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Enrich your life with family and friends who will be there for you in good times and bad.   Meb Keflezigh et al., Run to Overcome

I had to fly to Minnesota in October for a 6-hour meeting.  Loathsome was the idea of the travel days, yet the silver lining was the opportunity to catch up with Tweep Kat and her husband, Marcus.

Definition Tweetup: When two or more people from Twitter meet up, usually for socializing usually involving the consumption of food or in some rare special occasions, beverages.

In the odd confusing world that is social media, Kat is a tweep most dear.   She has a down to earth, joie de vire that just makes her a delight to be around.  She also is the author of  Tenaciously Yours, a blog which among many other things every Friday features Kat’s latest culinary creations.  As much as I detest the practice of defining a person in terms of another person (e.g.  Julie is Karen’s mother), Marcus, despite being cool in his own indefinable way, can best be described as the perfect life-mate for Kat.

Air travel these days being like an old, mishandled box of chocolates,  you never know what you are going to get, but the downside risk exceed the upside.  I contemplated all the options to get from Southern California to Minneapolis.  The smartest choice was to drive to LAX and fly to Minneapolis directly.   There was also an option to fly out of Orange Country airport through Denver.  The day would be longer, but there wouldn’t be that annoying drive to LAX, the worst major airport in the civilized world.

Side Note: All travel is about risk mitigation.  Carry bags  mitigate the risk of a lost luggage.  Direct flights mitigate the risk of missed connections.   One never wants to have unnecessary legs without a good reason, especially in winter months.

Every major petty decision in life requires a tweet.  As I was deciding how to get to Minnesota,  another valued Tweep/blogger, Piper Bayard offered to drive out to the  airport for a quick tweetup should I decide to fly through Denver.  I would also describe Piper as unique. She and I are different on many levels, yet we seem to resonate on the same frequency, if you understand what I mean.  I think that’s more a function of her nature than it is of mine. She is a recovering lawyer and now author of two items on my Kindle, the book Firelands and a very imaginative piece in the Risky Brides collection of novels and novellas.  Both books are available on Amazon.

I had to think about Piper’s offer for a few days, weighing the unnecessary risks of flight delays and the potential delays related to clearing security in Denver.  Having made the commitment with Kat and Marcus upon my arrival in Minneapolis, I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk being late.  After I finished over thinking it , I simplified it down to , “someone was willing to come out and see me at the airport, I should be grateful”.   And with that, I scheduled two tweetups within 5 hours of each other in two separate states. “Crazy Making” is what my wife refers to this desire to fit as much into as little time as possible.

With Author Piper Bayard in Denver Airport
With Author Piper Bayard in Denver Airport

The flight from Santa Ana to Denver went off without a hitch.  I caught up with Piper for tea.   We had about an hour to catch up on her recent travels, having teenagers, being children of the 60’s in the modern world.   We also talked about an upcoming book that she and her partner Jay Holmes  are writing involving a special protagonist. Before we knew it, we were taking the requisite selfies and saying goodbye… for now.

The flight to Minneapolis was also unremarkable and I quickly found the location of our tweetup.   I was an hour early so at Kat’s advice I took a walk down to the Mississippi River.

One of a Dozen Pictures of Trees I took in Minneapolis
One of a Dozen Pictures of Trees I took in Minneapolis

It was a short 10 minute walk toward the river and I marveled at the turning leaves in the neighborhood. It was important to me to see the Mississippi again.  In my life have seen or crossed the Mississippi river at ground level in 6 of the 10 states it flows through, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee , Iowa, Illinois and Louisiana.  I don’t think I will ever forget looking up at the Mississippi river when I was in New Orleans.

The Mighty Mississipi in the North
The Mighty Mississippi River in the North, “when it is still clean” as Marcus pointed out.

I met up with Kat and Marcus at the designated eatery.   The place was a clear winner from a food perspective as it had good beer, fried veggies, and cheeseburgers with the cheese contained within the burger (and they think Everything’s up to date in Kansas City!).

The Cheese was inside the burger
The Cheese was inside the burger

I think social media confuses my brain.  I hadn’t seen Kat and Marcus in over a year, yet through tweets, Facebook and Instagram, it felt like just a couple of weeks, although that could just be the whole life moving faster thing.   We caught up on the things one doesn’t necessarily tweet or post about and shared a meal and a beverage.   It was just good to be around them again.

Post Tweetup Pic with Kat and Marcus
Post Tweetup Pic with Marcus and Kat

 Accomplish something every day and give thanks for the ability to do it. ~ Run to Overcome

After leaving the two coolest people in Minnesota (and possibly all the mid-West), I headed for my Holiday Inn Express in Chanhassen.   I checked in a very  comfy, clean (sterile) and spacious room.  After calling home to check in and putting all the devices to charge, the available options were to check email or watch TV.

There is an emptiness about being in a chilly hotel room when there is nothing left to do in the day, not even eat.   It’s what I call a “now what do I do?” moment.  The feeling of being alone is magnified ten-fold when there is nothing to get done and there are no travel companions to hang out with.  I suspect there is a madness that comes from being in that place for too long.

I sat in the comfy hotel chair with just a single light on in the room and put The Dream Academy’s Life in a Northern Town on repeat (see video below).  I thought about the people I was lucky enough to catch up with today, both at home and on the road.  I thought about the role some of these dear and other people on Twitter hold in my life.  There’s that lady in Scotland, and that guy who just ran his first NY marathon following his multiple hip surgeries.  He has a new girlfriend and she’s a Yankee fan! There is that one lady who recovered from cancer and the one training for the marathon in a few days.  There’s that doctor in Canada, trying to match up for a residency and that other Canadian lady who after finishing her P.h.D. married and just had a baby.  Then there is that certain one in Bahrain and the newlywed who married that special lawyer, FINALLY!  These are all real people and their stories and struggles are better than anything television can dream up.  In social media as in life, there are opportunities that one lets pass by and those one creates time to share a beverage with.

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Travel Day 14 of 2014: A New Adventure

Travel day 14 of 2014 marked the start of another road trip.  Strangely, I found myself on the tarmac of Seoul, Inchon Airport in South Korea. I wasn’t planning on coming to South Korea, but hey, sometime you take a plane, sometime the plan takes you.  A control freak might have a problem with that, but I just found it another airport to check in at on Foursquare.

On a Gate in Inchon/Seoul So. Korea
Unremarkable Tarmac Photo, Inchon/Seoul So. Korea

The 8am flight out of Santa Ana was delayed, but that was no worry. I had a 4 hour layover planned in San Francisco. You might ask why I decided to fly out of San Francisco rather than LA. The answer is that I hate flying international out of LA. San Francisco is much more civilized.

I had planned to spend the time in San Francisco working, but the Yankees were on and there was WiFi. Coupled with the fact that colleagues and running buddies, Natalie was sitting behind home plate, there was no work getting done this Saturday morning.

I recently read an article that seat back pocket was the place on an airplane most prone to bacteria. For this reason, I decided to create the Seat Back Pocket Condom. Designed to keep my stuff free for whatever dirt, grime or bodily fluids might be contained within. You can find one at a grocery store near you.!

The Seat Back Pocket Condom
The Seat Back Pocket Condom

 

The rain delayed the Yankee game for a short time just as it delayed my arrival in Shanghai 13 hours later. About 10 hours into the 13 hour flight we diverted to Seoul.  When we landed we had no indication how long we would be sitting there. As we approached the runway, we buzzed a few different golf courses.  My first thought was, “They get a lot of rain here”.  Having been raised in the desert and living in drought-strickened California, that was top of mind.  We only spent about an hour on the ground and for the flight 14+ hours in the air.  011

When I applied for my new visa to enter China, I asked for a six-month term with only five days of entry each visit.  They gave me a one-year visa with 90 days each trip.  I am hoping they don’t know something.   After clearing customs, my driver collected my weary bones and delivered me to the hotel.    Happy was I when I heard they had a 24 hour restaurant.  The menu was limited by I ordered the Korean rice with spicy beef and an egg.  There was also a side of kimchi. It was not presented the way I expected and it was spicy.

Dinner
Dinner

I think I headed upstairs close to midnight.   A couple joined me on the elevator.  She was Asian, dressed in tight silks and he was probably from India and dressed like an IT guy.  They both spoke English, but they didn’t speak in a way intimate couples or even friends do.   Maybe it was that I grew up in Vegas, but the words, “Shanghai Call Girl” came to mind.    

With crossing the International Date Line my journey started on Saturday at 8am and ended in my hotel about 10pm on Sunday June 1.  I am of the opinion that when you cross the International date line you lose a day that cannot be recoverd by crossing back of the Date Line.   You may get one longer day, but it’s always spent on a plane.

I drafted the first half of this post on the ground in Seoul.  As with my last trip in  China, I had no access to the WordPress website.  I had to wait until I arrived in Japan to even see the draft.    Never underestimate the freedom associated to visit what websites you choose.

Time to go to work.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Travel Day 14 of 2014: A New Adventure

Does the Christmas card automatically pushed out have any value??

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

I have come to realize once again that the modern world has distracted me from myself.

For this reason, when it came time to prepare for Christmas day, I let my wife stay in bed so that I could partake in the ritual of hunting the Christmas ham and gathering the holiday side dishes.

My plan was simple, I would be up before sunrise, go to the gym and then about 6am make my way to the Honeybaked store armed only with my wits, the confirmation number my wife provided and my credit card.   This would be glorious!

Then I overslept a little.

I woke up about 5:40 and feeling the aftereffects of too many consecutive days at the gym.  I moved down the hallway, much the way my 85-year old father does, a little hunched over, shuffling and moaning all the way.  Physical aches and pains be damned, after a session of foam rolling (and checking Facebook, read the morning blog posts) it was time to get the whole hunter/gather thing going.

I resisted the urge to plug the Honeybaked store address into my GPS.  True hunter/gatherers of old did’t use GPS systems to track their prey.  They use the sun and the stars and their knowledge of the lay of the lands.   So I did what my ancestors did, I put my coffee in a travel mug, memorized the address and used Google Maps to develop a plan to get to the hunting grounds.

I was uncomfortable driving someplace new without computer guidance; that probably means it was good for me. I became aware of exactly how dependent I’ve become on satellite-assisted navigation for even simple trips.  At one point, I felt like a modern day Prufrock asking myself, “do I dare to take this exit?”  As I came off the freeway, I saw a street sign with the block number at the bottom. I remember those things!  Back in the old days, they helped guide us to our final destination.  Thank goodness for the ancient wisdom that provided us with these markers.

About a quarter-mile up the road, was the Honeybaked store in a little front pad of a shopping center.  They had opened earlier than advertised and there was no line as I drove in around back to park.   There was a small line by the time I made it back to the front of the store.  I stood in the freezing cold (61°F) California winter morning watching the sunrise with the other hunter/gatherers feeling somewhat like I was in nice version of a scene from the soup nazi episode of Seinfeld.

Inside the Honeybaked Store
Inside the Honeybaked Store – Turkey and Ham for YOU!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

One of the successful hunters leaving the store was offering up her coupons.   All of the hunter/gatherers apparently had these coupons already in hand.  Reluctantly and shamefully, I admitted that I was not as well prepared as EVERYONE else and accepted the coupons which entitled me to $12 off if I added a side of turkey and three sides.  This was a hunter/gathers dream, not to be passed up for my foolish pride.

The line processed quickly and before I knew it, with the swipe of my credit card, I had exchanged my confirmation number for pints of apple cranberry sauce, creamed spinach, ambrosia as well as huge side of smoked turkey and a 7lb. ham.

Outside the Honeybaked Store
Outside the Honeybaked Store

As I left the Honeybaked store hunting/gathering grounds I was surprised by the number of late sleepers were lining up the block.  Their fate was to get the less desired hams and turkeys for my early rising brothers and sisters had laid waste to the preferred bounty.   I felt sorry for their children that they had to be born to such laggards.  Those poor children would never know exactly why this Christmas didn’t shine as bright as it should have.

As I secured the bounty on top of in the back of my car, I took a taste of the smoked turkey.  It was seasoned in sugar and was just a delight.  During the drive home, I thought about how easy this all is.  It’s easy to get from point A to point B.  It’s easy to get a meal prepared and table-ready.  Heck, it was car-ready.

It’s easy now to find store locations and get directions and so on and so on.  Does the struggle add to the accomplishment and meaning of putting dinner on the table and the other accomplishments of life? I know we used to waste lots of time and energy looking for places, but did that struggle make us a bit smarter, wiser and more appreciative? If one day Christmas dinner magically appeared on the table without us having to work for it, would we value it?

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

~Wordsworth
 
Does the Christmas card automatically pushed out have any value??

Cashew Chicken Pizza: Only at Mission Pizza & Pub in Fremont, CA

In the little city of Fremont, California, just north of San Jose, in an unassuming little strip mall near the 660 Freeway, sits the amazing little pizza and brew place, Mission Pizza & Pub. One could drive by this place for years and never stop in. That would be tragic.

Kyle's Cashew Chicken (My Favorite)
Kyle’s Cashew Chicken (My Favorite)

The restaurant differentiates itself with creative and flavor-filled pizzas. Pictured above is my personal favorite, the cashew chicken pizza also featuring feta cheese and lots of garlic.  This is a pizza that is made to savor small bite by small bite.

Amit's Mission Masala (Spicy)
Amit’s Mission Masala (Spicy)

Our veggie pizza selection at my last visit was delicious. Someone realized that the onions and possibly some of the other veggies were added after the pizza was cooked, injecting another dimension to the flavor.  This particular pizza was spicy; luckily, Mission Pizza has a wide selection of good craft beers on tap to go with their unique pizzas.

Vince's Salmon & Pesto
Vince’s Salmon & Pesto

The thing that I enjoy the most about Mission Pizza is that it is the perfect place to get to know people.  It has been my experience that when people walk into the restaurant they “get” the place and they just relax. The pizzas take a while to cook which leaves ample opportunity to soak in the ambiance.

The menu is usually the first topic of discussion as people read about the salmon and Pesto pizza or the peanut sauce and shrimp pizza and their brains are stimulated trying to imagine what the pizzas would taste like.   Then the beer selections make for a nice next topic of discussion.   Then things just start to flow.  I’ve been there with several groups and it’s always a memorable experience.

The staff are friendly and helpful and for the most part, they stay behind the bar and invisible to the customer’s experience.  By that I mean the staff don’t hover, there is no sense of rush and there are no interruptions, which is refreshing.

Mission Pizza & Pub on Urbanspoon

Cashew Chicken Pizza: Only at Mission Pizza & Pub in Fremont, CA

Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 5

Carpe Aestas: Seize the Summer.    From June 21 to September 21, 2013, I am going to do my best to try to suck the marrow out of this season.  Too many summers have gone by the wayside, wasted on work and mindless living.   My goal this summer is to catalog these days and ensure that I don’t lose focus on enJOYment as the drearydoms of normal life set in (as they often do).

The start of the fifth week of summer marked my 48th birthday.   I took the day off work, but still managed to roll out of bed about 5:15am.  After some coffee and some fluids, I took off for a celebratory run.   It was a cool overcast morning, perfect for a long slow run.  Everything was golden until….

Carpe Aestas!
Carpe Aestas!

right about Mile 5 when I turned a corner and came face to face with a lady walking her two little Chihuahuas beasts.  We were all startled and I tripped and skinned both my knees.   I was on my back looking up at  two little hell-hounds yapping at me.  The lady asked if I was OK.  I was, so I got up and kept on running with blood running down my legs.  Happy Birthday.

About Mile 7, I received a call from a company I do business with.  They were putting together a bid and wanted to chat with me.  I explained that it was my day off and I was in the middle of a run and that it was my birthday.  They sang happy birthday and started to talk about their proposal.  Clearly I wasn’t blunt enough with them, but I kept running while they talked.

I made it home and found that Laura had picked up the cake that I ordered a few weeks back.   It was a two-layer chocolate cake with gananche frosting and a thick layer of gananche in the middle.   A piece was precut from the cake covered in gananche.   The hole where the piece was cut from was also covered in gananche.

Maximum Ganache
Maximum Gananche

You may notice that although this was my 48th birthday celebration, the cake says Happy 50th.   I have decided that as some people choose to call themselves 48 when they are 50, I am going to go the other way and embrace the coming 50th birthday and make it feel as welcome as possible.

The piece on the left was cut in two and frozen.  It will be my reward when I complete the Santa Barbara Marathon in November.

After showering and stretching, the family drove to Whittier where we had lunch with Cassie’s Godmother at Amachi’s, a little Japanese place that was there in 1983 when I went to college.  The food is still good.   From there we went to another hangout in Whittier that make the most amazing milk shakes.  If you were there in 1987, you know that Whittier knows shakes (earthquake humor).

The evening of my birthday found me playing four sets of tennis.  It was exhausting on legs that had 11 miles on them from the morning, but hey, it was my birthday.

Platelet Donation for my birthday
Platelet Donation for my birthday

Saturday morning was spent in the good care of the American Red Cross.   I made my annual birthday platelet donation, after which I came home and took my customary post-donation nap. No exercise on donation day lead to a peaceful and simple Saturday night.

At the End of the Santa Ana River Trail
At the End of the Santa Ana River Trail

Sunday morning was another up and at ’em morning as I rode my bicycle down to Huntington Beach and caught up to my daughter at the Vans US Open Surf Competition. She let me pay for her lunch and then she was off with her friends. I think she came down to the open 4 times during the 2 weekends the event was on. Each trip she came home with new cool giveaways. I guess these are the rituals of her summer vacations.

As I was waiting for my daughter to find me among the crowds in Huntington Beach, I came across an anti-war(s) protest.  One of the protesters was nice enough to let me borrow his sign.

Damn Hippies
Damn Hippies in their bike shorts

The rest of the week, we didn’t get much celebration of summer in. Work and training suck up the available hours. I had one meeting that went from 5pm to 6:30 on Monday and I have visitors from Europe who I met for dinner at 8:30pm another night.

It’s hard to celebrate summer in a consistent manner week in and week out. That’s how summers have gotten away from me in recent years. This one is down to its last 58 days.

I will say it was an awesome birthday weekend, filled with good friends, warm family, well-wishes from many.   I was also pleased that I was able to get 11 miles run, 4 sets of tennis played, 40+ miles ridden on a bike and life-sustaining fluids donated to strangers.  And there was gananche.  Lots and lots of gananche.

Gananche Filling
Gananche Filling

So, how’s your summer going?

Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 5

Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 4

Carpe Aestas: Seize the Summer.    From June 21 to September 21, 2013, I am going to do my best to try to suck the marrow out of this season.  Too many summers have gone by the wayside, wasted on work and mindless living.   My goal this summer is to catalog these days and ensure that I don’t lose focus on enJOYment as the drearydoms of normal life set in (as they often do).

This is the fourth week of summer. We are almost 1/3 of the way through the season.  Life has started to intrude and it’s getting hard to stay in that “seize the summer” mentality. The Santa Barbara Marathon is 16 weeks away and the training is intruding on my quest for find the joy.

Tennis by Sunset
Tennis by Sunset

This fourth Friday of summer, as always, was tennis night.  Everything seemed to be working and I was really grateful.  I took my first tennis lesson when I was 5.  By all rights, I should be much better player than I am.  I am just where I am.   My skill is a function the time I have put in, my consistency and my fitness.  I enjoy it, which ultimately is what matters.

What should have been a short 3 mile run on Sunday turned into just under 12 miles.  Everything just felt good, so I just kept running, even though I didn’t bring water or gels.  The girls were going to go out to breakfast at Soupplantation that morning while I was running (I asked them to go without me).  At mile 5, I called and asked them to delay their breakfast by an hour so I could run the extra miles to get to them.   As I hadn’t had breakfast, I was starved.  Hungry has been a common feeling this week.  Lots of calories have been going out and I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night famished.   At times, I have not felt hungry, eaten something and then felt starved.

Pie!
Pie!

I realized early in the weekend that this was not going to be a very celebratory summery week.  I kept trying to think of things to do as a family of the summer season.  One night after dinner we decided to head down to Marie Calendars for pie.  I had the Key Lime, Laura had the strawberry banana and The Child had Oreo Cookie Cheesecake. I was just nice to be out and doing something indulgent as a family.  I worried about the calories of each pie on the menu and the ladies reminded me that if I am worried about the calories, I shouldn’t have come for pie.  Good point.

This week, I registered for the Big Sur Marathon.  I am glad I didn’t wait as the race which sold out in 26 hours last year sold out in 53 minutes this year.   It’s weird having two marathons behind me and two ahead.  I find myself much more excited about Big Sur than I am Santa Barbara.   I’ve been  giddy all week about Big Sur. I am visualizing the entire race and am looking forward to the miles of hills climes.  I should probably channel all that energy for the race that is 9 months away into training for the race that is only 16 weeks away.

I wanted to go out with the family this evening and see a movie.  Frankly, there was nothing out there we really wanted to see.  So I will close this week out by wishing you all well before I head to the gym.   On the plus side, tomorrow is one of those every other Fridays that I have off and I plan on enjoying it.

Carpe Aesta
Carpe Aestas People!
Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 4

Day 7 & 8: The Edinburgh Half-Marathon 2013

Last month, during my two weeks abroad, I ran the Edinburgh Half-Marathon for the second time. This experience was much easier than the first; but we shan’t dwell on that tired old story.

Running in Europe has historically been a solitary event for me. I have never had the opportunity to run with a friend I didn’t make at the start line.  For this race, I had the pleasure of being  joined by the International Woman of Mystery (I♀oM), blogger, runner and traveler extraordinaire.

Oddly enough, I♀oM and I met on Saturday after we both flew to Edinburgh on different flights from Amsterdam.  We arrived at Hollyrood Park on the exact spot where I picked up my bib in 2011.  Unfortunately that was not where bib pickup was in 2013 – so we had to go searching (my bad).

Hollyrood Park
I♀oM in Hollyrood Park

Hollyrood Park is a thing of beauty.  Much like my many pictures of Half Dome, the image above is one of two dozen I have of the same rock face all taken from about the same angle.  Hollyrood Park, like much of Scotland, is always too beautiful not to photograph.

After some shopping, Mexican food, photos and playing a long game of find the right bus stop, I♀oM and I parted company.  Being so far north the sun stayed high in the sky, making the well-aged day seem younger than it  actually was.  The sun was still high in the sky at 9pm when I went to bed and my hotel room was just as brightly-lit when I woke up early next morning in a panic thinking that I had overslept.

A Beautiful Day in Edinburgh
A Beautiful Race Day in Edinburgh

Race day was beautiful and warm.  After walking out of the hotel at 6am I made a U-turn and changed into much lighter running clothes.

Due to a bit of a muck-up on behalf of the local constable, I♀oM made it to the race a bit later than planned. The nice thing about that was that there was no time for her to get to her corral WAY at the front of the race, so we both started at the back of the pack.  It was refreshing to have someone new to run with.  I have raced with my wife and with SugarMagnolia, but this was different because this person was going to run away and leave my butt behind.   It wasn’t going to be a 13 mile chat, it was more of “too hip, gotta go, see you at the finish line!”, and I was very happy with that.   I was able to have a comrade at the start and end, but still be able to have my own semi-private experience without feeling anti-social.

Running by the Scottish Parliament near Hollyrood park
Running by the Scottish Parliament near Hollyrood park in 2013

The race began near the center of Edinburgh and worked its way back to the Scottish Parliament, by Hollyrood Castle and Hollyrood Park.  Interestingly enough despite swearing that I wasn’t going to take pictures, I took pretty much the exact same pictures as I took in 2011, except this time with a much fitter-looking crowd.

Hollyrood Castle in 2011
Hollyrood Castle in 2011

About a mile into the race, I lost sight of I♀oM and was on my own in this the middle of this crowd.  The first four miles of the race were downhill and like the rest of this race, they went way too quickly.

Yet another Hollyrood Park Picture
Yet another Hollyrood Park Picture – Click for the full effect

After leaving Hollyrood park, the course was a mostly unremarkable mix of residential, commercial with a hint of industrial.  Then the race transformed.

When I ran the San Francisco Marathon, I was excited during the first five miles as I anticipated that first glimpse of the  Golden Gate Bridge. Having run Edinburgh before, I had that same sense of giddiness after passing mile 4 which was just before the course reached an inlet to the North Sea.

Elevation Profile - Edinburgh Half
Elevation Profile – Edinburgh Half

The North Sea was strikingly beautiful.  It was like seeing my bride turn the corner on our wedding day.  After that first glimpse, it became a matter of enjoying this moment of my life, because it was only going to be about a mile and a half long at best.

I was, for that time period , the luckiest person in the world, because I was blessed with being in that exact spot on the earth with the ability to not only to run the distance, but also to be able to appreciate how short it would be.  It was also cool to know that I♀oM had seen it too, all be it, a half hour or so earlier, when it wasn’t nearly as awesome as it was in that moment when I saw it.

The North Sea
Click for the Full Effect

After leaving the beach the course traveled into Musselburgh (pronounced mussel-borough).  I was looking forward to seeing the city sign again as when it occasionally pops up on my digital picture frame, it always makes me smile.  I swore that I would not take a another picture of it.  I took another picture of it.

IMG_1160

At the mile 8 marker some sadness set in because there were only 5 miles left in the race.  I hadn’t run much over the previous 3 weeks and I felt strong and happy.  I felt like I could have run the full marathon that day with no trouble a ‘tall to use the vernacular. Nothing hurt and the running was effortless. It was all joy.

My Favorite Picture from 2011

The last 5K of the race ran through this little village full of supportive, fun Scots.  I joked and laughed with the bystanders along the way.  I didn’t want this race to end. This race filled my soul and I wanted to go on forever, yet every flow has its ebb.

I finished the race with a good hard sprint to the finish line.  After a few pictures and some stretching,  I went to bag check and found that someone had placed a German beer in the side pocket of my backpack.  Not quite sure how that happened, but what SWAG!  After a few “where are you?” texts were exchanged,  I♀oM and I followed the crowds to the double decker buses that hauled us back to the city.

All Good Things Must Come to An End
Every flow has its ebb

When the bus arrived in Edinburgh and came to a complete stop, many of us runners stood up and groaned in unison.  It was like a choir of old men going “uhhhh” on cue in the key of G.

I♀oM’s navigated us through the streets of Edinburgh to the preappointed eating place, the Whiskibar on the Royal Mile.  I was impressed and more that a little envious of her sense of direction.  When traveling, it’s usually my role to get my party from point A to point B, even when I have never been in city before. I had never realized how stressful that can be.  It was refreshing to have a companion who could without effort walk us up to the bar like it was her home town.

The Whiskibar

As it was two years ago, post-race lunch consisted of  fish and chips.  After I finished my lunch on my previous visit I saw this wonderful presentation of haggis but was too full to try it.   This visit, being fully aware of what it was made of and counter to the advice of  I♀oM, I tried and enjoyed the haggis appetizer.

The Haggis at The Whiskibar
The Haggis at The Whiskibar

There is an old Scottish expression, that “Eagles flees alane, but sheep herds thegither“, and within a few hours of our meal, I♀oM flew off; as  I♀oMs oft do.

When thinking about signing up for a race, that race immediately has two dimension defined, location and distance. If I say “The Paris Marathon” you get the where it is and the how long it is.  Then the mind forms that initial impression of the event might be like based on ones perception of the city or the route.  Some research might help refine the sense of the future experience.  But it is that time between the corral and the race recovery where the runner paints over that black and white canvas with rich colored memories of the places and the people and the food and the friends.  All that being said, as my 2011 race was in already in color, my 2013 Edinburgh Half Marathon was in 3D Dolby™ surround-sound.

I♀OM and Me after the race
The I♀oM and the happiest man in the United Kingdom
Day 7 & 8: The Edinburgh Half-Marathon 2013