Tuesday, May 19, 2015

101 Tasks in 1001 Days - 250 days in

I wish I could tell you that I'm ahead of schedule -- that in the first 250 days I have completed a quarter of my tasks.

But I can't.

Part of it is the way I wrote the tasks -- some of them, such as #77: "Prepare 1 new recipe / month" won't be "done" until the final few days. Either that, or I'll miss a month, and the task is incomplete.

Part of it is that I am just not revisiting the list to see what I can or should be working on.

But let's take a moment to highlight the 19 things I have completed:

1. Finish my list of 101 tasks -- finished 11/13/14!
4. Update the 50 States Challenge page
11. Participate in a blog hop - completed 9/30/14!
12. Instagram for the blog
13. Add an Instagram widget
14. Set up a new Twitter handle - complete (okay, not a new handle, but I reactivated the @teamwilsun handle, so I'm calling it good)
87. Add a "countdown" (1/101, 2/101, etc.) widget to the blog
19. Fix needlepoint frame
28. Purge craft cabinet
29. Design and complete a "dad" memory craft
92. Make Christmas card tree
33. Hike Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon - completed 10/4/14
42. Organize my retirement accounts - completed 3/27/15
94. Update my address book
95. Apply for Global Entry program - approved 4/17/15!
57. Run a sub 30-minute 5K - completed 11/02/14!
72. Watch all of West Wing - completed 11/30/2014
73. Watch all 6 Star Wars films in one day - completed on "ThanksGEEKing", 11/27/2014
84. Make cheese at home -- FIVE kinds so far! (Parmesan, mozzarella, feta, paneer, ricotta

That means I'm a bit short… however, there are some other tasks where I am progressing well:

6. Blog 150 times - as of today, I have made 58 blog posts -- so I'm slightly ahead of schedule here
17. Finish "honey" cross stitch by March 2015 -- well, I didn't make the time part of the task, but I'm still working diligently at the piece, and when I finish (June?) I'm still taking credit for it.
76. Visit 5 new museums or exhibits -- 3/5, with more to come soon
77. Prepare 1 new recipe / month -- 9/9 so far!! If/when I do this project again, I think I'll set it up as try x new recipes, rather than 1/month.
88. Take cheese courses at River Valley Cheese -- took the first one on 11/22/14, and am waiting for a class that features a cheese I really want to learn.

Finally, here are some tasks where I am slowly progressing…

2. Create an "about us" page -- this content is written, I just haven't sat down and crafted the page. I hope to wrap this up within the next couple of weeks
3. Create an "about us" widget for the blog -- this is coded … though of course it doesn't make sense to add it to the blog without having anywhere to land it on!
36. Make our wills -- we have a great new benefit at work which includes a service to write your own will. Okay, maybe I haven't progressed beyond researching that we have an online tool… but that's farther than I have come in 46 years!
37. Make my advance directive (5 Wishes) -- I actually reviewed the one I wrote nearly 10 years ago, and for the most part, it hasn't changed. I'd still like to sit down and get new ones written and witnessed.

The mathletes among you will notice that I'd only be "on track" if I had actually completed all of those tasks. So I'm falling behind (I hear the voice of the Master of the Crucible from Destiny as I type that).

I feel like it's time to recommit. In 115 days I'll be at the first anniversary of the project. Can I complete 20 more tasks? Unlikely, since I haven't completed 20 so far! But I think I can pick up some low-hanging fruit, including some of the blog goals (WordPress shadow blog and about me page), fitness goals (the pushups, the mile, touching my dang toes), some craft goals (the bracelets), adventure goals (stand up paddle boarding, camping), some very timely GOHIO goals (resume, LinkedIn, Parachute), summery House Proud goals (stain the patio, plant annuals), and even some "new" goals (slack line! hula hooping!).

Words of encouragement, tough love, etc. are welcomed….

Monday, May 18, 2015

Beat the Bridge 8K race report

Beat the Bridge 2015 logo

Beat the Bridge is one of Seattle's great races. But somehow I have never run it. Looking over my race calendar, it looks as though we've been out of town most years -- Sage Rat Run in 2014, Rock 'n' Roll Portland in 2013, Bay to Breakers in 2011 … and I think there was a Bats Day in there as well.

In the beginning, the idea behind Beat the Bridge was this: start the race precisely at 8:30, raise the University Bridge precisely at 8:50. So you had to run the two miles to the bridge in 20 minutes or less to "beat the bridge". Those who didn't beat the bridge had a band and prizes while they waited for the bridge to lower again. I still remember my friend Brenda telling me about the first year she ran BtB -- and how she needed a potty break right at the beginning and was, in her words, "the first person to be stopped on the bridge". (I told her she needed to "beat the bladder" next year….)

But in recent years, partially because the race has grown, and partially because it's nicer to have people feel like they succeeded, the bridge is now raised 20 minutes after the last person crosses the start line… so the bridge isn't actually raised for 35 minutes or so -- giving most people ample time to BEAT THE BRIDGE.

Still, it's a fun premise, inspired me to inspire the name of another local race (ahem), and it raises over a million dollars for the JDRF every year. So it was far time that we run it.

I "won" a race entry at a silent auction at work, and in addition Brooks employees were offered free entries, so Wil and I rolled up on Sunday morning, not sure what to expect. Because there are so many people who participate, they now divide up the race: there is a 4-mile family walk, a 1-mile kids dash, and the 8K wheelers and runners. Each course shares the starting area, but then splits so that they don't reconnect until the finish areas inside Husky Stadium. I love this, because it keeps congestion down on the courses.

t was a little hectic at the start. It wasn't clear how/where to enter the starting chute, so a lot of people --  Team Wil-Sun included -- just climbed over the railings. Because they moved the start arch between the Kid's Dash and the 8K, people moved to the start from the front, rather than from the back. So there were repeated calls to take three steps back, three steps back, three steps back…

There were lots and lots of people behind us:

And lots of people in front of us…

So many people, in fact, that they decided to do small "waves"… apparently so that they could allow traffic to ease at the 520 offramp. This gave us time to capture our race faces:

and after several minutes, we found ourselves at the start of the next wave. One odd thing -- they didn't cut us off very cleanly (and admittedly very difficult thing to do!), so we were left standing on the timing mat for a minute or two, and could here it pinging away with all of our chips. Oh well -- the point was to BEAT THE BRIDGE, which, given the fact that we knew they would break up the crowd behind us as well, we knew we had plenty of time.

Still, for our own goal, we wanted to get to the bridge within 20 minutes of when we crossed the line. I found this surprisingly challenging -- in part because of the hordes of people, and in part because I simply don't run fast anymore.

We rounded the corner past the Brooks tent -- with Tara and Stevie waving like mad at us -- and ran across the bridge in just under 19 minutes. Woot! Bridge beaten:

Not much to tell about the rest of the race, other than that it remained crowded. We held hands and scooted across the line in Husky Stadium … and were astounded by the crowds. We made a beeline for water, then the exit, and I took this shot from the stands. Lots and lots of people!!!

Really nice day for a run -- cool weather, no rain -- and a great cause. I admit that I probably won't run it again, but I'm happy to know that I can BEAT THE BRIDGE!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tinker Bell Half Marathon race report

Woke up early -- again -- but felt reasonably spry. I feel like we left a little later than on Saturday, but there were a lot more people moving around. But we had to hustle, because the national anthem was sung while we were still moving into our corral.

I had been assigned A (ha ha ha), but moved back to B to run with Wil. I still think it's really weird that they discriminate like that, but what can you do. (Again, can you imagine the uproar if at, say, the Star Wars Half they decided to make corral A men only because it's a men-focused race?)

in our corral
Tink starting the half marathon

The wheelers were off, quickly followed by A, and then B. Rudy gave us a "run happy!" shout-out as we passed the stage, and off we went.

This race was something of a blur ... we kept up a decent pace at first, but were surprisingly leg-tired and had to slow to a walk for the last few miles. The course started by winding (and winding and winding) through the parks. Which was fun and amusing, but oddly enough I got tired of it. Sometimes the looping around is a little frustrating. That said, it's still nicer than the tile merchants of Anaheim, so I shouldn't grumble!!!

2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon course map

One HUGE highlight -- somewhere around the 5-mile mark, we ran through a gigantic stretch of Red Hat Ladies, who were whooping it up. Oh my goodness, I love the Red Hats. We ran along laughing and smiling and blowing kisses at the ladies. I cannot wait to be one myself. (And I think I have to encourage Mom to join a group -- those Red Hat Ladies are amazing!)

When we finally (seriously, like 150 yards later) passed them all, I had to stop because I was totally choked up and couldn't breathe. So awesome!

castle pic!
We then popped off property and into the quiet neighborhood (shhh! neighbors sleeping!) to run on some long, straight roads. We ran past the Pond (where the Ducks practice), past Muzeo (where we once saw two great exhibits: one on Victorian art, one on Steampunk), past the STRANGERS WITH CANDY (which I had been desperately looking forward to, because Red Vines are one of my favorite things to eat on a run), and then we turned back to the parks.

Did I mention that today we were dressed like this?

photo by Charles Hutchins

photo by Eli Madero

Yeah, that was awesome. We got a lot of love from spectators, castmembers, and of course the high school bands / cheer squads / dance squads on the course. (For the record, we don't know the people who took those photos of us … but they were posted on a Facebook group.) It helped, since we were both feeling pretty low. So happy when we passed mile 12, our spirits lifted by a super friendly Navy guy, along with some other runners who told us they had been following us since Disneyland and loved watching us run.

I love the location of the finish lines for these races -- much, much nicer placement, since there's no strange loop around a big parking lot. You just come out of the California Adventure backstage, cross the road, and you're in the home stretch. We crossed the line in 2:37:01 -- a bit slower than we might have hoped, but probably faster than we deserve!!!

Again, we had great costumes on our fellow runners -- a few other Tiggers, a really nice Donald, a super-cute Piglet, a stretching room tightrope walker, and the cast of Toy Story to name a few.

I don't remember seeing all that many characters, but we loved seeing the Lost Boys by the carousel; the fox looked at Wil and said, "heh heh, you've got Pooh on your head… heh heh".

We finished, picked up or FOURTH Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal, and then made our way to the challenge area to pick up our Pixie Dust Challenge medal. Big smiles:

2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Pixie Dust Challenge

2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon medal

2015 Pixie Dust Challenge Medal2015 Pixie Dust Challenge medal

Because of SNACKBOXGATE, we weren't sure what to expect… but clearly Disney had put dozens of people on a big room and had them open all 16,000 snack boxes, discard the applesauce, and separate all the other items out. (Bless you, folks, for your hard work!!!) So we passed through the finisher area and were handed a small bag with one item in it, then made our way along a line of tables where volunteers handed us other items from large bins. But they were super efficient, and there weren't a lot of other folks going through, so it went quickly. 

We considered earning a bit of race karma and cheering our fellow runners on… but the parks were beckoning so we made our way to Disneyland via Downtown Disney. 

We went immediately -- do not pass Go, do not collect $200 -- to the Haunted Mansion to meet the newest resident. Slight scare: we got in the line just as a cast member went running down to close the gate, and she then announced that playful spooks have interrupted the tours, but that we were welcome to wait and they were hoping to be back up and running within 20 minutes. We had a little time to kill, so decided to stick it out… and were rewarded with only a 5-minute wait… which I filled by eating most of the contents of my snack bag. :)

Super thrilled to have the chance to finally meet… the Hatbox Ghost!!!

After that we were treated to a private boat on Pirates of the Caribbean, where we were "hit" by the air cannon (LOVE THAT). Then we slowly made our way into Critter Country, where we rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, poked around in the Pooh's Corner shop (no, I still can't bring myself to buy one of the candy apples…), and then… it was time for this:

This was the longest, most sincere hug I've ever had from a character. It was preceded by Pooh and Tigger emerging from backstage, spotting us, and then freezing and pointing at us before running over to greet us. I should point out that we weren't the first in line, but it was clearly Very Important for Tigger and Pooh to say hello. 

When it was actually our turn, I spent what seemed like a very generous time with him -- he admired my medals, my tail, "ran" with me, and we posed for lots of pictures… which lots of other people also took, which felt a little odd, but whatever. 

Wil joined in, and Tigger made us all bounce. Yeah, it's hard to tell, but trust me, we're bouncing here.

Then it was time to move on. Tigger gave us both big hugs and sent us on to see Pooh around the corner. 

Pooh was thrilled to see Wil, first admiring his ears:

Then making this face:

And then both "running":

He then motioned for me to step in and we took a quick group photo.

I'm pretty sure there's no way to ever top these photos. :)

A bit later in the day, we did cross paths with another Pooh Corner resident, courtesy of the Springtime Roundup:

Rabbit was slightly perturbed that we hadn't donned bunny ears rather than our Pooh and Tigger headgear, but still reluctantly posed for a photo. 

The rest of the day is, admittedly, a bit of a blur… involving a trip to Alerto's, a swim, fresqourbons on Suz's balcony, a nap, and then returning to the parks from 6pm to midnight.

We are planning, of course, to register for the 5th Tinker Bell Half Marathon (May 8, 2016) when it opens on August 11, 2015. After all, we're legacy runners! Who else is in?

2015 Tinker Bell 10k, Half Marathon, and Pixie Dust Challenge medals

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dining with Daisy, and our non-Disney day

Saturday was going to be a bit unusual for us. Our "deluxe" park passes were blocked out, so we planned a non-Disney day. But I did want to start it off a little special. The PCH Grill at the Pacific Pier Hotel has a character breakfast featuring -- you guessed it -- Daisy. Sure, sure, it's got Mickey and Minnie and friends, but I was there to see Daisy.

(I'm pretty sure that, when I booked the breakfast, it was billed as breakfast with Lilo and Stitch, but that Daisy was also there... but it's now hosted by Mickey.)

We arrived just before our 7am reservations, and were taken to meet Mickey for a photo op. Yeah, I'm a sucker. I bought it...

As we waited the minute or so to meet Mickey, Daisy came out from the back room... saw me, froze, did the shocked up-and-down scan and made a heart shape with her hands. I honestly think it must be a tiny thrill for them.

Then we were quickly seated... off in a corner. This was actually okay by me, since I would be able to see the room. We were a little nervous after our bad experience at the Plaza Inn, where we were told that, if we wanted to see a character, we should just go over to them ... and we got ignored by the characters. But at PCH Grill, the characters were super engaged, and came by repeatedly. We played with Minnie, Pluto, and Stitch…

Of course, the highlight was Daisy. She and I had a little "oh, no, I know you're not putting your feathers on MY DUCK" moment, which was hilarious, at least to the three of us.

Every now and again, the characters went to a dance floor, inviting kids to come dance with them -- pretty cute.

As an added bonus, the food was surprisingly good, there was a good range of vegetarian and omnivore dishes, and our server was super friendly and nice. We even had grownups seated at the next table, which meant there wasn't any awkwardness when the characters did stop by.

Oddly enough, about 15 minutes after we arrived, Daisy disappeared, and we didn't see her again until we were checking out. I just kept thinking about how devastated I would have been if we hadn't seen her. LUCKIEST PEOPLE ALIVE. Seriously. But she came back out and played with us for a little while before going to work the room.

I, of course, was giddy and weepy and So Very Happy.

We then walked back around the park to the hotel, where we showered and napped to prepare for the rest of our totally awesome non-Disney day. What was so awesome, you are asking? Well...


I have no idea why I wanted to go there, but I did. We walked around the park, saw excavations and fossils and the saddest diorama ever:


Next stop on our random tour of Los Angeles places to visit: Sunset Boulevard. Here's the one sad thing -- I knew Wil would be thrilled to go to the Rainbow. Heck, maybe we would even glimpse Lemmy! And, since the Rainbow serves lunch, we thought that a Saturday early afternoon would be great.

But nope. On weekends, the Rainbow opens at 5pm. (Cue fail horn.) So we walked around a bit, had a drink at Rock and Reilly's, and walked around some more. It was amusing sitting on a sunny terrace drinking a cocktail while tour buses came by, telling stories of the Whisky a Go Go (next door), the Viper Room (up the street), and the Rainbow (down the street).

We decided not to wait till 5, but to press on -- next stop, the Venice Beach boardwalk. It was funny, because I have gone for a couple of runs along there when I was in town for work, but it was always first thing in the morning and theerefore very quiet. It's much, much busier during the daytime! We watched muscle men, beach volleyballers, rock bands, artists, and the entire parade of people. We sought out the location of the Xanadu mural, but it was essentially all fake. Still, it meant that I spent a lot of time humming "I'm Alive" while we walked around, so I've got that going for me... which is nice...

Our final stop -- for an early dinner -- was Azteca, the Mexican restaurant on Main Street in Garden Grove where we ran through during... Star Wars? Avengers? Who knows. But a Mexican restaurant with a serious Elvis theme? Count us in.

We walked in, sat down, ordered house margaritas... and then discovered that there was only one vegetarian item on the menu: a blue cheese salad. Oh. But the margarita was nice, the atmosphere was lovely, and we were still happy to patronize a business that had an Elvis impersonator out at the crack of dawn, entertaining half marathoners!!!

Slightly foiled, we drove back to the hotel, dropped off the car, and got takeaway from Gandhi Palace, which we ate on the balcony before laying out our gear for Sunday, Another early night!!!