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Staycation 2014…

Since I had been planning to run the Vancouver Half Marathon and I wasn’t able to get any leave any time soon, so that I wouldn’t go stir crazy I figured why not have a bit of a staycation. For those that don’t know a Staycation is a vacation in your own city. Stay a night in a Hotel in your own city, explore it like your a tourist, have fun and enjoy yourself. Considering I still haven’t really explored this city, it was appropriate right? Heidi also agreed that we should have some touristy fun. I won’t go into to in depth of a trip report, mainly because a lot of it is just boring but let it be said that we picked the hotel purely so that I could give Kimpton another shot and also open up the use of the free nights (which are not all that helpful this year as it turns out you only have free night options in either Savannah or Miami). Out of the 3 Kimpton hotels in Seattle we went with the Monaco.

We started off the weekend by me suprising Heidi with a mystery. Originally planned for Sunday afternoon but since the weather was crap, I decided to move it up. We headed down into Sodo for the Google Glass event. Showcasing the Google Glass was pretty cool, I had always wanted to see what it really was but after experiencing I wouldn’t buy one. It just isn’t my thing. Bonus though we got a photo together and add in the free food and drink on offer and it was a good morning.

From Life in Seattle 2014

After checking into the hotel (and being told the room wasn’t ready) and leaving the truck up in the International District (also convenient to grab a cheap lunch of Bahn Mi’s for $3 each!), we did a walking tour of Pioneer Square. Picked up from Howaboutwe.com for free and through Stray Boots which controls it all like a scavenger hunt via a phone app. It was good and i had my first experience of a Utilikilt

From Life in Seattle 2014

Weirdest thing about the scavenger hunt was having to go into some stores and do stuff without buying anything. Felt kind of awkward, but it was still pretty fun. After the scavenger hunt we recollected the truck and parked it down by Belltown and picked up some gelati on the way back.. yeah it was a voucher again obtained for free so why not! We shared a cone on the way back and had a bit more for later stashed away. We got back to the Monaco and checked in. The hotel is definitely Kimpton. Small, Boutique and unique as well, it was a great looking hotel. We grabbed our bags and headed up to the room:

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

The room was great, would of preffered a view in the other direction, but hey can’t have everything right? The room was what is called a “Junior Suite” in America. More an overly large room with some form of barrier between the “sitting room” and the “bedroom” which in this case was some fabric curtains. There was two things missing when we arrived, the in room amenity and the goldfish. Kimpton has a great perk for some travellers who get lonely. They will place a goldfish in the room to keep you company. Heidi loved this idea and just had to have one, eventually the fish was delivered and we met our new friend Charles:

From Life in Seattle 2014

He was a great little companion, didn’t say much but he was always there swimming around (and also seemed to be constantly taking a dump, any time we turned around… I’ve never seen a fish poop so much!). The in room amenity was also delivered but it was wrong. I won’t go into the whole situation to much but after the stay I emailed the hotel as they dropped the ball big time on this. Turns out they gave my Inner Circle ammenity to someone else. Big Big ball drop on that but it could of happened on any stay.

We stuck around the hotel for a little bit, went out for a walk as well and just generally relaxed and enjoyed things. When it was time for dinner we lost track of time and while trying to get around some technology issues that had cropped up we ended up missing our dinner reservation and were late getting back to the truck before the time ran out on the parking (Thanks Uber for the free ride!). By that stage we didn’t feel like even going to the restaurant we had planned and due to all the stress we just couldn’t make up our minds what we wanted to have. We drove around Capitol Hill trying to find a park but couldn’t, in the end we gave up and headed to 13 coins for dinner. It was old school, not so cheap but pretty filling. The counter seats were pretty amazing (not that we were able to be seated at them):

From Life in Seattle 2014

After a dinner that had the most amazing cream sauce (yeah I went not even remotely healthy) we headed back to the hotel for a quiet night in. Sunday was a little bit less stressful thankfully. We woke up at a reasonable time and rather than stick around the hotel since we had changed our plans around, we checked out before breakfast and headed up to Ballard for breakfast at Skillet with Dan & Shawna. Skillet Diner is probably one of my most favourite places to eat and with a location in Ballard that is bigger, easier to find parking and still the same food, well… only this would happen:

From Life in Seattle 2014

The Cinnamon roll was pretty amazing and the frosting so good that I ended up doing this (And getting shameful looks for doing so)

From Life in Seattle 2014

Heidi had the Biscuits and Gravy which looked pretty good

From Life in Seattle 2014

After Skillet, Heidi took me down to the Ballard locks as I had never been there before, sadly no Salmon in the ladder though but there was plenty of boats in the locks though

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

After the locks it was time to meet the Grandparents and pick up a chair for Heidi (hey the Truck got some real usuage) and before we knew it, Staycation was over and it was back to reality.

From Life in Seattle 2014

Staycation was a great idea and it was something we both needed, a way to relax (at times) and try and just forget about our lives for one weekend. Plus getting to play around downtown without the stress of driving home or worrying about times or anything like that is worth it on so many levels. The whole weekend was good and we should do it again sometime in the future. Maybe a weekend in LA is next… god knows I need to fly this year!

Training Update

Well it has been a month since the injury at the end of February and as I start the last month before the half marathon I have finally come to the conclusion that I doubt i will be able to run the full half marathon. I am barely back running as it is right now.

It has been a long process for the last month as I kept my brain in check without falling apart again. I have been trying not to just give up entirely and keep pushing forward with the running. I had hoped to be running solidly by now but unfortunately 2km at the moment is the longest stretch I have managed (though I am going for 2.5km tomorrow). The running is slow, but it is definitely happening. Slow is better than not at all right?

So I have finally come to the conclusion that although I won’t be able to run the whole way, I am going to try and run as much as possible. I am already $120 in the hole for this half marathon and I am not going to waste that, so if I have to walk some of it, I have to walk, so be it. I am not giving up! I may not be able to run but I am going to give it a crack anyway.

I also have really decided that maybe a half marathon is a bit far for me. I still love my 5ks, I love doing a 10k as my real challenge, so maybe that is as far as I push it? Is a half marathon just that little bit to far for me? I don’t really know and only time can tell but for the immediate future, I will stick to 5k runs!

Tomorrow I run again (after giving today as a break day in between training) and will go for a 2.5km run with a 500m walk and then another 2km run back. That should hopefully do ok enough that on Saturday I can try for a full 5km. If that works and I don’t feel the pain too much, then I can start adding back in the length to the run. Who knows, maybe I can run at least half of the distance in one stretch? Time will tell.

Circle Work

On Friday, I got a message from the lovely Heidi suggesting we go to Ocean Shores with her family on Sunday. Ocean Shores is down on the Olympic Peninsula, a part of the state that I have not been to. So I agreed to it, and so plans were made. Being that we wanted to explore a little more there was decisions as to who was going to drive. Of course Heidi knows where she is going and has a car that doesn’t eat gas like the Ram does, so i mean that would be the obvious choice right? Well in Ocean Shores your allowed to drive on the nice big wide beaches… and if you find somewhere that has a bit of open space…. well, that was the deciding factor. Ram it is!!

So Sunday rolls around and we head on down to Ocean Shores. We make good time and spend some time relaxing by the water. Of course my first time driving on Sand was a bit wierd and thankfully there was a 25 mph speed limit so I wasn’t watching as people were doing 100mph or more on the beach. What I wanted to find though was a nice big empty piece of sand. I found it and my first attempt at a bit of circle work was really disappointing. It was just so… boring. Something wasn’t right.

After a break off the sand to pick up a few drinks and some snackage (since Heidi’s family had actually thought ahead and brought most of the food), I had a good thought… Traction control off…. well that made all the difference

So as you can see, I finally got to do some donuts on the sand in the end I had quite the amount of fun…

From Life in Seattle 2014

But it wasn’t all about the truck and the sand, it was about spending time with Heidi & her family… something I really enjoyed.

From Life in Seattle 2014

Getting to know them a bit better was worth the day and Ocean Shores was a great day out. The weather was fantastic (even if the wind picked up a little) and I got to see some of Heidi’s family history from around that area as well. I even got to see a house one of her relatives grew up in (I think it was Great Grandmother… I forget). Then to top off a pretty awesome day… I got to try Yak for the first time:

From Life in Seattle 2014

That is a Yak Patty Melt and it was pretty tasty. Like Buffalo but a tiny bit more gamey, a good dinner. Though I would of liked to finish it off with one of these

From Life in Seattle 2014

I am sure I will be heading back to Ocean Shores again soon, maybe a weekend out of it this time. Some sunset shots by the beach though… o and more circle work!

Breakfast Chronicles: Manhattan Seattle

Heidi & I have two things in common, we both love a good breakfast and we both love a good bargain (although Heidi’s bargain love is more towards clothes than anything else) so if you can combine the two, well that is a sure fire win. There had been many Groupon etc deals floating around for a restaurant on Capitol Hill called Manhattan but after further investigation, you could get a pretty awesome deal without the need of the Groupon. On Saturdays & Sundays for the first hour of their Brunch service (10-11am) it’s classed as “Happy Hour” and they give you half off your Brunch meal. So as long as you order by 11am your main entree portion (sides and drinks don’t count) are half price… Freaking Win! So off we went to check it out.

From Life in Seattle 2014

The restaurant was a little bit tough to find at first as it was fairly non descript on the outside, but on the inside it is definately fairly eclectic. A steakhouse for lunch and dinner, and a unique one at that, the decor was unique alright including the lovely Ram’s Head decoration above the bar.

From Life in Seattle 2014

I forget the name of the Rams Head (bar tender told me) but they refer to it as the “12th Ram” (damn Seahawks fans are everywhere) and yes, those are AR-15s on the horns (not an M-16 as i reffered to it as and got corrected but they are essentially the same thing, don’t get me started). The Menu was all southern inspired and I was in a sweet mood (as usual) & Heidi just could not overlook anything with the words “Sausage Gravy”. So I ended up with the Chocolate Chip Pancakes

From Life in Seattle 2014

Heidi had the Country Fried Steak

From Life in Seattle 2014

And we shared a side of Jalapeno Corn Bread and some White Cheddar Grits

From Life in Seattle 2014

Service was pretty good and relatively quick, although I didn’t get a 3rd refill of coffee (yeah I really shouldn’t complain about that i know, but i <3 my coffee so kill me) that was about the worst complaint. The food was REALLY good and the grits were delicious. The pancakes were not really huge and giant like I expected but a good mix of both thin & fluffy at the same time, plenty of chocolate. The steak that Heidi ordered was HUGE for a breakfast portion and extremely tasty (it was apparently only 5oz… but I don’t believe that at all). The breading on it was crunchy and spicy at the same time and the gravy was pretty darn good. Mixing the Grits with the Cornbread made for some really good flavor combinations and i felt that if the Sausage gravy had been replaced by Grits on that steak, I would of inhaled Heidi’s plate for her. Some ladies at the table next to us gave us one of their Beignets and they were pretty good (would of been better warm no doubt) and they were as impressed by the food as we were.

All in all my pancakes cost $5 and Heidi’s steak was $7 thanks to the happy hour pricing and if we had not of had sides or a cocktail/liqueur coffee it would of been a pretty cheap morning! So if you up for a good breakfast that has an amazing deal… well I would definitely go for Manhattan. While it may not be the Best Breakfast in Seattle, it is definitely the best Breakfast DEAL in Seattle

:(

This is not the post I wanted to make while giving updates about my Half Marathon training. Im screwed :( My injury from last year has come back to haunt me and i have strained the same muscle i did in Hong Kong. It’s crap and I have only myself to blame but right now, I am stuck.

I have already paid for the entry fee to the Vancouver Half and now I 100% know I won’t be ready. Right now I don’t know if I should just keep training towards running the half still or training more towards getting myself recovered from the injury. I know that if I try to run the half, things are probably not going to end well (and a big part of me is saying that I should just suck it up and take it like a man) with possible further injury. But then I would be wasting all that money I have already paid for the entry fee.

Unsure what to do about the race right now I need to try and at least get back to running out right. I tried running this morning, was aiming for a good 1km run just to get myself back after a week off of running (not training) but i got about 500m in and the muscle started to fight back. I was able to walk still and it was a bit stiff on the way to work, but it’s not to bad now.

I know I need to work back towards actually being able to run, but at what point do I give up on the half? Should I still stick the half and just do what i can in a Run/Walk mix? Do I just go balls to the wall and go for the run? Should I just give up entirely of this half marathon challenge and stick to 10ks?

Should

Am I Stupid?

It is week 3 of training for the Vancouver Half Marathon, it is all paid for so there is no way out of this without losing a whole lot of cash. The training is going well and I have started my distance increases. Week #1 saw a 10km run

Then the week after (last weekend) I did 11km

Then yesterday morning before starting work in Vancouver for the day (well a few hours anyway but that is a different story) I did a 12km run.

Now the ones on the Burke Gilman trail (10km & 11km) were so much easier than the run yesterday. The good thing with running on the Burke is there is no stopping and it is mainly flat. The trail makes it easier to keep on pace. Running around the streets of vancouver was tough. There was a lot of height changes and a LOT of stopping for the first half as there was a lot of roads to cross as I headed out over the Granville bridge into the city. But there was many times during that run I just wanted to end it early and give up, but I kept going. It was only 1km more than the last run but, damn, it was tough.

The longer I keep running each week means the easier it is going to be on race day, but the more I run now, the harder it is on my body. Yesterday I could barely walk up steps after the run and that was only 12km! I have to add another 9km for that day. I sure as hell am not driving back from Vancouver on the day of the race (someone else can drive me!) as I have a feeling I will be barely able to walk. But I am in this now and I am going to keep at it.

In the famous words of Yoda, “Do or Do Not, there is no try”.

Fun in a Tube

On Monday I got the great experience of indoor Skydiving down at iFly in Tukwila. It was something I had wanted to do again after experiencing it for the first time in New Zealand and at least once more before my goal of jumping out of a plane later this year. With a lovely discount through HowaboutWe a new website for discounted “dates”, why the hell not (big props to Heidi for finding it!).

We got two 1 minute flights each and it was a different experience compared to the outdoor one I experienced in NZ. The biggest difference other than indoor/outdoor was the fact that in NZ the fan was below you and pushed the air up, where as at iFly the fan was above you and circulated the air down through ducting to then below upwards from there. How it all worked or which one was better, I have no idea. What it meant was that it was not as frightening to think that below this flimsy mesh net was a giant cicrulating blade that would cut me in half at any time. It was still a bit nerve racking the way they had you entering the slip stream and I think that freaked me out a bit more than I thought. If you check out the videos you can see I look pretty nervous. But once in the stream, well judge for yourself

From Life in Seattle 2014

For what we paid ($20 for the two of us after the $50 joining credit came off) it was a pretty decent bargain! Now of course what you really want to see now is the videos.. well here are my two flights and the one the instructor did for us as a demo

Canada here I come!

Ok well a lot of you know that I am here in the USA on a work visa, well that visa is fast approaching it’s end. For the last 6 months I paniced and worried if I was going to be sponsored again and then when I was told it was all good, it was then hoping to get the visa appointment in time before it expired.

Good News! My Visa appointment is on Tuesday!! so the day after Aviation Geek Fest finishes I am driving north to Canada for a few days while I get my Visa renewed!

YAYAYAYA for 2 more years!

Not again….

So back around Christmas we got a nice dumping of snow and the city freaked out. Well after walking out of the movies on Saturday night in Southcenter I was greeted to a bit of a site… falling snow. I was spending some time down around the south end that night so there was going to be plenty of snow on the ground and it was coming down hard! Not just snow that didn’t stick but lots and lots of pretty heavy snow flakes… as you can see… there was quite a bit:

From Life in Seattle 2014

Wake up Sunday morning and low and behold there is plenty of snow on the ground… several inches worth

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

With that much snow on the ground it did mean that there was lots of problems with cars on the roads and abandoned cars etc

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

After a nice morning, Heidi & I decided to go and play in the snow a little, to really get to enjoy it (and also dig the truck out). How do you clean out a truck full of snow… By building a snowman (or Woman in this case). Turning this

From Life in Seattle 2014

Into this:

From Life in Seattle 2014

We then proceeded out for a walk amongst the streets for a bit of a stretch and some exercise

From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014
From Life in Seattle 2014

Before returning back to some warmth!! Crazy Crazy amount of snow! The drive home that afternoon was pain free and by this morning most of it has been rained away, When I left the truck this morning, the Snow Woman had lost her head from melting :(

Glutton for Punishment

One of my goals for 2014 on the fitness side of things is to run a half marathon. Thinking it would be smart to find one around here (rather than have to travel halfway across the country like I did for the Marine Corp 10K), there was a number of options I could run. The two big ones in Seattle are the Seattle Half Marathon in the first weekend of December and the Seattle Rock & Roll Half Marathon which is generally around late May/June. Now let’s look at those dates. December in Seattle, freezing cold temperatures, possibility of rain.. let me think for a second…. PASS! May/June the weather would be much better. Looking at the course (since both are exactly the same apparently) it is fairly hilly so if I was going to run it, I would definitely be doing the Rock n Roll since it would be in better weather (I hope).

But The Seattle course has some pretty decent inclines in it, and if I am going to run double the longest distance I have ever done, I would prefer it to be fairly easy. Nice and flat like the Gold Coast Marathon would of been nice, but can’t have that. So I started to ask around and get opinions from others about what a good run was. In the end I took some advice and just ran with it. I decided to do the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. What I didn’t expect to see when I decided to do it was the date.

The BMO Vancouver Marathon & associated events (Half Marathon & 8K) are both on the first weekend of May (may 4th to be exact) so that means I have about 3 months to train for this. It scares the crap out of me that I now have to REALLY start training to get this done. It will not be easy and I should have just enough time to start increasing my runs each week by an extra km up to the 21.1km mark. I can’t believe how soon it is but will have to live with that decision. It will be a much easier course compared to the Seattle courses:

Vancouver Half Marathon Course Map - Image stolen from BMO Vancouver Marathon Site

Vancouver Half Marathon Course Map – Image stolen from BMO Vancouver Marathon Site

I am looking forward to a new challenge but it is going to be not that easy. I need to really get my butt in gear and get training and think smart about this. This is not some little 5k where I can just shrug it off if my time is not so great. This is going to require discipline, dedication and some good old luck to keep myself injury free between now and may as the entry fee is paid for ($130!) and since I am paying for a weekend up in Vancouver as well (though thankfully I can drive up and the accommodation is already booked, but doesn’t need to be prepaid) I kind of need to be smart about it.

I don’t know what times or anything to aim for and frankly I will be happy with just finishing. This won’t be an easy challenge, but I guess there is no turning back right now, at least i know I am a glutton for punishment!