Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Numbers: January

I earned too many United Mileage Plus miles. And I didn't spent enough time in the water, on the road, or on a trail. But it was a better showing than what I put up in December!

Swimming: 1 hour, ten minutes - 1.5 miles
Cycling: 1 hour, 40 minutes - 16 miles (City riding, not so much cycling...)
Spinning: 3 hours - 56 miles
Running: 5 hours, 12 minutes - 33 miles
Walking: 12 hours, 45 minutes - 33 miles
Snowboarding: 16 hours
Weight Training: 3 hours

February is now upon us and it is time to get serious...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back from Buenos Aires

I am glad to be back from Buenos Aires. Yes, even though I am only sitting at Dulles Airport waiting for my connecting flight back to San Francisco. I had a great time in Argentina, really. The food was great, the people were friendly, and I had a lot of fun exploring the city. But sometimes, and mostly when I'm traveling by myself, I am always eager to go home.

So, before I forget them, here are the highlights and lowlights of my trip...

GOOD: Vegetables. They were always fresh and fantastic.

BAD: Losing an entire day there because of a riot at the airport. Yes, it turns out that the "weather-related" issues I was told were the reason for the delay of my outbound flight had more to do with union-government relations at the Buenos Aires airport than with actual weather.

GOOD: Coffee. They even poured you an American size serving instead of a small shot of espresso.

BAD: Buenos Aires is pretty dirty...

GOOD: Lots of parks! And lots of guys playing soccer.

BAD: I fell asleep at the tango show. Granted, I was exhausted and I probably had one glass too much wine, but seriously. I wasn't very entertained. And I danced for 18 years!

GOOD: Argentine beef. I allowed myself to indulge in a nice steak. I could cut it with a butter knife.

BAD: My ability to communicate in Spanish. Everyone slurred the words differently than I'm used to hearing. I had a hard time understanding anyone unless I specifically requested they speak slowly and clearly. Bummer!

GOOD: We'll end on a high note, here. The wine was AMAZING. I definitely drank too much of it and never once had a hangover. It was like candy!

Here are pictures from my couple of days... Disfrute! (Enjoy)

2008.01.26 - Buenos Aires

Friday, January 25, 2008

Buenos Aires Day 1

Sadly, I did not leave the hotel yesterday. But I am LOVING Buenos Aires...

I arrived late on Wednesday evening, but still in time to enjoy ONE glass of Malbec at the hotel bar. I woke up early enough on Thursday to hit the gym before breakfast and my meeting. Breakfast was great - lots of fruit, lots of vegetables, and great coffee.

Meeting went well, but I'd really like to focus on lunch. I ate entirely vegetarian. And I didn't go hungry! The buffet lunch included lots of vegetables. Fresh, marinated, roasted, grilled... Peppers, onions, tomatoes, eggplants, green beans, zucchini, squash... AMAZING.

I unfortunately spent the entire afternoon and early evening working. Catching up on all the stuff I have going on back in San Francisco and coming up next week in London. I seriously do not have time to be at this meeting, but I intend to make the most of it.

So after a stressful afternoon, I joined the team for dinner and was again VERY impressed with the spread. More vegetables and some fish this time, and lots and lots and lots of wine. Too much wine. The waiters kept filling my glass and because I have a problem NOT drinking good wine that is poured for me (it can't go to waste!) I drank a lot of it.

However, I still managed to wake up this morning in time to take myself to the gym, so I must not have drank THAT much!

So that about sums up day 1: Lots of annoying, stressful work, spliced with lots of good, healthy food, and wrapped up with lots of fantastic Argentine wine. Let's hope I make it outside tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Argentine Identity Crisis

Flying high above the Amazon en route to Buenos Aires, I am reading my guide book trying to figure out what to do with myself tonight when I finally land. Oh, yes, at the very least I will be sitting at the hotel bar drinking a glass of Malbec Argentine wine.

My tour book states, “Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish, think that they’re French, and act as if they’re English.” On the surface, this “cultural confusion” seems to adequately describe myself, no?

To start, I'm Italian. Although I appear to be 100% Italian (dark & greasy hair, olive and greasy skin, larger than ideal nose, larger than ideal bust with a narrow waist but larger than ideal hips…) I am only half Italian. You would only know this, however, if you saw the freckles on my shoulder. (That is the Irish in me, of course.)

And believe me, my family is VERY proud to be Italian. In fact, my father wears an Italian horn charm – the symbol of virility – around his neck at all times. He also used to wear an “Italian Stallion” charm; luckily, it broke/disappeared recently… At any rate, despite the Italian ancestry, my second language is Spanish. I actually can only speak a few Italian words: Merry Christmas (Buon Natale), Eat Up (Mangia), Do you understand (Gabeesh – jeez I can’t even spell that one), and Hello/Good-bye/What’s up/How ‘ya doin’? (Ciao).

So, I’m an Italian who speaks Spanish. (Although I fully understand any racist remark against Italians, so watch it.)

And in many ways, since I live in San Francisco – the most liberal city in the USA – I guess I can essentially identify with the Argentines who think they’re French. Like the French who cannot imagine living anywhere other than Paris, I can’t understand why anyone would NOT live in San Francisco. I believe our city to be the most beautiful. Our lifestyle to be the healthiest. And our social and political opinions to be the most intelligent. Seriously, I’m an obnoxious French woman, sometimes!

Then there’s that whole English thing. I don't know if I ever really act English. But I am trying replace my coffee habit with tea… And I’ve always had a thing for accents and floppy long hair.

This could be a very interesting trip…

Delayed in Dulles

The Terrible Travel Fairy has landed on my shoulder again. I am supposed to be three hours from landing in Buenos Aires, and yet, I am sitting by Gate C2 at Washington Dulles airport. Why? Because, of course, my connecting flight to Buenos Aires from Washington is delayed.

And since the Terrible Travel Fairy is on MY effing shoulder - again - my flight is delayed approximately ten hours. TEN. How is that possible? Can't United just get us another effing aircraft? And why is it again that weather in LaGuarida is messing up my flight from Washington to Buenos Aires?

Well, given this terrible travel luck, and the fact that my flight to the other side of the world is now NOT overnight and will be during the daytime, I just upgraded myself for another $654 to first class. Traveling in economy for almost 8000 is inhumane, but I can manage it when I can go to sleep.

One less day for me in Buenos Aires, but at least when I arrive there will actually be able to give my presentation without slurring my words... Bring on the mimosas!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ready, Set, Snow!

After the season of non-snow in Tahoe last year, it is so amazing to see weather reports like this...

Saturday on the mountain was nothing but sky blue sky and a decent base of packed powder with minimal ice patches. I had a great day, navigating down many new trails at Squaw with very few falls. I tried my hardest to keep up with AER, LV, and AR. And although I never did, the fact that I could still see her ahead of me at times was an accomplishment in itself.

Sunday, only AER and I were brave enough to again head out to Squaw. Maybe brave isn't the right word. It was very cold and windy compared to Saturday. Maybe we just have low standards...

AER and I stuck together for most of the day. We started on the lower mountain at Squaw, hitting up Red Dog and Squaw Creek, mostly. AER can get in three runs for every two of mine at this point, so we'd ride the lifts together when possible and then meet up for bathroom breaks.

I was feeling pretty strong after a couple of hours, despite being hella sore from Saturday, so after a hot cocoa break for lunch, we headed to the upper mountain. I'm super proud to report that I followed AER down Siberia Bowl - my first black diamond - and only suffered a rather tiny wipe out. She was so proud. We did a few more runs before heading over to Shirley Lake, when the snow started to fall.

I have never snowboarded in the falling snow before, and I seriously cannot remember ever being so excited to see snowflakes. The end of the day was awesome. We met up with the gang and celebrated the coming snowfall with a few drinks and eats, then headed home to soak in the hot tub before we all passed out by 10:30 PM.

This is definitely how to spend your time in winter...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Road Warrior III

Yes, I am again starting up - or actually, in the middle of - another crazy travel schedule. But, I get to cross off a place on Life List 2008 (already!) so I will refrain from excessive complaining...

The Schedule...

Jan 22 – Flight #1: San Francisco to Buenos Aires
Jan 23 – Arrive in Buenos Aires
Jan 24 – Work Meeting
Jan 25 – Work Meeting
Jan 26 – Touristy Stuff followed by Flight #2: Buenos Aires to San Francisco
Jan 27 - Arrive in San Francisco

Jan 28 – Flight #3: San Francisco to London
Jan 29 – Arrive in London plus Work Meetings
Jan 30 – Work Meetings
Jan 31 – Work Meetings plus Mom arrives in London!
Feb 1 – Vacation Day with Mom in London!

Feb 2 – Weekend with Mom in London!
Feb 3 – Weekend with Mom in London!
Feb 4 –Flight #4 London to San Francisco

Feb 5 - Laundry, and lots of it, I'm sure!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life List 2008

As I sit on a plane traveling – yet again – to Chicago, I realize that it is time to put all of these frequent flyer miles to a much better use. And so, inspired by the January edition of Backpacker, I am publishing my list of lifetime travel goals. More or less, in no particular order…
  1. Iceland – A few nights touring Reyykjavik and then backpacking and kayaking under the Northern Lights.
  2. Grand Canyon – To backpack as close to the bottom as possible.
  3. Joshua Tree National Park – To backpack along the California Riding-Hiking Trail, and to practice my next sport, climbing.
  4. Hawaii – I have only been to Oahu. Time to see the other islands preferably by backpacking.
  5. Yellowstone National Park
  6. Alaska – Anywhere, but seeing Glacier National Park is a must.
  7. Sun Valley, Idaho
  8. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  9. Salt Lake City, Utah
  10. Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, The Great Barrier Reef
  11. New Zealand - I wonder if I could meet The Flight of the Concords guys?
  12. Vancouver, Canada
  13. Whistler, Canada – To snowboard…
  14. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  15. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  16. Santiago, Chile
  17. Patagonia – To backpack, camp, climb…
  18. Grand Teton – To summit Grand Teton (13,770 ft)
  19. Shasta, CA – To summit Mt Shasta – (14,162 ft)
  20. Rocky Mountain National Park – To summit Longs Peak (14,259 ft)
  21. Death Valley, CA – To summit Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft)
  22. Egypt – To view the Pyramids.
  23. Switzerland – To snowboard in the Swiss Alps.
  24. Italy – To eat. A lot. In Sicily, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Florence, Venice…
  25. Russia – Moscow and St. Petersburg.
  26. Ireland – To drink a lot of Guinness.
  27. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine – Just because.
  28. The Badlands
  29. Tokyo, Japan – For amazing sushi, and history. Also to hit golf balls off the top floor of a sky-scraper driving range.
  30. Nashville, Tennessee – To appreciate country music.
  31. St Louis, Missouri – To see more of the city than just the airport. Perhaps the arches.
  32. Mt Rushmore
  33. Amsterdam, The Netherlands - To smoke pot. Legally. Obviously!
  34. Vienna, Austria
  35. Copenhagen, Denmark
  36. France - Paris, Neice, Cannes... To shop and bathe without a top and to be fabulous.
  37. Germany - To drink a really good Heffeweizen!
  38. Norway
  39. Finland
  40. Sweeden
  41. India - Anywhere!
  42. South Africa - Anywhere!
  43. Anartica - To see the penguins!
  44. Santa Barbara, CA - Never been and it's so close!
  45. Santa Cruz, CA - Never been and it's even closer than Santa Barbara!
  46. Bali - Who doesn't want to go there?
  47. U.S. Virgin Islands - To sunbathe.
  48. British Virgin Islands - To sunbathe at a more expensive location.
  49. Acapulco
  50. Bermuda - Because maybe one day I'll be rich enough to hide my money there!


Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Warrior 2008

Monday is here already. Actually, Monday afternoon is here already. Which means, the week is almost over!

Well, it is. Tuesday I fly to Chicago, and Wednesday I work in Chicago. Wednesday night I fly back from Chicago, which means my flight will be delayed until some terrible hour that doesn't allow me to really get home and into my bed until sometime very early on Thursday morning. Hence, I will not be waking up to take myself to work at a *decent* time, because I played that work all day travel all night work all day game in 2007 and it effing sucked. Therefore, I will arrive at work just in time to break for lunch, and Thursday, will obviously fly by. And then it will be Friday and Friday is the weekend more or less, so the week is almost over. Already!

If only I could figure out a way to make my workouts fly by this quickly...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Since my trip to Tahoe for New Years, I have been physically active every day of the week. Snowboarding, cycling, running, swimming, walking, weight training. Yes, the “New Year, New You” fever has bit me, and I’m pretty motivated to redeem myself – and my body – from the past few months of long flights, meetings, and buffet meals 0% in whole grains.

If only January came every month!

Of course today, the "New Year, New Flu-Cold-Cough" fever has hit me. Yes, just in time for a flight to Atlanta. (Because breathing re-circulated air for 6 hours two days in a row does a body with flu-cold-cough sypmptoms good.) I'm back to barely being able to walk without getting winded. How am I going to be able to swim, bike, run, and snowboard?

I am sitting in a meeting surrounded by doctors who are researching better anti-hypertension drugs. Like we really need another anti-hypertensive drug?

What I need is an efficacious cold pill. Pharmas, get started on your trials!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Movin’ On Up (Again)

Nothing says Happy New Year like an email from your landlord that states, effective February 1, I’m going to charge you 10% more for the exactly what you got when you paid 10% less.

So… I am moving. AGAIN. Into what will be my THIRD apartment in the city. I don’t want to move. For the first time in my life, I actually don’t want to move. I don’t want to try something new just because I can. I am settled here.

But another 10% increase in rent? I already broke my un-written rent ceiling when I signed the lease to this place. So another 10% increase is just making my stomach churn.

On the other hand, I am excited for the change in scenery. Yes, even despite the fact that my current scenery – the billboard outside my bedroom window which is currently displaying Anderson Cooper on it – is rather fabulous. I’m excited for a new neighborhood. A new corner store and a new coffee shop. I’m excited for a new commute to work. And better access to public transportation. (It shouldn’t be this hard to take a bus to work during a torrential downpour!)

This apartment really has been Heaven for us the past 18 months. It started as a refuge from old habits and lifestyles that needed to be fixed. And it served us well while we figured out who we wanted to be and how we wanted to live our lives. This apartment and all that it houses has become our home. More so than any other place I have ever tried to call home. When I travel, I honestly do miss the place; and I miss the people inside it. We are our own little family…

So we will clean out the closets again. Donate what we don’t need and pack what we can’t leave behind. But we will take so much more with us than just furniture and clothes and bikes and wetsuits and golf clubs and snowboards. We will take with us memories of the 18 months during which we finally grew into the people we both want to be.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Sweet Escape

Back in 2006, I admired AER's performance at the Treasure Island Triathlon so much that I faced my fears of open-water swimming and road cycling and I signed up for the Wildflower Triathlon. And on May 6, 2007 I completed the Wildflower Olympic Course in 3:10.

Then and there, I got hooked on triathlon.

But a month later, when I woke up at 3:00 AM to put her hair in double French braids and to see her off before her Escape from Alcatraz swim, cycle, and run, I became entirely envious of how amazing of a triathlete AER is. And as she came out of the water from her swim in the San Francisco Bay, I realized that I *REALLY* wanted to do THAT one day.

So I put my name in the lottery drawing a few months back. And on December 8, they picked my name. Yes..

"[I am] one of the lucky triathletes that have been selected as a winner the December 15, 2007 random drawing for a slot in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon to be held in San Francisco on June 8, 2008...

SHIT! I didn't mean I wanted to do THAT one day so soon!!!!

But a few days ago, I finally overcame my fear of this amazing race just enough to pay my registration fee. Which means, of course, that...

"...On June 8th, [I] will get to jump off a perfectly good boat into the frigid water of the San Francisco Bay, swim with 1800 of your best friends from Alcatraz to Little Marina Green. [I] will climb out of the water and run (with or without shoes) one half mile to the transition area, jump on [my] bike and ride 18 miles (most people say that it is all up hill) and then run 8 miles (under the Golden Gate Bridge, through the sands of baker beach, up the infamous sand ladder and back to Marina Green to the finish line. What a great way to spend [my] life."

So now it is time to re-focus and get back to training. With a lot of work, it WILL be pretty sweet...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

In With the Old

I regret that just like last year, I start 2008 with...

Some junk in my trunk from all those Christmas cookies.
A lower balance in my savings account than would be ideal.
A higher balance on my credit card than I am comfortable.
A burning desire for my end of year bonus.
Sore muscles from a weekend of snowboarding.
Excitement for an entire season in Tahoe.
Anticipation for Wildflower 2008.
Disbelief that I will ever be able to swim a mile non-stop.
Determination to train, train, train...
Awe of my upcoming travel schedule for work.
A commitment to reading more great books.
A promise to spend less time in front of the television.
A passion for my life in San Francisco.
A strong desire to better myself both inside and out.
Disbelief that another year is gone.
And hope that 2008 will be the best year yet.

Come to think of it, perhaps there is nothing wrong with a little old in this new year.