus.google.com/photos/102294293994243267620/albums/5786203547905528385?banner=pwa
  4. Event info: http://www.renoballoon.com/EventInfo/EventHighlights

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Writer's Block

I'm reading this nine-page paper filled to the margins with nonstop text, and I'm wondering how the author came up with so much content covering one simple topic when I am struggling to write a one-page analysis.  Argh. 

I have a solution.  I made my notes.  I am going to chew on it and get some sleep, LOL.

Technology Marvels

Sometimes technological advances can be a hit or miss.

Real-life example.

I am jumping up and down, left to right and waving my arms through the air like I am doing a crazy dance. If this range of motion doesn't work, I will try something else--another dance move. That is...until I get caught by a passerby, with one of my foot in the hallway and the other foot in the door of the powder room. Um, don't worry I am not having a seizure. I'm just trying to get the motion sensor to recognize that I am there and turn the lights on so I don't have to use the restroom in pitch black darkness.

Sticking with My Day Job

I've been told I am the worst at telling jokes, probably because I don't really have a sense of humor which is almost certainly necessary in order to execute jokes effectively.

Case in point...a conversation I had today went on like this.

My friend: I hurt my pinky.
Me: (remembering that yesterday was a holiday and also trying to be funny I asked) How, BBQing? My friend: No, mountain biking.

Doh - not funny!  I am such a dork.  This, I know.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Back to School

This is a mish mash of days, I honestly cannot recall exactly when these photos were taken but it was sometime in the last two weeks.

I remember John picking me up for lunch on a few work days.  We went to lunch at Niko's Greek Kitchen for one of the times.  Except for the weekends, lunch is something we didn't get to have together often but we are now making it a point to join each other and spend quality time together. 
We broke out of our shell and went to a backyard gathering of folks we barely knew (some we've never met).  The highlight of our dinner was chicken pot pie and chocolate cake - both cooked in dutch ovens!! What a fun night we had and we enjoyed every moment chatting with everyone we met.
We tried several new places we've been meaning to visit including Vintage, A Wine Shop for antipasto and wine tasting, the Reno River Room (part of the Wild River Grille) but with more ambiance where John had probably the best filet mignon he's ever had, and the Daily Bagel, we think they have the best breakfast bagel sandwiches.  We've visited a couple Mexican restaurants (Beto's Mexican Food which is a great casual place to go for authentic Mexican food - they're not afraid to make things SPICY and Murrieta's Restaurant and Cantina which has a nice sit-down atmosphere, it's clean, intimate, has awesome staff and strong drinks) and my favorite dish to try is menudo.
My 2013 Honda Metropolitan Scooter (NCH50)
I have logged nearly 600 miles on my Honda Metropolitan scooter but have only shelled out $15 since!  The truck...on the other hand, has taken up out entire fuel budget, LOL.  Oh well, we've been traveling quite a bit showing family around town and going to John's bike races.
The BBQ Rib Cook Off is in town.  John picked me up for lunch this past Friday.  We had no idea this was such a big event.  There was quite a crowd but it was only the beginning.
School is back in session.  I can't help but feel that summer is over.  This time, the pang I'd feel in my stomach was for myself.  I decided to pursue a MSIS (Masters in Information System) so I'm taking a class this semester and a couple other classes including swimming.  Hard to believe that I don't know how to swim after all those years spent on the lakes.
Elgy and I sporting my new Betabrand backpack
I hope you are having a great summer and enjoying your Labor Day!!  This is all for now and I will try to write more often.

Our Summer at Lake Tahoe

John and I had the chance to spend a few days at Lake Tahoe this summer.  Not as much as we had planned but nevertheless we enjoyed our beach time there.  With no plans and nothing on our minds.  We only wanted to soak in the view and be together.