Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 6.110: January to April running update

It's been an uneven start to the year running-wise for me.

January was fine in context, I ran 43 miles (averaging about 10 miles per week). Not what I was aiming for, but winter is difficult and I spent some time traveling.

During February, Exile #2 and I did a musical project that kept me up late at night and really affected my running - I only managed 24 miles including a two week gap.

March was another traveling month, but I started to get back on the right path, hitting 49 miles.

April has been better again - 70 miles - even with another international business trip.

And now... I'm ramping-up the miles again ready to start the easiest of the very intense training programs in here:

Last week was a 25 mile week, the plan is to ramp up to 30 or 35 miles before the 18 week training program starts in June.  All being well I will be in good shape to run the Mohawk Hudson Marathon again this year in October.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 6.109: Hare field, Haar haus and Herr Doktor

Hare, Haar, Herr - is that all I photographed with my phone in Germany?

No, but it wasn't hard to pluck this many out.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Day 6.108: Cars and other achievements

This morning, all three kids took part in the youth-service at church. The service was entirely led by the kids of the congregation from Kindergartners to High Schoolers. Exile #3 rang a bell, both the girls led a call-and-response and all three of them took part in a song/dance of Simple Gifts. It was actually pretty great and some of the older children were extremely accomplished in music and public-speaking.

In more mundane matters, there has been a lot of Lego activity since E5N1's birthday bonanza of sets. The last couple of days have seen a lot of car design.

Here are Exile #4's, mine and Exile #3's from the first challenge and then the team effort in the biggest car challenge - accompanied by E5N1's special tiny car addition.

I should point out - because it was pointed out to me - that, of course, the Ewoks and skeleton horse on the sides of the large car are statues because - unlike the rest of it I suppose - they are not real things.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Day 6.107: Harrier Hill

We visited another Scenic Hudson property today - the curious Harrier Hill. I say "curious" without meaning any disrespect - we had a very nice visit.

We didn't see a harrier (sadly - it's a rather impressive bird of prey), nor was there much evidence of a hill, nor much in the way of scenic views of the Hudson.  What we did was about a four mile out-and-back walk through meadows and woodland, with sections of boardwalk, gravel paths and woodland trails.

I spotted a few ants dragging a large dead beetle across the trail at one point:

The kids were on good form - enjoying the variations in terrain in the absence of any major climbing challenges which would normally spur them on.  Exile #4 and E5N1 paddled in the icy waters on our return leg - rather them than me - Exile #4 told me it was fine once her feet went numb.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 6.106: Statues muse

After a very early start, a long flight and then three train journeys, I'm home - hooray!

Looking at the few photos I took with my camera (as opposed to my phone), I remembered that I saw some strange works of street-art while I was in Germany - these two amongst them:

Wrestling guys with writing all over them and a load of cats - apparently catching fish.

I wonder what that was all about!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 6.105: Deutsche Laufen, Deutsche Bahn

It was my last day in Germany and I had a little time to myself. I started with a nice run - four miles crisscrossing a city park.

The walk from there to the hotel was quite appealing too as you can see from the picture.

The afternoon was spent on the train. I have quite a soft-spot for Deutsche Bahn. I wouldn't be surprised if I've done as many miles on German trains as on British ones despite only having started 12 years ago. Today I had lunch in the restaurant car (a cooked meal on a plate with a cold beer - served at a table traveling at 90 miles per hour), then I returned to my reserved seat in a Harry Potter style compartment. All very civilised.

Cue random picture of German countryside speeding by!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 6.104: Dangerous German

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Or in my case a little German. Twice so far on this trip I have pulled out one of my German phrases only to apparently convince whoever I'm talking to that I can actually speak the language. One time this happened we'd actually started the conversation in English and the phrase I used was only one word (in German at least!)

I left Dortmund a couple of hours before kick-off and am now in Braunschweig for a little less than a day.

I drank a huge beer and ordered some schnitzel to celebrate.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 6.103: Boo! (Rushing in Dortmund)


In case a hunk of meat, a glass of beer and an ashtray wasn't enough to tip you off, I'm in Germany. Specifically, yesterday at least, in Dortmund where I managed a very pleasant 5 mile run out of the city center and back.

Tonight, I have been driven out of the city because a hotel room could not be found for love or money (well, for a reasonable sum of money - I didn't try the other) due to a sporting event taking place there tomorrow evening.

When we left, there were crowds outside all the bars watching a German team beating a Spanish team at football, mostly wishing it was going the other way as the two biggest domestic rivals of tomorrow's game's teams met in what this town's crowds will be seeing as the warm-up event.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 6.102: Steak & fries

Although my Korean project is to blame for my trip, I'm not in Korea.

After a lot of travel, mostly by plane and train, I had a rest followed by a run. After that, I was hungry!

Here's my dinner. The menu described it as "Steak & fries". Does it help to place me in the world?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Day 6.101: Exile #4 and the bookmark

Exile #4 won a competition to design a bookmark on the theme of "Dive into Reading" for the local library. The reward is that her bookmark will be printed and given out at some events later in the year. I don't think she signed over exclusive rights, so I should be OK to reproduce it!

Meanwhile, I am airport-bound again.  My Korean project is generating a third international business trip for me for this year.  I'll see you on the other side!

Day 6.100: Mohawk and Hudson

Finding ourselves with a an hour or two spare this afternoon and remembering last night's rain, we decided a trip to see Cohoes Falls might be in order.

The best views were not available because the park doesn't open until May 1st, but we enjoyed the views of the roaring falls from the old overlook:

It was a little cold. The kids kept warm by running around (literally!).

Afterwards, we drove down into Watervliet and had a short walk by the Hudson.  It was much more sheltered and at times it seemed like the sun was trying to come out - I'm not sure if that is why E5N1 insisted on sitting down to "take in the view" or not.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 6.099: Pixelated

We've been having so much fun with this - one of E5N1's birthday presents.

The thumb-up is the message awaiting the family when they come down for Saturday breakfast in the morning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 6.098: All over it for five years!

Exile #2 and I escaped for a few hours tonight to hang out in the real world with the lovely online community that are the friends, readers and connections of the the lovely All Over Albany folks.

I didn't take a lot of photos - I put my DSLR down when we went in and picked it up when we left - but I did take these to remember it by:

Once again the party was at the City Beer Hall - they did a fantastic job - excellent location and great finger-food. It was sad that the wind kept us inside this year, but it did mean that the party eventually led to mechanical bull riding. Someone pointed out it would be great blog material if I stepped up, but I didn't!

Had great conversations with lovely people including several once-a-year acquaintances from the previous years' parties, some new folks and some people who I manage to interact with (online at least) more than once a year!

Happy Birthday AOA, and many, many happy returns!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 6.097: He is a paleontologist

If your schedule permits, here is your soundtrack for today:

I missed the chance to visit E5N1's kindergarten class for their dinosaur museum day due to one of my trips, so the other day, he showed me all these pieces he had contributed to it:

Pretty cool, I thought!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 6.096: Party like you're six!

As promised, here are some pictures from E5N1's birthday party on Sunday afternoon at Afrim's.

He had a great time - on the bounce houses, during the organized games on one of the indoor soccer fields, eating, opening presents and generally goofing about.

Exile #4 also joined in the fun - having one of the most hotly contended one-one-one soccer competitions.  During sharks-and-minnows E5N1 was more interested in acting like a shark than actually tagging anyone, but that was fine too!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 6.095: A marathoner's thought...

I planned to post about yesterday's second appointment: E5N1's birthday party, but that will have to wait for another day.

I was not in Boston today. My marathon time last year would have needed to be nearly 30 minutes less for me to achieve a qualifying time. I was safely at work.

Safety is something you think about a lot as you prepare for a marathon - safety from injuring yourself while training, safety from over-doing it on the day, getting too hot or too cold or too dehydrated, maybe even traffic safety getting there or getting home.

Not this though.

Not my photo! It is by Flickr user hahatango. The full set is here.

So easy to imagine myself amongst those running down that road - my friends and family trying to find a spot to watch from - all concern for my welfare and then happiness at seeing me nearing the finish.

So easy to imagine, and yet unthinkable too.  My thoughts and prayers are with those for whom that was a reality today and for all who were affected.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 6.094: Dashing?

It was the Delmar Dash today - its 25th Anniversary running no less!  Unlike last year we did not all make it down there, but Exile #4, E5N1 and I all ran in different races.

Despite expecting the worst due to my irregular running schedule so far this year (two trips to Korea and a month basically off to do some creative endeavours), I managed to beat my time from last year by a minute (not bad improvement over five miles).

E5N1 ran the quarter mile rather more convincingly than his half-mile run last year and Exile #4 ran a very well-paced half mile and finished 8th in her field of 25 or so.

Exile #4 took the photos of me!

Once again it was a very well-organised and fun race.  We were nearly caught out because they didn't have childcare unlike last year (or I didn't find it!) fortunately, we bumped into a non-running friend at the vital moment a few minutes before the start.  As ever, I am very grateful to the many volunteers who make these races possible - I even managed to croak out a "Hi!" to Jen who was expertly dealing with some traffic at her assigned intersection as I passed her around mile 4!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 6.093: ...and Jack makes six

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but somehow this morning's conversation turned to stuffing clothes in the style of a guy.  So E5N1 and I got to work and, for the day, we added Jack to the family.

He joined us for a sing-a-long and a ride in the car although we left him sitting down while we had a walk and the kids played on the playground. He doesn't really have the build for strenuous activity - or any kind of activity if it comes to that.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 6.092: Le Jardin Botanique

Bonsai, orchids, cacti, fruit, ....

The greenhouses at the botanical gardens in Montreal are rather stunning.

We also visited the Insectarium.  We were all getting a little tired by then and didn't fully appreciate it, but here is a taste:

and a quiz: how many stick insects (walking sticks to the US readers) do you see in the top picture? Take a close look. I won't ask how many beetles you see in the bottom left!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 6.091: We felt that!

Here are some things that you can do with some squares of coloured felt.

You can spend ages sorting them into piles by colour, shade, category as E5N1 and Exile #4 have been doing for several days.

You can cut a few small pieces and make this:

as E5N1 did the other day.

And then you can see what's possible without doing any further cutting and make this:

As E5N1 and I did at bedtime yesterday.

I wonder what they will do next!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 6.090: Montréal Science Centre

Here are some pictures from our visit to the Montréal Science Centre last Friday - most of the time I was too busy having fun to take photos!  Once again, we benefited from it being a normal work day for the locals. There were some school groups there, but generally things were quiet enough that we could move at our own pace.  In reality, we could probably have spent a couple more hours there before we would have run out of exciting things to do.

Pictures anti-clockwise from top left:
  • E5N1 put on a show for Exile #2;
  • meanwhile, the girls were playing an excellent video game trying to solve the world's economic, political and environmental problems
  • avoid the dragon's gaze if you can (it has a concave head but even when you know, it's still eerie); 
  • turning E5N1's dance moves into a James Bond credits sequence
  • my 'drawing' of Exile #3 was actually one of the better attempts to make a photofit picture of ourselves and each other - amazing how you can think you've got all the parts close, and it still looks nothing like the person you're basing it on)
  • how many E5N1's is too many...?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 6.089: L'eau - an answer!

After the mystery sign of Day 6.085, I was excited to see another similar one the next day - this time with some explanatory text.

Finally we would know - is it about bicycles (Exile #3's guess), the scales of justice (mine), movable picnic tables (Dad), clackers (A)?

I moved closer to see what it said...

Hmmm - perhaps it would remain a mystery - albeit one now possibly related to swimming pools.

Except, wait - what's that below the sign...?

Ah - the same pipework as before - as noticed by Tall Guy - and could those "balls" actually be water outlets positioned at the same jaunty angle as the real ones?  I believe we have a winner - Montreal's unique fire hydrant signage!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 6.088: Six years ago today...

...we had our second major life-event of 2007.

That day, and the last five anniversaries of it, looked something like this (clockwise from top-left):

Today looked something like this:

Happy Birthday E5N1!