Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Playdate for Harper

On Friday Harper and I hopped in a taxi and drove WAY uptown. She had a doggie play date with a Wheaten Terrier 5 month old puppy, belonging to an old high school friend of mine. He lives off of 215th street. I didn't even know there WAS a 215th Street in Manhattan! As we have made these occasional trips into the city from New Hampshire, I would see the sign for the Cross Bronx Expressway after the George Washington Bridge, and think that was the end of Manhattan and the beginning of the Bronx, but it's not. 215th Street is the very northern tip of Manhattan, but it is still city, with lots of apartment buildings, traffic and shops. There is even a subway stop right by his apartment.

I feel kind of silly now, but it did feel like we were driving out of the city and into the country. Once again, New York reminded me of Hong Kong, with the city center that everyone knows about and where all the tourists go, and then the outlying areas that are more quiet and peaceful, but still part of the city.

The taxi dropped us off right by Bob's house and we started walking toward a very nice nearby park. Bob's puppy is SO cute, just a big (40 pounds already) bumbling, rolly-Polly ball of energy. He bounded along excitedly; Harper seemed quite dignified in comparison. We took the dogs to a nearby dog park and let them go.

Their playing styles could not be more different. Teddy bounded around, chasing and wrestling with other young dogs, rolling all over the place with abandon. Harper greeted other dogs curiously, and a bit cautiously. She loves to run, and depending on the other dogs, this can be great, or it can be a little scary. In some bigger dogs she seems to invoke a prey instinct. I don't like it when big dogs chase her, although she is too fast and clever for most of them to catch her, and if an aggressive dog starts getting too close she zips over to where I'm standing or ducks behind a bench or a rock, making her getaway.

The best situation is if there or other terriers for her to play with. Teddy was too young; he just annoyed her and she ignored him for the most part. But soon a Jack Russell entered the dog park and they had a wonderful time chasing each other and running as fast as they could all over the park.

Eventually there were so many dogs at this particular park that some of them were getting into fights so we decided that it was time to leave. It was time for Harper and I to make our way back downtown anyway.

There aren't very many Yellow Cabs available that far uptown, so Bob showed me how to hail a livery cab. They are basically town cars that cruise the areas of the city where the yellow cabs don't go. They don't have meters so you have to negotiate your fare. I knew how much it had cost me to get there, so that wasn't really a problem. But the first livery cab I entered wanted too much money and my haggler's instinct from Hong Kong kicked in. I told him I wouldn't pay that much and got out of the cab.

At first I started walking a bit. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I couldn't take a bus or the subway with Harper, I had to take a cab. And it was WAY too far to walk! I was sort of looking for a yellow cab. There were a few, but none of them were going the right direction and they didn't seem interested in picking up a woman and her little white dog.

Finally I tried hailing another livery cab. The second car was much more accommodating. His English was fairly limited and he didn't know how to get down to the Village, but his price was right and he didn't mind me giving him directions. As we left the cab he said "God bless you lady" so I told him God bless you too!

Monday, December 19, 2011

New York City Part III: The Highline, The Daily Show, and Inverted Umbrellas

On Wednesday, the rain that had started lightly misting Tuesday evening began in ernest. Rain or no rain, lingering cold be dammed, my plan was to go running on the Highline, so off I went.

Wow. Wow! I'd read about the Highline, and thought it sounded neat, an urban rail trail park, winding it's way through Manhattan, but the reality is much better than anything I had fantasized about. I ran the entire thing; it's not very long. It starts in Chelsea, near the corner of Ganstrovoot Street and Washington. Following the old elevated train tracks, it winds along, approximately following 10th Avenue, ending somewhere around 29th street. There are plans to extend it further, and I'm looking forward to seeing how that evolves. But in the meantime the part that is finished is very, very nice. A wooden path meandered through plantings of wild flowers and other native plants. Here and there small trees and benches dot the path. Occasionally the old tracks wander straight through an old building (perhaps a former station?) providing shade, and shelter from the rain, and apparently in the summer a venue for concerts, food carts, and other shopping venders.

I enjoyed my run thoroughly. It's too bad dogs are not allowed on the Highline, but I do understand why. It's just not very big and bouncing labs and frisky poodles could easily overwhelm the space.

By 2 o'clock it was time to begin my quest for getting us into the Daily Show. I had decided that this visit to New York we should try something different. Why not see what it's like to go to a tv show instead of a play for a change? I don't watch that much tv; in fact I don't think I've ever actually watched the Daily show in its entirety, just clips played on Morning Joe, and occassional postings on YouTube or Facebook. But Jon Stewart is clever and funny, and his politics jive with mine, so why not?

I reserved our tickets online, and then read the instructions. Just because you have a ticket doesn't mean you'll necessarily get into the show, cause they overbook. So they tell you to be there at 2 pm, to get a ticket NUMBER, and then come back at 4:30 to pick up your ticket and see the show.

I also read a few blogs about the experience of getting tickets, and found out that just because you are first in line it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the best seats. They put you wherever they want in the audience, using some mysterious formula of looks age and number of people that want to sit together. So I wanted to get there on time, but not real early or real late.

I arrived at the studio around 2:15 and there was already a long line. It was beginning to rain harder, but fortunately there was an awning to stand underneath. I ended up with tickets number 101 and 102. But now I had to meet Lee somewhere and kill some time until 4:30. We ended up hanging out in a bar across the street from the studio, a very New City City feeling thing to do.

Eventually we got back in line, went through the very extensive security that involved removal of anything metal, including jewelry, and were ushered to what turned out to be two VERY nice seats, right on the aisle, about 4 rows from the front. We could see around the cameras just fine.

We had to sit there waiting for about 30 minutes, as the music got progressively louder. Eventually the comedian that was supposed to warm us up came out. He was very funny, but I found it difficult to get very excited about practicing yelling and clapping as loud as we could. I did appreciate that he explained that our screaming was necessary to the success of the show, but I still resisted. It's one thing to yell at a basketball game...

Anyway, Stewart, when he finally came out was charming and funny and very polished. I was really impressed by his professionalism; his ability to spit out his little segments without a single stumble or gaffe. We even got to see them do the taping for the international edition, and to retake a few things that they wanted to alter slightly. I really enjoyed that part; watching the inner workings of a tv show.

Oh, by the way, the guest was Ralph Fienes.

Before we knew it the show was over, and we were back out on the street, in what was quickly turning into a howling storm. Fortunately the restaurant where we were meeting friends was only a couple of blocks away. Lasilhouette is a modern French restaurant. The food was delicious. I had the fillet and spare ribs, and an outrageous profiterole for dessert. It was more like a giant profiterole sundae, not that I'm complaining, mind you!

After dinner we were able to quickly grab a taxi back to Christopher street. The wind had picked up and the rain was coming down harder, but Harper needed to go potty, so out we went, one more time.

By this time the wind was blowing at a gale force velocity. My umbrella blew inside out and flew away, just like in a cartoon. In fact, umbrellas were blowing all over the place, as party-goers, and sodden dog-walkers scurried along the streets. Harper bravely trotted on, and I doggedly made my way toward the Hudson River Park, where there was enough grass to encourage my country dog to do her business. By the time we got there the rain felt like little needles and the wind was blowing sideways. Fortunately, Harper found an accommodating bush and we made our way home, wet and sleepy. It had been quite a day!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mizzou in the City

On Tuesday Lee went to New Jersey to work and Harper and I stayed by ourselves in the city. The predicted rain had moved in so Harpr was not crazy about going for walks, but I put on her raincoat and told her not to be such a baby. That evening Lee and I went to Madison Square Garden to see Missouri play Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic. It was just so strange that Mizzou happened to be in New York City right when we were there.

I've never been to the Garden. To tell the truth we weren't really sure where it was. But it was very easy to find (as it should be, it's huge). Right next to Penn Station, an easy subway ride away. We found our seats and before too long the game began.

Mizzou has a new coach, since Mike Anderson left for Arkansas. Frank Haith, the former Miami coach, is a big surprise. Many fans were not very excited about the choice that was made when picking our next coach. Miami was a terrible basketball team when Haith became their coach, but he took them from terrible to decent in the 5 or 6 years that he was there. But no final fours or elite eights are in Mr. Haith's resume, so Tiger fans were disappointed and suspicious. But so far this team has really been great. They are undefeated and ranked, and defeated Villanova handily.

Villanova is in Philadelphia, so they had quite a lot of fans there. But Missouri was surprisingly well-represented. I found myself wondering how many of the people surrounding us were former journalism majors.

It was fun cheering for Mizzou, yelling M I Z -Z O U and watching them win. But I missed the band and the full arena screaming for the Tigers. It would be great to go see them play in Columbia again some day.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New York City Part I. apartment in the Village and the 9/11 Memorial

We drove into New York from new Hampshire on December 4th. The drive went very smoothly until the Cross Bronx Expressway when an accident on the Hudson River Parkway slowed traffic to a crawl. Lee employed his best Hong Kong driver techniques, but all the drivers around us were using their New York City mojo, so it wan't as effective as it sometimes is. HK driving means if the nose of my car is ahead of the nose of your car I win, but New York City drivers don't admit defeat that easily. Finally the traffic eased and we made it the rest of the way into Greenwich Village.

We found a parking spot right in front of the apartment, at least for the night. Streets in this area of New York have a complicated system, that involves having to move your car for a couple of hours on certain mornings. We would have to move our car in the morning, but we would worry about that later. First it was time to see where we would be living for the next week.

First surprise, an apartment on the 4th floor, and no elevator! Hey, we're in good shape, but it sure makes you think carefully before you head out for the day. Next surprise, this is a VERY small apartment, and the decor is mid-century modern, i.e. sixties orange and avocado green. But it's clean and very quiet, and right in the middle of the Village, close to the Hudson River, Washington Square, and tons of restaurants.

We take Harper on a short walk over to the dog park in Washington Square. She is happy to be free and delighted to find a few other dogs to play with. But we're hungry so this is a short visit.

We decide to go to Momofuku for dinner. It doesn't require a reservation
And I know Lee will love the food. We sit at the bar and watch a very talented sous chef whip up various dishes. She makes a grilled octopus look simply heavenly, but we have already decided on brisket buns, spicy rice cakes (not your mama's rice cakes, let me tell you), and a miso ramen noodle bowl. We'd like to eat more, but there is simply no room.

We return to the apartment and take Harper for a long walk along the Hudson. She is very happy to see green grass. Although she loves seeing so many dogs and people when we are in the city, she is really a country dog at heart.

Monday was sunny and mild, unseasonably warm for New York in December. I had tickets to visit the 9/11 memorial at 2 pm. The site just opened to the public for the first time on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Up until now I had no desire to visit ground zero. I consider it a gravesite, and it didn't seem right to go just to gawk at a giant hole in the ground. But I read about the design for the memorial in The New Yorker. It sounded very moving and beautiful. They limit the number of people allowed on the site at a time by issuing tickets.

It was an easy subway ride down to the site of the memorial. Once down there it was very crowded. Everyone was standing around, trying to figure out how to get tickets, how to enter the site, taking pictures of the World Trade Center buildings rising against the brilliant blue sky and puffy white clouds.

As former Hong Kongers used to massive crowds, we had no trouble winding our way to the entrance at the appointed time. The security to enter the site is elaborate. We must have gone through at least 5 checkpoints where they scanned our tickets and a security scanning as well. Once inside the memorial a sense of peace and sorrow fills the air, along with the sound of falling water and construction. There are two pools, one in the footprint of each tower. The pools contain a series of two waterfalls, one along the edge of each pool, and a smaller one in the center of each pool. It gives the appearance of an infinite disappearance of water.

Around the edge of each pool are the names of everyone that died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania. It's a very sad experience but it's also healing. I kept thinking about that day over 10 years ago, but also about our visit to New York in the spring of 2001. We had gone to see the statue of liberty, and had walked from Battery Park to Wall Street, and then to the World Trade Center. We went up to the top and gazed at the view, then back down and continued walking north to somewhere in Soho where we met a friend for dinner.

When I first heard that they were planning on building a giant skyscraper at ground zero I was appalled. I couldn't imagine that anyone would want to live or work in a tall building right where the airplanes hit their target. But seeing that building rising against the sky I had a different, almost defiant feeling. Ha, I thought, watch us, we just can't be kept down for long. When that building is complete I'll be happy to go to the top to see the view. Yes I will.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thanksgiving and a Cold and a Car

I feel like I haven’t had any adventures lately. Poor me! Ever since the marathon I’ve been feeling a little down. I know some of it is the post-race let-down. The cure for that feeling is SUPPOSED to be immediately setting a new goal. After Twin Cities last year I didn’t follow that advice. I was tired and sore and ready for a break. But this year only a week after the marathon I was feeling great, so I signed up for a 5K in Cambridge and started training again. Everything was going great, until a few days before Thanksgiving.

Lee had brought a cold back with him from Asia. Now I have gotten positively smug about illness. Except for occasional bouts of hay fever and a few run-ins with the touristas in Asia, I don’t think I have been sick since we left Missouri. I have attributed this to exercise and supplements and my superior immune system. But what is it they say about pride? Well mine has taken a fall, along with my health. I caught Lee’s cold right before Thanksgiving and for the past week the battle lines have been drawn. I’ve fought back with cough syrup, green tea with honey, antihistamines, and Airbourne. I have tried to continue running, but in the past few days the cold has moved into my chest, which has meant a lack of oxygen and stamina. The 5K in Cambridge is forgotten, and I’m busy feeling sorry for myself and trying to get better.

Thanksgiving was lots of fun, cold or no cold. Last summer when Sarah and I went to Montreal I jokingly suggested that she and Erik host thanksgiving this year and she took me seriously, so off we went to Minneapolis. So did both of our mothers and Daniel; Erik’s mother, grandmother and sister joined us as well. Sarah made an impressive brined turkey. Daniel was afraid she would brine it in the bathtub, but a large bucket worked just fine. 

Sarah and Daniel Show off the Beautiful Bird!
The grandmas made the rolls, I made two pies, and Lee made his famous stuffing. Suzanne, Erik’s mother, brought her family’s rice pudding recipe. This isn’t a dessert; we decided it was a Norwegian version of grits, and it was very good. My mother brought her macaroons, Daniel was in charge of the Bloody Mary’s, and Erik set the table.
Joanne and Hilda Make Rolls

Sarah’s house isn’t very big, and in my imagination it got progressively smaller as Thanksgiving got closer. By the time we boarded the airplane, no more than two people could enter her kitchen at one time and the turkey wouldn’t fit in the oven. So when I actually saw her house again it seemed very spacious, and the large old oven worked perfectly!
A Festive Table and Plenty of Room!

The day after thanksgiving it was time to make Lep cookies. For some reason Joanne and I seemed to be the only ones taking this task very seriously this year. Maybe we were just being too bossy, I don’t know! But thanks to us, and a few other occasional helpers, we made over 300 cookies, spread them all over Sarah’s table on newspaper to cool, and then packed them away in cookie tins for everyone to take home with them. As soon as we got home Lee took all but a small number of the cookies and hid them away from me in the freezer. It’s a good thing too. I can eat my weight in Lep cookies any day!

Shortly after we returned from Minneapolis Lee found an offer online from BMW for 0% APR for two years on any certified pre-owned 2008 model car. He started printing off possible cars for me from all over New England. It was kind of strange. I hadn’t really been thinking about getting another car yet. My Subaru has been very reliable and it’s good in the snow. And yet….lately it had been making me nervous. It’s been noisy for a long time. Last year in fact I took it to the dealer and they replaced the transmission under warranty. But it was still noisy, and seemed to be getting noisier. I was concerned that one day this noisiness was going to turn into something serious. Maybe it would be a good idea to trade it in before that time.

Lee found some nice-looking  328xi 2008 BMW’s at the dealer in Nashua, only 10 miles down the road from Salem. We went to test drive them on Wednesday and I picked up my new car yesterday.

I’ve never owned a BMW before. Lee has always been the BMW nut in our family; I always drove the more reasonably priced family car. Well this one is still a family 4 door sedan with all wheel drive, but it’s very pretty, an “Arctic Blue” exterior, and grey leather interior. It’s got all those strange BMW quirks, with radios and other electronics unlike any other car, so that even with the demo from the dealer before I drove it off the lot, I will still have to sit down with the owner’s manual and go through the mysterious buttons and gadgets it contains. I will also have to watch myself. BMW’s are speedy, and I can go nice and fast in one without realizing it. I wouldn’t mind getting in it right now and zooming down the road, leaving everyone else in my wake.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon, October 2011 Washington DC

A little over a week ago I got up very, very early on a Thursday morning, and flew to Washington, DC. I love Washington, in a remote sort of way. We lived there when I was in 5th grade, and back then it was so much fun to visit all the monuments and museums. As an adult I still get a thrill flying into this beautiful city and seeing the iconic architectural masterpieces of our government from the air.

In just a few days I was preparing to run in one of the largest marathons in the United States, the Marine Corps Marathon. I had trained and I was ready, or at least I hoped I was. Since I had one marathon under my belt (The Twin Cities Marathon between Minneapolis and St. Paul last year) I felt less like I was entering the great unknown. But still, every marathon is different, and the terrain, the crowds and the weather could make this a very different experience. Was I really ready?

Before concentrating solely on the marathon I had a couple of days to enjoy Washington and the company of my friend, who had kindly agreed to be my hostess while I was in DC. We have been friends for so long, since 8th grade! Sometimes we don’t see each other for years at a time, but when we do we always seem to fall back into the same comfortable relationship without too much trouble. We caught up on the daily minutia of our lives, enjoyed the birds outside her kitchen window (she is a serious bird-watcher), and even started on a jigsaw puzzle, one of our favorite pastimes from when we were kids.

On Friday I wanted to go into Washington and be a tourist. The last time I had had a chance to do this the kids were small and we stuck to activities that second graders and toddlers would enjoy. So I was ready to try something more adult.

We decided to visit the Library of Congress, which I had heard was an interesting destination. I had no idea what a beautiful building this was! We took a short tour and wandered around by ourselves. I took more pictures inside this building than I did the rest of the weekend.


After a nice lunch at the National Gallery we wandered through some of the rooms, visiting Rembrandts and Vermeer primarily, just because that seems to have been where we ended up. Then we got back on the metro and headed back to Fairfax. This was good practice for Saturday, when I would take the metro by myself to the Marathon Expo.

Saturday dawned cold and rainy. The rain fell in sheets, but I didn’t let myself be deterred. I had to go get my race packet and I wanted to see what bargains I could find in runner goodies at the expo. My friend said that Washington’s Metro has fallen into disrepair, which is really too bad. I didn’t have any problems, however.  The signage is clear and easy to understand, and I really like that it tells you when the next train is coming. Buying passes was no problem. The only problem I encountered was at the expo itself. There was a large white tent in front of the DC Armory, where the expo was held, but I never saw the sign directing us to pick up our race packets in the tent before entering the armory. So, along with many other metro riding runners, I stood in the pouring rain outside the armory to get through security, then got into another line to pick up my race t-shirt and packet (or so I thought) and THEN found out that I needed to go to the white tent first! So, I had to leave the armory (in the rain), go through another line in the tent, get back in the security line, and FINALLY back in the line for my t-shirt! By this time I was more than a little crabby and a little worried too. What if the morning of the race I couldn’t find the start? This did not bode well.

But the expo itself was really nice. They had some beautiful Marine Corp marathon clothing. I bought a long-sleeved shirt and nylon jacket. I also bought a beanie with a warm ear-band that would fit underneath my running cap, if the weather was really cold. I even bought a new pair of running shoes in the brand that I like. Not to wear during the marathon, no, wearing a new pair of shoes in a race would be a very bad idea. But next spring when I’m ready to change to a new pair of running shoes, well they’ll be right there waiting for me.

By the time I was back at my friend’s house in Fairfax the rain had changed to sleet and snow. We were having a real nor’easter and the weather report from Boston and New Hampshire did not sound good. I emailed our wonderful neighbors and asked them to let me know if the power was out. Before too long I found out; our power WAS out, and from the news reports it sounded like it was out over much of southern New Hampshire. I sure hoped our generator was running.

Sunday morning, however, dawned sunny, and cold. To a certain extent cold is good when it comes to running marathons. It’s amazing how warm even a cold-blooded person like me can get over the course of 26 miles. But 31 degrees is really cold, even colder than last year at the Twin Cities. And this time there was no Metrodome to hang out in before heading to the starting line.  I hoped I would be warm enough.

I had no trouble taking the metro to the start of the race, near the Pentagon. It was very early in the morning and I was surrounded by other runners, so I knew I was headed in the right direction. And it was easy to find the beginning of the race too, just follow the hordes of runners. If I was going the wrong direction, well so were 20,000 other people.

I found the huge assembly area, lined with porta-potties and UPS trucks. I peed, took off my warm-up suit, put it in my bag for after the race, and handed it to the proper UPS truck. I put on my garbage bag, over my two shirts and arm sleeves, but I was still cold. Last year it was 10 degrees warmer at the start and the garbage bag worked great, but not this time. I was shivering.

I peed one more time for good luck, and headed to my start position, way back in the happy runners with a predicted time of 5:30. I found myself a good place toward the side and settled in to wait for the race to start, trying not to shake too much with the cold. Gradually my toes turned numb and my shivers turned to shudders. The woman next to me kept asking me if I was okay. I wasn’t, but her question didn’t help.

I watched the fighter planes fly overhead, and the parachutists float to the ground. I heard the national anthem and the starting gun go off. The race had started, but back at 5:30 we still had to wait. Finally after around 15 minutes we started to move.  The race began at 8 AM, but it took until 8:25 for the slowpokes in the rear to cross the starting line. Here we go!

It’s funny what I remember from over 5 and ½ hours of racing. The first 10 miles of this race are hilly, and I remember carefully monitoring my pace up and down the hills. Here my training really paid off. None of the hills were difficult and most of the time I was able to stay with my desired pace.

After leaving Rosslyn, on the Virginia side of the Potomac, we crossed the river for the first time, and ran beside the C and O canal. I remember riding bicycles here when we lived in Washington many years ago. It was beautiful and peaceful without many spectators. I enviously watched the men in the race run behind bushes and trees to pee. The lines at the porta-potties were much too long for me to wait. I did my kegel exercises and continued to run.

We passed through Georgetown. I was no longer cold. My beanie came off and so did my extra shirt, laid carefully on the hood of a truck. Now I was in my pink running clothing perfection; pink shirt, neon pink calf compression sleeves, and lime green arm sleeves. I would be easy to pick out of the crowd! And, I had put my name on the back of my shirt using duct tape. I don’t remember hearing a spectator yell my name, but lots of fellow runners did! “Hi Lynn!” they would shout, as they trotted passed. It always brought a smile to my face.

After Georgetown the hills subsided. Most of the rest of the race was flat. I tried to maintain a steady pace, 12:30 miles per minute, run 45 seconds, walk 30. If I could keep this up for 11 miles I would only have 5 miles left to go.

Now the race headed back along the Potomac, this time out toward something called Hains Point. Once more we were in a semi-rural area. The lines at the port-pottys were still too long for me, but I really needed to go. I started watching the side of the road carefully, for a tree that would be wide enough for my needs. Hey, I’m almost 60 years old and if the guys can do it, so can I. I picked a tree that afforded me enough privacy and scooted behind it, hoping I wouldn’t get arrested. Nobody seemed to pay me any attention, and I felt much better afterwards!



Hains Point was the halfway point of the race. 13 miles! I still felt good and my pace was holding. I knew from experience, however, that the true test of a marathon comes at the end. I wasn’t even close.



At 15 miles we turned toward the tidal basin. We could see the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and the Washington Monument in the distance. Now the race ran along the National Mall. I knew I was getting a little tired because my sense of direction was befuddled. I couldn’t figure out which side of the mall we were on, or where the capital was. I concentrated on small things, especially the runners around me. Unlike smaller races, I was always surrounded by other runners in this race. And unlike last year, the people around me seemed to be constantly changing. I saw two girls in matching Mexican shirts. I saw a young girl dressed in pink, with pigtails. I passed some people, and some people passed me. My pace was still steady, but I was eager to reach mile marker 21 where I would have “beaten the bridge” and made my way back across the Potomac. I knew I had nothing to worry about; all that was required to beat the bridge was a 14 mile per minute pace, but my tired brain was still fretting.



At mile 21 is where the true race begins. Last year I was unprepared for what this part feels like. I thought I had hit the wall, but it was just marathon exhaustion. This year I knew that I was in the marathon twilight zone again, but I also knew that nothing could make me stop at this point. Late in a marathon time seems to stop and the miles get very, very long. It takes hours to get from mile 22 to mile 23, days to get from mile 24 to mile 25, and about a year to get to the end of the race. I felt myself slowing down, but I was powerless to speed back up. Once again I lost about five minutes at the very end of the race. This is both somewhat disappointing and at the same time so very interesting. It’s a challenge and a puzzle. How much slower should I go at the beginning in order to have something extra left at the end? How much better can I get, before age inevitably slows me down? When will I run my best race?

A little before mile 24 there was a food station. Now normally I don’t partake of the goodies that are offered during a race. I bring my own goodies (gels and lifesavers) and stick to water, no gatoraide. But this food station offered donut holes, and I was so very hungry that without thinking I grabbed one and popped it into my mouth. Argh! It tasted great, but I was also afraid I might throw up right then and there. Fortunately a water station came shortly afterwards and I was able to choke it down. I told myself that it contained much needed fat and sugar and urged my body to metabolize it as quickly as possible. What madness.

I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 40 minutes, once again about ten minutes short of the wished for 5:30 goal. I know I should have run the beginning a little slower, in order to be able to run the end a little faster. I know this intellectually, but in a long race it’s so hard to stick to this plan at the beginning, and by the time I hit those last 5 miles, well, it’s just too late.



There are two really wonderful things about the Marine Corp Marathon. The first thing is, frankly, the Marines. They put on a wonderful race. There are Marines all along the course, shouting out your times, encouraging you to keep going. I mean, if a Marine tells me I’m doing good, who am I to argue? The second thing are the spectators. There are enthusiastic crowds and music along almost all of the course. People wave funny signs, gospel music follows marching bands and drumlines. A talented singer from the School of Rock belted out Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and so did I. A DJ spun “She Loves You” and I sung along as well. Marathons certainly reduce one’s inhibitions!

At the very end a young Marine shook my hand and handed me a gorgeous blingy medal. I got my picture taken in front of the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial. Heat blanket and goodies in hand, I found my friend and walked, very slowly to her car. I might have come a little short of my elusive 5:30 goal, but I was still happy. Less than 1% of the population has run a marathon, and I was part of that 1%. I might not be fast, but I was very persistent. I knew with any luck that next year I would be doing this again, somewhere.





The following day I headed back to New Hampshire and a massive power failure. Thank goodness for our whole house generator, that kept the heat and some of the lights on, the water running, and the refrigerator cold. My only worry was running out of propane, but the gas company brought me an emergency delivery, and the power came back on in our neighborhood Tuesday morning.

I am recovering much more quickly from this marathon than I did last year. I have already gone running a couple of times this week, and my soreness is almost gone. I don’t want to put aside my running shoes completely for the winter, but it’s time to focus on some other things for awhile, like raking leaves, baking bread, you know. But there is a 5k on December 11th in Cambridge that ends at a pub….hmmm, maybe one more race is in order this season!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bar Harbor Maine

This was our week in Maine, so after Cushings Island Lee and I drove back to get Harper and then headed to Bar Harbor for the rest of the week. I really like Maine, and I loved Bar Harbor. I'm not sure why I find Maine so appealing. It's very pretty, but not grand. The people are friendly, the food is good (an essential ingredient for any Nill vacation). I just like it. It's cool that it's so close, too. Portland is only and hour and a half, and Bar Harbor is only five hours, no worse than Montreal.

I now understand what "down east" means. Most of the east coast of Maine (of which there is a whole bunch) is actually SOUTH of the rest of Maine, hence it's east, but it's also DOWN. Makes sense to me!

Bar Harbor is actually the most popular of a bunch of little towns on Mount Desert Island, where Acadia National Park is located. Bar Harbor is the stopping place for all the cruise ships in search of fall foliage. Since last week SHOULD have been the peak for fall colors there were lots of cruise ships coming in and out of the town while we were there. But Bar Harbor accommodates them just fine, so we never felt overrun by cruisers.

The weather continued it's strange behavior. The leaves were still very late. One night it dropped into the 20's, so I was glad to have my new puffy down jacket. The next couple of days it rose into the 70's during the day. It was very confusing, wearing gloves and a hat the day we went biking, and being able to go out on the water comfortably the next.

We stayed at a dog-friendly b&b called the Balance Rock Inn. It was really nice. Comfortable rooms and right on the ocean. There were a bunch of other people staying there with their dogs while we were there. Harper was very excited by all the other animals. She definitely didn't want to heel on our walks, since every time we turned around there was another dog to greet and sniff. It was very distracting.

Each afternoon, we would head with Harper to the veranda of the Inn and enjoy a cocktail while watching the sun fade against the harbor. Other happy dog owners would also be out there, enjoying the company of their pets. We struck up conversations with some of them and our dogs all got along. It was very enjoyable.

Because Lee's foot was still healing from his run in with a coffee table in a Sri Lankan hotel room, we stuck to activities that wouldn't aggravate it too much. One day we went biking in Acadia National Park. Acadia has these beautiful bike trails that are closed to cars. We got another toddler carrier like we used on Martha's Vineyard for Harper. She still wasn't very happy about it though, so we actually let her out, and because there weren't any cars, we allowed her to run beside the bikes a bit. She loved doing that and would have happily run like that all day, but after around 4 miles we decided that was enough and put her back in the carrier.

The next day we went kayaking in the harbor. This was true sea kayaking, with 1-2 foot swells, which made it fairly adventuresome. We had to wear these waterproof sleeves that hung on suspenders from our shoulders, fitted tightly around our waists, and attached to the opening in the kayak where we sat to keep the sea water out. It worked very well until we got out of the kayaks at the end, and then miss klutz managed to get soaked.

There is a sand bar in the harbor that is exposed at low tide, so we had to go around it. At low tide people walk across the sand bar to a nearby island, and sometimes even drive their cars. And yes, of course occasionally they don't pay attention and get stuck on the island until the tide goes out again.

We also ate at some wonderful restaurants. Once again Trip Advisor and Chow Hound served me very well. The first night we ate at Town Hill Bistro. Located about 15 minutes outside Bar Harbor in the little town of Town Hill, this cozy restaurant had delicious food. I had potato gnocchi and Lee had a lobster stew. They were both wonderful. The next night we ate at a restaurant called Red Sky. It was also located in a small town called Southwest Harbor. This was kind of an interesting place since it catered more to sailors and small cruisers. Red Sky was also very good. This time I had the lobster risotto and Lee had the halibut, which was just melt in your mouth good.

The last night we ate in Bar Harbor at a restaurant called Cafe This Way. By this point I was feeling permanently stuffed. I thought I would just get something light but the waiter talked me into a wonderful lamb dish. Except for hardly being able to move afterwards, I was in heaven.

Now here we are back home once again. My mother is visiting, and Lee has one more week at home before he returns to Malaysia. I will miss hi;, it's been great having him home. By the time he gets back it will be time to head to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving. But I have plenty of activities, including the Marine Corp Marathon in DC, to keep me busy, and Harper to keep me company. We'll be fine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cushing's Island Maine

Five years ago the group of ladies from Texas that I am friends with got together on this island, in this beautiful old house. Back then our friendship was still relatively new. And it was somewhat exotic too, since the friendship had formed over the Internet, as an offshoot of a parent's listserve from the college where Daniel attended his freshman year.
We first got to know each other by chatting about everything you can imagine, usually in emails and instant messaging, more rarely in occasional lunches and visits. We lived far away from each other for the most part, yet in some ways we had gotten to know each other very well. We struggled at times, since we were all very different in some ways, and the nuances of communication sometimes were lost in print.
We had a great time visiting each other 5 years ago, and when the generous woman whose family owned this house suggested doing it again 5 years later, we all gladly agreed.
But a lot can happen in 5 years. People move on with their lives. Illness has stricken several of our members, or their husbands, making it difficult for them to travel. One member died from breast cancer last year. We are fewer in number on the island than we would have hoped, but still, here we are.
Our visit was planned for the first week in October this time, and we hoped that the leaves would be changing so that the ladies that came here from Texas would get to see them. But, it's been a very strange fall here in New England. It's been warm, and wet, and everything is still green. In fact yesterday, our first full day on the island, it rained cats and dogs. Some hurricane swirling off in the Atlantic dumped incredible amounts of water on Cushings Island.
It's hard not to compare this visit with our previous one. We are less silly, and more comfortable with each other this time. We are less excited, but more content. We have fought our battles, settled our disagreements, laughed together, and cried together. We are friends.
This morning the rain stopped, but it was still cloudy, and very wet. I went for a walk on the island, taking pictures of the old houses, and the bits of fall color here and there. It was beautiful and I was feeling both happy and a little melancholy too. As I walked along, taking pictures of berries, rocks and lighthouses, the sun started to come out from behind the clouds. Beautiful light bathed the island. We took pictures of each other, smiling together, and put rocks into a wall for the members that couldn't be with us this time.
Will we meet again 5 years from now? Will we meet here in Maine, or somewhere else? What will have changed in our lives by then? Most of our children have graduated from college. Some have married, and some have even started having babies.
As the sun begins to set on the island I'm sending out good wishes and hopes for the coming year. It's the beginning of the Jewish New Year, so that seems pretty appropriate to me. May we all have a good year, may all our children and families be healthy and happy, and may we continue to enjoy each other's company, where-ever we may be.


To read about our visit to Cushing's Island 5 years ago click here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Agility Training With Harper


video

I swear I should start calling this blog klutzy woman tries activities beyond her coordinated abilities...but anyway...Harper and I have been taking Agility Training classes. This is a fun activity and a good way to bond with my dog. People get very involved in doing this, going to agility trials, getting ribbons and medals, etc. I think Harper would actually be very good at this if she had a different owner. She is smart, enthusiastic, energetic, and loves anything that involves hot dog treats! Unfortunately however, she's my dog, and this is the sort of thing I will never be good at. But we'll keep doing it just for fun. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be able to remember which hand I should have the clicker in, and how to get out a treat in a timely fashion!

Nadine, our instructor, took this little video of me and Harper doing a short course today. The "weave" around the little poles is really hard for me; I drop a treat, Harper goes into the poles, I click to reinforce, drop another treat, Harper goes into the next set of poles, I click, and on and on. Too many things for me to do at the same time! She loves the tunnel and the jumps. We're not quite sure what happened in the jumps, her leash either caught on a jump or she choked on a treat! But she was okay, whatever it was.

Nadine wasn't sure how to use my camera, but she did a great job taking this little video and I really appreciated it! That's Bentley, Amy's dog, at the end, smiling at the camera.
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 Years Ago Tomorrow

10 years ago tomorrow. Everyone in the US know where they were, and what they were doing when they first heard the news. In Columbia, Missouri it was a little before 8 am. I was pulling in to the parking lot at work, listening to NPR. The announcer said there was a report of a small plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Huh, I thought, and turned the car off.

I sat down at my desk, and went through the normal morning routines. About 45 minutes later I went upstairs for a meeting. A large group of people were gathered around a radio. One of the secretaries turned around and looked at me. "Pancaked. Just pancaked," she said in a heart-broken voice. I had no idea what she meant.

10 years ago. I was 49 years old. I had lived in Columbia, Missouri for almost 30 years, and thought I would live there forever. My daughter had just left for her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. My son and my niece were sophomores at Rock Bridge High School, and my nephew was a 6th grader at Gentry Middle School. We lived in a big house out in the country. I was a computer programmer for the University of Missouri. We had a lab puppy named Marley. I rode horses, went for long walks, had a huge garden.

10 years ago. One of the first things I did was call Sarah. "Are you okay?" I asked her anxiously. "Mom," she said patiently. "I'm in Wisconsin". Then she paused. "This is big, isn't it," she asked. "Yes," I replied. "This is big. This is your generation's Pearl Harbor."

10 years ago. I cried and cried. I thought there would be a draft, and all of Sarah's young man friends would have to go off to war. I was thinking in simplistic terms, not imagining an enemy that would be so hard to find.

10 years ago, I wandered through Walmart, looking for an American flag to buy, but they were all sold out.

10 years ago, I stopped by the synagogue, tried to pray, but could not. I walked instead to Francis Quadrangle on the University campus. It was quiet and peaceful, a beautiful Missouri September day.

I don't know how to express the magnitude of the changes that 10 years have brought. I can leave it to the pundits and politicians to describe the changes we have experienced as a nation. I can't even fully fathom all the changes that have occurred in my own life in the past 10 years, let alone the entire country. I can't even figure out how to end this blog entry.

There is a full moon tonight. When I took Harper out to go potty before bed we looked up at the sky, smelled the clean clear air. There was a little sharpness to the wind, the first taste of fall.

10 years ago tomorrow was a beautiful clear blue September day. And tomorrow will be another beautiful day. I plan to go for a run, visit the farmer's market, take Harper for a walk. I plan to live my life, and that's the most fitting tribute any of us can make. We can live.







Saturday, September 3, 2011

Luck


I thought I really was lucky when it came to my return flights from Malaysia to the US. Two days earlier and I would probably still be in Malaysia. Hurricane Irene had caused all the flights into Newark and Boston to be cancelled over the weekend, but I wasn't leaving until Tuesday. The airports were open, and Hurricane Irene had become tropical storm Irene, missing a direct hit on New York and Boston AND New Hampshire. I really was lucky.

I've become an expect at the extremely long flights from Asia to the US. I know how to manage things to minimize discomfort and sleep at least a bit of the time. I've had to fly economy more times that not, but Malaysia is really far, farther than Hong Kong, so I was very happy to be flying business. There's no such thing as a direct flight from the US to Kuala Lumpur, so that means you have to change planes somewhere along the way, and it usually involves a long layover waiting for your next flight. On the way to Malaysia that meant a 6 hour layover in Frankfort. On the way back, it meant a 9 hour layover at the Tokyo airport, Narita.

Strangely enough, I was able to kill several hours by walking every inch of terminal 1 in Narita, twice. I looked at all the passengers. I browsed throughout the duty free shops, the snack stores with scary candy and fish-flavored chips, the multitude of gates with far-flung destinations. I took a shower, ate snacks in the business lounge, read and played games on my IPad. Eventually 9 hours passed and it was time to get on my next flight.

This was a 12 hour Continental airlines flight from Narita to Newark, then another 2 hour layover and finally home to Boston. The flight from Narita to Newark proceeded without incident. Decent business class food, lie-flat seats. I can't say I slept soundly, but I did sleep some. I never sleep that well on airplanes, no matter what.

We landed in Newark at 4:30 in the afternoon. My body thought it was 4:30 in the morning, but never mind. Immigration, the officer marveled at my fat little passport. That was odd. I mean, it's not like she's never met a frequent traveler before! What would she say to Lee's gargantuan passport, or Sherry Ott's? She'd probably pass away in a dead faint. The customs officer asked me if I was traveling alone. "Just you and Louie, huh?" "Who?" I asked, puzzled. He pointed to my purse, a (good) fake Louie Vuitton. "Oh. haha." I was so tired I didn't really have the energy to get nervous (besides it was 3 years old). I suppose because I hardly reacted he just waved me through.

I went to the business lounge, got some water, brushed my teeth. My flight to Boston was supposed to leave at 6:45pm, so I had lots of time. I checked my email, called my mom. As I was talking to her I noticed the time. Five after 6. Oh hey, I better get going! As I was leaving the lounge I realized that the gate had changed and I had a longer walk than I had originally expected. Oh well, just walk a little faster. I've got a first class seat, no problem, right?

I got to the gate around 20 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave. They appeared to be still boarding so I rushed to the bathroom. Then I proceeded to the gate. The flight attendant took my boarding pass and waved it under the infrared light, but instead of the usual beep it buzzed. "go see the attendant at the gate desk please" she murmured tiredly. Hmmm, what could be wrong?

I soon found out. Finally I came face-to-face with the fallout from Irene. Even though the airports had been open since Monday, airlines were still struggling to have the right planes in the right places. They were using a smaller plane for this flight, which meant there were fewer seats than passengers. My first class seat was gone, and there weren't any seats left in coach either. Yikes. They were asking for volunteers to be bumped from the flight, and somehow this caused a comedy of confusion and distress for several of us forlorn passengers without seats. First a young man that had been ahead of me in line was ushered onto the flight. The man that had offered up his seat was talking agitatedly to the flight attendant. "Wait, if you can't guarantee me a seat on the next flight I can't do this. I have to be home tonight." The young man that had taken his seat was ushered back off the plane. They asked for volunteers again. Once more someone gave up his seat. The flight attendants consulted, and this time I was let on to the airplane and the poor young man was left standing disconsolately at the gate. I got the last seat on that airplane.

Do I feel a bit guilty? Well yes and no. I definitely was a bit late getting to the gate, but there was no reason for me to think that I would somehow lose my first class seat. I felt badly for the young man, but then again, we had paid plenty of money for those business class tickets, so it really was more fair to give that final seat to me.

Well now it's Saturday morning and I'm home, safe and sound in New Hampshire. That long, long journey is over, and my jet lag is starting to recede. It's been a great adventure, living in Malaysia for a month, but I'm glad to be home with Harper. It's late summer, there are still tomatoes in the garden, and the morning temps are dropping into the 50's.

So, was I lucky, or just careless and a little stupid, or maybe a bit of both? Lee's grandmother used to say " you make your own luck." I would mull over this bit of wisdom sometimes. I tend to agree with Granny to a certain extent, but not completely. The people whose houses and cars were washed away in the floods from Irene certainly didn't do anything that caused Irene to swerve farther west, leaving the coastline and New Hampshire safe. But did I cut it a little too close in heading for that gate? Oh yes, I know I did. I can blame exhaustion if I want, and a business class lounge that never made any announcements regarding my flight, but I know the rules. Lucky or not, I was very fortunate to get on that flight. I may or may not be lucky, but I am certainly grateful!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 25, 2011 - The Batu Caves

I thought maybe I had managed to save the best KL tourist attraction for last. As it turned out this was true in some ways and not in others. The huge caves were discovered on the outskirts of KL in the mid-1850's and it wasn't long after that the caves were adopted by the local Indian population as a Hindu shrine. I tried to find out WHY the caves were adopted this way - is it common for Hindu Temples to end up in magnificent natural settings? But for now that question remains unanswered.

The natural setting of the caves is indeed awe-inspiring, but the manmade embellishments are a mixture of the sublime, the shoddy, and the ridiculous. The 280+steps leading to the cave are, from a distance, beautiful and intimidating. Upon closer inspection the steps were narrow and dirty. The railings were rusted and worn, with trash strewn along the grass on the sides of the lower steps.

But the huge golden statue of the Hindu god lord Murugan, and the wonderful views from the top of the stairs were lovely. The actual cave is just huge. After I climb the initial set of stairs, I enter a large cavern. Water drips from the ceiling, and sunlight spills through an opening high above the cavern floor. The walls of the cavern hold various Hindu temples, shrines and statues of gods. At the other end of the cavern another set of stairs climbs to a second opening. This second cavern is bathed in sunlight from an opening high above. Monkeys wait for handouts and yet another shrine sits along the wall.

After I walk back down the steps I decide to pay the 15 Ringit to visit something called the Cave Villa. This turns out to be a series of lurid paintings depicting scenes from the Bahatva Gita, the Hindu scriptures. The guidebook describes these paintings as psychedelic and that seems right. They were pretty in a garish sort of way, but altogether too touristy for for my tastes.

The thing about the Batu Caves is that in spite of it's strangely kitschy nature, it's also an important religious shrine. During the January festival of Thaipusam, over a million people line the streets of KL to watch the religious procession from downtown KL to the Batu Caves.

I don't know very much about the Hindu religion, and I think some of my distaste is due to ignorance. Maybe if I knew and understood more about the philosophy behind the statues and paintings I could appreciate them more, instead of turning my snobby little nose up at them!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 23, 2011 KL Factory Day

Balan and Kumar were going to take me to the Batu caves today, but it was cloudy and rainy, so we decided to save that for Thursday. Instead they took me to several factories where I could see Malaysian products being made.

Me in Front of Towers of Tin at the Pewter Factory Museum

First we went to the Royal Selangor pewter factory. Pewter is a tin alloy, and tin is a raw material readily available in Malaysia, so it makes sense that pewter would be manufactured here. The factory included a little museum about the history of pewter in Malaysia. We couldn't see the actual factory in action, but we were taken around to several model work stations where we could watch sample products being made. We even got to try our hand at pounding little dents in a pewter mug. Of course I was impossibly bad at this. Good thing I don't have to try to make my living with my hands.

Then, of course, we are taken to the gift shop. I actually wanted to buy a pewter bowl here, and found one that was just what I was looking for. It's very heavy; I hope I can fit it in my suitcase!

Next we went to a batik factory. I was able to see handmade batik fabrics being made. The artists draw with the hot wax, then apply the paint within the areas defined by the wax. Finally hot water is used to remove the wax and leave the distinctive white lines between the areas of color.

Once again, after the factory I'm taken to the gift shop. I decide to buy a zip up batik shopping bag, and a Malaysian sarong, called a pareo. They throw in some instructions on tieing the pareo, which I will need if I want to do anything with it besides wrapping it around my waist.

We make one more stop at a chocolate factory, which should have been right up my alley, but when we arrived it was overwhelmed by a horde of Chinese tourists, being very Chinese, so I didn't stay long. Pushing and shoving in order to get my share of the durian chocolate is not my idea of a good time. After a free sample of some tiramisu chocolate drops I was ready to call it a day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 21 2011 - Langkawi, Kayaks and Cocktails

Let's see. When I left off we were about to make our way to the adult pool, a somewhat Romanesque extravaganza, with private cabanas overlooking the sea. We settled into our lounge chairs, exploring our temporary abode. The chairs were covered by thick fresh towels by our attendant. The water was cool and inviting, and I was feeling warm, so in I went, paddling back and forth, occasionally stopping on the steps leading to our cabana to grin at Lee, relaxing on his chair. Finally I felt cool enough to get into my chair too, but it wasn't long before I was ready for something else, like a cocktail. I settled on a tropical punch concoction. When it came I started guzzling it way too fast because I couldn't taste the alcohol. Lee actually got worried about me and told me to slow down! Well he knows me and my tolerance for alcohol, and of course he was right.

The next morning we decided to order breakfast from room service. The service at this hotel is very, very good, and our breakfasts came in short order. We settled in to enjoy our food and we were having a pleasant time, when a noise made me glance up at the gutters along our roof. Three small monkeys were eyeing us cannily, with more monkeys watching from the nearby trees. Well, we know what this means! We quickly start moving the food inside. I have no desire for a confrontation with a macaque, even if they are smaller than the ones in Hong Kong. As we're moving the food inside, we discover that our second balcony door is open and several monkeys are getting ready to make an advance in that direction. We slam it shut, and eventually they turn away in disappointment.

Then it's time for our morning activity, a kayak trip along the coast to see the mangrove swamps. It's low tide so we can't get right into the mangroves, but it's still a very nice little trip. Peter, our guide, is an Austrian that came here for a vacation 13 years ago, and never left. He was very knowledgeable about the mangroves and the various birds we saw during our excursion. He gave us some pointers on kayaking too, which helped me improve my technique. I'm hoping this will help me the next time we go kayaking on Arlington Pond. We'll see!

Another rainstorm is coming our way, so we hop back onto the launch that brought us and our kayaks to the mangroves. Peter says that the open sea will get very choppy because of the storm, so he opts for returning to the resort via a nearby river.

This turns out to be very interesting. The river is a sanctuary for aging sailboats, rusting away on their moorings. The sailboats hail from ports all over the world, including Australia, Europe, Canada and the US. Almost all of them look very hard used. They are a far cry from the beautiful boats depicted in Lee's Cruising World magazines. I imagine that these boats have been to many countries before they ended up on this lonely river in Langkawi. Peter tells us that in fact some of them have been abandoned by their owners, who running out of either money, energy, or both, have left them here to decay. It's strange and kind of spooky.

There are also a lot of other tourist launches traversing this river. The other launches feed the monkeys that line the banks, looking for a handout, and throw raw chicken into the water for the Malaysian eagles that swoop down and carry the pieces away. Peter looks on disapprovingly, since this behavior by our fellow humans messes up the local ecology.

Later in the afternoon I indulge in a "Marine Wrap" spa treatment. After an exfoliating scrub, I am covered in a luxurious mud, wrapped in cloth, given a wonderful head massage while the mud dries. Then once the mud is rinsed off, a "firming" lotion is rubbed into my skin. I exit the spa feeling relaxed, glowing, and well, yes, with firm skin.

This morning, our last day at the resort, is my day for a long run. It wasn't too hot when I started my run, but it was very, very humid. It took two circuits along the beach and through the resort to get to 6 miles, and for the last two miles I had to slow down some, because even staying in the shade, it was so humid that I could feel my body really struggling to stay cool.

This was a really nice, relaxing vacation, even though it was only two nights. I know it was good for Lee to have a break. He's been working really hard. And I was happy to finally visit Langkawi, which certainly lived up to my expectations!

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