Friday, 30 October 2015

My first week at home

Besides excerise, which I'll post separately about, I've been keeping myself busy deep cleaning parts of the house and doing various little projects.

Our porch got a little facelift with a wreath I made and some new flowers.
I've been baking a lot. Bread, scones and apple tarts. Any treats from now on have to be homemade. It's more economical and healthier. I like knowing exactly what is in my food.
I also like preserving things. Jam etc. can often be expensive to buy but if you are at home anyhow it's easy to make. We stocked up on a ton of stuff at Sams Club and I ended up buying a bag of limes and using them to make a few jars of marmalade.
In fact other than the occasional long nap I've been really busy. Next on the list is these bad guys
When food is provided right in your backyard why let it sit and rot. These black walnuts will take forever to process but they apparently are the nuts with the highest protein content. So worth it for a vegetarian right!! I think it's great we have 3 large plants/trees in our yard and they all produce edible fruit or nuts.

The days are flying by. I'm enjoying myself. I haven't done any work or 'studying' but I figure it's the first week so let's ease into this!!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Week beginning Oct 26th 2015

My first week post-job. Lots of organisation going on. I have all my paperwork sorted out for now and I'm fine to stay until the end of my visa, yay!!
General weather this week

7am Body Pump 1 hour
8.10am Yoga at home 20 mins
4pm 30 mins walk with Boomer 
A very busy first day at home! I started really deep cleaning the house. No corner, nook, or canny unturned. The house has felt really damp, musty and dirty since the flooding. I think the crawl space underneath the house must have got a lot of water. So it feels good to clean. Doing a room a day. Judging by the living room I'm surprised we haven't all died from dust inhalation. Boomer is not impressed, I'm disturbing his usual 7+ hours of daytime sleeping.

7am Spin class 45 minutes...hoping to get blood flowing to alleviate DOMs from yesterday, left with a bruised bum lol.
2pm 2 mile run  with Boomer. I was so sore I wasn't sure I was capable of running and it was raining all day. I didn't let myself wuss out tho because I want to establish some sort of routine. I enjoyed it once I got going, Boomer didn't enjoy it so much. He wanted to stop, roll in the grass and do really giant slow blinks in the rain. The little man was not impressed. He has not been exercising much over the summer either so 2 miles was enough.
That face!

Cancelled our work garage pass and traded it in for a free pass that will let me park for 2 hours at the gym. There's $60 a month saved. As a result I had fun finding my way to and from the gym today. Also finally got my travel money back from the conference in Boston and cleared my credit card. A good money day.

7am Body Pump. Stuck to very light weights today to try let some soreness ease off. Came home, showered and had a protein shake. I lay down on the sofa for what was meant to be 5 minutes and fell asleep until 12. whoops. I woke up to find Boomer asleep in his crate instead of causing mischief. I've broken him!!
5pm 3 mile run my nap got rid of a lot of tiredness, stating the obvious, but soreness too. I was still really slow today but marginally faster than yesterday.

8.15am Yoga I didn't know that I was signing up for a photoshoot when I went to yoga. There were only two of us in the class with the instructor AND a photographer. Trying to close your eyes, relax and do breathing exercises is very difficult with really bright flashes going off. It was for promotional materials for the university.
Luckily they didn't stay long. The advantage of it being a very small class was I got lots of correction on my form. Still not as good a class as with my favorite teacher but hey it was pretty much free!
4.30pm 2.5 mile run with Boomer it was warm (around 80) so we kept it short. We finished at a dog park. After a few sniffs Boomer decided he was too tired to play so he laid down to watch the other dogs for a few minutes before we went and picked up his other mama.

7am Body Pump I made it! 5 days, 5 classes. Exhausting when starting from very little excercise but I'll adapt quickly. Of my 3 Body Pump classes this was the easiest. 

4pm 4 mile run by myself with some music this time. Nothing remarkable. Still not feeling any go in my legs. 

Sunday rest

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Leaving work

 I'm a very organized, get it done sort of person so I'm actually finding all the changes associated with my job ending liberating. I'm free from the worry of what might happen and now I'm dealing with life as it comes. 
My last day at work was less upsetting than I thought. I'd been slowly cleaning my desk, hood and bench all week as well as passing on responsibilities and finishing up my last experiment (in that lab). 
 I like to leave knowing I've left the place in a better state than I began and I have. It took over a year to get the lab to make the transition from a messy disorganized organic chemistry lab to a cleaner, more organized biochemistry based one. I got to enjoy that change for almost two years, hopefully that will have a nice impact on the newer students that will eventually join the lab. 

I've also left behind my mark on the people. I got to mentor 3 of the Ph.D students for close to 3 years, one particularly closely. Hopefully, I've helped to mature them into better researchers. On a smaller scale my now former boss pointed out that he has learned a lot from me. So I hope what little influence I can have, on someone with 10+ years experience on me, also leaves its mark. 

Geez I sound very big headed! I've come to realize a large amount of a career in science is confidence and connections. If I don't have confidence in myself no one else will. I love the quote by Steve Jobs. Its very true. I just have to remember that and realize that for the most part this career break is a choice. One that I made to support my wife's career while also not having to move away from my little family. I could have a job somewhere else and a break doesn't mean the end of my career.

On a different note, I think part of me is going to be jealous of Martina and her career. She is going from strength to strength. Every week/month there is another achievement that makes me think that she is making her way towards being an exceptional world class researcher that will have a huge impact on cancer. Thats just a kernel of jealously that is completely overwhelmed with love and pride. I know we made the right choice and if it doesn't work out for our careers long term it is certainly worth a shot.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

My new day to day life

You know how I thought my job was going to end in November...well it turns out the money ran out long ago, nobody has been checking, and tomorrow is my last day.

 I've been switched over to an unpaid affiliate position. I don't know what that means for the last three weeks of my visa. I hope is doesn't mess it up or I'll have to go ahead and book new flights for November, that might make me and my credit card cry a lot!!
I'm gonna assume it doesn't, continue on and look on the bright side. After tomorrow all of my time is my own. I've already planned out a rough schedule.

6am Get up
7am Gym class
8am Shower & Eat
9am Clean the house for an hour
10am dog walk for an hour
11am more cleaning/ food shopping, planning etc etc
12am lunch
1-2 review basic chem/bio/biochem in case I can tutor/teach next year
2-3 run
3-4.30 work on writing publication
4.30  cook dinner
5pm Dinner

I am going to try go to a gym class every weekday morning. I think it'll be rough for the first few weeks but  a.) I have to get Martina to work if we don't want to pay for parking and b.) it gets me out of bed and my day started with something productive. Some days the classes will just be yoga but I'll play around with it until I find what works.

There could be a ton of free time in my day or none at all, but its a start. I really want to work hard at 3 things

  • working out/losing weight/getting in great shape - when else am I gonna have the time to do it
  • getting a publication from my current research
  • keeping house so that when Martina gets home everything is done and its quality time for us
What it boils down to is I want to be busy all of the time and feel like I'm achieving things even if they are small things that don't seem that important to other people. I'm essentially going to be spending all day everyday by myself. I might end up having some very deep conversations with Boomer but it would be too easy to get really lonely and depressed. Nobody wants that!!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon 2015, SC

I have been wanting to run the Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon for a long time. Somehow, for the last two years I've ended up running other races on those dates. This year I finally remembered to check all my dates and register on time.

My friends were doing a weekend in their families Myrtle Beach condo so I went along and gave them some gas money (and bought breakfast to apologize for getting them up early on Sunday morning<---they are runners so they were understanding). So in all it was a very economical race weekend.
I went to the expo on Saturday in a local hotel (no race day pickup) and then ran the half marathon on Sunday.

The expo was tiny considering there were around 4,000 runners but they were selling extra merchandise buy one get one free. I've now built up a large collection of regular technical t-shirts as well as long sleeved ones but not so many vests/racebacks, so I bought 2 of those for a very nice price of $22.

The next morning the race started at 7am so I got up at 5.30 and had coffee and a bagel. The start was around a 10 minute drive from the condo at a local mall, my very nice friends dropped me off. The weather for this race was a complete 180 from last week. While there has been a lovely fall nip in the air since I got back from Florida, Saturday was a significant drop from even that. It was 40F at the start and I wore a racerback top, brrrrr!!
I was tempted to physically hug the stranger in front of me for body heat when lining up for the porta-potty (loads of them). I thought that might be a bit weird so I just used them as a wind shield. After that I made my way to the sign for 10-11 min/mile and put myself into the middle so I was surrounded by people on all sides.

The race started right on time and after around a mile of running everything except my hands was perfectly warm. The first 8 miles of this race are mostly on highway and while not boring isn't anything exceptional (I'm spoilt after last week in Key West) The last 5 miles run along the oceanfront and that was much nicer. The course is almost completely flat with one maybe two uphills (not steep) and one downhill.

The flatness combined with the perfect running temperatures made me a bit more interested in my running performance. I decided to run the entire thing at a comfortably hard pace. I didn't want to go all out because I haven't trained enough and I certainly haven't run at anything close to race pace in a while. I did enough to gauge my fitness.
 I ran most of the race and walked through the water stations (every 1.5 miles). I stopped once for a restroom break at mile 9. I felt so great after that I went a bit too fast for 3/4 of a miles at around 8.20 min/mile and then had to walk for a minute to catch my breath, not the smartest. However, other than some really swollen hands nothing hurt during the race.
I was aiming to hold a pace close to 9.30 minutes per mile for the entire half but it ended up being closer to 9.49. That ends up being a 2.08.42 (chip time). The fastest half I've run since April and not too bad considering I have a few holiday (ahem, and pre-holiday) pounds to lose. Now that the weather has cooled I can work on the pounds (not weather related) and get some speed-work into the mix.

There was a great crowd of spectators at the boardwalk finish (and a fair few on the course). I crossed the line and got a GIANT surfboard medal. Within the finisher shoot they had bagels, water, bananas, cookies etc. There was mention of I.Ds for beer but I'm not sure where the after party was and I didn't want to hang around (and keep my friends waiting). The finish area was a hot mess. Even though there was a big square nearby everyone congregated at the end of the finishers shoot and I had to stand by some ambulances so my friends would have a landmark for us to find each other. Only after I text them where I was did I realize they might panic a bit, ha ha.
We then went to a breakfast spot called Hot Stacks and I devoured as much food as I could. I washed, changed and went for a short walk on the beach before we started the drive home. Today I am paying, paying big time, ha ha. My back and strangely for me my calves are really sore. I think it'll take a few days for the soreness to recede. A rest day today and then back at it!!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

My poor canal

After the recent flooding in South Carolina, Columbia residents were without drinkable water for over a week. I've mostly avoided that. However, the lack of clean water has been due, to not only mains breaking, but a giant breach in the Columbia canal that runs parallel to the river. Between the river and the canal runs a raised path where I normally run and that is exactly where the large break occured. 
This has been a huge challenge and it's looking like it'll take months, if not a year to repair properly. I don't know if this is the only break or if the path in general is unstable but it looks like I'll be finding some new places to run in the next few months.
In nicer news the weather here is beautiful right now. For the first time in 4 months or so I actually found myself thinking it'd be a lovely day for a run.

Southernmost Half Marathon, Key West FL

I ran a race on honeymoon. Thats ok, right? Not too crazy? I thought it was ok to do because there was no fuss. I walked to the start and was finished running by 9am. Then we planned a day at the pool afterwards. From mornings (heat and humidity) in Key West I knew I'd be incredibly slow so I wouldn't be sore afterwards. It didn't impact the holiday aspect of our trip at all.

What does sound a little crazy is the reasons I decided to run. If I don't run another marathon, Florida would end up being the only state in my little 50 states adventure that I have only ran a full marathon in (NC and SC- I've done both a marathon and half). My OCD would make me want to go back and do one later. Besides that how often would you get to run around the southernmost point of the USA? Now I just need to find a race at the northernmost point. This is the sort of thinking that gets me in trouble, ha ha!! Besides all of that craziness, Key West is pretty much paradise and this race was a great opportunity to get out and see a whole load of the island on foot.

I got up at 5am on race morning and chugged down some coffee. I didn't eat anything because my stomach gets sick in the heat. Less energy to burn versus sick is a winner in my books. I walked down to the race start, which was about 2 miles away from our condo. On the way I could see the poor marathoners who already started their race. The race was starting at the Rum Barrel Bar. This was nice because they opened up and I got to take advantage of some real bathrooms and AC. This was important because it was over 80F outside and 80+% humidity. I didn't want to be outside sweating before the race even began.

The half marathon began at 6.15 and for the first 4 miles it was almost completely pitch black. The course navigated the whole outer road of the island, except for two little dips we were on the same path the most of the time. The first of these dips was right around mile 2 (beside my condo) when we ran an out and back into Fort Zachary-Taylor State park. Around now the turtles are nesting so our lighting (so not to disturb the nesting) consisted of lovely volunteers standing at strategic points with torches. We didn't see really anything in the park but it was a wonderful night to see the moon and stars...really beautiful. At this stage, I was already drenched in sweat and taking it easy.

We then started to make our way to the Atlantic side of Key West. The timing for hitting the coast line could not have been better. As I started to see glimpses of the Atlantic the sky was lighting up in pinks and purples. I could not stop taking pictures! Right as I was hitting the mile 6 water station, I got to watch the run rise out of the ocean as a perfect globe.

 I walked a good bit here to watch the sun rise and flying (or long jumping) fish, I was flagging. All of this running (besides the park) was done on really wide sidewalks and the field was well spread so I didn't have to worry about cars or blocking people.
Sweaty Betty
By the time we got to the next out and back (around mile 7.5) I was ready to be finished. I was starting to overheat and although I knew I shouldn't I was knocking back a ton of water at every stop. I was also getting electrolyte drinks every so often but not enough to counteract my sweating and water guzzling and I forgot my salt tabs. I knew I'd feel like that though so I just told myself to take it easy, no rush, and take in the scenery. Gatorade, which I normally don't like, at mile 9 tasted like sugary heaven. I could probably have knocked back a few gallons lol.
I kept moving but kept slowing down. I felt a bit dizzy at one point and running even 1/4 mile intervals was too much for my poor heart rate so at that stage I was just thought screw this and walked most of the last 3 miles....better to finish slow than pass out. The scenery was still gorgeous ocean views so I took that in and wondered if anyone would notice if I took a little swim. You know turn it into a duathlon.
Sounds awful right, it wasn't! I expected this and yes I wanted to be finished with a cool beer in hand but I was still having a blast. This probably one of the prettiest races I've ever run and it was completely flat. Nothing hurt during the race I was just too hot.

I had great fun listening to a local radio station as I ran. There were a lot (like loads) of songs about weed mixed in with holiday rock, reggae and general quirkiness. Apparently if you "add tequila to bud lite you'll be alright" ha ha.

Eventually I made my way to the finish, woohoo, and crossed the line in 2.41. I'm not too proud to take that. I'm not checking :p but its probably my slowest time  (solo). I think most people (at least vacationers) were caught by surprise by the conditions because a ton of full marathoners dropped back to the half before the race started and the first full finisher was somewhere around the 3.30 mark.
After I finished I got my pretty medal and water. We went right to breakfast a stones throw from the finish line. Mimosas all around. Then I spent my morning at the pool in beautiful cold water. What I'm really taking away from this race is an amazing experience.
My reward!!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

An update from Key West- Dry Tortugas National Park

 I'll do a overall update later but to cut a long story short, I needed a holiday badly. In case anyone hasn't been watching the news, South Carolina is devastated by massive flooding. One of the most badly hit cities was Columbia where I live. We left right as the crap hit the fan. As a result our first two days in Miami were fun but intermingled with the stress of wondering if our house was underwater. Once some of the water receded our friends checked our house, on the morning we were heading to Key West, and it was fine. Car safe-check, house safe-check, dog safe-check, the holiday can begin!!
 We headed to Key West and everyday I feel a little bit of stress, I didn't know I was carrying around, lifting off my shoulders.

Yesterday was the ultimate relaxation day. Although, when I say it began at 6am some people might not agree. Key West is beautiful but its commercialised (in the nicest possible way) and busy! Yesterday was about getting away from all of that.

The Florida Keys do not actually end at Key West, just the road through them. We sailed, aboard the Yankee Freedom Ferry, 70 miles west of Key West to another Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park. We got on the boat after our 7am check-in and had breakfast. On the journey out  we stood at the bow and I saw a shark, jellyfish, some turtles and a school of feeding dolphins.

We sailed for around 2 hours and arrived in Dry Tortugas National Park. This is the home of Fort Jefferson that was used in yonder years as a Navy base and prison. The fort is unused and crumbling in places but you can still walk around the upper walls.
We mainly came for the beaches and crystal clear water. Snorkling was possible straight from the island, you can see small patches of coral that has colonized the walls and boat landings. After lots of walking around the island we snorkled in two spots. One was inundated with jellyfish (we both got a couple of stings) and we soon hightailed it out of there, but the other area was amazing and full of colorful fish.
It turns out Martina is a natural at snorkling and I couldn't get her out of the water!! Like most things I'm unsure of (even though I've snorkled before I was a bit panicky) I spent an hour or so and enjoyed the experience but after lunch on the boat I decided to wander around taking pictures. We didn't stop moving the entire day. It was such an amazing experience.  It felt too short, I was so jealous of all those lucky people who were camping overnight. I hope to come back again!!