From Yorkshire To Virginia

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My trip to Los Angeles

After the wonderful conference, I headed down to Monterey, and then down the beautiful pacific coast highway to Los Angeles (clicking on any of those links will take you to my pictures of that portion of my trip). The pacific coast highway was not the fastest way to LA, but it was by far the most picturesque. I had to force myself to stop stopping and taking pictures, the scenery was just amazing. Yes, there were those windy roads in the hills & mountains that you see in the movies, and yes, it goes on for 63 miles, but it was so worth it. If you get the chance to travel down that road, take it. (oh, and if you happen to come across a LG bluetooth headset at one of the vista points, I'd appreciate you picking it up and sending it on to me).

I stayed over in Simi Valley, which is about 30 miles to the West of LA, but it gave me a central location to LA and the beaches, so I was quite happy with it. I arrived there on the Friday night, in time to head to the movies, so off I want to see "StarDust". Saturday, I did the 10k race, then tootled around for a while (not having much of a choice, since the road back had been closed by the police, so I ended up being detoured through many LA suburbs), before heading out to dinner with a friend (The Lisa) and her boyfriend.

On Sunday, I decided that I really needed a rest day, so I hung around the hotel pool for a while, before heading to the movies to see "War", and " The Bourne Ultimatum".

On Monday, I decided that I really needed to hit the beach, so after looking at the map, I decided that Malibu sounded like a good place to be. 45 minutes later, after driving through more hills and narrow roads, some of which were 1/2 closed (wasn't this how Alf Roberts died in Coronation Street?), I made it to Malibu.

The beaches there were wonderful. I lay out for a while, and ended up playing beach volleyball for over an hour, before deciding to head back to the hotel. That night I drove out to Sunset Boulevard and had a really nice Mexican meal, before heading back to the hotel to pack for the long trip home on Tuesday.

All in all, a wonderful holiday / vacation, especially given that I hadn't had one for quite a while, thanks to all who either offered advice (Ian, Lisa), or were a part of the trip (too many to mention).

San Francisco

Yes, it's out of order, but hey at least I'm writing it now :)

The other Sunday, prior to the conference, I met up with Kim Rapp and her daughter, and we went for a trip to San Francisco. Not sure why they call it the foggy city though. Anyway, here's a picture of the Golden Gate bridge in all its majesty...

Funny thing was, as soon as we made it to the other side, in Sausolito, it was absolutely gorgeous weather.

Coming back, Kim wanted to show me the streets of San Francisco (no, there was no sign of Karl Mulden, or Michael Douglas). So we went for a roller coaster ride around town...

In San Francisco, I'd say that people don't pray to god first... instead they must pray to the midas or meineke man that their brakes are up to snuff... We actually did well, up until we hit traffic half way up a hill, then Kim's poor car with manual transmission refused to move forward... backward was no problem though, so it's great that Kim managed to hit the brakes before the Mercedes behind. We ended up having to coast back down the hill in reverse, hoping that a street car wasn't going to pop up behind us at some point. It all worked out fine, and we took the long way around the city that avoided the hills. All in all, it was a good getaway prior to the work at the conference. Thanks Kim.

Running update

Before I left for San Jose, I had a target of running 18-20 miles. Well, I managed 17.3 miles, which was the longest that I've ever run. I would probably have been able to go longer, but unfortunately I ran out of Gatorade. Poor planning? Not quite, I'd put extra Gatorade bottles on the route, at round about where I knew I'd need them. Unfortunately, it looked like some kind soul saw them, assumed they were garbage, and tossed them in the dog waste bin around the corner... Anyway, I was still happy to make 17.3 miles, and next Saturday the target is 20-22...

Knowing that I'd be in LA, I looked ahead to see if there were any running events going on there, while I was there. There was. So on Saturday I was down in Playa Del Rey, CA, at 8.30 am for the Jet to the Jetty 10k run. This was a really nice course along roads next to the beach, so there was a nice cool breeze the whole way. At around the 2 mile mark, I'd hit my stride, and found a woman running at the same pace as I, so we kept each other company for the rest of the race, up until the 6 mile marker when I sprinted for the finish. Thanks to her help I ended up with a time of 50:27, over 4 minutes faster than my previous personal best. I ended up 95th out of 282 runners, and the 12th fastest man in my age group (out of 27). Not bad at all :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Monterey California

The conference I was at all week ended today. I had a lot of fun, met some old friends, and plenty of new friends. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the people whose blogs I read and comment on. So what did I do when it was over? Go to the airport and wait 7 hours for a flight to take me to one airport where I'd wait for another flight to take me through the night? No, instead I went to the airport, rented a car and headed south.

My first stop , the beach town of Monterey California. For the first time in my life I saw the pacific ocean (San Francisco is in a bay, so that doesn't count).

Checking into my hotel I notices that the establishment next door was an adult book store and theater... thanks Expedia... Well at least the room was clean...

I went for a brief walk along the beach, where the wind convinced me that the idea of sitting on the beach in the morning may be replaced by a trip to the aquarium instead. Anyway, I took a walk around downtown, and one of the first stores I walked past should make Bryn and Susan happy. :)

Unfortunately they were closed, but I'll check them out in the morning. Continuing along I came across 2 British pubs. I decided to go into the one with the football shirts and scarves all over the walls... aahhhhh they had dry cider. :)

Next it was off to the Monterey Live internet cafe / bar, where I'm typing this right now. there's a fairly decent easy listnening band off to the side, and I'm on my 6th cup of earl grey, so I'm quite happy. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Day one in San Jose

This morning I woke up at 3am EDT, and headed out on a trip to San Jose California, stopping briefly in Denver, CO to change planes. My friend Dr. Kim Rapp, picked me up at the airport, and took me back to her house on the campus of Stanford University. Along the way we stopped off at the Google campus in Mountain View, to see such sights as this guy...

Here's a pic of me with Kim's daughter and hellhound dog Ellie
Later, Kim & I went out for a nice Indian meal at the Saravanaa Bhavan restaurant in Sunnyvale, followed by a play: "Oda Oak Oracle" - "a legend of black peoples, told of gods and god, of hope and love, and of fears and sacrifice", at Stanford University. The play was decent, it dragged a bit in places, most notably at the end, but it was at least entertainment.

Tomorrow, Kim is taking me to San Francisco to ride a trolley car, and see the Golden Gate bridge, before depositing me back in San Jose for the conference I came to town for.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Aaargh - A Tiger...

Unfortunately she scared herself when she looked in the mirror and started crying, which is why some of the makeup had run a little bit.

My First Toastmasters Evaluation

For every speech that's given at Toastmasters, a 2-3 minute evaluation follows. Last night was the first time that I'd been asked to do an evaluation at my club...

I think it went well :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Another weekend, another 10k

Yesterday I had looked into running a 5k, but my aching bones wouldn't let me. So I just went for my regular game of soccer. When I got home, I had an email from a running group I belong to, announcing a 10k and 20k race this morning in Leesburg, 22 miles from home. I decided to see how I felt in the morning. The alarm went off at 5.15 (yes, such a time does exist on a Sunday), and off I went to Leesburg. I decided not to risk the 20k, and entered the 10k.

This time, unlike the last 10k, I was actually able to pace myself. My first mile was 10 minutes, exactly what I was aiming for. I then picked up the pace a little, and with the sun not beating down on me, was able to run the whole race easily. Coming to the finish line, I saw an older gentleman who had collapsed just shy of the finish line, 2 people raced over and picked him up, ensuring that he finished, before carrying him to the waiting EMTs. Determined to finish ahead of my previous finish of 59.40, I pushed for the line, and was actually helped by someone trying to pass me in the last tenth of a mile... no way I was going to let her pass. As I ran over the line I saw the time at 54.40. A good 5 minutes faster than last time. I still don't have my actual finish time though, as the race was chip timed, which means that the exact moment that I crossed the start and finish was logged. That should go up on the website over the next few days, and I'd anticipate a 10-15 second drop in my finish time, as I was in the middle of the pack...

All in all, a good start to a Sunday.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Soccer Academy

I've not been posting much this week, on any of the blogs I contribute to, as I've been busy every night at Soccer camp. Yep, I felt that it was time to actually find out how to do this training properly, and figure out how I should be playing the game. So every night this week I've been over at the fields in Centerville with 13 other people learning, having fun, and aching... always aching...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dave the Rave - married...

Congratulations to the new Mr & Mrs Dave and Vicky Hiscock.

Simpsons Simon

Following on from South Park Simon, here's Simpsons Simon

...and Gwyneth had to get in on the act too...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Poor India

For those of you that know India as my fat cat, who used to weigh in over 13 lbs... she's now down to 5lbs 7 oz. She's had thyroid issues for a couple of years now, and has been shedding the weight, but lately she's been looking sick, so off to the vets she went. Diagnosis: She has a large, aggresive, inoperable tumor wrapped around her pancreas. All that can be done is to make her comfortable until such a time as she's in pain, and then the next step is obvious. I can take comfort in the fact that she's had a good life, and had 11 more years than she could have done, had she received her scheduled lethal injection that day rather than being adopted... Still, it's sad.