Friday, July 17, 2009

Vacation Rocks!

After a busy first half of 2009, it was time for a vacation! I can hardly believe that I have been at my job for a year now and I had not taken vacation. When I was invited to go to Hawaii with my friend Kristin for our mutual friend Molly's wedding, I jumped at the chance.

Classic Waikiki Photo!

View from Our Hotel Room

View the Other Direction... Equally Pretty!

This hotel looks so serene from the photo, but I promise it was full of screaming children and Japanese tourists. Needless to say we did not spend much time there.

Deciding where to eat was probably the hardest decision we had everyday.

The wedding was beautiful. They held it at the Royal Hawaiian (aka "The Pink Palace" as dubbed by Kristin and I) in Waikiki.

Molly and Jason and Family

I don't think they could have asked for a better day or setting for the wedding reception!

The traditional Lion Dance.

Once he wedding was over, the real relaxing began. As Kristin grew-up on Oahu, she knows all the best beaches. My favorite is Kailua. Warm, blue water. White sand. No tourists. It doesn't get much better than that.

This paddle boarding thing is really popular. I wish we would have had the chance to try it out.

Ko Olina. The word on the street is that Disney is planning on building a resort here... Bummer! Right now it is a pretty unknown stretch on the north side of the island.

Kristin and I had been taking about MaiTai's at the Halikulani for months. They're the best on the island! We were not disappointed.

So Pretty! And So Tasty!

I was supposed to be resting from my training while on vacation, but when we heard about a 4th of July trail run 10K on this gorgeous ranch, we couldn't resist. It was great to experience a local race. Very low key. Those cones are the finish chute. It was like a TCSD race, Island-style.

Who could resist running through this beautiful area? Not me for sure!

The race director sporting her WonderWoman Splish suit. Kristin swears she is getting me one for my birthday.... but I have to promise to wear it to Masters. Like I don't get made fun of enough at Masters, this would sure do it!

The podium. Like I said... really low key.

After all of hard work at the race, it was time to meet up for a 4th of July picnic and to watch fireworks. This picture does it no justice, but we had enough food to feed a small army! All local which was the best part.

Instead of fireworks; In Hawaii they just have rainbows....

After spending all week eating, it was time to eat some more. Kristin's long time family friends invited us over for "Mr. Mike's Mai Tai's" and sushi. The Mai Tai's were awesome, but that second on did me in... I think Mr. Mike made it a bit strong!

The infamous Mr. Mike. His house has the best view on Oahu!

Why does vacation have to come to an end so fast?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tour de Counrty Store

**Before you even start reading this post I need to put the disclaimer that Jen's blog about this ride totally rocks, so you should probably save yourselves time and just read her post. But none-the-less, I have to give my own account of our epic ride.

Somehow I ended up with an extra day off work after my vacation to Hawaii. Any sane person would use it as a day to relax and catch-up on laundry, etc, but I promptly called Jen to see if she wanted to ride. We never get to ride together mid-week due to my less than flexible work schedule, so this was going to be a real treat!

Jen has been adding a lot lately to her already super strong base, so I was worried about holding her back. She assured me she was not rested. I came to find out that was code for, "I rode a double Great Western really fast the day before!" Well at least she wouldn't hurt me too bad, I figured. My only excuse for being slow was that I had been lying on a beach drinking and eating for the past week.

We both love the GWL, so a plan was hatched to meet at the Starbucks. I showed up only half awake to be greeted by Jen who was raring to go. I just prayed my coffee would kick in sometime soon.

The beginning of the ride flew by as we had a lot to catch-up on. We tackled every subject from how our training was going, to interesting work cases, to what new things Jen had cooked and baked for Tim, to any new gossip we had heard. Before I knew it we were already climbing "the wall." Being the occasional dumb-blond that I am, I actually had to ask Jen "Is this the wall?" She just gave me a look and took off up it. I guess she figured if I wasn't hurting bad enough to know it was the wall and I could still talk, she would show me how a real cyclist climbs.

We were both lured off the loop and into Descanso by thoughts of ice-cold Double Shot Espressos. Little did Jen know I was riding with only two dollars in my pocket as I had spent my cash on Malasadas and Shave-Ice before boarding a plane back to San Diego. Carb Loading? So what started out as a friendly ride, soon turned into a bad date for Jen, who had to pay my way at every country store along the way.

I am not sure if it was the heat or the large amount of caffeine we had consumed or what, but the next thing I knew Jen and I came up with a plan to tackle the Laguna Loop. We both maintain that our bikes made us do it! They love riding together.

Off we headed towards Pine Valley, without a map, and a somewhat vague idea of how we were going to get where we wanted to go. Jen assured me that we could always use her I-phone to look at the route... but soon enough we found she had no service. It was then we began listing all of the people we could call if one of us blew-up; I was placing bets on myself to be the first to be lying on the side of the road in a pile. Luckily I was riding with a superstar ICU nurse, who could perform some BLS, ACLS, ATLS or just pour water and Gu down my throat until I perked up.

The sights and smell of the mountains lured me up Sunrise Highway. All the way up boring Jen with my stories of family camping trips and summer camp experiences in the Laguna Mountains. I've had a lot of good times in those mountains and this was definately another day full of memories. I find it funny how I used to think it was SO far from our house in central San Diego to the Lagunas. I would honestly pack like I was going to be gone for a year and snacks in the car were a must... I guess some things never change! Yet this day I had covered the majority of the distance on my bike, with snacks still abounding.

Next stop the Laguna Store. Both of us must have been a bit bonky at that time, as we promptly parked our bikes on the porch right under the "No Bikes on the Porch" sign. Classic!

I had somehow convinced Jen that popsicles on the top of Laguna would be awesome; my plan to trick her into buying me a popsicle worked! We chatted with some guys in the store as I continued to reminisce about my childhood. One of the guys mentioned how suprised he was by how fast we had climbed Sunrise Highway. Thanks random mountain-man for helping expand our egos and lighting a fire under us to get our bikes and ourselves off the porch and back riding. Without you we may have just sat up on top of the mountain taking and eating popsicles until dark.

It was a good thing that we filled our bellies with popsicles, water, G2(I think Jen should be sponsored by them. She would make a great spokesmodel!) and energy bars, because as we reached the summit the wind began to blow. It would have been one thing if it were a headwind or even better a tailwind, but no it was a crosswind trying it's best to blow us right off the road and into Anza Borrego Desert. I love my super light-weight Guru, but this one time I was wishing I had one of those old-school heavy bikes. I looked up the road to see a gust blow Jen sideways towards a steep drop-off. If riding with her was not enough to get my heart-rate up, that did it! How would I explain to Tim that I lost her over the side of a cliff? I could hear myself trying to explain how she just blew off like a little kite. All I can say is that girl needs to keep it up with the cookies!

Next up was the Lake Cuyamaca Store. Yep... that's #3 for those of you who are counting! Not too memorable, but I am still confused by the duck sign...

All of our hard work had finally paid off and we got a nice long ride down the 79 to Descanso, and of course we stopped at the store to fuel up some more!

The back side of the GWL turned a bit ugly for me. The heat was killer and I know Jen could tell I was struggling. She just kept telling me funny stories which I could only half listen to. I just had to focus on not falling off my bike and having to get picked-up by the TCSD Cares van. I really think triathlete road-side assistance would be a good use of that van between all of the races.

Just when I thought I was destined to turn into a big piece of beef jerky, we arrived at the Lyon Valley store. We were exhuberantly greeted by my new BFF David and his slobbering dogs. I was really in no mood to deal with a very hyper little boy and his dog who felt the need to lick all of the salt off my legs, but this stop turned out to be a highlight of the day. David insisted that we needed a card to enter the store. Jen got to pick and it said "ENERGY!" We were both giddy with excitement; just what we needed.

For some reason, David decided this card should be thrown away, but Jen pretty much tackled him to get it back. We needed that card to get us home, oh yeah and several bottle of cold water apiece.

We were able to hammer it home from there; riding high on pride from tackling the "Loop of Doom." In true Jen form, as soon as we hit the parking lot she had changed into a super cute outfit and was providing me with a post ride PB&H sandwich. All I could do was lean against my car staring at my Garmin... 104miles... 7:20 of riding... Sweet!