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Returning from the “Thai of my Life”

16 Jan

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been on lots of adventures, of course, plus lots of other things have been occupying this mind of mine. One adventure, though, cannot be ignored. My trip to Thailand was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done for myself and I can’t wait to share it with my reader(s?) despite the fact that my reader base consists of my best friends, all of whom know all about the trip. WORK WITH ME!

So Kayla’s been trying to get me to go to Thailand for a couple of years. As a successful waitress at the ever-popular Big Bowl, she’s had a hankering for authentic Thai food that she just couldn’t kick. I wasn’t convinced that we needed to fly half way around the world for some temples and pad thai (foreshadowing: Pad Thai is AWESOME). Then, one fateful Monday night, it hit me like a ton of bricks bad TV show. The cast of the Bachelor went to Thailand and it was BEAUTIFUL. I told Kayla to sign me up.

We tried last winter to book a trip for March, but the cheap tickets we found online didn’t turn out to be legitimate. Then, last August, we took a leap of faith and bought airline tickets for December through January. I thought a winter vacation sounded perfect, so I bought the two-week ticket and never looked back.

Phi Phi Island Thailand long boats

Long boats on Phi Phi Island

In September Kayla and I bought the domestic flights to fly within the regions of Thailand. We decided we wanted to be in the picturesque islands for New Year’s so we would go to the mountains and jungles of Chiang Mai the following week. Kayla found a lot of the hotel accommodations on AirBnB and we slowly started to fill our Google Doc of a schedule with excursions and activities.

I know my recap of Thailand can’t all fit in one post, so here’s what I’m proposing:

  • Day 0 – Fears of traveling to Asia
  • Day 1 in Thailand – Bangkok
  • Days 2-6 in Thailand – Phuket
  • Days 7-13 in Thailand – Chiang Mai
  • Day 14 in Thailand – Bangkok pt. 2
  • Layover in Hong Kong
  • Things I wish I would have known before traveling to Thailand/Tips
  • Final Thoughts/ Reflection

Wow, that’s an additional eight posts, but I think I can do it. Will you join me?

Ran Tong Chiang Mai elephants

Showering the elephants in Chiang Mai

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Nashville St. Jude Country Music Half Marathon

18 Jun

It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted on Gerbs’ Blurbs. Thanks for following along. I’ve been traveling and racing and adventuring so I’ve got lots to share the next couple of days to catch up my loyal reader(s).

The last Friday in April my friends Jamie, Jenny, Kayla, Mandy, Pam and I (yes, that’s 6!!) loaded up Jamie’s dad’s car in Bartlett, Illinois, and headed south to Nashville. We had a smooth ride full of fun chats and laughs and arrived in Tennessee around 4:00 pm. We made our way to the expo to pick up our packets and gear and check out the vendors. I bought a pair of special Nashville Rock ‘N Roll marathon/half marathon socks, a 13.1 magnet for my car, and a cool new phone holder for runs. I didn’t end up using it in the race but it’s cool for training.

After the expo we were starving and because we were staying in an AirBnB condo we had the opportunity to cook our own carb-loading meal. We went to a local grocery store and picked up ingredients for spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad and had a great time cooking and dining. We turned in relatively early because we had a 5:00 wake up call for the run.

We were lucky in the sense that our condo was within three minutes walk from the start. Because we took advantage of the location and factored in our later wave start we almost missed the gear check which closed at 7:00 am. We crossed the start line around 7:40.

Our group of six stuck together for less than a mile before we paced and spaced ourselves out. It felt like we got a quick start but I found that even at the first mile we were pacing around 11:00 miles, slower than how I had trained. We had been warned that the Nashville course was full of hills but could not have possibly prepared for what we were about to face for thirteen miles.

I think the hills were the number one thing that contributed to a 2:31 finish. I had finished 11 miles under two hours while training so I didn’t expect to exceed my goal finish time by almost two minutes. The hills were brutal, though. I tried to power through them but every climb got harder and harder. I walked up most of them and it really messed with my mental plan for the race.

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My favorite parts of the race were reading the signs and interacting with the crowd. Kayla and I wore matching, crazy pants so we got a lot of cheers (when we ran together). We saw people passing out shots, beers, Jolly Ranchers (which I loved!), salt packets (gross?), pretzels, orange slices (yum), and Krispy Kremes. We actually saw a lot of Krispy Kremes.

The weather for the race was near-perfect although the sun got hot. I was grateful to have sunglasses. Because this race was a Rock ‘N Roll-branded marathon there was supposed to be music at every mile but I’m not sure there was. Our entire group chose to run without music (opposite of how I trained) and I sort of regret that decision. Yes, I liked hearing the bands as we ran by but unfortunately most of the time they were inbetween sets for the 20-30 seconds we were within ear shot.

Overall, the race was really fun. It was very challenging and exhausting. We all struggled to have energy and move around the rest of the day/night as well as the next day, but we were all proud and accomplished.

When I was checking my official race time on the Rock ‘N Roll site I realized the craziest thing – there was another woman with my exact same name that finished within 120 seconds of me. She’s from New York, I doubt we’ll ever be reconnected, but how funny is that? What are the freakin’ odds?

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The next day we celebrated with my favorite Nashville stop – Monell’s. If you’re traveling to Nashville it’s a must-do. There are five tables that seat twelve people and everyone (whether you know the people at your table or not) is served family-style and passes the food left. There is more food than you’ll know what to do with but it’s all delicious and reasonably priced. Brunch was no exception.

After brunch we walked around and looked for antique stores and thrift shops. We found a few good places and I picked up a cute dress and headband. Some of the girls got old blue prints of airplanes that will make great decorations.

Sunday night we had downtown Nashville to ourselves! Most people headed back home after the race Sunday but we had planned to enjoy the day and head back Monday. We lucked out because the very crowded bars and long lines from the day before were non-existent. It’s interesting to me how popular of a destination Nashville is becoming. What (I think) was once a southern city for country music lovers is becoming the hot spot for girls’ trips, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and road trip destinations.

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Where should our next girls’ trip half marathon be? We’re thinking Savannah, Georgia.

The other bike that broke my heart

29 Aug

Dear readers, I have so much to tell you about starting with the camping trip and not excluding Shakespeare at the pub and our ukulele teacher’s concert. But first, I had another bike break my heart.

It all started when I switched my laundry from the washer to the dryer this morning. I noticed my bike (to clarify, this is the bike I ride to work, not my new road bike, but rather the bike that got the cute new basket just a few weeks ago) wasn’t there, panicked for a quick second and then remembered I locked it up front overnight since I’ve been riding so frequently and it’s easier than dragging it up and down the stairs. There was my first mistake. I woke up this morning eager to conquer the day, walked out the front door to where my bike would be waiting for me. Except it wasn’t. I was confused for a second until I saw some remnants of the lock on the patio. My bike had been stolen.

I don’t want to take blame for someone else coming onto our property, cutting my lock, and clearly taking something that didn’t belong to him, but I feel partially to blame because I didn’t use my U-lock. I got a free U-lock at the University of Miami when they taught us about bicycle theft prevention. You got a free lock for registering your bike with the police. Hopefully that police info is going to come in handy soon because I called them this morning and they’re checking to see if they still have it on file. So no, this wasn’t my fault that someone stole, but I should have known better than to lock it up with a dinky lock. For those of you who know me, our street is pretty safe, so this honestly seems unfathomable. Although, now that I think about it, my car was broken into less than a year ago… hmm…

Luckily I’m a responsible adult and have renters insurance, but unluckily the renters insurance deductible is $500 and my bike was worth less than that. The police report is filed and maybe I’ll get it back some day. Until then I’ll be riding my road bike to work and getting ready for the tri, I guess.

The moral of the story is there is no other lock than a U-lock. Invest in it and never look back.

Molly’s musical and Blair the hero

23 Aug

Hello again!

Sorry I’ve been slow to post – I actually wasn’t doing crazy stuff all week and had a few days to rest!

It’s Friday and we all know what that means. Ice in da cup!

No, but seriously. Somehow I skipped my scheduled run this morning (do I seriously think I can do another tri?), didn’t get out of the shower until 8:10, rode my bike here and STILL made it to work by 9:00.

Speaking of riding my bike, today marks the fourth day in a row I rode. At $2.25/ride on the el, that means I saved $18! That $18 is going to pay for my lunch today with a friend from high school that happens to work in my building! I ran into him last month in the cafeteria – he’s worked here almost a year and we had never seen each other! He’s dating my other friend from high school now, too, so I can’t wait to hear about that.

Last night I went to see Roommate Molly’s musical, The Lockout. It was so funny! It’s about a fictional basketball team in Wichita, Kansas, and how they dealt with the 2011 NBA Lockout. If anyone in Chicago is looking for something fun to do, I recommend seeing this show Thursday-Saturday 7:30pm, Sunday 5:30pm through September 15.

Image from Lockout the Musical

Let’s see, what else did I do this week? Sunday I rode 21 miles with the Mt. Prospect bike club on my new bike, which was… interesting. I’m still getting used to the way it feels on my hands and how much different it is from the hybrid bikes. After that I hung out with my best gal pal, Hannah (the 11 year old) and we got her a huge Barbie doll house at a garage sale for $15 plus some extra doll clothes for $5 more. She was thrilled and I love teaching her about buying used and how it is like recycling.

Monday evening I went to Blair’s house and she made some amazing mac and cheese from the latest issue of Cooking Light. I didn’t get a photo because I’m still getting used to this blogging stuff. Tuesday night Molly’s boyfriend’s roommate, Ian, cooked us sweet potato tempura tacos that were to die for. I am so lucky to have people that like to cook in my life. I wish I could learn a thing or two. Wednesday night I cooked two 93% lean burgers (one for dinner, one for lunch) for myself on the George Foreman grill.

So that was my slow week. This weekend is going to be something to write about, for sure, because it’s our FIRST ANNUAL FLOAT TRIP. A group of 11 of us are going three hours north in Wisconsin to float down a river and camp overnight. I’m excited and nervous because I haven’t been camping since the makeshift Key West camping trip in college, and before that I think it was a student council camping trip to Starved Rock. Wish us like!

Finally, I want to give a huge shot out to my homie, friend, Canes alum, Uke Nation buddy Blair Brettschneider for being recognized as a CNN hero this week! She founded and runs Girl Forward, a service to help refugee girls in America, and you can watch the video here.

Summer Saturday in Lake Geneva

17 Aug

It’s Saturday morning  and I’m en route to Lake Geneva, one of my favorite places to go every summer. I know three families that have lake houses and wish I had one, too. While I’m up there I’m going to test the water temp of Geneva Lake so I know if I can do the Lake Geneva Tri without a wet suit.

Last night was the Chicago Canes kickoff party at Flagship in Lakeview. I’m excited for football season to start up.

This post will be brief, but I wanted to show you all something funny I saw at Jewel.

Lime-a-rita at Jewel

Lime-a-rita at Jewel

Big, honkin’ Lime-a-ritas for $2.50 at Jewel. Kristin and I paid $13 at the BSB concert!!

What are you doing this weekend?

 

Yoga on Wrigley Field

28 Jul

Last night (Friday) I had the opportunity to do something yogis across the US dream of. I did one hour of yoga on Wrigley Field.

Hit an Om Run

Hit an Om Run

I tried signing up for Hit an Om Run, presented by Lululemon, but it was sold out so I had to find a way in at the last minute. As it turns out a group of girls asked me to take their photo in front of the iconic Wrigley sign and I asked them if they had an extra ticket. I’m so glad I was able to get in because it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had in my yoga career. By yoga career I mean of the 5 classes I took after my semester long class during senior year of college. I hope to get more into yoga as my tri training goes on. I want to open up my tight muscles from running and cycling.

There were three instructors that took us through a bunch of exercises and kept reminding us to focus on the fact that we are standing (or downward-dogging) on one of the most historic places in the United States. It was really exciting and refreshing.

Yoga on Wrigley Field

Yoga on Wrigley Field

There was live acoustic music and during the final stage, Savasana (corpse pose), he played a nice song that really hit home for me. I wish I knew his name! I couldn’t help but open my eyes (gasp!) during the song to admire the amazing clear sky above me. As the song tapered off and Savasana was ending and there was silence on the field, we slowly heard the drip drop drip of rain on the Wrigley bleachers. Like clockwork, the session was over and we scattered off the field. I walked home in the pouring rain and was totally okay with it.

Yoga on Wrigley Field

Yoga on Wrigley Field

I felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend that time on the field. I wish I could do it every Friday night!