Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas is Coming to Busch Gardens

Since Thanksgiving has come and gone, I am now free to begin my Christmas Festivities!

  • The tree is up.
  • I have lights hung around the front window.
  • Stockings are hung on the wall with care.
  • I found my collection of Christmas Socks.  (It's a family tradition to wear them every day in December)
  • And last, but not least, We went to Christmas Town!

I've honestly been waiting for that last one for MONTHS now.  It actually opened last weekend, but we didn't get a chance to get there until yesterday.

Why do I love Christmas Town?

I tweeted last night:

It's the honest truth.  Not all the rides are open (Only 1 roller coaster is open, but the more carnival-ly rides are open).  Not all the parts of the park are open (the Sesame Street area is blocked off).  But everything that is open is covered in lights.  They bring in potted pine trees, reminding me of a time before I was allergic to pine (it's fake trees for me, sadly).  The restaurants have Christmas dinner themed meals.  And everywhere that you look there is hot chocolate.  The shows are Christmas themed.  The newest show, Scrooge No More is fantastic!

Buy a mug, it makes refills cheaper.  And you'll want refills.  Especially of the peppermint fudge hot chocolate.

The park is open from 2 to 10 most nights, but it's only after the sun goes down that the magic in the park happens.  And it is magic.


Next weekend is the annual Christmas Town Dash 8K.  That was my first race.  That race is the
reason that I'm a runner today.  It's also my birthday the next day.  Next week I'm going to run that race, then later on I'll come back with my friends and we'll have hot chocolate and ride some rides.

And since we're home for the Holidays, and have a season pass, I suspect that we might spend quite a few evenings in December wandering the park and soaking in the magic.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Suspension of Disbelief and the Musical

Suspension of Disbelief: a willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. (coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

We all suspend our disbelief every day.  Every time we watch a movie, read a book or see a stage show.

But I believe that we suspend our disbelief in different ways for different past times.

Think about it.  You're watching a musical on the stage.  The sets are minimal (Like Chicago), the character has a massive deformity, but the actor has no makeup or prosthetics (Violet or the Elephant Man), the actors talk to the audience, and are ignored by those around them (seriously, too many plays to mention).  Those conceits don't fly on television.  They hardly every fly in the movies.  (The end of the History Boys was a bit off putting with the stuff at the end, and the Producers was just WAY over the top... in a way that would work on state but not on film)

Now live musicals are a thing again.  We had the Sound of Music last year.  Next week is Peter Pan.  People are either loving these or hating them.  Me, I'm always pro-musical... but I have these thoughts:

  • The casting last year was terrible.  I have hopes for this year.
  • Without a live audience, the performances lose something.  Ask anyone that performs live, and they'll agree.
  • I've hard that they made the role of Tiger Lily less offensive.    I'm interested to see how.
  • There's talks of Grease and The Music Man next.  Both of these make me immensely happy.  But casting will be key.  As we all know now *cough*CarrieUnderwood*cough* it doesn't work.
  • People REALLY shouldn't be looking for the slick production that a movie musical has.  There is no CGI or post production.  It's all harnesses, costuming, sets, makeup and camera angles.  I wonder if this is causing some of the disappointment.
Needless to say, I'll be there.  With wine.  And popcorn.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Eating Locally: 3 new restaurant reviews

Over the last few months a bunch of "mom 'n' pop" eateries have opened near us.  The Spousal Equivalent and I decided that we'd try them out!

from Facebook, because we were too hungry to take a picture
The first one that we tried was Mr. Gyros and Burgers.  We've been watching them renovate the old Greyhound station for a few months now.  The fare is Greek based, with the addition of burgers.  As the name implies.

the burger (I got a Greek burger) wasn't anything to write home about, but I put Gyro sauce on it, when made it pretty darn tasty.

There isn't much in the way of seating inside, with the exception of a counter and a few stools.  It's clearly a "take it and go" kind of place.

We want to go back and actually try the Greek food!

Earlier this week we got pizza from Emo Italiano Pizza.  These people have an IMPRESSIVE menu of Greek and Italian food, as wekk as burgers, subs and sandwiches.

As you can see, this place has a few tables to sit and eat.  It's also within walking distance to our place.  And they deliver!

The pizza?  It's not bad.  I want to try their Chicken Parm, which is a weakness of mine.

Today, we rounded out or tour with Viking Burger.  This place is relatively new, and (I believe) owned and run by members from the local branch of the SCA.  (hence the name)

I must say that I didn't really get what I ordered....  (I orders a single Thor burger with out the lettuce tomato, pickle and raw onion. and WITH grilled onions... I got a double cheeseburger) but I was hungry and it was GOOD.  toasted buns,m flavorful patties.  And fresh cut fries (the menu says they are massacred fresh every day).  The place really doesn't have much seating, (like Mr. Gyros) so we took our food to go.

The SE was SO HAPPY with his food.  Even the dog liked the fries.  (well, she loves all food, so she's easy to please).

We definitely want to try these guys again.  I hear that there is Viking Sauce, which we remembered as we were leaving with our loot..  I must investigate the next time that we're there.

And maybe I'll get my burger with the grilled onions....

The prices on all of these?  Reasonable.  Both of the burger joints had prices that were comparable with Hardees and the pizza place was actually almost the price of Papa Johns.

Honestly, of all of these places, I see us going back to Viking Burger the most!

But honestly, with such good local food, why even frequent the chain places?

In Summary:

  • Mr Gyros and Burgers:  The burgers are ok... the jury is out until we try their Greek food.
  • Emo's Italiano:  Good pizza, and GREAT prices.  I can even walk there.
  • Viking Burger:  GREAT burgers.  2 thumbs and 2 paws up from our household

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Virginia Running Festival vs. The Crawlin' Crab

I was all sorts of ambitious when I signed up for not one but 2 half marathons this fall.

Now that I've done them, which one will I do next year?  I'm only doing one.

Let me see....  Let me compare

Race Routes

Both races had some amazing routes.  Virginia Running Festival (VRF) was flatter.  Crawlin' Crab (CC) had some hills.  It may have been me, but multiple times during the VRF I felt as if I had to stop and ask directions.  Some of the intersections weren't clearly defined.  And the fault may lie with the fact that I run slower than a turtle and they were starting to break down the course a bit.

Water/Rest Stops

There were plenty of water stops in both races.  Both had water and Gatorade.  But the VRF has a HUGE lack of porta-potties.  CC had the potties at every stop.  I don't know that every water stop is necessary, but having at least one on the front half of the course might have been nice...

CC also had a candy stop, which was a nice change of pace.  (I hear that the Richmond Marathon has a beer stop!)

Finish Line

Not that Crawlin' Crab's finish was bad.. but nothing can compare to the finish line at VRF.  There's nothing like coming into a stadium and taking an actual victory lap.  There is plenty of space for people to line the course at the end to cheer you on!

Distance to Home

Obviously VRF wins in the distance to home category!  Hell, my BFF can walk to the course from her house!  (If I do it next year, I'll tell her where to go and when!)

I don't know yet which of the two races that I'm doing, but I do know that VRF has a lot of room for improvement.  It's not that it's a bad race, it's just that I know that Flat Out can do SO much better!

But next up is Christmas Town!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Virginia Running Festival

And the Massive Medal Half!

This past weekend was a pretty good one!

I got my shirt and bib:

And then the Spousal Equivalent and I decided to prepare for the week.

I made some chicken:

And I went to bed early.

The next morning, with a 7am start time, was the Massive Medal Half Marathon.

I felt pretty good going into it.  it was a cool morning, but not too cold.

Of course, I immediately lost my friends.

And honestly, lost is the way to describe it.  I don't know why, but for a large track of the race, I felt that I must be going the wrong way.  I shouldn't have to ask the volunteers for directions!

About mile 3 it happened.  I had to pee.  Unlike the Crawlin' Crab, there were no porta-poties at the first few water stops.  Hell, by the time we turned onto Warwick Blvd, I was eyeing some trees.  My mile 5, I was a bit desperate.  And I saw it.  On the other side of a turn-a-round.  A porta-potty!  But it was at mile 7.  I had to just hold out a few more miles.

It was about then that I realized that I was like 4 people from the end.  And that was unacceptable.  I changed my run/walk interval.  I passed two people.

Then we went by the museum, and onto Riverside Drive.  Someday I'm going to win the lottery and live here.  I even picked out a house or 6 to live in!

About mile 12, I really was dragging.  I turned off my interval timer.  I turned off the music.  I just concentrated on power walking the rest of it.

As I was running in, there were runners getting into their cars and leaving.  But the ones walking to the parking lot were encouraging.

Then I saw it.  Pomoco Stadium.  The last bit of the race was a victor lap.  3/4 of the track to the finish line.  The SE met me to take pictures.  And I got some help running from a friend:
I did it!  I got my spoils:  water.  Gatorade.  a slice of pizza.  and a FRICKING HUGE MEDAL

The cool thing?  Apparently Flat Out Events won't start breaking down until the last runner has gone over the line.  After I was in, the last group came into the stadium.  The music switched to the Rocky theme (not Eye of the Tiger, the other one).  everyone that was there ran to the side of the track to cheer them on.  I cried.  It was inspiring!

And here's my results:
Congratulations on finishing the Virginia Running Festival on November 09, 2014.  For your records, the weather at the start was overcast, 52 degrees F, west wind 4 mph.  Your overall finish place was 400, your age group finish place was 28 and your gender finish place was 216.  Your time of 3:27:28.75 gave you a 15:50 pace per mile.
And I made some goals:

  • I used my run/walk interval timer for the overwhelming majority of the race.  I didn't give up and walk for miles on end.  I ran throughout the whole race.
  • I was under 3 hours 30 minutes
  • I was under the 16 minutes/mile pace.
  • It was a half marathon personal best!
After much rest, a nap and an Epson salt bath, we celebrated with shredded chicken burritos:

After dinner, I went up to watch Netflix.  The bed was the most warm and comfortable it's ever been.

After switching to a movie that I've seen at 8pm, I turned off the light and gave up at 8:30.

I was SSOOO tired!!!

Today my knees and lower back are killing me, and I have an amazing headache.  I need to continue the training.  Add in weight training and Pilates, but that can wait.

Though this morning I decided to let people know of my issues with the race.

I even got a reply:

Now I'm at work with my massive medal.  Man I'm sore!

But do I feel accomplished!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blustery, Rainy Day

The weather report called for a drop in temperature and rain today.

I was unprepared for the sound of the downpour that was happening outside of my window.

So I made tea.  And because I had no milk, I used half and half.  The kind from a small plastic cup.


I think everyone was feeling the change of weather today.  The pets didn't want to get up from their nests of the sofa.  My tummy was unhappy this morning.  The Spousal Equivalent had a headache.  Basically it was just a crummy morning.  Instead of running, Misty and I walked around the block.

Now I'm at work, and realizing that it's not actually Friday.  (I've thought that it was Friday almost every day this week)  Tomorrow is Friday, but this weekend is a weird one for me.... since the big event is on Sunday.  I'm kind of waiting for Sunday to roll around.

Actually, on Sunday (or maybe Saturday this week), I'm going to prep meals for next week.  A big part of my prep will be some crock pot shredded chicken.  The recipe:


  • chicken (I buy it in the big bags from the freezer)
  • onion
  • olive oil
  • minced garlic
  • spices (I use a Mrs. Dash blend)
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • Thaw the chicken and put it in the crock out
  • chop a medium onion and set it to cooking in a skillet with some olive oil (I know!  I'm SO precise!)
  • After a few minutes, add some garlic and spices and cook for a minute or two longer.
  • Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, then pour the contents of the pan into the crock put.
  • Slap the lid on a cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  • Have some wine while you wait.  (this is optional)
  • After the chicken is done, take it out and shred it... I like to put the chicken in the crock put after shredding... to soak up more flavor
The options are limitless!  I cna take some chicken, add some taco seasoning and beans and make tacos.  Take some more, add soy sauce and rice for an Asian dish.  Put it on a pizza.  Put it into soup!

While the original recipe that I got this from called for more Mexican flavors, I like to make a huge batch of a more neutral flavor so I can use the chicken in a variety of dishes!

I'll take pictures and report back next week!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Making a plan and Sticking to it.

Yes.  Sunday.

I really can't believe it's snuck up on my this fast.

It's weird, because of life and other things, I know I'm not as trained as I could be.  Knowing that, I've decided to look forward to re-running both of these half marathons next year.  In the next few weeks I'm going to look at sample training schedules online, and make a plan.  See how my times improve.

After this weekend I can start to look forward to the holiday season.  We're doing Thanksgiving with some friends.  We all know I'm decorating for Christmas soon after.

The Christmas Town Dash 8K is right after Turkey Day.

In and among all of this, I'm turning 40.  A Post race celebration will be had at the park.

I've been thinking about all of this:  the decorating, the entertaining, the training, the Spousal Equivalent's overtime.

And I have come to conclusion.

I have to plan.  I have to stick to the chore schedule that I make for myself.  I need to keep on top of the laundry.  I need to meal plan and do the prep work over the weekend.  I need to plan the week's work outs (those vary with weather) and stick to them.

Anyone else have this problem?