Sunday, February 28, 2010

Half Marathon - DONE!

On Feb 28th, I completed my first half marathon - 13.1 miles!!! Actually, the Garmin said it was 13. 42, but who is counting. I did it in 2:34 by my Garmin, but the official race time said 2:36. Whatever. I did it, and it was a blast!

Not only was the Wesley Chapel Tri Team there in full force with Carmen, Stacey, Nicole, Heather, Amy, Monica, and Brian, but I also had fellow friends and coworkers come. Courtney came from DC to run the full. Nick from Iowa, Heather H from Michigan, and Julie from North Carolina came to run the half with me! And of course, our fearless leaders Holly and Jennifer were there to inspire us by running the Ultra Challenge - a 5K and 15K on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday!! Amazing!!!

I ended up staying in a hotel downtown (the Marriott Waterside was amazing and RIGHT by the race start). It was fun to be able to hang out with Julie, Heather, Courtney, and Nick (and Nick's friend from Chicago - David). We met at 5am at the convention center, and I was a nervous wreck. The temperature was 44, and I couldn't decide what to wear. Pants, shorts, two shirts, one? Gloves? Hat? Will it be windy? Will it get hot when the sun comes out? I changed my mind a million times, but Courtney convinced me to go with shorts, and Holly convinced me to leave the gloves and hat behind. Once we walked back outside for the race in my shorts, I was immediately glad that I was in shorts. I turned out to be very comfy the entire race.

We lined up after walking past so many people. I was nervous as we seemed to be getting close to the front. Since I am NOT a speedy runner, it made me nervous. However, it still took almost 3 minutes to get to the start. Amazing. It was an incredible feeling to be surrounded by so many people. I tripped and almost fell in the first few minutes. Geez. I also forgot to set my watch to 5 min run and 30 second walk, but then I remembered and fixed it. At points in the beginning it was so crowded that we had to walk. It is difficult to explain, but the feeling of power was amazing. So many people.

The first mile went very quickly, and it is difficult to stay at a slower speed. It is easy to get carried away, but I kept monitoring it with my fancy Garmin watch. We ran around Davis island, and we couldn't see anything in the dark for quite a while. I think it got light between miles 3 and 4. There was a guy carrying this HUGE American flag. There was a guy in a Viking outfit with NASTY shorts that did not look good on him at all. There were girls running in fishnet stockings. It was so fun to check out all the people. There were these guys around mile 4 or 5 who STUNK. We had to try to stay in front of them. We had the 2:20 and the 2:30 pacers pass us at one point, and that was fine with me. :) As we came off Davis Island, I looked for Mike, Morgan, and Randy (Julie's Fiance), but I didn't see anyone. We did pass Carmen's husband Sean, and I saw Julie from afar. We were very careful to make sure we went in the half lane instead of accidentally getting in the full line. Some lady was all confused and couldn't figure out which way to go. There was this evil hill somewhere around mile 7. That was not a nice welcome, but we did it. Miles 9 to 10 seemed very long, but then we hit the turn for the last segment. WOO HOO!. I had so much energy still, and I was so excited. We saw Holly and Jenn around mile 11 or 12. Then, we ran hard for the last half mile or so. It really felt so good to finish, and I truly enjoyed every minute.

I loved the blanket thing and the medal. I loved the crowds. I loved the salt on my forehead. I loved seeing my friends after they finished. I loved the beer afterwards. I loved the buffet breakfast. I had a fantastic day. I could have done without Morgan having a project due the next day - who cares about Beanie Babies anyway!! Why did she have to research them? LOL...

We watched part of the hockey game while I scarfed down chicken fingers. YUMMMMMMM...

The Wesley Chapel Tri Team had a party at Holly's house that night. It was so awesome to have some good food, good drinks, and good company with people who I have become very close with over the last 6 months or so. Plus, Julie and Randy came with Mike and I, and it is always good to hang with them. It had been so long since I had gotten to hang out with Julie, and it was awesome to see her. It is hard to believe that this group is the same group who couldn't run hardly at all in August. How far we have come! I truly had a BLAST at the race, and I can't wait to do another one! Who knew running is fun?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Atlanta Meeting

This week, I was in Atlanta with Phil, Tony, Tom, Bill, Michael, Krishan, Banu, and Surj. It was great to have the group together, and we had a very productive work time. We also had a very productive FUN time. I hadn't seen them in a while, so it was awesome to see their faces when they saw me. :) Made me feel really great.

I even went running with Phil in the 24 degree weather. BRRRRR...that wind was COLD!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Family and Technology

Every day, I am thankful for all of my family. However, today, I even feel more so. My parents have been traveling a lot, and we have been sending family emails on most days. I know it probably seems silly, but I feel so close to them when we do this (thankfully Grams and Papa have provided a lot of opportunity for this lately!). It is so fun to have updates from everyone which funny stories and shared experiences. We can do this via email (or Facebook if I could get the fam more on board there) much more than we can even by phone. We are all on the chain for one thing, and that would be difficult to coordinate by phone. We can all do it at the time of day that works for us. When Grams and Papa were on their cruise, it was much cheaper than telephone calls and we could get the emails when we were awake too!

I often facebook or email with the kids while traveling, and it is so nice to see what is going on in a way that parents didn't previously get. Even some of the silly facebook groups are insight into the kids that I wouldn't normally get without this wonderful Facebook invention.

As I type this, Katie is doing a school project on the computer making postcards for European countries, Michael is writing an article summary using a computer, and Morgan is writing a book report using her Kindle and the computer. It is a hectic environment immersed in technology, but I can't help but think of my childhood where we sat with Encyclopedia books or (gasp) went to a library. Book reports or article summaries were done in silence at the table or in a bedroom. As noisy and chaotic as today is, I feel closer to my family because of it. Of course, it has taken me 10 times as long to type this as it would have without the questions, "Where is this in Europe? How can we print this? What is that address again? What genre is Shiver? What is a non-political, non-religous, appropriate for school news article? However, I am very thankful that we had google, kindles, laptops, and more. Of course, I really amd thankful that I had the time with my family more than any of it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hilton vs W

I stayed in the W again in Atlanta instead of the Hilton. I am starting to get used to the W. It is weird after being such a Hilton girl for so many years. I have talked to several people lately who have complained about the Hilton customer service line. It seems that in all cases, a diamond member (or in my case Gold who should be diamond) called in and tried to discuss an issue. Then, the customer service line basically refuses to try to help. I have previously had good customer service from them, but it seems to be declining.

Also, I guess Hilton changed the way they do awards, and they now require more points for a "free" night. I haven't heard a lot of rumbling about this, but I have heard some.

After one and a half months of traveling with W/Westin, this is my pro and con list for the hotels.

Store open 24 hours
Free water if you are gold
Free breakfast if you are gold
Some have nice workout equipment
Ok decorations
Restaurant usually onsite

Interesting decorations
Upgrade to a suite if possible
Mini bar in the room
Mini bar has TINY drinks and only 2 of each (read only 2 SMALL diet cokes)
No coke machines
Restaurant and room service offers better variety
Workoud room ok in W's, better in Westin

Next week, there are 9 people staying at W instead of Hilton all because I told them the story of my experience with Hilton. Interesting....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Morgan's team got 2nd at the Fair for both teams. She hit the pyramid on the youth team, so that was good. They had one fall on the youth team, and then the junior team had a tumbling collision again (not Morgan this time thankfully). So, they did well but not their best. The girls did ride in a limo from the gym to the Fair, so that was a blast! Morgan was SO excited. Coach Tori arranged it for her youth team, and it was so special for the girls. Tori is the best!
I was so happy that I wasn't in the limo with them, and I am sure the driver was wishing that he had ear plugs with all the screaming going on. :) We were at the fair until 6:30, so I was happy when we got home. :) It was a LONG cold day. It warmed up some during the day, but it seems to always be windy and cold when they are there every year.
Happy Valentine's Day!!! Mike went over the top this year! Flowers, Best Buy gift card, AND iTunes card for running songs. PLUS, he got chocolate. It was fantastic! Happy V Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Movies With Friends

Tonight, Morgan wanted to go to a movie with her girlfriends without parents. I was a little nervous, but I decided that it would be ok as long as I was close by and Morgan had her phone. She was good to text me and let me know what was going on. Of course, the movie broke, so they had to wait for it to get fixed! Figures that would happen when no parent was there. Mike and I ate at Outback while they saw the movie. She had a blast, and I am relieved. I don't think I am ready for this independent stage yet.

I am anxiously awaiting my annual trip to HIMSS. Should be interesting to see what companies are doing around ARRA. At least CCHIT finally released their test scripts today so that there can be a lot of buzz. I especially can't wait to go to the HIStalk reception. It has been the highlight of the trip the last 2 years.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flowers from Mike!

Today, I left to go to the doctor, and I get stopped by the neighbor when I am coming back home. He tells me to wait, and he brings out these beautiful flowers! Mike had sent the most beautiful flowers to me and the neighbor got them when I wasn't home. THANKS MIKE! I love you!

I am struggling with a new kidney stone, and it is high up at the kidney. Grrr... Today hasn't been too bad, so I am hoping it will settle down and leave me alone for 2 weeks so I can run my half marathon!

I took Michael to the dentist this morning to have some teeth pulled. He had gauze in his mouth that made him look like a vampire. He was really good, and I know he is happy to have them fixed!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

Today, we went running and swimming as a family. It was so fun to have everyone participate! Mike cooked a great dinner - pork, asparagus, brocolli, baked potato, salad. YUM. Then, we sat down to watch the game and the commercials. Morgan and Katie wanted to know if they could just skip the game. :) We filmed a commercial for Katie's class. It was pretty funny because she had to use British words in the skit (e.g. Bobby, Bees Knees, cheerio, blinding, beastly, bum, biscuits). I think they had 11 takes, and we certainly could have done more if we had time! All in all, it was a great, relaxing weekend!

I was torn about which team to cheer for in the game - I love Peyton, but it would be cool to see the Saints win.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

We had a whirlwind of a January with a trip to Indianapolis, a lot of work travel, and a lot of running with my training for the Gasparilla Half Marathon. Last week, I went to the Chataeu Elan outside of Atlanta for a sales meeting. The resort was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. FANTASTIC food, nice rooms, nice meeting space, curteous staff, nice grounds, and more! I highly recommend it for corporate meetings.

Today, I had my long run with my tri group, and then I hung with the family at the house. It was so nice to have a day where we didn't have to rush all over.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Boycotting Hilton

I guess I have been such a bad blogger that I completely forgot to discuss my boycot of Hilton Hotels. When we went to Utah in December, the last stay of the year would have put me into Diamond status with them. I asked at the hotel outside of Salt Lake if the THREE night stay would count as a 2009 stay or a 2010 stay because I could always check out and check back in. They said it would count for the year that you check in, so it would be a 2009 stay. As I am sure you have guessed by now, it counted as 2010. Of course, I assumed that Hilton would honor it if I just called them. WRONG. I called, and they refused to change it. The girl on the phone said that I "might" get a challenge offer that would help me get there faster this year. Wow, thanks.

So, I am going to keep a running total of the nights I stay in OTHER hotels and nights that I get the people traveling with me to stay in OTHER hotels.

So far in January, I have 7 nights that have gone to Westin/W, and in Feb so far, I have 8 booked (with 3 of those nights tied to 6 other people who I would have gotten to stay at Hilton but we are now staying at W because of me). So through Feb, that is 15 for me + 18 for the people traveling with me for a total of 33 nights for the first two months of the year. I will continue the updates. Hilton, probably not the best customer service. I wonder how many others are also changing due to this kind of experience??