Until next year

Things have been crazy, chaotic and fun.

My parents’ house has been bursting with lots of energy — like, 11 family members full of energy.

It’s been fun.

But, now I am settling back into reality packing my bags.

Because, next up is visiting my grandma.

Looking forward to good Japanese food and even more family time to ring in the new year.

I don’t know when I’ll have Internet access again, so if it isn’t until a few days after 2015, well,

Happy New Year.

Let’s make it a great one.

Advertisements

When your house gets broken into

When I saw that my phone had two missed calls and a voicemail, I didn’t expect to hear my roommate say in that recorded message: “It looks like someone broke into our house. They didn’t take any computers …”

Immediately my mind started racing. Did she say all the computers were there? Or that they had been taken?

I was mad. I was confused. The doors were all locked but someone or some people decided to deliberately break in and enter. And, we live in a “good neighborhood!”

When I discovered that “all s/he/they took” was jewelry, I was a little relieved.

Necklaces and rings and bracelets are just things, I told myself. When I realized that the stolen jewelry included my Nike Women’s Marathon Tiffany’s necklace, I felt a little more sad than before. That was a necklace that I earned, that I trained and raced for. It can never be replaced. I cannot go to Tiffany & Co. and purchase a new one. It was unique to that 2011 race. And then I realized that a pair of earrings that were also stolen belonged to Sarah. These were not expensive earrings, but they held great sentimental value to me. And, don’t get me started on the gold rings my mom gave me when I was younger that she got from her mom.

What feels worse than all the jewelry that was stolen from my house is the feeling of insecurity I now feel. Seeing your room with drawers to your nightstand and dresser opened with bags and other items in disarray is not a good feeling. Even my socks and underwear were scattered on the floor because apparently the robber(s) assumed I had expensive goods tucked away in my sock drawer …. yeah, right! You got the wrong house for that, buddy!

Your home is supposed to be a place to be safe and secure.

You never think something like this will happen to you. And, when it does, it’s shocking. You try to make sense of it all.

Why did they not take our computers? Why did they not take XYZ and instead take ABC? Why did they not take the 40 dollars in cash to the desk drawer that they clearly opened?

You start speculating and wondering and replaying what happened in your head.

Were they teenagers just out for the thrill to do something? Were they on drugs? Were they watching us when we left the house? Have they been watching us before and knew that we were girls and therefore maybe owned jewelry? Will it happen again?

I know it could have been way worse and I am thankful that it wasn’t. I’m glad no one was home when it happened. I’m glad no one came home while it was happening. None of us were hurt. I’m appreciative that they didn’t steal our computers because I hadn’t backed up my hard drive in a while. I’m thankful they didn’t take my passport.

“At least the most important thing of your house wasn’t harmed,” my coworker said.

What was she referring to?

Me, and my roommates.

Getting your house broken into is very unsettling. With news that Washington state is #1 in the country for property crime in 2013, we all need to take the necessary precautions and keep an eye on each other and our neighbors.

However, I suppose my roommates and I cannot live in fear. I’m moving on (and moving out! — Just kidding, roommates …)

But, let me just add, I think I’ve had my fair share of unfortunate events for a while, OK?

OK, good.

 

Welcome, holiday season

I’m all for the holidays but I’ve never been into Halloween. Dressing up in costume never appealed to me. I wasn’t a kid with a sweet tooth so the candy didn’t attract me either. (I’d rather trick-or-treat for bags of chips than tons of candy).

Halloween 2014

Halloween 2014

So, now with Halloween good and done, we can focus on the real holiday season.

My cousin told me that yesterday, Nov. 1, Starbucks was serving up their drinks in their holiday red cups. I finally got mine this morning.

Holiday happy!

Holiday happy!

Then it was a drive just outside Seattle to hike to Annette Lake. A leisurely 7.5-mile jaunt that was easy on my post-8-miler legs. It was grey when we started but the rain thankfully held off. Yellow and red leaves were either on trees or fallen on the ground. Ah, November!

Annette Lake

Annette Lake

When we arrived at the lake, we were surprised to see trees dusted with snow on the mountain tops up above. Winter’s coming, folks!

The weather was cool but not cold. The sun made a few casual cameos.

(Another) #SundaySelfie

(Another) #SundaySelfie

The welcoming of the holiday season arrives with November.

My mom already bought me a chocolate Advent calendar from Trader Joe’s. I got really excited and then sad with the realization that I have to wait an entire month to actually start using it.

“I need a countdown to the countdown to Christmas!” I said to my parents.

I’m so ready to get this holiday season started.

Let’s bundle up in scarves, wear long spandex tights on our runs, eat lots of food — and celebrate.

Whatever you’re celebrating, it’s the most wonderful time of year, right?

Disneyland in October

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you may recall my 24 hours at Disneyland stint in 2012.

Then there was last year when I went to Disneyland to experience all the Christmas-y things it had to offer.

This year I went during the park’s Halloween Time!

Do I ever get tired of Disneyland? No. It’s the happiest place on earth, after all.

Where else can you go where you feel like time has stopped and everything about life is good?

Maybe I’ve always loved Disneyland because I grew up watching Disney movies and memorizing the lyrics to the songs. I’ve never had any desire to go to any other theme park (nor have I been to any others). But, (in my biased opinion,) Disneyland is different.

At Disneyland, if a cast member walks by and greets you and your cousins as “princesses,” it’s not creepy. You all just smile and laugh about it. Because, at Disneyland everyone is a prince or princess. (Or, heck, you can be a villain if you really want to!)

I had a blast at Disneyland last November when all the Christmas decorations were up and even though I’m not big on Halloween, it was a pretty neat treat to see all the pumpkins and orange and yellow decorations everywhere. Added bonus: Space Mountain was transformed into a “Ghost Galaxy” which sort of scared me the first time but I think Marissa and I ended up riding it three times throughout the weekend.

IMG_1700

Not only did I grow up watching and singing all things Disney, I grew up going to Disneyland with my family. My parents took me to Tokyo Disneyland when I was little, like maybe around age 4. There’s a video of my mom and I riding the tea cups together. Even though my mom would never go on that ride now (she says she gets too dizzy), nor does she even care for the theme park anymore, I still love the tea cups. My many other Disneyland memories are with my aunts and cousins. (And, more recently with my close friends).

IMG_1672

 

Even though waiting in lines for rides can be a pain and a drain, everything is worth it at Disneyland. Staying up on my feet from 7 a.m. to 12 midnight was well worth it. I was sore when I returned from my Disney trip Monday. (Yes, I know! I just ran a marathon but my quads were sore from all the walking!) I had the best of times hanging with my cousins at the most magical and happiest place on earth.

IMG_1662

None of the roller coasters were closed.

I was able to ride Indiana Jones four times throughout the weekend.

I survived California Screamin’ twice.

I soaked in the California sun.

And now I am trying to recover and get back to reality.

Because, sometimes Disneyland doesn’t seem real.

But, it is.

It’s the happiest place on earth.

All in a (sports) weekend

For my birthday weekend, there was hiking, 5K racing, pinball playing and merriment with friends.

For someone else’s birthday weekend, there were sports, sports and sports.

Birthday boy stumbles upon a birthday party

Birthday boy stumbles upon a birthday party

 

That was fine by me!

A whole weekend of Seattle sports? Yes, please!

Friday night started out with cheering on “our” NHL team, the Vancouver Canucks. Yep, until Seattle gets our own team, this will be the only time I root for a non-Emerald city team! It was my first NHL game and even though it was preseason, it was very fun and exciting. (It also didn’t hurt that we won!)

Vancouver Canucks v. Calgary Flames

Vancouver Canucks v. Calgary Flames

 

We drove back to Seattle that night after the game. There may have been a late WinCo stop for caffeinated beverages. It was my first time in a WinCo and in my tired state, I felt like I was in a strange Costco-Walmart combo. It was weird.

Saturday morning I woke up and did my last long run before the Portland Marathon. After that was done and out of the way, it was time to focus on the Seattle Sounders! The sun came out and I was surprisingly warm throughout the entire game. (Note to self: buy and bring own hat so I don’t have to steal Bryce’s Sounders cap!)

Sounders FC v. Chivas USA

 

While the beginning of the match started out a bit funky — and not the We’ve got the Funk-kind of funky — the boys began to mesh and ended with a 4-2 win!

And then came Sunday. With this past week being a bye week for the Seahawks, our undivided attention was for the Mariners. And, yes, for the record, we bought tickets for this last regular season game at the very beginning of the season. (No bandwagon fans here!)

Seattle Mariners v. LA Angels

 

It was one of the most exciting baseball games I remember attending. Felix was great. The stadium energy was great. (If only the Rangers had done great, too … but, ah well, there’s always next season for the playoffs!) The M’s came away with the win and although no playoffs, we can be proud of their winning season!

It was a great weekend of Seattle wins.

I may also have stayed up until nearly 2 am Saturday “night” to watch a live stream of the Berlin Marathon. Yeah, I’m not a runner nerd or anything like that! But, I was able to witness the new marathon world record! (Those Kenyans are quite speedy).

Sports, no matter what they are, always bring people together.

I’m pretty tired. But, three sporting events all in one weekend?

Worth it.

Chopped — Being 13 inches lighter

I had what my friend Emily called, “long hair problems.”

I couldn’t braid my hair because the braid would become so heavy and wide.

I couldn’t put my ponytail high up (or even in the middle) on my head. It had to be a low pony because my hair had gotten that long. (I have thick hair so it can get pretty heavy).

When I went on runs, my hair would sway and hit my elbows! I know, ew, gross.

The back of my neck would get very sweaty.

These are not complaints, but more what one has to “deal with” when having long hair. To look at the positive, I guess with long hair, you have more styling options? (Not that I ever took advantage of that). Oh! I was able to whip my hair back and forth, Willow Smith style, with long flowing hair!

I didn’t want to make any major changes until after “the” marathon because I didn’t want to “mess anything up” in my training. (I know, crazy runner talk here!)

But, exactly one month before race day, I got a hair cut. It just got to be “too much.”

I intended to chop at least eight inches with a maximum of 10, but apparently 13 inches came off. I’ve done a “major chop” before but it’s always a little weird to get used to short hair.

Before / After

Before / After

I grew up always being a “long hair girl.” I hated haircuts. In middle school, I would trim my own hair after taking showers. I think my long hair felt sort of like a security blanket of sorts. It kept me warm in the winters (seriously, who needs scarves when you have long hair?) and I could also easily tie it back whenever it got in the way. Every few summers, one of my aunts would give me a proper, very minimal, cut.

This is the third time since freshman year of college where I’ve chopped off “all my hair.” If it weren’t for donating it, I wouldn’t be doing it. I would keep my hair at shoulder length because having your hair too short to put in a ponytail is the most frustrating girl-runner problem!

It wasn’t a difficult decision the first time I did it. I hadn’t grown my hair out with the intention of cutting and giving it away. But, that summer of 2006, I knew I “had” to. I knew it wouldn’t bring her back or make anything better. But, it could help someone like her. Sometimes when you lose someone close to you, little things like this stick with you.

I’m not so good at the blood donating thing, so this is also the next best. (I am an organ donor but I don’t plan on giving those away for, erm, a long time).

And, with my short hair, I’m really hoping that this will make me a faster runner. This is logical reasoning, right?

When I took my hair to mail out at the post office, I asked the mail clerk what the weight of the package was. He told me that it was 6.5 ounces! Granted, this was hair from one big pony tail I just chopped off plus two smaller ones from hair I cut two years ago that I never got around to donating. I know, I know, gross, right? I kept my own hair in a Ziploc bag for two years?? Yes.

Sept. 2014 / May 2012

Many people females tend to chop off all their hair when they have/want a major life change.

That first time I chopped off my hair, it was.

Now it’s to get that marathon PR.

And, to remember that great friend.

 

 

——————

[Back in 2006, I donated 10 inches of hair to Locks of Love. Since then, I heard that the nonprofit isn’t “that great” and did some research. Sure enough, many sources claim Locks of Love has several faults. I won’t rehash it here but do a simple Google search and you’ll find different articles. This time I decided to therefore donate to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. Let me know if you have donated elsewhere and your experience!]

How to not hike Mount Si

“Go on without me. I’m just going to stand here and wait for you guys,” I said.

This was four years ago. I was tired and defeated.

What was supposed to be a casual hike among friends turned into a sweat-drenching endeavor for me. It was July and my friends threw a party the night before (on a weeknight!) I went to work the next morning with dark circles under my eyes and only three-four hours of sleep. For anyone who knows me (or occasionally reads this blog,) you’ll know that I need at least seven hours of sleep to function and eight hours for optimal activity.

I would have rather gone straight home and napped after work. But, I had plans to hike Mount Si with Sean and Phyllis that afternoon. I’m a woman of my word so I did not back out.

The three of us started out briskly walking and chatting. It was a clear, sunny day in North Bend.

“I guess this will be fine,” I thought to myself.

The (presumably) first hour passed and I was already spent. I ceased conversing with my friends. I let them do all the talking and I just listened since I was, well, (already) exhausted. A gap started to form between the two of them and I. There was no way I could keep up with them anymore. And … the switch-backs! They just kept going on and on and on. With each switch-back, I felt like we were going up the exact same area since it appeared identical to the previous one!

I was having a grand ‘ol time.

Finally, I stopped. I don’t remember how far ahead Phyllis and Sean were from me but I know they were always in sight and probably weren’t too far ahead, since, after all, we were all friends. They wouldn’t leave me.

So when I stopped at one of the switch-backs and explicitly told them  — probably a little too dramatically — to go to the top without me because I couldn’t take “one more step,” they encouraged me to keep going. Rather than leave my sorry-self there, they let me lead at my snail’s pace.

We eventually made it out of the forest-y area and to the top. It was a pretty view. The sun was bright. The skies were blue. There’s a photo of me squinting. The back of my shirt was drenched in sweat.

Mount Si, July 2010 [photo cred: Sean Arr]

Mount Si, July 2010 [photo cred: Sean Arr]

I remember nothing of the downhill. I was too beat.

(IMO) Mount Si is a popular hike due to its proximity to Seattle and that it’s a well-kept trail. It’s not too strenuous but can be a challenge for those who may not be in the best of shape or aren’t avid hikers.

For me, it will always be the “hardest hike” I have ever done. Yes, even more difficult than Mailbox Peak! (For comparison, Mount Si is eight miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 3,150 feet with the highest point at 3,900 feet. Mailbox Peak is 5.4 miles roundtrip but with an elevation gain of 4,000 feet with the highest point at 4,822 feet. For many, Mailbox Peak is a very challenging hike.)

Despite “all the fun” I had at Mount Si, I did it again.

I gave the hike a second chance last week. I’m training for a marathon so I knew I’m in good (enough) shape. I had a decent amount of sleep the night before. There were no parties I was recovering from. This time, the hike would be a breeze, a walk in the park, a piece of cake …

Not quite.

“Kristin’s Mount Si redemption hike,” turned into “the time Kristin discovered she does not enjoy night-time hiking.”

Bryce and I arrived at the trailhead around 7 p.m. Friday and I should have known that we would be hiking in mostly darkness. A lot of the trail is surrounded by tall trees so even before the sun had set, we were enclosed in shady areas. We came across four groups making their way down the trail as we were still beginning the hike.

We did pack our headlamps, of course.

But, for most of the uphill we just used our trusty “night-time vision” to lead the way. Bryce had no problem. Me? I think I just have bad vision all around — I am legally blind without corrected lenses.

I was tired. I couldn’t see. And, for some reason, I started getting scared of the dark.

I turned my headlamp on with maybe about a mile left to the top.

At one of the switch-backs, I told Bryce that “this is the spot where I nearly gave up on this hike four years ago!” We continued in the dark. When we came to another switch-back, I echoed my statement from before: “Wait, this is the spot where I nearly gave up on this hike four years ago!”

It was dark so it was hard to tell. Like I said before, everything starts to look the same on this hike. Plus, I was trying to recount an event that occurred four years ago so there’s also the “memory’s a bit hazy” bit.

When we arrived at the top, it was unfortunately cloudy so we couldn’t see any stars. Lights of North Bend and Issaquah flickered below. Beyond further were Seattle and Bellevue but we couldn’t really see them too well. There was a stronger wind up high so I put my jacket on. I wasn’t in the best of moods. I was kind of grumpy.

This is what I captured at the top in my sad, cold state.

This is what I captured at the top in my sad, cold state.

As we made our way down the trail, I proclaimed, “In four years, I’ll do this hike right.”

When we returned to our car at nearly 11 p.m., I was relieved. My feet were sore but everything else felt fine. (I had run 13 miles that morning before work.) It was just my attitude that took a beating. I felt “on edge” the entire time because of the dark. I never knew I could be such a scaredy-cat. The dark hasn’t scared me before! Thus, I didn’t enjoy most of the hike and was not very enjoyable company.

The one positive is that we had Mount Si all to ourselves!

After these two very different and “difficult” hikes, I have learned the following for next time:

1. Get at least eight hours of sleep and do not party the night before the hike.

2. Start early so you end early and do not run into dark night-time hours.

 

Mount Si, I’m not giving up on you. See you in four years.