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christina_sonygps

30 Posts

 

During the past two weeks, I've logged 16,000 flight miles.  Just flew from New York to San Francisco last night, on a flight that was delayed, as usual.  I call in my sushi order at Ebisu's SFO location from my cell phone once I land, and Joe now answers the phone, takes my order, and says, "Christina, right?  See you soon."

 

 

And the flying isn't done.  After a 12-hour layover, I am returning to SFO, my second home.  Jeremy and I are finally going on our belated honeymoon to Japan and Vietnam.  We leave for the airport in 45 minutes.  I'm not dressed.  I haven't eaten.  I haven't finished packing.  But I've been through this enough to have the confidence to sit here and type for a few minutes instead of freaking out.  That moment will come in about 40 minutes. 

 

 

People are congratulating us as if we just got married, and I explain that we have rescheduled our honeymoon three times, thanks to me wanting to choose what I hope to be the two most dead, inactive weeks in the stock market to travel.  I was concerned about being out of touch for so long, when my boss's boss offered up the option of turning on the international roaming plan for my blackberry.  He said to consider it a weddding present.  I told him that I was quite sure my husband would want to return that gift, if he could. 

 

 

Nonetheless, roaming email service will help us stay in touch, so I'm in favor of it.  I'm not the type of person who enjoys completely escaping.  You can run, but you can't hide if something is blowing up.  I'd rather know about it.  And, some of my dad's test results will be coming back next week.  My mom has informed me that my dad has no intention of being sick again.  I hope stage 4 cancer listens.

 

 

I'll post photos after the fact, but hopefully I'll be updating the blog regularly during our adventures.  Fingers crossed that the GPS system will work; I've had only moderate luck with it in Boston and no luck in Manhattan.  If during the next two weeks you see a 5'5" woman swimming in a black fleece Sony jacket that's a bit too big and taking pictures throughout Tokyo, Cu Chi, HCMC, Hanoi, and Halong Bay, it's very likely me.  If she pulls out a blackberry, especially when her travel partner has his back turned, and is typing feverishly (I have highly developed thumb skills), it's definitely me.

 

 

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I'm back from the dentist.  I thought this was going to be a simple procedure to just patch up a tiny hole.  And that's the direction we were going, until my dentist decided she'd do things the "right way."  So, she stuck a long swab into my mouth with some topical anesthetic, shot me up multiple painful times with that numbing drug, and went to work with the drill, telling me I won't be able to eat for a few hours (a few hours!!) and that my mouth may very well be sore for a couple of weeks. (A COUPLE OF WEEKS!!?!?!)

 

 

I can't really talk now, and I don't want to drink any fluids because the last time this happened, I spilled water all over my self.  Perhaps I will buy some soup on the way home and drink it with a straw.

 

 

Figuring I may need to recuperate, I decided to cancel my trip to Boston tomorrow.  Plus, I could use the extra day to wait for my performance review to be scheduled.  (I'm not sure how many times I need to remind folks I'm finally going on my honeymoon after having rescheduled it three times to accommodate work.)  And, we must get our wedding gift thank you notes in the mail before we leave town.  (Sorry friends, but some of them are in the mail - really - and others are in various stages of completion in my backpack... yes... where they have been for a month.)

 

 

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I spent a lot of time last weekend lying on the couch, watching movies, and eating popcorn. I'm hooked on Dale & Thomas popcorn and try to justify my consumption of it by telling myself it's a healthy source of fiber. So what that it's coated in white chocolate and peanut butter or caramel and chocolate. At the core, it's good for me.

 

Saturday morning, after a prolonged chomping session, I felt a rough edge in my mouth and figured I had a pesky corn husk stuck between my teeth. I flossed and brushed, and I couldn't get the rough edge to go away. I stuck my hand in my mouth attempting to extract the foreign body, but I was having no luck. In better lighting, I could clearly see it wasn't that I had anything stuck between my teeth. Part of my tooth was now gone! An edge of my filling is now making its way through my body - an extra source of fiber.

 

 

I'm supposed to leave for three weeks, starting tomorrow. My dentist is incredibly kind and conveniently located, which means it usually takes months to see her. Not good.

 

 

Figuring I should probably take a break from the popcorn, I used our Frisper (www.oliso.com/frisper/) to keep my popcorn fresh for when my teeth resume their full functionality.

 

 

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Rat Jinx

Posted by christina_teamaquaphor Nov 23, 2007

 

A few posts ago, I wrote about hoping not to see a dead rat in my path, since the last time this happened (last weekend while I was in Boston), I shifted my step at the last minute and seemed to make my toe injury worse.

 

 

Yesterday, I went on my first outdoor run since the October 21 marathon.  Jeremy and I have been traveling and crazy busy with our jobs, so he's been losing weight and I've been gaining it.  Yes, I've accepted that it will never be fair.

 

 

So, Jeremy swam and lifted weights, while I sat on my butt and watched the Top Chef marathon on Bravo.  At least I was dressed in my running clothes when he came home.  I forced myself to go out and run 3 miles at a 9 minute pace, just to get the blood pumping.  My lungs were all clogged up.  My IT band was screaming.  And, what do you know, a dead rat was in my path at mile 1.7.  This time, I saw it with some advance warning (though I had done an out and back and wondered where I stepped on the way out).  So, my toe injury was simply from abuse and not from a last minute gait change.

 

 

I know I'm supposed to post photos, but you really wouldn't want to see a dead rat, would you?

 

 

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I've been logging lots of air miles recently. In fact, this is my home away from home.

 

 

 

It's rare that I drink coffee, despite my very early "dark-thirty" start time to work. I've taken to wearing my running blinky light as I dodge the cars being guided by half-asleep drivers. When I travel, I usually treat myself to a cafe vanilla light frappucino with extra whipped cream. If people can enjoy super-sized value meals at McDonald's, washing down their fries with a Diet Coke, I feel entitled to enjoy the light frap with some whipped cream. It was handy to have my camera with me at the Phoenix airport. I know how to order my drink, yet the folks at the Phoenix airport decided to argue with me and tell me they simply couldn't add whipped cream to my drink because the light frappucino doesn't come with cream. It's light for a reason. My response - it's light so I can have my damn whipped cream. After more back and forth than I really thought was necessary, they gave me some whipped cream. Here's the result.

 

 

 

 

How pathetic is that tiny squirt of cream? Highly disappointing. I will return to my San Francisco based Starbucks, where one of my favorite drink masters has been known to put my small drink in a large cup (I refuse to endorse that whole tall, venti, blah blah.  It's small, medium, and large.)  And, he fills it to the top with cream. Yes, that is perhaps excessive, but I'm usually indulging in that dessert during the middle of my day, when everyone else who has a normal job is rushing home.  Ah, bliss.

 

 

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Spousal Abuse

Posted by christina_teamaquaphor Nov 20, 2007

 

Two nights ago, Jeremy got up in the middle of the night to watch TV and put a bag of spinach on his eye.  Apparently, his eye got in the way of my elbow.  I was sleeping on my back and resting my elbow on a pillow when I suddenly jerked and his eye was conveniently in the way to get clocked.  I had no idea until last night, when he told me the story as we were going to bed.

 

 

Last night, Jeremy stabbed me with his boney elbow.  He has very long arms for his build, and they sometimes get in the way.  Apparently, in my half-asleep state, I complained that he was getting back at me.

 

 

I call a truce.  It's bad enough that I rarely get the recommended hours of sleep, and I usually wake up at least once a night with a work-related nightmare.  There's no need for midnight elbow pokings to continue interrupting our precious slumber.

 

 

 

 

 

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I don't know what the deal is with toes and my family. 

 

 

One of the fun things my sister and I did while being confined to a hospital room with our parents was to ask them about their courtship.  And while the events all took place decades ago, they confirmed each other's stories.  (My mom was "a hot dish" and a great cook, and my dad "fell in love with her instantly."  My mom says that my dad was obviously checking her out at a party and lamely attempted to get her contact information three times by asking where she lived - how was she supposed to answer that but to tell him her neighborhood - before he finally asked her for her phone number.)  My dad was a boxer in college and was always into some form of martial arts.  One day, over 16,000 days ago, my dad and my mom were playing around, and when my dad went to fake kick her, my mom blocked the kick and broke his toe.  Not only was she hot, but also feisty.

 

 

Fast forward some 16,000 days, and my dad is in the hospital, suffering with a rare form of stage IV cancer, with a shortage of platelets in his system.  I wrote a report in the third grade on blood, which started with, "Blood is vital.  Blood carrries food and oxygen to all parts of your body."  While researching that report, I learned that platelets help to clot bleeding so wounds can heal.  My dad's feet were swollen with fluid, and my mom was his around-the-clock bedside nurse.  At one point, she was helping him and stubbed his little toe and caused him to bleed and bleed.  I suppose she was again exerting her powers and letting my dad know she was the boss, as if any of us need reminding. 

 

 

I don't think my mom is to blame for my current toe problem.  I ran the October marathon in lightweight running shoes, and I wonder if I didn't have enough support at the front of my foot.  I've had a lot of pain in my forefoot since the race, and while walknig in Boston a few days ago, in order to avoid a dead rat that was in my path, I quickly jerked my foot in an awkward position and felt the pain intensely.  No, this did not set me back from shopping.  Afterall, there's no sales tax on clothing in Boston.  But, it did cause me to look at my toes to notice a significant swelling on my left side at the base of the toe next to my big toe.

 

 

I'm starting my training for Napa this week.  I've got to start sometime.  Let's hope there are no dead rats in my path.

 

 

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New York, No GPS

Posted by christina_teamaquaphor Nov 15, 2007

 

I flew back from New York last night, just in time to work my butt off today before boarding a flight to Boston tomorrow.  On several occasions I turned out the GPS unit and waited, and waited, staring with one of my best friends, I-Fang at the double blink of the light that told us the device was not registering our coordinates.  I'm guessing the tall buildings were getting in the way.  I even perched my GPS unit at the window of my 41st story hotel room that overlooked the Hudson (being a road warrior with hotel loyalty has its benefits), yet I was never able to get a signal.  I'll upload pictures later after my jaunt to Boston.  Times Square is pretty well known, even without the cool GPS feature.

 

 

While I was burning through cell phone minutes in New York talking with clients, I welcomed my mom's call, especially when she told me the fabulous news.  My dad's labs were in after three rounds of chemotherapy, and his tumor markers have shrunk significantly.  He'll have a fourth round of chemo the day before Thanksgiving.  We are cautiously optimistic... ick, that's a phrase from work, a reminder to end this much-needed diversion.

 

 

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One of the things that Jeremy and I have in common is our interest in eating good food, all the better if it's also cheap food. Don't get me wrong, a year ago today, we enjoyed a decadent meal at The French Laundry. There are a few benefits of my early morning hours. 425 days ago, I was one of the first people to log on to Open Table and search for a reservation at The French Laundry. We had high expectations for our meal, and the restaurant exceeded them that evening. Yum.

 

Last weekend, we drove up to Tahoe. I own a condo in Tahoe Donner, and we were preparing it for ski season.

 

 

 

 

Here's Jeremy showcasing the Sony GPS unit while standing in our condo parking lot.

 

 

One of the restaurants we enjoy in Truckee is Smokey's. Their bbq and cole slaw are quite good. Jeremy and I ventured there for brunch last Saturday, ordering the corn beef hash and an omelette.

 

 

 

 

Now, I love salt, and I'm fortunate that my blood pressure is on the lower end of normal, so I tell myself I can indulge. Our corn beef hash was some of the most salty meat I have ever tasted. The first bite was good. The third bite had me reaching for the water. The fifth bite had me "diluting" it with some of the egg from the omelette, since by then, my poached eggs were long gone. Enjoy Smokey's after 11AM when they serve the bbq menu.

 

 

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I spent over an hour today working on getting our visitor visa to enter Vietnam. That does include numerous attempts to call the consulate to find out the visa fee, since one portion of the website stated I had to get a money order or cashier's check. Jeremy had emailed them numerous times inquiring about the fee. His emails were never answered. I called numerous times this morning, and my call was answered by an automated response system, but I never was able to reach anyone live to pose a question. I called the after-hours number, and I received a recording from some unfortunate woman who let callers know that the consulate has an error on their website, accidently posting her personal phone number. She added that the consulate had promised to change the website in July. I'll bet she's thanking the technology gurus for inventing caller ID.

 

Surprisingly, if you search for Vietnam visa online, you'll come up with all sorts of agencies that will gladly collect a handsome service fee to process your visa for you. I thought that was crazy. Who wants to hand over extra cash and their passports to some third party? When I previously backpacked through Southeast Asia, we would often stop short of a border, and our truck driver would stop and force us to pay an extra processing fee so he could stand in line with our applications and passports. We still had to hang around at the border waiting for all of our visas to get processed, mind you. And, we had to give up security of our passports. Some of us, armed with our Lonely Planet guides full of border entry information and trained to never let our passports out of sight, questioned the premium we were being asked to pay, saving ourselves a little cash while gladly standing in line ourselves, avoiding the tourist-trap shops at the border that catered to waiting foreigners. Reading about these visa services reminded me of those dusty border experiences.

 

 

With passports, applications, check book, and passport photos in hand, I climbed the hills of San Francisco to get to the consulate. I had to sign in just to wait, and the sign-in woman was not particularly friendly as she attempted to bringn order to the chaotic crowd of people. I was surrounded by regulars holding dozens of passports. Being entrepreneurially minded, I started calculating... $45 per passport times 20 passports...not a bad business, given it's scalable.

 

 

I was elated when my name was called. That meant that I could move from the waiting to wait area to the waiting area. And, since I had but two passports to process, my transaction was relatively quick, once I made it to the front of the waiting area. And, in two days, I have the pleasure of waiting to wait, then waiting again to pick up our passports with visas enclosed.

 

 

As I emerged from the building and checked the time, I couldn't help but to wonder if those visa agency services are on to something. What's a little identity theft risk anyway?

 

 

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Following the Nike Women's Marathon, I had been taking MUNI to work, affording me the opportunity to wear "business appropriate" shoes during my commute instead of the running shoes that my feet prefer.  This morning, I decided to go back to walking the 2.2 mile journey.  I charged up my ipod last night so I could use the Nike+ system to keep me moving forward at a measured pace.  I was surprised that my left IT band is still feeling the torture of the 26.2 miles.  And, I'm supposed to be training for Napa!?!  I guess it's back to the foam roller for me.

 

 

Jeremy introduced me to the foam roller on around our third date.  The experience of rolling on the outer sides of my legs for the first time was so excrutiating, I fought my natural inclination to burst into tears, and I wondered what sort of masochist this man was.  After later using the roller with my physical therapist, I realized that Jeremy wasn't crazy for having such a torture device in his house.  Using that firm piece of rounded foam hurts so good.

 

 

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My dad had his third round of chemotherapy yesterday.  His tumor markers are down, so we know that the previous chemo treatments have been working.  Unfortunately, the treatment has also been taking a toll on his good cells.  He's been lethargic and had to have a blood transfusion before his treatment.  Fingers crossed that the tumor cells will continue to shrink.

 

 

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I was excited to get a call today from "Front Door" (which is how it's programmed into my phone) that UPS was there to drop off a package for me.  I was thrilled to see my box of goodies when I arrived home.  I've opened all of the packages, read all of the directions for the GPS unit and both cameras, and am now anxiously watching the minutes go by as the batteries charge.  I've even already set up the clock on the video camera, since it can charge while you use the unit.

 

 

Great timing.  I leave tomorrow morning for a day trip to Arizona, so I'll get to check out how the GPS unit works outside of California.

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I'm not sure what I was expecting of myself this past weekend.  I stopped training for the marathon when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, having logged fewer than 50 miles in total during the six weeks leading up to the marathon, with my longest run standing at a paltry 12 miles.  My IT band had been bugging me so much so that I had often worn my IT support brace to bed and to work.  The week prior to the race, I hadn't been able to sleep well.  It doesn't take a runner to know that this seemed to amount to a recipe for disaster, and I probably would be wise not to have high expectations come race day.

 

 

Similar story, different year.  

 

 

Two years ago, I was in good shape and ready to compete, but I injured myself at around mile 10 by attacking the downhill too hard.  By mile 12, every step I took on my left side sent shooting pain through my left hamstring, buttocks, and lower back.  I had no ibuprofen, and the aid station wouldn't give any out.  My coach rubbed some Icy Hot on my hamstring at around mile 21, which helped before my sweat carried it away.  I missed my "easy goal time" (as opposed to my stretch goal time and expected goal time) by 50 seconds, and I sobbed to the finish, watching the clock tick past what I had worked for 16 weeks to accomplish.

 

 

Last year, I had great race support because Jeremy is an experienced marathon runner, but I knew that I had under trained and was pretty badly injured.  I discovered during last year's training that my prior year's injury had not healed.  My lower back was still very sore, and I had only gotten up to 16 miles in training before my MRI showed that I should refocus my attention away from running and on developing core strength.  I found a fellow runner who was also suffering from an injury, and we hobbled along together during the race, even stopping to help other runners who looked to be doing damage to themselves.  We broke off, as she decided to run a half marathon.  I had actually been feeling pretty good last year, and I considered trying to make my "easy goal time" from the prior year, but I purposely decided to slow down to minimize my chance of injury.  I was relatively unscathed, getting away with just a knee MRI following that race.

 

 

So, you'd think I would have learned this year that I am human and have physical limits.  But, as I lined up at the starting line, and we were asked to think about why we were there running and who we were running for, I couldn't help but to shed tears and reflect on the fact that this will very likely be the last birthday my dad would have.  This would very likely be the last opportunity for me to really kick *** and dominate a race and finally beat my "easy goal time" and tell my dad about it.  Carol Lewis kicked things off and told us to look around and hug others after we reflected.  (This is the Nike Women's Marathon, after all.)  I was in no mood to hug or be hugged.  I was in the mood to run.  I was in the mood to kick ***.

 

 

My race mirrored my training.  I started off really strong.  I had been disciplined about my form and my speed, and I was running strong - perhaps too strong.  During the race, I was banking time, and I thought that this was my year.  At around mile 18, I started wanting to take a few more breaks.  I was hungry, and the last thing I wanted was to work my jaw and chew on an energy bar or a gelatinous chunk of electrolytes.  My legs were feeling the strain of having under-trained.  At mile 22, I started to realize that I was letting my goal slip away.  I picked up the pace a bit, thinking about my dad and thinking that as bad as I was feeling at that moment, my dad has felt worse just trying to get out of bed or to take a few steps down the hall.  At mile 23, I swore at the mini-hill that carried me back to the ocean's edge.  By mile 24, I needed to stop for a bit, and Jeremy rubbed my legs.  They were weak and wobbly.  I was crying from disappointment in myself that I didn't have the internal fortitude to ignore the intense physical pain I was feeling in my hamstrings and quads.  By mile 25, I was doing the survivor shuffle to the finish.  With each step, I tried to console myself.  I knew my parents would be proud of me for crossing the finish line.  I knew that I had under-trained, but given the circumstances, spending time with my family far outweighed spending time running.  And, with the minimal preparation I had done, I had actually run a good race and didn't seem to have caused permanent injury.  So, as I approached the finish line and Carol Lewis read out my name, I sped up just a bit to finish in under 4:33.

 

 

So, the marathon drama will continue until I'm satisfied with my race day performance, with the next chapter quite possibly happening in Napa during the first weekend in March.

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It feels like I'm always busy, and the next three months won't be any exception.  I am an adventurer with an insane amount of energy and an odd ability to multi-task.  By day, I write investment opinions about stocks.  (I know - you're not yet convinced about my adventuresome spirit.)  My job has me traveling to all parts of the US, meeting with investors to share my ideas and meeting with companies to get smarter about industries on which I focus.  Outside of my day job, I teach an online finance course, manage my real estate investments, travel for fun, and train for marathons.  Recently, my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, so my new list of hobbies, unfortunately, includes making trips to the hospital.

 

 

Interestingly, my dad was likely suffering from CLL, a type of blood cancer, for some time, though we had no idea.  He's now been diagnosed with Richter's Transformation, an aggressive form of cancer that occurs in about 5% of CLL cases.  My dad's first sign of illness was when he didn't quite feel right during his daily workouts, which at the age of 71 included hundreds of sit ups, push ups, and pull ups, followed by a 2.6 mile run and 30-60 minutes of elliptical training.  I think that my active lifestyle is a product of my upbringing.  As a child, my dad used to take me on runs with him and quiz me with math problems along the way.  For my third birthday, my treat was to go for a 3 mile run along San Francisco's Marina Green!   As an adult, I now run regularly as a means of stress management, a way to meet people, and an excuse to indulge in the delights my husband cooks for me - I've got to carbo load, right?  This Sunday, I will be running my third Nike Women's Marathon, an event that benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the type of cancer from which my dad will die.  And, this Sunday also marks my dad's 72nd birthday.  So, while I completely stopped training when I learned of my dad's diagnosis, I will be running for him that day.  I've promised my husband not to strain myself to the point of injury (yes, he has a reason to be concern based on some of my previous behavior).  But, I recently read that no matter how much cancer treatment hurts, cancer feels worse.  No matter how much I hurt while out there climbing the hills of San Francisco and struggling at mile 23, my dad feels worse, and that will get me through this Sunday's race.  I don't expect to finish with a fabulous time.  My IT band is causing me some knee pain.  I'm distracted.  I'm still nursing a back injury from two years ago.  But, I expect to finish. 

 

 

And with the race behind me, I will be able to focus on other things, like trips up to my condo in Tahoe, a work-related visit or two to New York City, a (third) wedding celebration in Washington DC, my honeymoon to Japan and Vietnam, and a trip to Hawaii.  That list just describes the flurry of activity that's already been booked.

 

 

So, check in periodically over the next few months to read what's been happening in my life. I'll also add photos and video clips so you can get a feel for some of what I'm experiencing.  With the Sony GPS system I'll be using, you'll even be able to see the exact location of where all of the drama is taking place.

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christina_teamaquaphor

christina_teamaquaphor

Member since: Oct 18, 2007

I'm spending the next months in San Francisco, NYC, Washington DC, Hawaii, Tahoe, Japan, and Vietnam, and I?ll remember exactly where each incident occurred, thanks to the Sony GPS system. Read about my adventures and get a peek of my experiences.

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