Continuing the celebration

Ok – maybe I’m milking this for too much, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me and I feel so incredibly relieved and proud to have it behind me.

When we arrived home – my good friend Sarah arrived at the same time for a visit!  We spent two days wandering around Albuquerque – it was so much fun to show her my new home.  And we had a bit of wine (yes the giraffe helped me celebrate my BQ):

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Then – about a year ago – Pandora introduced a peacock charm.  Which was pretty perfect since my running group calls itself Team Peacock.  But I told myself that I wouldn’t get it until I qualified – and really had something to “peacock” about for!  But – now that the time has come, I realized that I wasn’t 100% certain about the peacock charm.  I hadn’t been wearing that bracelet that much.  But I went to the Pandora store to look at it – and found something that I loved more:  their essence line.  I got a beautiful bracelet with three charms representing faith (amethyst), confidence, and strength (onyx).  I felt that those three sentiments really captured what I needed to see this whole thing through.  It’s my BQ bracelet:

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Finally – we already had this planned (so it wasn’t really a celebration) – but Derek and I took our first hot air balloon ride on Saturday!  Another 50 by 50 item knocked off the list!  It was really wonderful – the ride was so smooth and peaceful.  I was amazed at the control they had vertically.  There wasn’t much wind, so when we were trying to land – we couldn’t quite get to the desired landing spot.  Our pilot ended up having to land in a cul-de-sac!  I was a little anxious, but just trusted him as he seemed really in control.  And his landing was amazingly pinpoint.     IMG_1888 IMG_1897 IMG_1901 IMG_1907 IMG_1918  IMG_1921

Corrales Wine Loop

On my first full Saturday (and weekend) in Albuquerque, I wanted to make sure we really started to make good on our intention to explore Albuqerque, New Mexico, and the Southwest.  Since we don’t really have time this weekend to go far, we chose to do something in town.  There are several wineries in the area, and we decided to try a few in Corrales – a small town across the river from Albquerque.  We didn’t know it when we started – but they call this the Corrales Wine Loop. Continue reading

Epcot Food & Wine 2013: French Regional Lunch

My dear friend Beth told us that one of the best special events held at the Epcot Food & Wine festival is the French Regional Lunch.  These are extended lunches with wine pairings hosted at the France pavilion (in Monsieur Paul’s) twice a week or so – each day being a different region of France with a different winery doing the pairing.  Since Beth and I have many shared tastes – her recommendation put this event at the top of our list. Continue reading

Epcot Food & Wine 2013

For the third year in a row, Derek and I headed to WDW and Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival.  This is absolutely one of our favorite times of the year to go to WDW and one of our favorite events.  This year, we were living in different locations as Derek had already moved out to Albuquerque, so we arrived at different times on Saturday.  Lucky me, I arrived early enough that day to partake in “Taste, Shake, and Indulge like the French” – a Grand Marnier tasting at the France pavilion.  I had convinced Beth, Noel, Carlos, and Eileen to join me for this (yeah, ok, it wasn’t hard to convince them) – although I would have gone alone. Continue reading

Charles St 12

 

My marathon training plan had several “tune-up” races embedded within it.  A month before the marathon was the half marathon tune-up.  Now – it turns out, it’s pretty hard to find a half marathon in August anywhere close.  But I found a cool new race called the Charles St 12 (12 miler) in Baltimore; and since my good friend Beth lives in Baltimore – to Baltimore I would go!

It became a fuller team racing weekend as Roz (another Peacock) came up from Alabama for the weekend, Derek ran the race as well, and Beth’s friend Elizabeth joined in all the fun.

The weekend was Roz’s birthday – so Beth (who is an amazing baker) baked her a cake – a pink lemonade gluten-free cake!

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The race was on Saturday morning – so it was virtually the first thing we did that weekend. The morning dawned humid and warm – and the course ended up being remarkably hilly (despite the tag-line “net descent” which was true, but masked a whole bunch of uphill).  I had a tough race – reminiscent of Wildwood last year, although better than that.  I didn’t handle the humidity that well and ended up really paying for it in the last two miles – had to walk just a bit in that last mile.  Ah well – it was frustrating and certainly discouraging for my upcoming marathon, but I did focus on lessons learned – I think I didn’t hydrate (with electrolytes) sufficiently the day(s) before to handle the humidity.

We had an amazing brunch and then headed out to Fort McHenry – the inspiration for the national anthem!  Our tour guide was wonderful – knowledgeable, engaging – all you could ask for.

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We capped the evening off by going crab picking for dinner!  When in Maryland, do as Marylanders do!

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With a beautiful sunset – we headed to Fells Point for some tasty gelato at Pitango GelatoIMG_1188 IMG_1190

and a personal ghost tour by Noel (Beth’s husband).  Very cool.

The next morning, we did an easy run then had bacon pancakes for breakfast (breakfast of Peacock champions!)  Then we headed out to Black Ankle to go wine tasting – hey, what’s a Peacock gathering without some kind of drinking?IMG_1197

 

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend spent with great friends.

Albuquerque

Life has a way of continuing to surprise us.  Without going into detail – it very recently arose that we may be moving to Albuquerque, NM.  It’s a fairly complicated thing to piece through – but it largely has to do with Derek’s job.  Nonetheless – we took a pretty last minute trip out to Albuquerque to assess whether it was somewhere we could imagine living.  Derek has been traveling there for business for many years, but I had never been.

My first view from the plane window:

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To be honest, flying in was pretty beautiful as there are some gorgeous mountains and plateaus on the way in.

The first afternoon we spent walking around Old Town – a cute square with lots of fun shops to wander through.  Of course, I managed to buy a little something – a bear charm:

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It’s the “grandmother” charm and stands for strength and courage.  Well – if this move becomes a reality – those are two things that I will need for sure!

Friday night was a wonderful dinner with Seth and Lacey at their home.  Seth is a colleague of Derek’s and a driver in getting us to potentially move out there.  Dinner was fantastic and they were so gracious to show us around various neighborhoods and give us a sense of life in Albuquerque.

Saturday – we took the tram to the top of Sandia Mountain.  Gorgeous.

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The views were stunning and there were walking/hiking/running (whatever you prefer) trails all over.  At the top – we saw some women who were just completing a 9 mile run up the mountain in preparation for the La Luz race (which runs up the La Luz trail).  Yeah – that’s probably something I’ll have to try if I move out there…

We tried out a New Mexican restaurant for lunch – Sadie’s.  The salsa was hot and addictive.  I ordered the carne adovada.  I have to say – I didn’t love it – a bit too greasy for me.  In addition to the customary chips and salsa, apparently it is the norm to serve sopapaillas with the meal (like bread).  They have honey on the table for you to put in these delicious, warm, fried dough pockets.  OMG – yeah – if we move here, we’re going to have to make sure that they don’t bring those to the table – otherwise I won’t be able to resist them.

The afternoon was some lovely wine-tasting at two local wineries.  The first was Casa Rondena – really gorgeous grounds, hard to believe it’s just smack dab by the city.

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And their wines were tasty too – I particularly liked the Viognier.  The second stop was at Gruet (advertised in the Southwest Airlines magazine).  They are known for their sparkling wines.  Decent – but nothing wowed me.

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We had a lovely dinner at Farm & Table that night.

Sunday morning – ran the Bosque Trail to get my 13 miles in.  Big test – would I enjoy running out there?  There are trails everywhere – so it’s incredibly easy to get outdoors and be active.  The Bosque is nice – and the altitude of Albuquerque is good training.  It was a tough run at the end because of the altitude and heat.

We met another former colleague of Derek’s for brunch at the Frontier – a college-type hangout.

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We were told we should order the cinnamon roll (or sweet roll?)  It was pretty good – but we probably should have eaten it right when it came out for it to be at its tastiest.

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We ended our weekend by driving up to Santa Fe to check it out.  By this time, I was kind of bushed and not real interested in shopping – so the wandering around wasn’t as much fun as usual.  But we did hang out on the balcony of a brewery on the main square and watched the world go by.  Quite entertaining – there was some strange car parade going on – with souped up cars that had hydraulic suspensions.  And an incredibly enthusiastic balloon art guy.

For our final dinner, we decided to try New Mexican cuisine again – this time at El Pinto.  El Pinto is an enormous restaurant – with its outside patio seating, it seats up to 1100 (only 400 or so inside).  And the patio was really pretty.  The food was delicious – we both really enjoyed it.

All in all – we had a great time in Albuquerque.  It seemed like a place we would enjoy living in – the activeness of the lifestyle fitting who we are right now.  So stay tuned – no decisions have been made yet…

Buffalo or bust – part 2

Race day dawned!  To be honest, this was originally a marathon goal race for Rozzie and me – but life intervened and, so, a half marathon it would be.  I think Rozzie was still looking at it as a goal race.  For me – I was/am in the middle of my training cycle for my goal marathon in September.  This race came really early in the cycle – so I was partially viewing it as a training run (but of course I would run hard, just no taper or real prep leading into it).

The gang before the race:

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The course was designed so that you ran by the same point like 3 times – which was great for spectators.  Eileen manned the camera and did such a super job capturing all of us running!  Here are two of me at about the 10k point – man do I look happy – trust me, I doubt I was that happy!  And check out Derek’s running form (he was leg 3 of 4)

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I finished in PR time (1:44:04) – so I was pleased with that – not bad for a race that I hadn’t tapered for!  Roz got 2nd in her age group and a PR to boot!  I did have to go on a frenzied solo driving trip through Buffalo to go pick Derek up at the 30k point, but otherwise, all was good.

After a quick lunch and showers – we headed to the wineries near Niagara-on-the-lake.  We eventually stopped at three different wineries: Pillitteri, Lailey, and Trius by Hillebrand and tried sparklings, still wines, and ice wines!  The ice wines were surprisingly delicious – I had had them before, but always found them too cloying in the past.  Part of the gang in our “private” room at Pillatteri:

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Since we were in the “tasting” mood – we also stopped at  Tim Horton’s to give everyone the full Canadian experience.  And we did a Timbits tasting!  My absolute favorites are chocolate and sour cream timbits – and usually we just get those two flavors.  But we added Dutchies and Honey Crullers to the tasting menu.

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We finished the day off by stopping at a brewery for a tasting (Oast) – Noel, Carlos, and Eileen managed to sneak in two breweries.

Another wonderful evening, a morning recovery run, and a final breakfast with the whole gang:

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The evidence of our weekend:DSC_0330

Once again, as always, with my Peacock friends – it was an amazing weekend.  One that really makes you relish life!

(photos courtesy of Beth)