Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First week of law school, aka "tapering"

So, how was the first week of law school, you ask? It was great. Not so great for my enthusiastic training goals, but great for my future as a lawyer.

Since I'm still trying to settle into a rhythm, I have not yet decided what is better: getting up early to work out before classes (my first class isn't until 9:50 everyday), or working out after school, around 3 or 4, when I just want to relax my mind anyway. I've been going back and forth over the last few days, so hopefully I will come to a verdict soon.

In other news, I have the Rock N' Roll Virginia Beach this weekend! I plan on escaping the mess that will be Baltimore this weekend and relaxing in Southern Virginia. I did some lower body work yesterday, and my sore hammies this morning reminded me to take it easy for the rest of the week. I plan on doing some yoga (to get out this new crick in my neck) and lots of swimming. After this last race, it's all speedwork until I taper again! Hooray! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week in review: More distance, Crossfit, and Volunteering for IronGirl Columbia

This week actually seemed to go by pretty quickly. I continued with my distance-based training, and included two long bike rides and a group run. School starts tomorrow though, and I'm definitely ready for a real schedule again! Here's what my week looked like:

M: 30 minute row/full body circuit
T: 20 mile ride
W: upper body circuit/4.5 mile group run
R: 16 mile ride
F: 4 x 1 mile intervals and full body circuit
S: Crossfit WOD

On Saturday, I did a Crossfit WOD with the Team RWB chapter here in Baltimore, over at Crossfit Harbor East. The WOD was for groups of 3, and included 25 minutes AMRAP of 400m run, then the 3 partners splitting 16 wall balls, 14 dips, and 12 burpees. My team did 6 complete rounds, plus some more, as well as 10 tire flips. My legs were/are screaming!

Today, Sunday, I was planning on doing my last long run of 10 miles before tapering to get ready for RnR Virginia Beach in two weeks. I just spent six hours volunteering at Iron Girl Columbia, though, and I'm pretty pooped.

Since I wasn't able to sign up for Iron Girl Columbia in time (due to, you know, not knowing where I was going to live until a month out from moving), I decided to go ahead and volunteer. I always appreciate the awesome volunteers on courses I do, and now I really appreciate them!

I showed up this morning about 6am, 45 minutes before the first wave. For the first hour I was on transition zone duty, checking wristbands and trying to answer questions. Once the race started, I was stationed at Bike Out/Bike In, and spent literally 4 hours yelling at some awesome athletes about which way to go next. Also, yelling at other athletes to get off the course after they finish! Seriously, I know it's the most convenient way in and out of transition, but just because you're done doesn't mean the 2800 other athletes out here are done too. Get off the course.

If you haven't yet, I would highly recommend volunteering for a local race when you are in training or just can't race. It's incredibly inspiring to see everyone out there racing for their own reasons, and your support is much appreciated! I'm definitely going to be volunteering for more races this year, pretty much every that I don't have time to sign up for! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pre-outing snacking

I admit, I am a huge snacker. Since I tend not to eat large amounts at meals, I snack a lot in between. Sometimes this is ok, such as when I haven't been to the grocery store in a while and all that is available to snack on is carrots. When I'm all by myself, though, I tend to keep ice cream around, or sometimes even Cheetos, which make much better snacks. Of course, all this snacking doesn't make me hungrier at meals.

I have been trying to cut down on this by eating "mini meals" between my "real reals." That is, basically, treat snacks like a meal, and plan for them. If I plan on eating an apple and peanut butter at 3, just like I planned on having salad for lunch, I am less likely to go for the Cheetos.

Since I did actually write down my meal plan today, and mostly followed it, I decided that going out for trivia night tonight isn't going to ruin a good day! I'm sure I'll probably snack on some yummy bar food, but rather than eat dinner there, or eat dinner at home and be anti-socially refusing food, I made a mini-meal before leaving home. It's basically just a half version of what I was planning on eating: a quarter of an avocado, black beans, and about 2 oz. of grilled chicken breast.

Now I am decently not hungry at all, plenty of protein to keep me full so I can skip the wings, and nutritious enough. I'm so responsible....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Packing for Europe

Packing for Europe coincided with not only a race weekend, Rev3 in Williamsburg, but also moving out of my house in Georgia. As a result, I tried to pack as little as possible, while knowing that what I packed would probably have to last three weeks or more before I could re-pack. As if that wasn't hard enough, I also had to keep my one backpack to to under 30 pounds.

Here's what I packed, minus my hot pink UnderArmour sweater:

- 1 x long sleeve black shirt (ok, it was the Rev3 finisher shirt, I loved it)
- 1 x white t shirt
- 3 x tank tops, one white, two in different shades of coral
- 1 x pair of jeans
- 1 x maxi dress
- 1 x running skirt
- 1 x navy blue sweater

I actually took the color scheme from the skirt, since it has pretty much all my favorite colors in it. Any of the shirts could go with it, as well as with the jeans. The blue sweater I layered with the tank tops, and also had a navy blue scarf that I could layer when it was that chilly. The maxi dress I wore on the train, in Rome, and hanging out in the terminal waiting to come home.

My favorite piece was actually the running skirt. This one is the Happy Girl skirt from Skirt Sports, and had shorts underneath it. I wore this in Rome with a tank top and flip flops. The pockets on the undershorts were great! I was able to tuck my metro pass and money in the pockets for easy access, for extra security, and it was also super comfy. The jeans would have been too hot for Rome during June, and the full coverage from the shorts was just the right amount of comfort.

In addition, I packed 14 pairs of underwear (old pairs that were on my throw away list; I just happened to throw them away in Europe), 2 sports bras, 2 regular bras in nude, 2 pairs of socks, and one bikini.

My hygiene kit was also minimal. I brought a large travel towel in a mesh bag, and 1 oz toiletries I stole from the hotels we stayed at along the way. Pretty much everything was travel sized so it would be easier to carry, and if I had to throw it out, no big loss!

I definitely felt that this was a perfect amount of clothes for two weeks, even without laundry facilities. Minimalist packing made it easy to pick out an outfit in the morning, and it was easy to carry! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Week in review

Due to the fact that I don't actually have anything to do while I wait for school to start, my training has been going quite well :D

Before classes actually start, I am focusing on getting my training volume up to where it should be to prepare for the Half-Full Tri in October, then through September focus on speedwork and shorter, higher-quality workouts once classes start. So, my week looked like this:

M: 1 hr of yoga, 1200y swim
T: 90 min bike, 1 mi run cool down, upper body circuit
W: off
R: 1200y swim, full body circuit
F: 60 min bike, lower body circuit
S: 5 mile run, core

So, plenty of time logged at my new gym! Since I do have so much time, I am getting better at making myself do some strength training, even after a long bike ride. I still feel that core is a weakness, however, so I should get on that more.

In addition to all that, due to the closest grocery store being Whole Foods, I've also been trying to eat clean(er)! Smoothie before working out, protein shake after, pb&j for lunch with salad, and hummus for a snack. Now if I can just find a compromise for dinner that includes ice cream and pasta.....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just a few hours in Venice....

On the morning of Day 7 in Europe, we took a train from Rome to Venice. We knew that our time in Venice would be short, very short, since we wanted to get back home to the USA b Friday. Going Space-A, I didn't want to risk my chances of not having a flight available, since the 4th of July was coming up.

So, we arrived in Venice early in the day, and made plans to leave. Our options were train, heading back to Ramstein, Germany, or heading out into the Italian countryside and trying to get a flight out from Vicenza Air Force Base to Ramstein.

If you only have a few hours in Venice, take the Vaporetto! There is a fast line that zips down the Grand Canal so you kind of see everything without actually stopping. Of course I wish I had more time, since #2 on my list of things to do in Venice someday is have a Bellini at Harry's Bar. Maybe next time....

Other than the vaporetto, I did manage to grab some food, my last meal in Italy, and bought a little charm of murano glass for my charm bracelet. I admired the view from a view bridges, then headed back to the train station.

I then took a train, and a bus, out into the middle of nowhere, and used my very limited Italian to leanr I was about 5k from the American air base. Thankfully a kindly bus driver took pity on my poor ticketless self and dropped me off. Granted, he dropped me off at the Italian gate, and I had to walk around to the American gate, but once inside, a kindly contractor who spoke English picked me up and drove me to the terminal. Huzzah! I managed to squeeze onto a mail plane heading back to Germany that night, and was quite excited. Literally, squeezed on. It was a 5-seat plane, and our luggage limit was 30 pounds total per person.

I got into Ramstein, Germany, late that night, and decided to just stick it out in the terminal until they kicked me out at midnight.

The next morning, and the next after that, my friend and I waited in the air terminal for an open seat home. A few things I decided during this time: I will never travel long distances with children unless absolutely necessary. Sleep isn't really all that necessary. Air Force hotels are WAY nicer than Army hotels. Think 4 star plus for $50 a night! Also, the little German pastry shop in the PX is AMAZING!!

Late on the fourth of July, we finally got on a flight heading back to Dover, DE. This was a cargo plane, and the crew took pity on all of us waiting for flights and reduced their load as much as possible to fit a full 60+ passengers.  If you aren't familiar with cargo planes, they are very loud, very minimal, rather cold, and, in this case, full of children. I took a double dose of nyquil before boarding, passed out shortly after take off, and woke up just as we landed in Dover at about 1am. Best flight ever.

So, how to get from Dover, DE, to Baltimore at 1 am on the day after the fourth of July? Call the only open transportation company, which offers....a stretch limousine. Splitting it with 3 other people made the 90 minute drive very reasonable. Not to mention AWESOME!

We then drove from Baltimore to Augusta, switching out and making record time. Trip over! Back to my empty home. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two Days in Rome

At the end of Day 4, we took an overnight train to Rome, and arrived in the morning on Day 5. All roads lead to Rome! For some reason, I was much more excited about Rome than Paris; when I first started thinking about traveling to Europe this summer, my plan included ten days in Italy, and *maybe* a side trip to France.

After dropping our bags at our cozy hostel not too far from the train station, my friend and I set off on our Roman Holiday (of course we watched the movie before leaving!). Since it was Saturday afternoon, and we weren't sure what all would be open on Sunday, we got some one-day metro passes at the train station and headed straight to Vatican City.

Day 5 

1pm: Vatican City. After a quick gelato stop, we got in line for St. Peter's Basilica. The line was very long, but mostly covered, so the heat wasn't too much. It moved pretty fast, since it was just to go through a security checkpoint, not to pick up tickets or anything else. Before entering the Basilica, there was another checkpoint with guards reminding everyone to cover their shoulders and knees. I was wearing a full length dress and brought a scarf to cover my shoulders, so all was good. Smart vendors were selling giant scarves for about 15 euros right by the checkpoint though.

Inside of St. Peter's is beyond description. It is huge, it is gorgeous, it is so full of works of the masters, I don't even know where to begin. The first stop for pretty much everyone is the Pieta, of course. After that, we walked around each of the side chapels, admiring every inch of gorgeousness. One thing I'd been waiting for was to rub the feet of St. Peter near the front. When we got there though, we realized it was June 29, the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul! The statue was roped off and dressed in full papal robe, the only day of the year it is adorned so. How serendipitous for us. We also stopped in the gift shop near the museo to get post cards, which you can mail from the Vatican City post office! I sent one to my little cousin, written in Latin of course.

3pm: lunch outside Vatican City. I just couldn't wait to get some tagliatelle.

4pm: Metro to the Fontana di Trevi. Of course I threw in a coin! So did Oreo.

5pm: Another gelato break. then we got hopelessly lost after finding the Pantheon, ended up at Piazza Navona, and then looked for the Coliseum to find our way back to a metro station. We grabbed some groceries in the train station as we headed back to our hostel to wipe our feet off and get ready for another day in Rome.

Day 6

9am: Up and at 'em! Sort of...waited a bit for my friend to snooze until I finally ripped her blankets off. We're in Rome! And it just happened to be the last Sunday of the month; the one day the Vatican Museums are open not only on a Sunday, but for FREE! But only from 9-1. After some cappuccino and pastry for breakfast, we hopped back on the metro and raced to Vatican City to find a line literally around the country. We stood in line for a little over an hour, which really isn't too bad, before getting in around 12. That left only 2 hours to explore thousands of years of art....including the Sistine Chapel. Up for the challenge! Again, there were guards outside the Sistine Chapel reminding ladies to cover up, so bring a scarf!

2pm: After exploring the Musei Vaticani, it was time for some Ancient Rome. After some pizza for lunch, we headed towards the Coliseum. A ticket at the Coliseum covers both the Coliseum and the Palatino, so if the line is long there, head over to the Palatino first.
The Coliseum is a lot of walking, very sunny, and kind of confusing. Yes, it is round, but some parts are closed off only for private tours. I defnitely took my time exploring all the levels, trying to imagine what it looked like full of people. Part of why it looks so decrepit (besides being 2000 years old) is because tourists used to take bits of it home, as a souvenir or as a relic of martyred Christians. That's illegal now, but I kind of wanted to take a piece of rock home with me anyway.

4pm: Palatino and Roman Forum. Just down the road is the back entrance to the Palatino, an area of excavations of ancient Roman homes. Mostly ruins now, it still gives you an idea of the kind of grandness that surrounded the ancient Romans.
At the other end is the Ancient Roman Forum, with the pillars and the ruins of the home of the vestal virgins, and the curiae, and pretty much everything awesome that you have ever read about. Walking the paths of the Romans is just so amazing. As you can imagine, I was kind of geeking out at this point.

5pm: After all that history, we explored some more of the other forums, outside this protected area. I can't believe Mussolini thought it was ok to try to cover them up....but anyways, after a bit of a walk, we found the Bocca della Verita....just after they closed. Too bad, we will never know if I'm a liar...or if my friend is as gullible as Audrey Hepburn.

7pm: We wandered back towards the Palazzo Venezia and had some dinner at a cafe there while watching everyone else on the streets. Yes, gelato was involved.

After such a long day, it was nice to get back to the hostel and just relax a little bit, after washing off our feet. This was the first time during the trip I wore sandals all day, and got some pretty awesome tan lines.

Getting around

The Roman metro system isn't that great; there are literally two lines, one across, one down, and they meet at the train station in the northeast part of metro Rome. A day pass is 6 euros. I didn't try any of the buses.

Our original plan was to buy a Roma Pass for 30 euros, which includes a 3 day metro pass and admission to two sites listed on their website, and discount tickets elsewhere. Since we ended up paying only for the Coliseum, 12 euros, it was just as well that we didn't buy that. But if you want to see a lot more sites, go for it.

Rome is even worse for pickpockets than Paris is. Keep everything zipped up tight, and don't keep everything in one pouch! I had money in pretty much every pocket on me, and my passport, ID, and debit card were in separate pockets as well. Also, pack sunblock, it's very hot and sunny in Rome, and a scarf, for all those historic sites. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

New shoes!

So, I recently realized that, due to my shopping spree last Fall, I haven't bought new shoes since December. I've been wearing my hot pink Asics since then, when I bought two pairs. Usually I buy at least three pairs of running shoes a year, so it's definitely time for new shoes!

I just bought a new pair of the Asics GT-2000. Aren't they gorgeous?!

I'll be breaking these in over the next few weeks, and probably wearing them for all my fall races. I love the bright color of the laces, but I think my pink elastic laces will do the job just as well.

Hopefully Asics does another round of pink ribbon shoes in October, so I can can stock up on more hot pink shoes ;) 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The In-Between Days: Paris to Rome

On Day 4 of our adventure, my friend and I woke up, checked out of our hostel, and headed to the train station. Our initial plan was to get tickets to the south of France, spend the evening admiring the water there, and then take a train from Nice to Milan to Rome the next day.

When we got to the train station, though, we found out all the trains from Paris to Marseilles or Nice were pretty much full until 6 that night. After weighing our options, we decided to spend another day in Paris, then take an overnight Thello train directly to Rome.

That meant another day in Paris!

We took the metro out towards Hotel de Ville, and wandered around for a little bit. We saw Village St-Paul, which used to be a convent but is now a bunch of little shops. Then we wandered over to Place des Vosges and saw Victor Hugo's house, now a museum.

We also stopped at Mariage Freres, the oldest tea shop in all of Paris. I picked out one delectable-smelling tea to send to Kevin, but they were all out! After some more shopping and a late-afternoon lunch of cheese and wine, we headed back towards the train station to pick up our bags and get on the train to Rome!

Since it was an overnight train, we got a bunk in a compartment. At first, we were in our own compartment, but then got moved to a different one with two other ladies, both from Hawaii! My friend and I both got top bunks, which I didn't mind too much since I was able to spread out all my junk on the luggage racks. I stayed up probably until about midnight reading, so I heard the announcement when we went through Switzerland. I am totally counting this as a country, even though I didn't get off the train! After some sleep, we woke up, and were in Italy! 

Best Travel Buddy: Moleskine City Notebook

While doing all my research for traveling to Europe, I knew that there was no way I wanted to carry around a huge guidebook with me. For one, they're heavy, and you really only reference a few pages at a time. For another, what screams tourist more than carrying around an English guidebook?

Thankfully, while browsing my local Barnes & Noble shortly before leaving, I found a solution with the Moleskine City Notebooks. Now, I love Moleskine anyway, and keep the small weekly planner and a blank notebook with me pretty much 24/7. My current favorites are the Star Wars editions, obviously, though I did just find a houndstooth print that's pretty cute......Anyway, I already had one with all my little notes about Paris, so when I found the Paris city notebook ON SALE at Barnes & Noble, I snatched it right up.

This notebook is the standard small size, 3.5" x 5.5", with a black leather hard cover and elastic band. On the inside are lots of maps, with a street index for each small map, as well as a metro map which folds out. VERY HELPFUL!

After the maps, there are several blank pages, as well as tabbed pages you can use for whatever you want. Some tabs have images on them, for restaurants, hotels, shops, and such, but there are also several blank tabs, and included tab stickers, so you can label and arrange them yourself. I included tabs for itinerary, museums, budget, and words, where I wrote down useful phrases I just can't remember (two years of college French, and I still don't know left from right...).

Clearly, I didn't really follow my notebook itinerary all that well.....

I liked being able to write down the map page number in my notes, for easy reference to wherever it was we were going. Also included were several pages of tracing paper, so I made a map overlay for the metro map highlighting our hostel stop and any stops near where we wanted to go.

And, like all Moleskine notebooks, there's a pocket in the back. I was so paranoid about pickpockets that I actually kept my debit card, some cash, and ID in this back pocket, rather than carry a wallet. Since I mostly walked around with this in my hand anyway, referencing my notes, making new notes, or looking discretely at a map, I knew no one was going to take that thing from me.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a Rome notebook before I left :( Even when I got to Rome, and saw the Moleskine store in the middle of the Termini train station, they were all sold out of Rome city notebooks! Which is a shame, since they also had a Rome Moleskine stamp right there in the store! Since I've been back, though, I've been snatching them up off ebay for pretty much every city I want to visit, both here and abroad (note: that's all of them). Washington DC for $2.50? You bet I got that one! I'm actually really glad I got this one, since I live so close to DC now. I already wrote down exhibits I want to see this fall, marked my most common metro stops, and put my smart trip card in the back pocket where I will NEVER lose it again!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two Days in Paris!

Since I knew I would only have a short time wherever I went, I did a lot of research for every city I went to, and decided on what would be most important to see. Here is what I came up with for Paris.

We took an express train from Germany to Paris, and then spent much of our first day trying to find a hostel. Since we hadn't had time to book one before leaving Baltimore, pretty  much everything was full up. We ended up at a Hostelling International property a little far from the city center, but it was definitely cheap! We then took the rest of the day to charge all of our devices, do some research, grab some dinner, and go to bed early for a big day in Paris!

For our itinerary, we did use that first day to do some prep work. We got about ten metro tickets as soon as we arrived, so that we wouldn't be stuck anywhere. We also got the Paris Museum Pass, which was 39 euros for two days. It included a map and list for all the museums it covers.

Day 1
The Louvre, Jardin de Tuileries, Champs-Elysees, and Arc de Triomphe

9am: The Louvre opens. If you already have the Museum Pass, you don't have to wait in line! There is NO WAY you can see the entire Louvre in a day, or a week, so I decided to just stick with my favorites: Venus de Milo, Nike of Samothrace, Mona Lisa, and Ancient Art. I also explored the exhibits on the most bottom floor about the history of the Louvre. You might think it's just another museum, but no! The building itself has been a palace, dungeon, fort, you name it. That's why the Louvre is so cool.

1pm: Lunchtime. We ate at the Louvre; there are lots of options in the building itself, ranging from a really nice cafe to just snacks you can eat in the cafeteria area.

2pm: We took a detour to the Louboutin store on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then sauntered through the Jardin de Tuileries in front of the Louvre. These gardens are perfectly manicured and just as beautiful as the pictures. At the end is the Jea de Paume, now a photography museum, and Musee de L'orangerie, which houses Monet's Waterlilies. These are both included in the Museum Pass, so stop by!

3:30pm: Detour to Place Vendome and Cafe Angelina! Even in Paris, I enjoy some afternoon tea.

5pm: Stroll down to the Arc de Triomphe. We took most of this along the Seine, rather than straight down the Champs-Elysees, then cut over a few blocks before Place de Charles de Gaulle. You can absolutely climb to the top of the Arc (194 steps), and it is included with the Museum Pass, so why not? The view from the top is actually pretty grand.

7pm: Dinner. After some serious shopping along the Champs-Elysees, we grabbed some dinner at a little brasserie a few blocks off the Place de Franklin Roosevelt, and then headed back to our hostel.

Day 2
Versailles and Eiffel Tower

8am: Take the train to Versailles! Any south bank train station has the RER trains that go to the Versailles station, and it's just a short jaunt from there. We rented bikes from a place right outside the train station, and took those! Note: get your tickets before you head back! At the end of the day, there is a HUGE line of people trying to get tickets to return.

9am: The Palace opens around here, but it varies. The line is LONG to get in, but it moves fast. Once inside the area, we went through pretty much everything you can see inside. The Hall of  Mirrors, the state apartments, Mesdames' apartments, everything. After going through all of this, we biked out to the town to pick up some lunch. We then headed down to see the various other buildings. There's the Grande Trionon, the Petite Trionon, and the Queen's Hamlet, which also had cute little bunnies!

5pm: Train back to Paris. As I mentioned before the lines for tickets here are crazy! Buy in advance!
6pm: Eiffel Tower. Oddly, my in laws were also traveling through Europe this summer, and we met up beneath the Eiffel Tower! They decided to climb all the steps up to the second tier, since the line was shorter for that, but my friend and I opted to just wait at the bottom. Maybe if it were dark, it would be worth it.
8pm: Dinner. There are a ton of cafes and such around the Eiffel Tower, so of course we picked one and ate there. Delicious, as is to be expected.

There you have it, two perfect days in Paris. I hit everything that I really wanted to see, took time to enjoy it, and loved every second.

San Diego Comic-Con International 2013!!!

In between Europe and moving to Baltimore, I went to Southern California for a week. Kevin of course got tickets for San Diego Comic Con, as we do every year, and I didn't want to disappoint him by not going, even though the thought of going by myself seemed rather boring. But who can pass up a week in SoCal with my best friend (and in-laws...) and the chance to stand in line for hours on end for the most epic week in every nerd's year?

So, I went. After some time in HB with my bestie, including a day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs (think a grown up water park...but no lazy river), I headed down to SD to stay with family. 

Leave it to me to make SDCC boring. The first thing I added to my schedule every day was Comic Book Law School, a series of panels on intellectual property law and how it applies to current creators. There was no line to get in, obviously. I went on Thursday and Friday, and then skipped out on Saturday's to stand in line elsewhere.

Next on my list of things to do was hit up the Her Universe booth every day! They were doing special t-shirts every day, so of course I got them. First day I just got the Padme shirt, which I've been waiting for. Friday was the most awesome Jaina shirt, and Saturday was Mara Jade. Definitely totally awesome. I love these shirts; they fit awesomelly (is that a word?) and I love the designs. Three of my favorite characters!  In the past, Her Universe has had limited edition charms, but none this year :( Boooo. The only one I don't have was the Naboo charm, which is the one I really, really wanted!! 

There wasn't really a line at this booth, but some of the booths with SDCC exclusives can get CRAZY!! I had a list of stuff that Kevin and some other friends wanted, but wasn't able to get much. Partly because I didn't like to stand in lines, and partly because they were sold out before I even got there!
The line systems are SDCC vary greatly. Most booths have only a small area they can hold a line, so you kind of have to wander around in the area until they announce that the line is actually open for whatever it is you want. Sometimes lines just appear out of nowhere, when a booth starts a giveaway for example. And some lines you need a wristband just to get into the line. It's crazy. So many lines!!!

Then of course, there are the lines for panels. Hall H and Ballroom 20 are the two most popular areas, so that's where the CRAZY lines are. People literally sleep overnight in these lines. But the panels they get into are the stuff SDCC dreams are made of.

I chose my line-standing time wisely. I did stand in line to get a voucher for a t-shirt. That line was actually about an hour and a half, BUT it was during what I had scheduled as down time anyway, AND I was in line right next to a wallplug, so I was able to charge my phone at the same time. Plus I had a new book in my bag. I also stood in line for about two hours to get into the How I Met Your Mother panel, which would have been AWESOME, but alas, I was still 20 people back when they closed the room. 

I did get into some good panels, though. Other than the Comic Book Law School ones, I did get to see Warehouse 13 for their last panel. I also went to some panels on women and body image (totally random) and marketing to "fangirls," moderated by the woman who owns Her Universe. 

Just wandering around the area and seeing everyone in their crazy costumes is pretty fun, though. Lots of time and creativity on display there.

The last day, I checked my final thing off my SDCC list: getting my picture taken with Zachary Levi!!! This has been on my list every year, but I always miss the Nerd HQ tweets that send out when he's doing pics. I totally lucked out this year, though, and just happened to be walking by Nerd HQ just when they announced a photo session. Score!
Yes, that is my new Jaina shirt I was wearing. And yes, this picture is now framed on my desk. I'm a grown up now, please, I'm not going to just pin it on a board somewhere!

So, there's my view of SDCC. It's fun, it's crazy, it's super crowded, and of course I'm glad I went. 

Flying Space-A

Since I am on active duty in the Army, and I was taking a lot of leave in between moving out of my house in Georgia and moving in to my new apartment in Baltimore, I decided to try out this Space Available program the Armed Forces have.

Quite basically, the Army (and AF, Navy, etc) move around a lot of people, going to and from Europe and the Middle East and Asia. They also move around a lot of equipment. For these missions, they have a mix of contracted commercial flights and cargo planes. Whenever these flights have empty seats on them, other service members who are not on official travel orders are allowed to request these seats for personal travel, basically for free (or a small tax).

Summer, of course, is a high season for military travel. People are moving to new assignments overseas before school starts again, and families are trying to travel during summer block leave times. There are fewer available seats for personal travel, and more people competing for them.

But, in order to save the $1000+ on a plane ticket, my friend D. and I decided to try our chances. Right after the Williamsburg Rev3 race, we headed to Baltimore, where one of the main Space-A terminals is at BWI airport. Flight schedules are posted about 72 hours out, so we knew that Saturday night a flight with 100 seats had left, clearing out a lot of the people waiting for flights. Lucky us! We got to the airport Monday morning around 11, and signed in, then settled in to wait.

After two smaller flights left out in the afternoon, we were both holding out for one last flight, leaving at 10:30 Monday night for Ramstein, Germany. The initial roll call for the flight was at 7pm, and we were still far down the list. They did announce that more seats would likely open up before the flight left! We looked around, and saw that a lot of families with kids had already  left for the night, which bumped us up on the list. We grabbed some Starbucks, and decided to wait. At about 10, they did the secondary roll call, and we both made it on the flight! Huzzah!

Oreo waiting in BWI
The flight was a contracted commercial flight, and was filled with a mix of soldiers going on to Afghanistan or Turkey, families PCSing to Germany or Italy, and about 80 of us on personal travel. I got stuck in row on a middle seat of the middle row. Not ideal, but it was an overnight flight. We got two meals, dinner and breakfast, and two movies. Thankfully, though, I slept through most of the flight. We touched down in Germany bright and early, breezed through customs with our single bags, and went to grab some coffee and euros before heading to the train station.

Next stop, Paris!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Europe: By the Numbers

Twelve Days.
Five Countries.
Three Trains.
One Bicycle.
One Mail Plane.
One Commercial Plane.
One Cargo Plane.
One Stretch Limo.
Five Museums.
Four UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Two Hostels.
Countless Macaroons.
Three Gelatos.
One Backpack.

So, that's my trip to Europe by the numbers. Sounds fun, doesn't it. I'll try to break it down a little bit more for you, what I packed, what I saw, and how I got there. First, though, let me introduce Oreo the Panda!

My little sister sent me Oreo when I was in Iraq, which started The Adventures of Oreo the Panda. His latest adventures were these, throughout Europe. Of the entire trip, I have literally two pictures of myself. Most of my pictures are of Oreo. It just seems better than getting an up-the-nose selfie in the middle of Paris.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adding in some strength training...

So, since I just joined a gym, I decided to take advantage of all the awesome trainers there to get some help adding some strength training to my running-biking-swimming-running training ideas. Since, you know, I'm in the Army, I know I'm not weak, but I don't really feel that heavy weight is a strength for me, no pun intended.

So, I asked one of the trainers to come up with some workouts that aren't too much but that I could add twice a week or so with my current training plan. I met with her this morning to go over the workouts, and she kicked my butt.

I know, in my mind, that doing things like plyometric exercises and planks are good, and help with form and endurance when running. Actually making myself do them is another matter. Which is why, when this new trainer told me to do lunges and pop up on one leg, and go back down, 15 times, I wanted to die. The squatting laterals and planks, I can do. The walking lunges with weights, ok, I've done that before. But seriously. Jump up from a lunge? I hate those.

So anyway,I have a whole new plan, a trainer who works at my gym who asks me how I'm doing, and some seriously burning legs. At least there's a Cheesecake Factory just a few blocks from my apartment.....