Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thank you, 2015

Is it possible that 2015 is coming to a close? Just as I was getting into the "groove" of the year, it's gone like the blink of an eye!

And what a year it was. We had a lot of time to reflect on the year, and look forward to the upcoming year over Christmas -- which I will be blogging about soon. But Ryan and I got an unexpected 27 hour drive twice in 1 week! ;) Lots of time to reflect, talk, and plan.

May I also add that the fact that I still couldn't wait to get home from work to share my evening with him today, tells me that I married the right dude :)

Alright, here are my 2015 highlights! 

  • We got a puppy who stole our hearts: Miles. This little ball of fur taught me to put others' needs before my own. And brought us so much joy (and some messes). 

  • In February, we did another Ragnar (my 4th): Ragnar del Sol in Phoenix. We did this with a group of close friends, and it was an absolute blast! 30 hours filled with adventure, challenging miles, laughter, and beautiful scenery! 
  • We traveled to Ohio to visit Ryan's sister Erin and her beautiful family. They are also an Air Force family, so it is difficult to get us all together at the same time -- we had a blast!

  • We got scuba certified and went on 3 diving trips this year! San Carlos, Himalaya Bay, and 2 dives in Kauai. This is a hobby that I hold dear in my heart. There is something so incredible about discovering the world that lies under the sea. We've made great friends through it, and cannot wait to see where our fins take us in the future!
(below is the white-tipped reef shark in Kauai! Coolest thing EVER!!) 
  • Our Hawaii trip was incredible. The highlight was definitely completing the Kalalau trail hike. That is definitely the toughest thing I've ever completed mentally and physically. So this was a huge accomplishment and amazing memory!

  • Planning and celebrating the marriage of one of my best friends; Heather. I cannot believe how blessed I've been to find a group of strong, supportive, amazing women in my life. The picture below was taken the day Ryan and I found out he got an F-16 pilot spot...which was another highlight of 2015! We were spending the day at Lowes Ventana Canyon Resort, and I got to celebrate over a bottle of champagne with these ladies.


  • Going to Miami with my Mom and sisters for our bi-annual girls trip! I so cherish time with these women! These trips are always filled with great memories, relaxation, and laughter!



In addition to good memories and beach time - we also enjoy some delicious food & libations during these trips! ;)


  • Completing my 1st Olympic Triathlon! Training super hard, and finishing was a huge accomplishment. Highlight of that was training and completing it with great friends! I'm so blessed to have great friends who make the miles fun.
Below is a picture of my crew @ 5:00am - which we do 3 days a week together. Seeing these ladies make that 4:35am alarm not so bad ;)

  • Completing the El Tour de Tucson 75 mile ride. Bucket list item crossed off!
  • And finally....rounding out a great year with some family time! Ryan and I traveled to Minnesota for almost 1 week to spend it with my parents and most of my siblings & their children. There is nothing more I ever want Christmas than to be surrounded by the people who mean the most to me in my life! 
Above is a photo collage of Christmas Eve. So much joy!


Me and my "twin" sister (so many people have said we look like twins! Too funny. She's not really my twin, she's my older sister). This was us wearing MANY layers before heading out for a run in a mild snow storm :)
Playing out on the ice with my sweet God-daughter/niece Evelyn. Isn't she a doll?

Below is a picture of my brother and his family - they were gracious enough to take Miles while we embark on the next few years of the journey of pilot training for Ryan! I think he fits in well ;)

(PS - we miss Miles already!)


I don't know how 2016 can top the year that 2015 gave us, but I'm confident we have the right ingredients to a good year: challenging careers, running shoes, new adventures, good friends, and beautiful family! 

I hope you all are at a state of peace and happiness as your ring in the new year! Cheers!














Sunday, December 20, 2015

Currently

Reading: Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough -- it's about 4 sisters post-WWI, who decide to enroll in the 1st ever "RN program" together so they can live their own dreams and have a career. So far it's a great book!

Thinking: About how I will keep sane during our 27 hour drive to Minnesota this week. (We have to bring our dog, because my brother is going to take him for the next few years while Ryan is doing all his training). Any recommendations on good e-books? We are signing up for audible.

Frustrated: **Cue broken record** -- That we don't have any information for when we are going to be moving, how we will be moving, whether we will have a home/apartment/hotel room, or any of the details regarding pilot training.

So all I can do is take a deep breath, and let it be. 

Feeling: Relieved that I got my 18 mile run done this morning. One of my girlfriends joined me for the full run, and 2 others joined us for 14. It was windy, cold, and extremely hilly - but the miles flew by with good company and we all piled into a booth at Starbucks to warm up afterwards!

I am so grateful for those ladies!

Anticipating: Our trip home this week!! I haven't seen my Dad, and nieces/nephews, and some of my siblings in a year. So excited to spend time with everyone!

Sad: With all the turmoil in our world these days. I can't even begin to come up with an answer or solution - all I can do is pray....

Working: With my NP & doctors on an abstract to submit @ ATS (American Thoracic Society). I have to say my favorite part of my current job is the research, data collection, and writing. Academic hospitals have their challenges, but I love the opportunities to learn and grow!

Grateful: The list could go on forever. A loving relationship with my husband. The strong group of supportive friends I surround myself with. The ability to buy any food I want to cook at the grocery store. My family who are always there to love me.

Listening: To a descent amount of Christmas music these days. I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of Christmas music. Living in a climate with cactus, palm trees, and sunshine -- something has to get me in the spirit!

Wishing: That when we put our house on the market in 2 weeks, that is sells within the 1st 10 days! Hah!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tucson Half Marathon

I'm doing a double-post day...because I don't know when I'll be back on my blog to recap the memories! ;)

On December 6, Ryan and I did the Tucson Half Marathon. It was Ryan's 1st half marathon ever. I was on a mission to PR. We both had a successful day.

I 1st have to say how impressed I am with Ryan. He is not big on long distance running. And during the training, he had a flare-up of knee pain which had him out of running for 3 weeks before the race. To be honest, he didn't really train for this race.

He wasn't going to do the race, but Sunday morning at 4am, when I was getting ready to leave -- he decided to give it his best! And that he did. He finished in 1:43:10, just a few minutes behind me! That is not bad for a 1st half marathon, especially not training!!

(and was a good sport about his wife beating him....)

We stuck together for the 1st 5 miles, met up again around 8-9miles, and then I took off with adrenaline. I definitely ran the fastest I've ever gone. I finished in 1:40:25, which was a 7:39 pace! I got 6/69 in my age group, 29/572 for women, and 100/977 overall!

Even during the last 3 miles, which were quite hilly, I was still able to keep a 7:50/mile pace. So now my hopes/expectations for my full marathon in February has "shifted". But I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself.

I have figured out that if I can run a 3:35 marathon (8:12/mile avg pace), I can qualify for Boston. Which is a dream that I have fantasized about for years.

So my currently marathon training has a new flavor...which you will unfortunately have to hear about in the next post (yawn) ;).

We look sweaty, but we were actually quite chilled in this picture. It was about 40 degrees. Which I know my midwest friends will laugh at me for calling this "chilly". It was perfect running conditions! 


El Tour de Tucson Race Recap

We only have about 6 months left in Tucson, so I am really trying to "soak it up" before we say goodbye. With that, I decided to participate in one of the biggest events in Tucson this year: The "El Tour"

On November 22, I did the El Tour de Tucson with my friend Amanda. We were actually sponsored by her uncle's bike shipping coming - ShipBike . We got our full race entry paid for AND jerseys! And I will say -- it is a really cool company. For cyclists/triathletes who travel around the country, they have a specially engineered box that will ship the bike to your race destination.

Since we were "Team Shipbike", our motto during the race went along with the company. "Let's get our goods from start to finish undamaged and in 1 piece" ;).

This is one of the biggest cycling races in the country -- as Tucson has amazing climate, and it's one of the biggest cycling destinations in the US. The race was beautiful - mountain views the entire time. Weather was in the 50-70 degrees. Couldn't have asked for a better day!

We did the 75, and had a blast the entire time! Thousands of Tucsonans come out to support the riders, so it's just a blast! Great energy.

Here are a few pictures :) I don't have any photos mid-race, since they are all blacked out by "marathonphoto.com" ;)



Here we are pre-race!

And post-race. I'm impressed that I'm still hugging on and respecting my bike at this point. After 75 miles, I kind of wanted to kick it ;) 

The most challenging part of this race was the pain in my bottom! We finished in great time, though! So I am proud. There was a 1/2 mile spot where you had to pick up and carry your bike through a wash (dried up river, for those not familiar with the desert).

I'm kind of bummed I didn't do it the other 6 years we lived here. But maybe some day we can travel back to visit, and I can participate again! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Greez, AZ getaway

Last weekend we decided to escape the grind, and head to the mountains for a quick weekend. It could not have come at a better time. Life has been crazy lately. Isn't it for everyone, though? ;) 

We have been working tirelessly to get our house ready to sell. We had the professional photos taken Thursday. That long list of things we were "going to get to eventually" when we bought the house, but never got to.....we have been attacking "that list": Painting ceilings, walls in the stairwell, painting baseboards, touching up walls, planting plants, and making our house look "unlived" in ;)

Not to mention work has been super busy for both of us lately. All good and exciting stuff. But busy!

Prior to our get-away, I found myself saying "I wish we never had booked this trip! We don't have time to be going away!!" -- which is kind of sad.

We rented this adorable little hotel-cabin in Greer, AZ. Which is a little ski-town at ~8000 ft elevation. It's referred to as the "little town at the end of the road". That's exactly what it is. So isolated. Nothing commercial. Just charming and peaceful.

The temps were in the teens at night, and 50's during the day -- my kind of weather!

Friday night we walked up the street to a cute little steak house called "Molly Butler Lodge". It had a fire going, had that "small town charm", and served the most delicious home cooked food ever. We shared a bottle of wine -- and had trout dinners. The people watching in this small town was our entertainment ;)

After dinner, we went back to our lodge and cuddled.



Saturday morning we woke up naturally without alarms, which is a very rare thing for us. We were still up at 6:15 ;)

We made coffee, and headed to the closest lake. Ryan trout fished, and Miles and I explored.

The sunrise was so pretty!!

Ryan in his "happy place" - fishing pole in the water with a warm mug of coffee :)
 



Miles & I found some fun discoveries. Many ponds, meadows, and a pile of bones - which he really enjoyed ;).


And this he found the water ;). This was his 1st trip to a lake. We have a pool in our backyard, which he wants nothing to do with. But we could not keep him out of the lake! The water was really cold. There was ice around the edges! But that didn't stop Miles.
After a few hours of hiking around and fishing, we worked up an appetite. So headed to "Rendezvous Café", and again enjoyed some delicious hearty food! (I was not counting calories this weekend.)

We had sandwiches and shared "green bean fries". And I quote our waitress, who said, "If it ain't fried, it ain't food 'round here!" (This make me shriek a little, as I hate fried food. But I was a trooper. And they were delicious...)

We headed back out for another 45 minute hike, on a trail that is a cross country skiing trail during the winter!




We ended our hike at the lake, put our feet up, and enjoyed some R & R. I got some good reading in!

This is my happy place....
 

Ryan caught us a delicious fish. Which was just as fun to eat as it was to catch! ;)
 (We cooked it up once we got back home)
 
 
We ended our day back at the lodge. Where we ordered a pizza, took it back to our room, and spent the evening watching movies. The best part is that our puppy who is so full of energy finally passed out!
 
He turned 1 year this weekend. Clearly the birthday boy partied too hard ;)
 

 
Sunday morning I got up before the sun, went out for a 4 mile run. During my run, it started freezing rain on me. So we packed up the car, and headed home to get back to "housework". We got to drive through a little snow storm!
 
I hope we can get back to Greer before we move! Such a perfect place!
 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Training Updates

Right now I am in the midst of training for 2 races. And it's been pretty darn fun!

Race 1: El Tour de Tucson
I'm doing a 75 mile bike race on November 21. This is definitely the furthest I've ever rode my bike! This is a yearly tradition in Tucson, and it's quite the event. People fly in from all over the world to compete, as Tucson is on the top 10 for best cycling cities in the country! We get some very elite cyclists. In the past, we have gotten together with friends and spectated with our coffees and cheer.

But this year, I've decided to partake in the events! The option is to do a 40, 55, 75, or 105. My butt cannot handle 105 miles on a bike. Everyone tells me I have the physical ability to do so, and I'm sure I do. But I seriously have no desire to spend that much time on a bike.

My friend Amanda and I are going to do it together, and we got her uncle's company to sponsor us. The company is called Ship Bike. It's pretty cool! He engineered a box to ship bikes, and he ships them all over the country for cyclists. :) We got a free race entry, and all we have to do is wear our jersey's and brag about his company! I can handle being sponsored! Our jerseys are hot pink too, so that makes me happy!

Sunday we did our biggest training ride - 68 miles. We had some "route issues", detours, and insane hills. Lots of stopping, and re-evaluating google maps. Which meant we were pretty much on our bikes for 6 hours.

I actually enjoyed the ride! The only thing that hurt was my lower back (which is expected) and my legs were on FIRE. From mile 45-55, my back break head shifted and was on. Talk about added resistance! (I really need to get smarter about handling the mechanics of my bike!)

But we did it and are race ready!!

Race 2: Arizona Marathon

Last time I did a marathon, I was extremely unhappy with my performance. I was in the process of a career change during the training, and my training was compromised. This time around, that isn't happening. I'm going to train properly, and try to see what I'm capable of!

I'm going to be smart this time around. And I"m also incorporating more stretching, foam rolling, and I bought a Groupon for yoga! I have a great base-mileage this time, since I have been running a 10-12 miler every week all summer long!

So let the fun begin! Race updates to come!


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Girls Trip 2015: Miami

This past weekend was spent on the beaches of Miami enjoying a much needed girls trip with my mom, 2 sisters, and 2 sister-in-laws. My heart is so full, and my face-muscles sore from all the laughter!

Originally I wasn't going to be able to do this trip due to a lack of PTO, but I somehow managed to eek this out one! I am so blessed.

We stayed right on the water on South Beach. The weekend was the perfect mix of shopping, exploring, and lounging on the beach. We ate some amazing food and made amazing memories.

We got in Wednesday evening. After getting unpacked, a few of us went straight to the ocean to dip our feet in. Then we walked across the street to a little bar and enjoyed our 1st cocktail of the trip.

Thursday morning, Lisa and I woke up early and headed out for a run! Well, "early" in terms of vacation ;). Although humid, the running was amazing in Miami! Miles and miles of beach-side running paths! INCREDIBLE people watching. ;)

 
 
Next we took a cab to a shopping district on Lincoln Ave, and shopped our little hearts out with Starbucks in hands. All that running and shopping worked up an appetite. We had lunch an awesome place called Havana 1957. If you are ever in Miami, I definitely recommend!
 
We shared a pitcher of Mojitos and had delicious Cuban food!
 
After lunch, we were off to the beach for the remainder of the day.
 
For dinner that night, we went to a great Peruvian restaurant. Again, blown away by the delicious cuisine!!!
 
Friday was rainy, but we didn't let stop our fun! We went on a Miami city tour that lasted 7 hours! (it was maybe a tad long, but nice to get to see the city. I'm glad I packed a little "fun" to spice up the bus ride ;)
 
There's always room for champagne ;)

We mixed up some "mango mimosas"
 
 
 
We had lunch after the bus tour in the bay. More good food and cocktails.
 
After lunch, we got on the boat for a tour through the bay of some of the rich and famous' mansions. Pretty impressive! It was unfortunately rainy, so tough to take good photos.
 
I was able to snap this of my Mom and I!
 
Saturday morning was kicked off with one more beach run. I actually ran on the sand this time - what a workout!!
 
I went straight from running clothes to swimsuit, and was off to the beach for a day in the sand.
 
 
Doesn't get much better than this!
 
That evening we headed out for one more delicious dinner on the town. We went to an awesome sushi restaurant. The atmosphere and food was divine!
 
 
After dinner, we walked around the city, got some ice cream, and enjoyed a beautiful night.
 
It was the perfect weekend. I am so blessed to have such beautiful, positive, influential women in my life! We have so much fun when we get together. I cannot wait to
 see where 2017's girls trip takes us!!
 
 


Monday, October 12, 2015

Currently

It's been quite some time since I've updated the world with a "currently" post. Here are my current "currently's":


Reading: Follow You Home - I found it on my Kindle, and it seemed like a good "Halloween read". It's kind of horrifying. But I can't put it down!

Thinking: About all that has to be done in the upcoming months - 2 moves in 9 months, another career change. 5 moves in 2 years total, if you really want to get down and dirty. It makes my head hurt when I think about it at this point....

Frustrated: That I cannot have a wife who can clean my house, laundry, grocery shopping. Life has been super busy - and my evenings are spent doing big jobs such as de-cluttering, painting base-boards, cleaning ceiling fans and vents to prepare for selling our house. I need a wife ;)

This is a 1st world problem, I acknowledge this.

Feeling: Annoyed with the forecast of triple digits this week. It's mid October. 100 degrees needs to go away.

Anticipating: My girls trip to Miami Wednesday with my mom, sisters, and sister-in-laws!!! (!!!!!!) So excited. I think this trip is coming at the perfect time to restore my soul ;)

Watching: Seriously zero tv at all these days. It's awesome. We did see "The Martian" in theaters Friday night. Haven't been to a move in about 6 months. I really liked it!

Sad: That there are many people in my life who are dealing with illness and injury right now. Wish I could wave a magic wand, and make everyone feel better.

Working: Hard! But I'm loving my job. Looking back to 1 year ago, I never would have dreamt up the opportunities I'd be facing today.

Grateful: For the full weekend I just got to spend with Ryan. We got a lot done around the house, and did some major catching up on life. It was exactly what the doctor ordered!

Listening: Indie Dance radio on Pandora. It's my new favorite!

Wishing: I could be granted more energy. By the time 8 pm hits, I am so exhausted lately. I have a hard time being productive. I know drinking coffee at this hour is not wise to get more energy. But don't we all wish we had more energy?! Ha! (But if I had a magic genie, that's what I'd ask for!)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hawaii Part 1: Kalalau Trail

It has been almost 2 months, and I'm finally getting to my review post. Better late than never right?

I must say the Hawaii trip was the best vacation to date Ryan and I have taken.

We started in Kaui, and then hopped over to Oahu.

Let's start with Kauai!

One of the perks of how much Ryan travels, is he gets some SUPER perks from National. So we got this little hot-rod to escort us around Kauai!


 
 
We stayed at a hotel on the East side of the Island our 1st night. We headed straight for a walk on the beach. Actually...Ryan spent the 1st half hour in a 90 degree hotel room (AC wasn't turned on!), logging into work and school. I was not loving that...
 
But then we headed to the beach!!

 
Pictured below was a sacred area of the island. After much exploring, we realized those rocks "tombstones".
 
Here is a panoramic view of the Kauai from the east view! Gorgeous!


Our 1st night was pretty low key, as we had a BIG HIKE ahead. We headed up the street and filled up on delicious ahi tuna tacos served with plantains. 
 
We had a 4 am alarm set to get an early start. However, we got on the road and it was a torrential downpour. This was one of the top 10 most dangerous hikes, and people die while hiking it in the rain. 
 
Therefore, we headed to a coffee shop and had breakfast and waited for the storm to pass.
 
This picture shows one of my most vivid memories of the trip. The sun parted through the sky, the top was down, we had canopies of forests overhead, holding hands, it was a good day!

 
By 1 mile into the hike, we were already completely drenched in sweat. It was 85 degrees with 90% humidity. No joke. I have never been so sweaty and overheated in my life! And I live in AZ.

I am so grateful we bought trekking poles for this trip. Because of the rain, the trail was slick with mud. Even with the poles, we were sliding all over the place!

Here is the view of the Napali Coast as we climbed up and up and up...

 

If you know about the Napali coast, there is a part where you hug a cliff for about 1.5 miles. This is no joke. You put one foot in front of the other, and pray to God you don't fall. As it's a 300 foot drop off the cliff. 
 
I took this picture just for my Mom, as I know she was a little worried about this trip ;)


 
That 1.5 miles was hard. I ended up on my knees, hugging the cliff, sobbing, with 30 lbs on my back. I seriously wanted to curl up in a ball and quit. But knew I couldn't. And then I had to do it all over again to come back on day 2! It was a test of strength to say the very least ;)
 
Can you feel the humidity in this picture?
 
 
We sure did! In fact...dehydration really set in. Ryan had such terrible leg cramps that her feel a few times :(. In order to get more water, we had to hike further to find rivers.
For water, we filled our filter bags up with river water, and filtered it. We didn't get sick, so it worked! ;)

 
After 11 miles, we made it to the beach. What an accomplishment. It was seriously like finishing a marathon. I was so happy to know we were done for the day.

I ran straight into the ocean to cool off!! But once I got into the water, I learned how many cuts and blisters I accumulated during the day. *sting!!!*
 
This hike is not for sissies....
Here we are on the beach sucking the salt off our potato chips and enjoying the sunset. (we were so dehydrated...)

 
 
This sunset was probably the most surreal sunset my eyes have seen. Here we were on this remote, secluded beach that can only be accessed by an 11 mile hike, helicopter, or boat. We felt so far from the rest of the world. It was incredible....
 
I have many good stories about this experience that have put many of our friends in tears (laughter and terror. Ha!). I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. We woke up the next morning, and it was our 6th Anniversary. And we had to hike those 11 miles all over again!
 

 
 Here we are post-hike, trying to replicate that fresh photo we took on our way to the trailhead! Quite the "before and after", eh?

 
 
The pictures don't even come close to doing justice of how breath-taking this hike is. We have some pretty cool videos, but haven't downloaded them from the GoPro yet!
 
I definitely left a piece of my heart on this trail ;)