Tuesday, November 16, 2010

London Calling

Continuing in the tradition of anniversary getaways, Noah and I celebrated #4 with a hop across the pond.

We found a killer deal on Iceland Express. The only drawback...? We had to fly Iceland Express. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good deal - so I'm not saying I wouldn't do it again. But severely limited legroom on red-eye with a detour through Reykjavik without so much as a glass of water handed out and you can't buy anything on-board because they won't accept cards and they give your change in Icelandic? It's a long road to financial recovery for Iceland, I get that. And evidently the airline is doing their part to move currency around. I suppose should be commending them.

We landed in London and made our way to Matt and Noelle's place in charming Notting Hill. Matt's joining the elite ranks of LSE grads (alongside such distinguished alums President Josiah Bartlett and Andrew Bond... and a whole host of nonfictional characters) while Noelle is running the world via Skype by day, and the dynamic duo is learning about Jack the Ripper, eating Indian food on Brick Lane and hosting guests by night.
We hit a few London sights then met up with Noelle and Matt for the infamous Jack the Ripper walking tour. This is one of my salient memories from our London trip when I was awkward 14. Ashley and I went back to our hotel room afterward completely freaked out - exacerbated by the fact it was just the two of us in our garden-level room and we could hear sounds from the courtyard all night.
The next day, we enjoyed a stroll through Portobello Market where I reunited with these little pear candies that I thought were the best ever when I was a kid (turns out, they are just sweet. taste a lot like your typical candy. not really best ever. but I was introduced to them at the Dodenbier's at the same time as "dropes" (Dutch salted black licorice) - so they were probably best ever in comparison.).

We also saw a dog who thinks he's a parrot, the Travel Book Shop from the movie Notting Hill, and these beauties that made me think of all the talented seamstresses in my life...
This is also the point in the trip where Noelle graciously lent me her beautiful gray coat so I wouldn't have to wear the one red coat the entire trip. I underestimated the chilly weather - and/or I packed a lot of outfits I really like that involve sweaters and not coats. See? Taking over the world and outfitting her friends appropriately. She's just that wonderful.
It was more of our tourist ways from there. We loved our tour of the Tower of London (wondering if Noah's USU Ambassador days could qualify him for that gig? They live there. sah-weet digs.) and then we hit literally every spot we should/could and a dinner of fish & chips as we made our way back to Notting Hill on foot.
Craving sunflower seeds, and not surprisingly, not craving poultry at Tate Modern:
London by night...
Sunday and Monday's highlights included Evensong at Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and the Science Museum - especially the part of the Science Museum where we didn't realize there was a line and went in the back door instead.
Renegade roller derbyists raising a ruckus. Typical.
We made up for nearly every calorie we may have ever burned in our entire lifetimes with frequent bakery and gelateria stops.
Thank you, Lybberts and London, for the delightful visit.


My parents were kind enough to spend a few months in Europe with us kids when we were young. It was a wonderful, beyond-words kind of trip to visit a big sister we were missing like crazy. And what a time to mold young minds with the richness and history of such a beautiful continent.

It's a shame we were so hard to look at during this time in our lives.
(Belgium; circa 1999)

(I'm sorry, Ashley, to drag you down with me. But I know we both agree. Though, your awkward skinny stage was a heck of a lot cuter than my bad haircut and post-impacted cuspids surgery stage.)

So Noah and I made a return trip - if for no other reason, but to have pictures I could look at without laughing.

Updates are forthcoming...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"New HAMPshire?!"

In mid-September, Noah and I finally checked 13.1 off the list. We’ve been meaning to run a ½ marathon since the uber-popular Ogden marathon dashed our hopes on its waiting list a few years ago. And ever since then, schedules just didn’t sync. There would be one in NYC the day we were flying to Utah, or one in Utah the week after we left, or timing was fine but our running shape was debatable. Or timing was perfect, shape was adequate, but the course was a twice loop that double-backed on itself around Queens. Now that just sounds like torture.

But that all changed when someone put a bug in my ear about a half marathon along a lovely New England course in the fall, whereupon finishing, participants pack those calories right back on with freshly-baked apple crisp. You read right. Apple crisp.

We prepared as well as schedules would allow and pounded out a great 10 mile run up the length of Manhattan one Friday night (oh… to be young and married in NYC on a Friday night. We’re such a party.) and I figured that was good enough. I managed to convince myself our race-day adrenaline would make up the difference.

As we stood in the pack that morning, the only word that seemed to float up from the murmur of voices was “mumble, mumble, HILLS, mumble, HILLS, HILLS, mumble.” We’d been warned that the course had its share of ups and downs and ups. After training on the completely wussy terrain that is the Hudson River Park, I suddenly found myself allotting that race-day adrenaline to making up the hills difference.

The race wasn't scheduled to begin until 10:00am, relatively late in the running world, but because of the typically cool New England autumn temperatures, the party gets started a little later. As the temperatures steadily climbed and the humidity became increasingly oppressive, the topic among the murmur of voices started to shift, “mumble, mumble, HOT, mumble, HUMID, mumble, mumble, FEELS LIKE I’M TRYING TO BREATHE IN A SAUNA.” Not to be deterred, I assigned one more task to that race-day adrenaline of mine.

This is also about the time I started to believe the announcement that had been made no less than 67 times, “no iPods.” They probably don’t me. Because if they did, they would know that 13.1 miles without Gaga, Ke$ha or Kanye (I didn't say I was proud of my running mix...) was going to take more of that race-day adrenaline and I was fresh out.

So I did what any rational runner would do. Shoved the earbuds in my sports bra in case I needed to resort to tunes.

I needed.

I was bummed to hit a wall so much sooner than expected. I made the fatal mistake of slipping those earbuds in just a quarter mile out from the hand off point for the relay. Race officials were swarming, my bib number radioed in and I was disqualified.

It turns out DQ'd is more of a mental punishment than anything else, because I still ran, still crossed the finish line, still received my medal that doubles as a bottle opener, still got that apple crisp (and really, this was the point...) and still had my name included in the posted results. But you better believe I did not enjoy my music for even one minute. You are sly, race officials. You, with your stopwatches and mind games.

As I neared the finish line, I came up on a girl I'd talked to earlier in the race. A little companionship was exactly what the two of us needed to get through the final stretch. As we got chatting, she mentioned she was from AZ and I said I was from UT and that's how we discovered we were both a couple of Mormons running in NH. A game of "do you know...?" and before you know it, we had crossed the finish line.

As discouraging as the run felt, there was something reassuring about finishing the race and talking to others who had a tough run, too. Ha! What does that say about me? Misery loves company? In this case, misery = Allison and company = when, as long as I had to endure a grueling run, everyone else had to, too.

This seemed to apply to everyone except for Noah, who had a great run in spite of it all. He ended up catching up and finishing with relay runners. Also, he is ridiculously good looking when he runs with his serious face.

In truth, there was a really supportive and empathetic vibe among runners during the race. None of us ran the race we'd hoped to run and it may not have been the race we were expecting, but there was such camaraderie and encouragement, that it became the overriding emotion of the experience.

Of course, we loved spending race day with the Ures. Kemper and I go way back. We're talkin' learning about the Netherlands and Wrap-Ups in Mrs. Callantine's and Mrs. Rothey's 4th grade classes way back. This cute gal also made the smarty-pants decision to attend USU, so we happily kept in touch throughout college. Noah and I also got to know her husband, Joseph, in classes and committees. The sweet pair live in New Hampshire with their adorable daughter, and as luck would have it - they were running the Applefest together, too.

Noah just looks like he's giving himself a thumbs-up. In reality, he's talking to Kemper - who is not in the red sports bra and little black shorts, but behind the guy in bright yellow.

I did a double take when I thought the same girl was also in this picture. But no - Joseph and I are pictured here chasing a different girl in a red sports bra and little black shorts.
The series of photos where I pretend running is the most hilarious thing ever...

Crossing the finish line with pep in his step.

After an afternoon of recouping on their wraparound porch and a beautiful evening at Lake Winnipesaukee, we were ready to send for our things, never leave New Hampshire and spend the rest of our lives quoting "What About Bob?"