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Life & Books: an update

Hello friends,

We have a blizzard in the forecast, a blizzard.  I will snowshoe, which has me a bit giddy today.

The storm will also provide plenty of time to finish the book I'm reading, and the afghan I'm making.  I have about twenty rows left.

Did I tell you I'm excited for the snowstorm?! 

Basement: We will fall behind schedule this week, but only by a few days.  The snow will keep the contractors from driving, safety first!  The fun starts next week, when the design comes together (stone, tile, paint, etc).

The fireplace will be installed today.

Here's a photo of how the basement has progressed, in the last ten days. What you can't see, the plumbing and electric are done.

Five to six weeks to go.

Book Talk: Have you tried Oyster Books, netflix for readers.  I'm planning to sign up for the 30 day trial, hoping it meets my expectations. 

2014 Reading: I read 45 books last year, ten fewer than usual.  I tend to read several books while traveling, but that wasn't the case last year. I didn't read one book during my six weeks of travel.  Why? The World  Traveler didn't have evening dinners, and I was busy knitting on trains.

I have fond memories of Ireland, having so much time that I would read in the park.

Back to 2014.  Here are my favorite books, in the order I read them. I devoured Cold Antler Farm last January, on a snowy day, snuggled by a fire after snowshoeing.  I admire the author tremendously.

I'm happy to close the books on 2014, it was a difficult year.

2015: So many of my must read authors are publishing this year - and I'm finding my way back to the books I love.  Last week I finished The Longest Ride (Sparks). Good, not great.  I did like the ending, how the two stories came together. 

Here's what I'm currently reading:

Lies You Wanted to Hear: I'm starting the year with a page turner! 

Synopsis: When Lucy meets Matt on a blind date, Matt is instantly hooked; he sees Lucy as the fun, sexy, and wickedly smart girl of his dreams. Although she’s still getting over an old lover, Lucy is won over by Matt’s sweet, thoughtful nature. But 20 years later, alone in an empty house trying to imagine the lives of her two young children, Lucy comes to realize that the little lies you tell can create more damage than the truth you’re hiding.

~~ * ~~ * ~~ * ~~ * ~~ * ~~
Sweet Salt Air:  I see this book all the time, I think the cover grabs my attention.  I'm listening to this book.

Synopsis: Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole's coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

To those in the northeast, stay warm, enjoy the snow falling, and be safe.

Life: Happy New Year

Hello friends,

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, filled with memories, and time with friends and family.

Are you ready for 2015? My year is mostly planned, with several trips scheduled, a few runs booked, and a list of 'new to me' items to attempt. 

Travel: Did I tell you I was going to Singapore and China? We are already back from this adventure.  I have A LOT to say about this trip, and took over a thousand photos with my DSLR... I promise to share a few stories and photos soon.

Staying connected: We use Track My Tour (iphone app) to let everyone travel with us virtually, mostly fun/candid 'in the moment' photos to document the trip (click here to view our China photo log, scroll to the bottom and work your way upwards).

This is how most of our family/friends learned we reached the summit of Kili.  It's a great tool.  
Mancave/Retreat:  While in China, riding on a train from Shanghai to Beijing, we selected the contractor who will finish part of our basement.  Imagine shopping online while traveling 220 MPH, and using my cell phone as a hotspot.

The sauna arrived yesterday, a six-person space perfect for hot yoga... for one. 

It's going to be amazing. 

Fitness: I'm busy setting a few goals for 2015, including a couple half marathons and time on the mat (yoga).

Fitbit miles logged in 2014: 2,576 miles

M&J's book club: My twelve year old niece and I just started reading The Uglies for our 'two person book club'.

We were planning to start reading Wonder, but she picked this book up over Winter break.  It's fun for us to read together, we discuss books while texting from our ipads.  Technology...

I'm still here, busier than ever... 
wishing you a wonderful 2015 - it's going to be a great year.

2014 NYC Marathon recap

Hello friends, Grab something to drink, get comfy and enjoy... this is a long post.  If you aren't interested in the details, just skip to the bottom to see how I did.

There are three strategies for most runners on marathon day: to race, to run, to survive.  Looking back on my experience, I was prepared, felt great, I was ready to run.  I have one experience of surviving so I know how rough marathon day can be. I ran the 2014 NYC marathon, as planned.

Getting there
I left the hotel at 7am, walked two blocks, bought a ticket, and jumped on the next train.  Following the crowd off the train, we walked just two minutes to the Staten Island Ferry.

I didn't have to wait for the ferry, it was boarding.

The white caps on the river were not a good sign, so I opened the hand warmers I brought with me.  Thank goodness I had these left over from our Kilimanjaro summit. Before exiting the terminal, I changed shoes and put on all the layers of clothing I brought with me. 

The commute was going smoothly, but the wind was getting worse.

A short walk to the street revealed a 15 minute wait for the final leg of the commute - a short bus ride to the bridge/runners village.  My body was shaking by the time I got on the bus and started to wonder how this 15 minutes would impact my run.

As the bus started moving I received a text message that Kara Goucher started running. {the race started while I was commuting... a fact I will never forget}

Departing the bus we had one last security pat down, and five minute walk to the runner's village.

I arrived at the green coral without incident, at 9:57am.  My wave start was 10:05.  I thought it would take 90 minutes to travel from the hotel to the village, this late arrival didn't provide any time to get nervous.

It took me three hours to get to the starting line... the weather wasn't a factor. 

The Run
I will never forget running over the bridge.  My start group was small, running across the bridge on the lower level (far right of this photo).  People shed layers while running, we were jumping over jackets and prerace gear to avoid tripping.  The wind was so bad that several times I was blown mid-stride by a wind gust.

TIP: when starting on the lower level was to stay in the middle of the bridge.  Men will pee off the bridge, into the ocean. The wind was blowing horizontally at 40mph, so this wasn't an issue this year.

No one in my start group enjoyed running over the bridge or stopped for a photo. You could feel dread/worry as we ran together in silence.

I remember thinking this is going to be a horrible experience.

Once we left the bridge a hundred men bailed to the left... to pee on behind trees lining the road.

With three 'to be tossed' layers I wasn't able to see my start time, my iPhone tucked away to avoid distractions. This decision gave me permission to take it all in... and this is what I did!

Once you cross over the long bridge at mile 15 you are home free.  The next mile gifts runners with spectacular crowds.

I wore a fleece, and down vest until mile 22!! I never warmed up enough to trust the weather.  Once in Central Park I shed these layers, knowing the finish was 25 minutes away. 

After the finish
No one prepared me for this... if you are planning to run this marathon know you need to walk about two miles after crossing the finish. We walked up to 85th street, out of the park and back down to Columbus Circle to the meet/greet.  It was mentally draining, and a bit unfair... I logged 33 miles that day.

The wind played is big role:
2013 average time, 4 hours 18 minutes
2014 average time, 4 hours 34 minutes

I was training for 4:15... finishing at 4:32

I felt great my entire training program - I couldn't have asked for a better experience on my legs/body.  I ran four day's week rather than five, removing the midweek long run, a risky approach that paid off.

Marathons and Ultras... some of you will be surprised to learn that this was my first marathon in eight years.  I have no plans to run this distance again, but never say never. 

Life: a snowy visit home

Hello everyone, My fall has been 'crazy busy'... can you believe Thanksgiving is next week? Are you ready?

I was in Minnesota over the weekend.  Greeted by ten inches of snow (whoop) - not many were as excited to see the fluffy white stuff falling before Thanksgiving, but it made my day. 

Friday I had lunch with a friend from high school.  We had not seen each other since my wedding day... she was in my wedding! We both moved around a lot back then and lost contact, reconnecting on Facebook last year.   After lunch, I met another friend to shop for a few hours and enjoy a long happy hour.  We devoured chips and salsa while chatting for hours. 

Saturday my twelve year old niece and I spent the day together.  Enjoying a mocha, a visit to the yarn shoppe, Michael's crafts, a knitting lesson, movie, a visit to Barnes and Noble, and finally reconnecting with family for dinner.  She told her mom we started a 'two person' book club.

Our first book is Moon over Manifest, followed by The One and Only Ivan. 

Later this week we have friends visiting from Omaha.

Next week we are hosting our second annual Feast & Sport (Thanksgiving).  Six families, a turkey dinner, board games, and football.

Do you have plans for Thanksgiving? Are you getting ready for Christmas?

I'm finally getting around to reading Thirteen Reasons Why.  I started it last night and can't wait to read later tonight.  It's going to be creepy... the cover says "A mystery, eulogy, and ceremony."  Have you read it?  I have been putting it off, mostly since it's about suicide.  

Synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

~~~~~ | ~~~~~ | ~~~~~

I read How to be a Good Wife on the flight home last night.  Have you read it? It's good, not great.  I don't know what I was expecting but it's a page turner.  3 1/2 stars.

Synopsis: Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.

But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.

Running: time to taper

Hello friends, NYC marathon is less than two weeks away.  I can't believe it. Now I get to rest, run lightly, and eat well.

Last November, on a whim, I entered the lottery for a chance to run the marathon.  It was cyber Monday and the lottery fee was half price, I believe $10. I wouldn't find out if I was selected until late spring.

This means I have been thinking about this run for almost a year, with training kicking off early August. My travels this fall have let me run long runs of thirteen or longer in NJ, Cape Cod, Germany, and Switzerland.

Saturday I capped off training with a 21 mile trail run.  Three seven mile loops of hills.  While leaping left and right to avoid roots, rocks, and leaves, I kept thinking 'this is it'. It's not only my last training run for NYC but it should be my last long run.  I don't have plans to run this distance again unless I have an opportunity to run London.

Sunday I woke up feeling lighter, thinking I'm ready.

Yellow Trail, you will forever own a piece of my heart.  

The start of the NYC marathon: is this photo exciting or overwhelming to you? It's overwhelming to me but now that I'm ready I'm shifting from fright to excitement.  It will be incredible to see the 2014 photo and know I'm there, somewhere!

I'm ready to have a great experience, spend the weekend in the city, roam the Expo (secretly a family favorite).

This will be my 11th official marathon. I have ran more though, alone, on the trails without one person watching... as I trained for the Ultra.

I've got this.