Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Gum Ball Crafts

The Sweet Gum Ball Tree is known for its ball shaped, thorny seedpods. We have one of these wonderfully tall trees in our front yard. In the Fall, the leaves change to beautiful oranges and yellows.

I collect the seedpods throughout the year as they drop onto our lawn. Sweet gum balls are a natural, eco friendly item to use for all sorts of crafts. I enjoy them most in their natural state just thrown into a bowl or using them for place card holders.

Spray paint them gold or silver and make Holiday garland, ornaments or wreaths. Add them to a gift, in place of a bow. The ideas are endless.
Sweet Gum Balls in their natural state.
Spray painted silver and added to a gift.
Spray painted silver and added to a gift.
Spray painted silver, threaded and made into Holiday garland.
The sweet gum balls, from our southern California home, can be purchased at Jen's Backyard.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Camping at Calico Ghost Town

Bryan, Austin & Sam
Nothing but blue sky...


Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Long Beach Marathon Review

This past Sunday, I ran the Long Beach International Marathon (my 2nd marathon). My main goal was to finish faster than my first marathon. My secondary goal was not to hit "the wall" at mile 20 and in a perfect world... to run it in 4 hrs 20 minutes.

During my 16 week training program, I totaled 365 miles. I was injury free and ready.

Bryan and I headed to Long Beach, CA the day before the race to pick up my race packet, take in a beautiful day at the ocean and load up on carbs. Here I am sneaking in a beer with a big pasta lunch. Hey now, beer has carbs.
Rise and eat at 4:00am....It's race day! My husband bought me these cute "race day" underwear. Bryan, you're so good to me. Little did I know, this would be a short lived gift.
At 5am, we headed to the start line...but not without stopping at the dreaded porta potty. This photo is a foreshadowing of what was yet to come.
The race started in the dark, before sunrise. It's almost time... 
Miles 1 & 2 were a complete cluster cluck (sorry Grandma). There were way too many people to pace yourself, let alone follow the pacer. At mile 2, I broke away from the crowd and pacer and decided I would have to use my watch and pace myself. Mile 4, oh no, need to hit the porta potty. Miles 4 through 6 were uneventful, I felt good and was keeping my pace. We ran through the marina and around the light house. 

Miles 6 through 10 were along the beach. I made sure I took it all in. It was beautiful. I still kept my pace, but succumbed to the fact that I had "runner's trots" and making my goal of 4:20 would be impossible. Ugh. It's going to be a looooooooong day. 
At mile 13 I began to have horrible abdominal pain, but I was able to run through it, still keeping my pace. It was a terrible feeling not knowing when the next porta potty would be in site. I felt good during miles 14 through 17. Mile 18 was the worst for me, up a hill and then down one. My knees began to hurt. 

I feared that I was going to hit the "wall" at mile 19, like I did last year, but I remained positive. I kept telling myself, "I am much stronger this year and even though I am pooping my pants, I can do this!"

Miles 19, 20 and 21 came and went. I did it, I kept my pace and didn't hit the wall! I was really happy, but was concerned because the uncomfortableness started settling in. At mile 23 they merge the full marathoners with the half marathoners and it was a hot mess. My pace slowed down during miles 21 through 25. 

There was great support throughout the race, more than enough water stations and bands played at many mile markers.

Ah, the end was near. I surprised even myself that I had energy to pick up my pace and finish well. My husband, mom, Fred, my brother John and his girlfriend were at the finish line cheering me on. Thanks for your support!! Thanks to all of you who supported me from miles away and thank you Christina...no one can make it to the start line without encouragement. 
I did it. I beat my time from last year, by 11 minutes (even with 4 bathroom stops). I didn't hit the wall or walk one time. My favorite stat below is that I was ahead of 52% of the male runners. The pain is worth it to say, "I beat a bunch of men!" I know, what a poor sport I am. You run 26.2 miles and then you can be the judge. I felt great after the race. My feet hurt pretty bad, but overall I was really pleased. I did hate having to tell my husband I had to throw his gift away...
Result in Entire Field - 1269th place
1676 finishers behind. 43% of finishers ahead.
Result in Gender (Women) - 392nd place
736 finishers behind. 35% of finishers ahead.
Result in Division (F40-44) - 78th place
117 finishers behind. 39% of finishers ahead.
The location of the figure on the line shows your position in the finish order of the race. The closer the figure is to the right, the closer you were to the winner.
Who's who
Of the 2945 who finished, 38% were Women and 62% were Men.

Opposite Sex
For the record, you were ahead of about 52% of men runners.

Timing Info
Your start delay: 2m 18s.
This page based on NET 
  Click images for GUN times.

Over Second Half
You passed
passed you

Monday, October 7, 2013

Up the Coast to Levi's GranFondo

Last Thursday, my husband and I took a journey in our 1977 VW Bus up the scenic pacific coastal highway en route to Santa Rosa, CA. Our destination, the famous Levi's GranFondo, a 103 mile bike race. 

Getting Bryan to the race was a journey filled with beautiful scenery, scary moments and laughter. The "starter" on the Bus broke at our first pit stop in Santa Barbara. If you've seen the movie "Little Miss Sunshine" then you'll get the reference. We had to "Little Miss Sunshine" it up the coast. Push, run and jump in. 

We stopped in Solvang, where the movie "Sideways" was filmed. We ate at "Pea Soup Andersen's" and had pea soup of course.
We then made our way up the coast. Everyone knows a VW Bus drives slow and even slower on mountain roads. We laughed when a deer jumped out in front of us and we didn't even have to slam on the brakes. It's as if the deer knew, "I have time to cross the road, it's a Bus!"
Making our way to Big Sur, we stopped to get some photos of the sunset. It was the most perfect sunset
My favorite photo from the trip, is the one below. Bryan tried to use the timer on the camera so we could both be in the shot .... the timing was off and it looks like a fake sunset, one of those backdrops. I just love this photo. It makes me laugh.
We were not laughing when the Bus stalled at a light...up a hill. Nor were we laughing when we were traveling down a two lane highway through Big Sur...in the dark with a Bus that wasn't working properly. That was stressful.

It got interesting when we arrived at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campgroud. It was dark. We hard a hard time finding our campsite and of course when we found it, it was on an incline. Remember, the "starter" on the bus wasn't working. Here she is, stuck. Three nice gentlemen helped us push her and get her started again the next morning. 

With a recommendation from my dad, we headed for breakfast at Nepenthe. My dad ate at Nepenthe's nearly 30 years ago and said we should check it out. We were disappointed that it didn't open until 11:30am, but Cafe Kevah (attached to Nepenthe) was open and we had one of the best breakfast burritos ever! Hands down, this place is on my top 10 restaurant list. The view was amazing and the food was delicious. We also saw dolphins and a whale while eating. Be sure to stop here if you ever ride up the coast.

This place is magical ... our "starter" began to work again. Woohoo!! 

Next stop, Monterey, CA. We drove through town and stopped at Cannery Row. We wanted to stay longer, but our trip was taking way longer than we had expected. We needed to get Bryan to his race. 
Back in the Bus we went, headed for San Francisco. We had no time to stop, but we still had fun driving through the middle of the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge. 
Hours later we made it to Santa Rosa, CA. We picked up Bryan's race packet, ate at a pizzeria so Bryan could "carb load" and headed for the campground. Time to get excited Bryan! We can't tell you what the Santa Rosa campground looked like. We arrived in the dark and left in the dark.
Time to get ready! It's race day! Levi's GranFondo is a 103 mile open road ride with both amateur and professional cyclists. 7,500 riders participated. This was Bryan's first "century" and of course he picked a hard one! The ride consisted of mostly climbs and descents. 
Bryan met up with some of his friends from the Temecula Velo riding club at the start line. 

This is what 7,500 riders looks like. Can you spot Bryan?

And here's Bryan's butt at the finish line! 
They did it! 
The woman in the middle, did it with a sprained ankle! 
Way to go guys! I am so very proud of you! 9 hours, 25 mins. Can you imagine riding up and down mountains for that long?! Bryan, Mary, George, Wendy and Martyn you are truly amazing. Kudos.