Monday, July 19, 2010

It's been a while

It's been a while since I posted here. I had high hopes of finishing off my posts regarding my trip to New Zealand and Australia. Alas that was 6 months ago! Time flies. And yet, it doesn't have to if you make each moment count. I'm trying to really appreciate my time more. I've started a new project and a new blog, where I live this year as if it were my last. It's called The Last Year Project. I'd love for you to find me there and follow my daily adventures.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Zealand Part 3

From Waitomo, we continued on to Rotorua -- the heart of Maori Culture in New Zealand. We read in a magazine that Kiwis had ranked Rotorua as the #1 most beautiful city in New Zealand five times in a row. As we drove into town past the seemingly endless strip malls I couldn't quite see the allure.

We drove in (actually I drove. P did most of the driving on our trip. The one time I experienced driving on the left side of the road was the trip from Waitomo to Rotorua) and found our motel -- the Malfroy Motor Lodge. I have to take a minute to give two enthusiastic thumbs up to this place. If you're ever in Rotorua, I highly recommend it. It's not the lap of luxury, but the place is really well kept up and the owners are fantastic.

We arrived in Rotorua that evening and decided to have a quiet night. P and I had a 14 mile run scheduled for the next day, so we decided to take it easy. We walked to a nearby market and got some supplies and we ourselves a lovely dinner of grilled chicken and fish. After dinner we went for a soak in the Malfroy's mineral bath and slept like babies with visions of glowworms dancing in our heads.

The next day we planned our run and then when Ali was napping, we left her in the very capable hands of Michelle, and started off. As we ran I began to realize why this was considered such a pretty city. Rotorua is built on and around volcanoes and all this geothermal activity is part of its charms. We ran through parks of bubbling mudpools and amazing geysers, around the edge of Rotorua Lake -- a crater lake, through the quaint village center, past the museum, and then through to the Redwood Forest, and back home. It was definitely one of the most gorgeous runs I've done in my life.

Laughing gas craters beside Rotorua Lake

After a shower and lunch, we headed back out to visit town at a slower pace. We walked around the lake with Ali and almost got attacked by geese (do not feed these birds! They get very aggressive) and then went to an amazing Maori Village -- Ohinemutu Moari Village. It's right beside the Rotorua Lake and is just a lovely little place. We walked through there and had a wonderful time learning a bit about the culture and speaking to the people. We had dinner that night on a cute little pedestrian street called Tutanekai St. We ate a yummy Turkish dinner and capped it off with ice cream Sundae's.

Cute, but aggressive geese

Happy Ali beside Lake Rotorua

Shot from Ohinemutu Maori Village

The next morning, on our way out of town, we stopped to go zorbing. I was the only one to zorb. It was awesome! I highly recommend it, though it is expensive for what it is. What is it? Rolling down a big hill in a big plastic bubble with water inside of it. It's a combination of a hamster wheel and a slip and slide and it's really, really fun. I was hysterically laughing my whole way down. And I was literally reborn when it was done. I was squeezed out of the ball in a splash of water.
The Zorb Concourse

Being photographed before I get out

The Rebirth Part I

Born Again!

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 LA Marathon

I really need to finish updating about my New Zealand and Australia travels (before it fades completely from my mind), but I wanted to write today about running the LA Marathon. I ran and finished it yesterday! It was a gorgeous new course -- spanning from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica via Chinatown, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, and Brentwood. We ran past every major landmark in the city. I had delusions of taking a picture at every mile. I did ok with that at the beginning, but soon I just focused on finishing.

The marathon was fun and beautiful and then challenging. Oh my goodness, it was so challenging! It challenged me mentally and physically. After a bathroom stop around Mile 10 (the lines were soooo long at the bathroom) I lost my training group and my husband P. so I had to run by myself to finish. I had to run through feelings of feeling sorry for myself and then angry (How could P. leave me?!?). I had to run through and past that to appreciating the gift of it all. I don't need anyone to "carry me." I can support myself and have fun doing it.

When I realized that 8 miles later, I found a friend, Esther, to run with. Around mile 19 I started to experience some extreme leg cramps. Esther was also hurting. We ran (and to be honest walked/hobbled quite a bit) through the excruciating leg cramps and letting go of the ego need to have "a perfect time." Esther and I were both physically hurting and mentally defeated but we alternated pushing each other to keep going. Around Mile 24 we found the marathon training pace group that was one behind ours. Finding them was a Godsend. We started running with them for about a mile and it helped us get back into the groove. Around the mile 25 marker we pulled ahead. We rounded the bend onto Ocean Avenue and the 26 mile marker (that looked deceptively like the finish line. Damn those last .2 miles!) called our name. We started running with everything we had left. And in that last mile were my friend Ilyse, my sister, Teo, Ali, and Esther's husband. Seeing those familiar faces cheering us on definitely helped push us to the finish line. As we crossed the finish line we held hands and raised our arms. I have never felt more relief! My time was 5 hours and 28 minutes. Finishing this race required a LOT of perseverance, courage, and sheer determination to finish. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. But I finished and I learned that when the going gets tough, I can keep going.

That being said, I don't think I could have kept going without the support of all the people along the side of the route who came out to cheer us runners on. I cannot tell you what a difference it made to hear people cheering and saying "you can do it!" or "great job!" And I particularly want to thank my sister for being such great support. My sis got up at 5:15 a.m. to drive us to the start (not something she was happy about), spectated, and then drove our weary bodies to eat and home. She also watched the baby all day yesterday during the race and also today so that I could recover. She needs a gold medal for being such a star supporter.

I also couldn't have done it without Peter, Eleonore, Kelli, Janet, Lars who trained with me and inspired me over the past 6 months. And of course, I couldn't have done it without Esther.

Today I'm sore as hell. I'm hobbling around looking and feeling rather pathetic. Yesterday and most of today I couldn't even imagine ever wanting to do this again and felt rather insane for even attempting it. But this evening P. and I watched the marathon on TV (we recorded it yesterday) and as I've gone back over the race and thought about how I could have improved I find myself thinking about the "next time."

P and I at the start of the race

Esther and I at the finish.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Zealand -- Part 2

From Raglan we drove to Waitomo -- famous for its glow worm caves. P. was adventurous and decided to go black water rafting (rafting on an inner tube in the pitch darkness of caves). I would have done it too, but one of us had to stay with the baby. I don't know much more about the black water rafting, but Peter was hooked. He is willing to travel to the midwest or something when we get back to the States to try it again.

As for us, Michelle, Ali and I went instead to the standard glow worm tour which was beautiful in its own way. The glow worms are actually a type of maggot (doesn't sound as glamourous as glow worm), that have release a sticky string with a phosphorescent glow. This glow attracts insects and that's how they eat. There are thousands (millions?) of these glowing points of light on the roof of the extensive caves in Waitomo. When you are in the caves and look up, it looks like a night sky filled with stars. It's magnificent.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
(not my pic, we weren't allowed to photograph in the caves)

After the glow worm cave tour, Michelle and I followed a sign from the car park and started hiking to a Waitomo Lookout. The hike was rather steep and led us through a cow pasture up a hill to a lovely view of the rolling hills of Waitomo.
View from Waitomo Lookout Point

From there we went to the "famous" Curly's Bar for some food and drink. The place could have been called Surly's (the staff wasn't too friendly), but I ordered this amazingly delicious moroccan lamp salad. It was my most surprising meal. I was not expecting much from this divey looking restaurant with rugby blaring from 6 tvs around the place, but this absolutely divine dish came out piled high with the most flavorful and tender lamp I've had in my life. So if you're ever in Waitomo and you're in the mood for lamb, I recommend Curly's - surprisingly delicious.

A Day in Sydney

I will write more about New Zealand, but first I want to share about my day... I spent most of the morning and early afternoon completely engrossed in the most wonderful book... The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Burrows. I fell completely in love with the characters and it was so delicious to lie on the couch under the window and feel the sun move across the sky as I read. Ahhhh, there are few things more precious in the world than being completely absorbed in a good book and having the luxury to indulge completely in reading it.

In the book there's a 4 year old girl named Kit. A description of her reminded me so much of my precious Aliza ...
She is a spirited little thing, affectionate in a reserved way (which is not as contradictory as it sounds) and quick to smile when she is with one of her ... parents.... She is adorable too, with round cheeks, round curls, and round eyes. The temptation to cuddle her is nearly overwhelming, but it would be a slight upon her dignity, and I am not brave enough to try it. When she sees someone she doesn't like, she has a stare that would shrivel Medea.
Oh my goodness, that's my baby!

After I reluctantly put away my book (sad to say goodbye to that marvelous little world), we went out to Bondi Beach. We picked up P's little cousin Eden and took him for a surf. Well Peter surfed with him, Ali and I stayed in the kiddie pool at the north end of the beach. After a little while E. was hungry so we went to Surfish Cafe for some chips and shakes. P's family is really great. When we got back, Rob & Rochelle made us a lovely snapper dinner.

Things are good here. We're off to Canberra tomorrow to stay with my coaching class friend. Yeah for road trips! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New Zealand -- Part 1

So much has happened ... finished 21 day vegan kickstart and actually kept eating vegan... at least until I arrived in New Zealand and then wanted to eat as much beef and lamp as I could stand. I think there's something about seeing happy cows and sheep roaming free with beautiful views and munching on acres and acres of healthy green grass. They live like they're meant to live, and they taste extraordinarily delicious because of it. So I'm a happy omnivore again.

I promised friends and family that I would update on our New Zealand trip. We left on the 2nd and arrived on the 4th. That's the strange thing about coming to Australasia. You cross the international date line in the air and you just lose an entire day as you fly. We never experienced February 3 and we never will. I had a friend who flew to Sydney on October 14 and landed October 16. October 15 was his 25th birthday - he never experienced it. It's so crazy. It's almost as crazy as the return... you get back before you left.

Anyway, we arrived on February 4 and went and got our rental car. After some debate we decided to hire the GPS. It was one of the best decisions we ever made ... the navigator probably saved us hours from not getting lost or staring at maps. We used our navigator to drive us to a hostel in Mt. Eden, Auckland where we picked up my law school friend Michelle. Michelle and I had travelled through Vietnam and Thailand together 10 years earlier and it was nice to reconnect with her in another part of the world. She'd been travelling by herself around the world for the past year. By this time, she was very "go with the flow" about everything. P. and I kept thinking we had to run around and see everything and Michelle would just hang out quietly with a book while we got our heads on straight. By the end of the week, we adjusted to a more laid-back attitude too.

After we picked up Michelle we grabbed a quick lunch in Mt. Eden -- cute cafe called Circus Circus. It was delicious. We then jumped in the car again (trunk loaded with bags and surfboard on top of the car) and headed for Raglan -- New Zealand's surfing mecca. Raglan is an absolutely charming town. It's very tropical looking ... beautiful huge ferns everywhere and the waves are supposedly gorgeous. I don't know much about surfing, but my hubby (a lifelong surfer) was in heaven. I didn't surf, but enjoyed the dark powdery volcanic sand and the cool, but glorious ocean water.

We stayed at a very charming eco-resort called Solscape. Our rooms were converted train cabooses. The place was very clean and had a laid-back surfer/backpacker vibe to it. We enjoyed a lovely couple of nights in this heavenly little oasis.

When we were in Raglan we drove around and checked out various bays (Manu Bay, Whale Bay), waterfalls (Bridal Veil Falls), and incredible views (Te Mata Gorge). We also saw lots of the aforementioned happy cows and sheep. I can't imagine there are cows and sheep anywhere who enjoy better views than those -- they grazed on grass-covered hills with incredible views of forest, mountains, and ocean. I felt lucky for those brief days to share their views.

Bridal Veil Falls

Te Mata Gorge

Michelle, me, and Ali at Whale Bay

Views for happy cows and sheep

Monday, January 18, 2010

Veganism and Gifts

I'm on Day 15 of the Vegan Kickstart. I'm feeling pretty good and not missing meat and cheese too much (no recent dreams). I've been having a lot of processed food -- faux meat or processed soy cheese are not the best things for you. When I eat too much processed food I definitely don't feel as good. So, I'm really tuning in with my body. And I think in general, I'm feeling lighter and healthier. This is my last week. I'll reassess how I feel at the end of this process.

So, in addition to my 21 days of veganism, I've embarked on 29 Days of Giving. I've challenged myself to give 29 gifts in 29 days ( I'm on Day 9 and it's been a huge shift for me. When you're spending the whole day looking for opportunities to give of yourself, you realize how much you have to give and you are grateful. I highly recommend it to everyone, especially those who feel like they don't have enough (of anything).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vegan Day 7

"If we aren't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made of meat?" ~Author Unknown

Vegan Day 7. I feel much better than the last time I wrote, though I had a meat dream last night. In the dream I was at a party. I was talking to my high school friend Connie and eating off of the buffet. When I looked down at my plate I saw that it was loaded with beef skewers and chicken. And I realized that I'd already eaten a whole plate of that stuff. I'd forgotten that I was supposed to be vegan. I put the plate down and then started looking for veggie options. That's when I woke up. Hmmm.

I feel pretty good, but as I'm completing this first week I'm not feeling like I want to be vegan forever. I miss meat and cheese and eggs. I'll see how I feel at the end of the 21 days though. It's still early yet.

In other news, I went to the Getty Villa with my parents on Friday. They're visiting from Spain and wanted to do something touristy. I love going to the Villa. It's so peaceful and is a very beautiful oasis. I think I'll take my folks to the Self Realization Center in the Palisades later today. We could all use another peaceful and beautiful oasis. On that note I'm off to hike in Griffith Park with Melissa, Jojo, our babies and our dogs.