Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Last week I picked up a wind up toy for our cats.  It's a ghost and the eyes sweep back and forth, back and forth as it scurries across the room.
Ghost wind up toy 
I remember my Dad brought home a toy like it once.  It was a wind up blue police officer hat that would travel along, spin around in a circle, and pop up to reveal the face of a policeman that was tucked inside the hat.
 
This Halloween creeped up on us.  I have a costume but tonight, we stayed home.  We bought candy but not one trick-or-treater knocked on our door (no doubt because we didn't get a chance to decorate).  Next year we would like to catch the Zombie Crawl which we missed this weekend because we were out of town.  I had heard it was one of the biggest event and bar crawls in downtown Reno.

Speaking of zombies, I've always liked the living dead though oddly enough I am a baby about watching scary movies even in daylight.  I remember playing (and conquering) the game, Resident Evil when it was first out on PlayStation long before its adaptation into the film series.   Now John and I like watching the t.v. series, Walking Dead.  It's addicting, LOL.  Have you seen any of the episodes from Season 1, 2, and/or 3 and do you like it?
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall in Reno

Fall is definitely here. Everywhere I look I see trees and bushes displaying their leaves in fantastic shades of gold and crimson. I haven't had a chance to walk around and take photos yet but I hope to before winter comes.
Fall Season in Reno 
Then last Tuesday, the snow descended on the mountain ranges surrounding Reno.  From my desk I can see a blanket of powder.
snow on mountains in Reno 
And the next morning, a snow-capped mountains beyond the golf course but no snow down at our level of ~4,500 feet above sea elevation.  I am told the snow storms came early this year.  So maybe we will get a chance to do some nordic skiing this winter.
Snow over golf course in Reno 
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

If I only had such a thing...decision making might be much easier.
 
Without such a fairytale gadget, I did the best that I could given that I really wanted a camera with interchangeable lens and has the image quality that is close to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera but a compact size of a point-and-shoot, the camera needed to fit within a budget and the inventory had to be on-hand (there's a part of me that hates shopping).  I couldn't wait for the release of the Canon EOS M and the Sony NEX-7 was priced a little steeper than I'd like to part with so I went home with the Sony NEX-5. 

It came with the 18mm - 55mm lens and flash accessory.  Bundled with the 55mm to 210mm zoom lens, the package was less than if I paid separately for the extra lens.  Since then, John got me a 16mm (pancake) fixed focal length lens and case to keep everything together.
 
Naturally John was my first willing subject...then Elgy and Havi.
 
The cats do not like the AF (auto focus) assist light and there were many shots where they turned away from the camera but eventually they gave in and became the subjects of my photos.
 
I am VERY pleased with the camera's ability to capture photos in low light settings (all of these photos were taken using existing light and no flash). No more blurry photos during the coming holidays and precious moments!!  On the down side, the menu and manual controls is very limited for manual/shutter-priority/aperture-priority and power shooting modes.  Still, the camera will stitch  panorama in a cinch, shoots HDR and decent videos, and is much lighter and less to carry.  Overall, this beats my Nikon D60 which I still have so I must admit I will probably use the Sony more often.  Stay tuned...there will be LOTS of photos coming soon!
 
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The Great Italian Festival

A few weekends ago the El Dorado Great Italian Festival took place.  Music, food, drinks, street performers, and tents of arts and crafts filled the streets of downtown Reno. Near the iconic landmark a grape stomping contest was underway in front of booths set up for wine tasting (and that's where I got in trouble, LOL). The event took place over a Saturday and Sunday and so John and I went the first day because I had to run the Bizz Johnson half marathon the next day...
 
We had a late start (John rode his bike and I cannot recall what I did that morning) so by the time we arrived were were thirsty and starving.  These Italian Margaritas with fresh strawberries and basil looked good so we grabbed a cup. 
 
Then we shuffled through pillars of people everywhere in search of lunch.
 
There were live bands set up on the corners and end of block-off streets and street performers bringing smiles to the crowds.
 
Finally I picked something to eat...chicken cacciatore with polenta.
 
The polenta was prepared in this HUGE pot that could easily fit 10 grown men.
 
John picked a roast beef sandwich drizzled with au jus sauce.  The photos may not look appetizing but kid you not - everything was DELICIOUS.
 

Italian Margaritas
Grape Stomping Contest while wine tasting
On the way home, we stopped at a newly opened brewpub called the Brewer's Cabinet and tried a couple of their fall-themed beer. 
 
I remember having a great time at the festival...and a blast at the brewery. It was a lovely Saturday evening though I woke up with a terrible hangover and, despite that, ran a half marathon on trail the next day. I will never drink and run again, LOL.
 
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Sunday, October 07, 2012

2012 Bizz Johnson Half Marathon Trail Run

It was 4:30 a.m. and I woke up with one of the worst hangovers I could remember.  If that wasn't enough torture, I also had a half marathon to run which was nearly twice the distance of the trail run that I ran last Sunday.  Someone put me out of my misery right now.
 
As dizzy and crappy as I had felt, I made a commitment and didn't want to quit before I had even started.  So I met up with six other women and we drove North for an hour to Susanville, CA for the Bizz Johnson Half Marathon Trail Run.
Trail photos taken by Diane.
Since all of us were running the half marathon, we started at the same time and place; at 9 a.m., together with runners doing the the 10K.  I was told the weather was warmer this year than the previous year but I still wore my Nike running hat and knickers instead of shorts.  I had a running tank top (with pockets in the back for gels and my iPod) and I even wore the technical shirt I received for the event as an additional layer because the temperature would not be much warmer than 65F degrees by the time I finished.  It was sunny but I wish I had worn fingerless gloves to keep my hands from going numb during the cool, crisp morning.
 
The route for the 10K and half marathon started at an old train depot, along a trail that must've paved the way for old train tracks. It was very scenic.  When the race began we stomped over several bridges and the first one bounced back at us like a trampoline.  It would have been a really cold to plunge into ice-cold creek below.  We ran through several deep tunnels along the way.  It was dark so having a headlamp would have been helpful even though the organizers had laid down several glowsticks as guides.
 
I felt okay even though my starting pace was faster than when I ran the Rock-n-River in May.  When the turnaround point for the 10K approached, I wanted so badly to change my course but I kept on going.  There was NO turning back now as I shuffled towards completing the half marathon.  The trail is slightly uphill until the turnaround point which was at the halfway point.  Then it was slightly downhill and I started to pick up my pace.  Still I had quite a ways to go so I slowed down for fear that I wouldn't finish the half marathon.

Then after mile 9, I hit a wall.  My body ran out of energy and my legs felt like lead...aside from the gels I had consumed every hour, my stomach wouldn't keep anything down from the time I woke up until after the race when we stopped for lunch.  All of a sudden it was SO much effort to move my legs as I slowed down to a walk.  I had serious doubts as to whether I could finish.  A runner caught up to me, she had been chasing me and so we ran together for a while.  Motivating each other and getting to know each other.  Then I couldn't keep up with that pace (looking back at my stats, my pace per mile decreased and I ran slower each mile).  That wasn't the plan...I was suppose to run faster until the finish.  Suddenly I found myself doubting whether I could finish the last three miles or two miles that I had left.  Seriously?!  Normally it's a distance I can finish during my lunch hour and here I am debating what would happen if I just stopped running.  Then and there.

But obviously I didn't.  I told myself "one foot in front of the other" and that was the ONLY way I will cross that finish line.  One foot in front of the other and that's what I did until the end. 
 
I finished in 2:27:23 not too far from my time in the Rock-n-River half marathon ... but that course is flatter, on the road instead of a trail, and I was not hungover.  No matter the time it took, I finished...and I surprised myself because I could have chosen not to do the race and just watched.  I could have quit but I didn't.  I finished under 2.5 hours and that's not bad considering that I just started running this year and haven't ran much over the summer.
 
The positive part of this post is that, despite feeling awful, I really enjoyed my time jogging on the trail.  The road trip, the celebratory lunch afterwards, and best of all a running adventure with my new friends!!  There will always be next year or another half marathon...but this past weekend was something I am SO glad I did not pass up.
Lunch at Pioneer Cafe and fresh tomatoes picked from Diane's garden.
1. Coverage of the Bizz Johnson Marathon on Susanvillestuff.com: http://www.susanvillestuff.com/2012/10/bizz-johnson-marathon/.

2. More photos taken in Susanville, CA on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/places//United+States/California/Susanville
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Riding in Reno

During our visit to the Northern coast of California, we did not get to ride our bicycles. There was no place to pedal on other than Highway 1 where the two-way, two-lane road was narrow, winding, and had very little or no shoulder. To avoid tourists, the locals would drive on the side roads which we didn't want to ride on either because it was just as dangerous. Even though there were quite a few bicyclists on Highway 1 (with touring bags), we decided it wasn't worth the risk of losing our lives to do the same.

After we came back from our trip, John and I took a short bike ride to this quiet area.
 
 
There were wild horses at the end of the road!
 
 
Hardly any cars to speak of. Now THIS is more my speed...room to breathe and hardly any cars around where we can pedal safely.  I like the above photo above where you can see part of downtown Reno on the horizon. Not as pretty of a skyline as Vegas but still neat to see.
 
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