Monday, April 30, 2012

NOLA Jazz fest Review

First of all, I just want to give credit for the other people who have taken these photos... Sean (with his fantastic new camera), and Kirsten (with her Iphone).  If I didn't have these two, I wouldn't have the chronicles.

I am supposed to be writing my final paper for school right now, and instead, I am sitting in a French Quarter Coffee shop just replaying and replaying my weekend in my head.

I can't believe it is already a week after I have raced NOLA 70.3 (well... 2.1+52+13.1=67.2)... the time has just flown buy.  And, most of that time, I have no idea what I was doing.  I remember monday, when Kirsten brought us around NOLA looking at Banksy's and blighted properties and graveyards, and having yummy breakfasts.  And, during breakfast, my beloved said something to the effect of "Are you going to phone air canada, and change that ticket?  I mean... its an opportunity not to be missed."

but, really, it was this past weekend that just rocked my world...  I had the chance to do some New Orleans Jazz festing, which was oh so much fun.

so, let's hit up a few of the bands that I saw... at least the ones that stuck in my mind.

The Dixie Cups:  so, this was the first band that I sat in on.  And, not much to say except that I was surrounded by a whole bunch of baby boomers who were loving sining a long.  But, needless to say, when you all of a sudden realize that you are listening to the people who wrote legendary songs like "Chapel of Love," you can't be going wrong...

The Givers:  Now, this is what I am talking about... i could not believe how much this band rocked!!!! I guess they were ranked as one of the top 10 bands that rocked SXSW this year.  and, I can totally see why.  A super powerful girl percussionist as the lead singer, mixing indie rock with Cajun sounds.  definently worth a download, i think :)

Bon Iver: Of course, this was the one which I was trying to have my beloved be jealous of... that being said, he will be seeing them in May, in Burnaby.  I have had a bit of a harder time catching onto the Bon Iver rage these days.  That being said, I was stunned by a) hearing that falsetto voice and b) how many fricken people can fit onto a stage.  Lots of good fun, and the ability to combine many instruments into a very unique sound.

at the same time, I was missing out on the beach boys... apparently, with John stamos (yes, that teen dreamboat from full house, John Stamos) playing the drums.  nuts.  that would have been legendary.  I rode Kirsten's cruiser to and from the fest on Friday.  On the way there, I got completely turned around and lost...on the way back, it was pretty much perfect to finish off the day.  it kinda felt romantic to ride a cruiser to and from.  too bad it was just me :(

I started off with just bouncing around a few bands... Shamar Allen and the Underdawgs, a little Africana in Cheikh Lo of Senegal.  both were danceable, and fun fun fun.  But, not necessarily something I would down load.  IMO, great for a festival in the sun, not amazing for a car listening endevour.  but, then it got started. I made my way over to a "Critics choice" pick.

The ASTOUNDING Meschiya Lake and her little big horns  If I could have this girl at my wedding... oh man, I would.  Tattoo'd and beautiful, this girl has a set of lungs.  She sings slowly with a piano, quickly with dancers and horns, and all a long the spectrum.  She was the feel good show of the day, when I just wanted to dance and clap and sway in my seat.

I then made it over to get back to my West Virginia Roots, with hitting up a little blue grass folk with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  This grammy award winning group is exactly something that you would imagine in the last 1800's.  They play a style which is a long reach from the stuff I would hear in Canada, but, a style that has a deep rooted love inside of me, from my days living in Appalachia.  If you live in Edmonton go and see them at the end of July!  definently worth the ticket!

and, i got to meet these guys at that show.  HA!  mostly, because i was blocking their view.

Finally, I made it back to see the home town girl, Feist.  if you ever had a listen to feist on a CD, you might wonder how she is live.  But, this girl rocks.  She was clearly being overshadowed by Tom Petty playing on the other stage (to which she said:  Thanks for coming to listening to us.  If we weren't here, we'd be over there.")  but, what that allowed for was more room to stand and see and listen and dance.  and, she was great.  got the audience participaing, rocking out to her songs, and just being the fantastic leslie fiest.  what more could you ask for?

next post: Pro-Golf watching (yes.  pro golf. as in PGA tour.  (who the heck am i?  I have no interest in golf at all!) and  more live music!  this time for free!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NOLA 70.3 Race report

So... what can I say?!  I guess to start off, again, with the fact that I love this city. I love love love it.  it is so good to me.  It's so good to me, that I made a last minute decision, and skipped my flight today, and re-booked for next wednesday.  That is so that I can spend another 9 days, with an emphasis on taking in The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

because right now, I am crying a little, because life is so hard ;)

anyway, back to the race.

You may (or may not, because only people in the tri world, care about such things) know that NOLA 70.3 was changed into a duathlon this year.  For the second year in a row, actually.  It was changed, for the same reasons:  winds out of the north were causing Lake Ponchatrain to be un-safe for swimmers.  Honestly, I think that a lot of people are "not surprised."  That being said... there one of the biggest things that a race director cannot do, is change the weather.  The days going up to the race were really super nice.  Then, a cold front moved in, bringing the rains on saturday, and BIG winds on sunday.  If given the chance to swim, i probably would've taken it... only because I am a strong swimmer.  But, I would've hated it.  the waves were big.

so, they did what they could do, given the circumstances.  I was super bummed, but, you know.  It was also OK.

but, let's back up a bit.  I guess my saturday was a little "unconventional" for a pre-race-day.  you know that rule that says "stay off your feet, and don't eat crap?"  well, it was kinda ignored.  My beloved was here, and we both wanted to experience the city.  as much as we could, without being on our feet too much ;)  We started off the day with a carb-loading breakfast at Ruby Slipper Cafe  with Kirsten's (my friend, who I am staying with) athletes.  This is the only picture I have so far of the weekend (since my beloved took them all, and took the camera back to Vancouver today!). 

then down to the race-expo for a normal, and quick check-in.  We then went to the World War II museum, to check out the fantastic Tom Hanks produced WWII movie, and the exhibits.  By this time, I was pretty close to being ready for a bit of "feet up time."  We went back home for a while, did a bike check in, looked at the waves, and went down towards the french quarter.  We walked around a bit, ate some classic Beignets and cafe au lait at the famous Cafe du Monde, and made it back to Frenchman street.  We then indulged in what NOLA is famous for.  Food and Jazz.  We hit up Adolfo's for some early dinner, because we knew we would have to wait if we were any later.  THen, walking around the street, we hit up the The spotted cat first, and the Three Muses, next.  3 locations, 3 different drinks (wine with dinner, beer for jazz, and cocktail accompanied with roasted cashews and ice cream for more jazz).  The most sitting I did, was on bar stools.

what?!  a race the next morning?!  HAHAHAHAHA!

went home, and was in bed by 10pm.  don't worry, I drank water and nuun water as well throughout the night.

Regular race morning, nothing big to report.

My wave was the last off the start line.  I waited a long time between setting up my "Transition" zone.  It was strange that my transition zone consisted of my bike (with everything on it), and a helmet on the ground.  Everything else I would need for the day was already on me, because I was running!  It took almost 1.5hrs between transition closed, to when I went off on my 2.1mile run.

I decided to take the 1st run off fairly moderate.  I didn't want to kill myself, because I knew very well that in doing so, I would only save about a minute, and it could come back and bite me later.  Instead, I wanted to start off on a positive note.  So, i started mid-pack.  I wanted to encourage all the ladies around me, so everytime I would pass someone, or someone would pass me, it was a good luck!  have fun!

raced into T1, saw my beloved taking pictures, gave him a few smooches, and went on my way.  My transitions were BOTH super fast (:55, and 1:31, respectively).  apparently, the second fastest in my age group, for both.  Just flew through them.  on my way onto the bike.

now, here is the funny thing about my bike.  Apparently, I have a sweet spot.  Let's look at all my 70.3 times for bikes:
NOLA 2009: 2:51.45 (avg: 19.56mi/hr)
Mooseman 2010: 3:24.50 (so, ok.  this one included a flat, a broken derailler, and a car almost hitting me)
Syracuse 2010: 2:50 (avg: 19.69m/hr)
Hawaii 2011: 2:49.47 (avg 19.79mi/hr)
NOLA 2012: 2:35.41 (avg. 20mi/hr)

so... we are improving.  but very very slowly.  HA!  and, yes, I do understand that in 2009, i then ran a 2hr15min 1/2 marathon.  I went way faster this year on that run; But, I consider myself a strong cyclist.  I love cycling, I do it a lot.  it's my favourite out of the three. so, I do think I can push it a bit harder.

I was happy with my bike.  I didn't kill it... it was definitely challenging in the wind.  I can't wait to upload my garmin file;  I felt like I was at a consistant effort. sometimes that effort got me going at 40km/hr, and sometimes it was 24km/hr, depending on where the wind was.  There were gusts, there were head winds, there were tail winds.   I think that with the wind, the bike was slower than planned...  there was only one other hiccup (a dropped perform bottle at an aid station, for which I had to stop and turn around and get..) which slowed me down.  That, and trying to pour the said fluid into another water bottle, b/c it didn't have a drink nipple (?) on it...  and, it spilled all over me, making me super sticky!

I saw lots of flats, and quite a few crashes on the bike route.  Not sure if it was the wind, the roads, or what...

and, finally.... onto the run.

I guess the best thing that I felt about the run, were lessons learnt from running in the heat last year in Hawaii... Stick to the white lines for cooler pavement.  load your body with sponges.  drink and eat what your body is telling you.  and look ahead of you for someone to run down, and go for them.

i was am really happy with my run.  the first 2 miles or so, I was definitely feeling like i had not done enough bricks during training, but, I knew that it would improve.  And, it did!  There were few times, where I felt like i was going to die.  I definitely didn't feel like I could go much harder, and in the last 1/2 km when a girl I had worked hard on getting a good distance on during the bike passed me flying, i was a little sad.  but, I couldn't put much more effort out.  My HRM, throughout the entire race, was sporadic.  it  ended up being all on RPE... but, my run splits (all except KM 13) were never greater than :15secs different from start to finish... Maybe the best 1/2 marathon execution I have ever had.

people on the run were awesome.  I had so many people (as, I passed A LOT of people... not because I was fast, but, because I was in the last wave... there are a lot of people to pass, ahead of me!) tell me I look great, and strong.  That was super encouraging.  I truely had NO idea how many girls in my age group were ahead of me. I did suspect, however, that I would not be in the running to qualify for Vegas 2012.

and, you know, that is OK.  do I think that I probably could've been 5 places higher (i got 9th in my age group), if there was a swim?  mmmmm, maybe. i still wouldn't have gotten a slot, there was only one in my age group (41 competitors).  Do I wish that i had a higher "percentage" finish (i normally strive for top 10%)?  yes.

do i think that if there was a swim, and the bike was 90km, I would've gotten a PR?  yes.  just barely, but, it still would've been a PR.  and.... reminder, it is april.  it is SO EARLY in the season!

so, I am happy.  this race is a testament to how much our sport changes, and how you have to adapt.  we never know the "what ifs."

I am happy.  and, I look forward to the rest of the season!  I did, going into this race, say that if I didn't qualify, I would try for another 70.3 (Lake Stephens).  But, it is a big year, this year, with lots of traveling, and lots of expenses... so, I think I will stick to the local races... that might a) cause me not to spend as much money, b) allow my family to come and watch, and c) give me some good local age group placings.

and, that is fun.  and, i do this sport because it is fun.

thanks to Kirsten Melberg for being my "billet," to my beloved for being the best race support ever, McGill Triathlon Club for letting me train them this year.  without them, this type of thing is not possible!!!

more pictures, including one with my new BFF, Mirinda Carfrae, to come!!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

NOLA 70.3 Race prep

Wednesday was crazy.  I had a paper due, i had to pick up stuff at a shop in montreal, I had to give school books to a friend, I had to pick up revisions for my thesis   clinical project manuscript, and I had to be out for the bus to the airport by 3:00pm.

and, to tell you the truth, it was (what I think) is the closest I have ever come to having a panic attack.  no joke.  my heart was racing, there was one point that i was so "paralyzed" that I couldn't even write my references, despite know that was the only thing left on my ethics paper. but i made it.

and, wow.  Here I am, once again, in the Big Easy.

And, I have already seen Tim Robbins in a cocktail bar I was having a drink in.  and Mirinda Carfrae in a Q&A session for ironman.  and people in the street playing jazz.  Are you kidding me?  This place is awesome.

I am so excited to be back in this city, where I did my first 1/2 Ironman ever back in 2009.  It hurt like hell.  but, i loved it.  And now... I am back for more.  This was us, back then.

however, what is not awesome is the weather.  Don't get me wrong.  Today and yesterday were BEAUTIFUL.  couldn't wish for better, actually.

Last year, this race turned into a duathlon.  This year... it might be so as well.  And, I hate that. HATE HATE HATE. i know that the race directors can't control weather.  really.  but, i know that a lot of my racing depends on my swimming strength.  And, I don't want to miss out on that.

and, so, now I am nervous.  i am somewhat nervous that it is not going to turn out the way that I am hoping for it to turn out, and it will really annoy me.

nevertheless.  I am really happy to be here.  I am SO EXCITED that I am going in an hour to pick up my beloved at the airport, for him to join me.  I don't think that he has ever been to the southern states.  And despite the fact that the big easy is way different from the rest of the southern states... it is pretty amazing here.

next post: race report.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Amo's Hot Shots 3.0

every year and a half, or so, I come out with a music compilation CD.  They started because i friend of mine, Zach Mauss, used to give them as gifts to all his friends when we were in college.  I just LOVED getting the CD's, and I knew that any time I got a CD mix from a friend (including the music complilation Queen, Megan Orsini, who once sent me 6 CDs at once), I tend to them.

Since tonight I had a dinner at a cute little Mile End Pizzeria, where I ate WAY too much, with some of my closest "montreal people," I figured that it was a good time to put together another mix.  Amo's Hot Shots 3.0 has hit the shelves!!!  You can see playlists for Hot Shots 1 & 2 here.  Hot Shots 2.5 had a very limited distribution in December 2009, but, a fantastic play list as well.  And, since I didn't list them ever on my blog, here are the play lists for Amo's Hot Shots 2.5 and 3.0.

3.0 has a complilation of mostly Canadian music from 2011 and early 2012.  The being said, there are a few Artists that bring me back to Africa; namely K'Naan and Freshly Ground, of which I have included some of their older tracks.  There are also a few repeats of artists, which I generally don't like to do too much.  But really... who can get enough of bands like The Decemberists and Dan Mangan and Rural Alberta Advantage? Finally, the playlist does not "Flow" as well as I would like it too.  Generally, I like to be able to edit them up a bit, in order to have a good song order.  But, frankly, time and energy are limited these days, with trying to figure up my work here in Montreal.  At the end of the day, how much does that really matter. because, who are we kidding? no one listens to CDs anymore.  we just throw on the Mp3s and hit shuffle.

So, enjoy the playlist:

Song, Artist, and Album.

Wavin' Flag                    Knaan                                       Troubadour
Barnes' Yard                   Rural Alberta Advantage         Departing
Pool Hoppin'                  Octoberman                             Waiting for the Well
This Is Why We Fight    The Decemberists                     The King Is Dead
This Is War                     Ingrid Michaelson                     Human Again
Northern Air                   Elliott BROOD                         Days Into Years
Poor In Love                   Destroyer                                  Kaputt
The Heron and the Fox   Little Scream                            The Golden Record
Stars With Them, Ends With Us            Dan Mangan       Oh Fortune
The Light (Her Hands Were Leaves)   Alexi Murdoch     Towards the Sun Alternative
West End Sky                 Elliott BROOD                          Days Into Years
Broken Heart                  Eddie Vedder                            Ukulele Songs
Better                              K'naan                                       More Beautiful Than Silence 
Bittersweet Melodies      Feist                                            Metals
January Hymn                The Decemberists                      The King Is Dead
Half Moon                      Iron & Wine                               Kiss Each Other Clean
Leaves, Trees, Forest      Dan Mangan                               Oh Fortune
I'll Get Along                 Michael Kiwanuka                       Home Again (Deluxe Version)
Baby Tonight                 FreshlyGround                             Ma'cheri
Good Night                  The Rural Alberta Advantage        Departing

and, just for good measure: The playlist from Amo's HotShots 2.5

  1. The Sound of Sunshine - Michael Franti and Spearhead
  2. Up & Down- The Mountains and the Trees
  3. All to All- Broken Social Scene
  4. Is There a Ghost- Band of Horses
  5. He Doesn't Know Why- Fleet Foxes
  6. Ain’t no Reason- Brett Dennen
  7. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)- The Arcade Fire
  8. Love and Some Verses- Iron & Wine
  9. Run- Basia Bulat
  10. To be Alone with You- Sufjan Stevens
  11. Amazing Grace- Joshua James
  12. Absentminded Melody- Joel Plaskett
  13. Commes Des Enfants- Coeur de Pirate
  14. Something to Hold Onto- The Wailin’Jenny’s
  15. You and I- Ingrid Michaelson
  16. God Said No- Craig Cardiff
  17. Through & Through & Through- Joel Plaskett
  18. Smallest Wingless- Craig Cardiff
  19. Une Histoire de Mitaines- Tricot Machine
  20. Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel

Saturday, April 14, 2012

BIG WEEK! I'm almost there!

There, being where?!?!!?

there being New Orleans.  There being back home in Vancouver.  There being done my assignments.  Done being job searching.  

There are so many things going on right now!  so, i am going to hit a few points: triathlon, Malawi, and school.

 Triathlon:  It's kinda amazing, because the fact that I am doing a 70.3 in 8 days has kinda snuck up on me.  I know that I haven't talked much about triathlon this spring, because... well... sometimes I wonder how interesting it is to people?!?!?  I do think that there is so much more in this world (and, consequently, in my life) worth talking about.  Not that it isn't interesting... but, it's narrow.  And, I wish that this blog can reach a large group of readers.  Not just people who do triathlon.

that being said.... I am SUPER excited about this race.  Mostly, because I feel spot on.  Now, I have no data to back that up.  Not really. My training has been somewhat sporatic this spring, with trips to Edmonton, Vancouver, and New York city being interspersed into the last 3.5 months.  my training started late this year, seeing that i was... oh, well, in Malawi.  I am training under the guidance of... well, a program on the computer, and a very limited contact with the people who put those programs together.  I wasn't even sure if the main coach that I have really knew who I was, until about 2 weeks ago.  All those factors combined, leads me to believe that I have NO IDEA how my race is going to go.  it's all (mostly) subjective thoughts.

I am feeling strong on my bike.  Today during my 2hr15min "long ride" (hurray for taper time!), i was hitting great speeds at tempo pace, and just loving the feeling of strength in my legs.
my long runs (my runs in general) have been fast.  Like, yesterday... I ran 10.5km in a time which is faster than the majority of my old 10km races a few years ago.  my long run last week?  20km in 1hr47mins, at a zone 2 heart rate (endurance zone).  That's almost my stand alone 1/2 marathon time.
I have dropped weight.  Maybe a solid 7lbs since I have gotten back from Malawi.

so.  Im excited.  New Orleans, here I come.  And, you better allow me to SMASH my race from 3 years ago.  I mean. it was my first 70.3 ever.  I had NO IDEA what i was doing.  Im older, "wiser" and more fit (i think!!!!).

If you have been following the world news in the past week, you might know that the former president of Malawi passed away just before easter.  Now, I am not going to lie when I say this (but, know that it is not the thoughts of any of the organizations that I am affiliated with that is somehow connected to Malawi).  I am SO THANKFUL.  Bingu Wa Mutharika was becoming more and more like a dictator.  In an already struggling country, things were getting worse.  there was no fuel, no foreign exchange, pulling out of foreign donors, no sugar (a main crop in Malawi), limited global tabacco sales (the major export in Malawi), limited/no access to medication.  then... well, he died.

The successor came into power in a very peaceful transition, and she has a big job in front of her.  I am pretty excited to see what happens in the country, and I just hope that with all the major changes that have already happened in the past week, that people don't get huffy and puffy against her.

There are some Malawi Blogs that I read, from Ex-pats who are working there.  I think that they give really good outlines of what is going on.  Feel free to link on over to Muli Bwanji Y'all or Lilongwe From home for some good write ups of the transition of power "from Bingu to Banda."  It is an interesting time indeed.

And, on that  note:  The Canadian organization that I am involved with (that remains to be named, because it is a fledgling organization), that partners with grassroot organizations, such as Warm Heart Missions in Malawi (WHEAMS), is going to be doing a fundraising garage sale in May, on the South Shore of Montreal.  If you are interested in a) giving things for the sale, or b) buying things at the sale, let me know.  I will give you the info!

and, finally, on that note as well.  We are always looking for donors and supporters to partner with us in partnering with organizations (in this case, WHEAMS).  There are a few ways to donate (either monthly or a one time gift).  1st, you can donate through Canada Helps.  though this link says that it is going to st. stephen's church, it is only because we are not yet a charitable organization.  The church is our "sponsor" for tax-deductible receipts until we gain that status.  2nd, you can buy a Fundsrip card. Just ask us how to do this, so we can get the $ that is raised through it.

finally, school.

and, this will be brief.
standing between me and graduation is a 15-20 page ethics paper, 17 11 lab reports to grade, an OSCE exam to invigilate, and my manuscript to complete and submit for publication.  Most of these need to be done before wednesday, when I leave.  It's manageable, but, tight.  

and... to tell you the truth.  I see the light.  for the first time ever in my life, I will be graduating, knowing that I am not going back to school.  and, that is a relief.  it is also crazy.  it is also a huge transition.  in some ways, it feels like i am actually going to have to grow up.

i mean...  i'm going to have to find a job that actually is not at camp or a bike store or TAing/invigilating exams.  i'm getting married.  we'll be buying some sort of house (and, when I say house, i mean, condo).  I will have an income (after said job is found).  life will be pretty steady for a while.  and, that is definitely not something that is "normal" for me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter weekend

was quiet for me this year.  No family around, which is something I normally like.  but, it was beautiful.

I think easter is my favourite holiday of the year, and Maundy Thursday is my favourite day in the church calendar.

so, I began easter celebrations on thursday with a dinner at St Stephen's, then I went to swim, and then I made my way at 11pm to go and pray for an hour at St John's the Evangelist (the Montreal Anglo-Catholic Church).

Friday included a lot of paper writing, and Tenebrae at St John's again, with my friend Annie.  We then went to Benelux (and met my friend Leanna, who handing in her Master's Research project that day!!!)  where I had a 12-Beer sampler.  Which, was probably too much beer, but it was delicious.
Saturday included brunch with nursing friends, a long bike ride (100km!!!), and more paper writing.  

Sunday included Sunday service at St Stephen's, post-service lunch, thanksgiving for the President of Malawi having a heart attack and dying, a long run (um, i kinda think it was a breakthrough run... 20km in 1hr47mins, barely breaking into my endurance zone...), and then a "lost dogs" dinner with my roommate.  The best explanation of a lost dogs dinner, is that it is a family dinner for people who don't have a family to celebrate with~ we invited friends (mostly 8 of her's.  I had one.  The ultimate lost dog, though he prefers cats, Will Swanson), we potlucked, and we celebrated easter love.

PHEW!  busy weekend!  and now, it will be a 10-hour "recovery day" of writing this manuscript, finishing off with an Ingrid Michealson concert tonight!!!!  

Happy easter, everyone.  The Lord has risen indeed! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

NYU Presentation and Road trip to Virginia Photo extravaganza!

Last week, i had the chance to head down to the states, with the excuse of presenting at an education conference at NYU.  I have previously talked about my excitement in presenting in my very first international conference.  And, there were good things, and bad things about the whole thing.  but, overall, it was a very positive experience.

I felt like my presentation went really well.  not to mention, the building that the majority of the conference was in, had this view.
so.  not too shabby.  I was pretty excited about being able to be at an education conference... because, well, I believe in the clear link between health care and education.  And, clearly, educators must as well.  right? RIGHT?!!? Well, apparently, not.  I got to present to the other panel presenters (um, everyone was from McGill on my panel?), and all of 3 other people (including the discussant).  Bonuses of this:  small group=limited stress, increased conversation, familiar faces, flexible on time limits, ability to still have a conference presentation on my CV.  crappy things of this:  it made me sad.  I was looking forward to having questions about my work, and sharing my work with more 6 people.  I was looking forward to having a different, inter-disicplinary view on my paper.

so, good and bad.  but, I got to go to NEW YORK!  how lucky am I!?!?

every time I go to new york, I am amazed.  It was the 3rd time I have been there, for little short 2 days trips.  The city is clearly too big to see in two days.  but, you do what you can.  And, for me, that included seeing a musical... I LOVE musicals.  Not going to lie.  The talent which is involved just wows me.  the athleticism. the singing.  the dancing. the acting.  AMAZING.  so, i went to Chicago, which was thrilling.  Nice to know the songs, and really nice to see scantily clad, good looking people perform in front of you.  Beautiful.  it also included running in central park.  it also included really really nice people, who would smile and say hi to me, and the avis man who gave me a massive discount after I broke down in tears due to the lack of gas stations, and stress of driving in the big city.  it included seeing the stereo types of New York city.  like chess players in a park.  and dog walkers.  and interesting people on the subway.  and well... a man playing a grand piano in a public park.  here is a little bit of a photo overload. 
small dog run!  hey!  i want out.... but... I want in!

No standing?  Must mean something different.

great window!

Chess in Washington Square Park

what I loved about NYC was the contrast between the old stone and the new modernity.  

I also loved the random sitting spots in the middle of the streets.  many were also accompanied by lovely smelling flowers in large pots.

Broadway posters in Time Square.

cute little umbrella tables at Hostelling International in the Upper  West Side.

Looking towards the Chicago Theatre, after the show. 

times square at night.

post presentation!

piano in the park!
The rest of the trip was filled with a road trip to see friends in the DC area.  I was able to spend the first night with the fabulous *and very talented* Megan Orsini, who will one day be a very famous author.  but, 2 facts about her, that amaze me.  1) she read about 60 books last year.  2) she has a hoarding tendency with lip balm.  we also went to the Hunger Games during a matinee, and... I really liked it.  Lots.  Very much worth going to see.

I then traveled all of 4 miles to go and spend the next night with my BFF Christina, and her boys (husband Dave, and son Luke).  we just spent the night chatting it up, and laughing, and talking about male circumcision, admist other topics.  I rarely get to see her (if I am lucky, once every 2 years or so).  but, this year... I get to see her 2 times!  SO AWESOME.

then, to finish off the weekend, I went to the Occoquan Sprints, to watch WVU women's rowing team hit up a regatta.  How delighted I was to be in a rowing environment.  I miss that sport lots, and I miss being on a team like that.  it was so great to see a few boat races, but, what was even better, was to see my former roommate/teammate, and current friend.  It has been 6 years, but, talking and seeing Meg was like no time had passed at all.  She is a dear dear friend, and not going to lie... I had to hold back the tears when I was first able to hug her.  Man, I miss those rowing girls.  

Nothing like a good ol' boat race!

new boats.  nice stickers.  Lets' Go Mountaineers!

Meg and I.  Part 1.

Meg and I part 2

Meg sending off her girls for a race!

rowing oar

So, I went back up to NYC that afternoon, with a somewhat stressful driving experience (the fear of returning a rental car back late, combined with the insanity of the NJ turnpike).  But, arrived safe and sound.  And some might say, that is all that counts.  I finished my weekend with a walk up broadway, and a beer at a really neat pub close to the hostel.  Next morning, another run in central park, off to penn station, and onto the train back to Canada.

great 5 days away.  well needed refresher.

meanwhile... I have suddenly discovered that it is 2 weeks before I leave montreal.  and 2.5 weeks before NOLA 70.3.  folks.  race season is upon us.  and transition season is upon me.  not the type of transition that you have in triathlon.  the type you have in life...