Monday, February 28, 2011

Last Chance for Boston 2011

There is a time to race and there is a time to have fun. Last Chance is a race to do both. I don't know why, but I love this race. It's so simple. Pick a distance and run it on a one mile loop over and over again. I've had some very good runs at this race. And have set new PRs along the way. I've run this race both as an individual and as part of a relay team. This year I ran it as part of a marathon relay team with my dad.

The original plan was that I would start the race and run the first 13.2 (the race starts 0.2 miles before the start/finish line) and dad would run the last 13 miles. He had mentioned for the last several weeks that his training wasn't going so well and he wasn't sure if he'd be able to run his 13 miles. I told him that was okay because I could pick up more miles if he needed me to. Well, that was the plan until I fell and hurt my buns this week. I didn't know if I was going to be able to run the race at all, let alone pick up any more miles. When I was cleared by the doctor and told Dad the race was on, I think there was a little bit of him that was disappointed. I'm not sure he wanted to do it.

We got to the race site plenty early but with a gazillion trips to the bathroom later and chatting with friends, we somehow made it into the starting area with only a three seconds remaining. The start was slow and for the first time ever I was the one getting passed at the start. My buns quickly warmed up and I was rolling along around an 8:30 pace. I had hoped to be about a minute faster per mile today but with my pain it felt like my left leg was dragging and each left-hand turn hurt. Since the course was a one mile loop turning counterclockwise, it was all left-hand turns. Around the two mile point I picked up a fellow runner friend, Christine, and we ran together for the next 4 miles. She was running the 10K so when she finished I was on my own again for another couple of miles. Then around the 8 mile point I started running with my friend Helen. She's one of our "Boston Bitches" club (self-named, of course). I haven't seen her since Boston 2009 so it was fun to catch up.

We ran together until about mile 11 and then I was on my own for the last two miles. Finally I reached my handoff point and gave the chip to my dad. I had completed my 13.2 in 1:51. Slow for my standards, but acceptable for the level of discomfort I was in.

Just a few miles into Dad's portion of the race, I realized he was struggling. He was slowing down with each lap and kept asking?/joking? if he could stop. After 8 miles he came by, stopped, and said he was done. We were done. We had finished 21 miles and he was willing to take a DNF. I was not. I did not put myself through all the discomfort to stop 5 miles from the finish of our race. Luckily I was still wearing my running clothes. I ripped the chip off his ankle, took off my coat, and got going.

Dave was willing to help out too. He had run the 10K (read his race report here) and was willing to do a few more miles. I told him to go change. I would run 2 miles, would hand off to him for 2 miles, and then I would do the last mile. I deserved that last mile.

My next two miles fell right in line with my first 13+. I was strolling along in the 8:15 to 8:30 area and handed off to Dave. He boosted us by turning in 2 miles at a 7:30 (um, when did he get fast?) and I finished the race with my fastest mile of the day for me: 8:09. Our marathon relay finished in 3:45:24 for 10th place in the relay division. It wasn't easy. It wasn't pretty. But somehow I managed to run 16.2 miles with a bruised butt and a full heart.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pain in the Butt

Let's review. Tuesday I fell down the basement stairs, ran 20 miles, and then couldn't move the remainder of the day.

Tuesday night I slept horribly. Every possible sleeping position hurt. Every time I turned over I was woken up in pain. Wednesday morning when I woke up I called the doctor and every doctor in the entire practice was completely booked for the day. They could get me in on Thursday but couldn't guarantee me an appointment. I would just come and wait. Although I wasn't happy with that option, I took it and fully expected to feel much better on Thursday and wouldn't need the appointment. Despite being in pain and completely uncomfortable, I did a 1500m swim of just pulling and 45 minutes of just spinning on the bike.

Well, I thought I would wake up Thursday feeling much better, but I was wrong. In fact, I barely slept the night before. Pain. Pain. Pain. Thursday I was in terrible pain. I would sit up from the bed or couch and stare at the floor and wonder how I was going to be able to get up from there. I made it to the doctor, gingerly getting in and out of my car. Surprisingly I was called immediately back (thank goodness) and the doctor began his evaluation. First thing, he wanted me to stand up and see how far I could bend over. I struggled to get off the examination table and then could only bend my head down to see my feet. There was no bending. Then he had me climb back up on the table (good grief!) and started pressing on areas. With tears welling up in my eyes, I told him I could take no more. He sent me straight to x-ray.

I've learned with all my breaks that x-rays can be really uncomfortable. It's like it's the technician's job to contort your body in a way that causes pain but, of course, creates the best picture. This was no different. I had to do several laying flat on my back (OMG! PAIN!!!) and then several more laying on my side. In no time my doctor was reviewing the images with me. And it did not look good. It appeared that I had broken a bone in my sacrum/coccyx area. My doctor even consulted with another doctor in the practice and he too agreed it looked broken. Just to be sure and to come up with a proper recovery plan, the doctor wanted an MRI. I was scheduled for one later that afternoon.

All I could think about was...NOOOOO! I have a marathon in four weeks!!!

The MRI was excruciating! It was an hour long and I had to lay on my back putting pressure on my backside that entire time. By the time it was over, the technician had to help peel me off the table. I just couldn't move. I went home defeated. Things were not looking good.

The doctor said he would have my MRI results on Friday. He told me I could keep working on as long as I let pain be my guide. So I headed to the gym and did 50 minutes on the elliptical. By late afternoon I still hadn't heard back from the doctor's office. I called and the assistant was gone for the weekend. Well, crap! Luckily for me, I'm pretty good friends with my doctor so I sent him an e-mail. I got a reply instantly.


My buns were just bruised. Badly. But just bruised. Races and training were back on. Good thing. Today I raced...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Foto Friday

I bought Dave the best Valentine's Day present in the entire world: Star Wars pancake molds and a Storm Trooper spatula. Yep, I rock!

Updated: I bought these at Williams-Sonoma.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What doesn't kill you....

Come closer. Closer. I'm sick of winter. I EFFING HATE WINTER!!!

Today I did something that maybe wasn't an advisable training decision. I ran a 20 miler on the treadmill. But, let's start from the beginning.

At the end of last week I had a 20 miler looming. As I've mentioned before, it takes a lot of motivation to get myself up for training run of that distance by myself. The run was assigned to Sunday and had I had the legs for it, I should have done it on Saturday. It was beautiful on Saturday. Sunday when I woke up the weather wasn't as nice and because I procrastinated I didn't do the run because I would be finishing in freezing rain. I thought Monday (yesterday) might be a better day to run because it was supposed to be warmer, but it wasn't and it was pouring rain until later in the day when it because to rain ice, ALL DAGGONE NIGHT!! Today when I woke up I was ready. I mean, really ready. Dave called me on his way to work and told me the roads were ice rinks so I made a decision. I would do this run on the treadmill.

Things didn't start well, though. I'm carrying my three water bottles, my nutrition, and cell phone to the basement and because my arms were so full I couldn't turn on a light. The windows would provide enough light until I could put everything down. But, just two steps down, I slipped and everything went flying including myself. I landed hard on my backside, aggravating a tailbone injury I got playing basketball in high school. (Yes, this 5'1" beast played basketball.) I shook it off and decided to proceed with the run.

The first thirty minutes were rusty. I felt off and wondered if I should just do the 50 minute run I had assigned for this week. But then I got comfortable and stopped worrying about the distance and just worry about when to drink and when to eat. I made a game plan for the run, which was a little different than what coach gave me. The plan was to vary things every 5 miles making the workout a descending run. I have this theory that you run faster outside then you do inside with the same effort level, so I didn't worry about how "slow" I was going. The first 5 miles would be at 10:00 pace, miles 6-10 would be at 9:30, miles 11-15 would be at 9:00, and the last five miles would be at 8:30.

The first five miles were good. I was feeling relaxed. I was getting into the run. I could definitely make it more miles. Then around the seven mile mark my tailbone was really starting to bother me. Maybe that fall was worse than I thought. I hopped off the treadmill around 7-1/2 miles, took a bathroom break, popped two Advil, and rubbed some Ben Gay on my buns. I started again and things felt much better.

The miles started to tick off. Ten miles, twelve miles. Finally I made it to fifteen and it was time to turn the speed up one last time. My legs and lungs felt great, my tailbone was holding up. Sixteen miles. Last nutrition taken. Seventeen miles. Eighteen miles. I couldn't believe how good I was feeling. Nineteen miles. I'm now beyond three hours on the treadmill. And finally, 20 miles. I couldn't help but take a picture of it. I couldn't believe I actually made it.

I walked for ten minutes, took an ice bath and then a shower, and then things went badly. I had done some serious damage to myself when I fell down the stairs before the run. Things got so tight and painful that I couldn't bend over to put my socks on. I couldn't bend over to pick up my dog and put her on the leash. I could barely stand up from the couch or the toilet. I have iced all afternoon. I have mulled over going to the doctor or urgent care. My mom even offered to come over and help me until Dave got home. It's been a rough afternoon. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll be feeling a lot better and can return to training.

For now, I'm pretty excited that (1) I did a 20 miler on a treadmill, (2) I did the run really well and (3) I did the run despite the fall. Now for that pain in the ass....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Product Review: Avia's Avi-Bolt II

Disclaimer: Yes, I am sponsored by Avia and received this product for free. However, I write reviews based on my experience and not on loyalty.

I have been in love with my running shoes for a long time. I have been running in the same brand/type for about 6 years. Hearing that I would have to switch to a different shoe this year made me a little sick to my stomach. I actually questioned if I wanted to continue to be part of Team Trakkers because of the shoes. It's not like I haven't worn different shoes before, so I decided to give Avia a try. This week my new racing flats, the Avi-Bolt II, arrived on my front porch.

I took them out for their maiden voyage on Friday for a quick interval run. It's been a long time since I've run in a pair of racing flats and initially they felt really, well, flat. I felt every rock and bump and crack. But once I got going on my intervals they felt great. I forgot how light and fast a pair of racing shoes can make your legs feel. I was flying in my intervals at sub-7:00s. I don't know if my training is creating those times or the shoes, but either way, it felt good to be running that fast. Later in the day my quads were more sore than they would have been with a pair of trainers, but that's typical for a run done in racing flat.

The goods and not-so-goods:
  • I absolutely love the color of these shoes, totally Ohio State shoes.
  • I have decided to name my shoes "Mean Streak." Not only is this a ride at Cedar Point, but a pretty good indication of how I like to run.
  • When I opened the shoes, the left shoe's insole was bent in half. It took a while to straighten this out and it still has a crease in it, but didn't bother me too badly during the run.
  • I thought the high heel/achilles would bother me even though I always wear socks. It didn't and will be nice as an aid to getting the shoes on quickly in transition.
  • I love that they came with a pair of locking shoe laces, although I think I'm going to put in my elastic laces I've been using for years because, well, I like them a little better. :)
  • I am definitely going to wear these shoes in my race next week, but the verdict is still out if these shoes will be used in the marathon.
More to come on these shoes as more miles are accumulated...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Foto Friday

I forgot one picture from my trip to Mexico. Check it out...that's my belly, fried from the sun, and with my iPod wires creating a lovely tan line.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Talk of the Town

The talk of the town today, or at least the talk of this house, has to do with the BAA announcing there will be new qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon. These new standards start with a rolling admission for the 2012 marathon and new times and a rolling admission beginning for the 2013 race.

The article can be found here.

Here's basically what I got from the article. In 2012, (really, September 2011) if you ran 20 minutes or faster than your qualifying time, you get in first. If you ran 10 minutes or faster than the qualifying time, you get in three days later. And if you ran 5 minutes or faster than the qualifying time, you get in five days later. If the field has not filled after the first week of registration, it will open to everyone else who has qualified. BUT, the BAA will select the fastest runners from that pool to fill out the remaining slots. So if you were right on the cusp of qualifying, you may not make it in. Then in 2013, the rolling admission remains but all qualifying times get tougher by five minutes. So if you're qualifying time was 3:40 (ladies under 34 years old), the qualifying time will now be 3:35.

Let me pull out my soapbox for a minute....

I have no problem with redoing the qualifying times. I totally agree with that, at least for the ladies. Not that a 3:40 is soft, but a tougher time was needed. I do have a problem, though, with the rolling admission. If the BAA really wanted the fastest people then why not change the qualifying standards to 20 minutes quicker? So instead of a 3:40 or 3:35, why wouldn't it be a 3:20 or 3:15? I feel like the BAA is saying, it's nice that you qualified but you're still not fast enough. Even if you qualified, no matter what your time, there's no guarantee you'll get in even if you apply. Plus, it changes the landscape of all marathons. In my opinion, there will be no reason for pace teams anymore. The Columbus Marathon always has a HUGE group that runs with the 3:40 pace team. Mostly women, they're all trying to get to Boston. But if a 3:40 or 3:35 doesn't necessarily get you into Boston, why run with the pace group? What pace group would you choose if there's no real qualifying time? And, why run a challenging marathon even if you know you can qualify there, when you need to find a flat, potentially boring one, to get the fastest time you can?

For me, this adds fuel to the fire. I know I can qualify with a 3:40 or 3:35. I've done it before; I'll do it again. But for me, I really want to point my middle finger to the BAA and say "you want your 3:20? I'll give you the 3:20." Lucky or unfortunately, I get to qualify for 2012 and 2013 as a 34 year old. (In 2012 it's on April 16th--my birthday. In 2013 it's on April 15th--one day before my 35th birthday.)

So what are your thoughts on the Boston Marathon announcement today?

(You can ready my husband's thoughts here. He's really happy.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

CRRC Winter Run 15 Miler 2011

On The Biggest Loser, when a contestant only loses 4-6 pounds in a week they tend to be a little upset and almost always say they expected more. Any normal person, however, would think a 4-6 pound weight loss in a week was terrific. This is a good analogy for my running. No matter how good I do, I always expect more. Two things I am learning about myself and racing by having a coach: (1) it matters more about the course and how you do against your competition and not the clock and (2) unless you are specifically training running (I'm doing marathon training in conjunction with triathlon training) expectations need to be realistic. The Winter Run 15 miles yesterday was a good lesson in both.

I have run the Winter Run twice before, once in 2004 with a 1:58 (7:52 pace) and once in 2005 with a 2:01 (~8:00 pace). I'm still amazed when I look back to 2004 and ask "how the heck did I do that?" I felt like I was in shape for a repeat performance and was ready to go from the gun. What I didn't take into account, though, is that the course was in a different location and was labeled as "challenging." Even though I did most of my bike training in Granville last year, I guess I was just blind to what challenging meant.

The elevation from my Garmin.

As I started the race, things were going well. It was really windy (I mean, REALLY windy), but it was only in my face for a little over a half mile until it was at my back. Because the wind was pushing me down the road, the pace was a little quicker than I wanted to start, but I was feeling great and just wanted to maintain. A girl I used to coach, Amy, was right in front of me and I decided to make her my target; do not let her out of my sight. The first water stop was not until about the 2-1/2 mile mark. This was going to be the norm--too far apart. More on that in a minute. By the time I reached the 5 mile mark, the wind was back in my face and we were climbing. And climbing, and climbing, all the way back to the start/finish line.

As I started the second loop, I was feeling a little more tired and beat up than I wanted to, but I kept on pressing, holding a pretty good pace. The wind got to my back and things were going okay. At one point I finally reached Amy, but she quickly overtook me again and that was that. When I reached the 12 mile mark, my legs were saying no. The climbing started again and it was a slow-go. At the top of the first hill was the water stop. I took my last gel and my stomach revolted. It was everything I could do not to toss my cookies. I did not want to be that girl on the side of the road puking my guts out. This is where I turned my only post-9:00 mile. The finish line was at the school and I could see it in the distance but it seemed so far away. I willed my legs to go and they picked it up ever so slightly. Finally, I turned into the parking lot and brought it on home. Right at the end I had a guy step right in front of me (and seriously there was no one in front of me and no one behind me. Why he stepped right in front of me, I'll never know). I yelled at him to MOVE!.

Dave and my friend and teammate Colleen were taking pictures at the finish line.

My finish time was around 2:04. I'm still waiting on an official result. It was my slowest 15 mile race to date, although the course may be the hardest course I've ever run for a mid-distance race. I think I was 5th overall female, and I walked away with first in my age group. It was good awards too: a gift certificate to Road Runner Sports and a winter running cap.

The swag!

So here's my beef. As I mentioned before, the water stops were a good 2-1/2 miles apart. The reason I chose this race to do was it fit into my schedule and it would be a good training distance for the marathon. I thought, "great, I don't have to carry my own supplies." What a bunch of crap! Two and a half miles between water stops was too far. I drink water every mile, which is what it should be on a racing course. I had cramps everywhere: my right ribs, my lower left quadrant of my stomach (around my hip), my lower back, and my right kidney area of my back. I'm not saying that having more water would have helped/hurt me on the course, but it would have made a difference in how I felt. I ate all my nutrition, but I wasn't able to take them at the normal time/distance intervals I'm used to. And, to cap it all off, the water was handed out in plastic cups. What race director doesn't know that plastic cups don't work!?! I should have been smarter. I knew the water stops were going to be few and far between. I should have carried my own water.

Although I'm not exactly ecstatic with my performance, I couldn't have done much better among the field and against the course. There still a few more weeks of meaningful long runs and one more race before the marathon. It's time to build on this and take it as a learning race. Moving on....

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Fourth Time's a Charm

A snow storm, an ice storm, and a morning of freezing rain have all kept me from the elusive 18 miler I discussed weeks ago. Today I finally got to do the run. And it was FREAKIN' FANTASTIC!!!

The plan was a descending run from a warm-up pace to marathon pace. I have to admit, as I started the run I had a lot of doubts. Things didn't feel right. The water belt was driving me insane (I hope to do a whole post about this someday). The roads were slippery and cars weren't giving me a whole lot of room. And it was a lot colder than the temperature indicated outside. I pressed on anyway and did the first segment averaging an 8:57. The next segment was supposed to be faster and with the wind standing me up, it took me a little longer and with a little more effort to actually achieve the pace. Around miles 8 and 9 something happened, though. I hit the zone. I love the zone. It is my favorite part of running. The miles tick off; the pace seems light; I hear and see nothing. Before I know it I'm back in town heading to my car to rearrange water bottles and nutrition. I finish the second segment averaging 8:23. Finally I'm on the last 6 miles and it's going to be tough as I'm heading back out again. The last 16 miler I ran had me suffering starting at around mile 13 and I fully expected that again. Except, it didn't happen. I was flying and feeling fantastic. I busted through the next three miles and then it was time to turn around and head back to my car for the last time. Since I only had three miles left and I was still feeling great, it was time to let the legs fly. I thought at any point the monkey would jump on my back, but it never happened. I finished the last segment averaging 7:58 and my overall average for the 18 miles was 8:26. I am SO loving marathon training right now.

I was excited to come home and enter my data for coach. Instead I came home to no electricity which meant no heat in the house and no hot cocoa. :( It also meant a shower in the dark and a trip to my parents' house to watch the OSU basketball game.

Once our power did come back on and I sent the workout to coach this is the response I got:


This workout was a big confidence boost for upcoming races. The first of which is this Sunday...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Life at Sea

The cruise was seven days and four of those days were at sea. The first day was fun. We found activities to do. After that we were BORED!!! Some of the things we did....

Gambled: We each bet a dollar and lost all of it. Dave did, although, bet another dollar when we flew through Vegas and won 60 cents. You better believe he cashed out.

Gambling for dummies!

Ate, a lot: Usually a light breakfast, a big breakfast, light lunch, big dinner, and maybe some ice cream. :)

Breakfast #1

Partied: Well, we attended one party, anyway.

Dressed up: I have no idea why I had to dress up just for dinner.

My $5 dress from H&M.

Imbibed: We tried a whole plethora of martinis.

Um, what?:

Today is the last post about the cruise so I guess it's time to give my thoughts. Um, well, it was okay. Yeah, just okay. I have a theory that you cannot claim you've visited a state if you never leave the airport in that state. I kinda feel the same way about cruising. To me, I have a hard time claiming I've been to Mexico. In Puerto Vallarta, I never left the gated area of the cruise ship dock. In Cabo, we never left the boardwalk. In Ensenada, we were on a tour bus. For me, it took the adventure out of vacation. If you didn't figure it out from the title of my first post, yes we were on "The Love Boat": Princess Cruise Lines. Now, I knew Carnival was considered the party cruise line, but I didn't know that Princess was considered, um, how should I say this correctly?, the elderly cruise line. I kid you not, it seemed that the average age on the ship was 60. We had heard jokes before we left saying, don't trip over everyone's walkers and rascal scooters and I swear, they were everywhere. One night we went to the martini bar, at 9:00pm, and there were five people asleep listening to the music. My favorite was the man beside us who was not only asleep, but snoring, and he would wake up and applaud at the end of each song. Seriously. So, will I ever cruise again. Probably, just not on Princess. And I'd have to be very selective about where I go, how long the cruise is, and what I (we) would do. Dave and I have taken fantastic vacations with a lot of planning and thought. This cruise just didn't seem "us". Oh well. It was time away from the cold and snow and gave us a little R&R. Now onto planning the next adventure....

Friday, February 04, 2011


The last stop of the cruise was Ensenada. Since we didn't have time to research Ensenada we asked around about what we should be doing. Basically there were two shore excursions: (1) go see the blowhole and (2) take a wine tour. Well, I couldn't say blowhole without giggling and we weren't really sure about a wine tour since we had been on a wine tour in Italy and seriously, what could be better than that? But we decided on the wine tour anyway.

I don't know why, but most people did not get off the boat that day, which made our wine trip really nice. The tour consisted of less than 40 people and that was it. Our tour guide was really knowledgeable and spoke very good English. The first stop was to L.A. Cetto winery and vineyards. It was huge. HUGE! They created all kinds of reds and white wines and olive oil too. We tasted two reds and two whites, a dessert wine, and the olive oil. The tour guide at L.A. Cetto told funny jokes but her accent was so thick that you could barely understand her.

Fields and fields of vineyards.

The even had a bullfighting ring!!

And now onto the tasting!

After L.A. Cetto my belly was starting to get warm, but the day was not over. Our next stop was an "artisan" winery, Dona Lupe's. Here we tasted another four wines and had some homemade pizza. The wine here was sooooo yummy and the pizza was to die for. By the end of this tasting I was feeling pretty good!

Although we were hesitant to go on this tour, this was far and away our most favorite day of the entire trip. We walked away with two bottles of wine, a jar of jalapeno jam, and a bottle of olive oil as a gift for my parents. I even made a friend:

El gato!

After all that wine tasting, though, I needed a nap. Back to the ship we went...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cabo San Lucas

Our next stop was supposed to be Mazatlan, but due to increased violence in the area our cruise decided to skip Mazatlan and head straight to Cabo San Lucas and add Ensenada instead. Although, obviously we wanted to be safe, Dave and I had a fun shore excursion planned in Mazatlan that we were disappointed we weren't going to get to do.

Dave and I had planned no shore excursions in Cabo. We did this because it was supposed to be the last part of our trip and we wanted to just relax on the beach. Originally we were going to go to Lover's Beach which is pictured above. But after feeling like I didn't want to take yet another boat somewhere else (you can't reach it by land) and didn't want to spend anymore money, we decided to just walk to Madonna Beach. The walk took forever since the boardwalk winds you around and around and we must have been asked by about a million street vendors if we wanted to buy their crap. I SAID, NO THANK YOU!!!! Finally we reached a semi-private area on the beach and just soaked in the sun for a while (yet still dodging street vendors every 5 minutes).

You cannot imagine how uncomfortable I was in this.

Why does he get to wear a shirt?

Dave does a lot of research when we travel and one of his favorite websites to use is Trip Advisor. For Cabo he found us a small taco stand, Gordo Lele's, just off the beaten path that was highly ranked. It didn't disappoint. Between us we ate 5 tacos and had one bottled water and it cost us $7. Yep SEVEN DOLLARS!!! Plus, Javier "Gordo" himself gave us a good show.

After our tacos we had had about enough Cabo. It was hot and I wanted some ice cream on the ship. As we got in line for the tender to take us back to the ship we looked at the people in line for the Carnival Cruise. They were young, like our age. It made me jealous. More on this in a few days....

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Puerto Vallarta

Or as the old woman in the hotel called it: Porto ValARTa.

Our first stop was Puerto Vallarta, where we got off our ship and onto another boat. Yep, I didn't see a thing in Puerto Vallarta. I didn't even leave the gated area where the cruise ship docked. But, I did have a good adventure.

That's our cruise ship in the background.

The tour for the day was called "Dolphins, Whales, and Snorkeling." I thought we were just snorkeling. I was a little peeved about the whole dolphin and whale thing. I just wanted to snorkel! We spent a lot of time looking for whales. First was some flying giant manta rays. The tour guide said it's the baby rays that fly like this. They do it because they're playing. Cute.

Then we started to see whales. Lots of them. Mammas, babies, males fighting over the female. They were close. They were big. And frankly, freaked me out!

My video is not HD, not the highest quality, but you can certainly see the whales.

And then it was time to snorkel. They took us to Marietas Island which is a protected area where the booby birds live. The water was cold at 68 degrees, so they gave us wetsuits.

Before freezing our tails off.

Then we jumped in and it was immediate shock. I wiggled and hyperventilated. Finally I settled down and swam over to where we could see the fish. Dave followed right behind me. He's much better with the cold water.

Now in the water pretending we're not cold.

Dave became a fish and swam with them. (Listen for the whales in the video.)

Did you see the goosebumps on my arm?

(If you're having trouble with this video and it gives you an error, close out with the X button and then click on the video called "Snorkeling." It should work.)

Finally we had enough of being cold and were two of the last people to come back to the boat. We warmed up, had some lunch, and suddenly we were on a booze cruise. There were margaritas and music and dancing. Before we knew it the trip and the day were over and we were back on the ship heading to our next destination....

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Love Boat

Last October Dave's parents asked us to go on a cruise with them. Dave's parents cruise a lot (like 6 months a year) and invite us often so we really didn't bat an eye at it. This time, though, they made us an offer we couldn't refuse. And just like that our trip was booked and we were on our way to Los Angeles.

Thursday January 20th we got a big snow storm, which made us a bit nervous about flying the next day. We only had small delays in Columbus and Chicago and in no time were had arrived to much better weather in LA. A little Mexican food, a big margarita, and it was bedtime the night before our cruise to Mexico. The next day we woke to great weather and a GIANT ship. After waiting in line for what seemed like forever, we were finally on the ship.

Dave's dad, perhaps over-enthusiastically, dragged us around the boat gave us a tour while filling out our scavenger hunt paper. More on that in a moment.

Then it was time for the safety drill at our "muster stations" or as we affectionately called it our "MUSTARD station".

Finally it was time to set sail. A final phone call to my parents, a fruity drink, a little dancing....

Remember the scavenger hunt? Well, I happened to be married to the luckiest man in the world. Lo and behold he won the biggest prize: a free martini and a free dinner for two at the Italian restaurant on board.

A few more pictures from our first day at sea...

Our room