December 26, 2012

A wordless Christmas and day after

December 20, 2012

See you next year, work!

Well, these last few weeks have been pure madness.

My job's really not that bad ... sometimes. I actually like it ... sometimes. I really do ... really.

Seriously (since when I'm ever serious?), I like what I do. I just don't like some of the hassles that come along with it. Like after a long day, getting a call at 9 p.m. asking me to do more work. Or getting stuck at work late those weeks and missing my running group.

But, I'm happy to say that as of yesterday, I'm away from work until 2013.

As a final hurrah to that pesky thing that pays the bills for 2012, I went to the holiday party this past Saturday to enjoy one thing I always like about my job: the peeps. 

This event may have caused me to miss running group on Sunday. Darn you sangria, cran-apple martini, red wine and more sangria!

So, what does one do once they finally have broken free from the chains to their desk?
Dye their hair shockingly dark, of course!

I'm sure I'll get used to it, but man, it's dark.

My hair stylist and I talked about some of the best Christmas songs, like "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" by *NSYNC. Do you find it hard to say "Merry Christmas" instead of singing it, or is that just me? And, the entire Jessica Simpson album, "Rejoyce." My hair stylist loves Jessica almost as much as I do, so I could care less what she does to my hair. OK, not really. But, she's awesome.

My dad was supposed to arrive this afternoon. Due to that terrible winter thing called snow, his flight was cancelled. Thankfully, after a 25-minute hold and another 20 minutes on the phone, I rescheduled his flight ... to Orlando. The next seat available to Tampa wasn't until Christmas Eve, which I found unacceptable. Fortunately, a flight to the next closest airport had a seat available tomorrow. It's a little more than an hour away, but it's so worth it. 

Because of this, I was able to delay all of the last-minute things I was going to do today before he arrived until tomorrow. No sense in getting things done early. 

Also because of this, I'll be at running group tonight. Yay!

Are you taking a break from work? Are you as pumped as I am? Did you go to your work holiday party? How was it? Have you ever dyed your hair a very different color? What's your favorite Christmas song? 

December 13, 2012

A Santa Swag Swap at Datz is where it's at

Last week I went to a delicious place. That delicious place is Datz.

I've been wanting to try Datz for awhile. Thankfully, the Tampa Bay Bloggers gave me the opportunity with a Santa Swag Swap.

What is a Santa Swag Swap? Well, bloggers bring wrapped swag (items sent from PR folks, giveaways from conferences, re-gifts, whatever you got) and swap it in a white elephant gift exchange.

I wrapped some random re-gifts and headed to Datz after work. Datz is conveniently located close to downtown Tampa (where I work), so that was pretty handy. 

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a Wreck the Halls. Hello, Datz and Tampa Bay Bloggers, I love you.

Wreck the Halls is a mix of vanilla vodka, Kahlua
peppermint mocha and Adult Chocolate Milk.
(Photo credit: Raffi)
Tampa Bay Bloggers from left to right: Caroline from My Fascinating Life,
Raffi from Running Betty, Brian from Digital Running, me, Asha from
The Dansha Diaries, Denise from RunDMT, Kristen from Gone Bananas.
Not pictured: Marisa from Fit Kids Playground who joined us later.

After drinks, the appetizers arrived: poutine (fries, cheese curd demi-glace and a fried egg), corn fritters (with powdered sugar and jalapeno-maple syrup), figtastic flatbread (slided fig, Asian pear, roasted red onion, blue cheese, baby arugula) and bruschetta flatbread (pesto, Parmesan, mozzarella, roasted red onion, plum tomato, basil, balsamic glaze).

Poutine (Photo credit: Raffi)

The corn fritters rocked (as did the other items). I'm not a syrup fan so I passed on it, thinking it was just maple syrup. After the fact, realizing that this was jalapeno-maple syrup, I'd definitely give it a try. Jalapenos make everything delicious.

Corn fritters (Photo credit: Raffi)

My favorite appetizer, which surprised me, was the figtastic flatbread. I'm not a huge blue cheese fan, but this had just the right amount mixed with the sweetness of the pear and fig and the spiciness of the arugula. You've got to try everything once because you'll never know what you'll like, right?

My surprise favorite appetizer: figtastic flatbread (Photo credit: Raffi)

After appetizers, we did the swag swap. I went first and was rewarded with a Turbie Twist. Score! No one stole it, so I ended up going home a happy girl. I put it to use right away.

The main course arrived after the swap. We were treated to: chicken little (black tea-spiced, baby, free-range chicken, tri-colored quinoa, honey-fig sauteed spinach, Asian pear chutney) with a side of curried vegan winter stew (carrots and butternut squash braised in a tomato curry broth, tri-colored quinoa, cilantro, mint, pumpkin seeds).

Chicken little (Photo credit: Raffi)

I think the coolest thing about dinner was that they were all new tastes to me. Nothing was an "oh, I had something like this at another restaurant." I particularly liked the honey-fig spinach. Apparently, I like figs. I didn't know this.

And then dessert happened. Oreo beignets. Holy yum. And yes, an Oreo beignet is exactly what it sounds like: an Oreo fried inside of delicious donut goodness. For an Oreo-loving girl like myself, this could be the perfect dessert. 

Oreo beignets (Photo credit: Raffi)

My first trip to Datz and my first Tampa Bay Bloggers meetup rocked! I'll definitely be back to both (with my regular camera, not an iPhone camera — thanks so much to Raffi for the non-dark, non-blurry photos; and thanks to Datz)! 

Do you have a Turbie Twist? Have you ever eaten poutine, corn fritters or jalapeno-maple syrup? Are you an Oreo lover? Do you live in the Tampa Bay area? If so, have you been to Datz? What did you think? If you don't live in the area, come to visit me; I'll take you there!

December 11, 2012

Holiday Halfathon, Dec. 9, 2012, Madeira Beach, Florida: race recap

When I looked at the weather for Sunday, I wasn’t thrilled. Hot and humid … in December. I guess that’s what I get for living in Florida.

But thankfully, I learned the lesson of not worrying about things I can’t change. So, even though I knew what was on the horizon, I didn’t panic. Even though I was wearing a cotton T-shirt with big felt pieces glued onto it, I didn’t panic. I calmly accepted my sweaty fate.

I did panic on the way to the race when I had to make two emergency restroom stops, making me way later than I intended. Thankfully, showing up 15 minutes before the start was enough time to grab my timing chip and start the Holiday Halfathon.

The Holiday Halfathon is part of a local halfathon challenge (four half marathons from October through March). I participated in the Halloween Halfathon in October as Mr. Potato Head. That gave me the inspiration to participate in this race as Rudolph. 

From this ...
... to this (although it required a new shirt
and new parts)

This race is a point-to-point race beginning in Madeira Beach and ending in Largo. The first few miles were along the beach (but you couldn’t see the beach). You then turn off of the road along the beach, run over a bridge (my first major hill in a race) and into a neighborhood, park, along a trail and into another park for the finish line.

I wasn’t running with anyone this race. It was just me. It went pretty well … for awhile. I stayed entertained along the beach road, over the bridge (I even ran the entire way up), into the neighborhood and the park. When I got to the trail, I was still entertained for a bit. It included another incline (an overpass), and I ran up it as well. I was impressed considering I’ve never really done any hill training (mainly because there aren’t many in the area).

Since it was hot and humid, I made it a point to walk through the water stops to make sure I stayed hydrated. But, that was it. After drinking my Gatorade (blech) and water, I’d start running again. I kept this up until about mile 8 or 9. Then, my walk through the water stop was a bit extended. Then, I walked over another overpass. And, I got bored.

I didn’t have many people around me at this point. I couldn’t talk to anyone else or listen to others’ conversations. It was just me and my dead Garmin watch. I’m not sure why it died … maybe the fog gave it problems with finding a signal. But right at the time I was getting bored and over this race, my watch died. I can’t decide if this was a good or bad thing.

I kept plugging along, mostly running. The trail seemed like it went on forever. If my watch was working, I could tell you how long it was (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t forever).

I finally made it to the park with the finish line. But, the course took you around a lake before coming to the finish line. Thankfully, people warned me about this so I didn’t have a meltdown when I heard the race announcer and had to keep running and running and running to get to the finish line.

I walked more than I wanted during those last 1.1 miles. I was hot, tired and over it. If my watch was working at this point, I wonder if I would have pushed harder.

I finally made it to the last 0.1 mile (my favorite part of the race), and I was able to run hard to the finish.

Making my way to the finish (look for the big red nose and antlers)
Almost there (look for the brown shirt and antlers)

My time: 2:41:10. Blah. Still not my worst, still not my best, but my best this training cycle. It didn’t feel like my best, which gives me hope. I know I have a better time in me waiting to get out. At some point, I’m going to get closer to (and pass) that sweet 2:33:39 that I ran during the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in February of this year. This just wasn’t the race. The pesky heat and humidity had a lot to do with that.

Denise found me at the finish, and we took a photo after I tried to cool down a bit (I don’t think I cooled down much … I was a sweaty mess). 

Overall, I really liked this race. I love that it was a point-to-point race. I liked actually making progress and ending up 13.1 miles from where I started. Thankfully, I had transportation to the start and a pickup at the finish. Thanks, boyfriend!

If you didn’t have transportation, they did have a shuttle that ran from the finish to the start. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that. I was hot, sweaty and tired and the last thing I’d want to do is wait on a shuttle back to my car (with a bunch of other hot, sweaty and tired people).

I loved the holiday theme and seeing Santa, reindeer and lots of red and green on the course. And I love the holiday-themed medal.

Too bad I’m not fast, I could lead the pack as Rudolph.