Archive | July, 2013

Running in the rain, what a glorious feelin’

23 Jul

rain gif

I never really understood the romanticization of rain. Popular culture leads you to believe that you should enjoy kissing, dancing and singing in the rain. I’ve always avoided being out in the rain because I’m so image-conscious — “it’s going to ruin my hair, my makeup, my purse, my shoes.” But today I realized there is a beauty in getting stuck in a torrential downpour.

I set out this morning to do my first week of Couch to 10K training (!!) — four 10-minute runs with 1-minute breaks in between, which equates to a little over 4 miles. I planned a new route and set off, despite the clouds, dark sky and numerous weather reports warning of thunderstorms. About a mile in it started to sprinkle, but I pressed on. And then the skies opened up and released their fury. The rain was coming down so hard I could barely keep my eyes open. A mixture of sweat, snot and rain water was continually streaming down my face. But when I finished my second 10-minute run, I was euphoric. The words of Richard Hammond from the latest episode of Top Gear ran through my head — “I am the wettest any human has ever been.” I truly started grinning like an idiot. I paused my app and took shelter under a tree for a minute, but for what? I could not get any wetter. It reminded me of the time we were at King’s Island (an amusement park in Cincinnati) when I was younger and got caught in a downpour. We were already soaked to the socks and underwear, so we did the only thing that made sense — we rode the rapids ride, the one you typically avoid because you don’t want to get soaked. Yes, there’s a beauty in being the wettest any human has ever been, and a special kind of uncomfortable that comes from wet underwear and socks.

So I put my iTouch in my pocket, covered it with my hand (the safety of my iPod was my only concern at this point), and ran through the rain like some giddy child. My thoroughly soaked shoes and socks felt like ankle weights and the rain managed to tangle my ponytail into a crazy bushy mess, but today may have been my favorite run yet.

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Greek service at its best

16 Jul

I went down to lunch with wet hair, and by the time I got a menu, it was dry. Yes, I said menu, not food. The entire lunch experience took an hour and a half and all I ordered was a salad. I can’t complain too much, though, because this was my view (please excuse the crappy iTouch quality):

IMG_0479

I like to think it wasn’t typical — there is a Panhellenic strike today, which means there was one waiter at the entire restaurant and my bed has not been made up. At least the manager brought me free watermelon at the end of my meal to apologize.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m in Greece. London was just too hot — 30 degrees! (86 F) — so we came to Greece, where it’s also 30 degrees. The key difference, though, is air conditioning. Athens is used to sweat-your-face-off temperatures, but London is not. I’m typing this while gazing out onto the sea from the comforts of my air-conditioned room, like Mother Nature intended. (No, we didn’t really come here just to escape the London heat wave, Stephen is doing some business and I got to tag along.)

My big fat not-Greek-related news: I completed the Couch to 5K program! My first 30-minute run was rather unceremonious. I thought week 8’s program was three runs of 28 minutes, but they made the last one 30 minutes, which I didn’t realize until I reached the end of my 28-minute playlist and saw I still had two minutes to go. It’s still hard to believe that I can run for 30 minutes, although I do take a quick walking break or two, if anything just to wipe the sweat off my face. (Freaking London heat wave!) I attempted to go for a run outside today, but I had a hard time finding a path. I followed the beach until I stumbled upon the hotel next door’s better fitness room, which I took as a sign, and got on the treadmill. It’s been ages since I’ve used a treadmill, I never realized how different it is from running outside. For one, it’s so boring!! I had a view of the ocean and a little TV playing a documentary about baklava (torture or motivation?), but I still felt like time was dragging. I’m not used to pressing buttons when I want to take a walking break or speed up during a fast song. The only thing nice was seeing approximately how many calories I was burning, how fast I was going and how far. I’m so glad I live near a park in London where running outside is easy. I may have to screen up and work out a course for tomorrow, I’m not sure the treadmill is for me.

Ohhhh we are gonna have ants!

5 Jul

ant guitarThe last time I was home in Cincinnati I got reprimanded for not closing the sugar with the required clip, zip-top bag and jar. “The ants almost got it!” my mom said. I always thought I was fortunate not to have to worry about ants here. I wasn’t even sure there were London ants because I never saw one. Giant spiders? Yes. Giant buzzing bumblebees that fly through your window at 5 a.m. and wake you up because this crazy country does not understand the important of window screens, yes. But no ants … until today. Or rather a couple days ago. I noticed a few here and there, but ignored them. But when I heard Stephen quoting Stewie from Family Guy (“We are gonna have antsssss!”) earlier today, I knew we had a problem. They were everywhere — on the counter, scaling the fridge, rummaging around my makeshift stockpile above the oven. They had to go.

So I started researching how to kill ants. I bought some ant insecticide and sprayed it everywhere, and now my kitchen smells like a chemical war zone. I sprinkled corn meal on the counter because the Internet said ants like to eat it but then they drink water, the cornmeal swells, and they … explode. Then I did something bad — I started watching the ants and getting attached to them. Darn you, “A Bug’s Life” and “Antz!” I watched a little guy use his tiny hands to move a piece of corn meal around. I could just imagine the scene at the nest —

“Bill brought back some new food today.”

“Oh yeah? Is it good?”

“Well, Bruce ate some and then he exploded.”

“Sweet! Let me try some!”

I wanted to try the miraculous and mysterious borax solution my mom uses, but apparently borax is no longer available in the UK because it is “mildly toxic to children and pets if consumed.” .. aren’t most cleaning products? Is that a valid reason to ban products nowadays? Anyway, I also sprayed the counters with a vinegar cleaning solution and poured some Ajax near the crack where I think the ants are coming from. Hopefully one of these solutions will work and I will be able to walk into my kitchen without a gas mask by dinnertime.