Saturday, December 8, 2007

Weekly Running (and Dancing) Log

I have to admit that I only went running twice this week. So why, you might ask, do I have three stars at the top of this post? Because last night was the annual Christmas Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), and there was dancing! Specifically, Scottish country dancing with a live band that included a bag piper. Some men even wore kilts to the party! I danced maybe half the dances, but after each one, my heartrate was up, my face was red, and I was sweating. As this is what happens when I run, I figure it counts as a workout, albeit a very enjoyable one. So I say that I earned three stars this week!

Today was my second run of the week. I ran for intervals of 3 min running, 1 min walking, and I could definitely tell that I've been taking it easy over the past few weeks. I think I've lost just a bit of my cardio-vascular fitness gains. So I when I was running, it was verrrry sloooowly. Seriously, the swans were swimming faster than I was running. But I was running, and I felt pretty good when I finished. Next week I'm determined to get my three runs in.

As you may have guessed by my mention of the swans, today's run was down by the canal. There were three swans today. I actually saw one of them fly in. Have you ever seen a swan fly? They are BIG. There was also a new kind of duck (black and white). This is the second time I've seen this duck, so maybe it's going to stick around for a while. Tomorrow I'm going to try for a walk down by the canal with my camera, to see if I can get any pictures of our new wildlife.

And now, off to go Christmas shopping!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Weekly Running Log

This was a so, so week as far as exercise and general self-care. For the third week in a row, I only got out running twice, my nutrition has been lacking, and I screwed up my sleep again midweek. Actually, derailing my sleep has a lot to do with everything else. I know why I stayed up late (ok, all night) reading, and a good book is only part of it, but knowing why is unfortunately a far cry from stopping that particular destructive habit.

So I'm struggling now to get back on track, to take control again. I've done it before, so I know that I can do it again. Going running yesterday helped. Cooking so I have nutritious food to eat for a couple lunches this week helped, and I will cook some more today. I'm trying to remind myself that last week was ok. I did go running twice, and I went to pilates class on Friday. I'm getting stronger. I resisted the lure of large bags of potato chips at the grocery store, and only secumbed to a small bag one day at lunch. Yes I ate a lot of chocolate, but at least it was dark chocolate. (Hmm, potato chips and chocolate. Can you say stress eating?)

And I really want to thank Christina, Mary, and CMS because without Team CB, I don't think even the minimal amount of exercise I managed this week would have happened. I know that thinking about you guys is the only thing that got me out the door last Sunday. So a great big ((HUG)) and thanks!

Friday, November 23, 2007

To and From: Saarbrucken

This past week I traveled to Saarbrucken, Germany for a work meeting. It was a quick trip that basically went something like this:

  • Tuesday afternoon, get watch battery replaced so I at least have a chance at not missing my travel connections. Whew!

  • Tuesday evening, fly to Frankfurt. Rats. Where is the shuttle to the hotel? No shuttle. Fine. Take taxi to hotel. Yay! The taxi driver speaks English.

  • Sleep.

  • Wednesday(early) morning, take hotel shuttle back to airport. Run around airport, train station(s) and Sheraton airport hotel looking for a place to buy an electrical adapter. Eventually find one. Whew! Buy train ticket to Saarbrucken, and head to platform. Rats. What happened to my ticket from Mannheim to Saarbrucken? Oh no, did I drop it?!?! Go back up escalator to start retracing my steps. Oh wait. It’s stuck to the back of my ticket to Mannheim. Whew! Back down escalator. Agh! The train is leaving! Jump on train and collapse in relief that I didn’t miss it.

  • Arrive in Saarbrucken and take taxi to meeting location. Taxi driver is a nice older woman who doesn’t speak English, but very nicely put up with me anyway. Geez, I have become an annoying American who expects everyone to speak English.

  • Meeting….meeting…..meeting.

  • Wednesday evening, dine with group at nice restaurant. Parmesan creme brulee and big leafy green salad. Yum! Go to hotel and check in.

  • Sleep.

  • Thursday morning, RUN (literally and on purpose): about 25 minutes of running and walking along the Saar River. Yay! I get a star!

  • Meeting….meeting….meeting.

  • Bus to train station and train back to Frankfurt airport. Thank you Benedikt for help with the ticket machine! Go through the usual airport stuff, and reach gate, only to discover that there is no real food in Concourse C! Aaagghhh! I wanted a real meal with green vegetables for dinner! Whine, whine. Instead, my dinner consisted of: a giant cheesy bread blob from a tiny snack bar and chips from the vending machine, plus chocolate, nuts, and raisins from my emergency travel rations. Mmmm. Nutritious.

  • Thursday evening, fly back to Edinburgh and take taxi to flat.

  • Collapse.

Given that this was a work trip, there's not much that was even moderately interesting to share. But, I did take a few pictures that may qualify. There was this nifty shoe shining machine in both of the hotels that I stayed in, which makes me think they take their shoe shining seriously in Germany.

Also, in the building where the meeting was held, they had this artwork, which was kind of interesting, if a little creepy. I realize that because it's art you're not really supposed to sit in the chairs, but if you did, look where the guy in blue's hand would be. The lady looks like she's been duck taped to the chair. Where are her arms? And the guy in the green pants is sitting on top of the elevator, so you'd be able to see his legs hanging down when you go up or down. That would freak me out every day.

And really, since I decided against turning this post into a rant about concourse C at the airport, there's not much else to share. It was a fairly uneventful trip, which although boring to write about, is always a good thing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekly Running Log

This week was only a two-star week, meaning that I didn't meet my running goal of 3 runs. Bummer. I basically sabotaged myself by staying up way too late one night reading, which then threw the rest of the week off and sent me scrambling to play catch up with just about everything. It was a very good book, but I didn't need to read it all in one go. What are the odds that after 25 or so years of doing this that I will eventually break myself of this bad habit? I am a book addict in the worst way.

But I've gotten off topic. Even though I only ran twice this week, considering that it was in danger of becomming a one-run week, I'm not too unhappy with myself. Last night, I got myself home from work, threw on my running clothes and shoes, and got out there without thinking. Yay! And this next week is an Easy Recovery Week on my schedule, so maybe I'll be able to make up my lost run.

After I got back, I plotted the route I ran (not down by the canal, since it was dark) on Gmaps Pedometer, and it turns out that it was almost exactly 5 kilometers! So now, when I get to the point in a month or so where I can actually run-run (as opposed to run-walk) for a full 5 kilometers, I have a route that I can use to time myself. That's kind of fun.

Go Mary, Christina, and CMS! Go Team CB!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scottish Moment

Yesterday at work, I was going out the door while a delivery man was coming in. He very nicely held the door for me, saying something along the lines of "There you go, lass". He called me lass. It still makes me want to giggle.

Photo from

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Slow Running

I went for a run today. A very slow run. The clouds in the sky were low and threatening, and my legs just did not want to move. And then there was the wind. Today was not terribly windy by Edinburgh standards. That means it was pretty darn windy by my standards. I've decided that running into the wind, even at the very slow pace I was capable of today, is just not fun.

I basically had to trick my legs into running. After making my weekly trip to the grocery store, I talked my legs into a bit of stretching, now that they were warmed up from the walk to the store, and since it wasn't raining yet, wouldn't it be nice to go down and to the canal and see the ducks?

The canal was very busy today. I think it's the first time I've been down there on a Saturday. I passed kids playing soccer. I'm pretty sure they were running faster than me. But then, they're littler, which means they have less wind resistance. There were rowers out on the canal; crew teams from some school or club, I think. Their coaches road bikes along the path to keep up with teams and shout advice. And of course there were the usual ducks and dogs. I really need to figure out a way to take pictures while running, because there were some really good opportunities today. Like the little kid in a Superman costume. And the duck bottoms.

Even though my run this morning definitely falls under the not fun category, I'm glad I did it. Not because afterwards I felt amazingly great, which sometimes happens, but because of the sense of accomplishment of making yourself do something that you know you should do, but that you really don't want to do. Also, today's run marked the end of two weeks of sticking to my running plan. And I have the stars to prove it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Hold onto Your Hats

The title of this post could apply to how windy the days are getting. But really, it's the fireworks you need to watch out for this time of year. Today is Guy Fawkes Day. People have been setting off fireworks (and I'm not talking piddly little firecrackers) since before Halloween last week, but there has been a definite increase in the number of explosions to be heard after dark yesterday and today. I can hear fireworks being set off in at least three places nearby, including from the roof of the school right across the street! Yes, I said the roof of the school right across the street! I really wish they would stop, in part because I'm afraid those kids will injure themselves, but mostly because it's so darn loud and disturbing. Stupid Guy Fawkes.

Addendum: And then, walking into work, I see all the firework-setter-offers just left their fireworks trash, including the occasional beer can (!!!) in heaps all over the park. Grrrrr.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Union Canal

A couple weekends ago, I took myself for a walk along the Union Canal. I'd been told the canal was a nice place to walk, and it's only a short 5 minute walk away from my flat. Once I got there, I realized that I am a complete idiot. I could have been going for walks along here since I moved here, almost a year ago.

It was a beautiful day. Fall, my favorite time of year, was in full swing. Folks were out walking their dogs, running, and riding bikes. People smiled when you passed them. I passed a grandpa and grandkid feeding bread to some of the local wildlife. There are lots of ducks. I like ducks.

This morning I went for a run/walk down by the canal. Even though two weeks have passed, it's still beautiful with fall. After about 10 minutes, it started to feel like my soul had just released a long sigh and eased down into a comfy, soft sofa. That's really the only way I can think to describe it. I must, must, must make this part of my routine.

Below are a few more pictures that I particularly liked from my walk a couple weeks ago. The sweet kitty is one that I passed on the way home who let me pet her for a few minutes. Getting to scratch a cat behind his or her ears always makes my day.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Braemar Gathering

Back at the beginning of September, I went with some friends to The Braemar Gathering, a well-known Highland games that takes place every year in the town of Braemar in Aberdeenshire(about 2 1/2 hours north of Edinburgh). This was only my second excursion to parts of Scotland outside of Edinburgh since I moved here. Sad, I know. It was also my first time to ever experience a Highland games, and I was pretty excited. What exactly are Highland games? Kind of like a low-key track meet with foot races and heavy weight events, but also with pipers and dancers and kilts (oh my)!

We got off to a bit of a late start, but the drive up to Braemar was relaxing with pretty scenery and no unplanned detours (we saved those for the drive back). Oh the way, we passed the Forth Bridge, drove through Perth, and saw lots of sheep. The sheep were pretty cute, at least from a distance.

We arrived a little after noon. It was a bit drizzly to start out, but it later cleared up into a lovely day. This is the sign over the gate wishing us a hundred thousand welcomes in Gaelic.

If you actually want to know how to pronounce ceud mille failte (a hundred thousand welcomes), check out this web page.

By the time we arrived, there were already a lot of people there, and the numbers continued to grow throughout the afternoon. This is the best picture I could get of the field. It definitely would have been an advantage to be at least 5 inches taller. (Note to self, next time, splurge for seats in the stands.)

On the very left in the picture above is where they held the weight and hammer throwing events. In the middle is the stage where they held the dance competition. And what you can't see because it's blocked by the people standing in front of me, is the tug-of-war competition.

Definitely need to get a better view of the tug-of-war competition next time.

They also had foot races and caber tosses. For one of the races, they started out on the field and ran up this mountain.
I'm not kidding. See, in the picture on the right, they are running. Up the mountain. Even if I ever get to the point where I'm running regularly again, I don't see myself running up a mountain. Ever. Unfortunately, due to the my stature and the mobs of people, I wasn't able to get a picture of strong men in kilts tossing small telephone poles (i.e., cabers). Sigh. And I wasn't quick enough on the draw to get a picture of the men racing in kilts and ties. Sigh again.

Of course there were lots, and lots of pipers and drummers. Pipe and drum bands from the UK and around the world performed. It's not an exaggeration to say there was piping in the air.
Really, they were everywhere.
But by far one of the best part of the day at the Gathering was the men in kilts. :+) Men of all ages were wearing kilts, from stately older gentlemen to adorable little guys.

Unfortunately, they didn't always stand still long enough for me to get the best picture.

Shortly before we had to head back to our cars, we we lucky enough to be standing in just the right spot by the road to see the Queen when she arrived. Yes, the Queen. See, this is her car. No really, I swear, the Queen is in that car, in the back on the left. I waved to her. I just couldn't manage to take a picture of her.

Right before we left for the drive back to Edinburgh, I took one last picture. The Highlands are beautiful in a very rugged sort of way. I really need to make time to get back there.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Amazing Fireworks

This weekend I finally got out of my apartment to see a bit of Scotland and experience the end of the Edinburgh International Festival. I'm still working on getting my pictures and thoughts organized from my excursion on Saturday (hint, it involved Men in Kilts and the Queen!), but I thought I'd go ahead and post my pictures from Sunday evening's entertainment.

A colleague at work was able to get extra tickets to the annual Fireworks Concert that is the finale to the Edinburgh International Festival. And I owe her many, many thanks for inviting me. It was amazing! And wonderful! And, and, and... Ok, you probably get the idea. We were treated to a concert played by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The music was punctuated by the fireworks display, the likes of which I haven't seen since I can't even remember.

The concert started with the Overture to Candide by Bernstein, one of my favorites and so fun and challenging to play. We also got to hear some Gershwin and Copeland and a few others. The evening ended with Sousa's The Liberty Bell march. For some, this march brings to mind Monty Python's Flying Circus. The Liberty Bell was the theme music for that program. For me, it conjures up memories of endless measures playing off beats, the part assigned to French horn players 99.99999% of the time in marches. Argh. I will say, though, that marches do go very well with fireworks.

The fireworks were set off from Edinburgh Castle, and we watched from down below in the Princess Street Gardens. It's impossible to really get across just with words and pictures what last night's fireworks concert was like. I hope that the pictures below will at least give you a small taste.