Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The old days are new again

My body has been playing games with me lately. I feel like I have been transported to last summer when we just started running after years of sitting around on our butts. It seems lately that every time I run I am very sore for at least one day after, if not two. It doesn't matter how far I run, and I always make sure to stretch. It started about three weeks ago. I was hoping it was just a bit of fatigue and that it would pass.

But here were are now with the same problem. I ran four miles on Sunday, and I still have some soreness in my right thigh today. Every time I stand up, it takes a couple steps before I can find a comfortable stride. It is not soreness in the same spot every time which doesn't lead me to believe that something specific is wrong. It seems like general muscle fatigue.

Oh well...better than the terrible pain I was having in my knee.

I am a bit behind where I wanted to be this month. I wanted to finish over 50 miles for the month, but I will need two good runs today and Thursday in order to pull that off. I am at just under 40 now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Did you play?

We are back from Magic Meets and back to the grind with work...well, almost. The meet was great. I met everyone I had hoped, plus many more great people. I will post some more details later when I can get to the pictures (my camera battery is dead).

Did anyone play the Adventureland Challenge over at WDW radio? I logged on to play right at 8:00 on Monday, but the web servers couldn't handle the load they were getting. It was after 10:30 before I could get the pages to load in order to answer all the questions. I submitted at about 10:45.

We are headed to Cedar Point tomorrow...taking my niece and nephew for their birthdays. Weather looks great. I'm excited to go back.

I ran yesterday and today. I haven't done two in a row in a while. My legs were incredible tight. I just couldn't keep them moving. It was a rough three miles. Kristin is still out on the streets somewhere.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dream Team Update

Just a quick update from Magic Meets. The Disney World Trivia Dream Team raised $20,000 today. Approximately $13,000 from the auction, $3,000 from Mousefan Travel (who had been collecting part of their profits for two months), and $3,000 in total from various other sources such as a WDW Today collecting donations online during the meet today. Totals came in at over $19,000 and Lou put the rest in out of his own pocket to make it an even $20,000.

Seeing everyone in tears over the donations does help that motivation thing I was talking about yesterday...

Friday, July 18, 2008

I ain't got no...


Where has motivation gone? Lately I have become very lax with everything...updating blogs, remembering birthdays, RUNNING!?!?!?

I'm not sure what's going on. Part of it I think is that I haven't been able to sleep well the last few weeks. I either get busy with something and don't go to bed on time or I go to bed on time then lay there for hours (sometimes more than three) trying to fall asleep. So I've been dragging lately. I just crashed last night while practicing piano. I literally just quit mid-song and put my head down on the keyboard.

Blogging...As you've noticed, this site hasn't been updated much lately. I haven't really done anything except for a couple a Boston posts in the last three weeks. Earning My Ears is at a standstill. I don't quite like what I've done with it, so I am on a hiatus as I try to figure out how to change the direction into something that I can write more naturally about. I just can't seem to find a comfortable voice with the posts I've done so far.

Birthdays...I have three friends that have July 16 birthdays. I never even gave it a thought that day. I even exchanged e-mails with one of them. Then early on the 17th it hit me, and I made three apologetic calls that day.

Running...Other than July 4, I haven't had any motivation. That day I did six miles, was feeling great and planned to run further, but didn't have time before our family picnic. I was already running late. Since then, I have had to really push myself to get out. And while I'm out, I have to push hard not to take a bunch of walk breaks. We are going away this weekend, and most likely won't be running. So by the time we get back, I will be about 10 miles short for the first three weeks of the month. I need at least 12 miles per week for the rest of the year in order to meet our goal, and I am only at 26 miles so far in July.

We leave tonight for Magic Meets. We were going to go the appetizer party this evening, but someone volunteered Kristin for a committee at work that had a mandatory meeting today. So we can't leave until after she gets off at 4:00, and it is a five hour drive. So hopefully we'll make it by 10:00. Maybe some of the guys will be down in the bar so we can at least hang out a bit tonight. Saturday is the main meet, then Sunday is Hershey Park day. Weather is calling for 96 degrees on Saturday and 93 on Sunday. It looks like we'll have Orlando weather in PA. We plan to drive home on Monday.

We've never been to Hershey, so I am looking forward to it. I really enjoy going to new amusement parks. I'll update when we get back.

And to Jeff and family, our thoughts are with you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boston: Days 3 & 4

Our goal Monday was to see the small portion of the Freedom Trail that we had missed the day before, see Newbury Street, and watch the Red Sox game.

We started off with the Freedom Trail, visiting the old city hall, King's Chapel, and the burial ground next door. Again, I was amazed by the old cemetery. This one was a bit more eerie as there were several trees that kept the most of the grounds in shade.

Next we headed for Newbury Street, which is Boston's version of Fifth Avenue. There were tons of boutiques and big name-brand stores. We always like walking around these areas, but never seem to find our way into the Armani or Saks Fifth Avenue stores. We always just feel out of place.

Lunch was at a restaurant called Uno. It is a small chain that was founded in Chicago. It was kind of like a TGI Fridays. But it didn't seem quite as commercial.

We spent part of the afternoon back at the hotel to relax, then headed to Fenway. We stopped at a bar and grille called Cask n Flagon. It was directly across from the stadium. We arrived nearly three hours before the game and the place was packed. Kristin had the chili which was awesome, and I had a swordfish sandwich. It was great food for the type of restaurant.

After dinner, we walked a lap around Fenway, then headed in. The only other old stadium I have been in is Yankee stadium. This one felt much, much older than Yankee, but by no means did that take away from the charm. When we got out into the stands, it felt very intimate...much smaller than it really is.

The Diamondbacks were in town. The matchup was Josh Beckett vs. Dan Haren. The game was actually a bit boring for being there in person. I don't mind watching a pitchers duel on TV, but in person I like a lot of action. There were only three hits through the first six innings. Final score was 2-1, Arizona. There were no double plays, no home runs, no big break-out hits. There were a couple good defensive plays though -- a quick-reflex catch of a liner by third-baseman Mike Lowell and a diving, full lay-out catch of a Coco Crisp bunt by one of the Diamondback pitchers. (Honestly, who names their kid Coco Crisp??? Actually, Cleveland sports at one time had Coco Crisp, Milton Bradley, and Ben Gay. Talk about free advertising during the games!)

If you click the first picture, you can see that I marked the approximate location of our seats in right field with red. The second picture is the view we had during the game.

Tuesday was our last day. We got up and checked out of the hotel. Then headed out to the Samuel Adams plant for a tour. It was interesting, but not what I expected. I work for a food manufacturer, so I was anxious to see their brewing and bottling facilities. But the tour simply took us to an area where they had smaller equipment set up to run small batches to test recipes. We did get to learn about the whole brewing process and history of the company, so it was enjoyable. It also included a tasting (at 10:30 in the morning) of Boston Lager, Boston Ale, and Summer Ale. You can't beat free beer!

We headed back into town, then went to a little Chilean sandwich shop called Chacarero. I had discovered this place when I was in Boston a few years ago for work. The sandwich has steak and/or chicken, green beans, cheese, tomato, avocado spread, and a spicy sauce on a round loaf bun. They are very different than anything you can get in my neck of the woods. We then stopped at the Omni Parker House hotel for some Boston Cream Pie for dessert. One of the Parker House's claims to fame is that it invented the Boston Cream Pie. I must say that they do a fine job with it.

Next, we headed back to Fanuil Hall as we had never had a chance to walk through the shops there. When we were finished, we realized that we still had a few hours to kill. So we made the trek back across the river and up to the Bunker Hill Monument. The 294-step climb to the top was not too difficult, but it was terribly hot and humid inside. When we reached the top, the six or so people already up there were dripping with sweat just as we were. But the view from the top was a fabulous panorama of the Boston and some of the small towns north of the city. It was well worth the effort.

After making our way back down, we walked back across the river and into Little Italy, where we stopped again at Mike's Pastry. This time we shared a cannoli.

Sadly, that was the last highlight of the trip. We finished our pastry as we walked back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage and head home.

I must say that I love Boston. There is so much to see and do, so much history, and overall a very friendly crowd. We could have easily slowed down our pace and stayed at least one, if not two, more days. There was still a lot to see. I would definitely like to go back occasionally for weekend trips.

The only city I've been to that is as big or bigger would be New York, so I constantly found myself comparing the two. Both are rich with history. But Boston seems to embrace the history and use it as definition of the city, whereas in New York they seem to just acknowledge the history but look more toward the present and future. Both are pedestrian cities, but Bostonians are much more friendly to pedestrians that are New Yorkers. Boston also does not feel like it has as much hustle and bustle, nor as much crime, as New York. In New York, around every corner is a Duane Reade drug store. In Boston, it is Dunkin' Donuts. I like both cities for different reasons, but I'm not sure which I prefer. I can say, however, that if the Broadway theater district were in Boston rather than New York, then I would have no problem declaring Boston as a favorite.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Boston: Day 2

We started off Sunday with a Freedom Trail tour. There were two main options. One was the guides that dress up like people from the revolutionary time period and lead you around a big chunk of the trail ($12 per person). The second was the national park service which offered free tours of nearly the same pieces of the Freedom Trail for free (OK...they asked for a small donation, but it wasn't required).

Ranger Smith was our guide. It was obvious that he was passionate about the history of the city and the role it and its people played in the birth of our nation. He led us around Fanuil Hall, the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, Paul Revere's House, the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea), and several other sites. He was a great guide. Very informative. I would recommend this tour.

Ranger Smith

Fanuil Hall (and Samuel Adams)

Paul Revere's House

The tour ended in Little Italy, so we stopped at a local restaurant and had lunch. We split lobster ravioli and a chicken panini sandwich. Very good eats. Then we stopped by the famous Mike's Pastry for dessert. So many choices, but we ended up with the Tiramisu.

The tour just took us by Paul Revere's House and the Old North Church. So went back and toured the house, then walked up to the church and strolled inside. Then up Copp's hill to the burial ground. Markers in the cemetery went back into the 1600s. It was amazing how well all the stones were preserved.

Old North Church

Headstone at Copp's Hill

Storm clouds started to roll in, but we trekked on. Across the Charles River to visit the USS Constitution, or "Old Ironsides." This ship is the oldest commissioned war ship that is still afloat and seaworthy. It was built in the late 1700s and won many battles. It was a true treasure touring the ship and hearing about what naval life was like 200 years ago. It was full of cannons and the lower deck ceilings were so low that you had to bend over while you walked.

Our next stop was the Bunker Hill Monument. But just as we arrived, the thunder and lightening started, so the monument was closed and we were unable to climb the 294 steps to the top. We caught the T back into town. At that point it had stopped storming, so we walked through Boston Common, then to a little restaurant called Fajitas & Ritas. Kristin had fajitas, and I the BBQ beef brisket. The food was fabulous, as were the raspberry and papaya margaritas.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Boston: Day 1

We left for Boston on Saturday morning, June 21. After checking in to our hotel, the Intercontinental Boston, we immediately headed towards Chinatown to catch some lunch. We landed at the Grand Chau Chow restaurant. They saw two white folk walk in, and made it a point to bring forks out, even though we hadn't asked and chopsticks were already on the table. Mere hours into our trip and we were already be racially profiled. Thankfully that was a trend that didn't continue.

Our hotel: Intercontinental Boston

A statue in Chinatown

After some lo-mein and a chicken hot pot, we hopped on to the Old Town Trolley for a tour of the city. The trolleys went all over the city -- historic sites, shopping district, Fenway area. The drivers were all friendly and had a lot of great history tidbits. You could hop off and on the trolleys at any stop to do some further sightseeing. We did this once, to see the Christian Science church (sadly no Tom Cruise on that day). We then discovered that they were swamped that day and it was near impossible to get back on another trolly -- they were all full when they came to the stop. So when we finally got on one, we just finished the tour loop. We knew we'd get to see all the other stuff later in the trip anyway.

The Christian Science church

Our next stop was the Old State House Museum. This had some great history about Boston in general, but also of the various political leaders before the revolution and after. On our way beck to the hotel, we say a movie shoot going on. Apparently it was for a new Bruce Willis film called The Surrogates.

Filming The Surrogates

Dinner on Saturday was split between the sushi restaurant at our hotel (where Kristin had her first raw sushi ever) and Durgin Park, a seafood restaurant at Fanuil Hall. We split fish and chips and a bowl of clam chowder. I've never had fried fish that tasted so good and fresh. I didn't know it was possible for it to taste that way.

Outside the hotel after sushi

That evening we took a bus to MIT then walked from there to Harvard. It was a much longer walk than we had expected. By the time we made it to Harvard Square, everything was closing. But we did take some time to walk around the campus and quickly into a couple of shops.

John Harvard Statue