Only 18 days left!

I felt like deleting my last post right after I wrote it... but you know... I’m keeping it real.  I have done better since then!  (thanks for all your encouraging comments!) It’s a learning experience.  I told my kids the other day that our whole family is going to need to be on board with continuing healthy eating!  That we can’t have our old type of foods in the house anymore... like at all.  If we eat like that every once in a blue moon... then it needs to be OUTSIDE the home and NOT brought back into the home.
So... STRESS!  How do you handle it?
How do you handle anxiety?  Disappointment?  Rejection?  Pressure?  Criticism?  Self-criticism?  Worry? Loneliness?  
Can you laugh things off and let them go or do you take things in and absorb it completely?
How do you learn to marinate in the Good, the Positive, and the Hopeful and ignore the other stuff?  
How do you embrace all the positive in life and let go of all the stress and negative?
These are the things I am learning and practicing.  It’s a new way of life for me!  It is taking lots of pratice and letting go of the old ways I used to think and react to things.  
Yes, it used to be that like 10 brownies with milk would be comforting... soothing... heavenly even.  For a short-term fix.  But long term... not so much.
I absolutely LOVE to ride my bike.  It’s like a new love.  I practically dream about pulling it out of the garage and taking off all the time.  I LOVE playing basketball.  I LOVE running WITH a friend.  I used to not love these things but they are new loves now.  I love to sit in my chair and look down and see that there are a few inches on each side of my hips before the sides of the chair.  I love feeling pretty again.  You have no idea how long I have felt SO unattractive... ugly even.  I LOVE feeling like my husband can be proud of me.  I LOVE feeling closer to my girls because of how I feel about myself.  I know I keep saying these things over and over but I keep feeling it over and over.  My life has so changed.  I feel so humbled to have been given another chance.  Another chance to live better, be a better example, be a better wife and mother, a better sister, a better friend, and better to myself.
We are moving in 18 days!!
(On my B-day even!)
Guess what?  
We FINALLY have a place to move to!  The house that we have an offer on (short sale) that we’re waiting on the bank for - we actually get to move into and rent it from the owners until it closes.  This is a HUGE blessing and an answer to our prayers.  Brent will move into it next week, actually.  He’s been living in my brother’s shed.  So he’ll have time to do some clean up and fix up of our house before we move.  I haven’t packed a single box!!  YET.  But I will.  I did have a yard sale and got rid of some of our stuff.
Life is going to get busy really fast... and it’s all exciting.  It’s also VERY bittersweet to be moving from our friends and family here.  This is going to be a very emotional move for me!  I get a lump in my throat just thinking about it.  I miss Brent so much, though.  I am SO hug deprived... I never realized how much I need and love his hugs every day.  Talking on the phone just doesn’t do that the same!
In trying to enjoy every moment here in Oregon, my daughter and I rode to the farmers market the other day, which we have never gone to.  After exploring all the booths and buying NO junk food, we rode through the town and treated ourselves to panda express.  Notice, I chose the steamed veggies and lower carb sides!  Then we rode home.  Total sweetness.
Life is good!

All these maps

The past two weeks have been quite routine-busting.  On one hand, I long to get onto some sort of schedule.  It makes scheduling things like runs much easier.  However, running while away from home has it's advantages.  There are few things as pleasant as runs like the one I had a few days ago in the Huerfano Creek Basin.  I have been in the mountains the past few days with kids and coaches from my alma mater.  Yesterday, we climbed Mt. Lindsey.  When we arrived the day before, the kids did a 15 minute shake-out run.  I joined them and then just kept running.  I decided I'd go explore a little bit.  Two hours and change later, I was back in camp, having made it up to 12,000' Lily Lake.  I really didn't want to turn around, finding it much more enjoyable to just keep taking in the sights.  Being overshadowed so completely by Blanca and Ellingwood...indescribable.  I want to go back and camp up there.

Lily Lake trail from 1.2 miles below the

Mt. Lindsey with Wayzata kids

I know the Garmin maps are kinda cheezy, but I do like the visual of what I've done for the day.

Some more pics from the trip.

Blanca and Ellingwood

Blanca's Gash Ridge



The kids on the summit

What comes up must come down

Three Things Thursday - Race Wishlist

This is my top three marathon list for the US... International list coming soon...

1. For some inexplicable reason, I want to run the Chevron Houston Marathon. Of course it is sold out, and the only way in is through the "Hero" or charity option. I would totally donate to the ALS Association of Greater Houston. My Father-in-Law died of Lou Gehrig's the first year I was married. With the $350 minimum donation plus race entry fee (and of course travel), I don't think this one will work. I *am* considering asking my family to help with the donation part though.

2. There are so many awesome races in California. I am absolutely dying to run the San Francisco Marathon... The race itself is a bit pricey. Airfare is actually doable. However... the logistics of how I would get around and finding somewhere to stay? Sigh.

3. NYC NYC NYC NYC NYC... I'm still upset I didn't get in through the lottery. I know charity entry is an option... however, without having a credit card, I actually can't go that route either. Maybe next year. Sob.

Day 6 - LED to SVO to JFK to LGA to DEN

Tuesday, June 28

Tossed and turned. Dozed off and woke up around 1:00. Finally fell asleep and was rudely awakened by my alarm at 2:40 am. Got dressed and headed downstairs to turn in my keys. The taxi arrived at 3:05 am for the airport. 
The only time I saw it "dark" - this is just after 3:00 am
It took a lot less time and cost MUCH less than my previous trip (1000 rubles vs. 2375 rubles). The ticket counter where I needed to get my boarding pass wasn’t going to open until about 4:30. I connected to WiFi and surfed the net to kill time.

Around 4:15 headed over to the counter. Another problem. I get to the counter, hand over my passport. With no bags to check the whole process should only take a  minute or two. For whatever reason (that was never said to me), it took almost 20 minutes to get my boarding pass. Three employees had to handle my ticketing. Really don’t know what the problem was but I was starting to worry that I was going to be stuck in Russia.  Thankfully I also got my boarding pass for my flight out of Moscow so that was one less thing to worry about.

Sunrise outside the St. Petersburg airport - around 4:45 am
Our 6:15 departure was right on time, and the flight was only an hour long. I spent that time reading “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” 

A cupholder in the tray table. I LOVE IT!!
They even feed you on an hour long flight. The US is CHEAP.
I wasn’t too worried about getting off the flight immediately. We landed on time and I had over two hours until my flight left. Didn’t have any trouble navigating the airport this time, made it through passport control and security with no problems. Might get out of the country after all!

Bought a Pepsi Light (still leaving me with just over 1000 rubles I’ll need to change over in the US) and headed to my gate. I spent the time waiting looking up the already published race pictures. There was no way to search by bib number, so I virtually searched through THOUSANDS of pictures. At least I found myself in a few of them.

I had drained quite a bit of battery, so I charged for a few minutes until we boarded. The flight was scheduled to leave just after 10:00, and we left pretty close to the scheduled departure time.

I was already feeling exhausted. Working on only a few hours of sleep, I read until the first meal service.

Then I listened to my iPod and managed to doze off for a few hours. I was surprised at the short nap, since I normally struggle with sleeping on a plane. My seat was towards the back in the middle row, but I had no one sitting by me so I could comfortably spread out.

I tried on and off to read for a bit but my eyes were too tired to focus. I listened to my iPod again for a bit, while trying to doze off again. Unsuccessful. Decided to finish watching “The Sum of All Fears.” We got another meal about 2 hours before we got off the plane:

Our plane actually landed about 20 minutes early at JFK airport. Which was SUPER good news for me since my flight back to Denver departed out of La Guardia. Since the plane wasn’t full it didn’t take long to get off the plane. In fact, it only took 15 minutes from the time I got off the plane until I was sitting in a taxi. That INCLUDES going through passport control and customs. Have I mentioned lately that I’m an expert traveler?

The taxi ride took FOREVER. There was sooo much traffic. But I had a few hours so I wasn’t worried. It only cost about $33, which was less than I expected to pay, so that was nice. And I was super relieved when I didn’t have any trouble checking in for my last flight. I even managed to find an outlet and was able to charge my laptop and phone while I waited. I bought a salad for the 4 hour flight to Denver, which happened to board AND depart on time.

I ended up in a middle seat in the third to last row. I sat next a very chatty guy. He even ended up buying me a few beers on the flight. I had hoped to finish my book, but time certainly went by faster with the conversation. By the time he decided he was going to nap there was only about an hour left of flight time, which I spent reading.

Thanks to not having a checked bag, I was able to get out of the airport super fast. I exchanged my remaining 1000 Rubles and L picked me up just after 6:00. We went to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, YUM! After getting home I watched some tv, showered, and managed to fall asleep around 10:00… which I think means I was up for over 30 hours. Longest day EVER!

Overall I think this was a super successful trip. I went alone and didn't get kidnapped or attacked or robbed or lost. I didn't spend much money, I ran a pretty good marathon. I got by knowing NO Russian at all but the phrase meaning "thank you." I didn't miss any flights, none of my flights were cancelled, and the one flight that was overbooked I got re-booked and bumped up to first class. I'm pretty sure there isn't anything I can't do :D

Day 5 - Russian Museum & Sightseeing

Monday, June 27

Another rough night. I woke up around 3 in the morning, and it was FINALLY dark outside. Tossed and turned, never was in a deep sleep. Finally decided to get up around 7:00. Ate a Luna bar, then finished “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Decided to get ready (slowly), then headed downstairs around 8:30. Had breakfast (a Luna Bar is NOT breakfast), then talked to the front desk about arranging my taxi in the morning. I also had to check out of my room NOW, even though I will still be in my room until just before three in the morning (yes, that is when I have to have my taxi to go to the airport).

Headed out for the morning. Only thing on the agenda for the day was to check out the Russian Museum. I wandered around for a bit since the museum didn’t open until 10:00. I keep window shopping for souvenirs but everything is either tacky or SUPER expensive. Just for some perspective… a “cheap” lunch (300 rubles or so) is over 10 US dollars. That’s ridiculous. There were a few meals where I didn’t understand what I was getting and ended up paying over $700… same thing happens with souvenirs. 2000 rubles?? That’s like $100 for a trinket! No thanks.

PS, It's not any cheaper in Russia

I ended up wandering around until about 10:15, then headed in to the museum. Most of the museum was paintings, but there was some neat stuff to look at and I ended up being inside for about an hour and a half. 

Gates to the Russian Museum
Russian Museum

Pretty impressive lobby!

All the ceilings were fancy!

Wood Carving

By the time I was done I was STARVING. I spent the next hour trying to find somewhere “cheap” to eat. Read previous paragraph. Most places would end up costing about 600 rubles for what I wanted. Finally around 1:00 I was famished and decided to just eat at Sbarro. Got a decent amount of food for 283 rubles. I plan to go back tonight to do the salad/buffet bar. Cheapest thing in town I think!

After that I again half-heartedly tried to find some souvenirs. I really want to find a non-tacky t-shirt or something, but that just doesn’t seem to exist. Everyone will just have to be satisfied with what they get. I walked around the “mall” that I found, but everything seemed pricey and my feet/legs were so tired. By about 3:00 I was DONE and decided to head back to my room to sit down and rest.

I wanted to get this for my Dad, but they would NOT negotiate.
Yep, that's a monkey in clothes
Random woman on stilts next to an Avatar guy 

Caught up on Facebook, email, and some blogging. Before I knew it, it was already after 6:00. I still wasn’t especially hungry for dinner, but I knew that I needed to get something soon if I had any hopes of getting to bed early. 

Further proof about how sketchy the hotel I was staying in was...
FruitFly - this is for you! Public toilets, but you have to pay to use them!
Last shot of me and my "neighborhood" in St. Petersburg
I headed down my usual route, and decided to do a bit more wandering around. I picked up a few last minute souvenirs, then finally went to Sbarro for dinner around 7:30. This time I dind’t get any pizza, but got some pasta and veggies from their buffet. Another nice inexpensive dinner.

Did my final walk through the streets of St. Petersburg and headed up to my room. Did my final packing but was still having a hard time unwinding. Maybe this is what “jet lag” is? I’ve never struggled so much with traveling and getting on a decent sleep schedule. I did a bit more reading but it was still after ten before I finally tried to go to bed.