30 July 2009

NYC Triathlon 2009

I will attempt to keep this race report short...as it wasn't my finest experience!

First, I want to thank everyone who donated to Team PVA and helping us raise money for paralyzed Veterans. It is sincerely appreciated, and I am constantly reminded just how lucky I am that I can participate in races and have so far been kept safe during my military career. Thank you so much for your support!

All summer has been mild in the Mid-Atlantic region; the day before the race was mild, sunny, and perfect. Then race day came. Race morning I awoke at 3:30am to find the weather 80 degrees, humid, and raining buckets.

Having been lured into a false sense of security about the temperatures, I made a fatal strategic error; I left the thermolyte tablets in my hotel room.

It rained on and off until racetime. The one nice thing was that there were no jellyfish in the Hudson this year! My swim went off without a hitch; I was hoping for a 20min swim, thanks to the current, and came out right on track with a 20:14 swim.

I had about a 3/4 mile T:1 run to transition, noticed that there still alot of bikes racked, and then hopped on my bike.

I felt really good on the bike, believing that I had come out of the water so fast based on the number of bikes in transition...turns out it's just that the "end of the alphabet" girls are the slow swimmers....About midway through the bike, I got a pretty bad headache, but chalked it up to exertion, as I was pushing hard on the bike, and had decided that I would "leave nothing on the course" for this race, because it was the last of the season. I came in off the bike, and again noted that all the spots around me were bare, and I really thought I had a chance of making Top 10 for the race.....and I grabbed my hat and took off for the final leg, the hilly Central Park 10k run.

I felt fantastic running across 72nd Street towards Central Park. The crowds were big, and cheerful, and my legs were turning over great. There was one girl that I kept leap-frogging with on the hills....she'd pass me going downhill and I'd beat her on the way up. We did this until somewhere after the Mile 3 marker, when I slowed to get some sport drink from the drink station. As I took a sip, I fell into the volunteer standing there. Excusing myself, I started walking away from him, and fell into the next volunteer in line. Again excusing myself, I went to step left away from the volunteer and fell into the third person in line! What the heck?!

At this point I noticed that I was fairly light-headed, and that I could not walk a straight line to save my life. I was like a drunk person trying to walk the line. I decided, for the first time in my racing career, that I'd sit down and rest for a minute. No volunteers came to my aid, but 3 or 4 runners stopped to make sure I was ok; of which I said I was fine.

I got back up, tried to walk the white line, and realized I no longer had motor control over my body. I did this walk/limp/straddle thing for nearly 2 miles, then at mile 5 decided I needed to run it in so I could get to medical faster.

Right after I started running again, my friends Michael and Maria were waiting for me, cheering and so excited. It gave me an initial boost of energy, but I could barely wave my hand and shout "I'm a little dizzy, will be in medical at the finish". And then they saw me swerve, and Michael started running after me to catch me....luckily I never fell down.

I put my best gameface on for the final finish shoot, and fell into the arms of a volunteer after crossing the finish line under my own power.

I was immediately ushered to a cot, had ice poured over me, and when I didn't feel better after 20 minutes, they decided to transport me via ambulance to the hospital.

I'll spare you all those fun details, but suffice it to say, 4 hours later, I was finally administered 1 bag of saline IV and sent on my way. And I want to thank the rest of my teammates, especially Brian Goldberg, for hanging out with me at the ER and being so kind as to pack my things, and get my gear from the race. You guys rock!

So, all in all, even with the 23 minute delay from the time I sat down to rest, I ended up only 7 minutes slower than last year's race. Which means that I most definitely did not leave anything on the course and was well on my way to a course PR and quite possibly that Top 10 finish after all. Last year's time would have put me in 13th place--coincidentally the same place I finished last year!

Final stats:

Swim: 20:14
T1: 6:10
Bike: 1:21:44
T2: 1:25
Run: 58:02
Final: 2:47:25

30th out of 189 Female 35-39
180th out of 1071 Females

Of course, the best part, is always, the Underwear run in Central Park with the Naked Cowboy. The hospital visit was just the cherry on top.

06 June 2009

The Race for the Cure

The weather finally cooperated today, and I awoke to ~60 degrees, cloudy/overcast buy most importantly....NOT rainy skies!

Met up with Jess, Peggy Sue and Lindsey and we headed down to the mall. The runners and walkers were separated; I was the only one in our foursome who was running, and my race was supposed to start at 8am. I ran ahead to get down on the Mall at the right location....little did I know.

The organizers of the Global RAce for the cure most definitely do not have any military background, because it was well past 8:30 before we finally started! The Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to send us off, but, suprise suprise, so was her husband the VP!

The run itself wasn't a run at all. Even with the walkers segregated away from the runners, there were a ton of walkers on our course. I finished under 25 minutes, but it was a nice little fun run!

What was truly amazing was seeing all the Breast Cancer Survivors; they tell you that it can affect anyone at any age, but until you see a 20-something woman wearing an "I'm a Survivor" shirt, it doesn't really hit home that it really really really CAN happen to you.

I saw lots of great signs and shirts, but my favorite one? "Save Second Base". Love it!

I just want to once again say THANK YOU to everyone who donated; I raised $600 for the cure, and as Pres Obama and VP Biden said today; they plan to end cancer in my lifetime......and you are all a part of that!

And finally, I'm so excited to see my inspiration, Catherine in about 2 hours! I'm off to Dulles to pick her up!

04 June 2009

SGK Global Race for the Cure!

I wanted to thank you all again for supporting my participation in the Komen Global Race for the Cure.

I have surpassed my fundraising goal, raising $600, and I am looking forward to the race this Saturday, June 6th! My inspiration for this event, Catherine, will be arriving in DC the evening of the race, and I can't wait to share with her the experience I will have had with so many runners racing for the same cause!

It's going to be quite the sight with tens of thousands of other women and men on the National Mall, wearing Pink!

Again, thanks so much for your support!



29 September 2008

Ed Sanders Memorial CX

Let me just first say that on Saturday, I ran 20.8 miles in nasty, muggy, tropical weather. Well, I ran 20 and walked/limped .8. I then proceeded to lie on my couch for most of the remainder of the day second-guessing whether or not I'll actually finish this marathon. UGH. I hate running.

But I love biking! And I love Cyclo-cross! This is my second year doing CX races, and my first year that I've actually 'trained' for it, thanks to the cyclo-cross clinics put on by DCMTB and City Bikes. I was able to make 3 out of 4 clinics at Ft. Reno Park, only 1 mile from my house. The clinics were a big boost to my techincal abilities, and that definitely showed at Sunday's race.

With the exception of the mercury level, the weather was ripe for a cross race; it had rained steadily for the past 3 days, was overcast, a bit of a breeze, and the leaves were falling all around.

Fellow Bella Marisa and I headed out at a leisurely 10:30 am for Buckeystown, MD for a 1:30 race. It was so luxurious to do the afternoon race! When we arrived, the Lilyponds were alive with excitement. The men's race was in full force, the "back 9" section of the course had the beer garden atmosphere, and I saw alot of muddy bikes!

We headed out on the course for a warm-up lap, and as I thought I was riding over a big stick, I suddenly realized I'd just ran over a snake! I felt so bad when he slithered away, I really hope I didn't break his back. But then I was a bit freaked out about running into snakes on the course.....luckily that didn't happen.

I took my practice loop at an easy pace, and we came around the back side to the mud pit, two gals ahead of me slowed way down, I lost my momentum, and PLOP! I fell into the mud. It was gross, smelly, peanut-butter-consistency mud. UGH. I stopped and got the muck out of my gearing, and continued around the loop. The backside has 1 run-up and three or four great hills. There were 2 steep downhills, also covered in mud. This was going to be a scary course at full speed. I finished the loop, went and rinsed myself and my now-broken-in-Kona off, and headed to the start line.

As the 1/2/3 Women were lined up ahead of us 3/4 Women, the skies opened up and it started to pour. The juniors behind us started to cheer, but all I could think was that the course is already wet enough! It was a pretty big field, about 10 elite, and 20 of the W3/4.

I was at the back of the line-up, and had to fight past everyone to get to the front before the first turn onto grass; I was about 5 or 6 gals off the front. I raced my heart out on the first lap, and got all sorts of cheers on the back hills because I rode them every time--except one, where I got stuck behind a 12 year old junior girl and lost my momentum--which happened to be the exact place where Superstar Bella Dee-Dee Wingfield lapped me. Oh well!

I ended up racing alone for laps 2-4; I was about 2 minutes off the leaders and about 3 minutes ahead of the back of the pack. I just couldn't get my legs or my lungs to go any faster.

In the end, I was passed by 3 other elite, but I did slow down to let fellow teammate Melanie Swartz pass me at the finish.

I finished 6th in my race, which I think is an all-time high, and considering I highly doubt anyone else out there had ran 20.8 miles on Saturday, I'm quite pleased with my improvements over last season!

Unfortunately, I just found out that work is going to make me go to TN for some extra duty, so I'm going to miss a few more races, and this season I'll probably only be able to do 3 or 4 CX races total. Next year, though, I'm going to really focus on CX.


Velo News article

Awesome Pic

11 September 2008

September 11, 2008

I don't yet have photos, but wanted to get this post up today.

Today, I was honored to be a guest at the Pentgon Memorial Dedication Ceremony for the 184 Americans who lost their lives 7 years ago.

I truly cannot describe in words how awesome (the orginial meaning of the word, not the California-slang) it was to be sitting in the audience today.

For those who don't know, the Pentagon's first day of construction was on September 11th, 1941. I don't know if that is ironic, appro-po, or just plain eerie.

But today, 7 years after the tragic, malicious, events of that day, I found myself at the dedication ceremony at the Pentagon.

Thousands of people were in attendence, and I was struck by the performances of the Armed Service Bands, (of course the Navy Mids were my favorite!), and the level of attendees. From the President and First Lady, the VP, the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi), Condi Rice, Supreme Court Justices, to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and current SECDEF Gates and Chairman Admiral Mullen (both of which I was sitting less than an arm's length away yesterday....today I needed a telephoto lens to see them), and most importantly, the family of the 184 people killed 7 years ago today.

I learned today alot about the 184 Americans who were killed. The youngest was just 3 years old. She died on the plane with her sister, Mother and Father. An entire family wiped out in a flash of hatred. The eldest was a retired Navy pilot, a man who had survived 5 aircraft crashes during his distingushed career. He did not survive that 6th, and final, crash landing. I learned about the 11 year old boy who so inspired his teacher, that she hand-picked him to participate in a National Geographic trip to California as reward for his curiosity and enthusiasm in science and our world. This 11 year old boy set off on the adventure of his life, which ended less than 2 miles from where it began. I can't help but feel sympathy for the teacher who must be tortured with thoughts that she hand-picked him for death.

Today I saw the President of the United States in person for the very first time. I saw my Commander In Chief. And I don't care about the politics, it is an awesome thing to be in the presence of the most powerful person on this planet. And he was humble. And as he spoke, a plane flew overhead. A plane flew overhead the Pentagon. Every 10 seconds a plane flew overhead, seemingly into, the Pentagon. And I was taken back to the hours and days after the terrorist attacks when no planes flew. When the skies were silent. And when they did fly again, the fear and panic I felt, all the way in San Diego, of whether that plane was "ours" or "theirs". And I heard the President say "when buildings fell, heroes rose." And since I've been stationed at the Pentagon, I've heard many testimonies of my friends and colleagues who did just that, rose through the smoke and flame and terror and helped saved their fellow American.

The haunting, soothing, aching tune of Amazing Grace was played by a lone bag-piper, Steve Cochran. Yesterday at rehearsal he couldn't finish the song; today he played it with passion and perfection. A Coastie, and retired firefighter; he felt the gravity of the day.

Before 9/11/01 I had every plan to leave the Navy. On September 12th, I remember calling out to Bahrain and every ship I knew asking, begging to go to sea and lend my expertise in strategic weapons to assist. My sea/shore rotation timing has always been out of synch of the events post-9/11, but I am still proud to serve, and proud to be a part of this day in history. My thoughts are with the families of the nearly 3000 victims of this day, and the over 4000 servicemembers lost in our great War on Terror. I will never forget singing "God Bless America" this morning and waving my flag with President George W. Bush, Robert Gates, Admiral Mullen, Condolezza Rice, and nearly 16,000 other Americans.

I will never forget. I just hope that We will never forget.

19 August 2008

Take Me Home, Country Road.......

Almost Heaven, western Virginia. For whatever reason, as soon as I see a sign that says "Shenendoah River" I immediately start singing the classic John Denver tune.

It was no different on Monday, when I headed out with some friends after the Luray Triathlon to do an "84-mile ride" in the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

After volunteering for the sprint distance race on Sunday, we were rested up and ready to do a long ride. We slept in, had a hearty breakfast and were rolling at 10:30 on a glorious Monday morning.

We started out at our cabin, the Absolute Perfect Escape #3, and headed towards the first climb of the day, Massanutten Mountain. What I didn't know until it was too late, is that Massanutten Mountain is a ski resort!

Massanutten is almost 3000ft of continuous vertical climbing. It's a beautiful climb opposite the Shenandoah River and facing Skyline Drive. The climb was reminiscent of some of my France climbs....the grade was continuous, even, and neverending! I kept hoping that each bend in the road would allow for a small respite of level grade, but no, it just kept going, and going, and going!

The descent was great too, easy switchbacks with only one or two hairpin turns. And then we leveled out onto the valley floor, and the four of us, me, Mike, Ken and Jean, headed off at a good clip towards Front Royal. Jean voiced what I had been thinking--there is not a better way to spend a Monday!

At one point, I dropped my chain and we had to stop. Good thing, as it turns out, after consulting the cue sheet, we were not on course. But, fortunately, there was a kind old man sitting out on his veranda, who pointed us back in the right direction.

As the miles and hours ticked on, Jean and I realized that the leisurely ride through the valley road was ending, and we were about to hit Skyline Drive. Now, I've ridden Skyline Drive twice before, but never after having already logged 50 miles. As Jean put it, at least we were sufficiently warmed up!

Skyline was a beautiful as I'd remembered (I had just ridden it back Memorial Day) and the hills just as long. But by the time we got 25 miles into the park, and stopped at Elk's Wallow, I was done. My body was continuously hungry, and I was starting to cramp. I didn't want to know how much further we had to go, I just knew I was about ready for it to end.

We left Elk's Wallow as a group, the boys pushing the pace a little bit, but I was so happy when we finally turned off Skyline and headed on the 9 mile descent into Luray. It was a busy road, but wide and we were able to take full advantage of the descent. It was glorious! Of course, as we descended from the top of the Blue Ridge, the temperature continued to warm, and once we landed in the backside of Luray, I saw with dismay that the Bank sign read 94 degrees! It was after 5pm, and I was beat.

The hardest part of the whole ride was the 12 miles back to the cabin. It was definitely a mental challenge for me to keep going. But I knew that the faster we rode, the sooner we'd be done.

This map shows most of our ride. We started 12 miles outside of Luray (not Front Royal) and it doesn't include the part from our cabin to the base of Massanutten and back, which made it round out to a full 100 miles, 7hours, and over 5000 calories!

17 August 2008

Luray 08--Calamity of Errors

I had been looking forward to Luray for months....this was to be my "big vacation" this year, 4 days in the mountains of Northern Virginia. A far cry from last summer's 2 week vacation in the south of France, but I'll take what I can get in the turning economy....

So, Friday afternoon I headed out on the 2 hour drive to the tiny mountain town of Luray. Traffic, as always, was not great, but managed to get to Luray just as planned to get checked in for the race. As I was walking into the shop, I ran into Nate Spong, a fellow shipmate from my days as an Ensign on the mighty USS TARAWA! What a crazy small world it is. I hadn't seen Nate in over 8 years. Gotta say, he definitely meets "tri candy" criteria....triathlon has been good to him! We caught up quickly, and then went on our way.

At least I tried to head on my way....one thing about Virginia is that they like to name their roads random, obscure, non-linear numbers. And in fact, there can be about 5 roads known by the same route number. So, as I believed I was following the directions to head out on 340S, which I did, turns out I was on the "wrong" 340S. For one full hour, and 50 miles of going back and forth, back and forth, I was on the wrong 340S. Luckily, once entering the nearby town of Stanley, I stopped at the gas station and Gary, my new-found friend, knew exactly where I needed to be, and unlike New England, I could definitely "get there from here". And with Gary's very detailed, landmark-filled hand-drawn map, I finally arrived at the "Absolute Perfect Escape" cabin tucked into the mountainside overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.

I had elected to stay with some of my fellow roadie friends, from Squadra Coppi, (instead of the group that included my ex-boyfriend) and was looking forward to bonding with new friends. However, through some miscommunication, I thought I was having dinner with said friends, and turns out I had been left off the food count. So, after being frazzled from the long lost drive, I had to jet back into town at 8pm the night before the race and drum up something worthy to eat. Needless to say, I was no longer in a good mood, and no longer enjoying my long-awaited, eagerly anticipated weekend retreat. On the bright side, I did discover the right 340S and was now able to get around without getting lost.

The moon was full and bright, and I finally went to bed around 10pm, but didn't fall asleep until well after 11, with the frustration of the evening heavy on my chest, and the excitement of Michael Phelps' winning his 8th gold medal on the TV downstairs.

Race morning arrived around 5:15, and it was a wonderfully chilly 57 degrees. Absolutely unbelievable for August in Virginia. The air was thick with fog, and it was an eerie drive to Lake Arrowhead. In the car, Mike, Lindsey and I were discussing songs that got stuck in our heads, and Lindsey got us all on the Bonanza theme......

I got body-marked, picked up my chip, and headed in to set up transition. The park was beautiful, the fog was lifting and I was getting nervous and excited to race! The swim was a two-loop course, and I was in the second wave! The water was a balmy 74 degrees, but with the air so chilly, I decided to wear my wetsuit, and headed down to the shore for a warmup.

And here's where my race fell apart.

SWIM: 28:11 (9th)
Okay, I admit, at first glance 28 minutes is a pretty good swim for me. Unfortunately, when I got out of the water, my watch said 47 minutes. Yes, Forty-Seven minutes. WTF?! I knew I had been making some changes to my stroke, but geez, what was I doing in the water for 47 minutes!?!?!? Note my "happy face" after having seen my watch...I just wanted to quit at that point. There was no way I was going to make up 20 minutes on the bike and run.

T1: 2:03 (3rd)
It was a very long, uphill, up-a-flight-of-stairs run into transition. I got to my bike, was hoping to see a flat so I could just end my misery, but alas, the bike with the flashy 404 race wheels (from Conte's) was ready and waiting for me, the 47-minute 1500k swimmer.

BIKE: 1:20:26 (2nd)
I got on the bike, had a problem adjusting my sunglasses for a few minutes, and was off. I had no idea how I was going to make up all that time. I was riding the course blind, no idea what the hills looked like, and had failed to put my magnet on the wheels, so I couldn't even check my speed/pace as I was riding. Just when I thought I'd had enough, I was climbing a hill and passing 2 guys off to my right, when the middle guy failed to hold his line on the steep incline and bumped into me. OK, no biggie, I know how to race a crit. I held him up for a few seconds, hoping he'd get his balance back, but he kept losing momentum, and slid back behind me and finally crashed to the ground. I called back to see if he was OK, he said he was, and I kept going. Somewhere out on the first loop it dawns on me that maybe, just maybe, my watch had started early and I didn't actually have a 47 minute swim. So, I flipped the watch to the time of day, and realized that indeed, it was only 9:15 and if I had swam a 47 minute swim, the time would be well after 9:30. Crap! I actually had a good swim, and I needed to get moving on the bike!

T2: 1:02 (3rd)
I raced into T2, knowing that I'd spent too much time on the bike, and that I needed to fly on the run. All my recent training for the Marine Corps Marathon had taught me that I could run through the pain, and that 6.2 miles really isn't that far (especially when I've got 16 miles queued up this weekend, ugh!). However, I'd ridden the second half of the bike so fast, I didn't take any time to get fluids in. So, I decided that I'd take a few big swigs of gatorade before heading out. I never do that. What's my mantra? Oh yeah, nothing new on race day. So, in the midst of removing helmet/donning running shoe, I downed some gatorade. I grabbed my race belt and visor and I was off! Somewhere around the bend, just as I was reaching the asphalt road I thought to myself "Self...it feels like you still have a bike shoe on." Hmmm, I looked down, and sure enough, one running shoe, one bike shoe. I again thought to myself "Self....can you run a 10K with one bike shoe? No, self, you cannot." So, I turned around, ran back to my transition area, ducking under the fence, grabbed the other shoe, and headed back out on the run, for the second time.

RUN: 50:49 (9th)
The run was a simple two-loop out-and-back run on rolling hills in partial shade down a country road. Once I was properly shod, I zoomed out on the run. I felt great! This marathon training is really helping my run! I felt like I flew to the turn-around, and then made my way back towards the second turn-around. That's when I discovered that the whole way back was one long uphill....no wonder I felt so good coming out! But I just plugged away, and as each uphill approached, I belted out (in my head) the Bonanza theme.....that really helps getting up a hill! I saw Nate Spong on the run (he was really flying!), as well as Jean, Michelle, Stephanie and Stone. Sometimes two-loop courses are nice. OK, they're nice when you're ahead. Not so nice when you're last (remember Philly....).

FINISH: 2:42:29 (5/26 F 35-39)
(22/143 F overall)

I finished the race strong, and felt really great, despite the clamity of errors that had gotten me there. Sadly, it wasn't enough to podium, and I guess this year I'm just not going to get down to the sub-2:30 mark (one chance left), but I really really enjoyed the Luray course! I will definitely do this race again.

24 May 2008

Columbia Triathlon 2008

How it went from January to May so quickly, I have no idea!

I swore last year that I'd be ready for the hills of Columbia, but wow, I just really underestimated how much time I lost over the winter being distracted by non-triathlon things!

The biggest issue of this race was that I had to race it in my glasses! I was still waiting to get my eye surgery, so I raced in prescription goggles, and then prescription sunglasses for the bike and run. It didn't seem to be a factor.

So, here it is, the first race of the season reality check:

SWIM: 29:39
--thought it was a good swim and that I didn't wander too much off course, but the clock never lies. Last year was a PR in swimming, this year, not so much!

T1: 2:27
--plenty happy with that

BIKE: 1:24:58
--not sure why, but I was sucking from the beginning, that first tiny hill had my legs screaming. It was not my best bike effort, and in fact was much slower than last year.
T2: 1:36

RUN: 54:02
--The run wasn't as bad as I'd remembered from last year. It still hurt, but I felt much stronger on the run than I did on the bike, not sure why.

TOTAL: 2:52:40

755/1730 overall
149/610 female
17/106 35-39F
still no military female results posted

28 March 2008

My Place in History

March 1st I took a new job, working for U.S. Central Command's Legislative Affairs Office. My job entails providing Congress with the information they need to make informed decisions about the budget and policies relating to the US and coalition forces efforts over in the Middle East.

The first day on the job I was escorting Admiral William "Fox" Fallon, the Commander of Central Command to hearings on the Hill. He is a 4 star Admiral. I've only ever met two other 4 stars in my career--Admiral Vern Clark and Admiral Mike Mullen, both Chief's of Naval Operations at the time. However, with ADM Clark and ADM Mullen, it was more just a photo-op and handshake, one in the Persian Gulf, one at the Pentagon, and no actual conversation.

But with ADM Fallon, he actually had conversations with me, was genuinely interested in me and my life, and it was a very surreal experience for me! I thoroughly enjoyed the week I spent escorting him to the hearings, and at the end of the week, when the Admiral climbed back out of his vehicle to specifically thank me for my work and to tell me he was happy I'd joined the team, I could not believe my fortune! I then left for 2 weeks of vacation.

A sidebar to the week's hearings was the rumbling of an article that was to be published in Esquire magazine that didn't put the Admiral in a very good light with the President's Administration. I said my farewell to the Admiral on Thursday, and the following Tuesday, everything changed.

While on my two weeks leave, I received a phone call from a friend on the Hill telling me to turn the TV on. Having turned it off because I was tired of listening to the stories of the NY Governor who'd been exposed for his dealings with a prostitute, I turned it back on, not exactly knowing what to expect. Admiral Fallon had resigned!! I thought it was sad, really sad, that the media has this kind of power over our Nation. It wasn't 5 minutes later that I started receiving numerous emails and txt messages about the announcement. I was saddened, after all it's always great to have a boss who likes you! Now I had no idea what was going to happen, did I even have a job?

Turns out yes, I still have a job, and on Monday the 24th of March, I was able to take ADM Fallon to the Hill one last time. I then flew down to Tampa, Fl for all my in-processing for my new job.

Admiral Fallon is a runner, and of course was impressed by my triathlons. He actually led a command-wide formation run down at CENTCOM, and on Tuesday I was fortunate enought to get to run with him. It was a very short, slow 2 mile run, but pretty amazing when there are hundreds of folks running in formation shouting jodies, with the flags out in front waving as we jog around the base. At the end of the run he had a Commander's Call to explain to everyone why he was leaving. It was in that moment that I realized that this Nation is losing a great leader, and a selfless officer.

On Friday, I attended his Relinquishment of Command ceremony, attended by the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates, and the Commander of Joint Chiefs of Staff, ADM Mike Mullen. It was a simple ceremony, lacking all the pomp and circumstance of normal retirements and changes of command, but it was amazing nonetheless.

I just know that this moment was a critical moment in the history of the war on terror, and while I wish I were still working for ADM Fallon, I'm glad that I was able to serve under him for even 4 weeks, and I wish him the best.

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Admiral!

23 March 2008

Easter with Erik and Erin

Easter came so early this year! It awlays amazes me how we cannot have Santa and Christmas trees in school, and yet both Christmas and Easter are tied to the two pagen rituals of the Winter and Spring solstice! But I digress. It turns out that Easter is determined by the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring solstice....and this year is the absolute earliest Easter can ever be! And it won't be this early again for 200 years. Good thing, don't want to be caught off guard again, ha ha!

So, on Friday I hopped (get it, hopped?) into the car and started the never-gets-shorter-no-matter-how-much-you-drive-it 6 hour drive down to Jacksonville, NC. It was a beautifully sunny, albiet chilly day, so no top down. It got to C2E2 around 3pm and we had a great afternoon of fun in the backyard. Erin of course wanted a picnic, so we had carrots, grapes and hummus in the backyard while playing "Funny Bunny". Erin's actually pretty good, and can count very well! Time got away with us (as usual) and so we didn't get to have pizza and movie night, we just got to have pizza night, and then bathtime and storytime and then we went outside to check out the full moon. It was beautiful.

Saturday morning arrived early, and with the "coc-a-doodle-doo" of E2 waking Nene up at 8am. Guess vacation is over! We had a very full day planned, complete with yummy crepes made by Christopher, and then Erik wanted to ride his bike, but Nene didn't bring hers, so I ran with Erin in the stroller while Erik rode his bike. We did this for 30 minutes, or until Nene's arms were about to fall off. But it was fun. Then we "practiced" hiding and finding easter eggs for the better part of the afternoon. Finally we realized we had tons of things to do and were running out of time!

First, Grandma sent the kids an Easter gingerbread house, so we had fun decorating that, despite Mommy's efforts at breaking all the little furniture I'd made for the gingerbread backyard....

And no Easter is ever complete without the Easter Bunny cake! This is a great idea my sister found years ago, and we've been making it ever since. This year Erik and Erin got to do some of the creative design, and it turned out very well.

Then it was easter egg dying time. Holy Cow! We boiled 7 dozen eggs and Erik and Erin had half of them dyed in about 2 minutes flat!!! So much for thinking this would take a long time......but then they decided that they needed to redye the eggs, and by the end we had a few that were a bit too brown, but overall, the eggs were very pretty and I'm sure the Easter Bunny (or Beagle) was very pleased with what we had to offer.

The kids had just seen Swiss Family Robinson for the first time a few weeks ago, and absolutely had to share that movie with Nene--it's the best movie ever! With Tigers, and snakes, and pirates, ARRRRRR!!!!!

We still had cookies to decorate, and cornish game hens to grill. Oh, where was the time going!?!

Finally got the kids to bed, and then we really had to get down to work. The Easter Bunny had over 84 hard-boiled eggs and 100 plastic eggs to stuff and hide. Not to mention Easter baskets! It was another late night for all.

Easter morning arrived again with the rooster at 8am and then a frenzy of "I see one" or "there's an egg", "oooo jelly beans!!!". Baskets were found quickly, and were quickly overflowing with eggs.

The suprise of the morning came when Erin found a very pretty egg down by Noah's Ark and went to pick it up, but her grip was a bit tight and she cracked the egg. That's when we discovered that in fact we had not hard-boiled 84 eggs. There were apparently a few that we only soft-boiled, or barely boiled at all.......

Let's just say we pretty much lost our appetites after a few egg fights at the breakfast table and the eggs looked more like the Cadberry's than something on a Cobb salad.

We spent the rest of the morning hiding and rehiding and rehiding easter eggs until it was time for Nene to go.

As always, the visits are too few and too short, but it was so great to spend Easter with everyone!

19 March 2008

Spring Break in San Diego

I try to get back to San Diego at least once a quarter, just so I remember that DC really isn't where I want to end up. So, while "in between" jobs, I decided to leave the cold weather and head to San Diego to get in some tri training and hang with all my friends who are out west.

I flew out Thursday-Tuesday of St. Patty's Day weekend, and wouldn't you know that it had been 80 degrees all week, but when I arrived the highs were only in the low 60's. Oh well, one look at the sun and sand and sea, and I was home again.

Friday I took in a swim at the outdoor pool, and then went for a short bike ride up on Cabrillo. It was grey and overcast, but still, I was looking at palm trees! Then, as I headed up to La Jolla to meet up with Jess and the Tri Club for the first Friday night cove swim of the season, the marine layer disappated and the sun came out. It was amazing! The swim was great, the seas were a bit rough, but it was just awesome to be in the open water. We all then headed to Jose's afterwards for a great mexican dinner and cervesa!! I love San Diego.

Saturday morning Jess, her boyfriend Pat and I all went to the Del Mar ride. Usually this ride goes up and down the coast on PCH, but today we decided to go inland. OMG, I forgot how hilly San Diego can be! We did a great 48 mile ride though places I've never seen before, and it was really awesome, so great to have so many riders out there! We were pretty beat afterwards, I fell asleep at the pool, and poor Jess had to do her homework.

Saturday night all the Bellas in San Diego to together and we went to my favorite restaurant, the Wine Vault and Bistro, for a 5 course pairing dinner. It was fantastic! I wish we had something like that out here in DC. The owners are the nicest folks ever, and took care of us.

Sunday we were supposed to do the club tri, but after all that wine Saturday night, and a freak rain/thunder/lightning storm in the middle of the night (it never thunders in San Diego), Jess and I decided that we needed to sleep in rather than get up at 5:30 on a Sunday.....so we skipped the race (which turned into a du due to the rain) and instead headed back out to Del Mar for a nice 8 mile run along the coast. It was beautiful, and wonderful to see the runners, bikers, and surfers out!!

Finally it was warm enough for me to actually get some sunning in, so I was out at the pool for a few hours on Sunday, but we just had a lazy quiet evening at home that night.

Monday was St. Patrick's Day, and San Diego always rolls out the green carpet for the celebration. Bryant and I got tickets for the Shamrock Fest downtown, but he had to work during the day.

So, I went shopping, went for another outdoor pool swim and stopped by my old beach house in Ocean Beach. I miss that town!!

Then Bryant and I met at South Beach for a few drinks and their world-famous fish tacos (yummy lobster and shrimp!) then made our way downtown.

It was fun, great live bands, and lots of beer, but it wasn't quite the "Vail" experience without all my girlfriends with me. But we had a great time people watching and listening to the bands. We finally called it a night around midnight, and sadly I was on a plane early Tuesday morning back to DC.