Turn my hair PINK and PURPLE for my 70.3 Triathlon

Working towards taking items off a bucket list is a pretty awesome feeling.  Being able to cross item #1 off that list is even better.

On October 26th, that’s this coming Sunday, I am going to compete in the Miami Half Ironman 70.3 race.  This is 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling and then a half marathon.  In total 70.3 miles.  I’ve been training hard for about four months now.  Getting up when it is still dark in the morning to swim, bike and run my to work each day to hopefully make it to the office by 9am.  My weeks have consisted of anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of exercise.  I’ve lost weight, purchased a fancy bike, eaten gobs of food and [luckily] managed to avoid major injury.  The worst part, Florida’s summer sun and time away from my family.

With the race so close though, some friends have asked me if I’m racing to support any charities.  Until yesterday, I had not set anything up but…..that was yesterday.

In the past, I have done an occasional race in support of the RSDSA in memory of my sister, Rachel.  The problem with this is that this charity is more a memory of Rachel’s death rather than her life.  In life my sister was interested in three things: helping people, helping animals and doing things with glitter glue.  (I’m sure there was something else but those three are pretty encapsulating.)

Specifically, I remember my sister in her younger years collecting wildlife card files, books she would fill with information about wild and endangered animals.  In her ‘later’ years she and I spent a lot of time working with what was then called the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). The mission was to stop racism and hatred of all types.  Unfortunately, NCCJ has not survived the test of time but the Miami Chapter lives on as the MCCJ.  Most important to the sparkling memory of Rachel’s life was her constant obsession of decorating everything with glitter glue.

For each of the first two items, I’ve decided to create fund-raising pages with The MCCJ and The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN). Their connection to my sister should be obvious to all who knew her.  To memorialize the glitter glue is a bit more difficult so instead of donating do the American Association of Glitter Glue Enthusiasts (gosh, I hope that’s not a real organization) I will instead place one centimeter of glitter glue on my helmet for each $50 donated to the above charities.  And to make sure it is clear I’m memorializing my sister, I’ll use purple glitter glue for donations to MCCJ and pink for donations to WCN.  (If you’re curious, the helmet is black.)

There is one other item about my sister that is relevant.  This Friday, October 24th, would have been her 30th birthday.  So, with only a few days to go we’ll set the fund-raising target at $3,000.  It’s a stretch, I know, but as an incentive if $1,500 or more is raised for MCCJ, I’ll dye my hair purple.  If $1,500 or more is raised for WCN, I’ll die my  hair pink.  If we meet both goals, I’ll be running the triathlon as the Miami Beach version of the villain Two-Face from the Batman comics.

The race is THIS Sunday, October 26th.  I’m not going to do this again.  Click the fund-raising links (MCCJ | WCN), share this post on facebook, and help give my race outfit some serious style points!

KIMG0046 187x250 Turn my hair PINK and PURPLE for my 70.3 Triathlon
Rachel as a bunny!

That time I finished a race in first place…and didn’t realize it!

Checking items off a bucket list is always a lot of fun.  Checking an item off and not even realizing can be even more rewarding.

In early 2013 I challenged a couple of friends to walk with me from Washington, DC all the way to Harper’s Ferry, WV.  We did it, unfortunately that item wasn’t on our bucket list.  Several months later, one of those friends challenged the group to another silly idea, competing in a really long triathlon.

We all took the bait.

This past August, six friends and a pair of one year old twins descended on Penn Yan, New York for the Peasantman Triathlon.  The friend who challenged the group to the event was planning on competing in the Steel Distance Triathlon, effectively a half iron man.  His girlfriend and I signed up for the Olympic Steel Triathlon, while Jillian and the other pair of athletes took care of the Half Steel Relay.  We focused on keeping the race low-key and fun.

14987909821 5291d0b382 z 250x187 That time I finished a race in first place...and didnt realize it!
We all finished our triathlons, some of us in first place.

Fast forward to the end of the race… when the two of us who ran the Olympic distance triathlon got the surprise of our athletic careers…we were first place in our respective divisions.  Despite coming in the bottom half of the overall race field, we cleared the first place position in our divisions and, that means item #46 on the bucket list has been achieved.  I came in first place in a race, it doesn’t matter that I was the only one in my division, my certificate says 1st and so… item #46 has been officially checked off the list!

KIMG0012 250x187 That time I finished a race in first place...and didnt realize it!
Just don’t ask how many people I had to leave in my dust….

The only problem is that in training for that Olympic distance triathlon (which I WON!), I somehow managed to sign up for a half Ironman race, something I like to call the “Aluminium Man”.  The reason I signed up is that completing the aluminium man (70.3 miles total) happens to have been the first item on the bucket list.  Wonder if I’ll come in first again….

Tempting Tenerife – What’s Not to Like?

Over the years, Tenerife has developed a reputation as a place for holidaymakers seeking blazing sunshine and a party atmosphere. While much of Tenerife’s pull on tourists has been the beautiful climate and fantastic nightspots, it has so much more to offer if you take the time to explore the island. Take a look at the following ways you can get the most out of a trip to Tenerife.

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Visit the Ancient Dragon Tree
No trip to Tenerife would be complete without experiencing the Ancient Dragon Tree. It is often referred to as the oldest tree in the world, with many locals believing it to be 1000 years old, but more accurately thought to be around 650 years old. Hire a car for the day and visit Icod de los Vinos to see the tree, and while you are there take in the Church of San Marcos and the Artlandya Doll Museum.

See the Highest Peak in Spain
Mount Teide is the highest peak in Spain, 3718 metres above sea level. An active volcano, Mount Teide is an impressive sight when viewed against the bright blue skies of the island. If you don’t fancy climbing in the mountains, you can still appreciate the beauty of the Teide National Park, a World Heritage Site filled with some incredible animals and plants. The stunning volcanic rock patterns and formations are worth the trip alone.

Experience the Local Cuisinefood 406473 640 250x187 Tempting Tenerife   Whats Not to Like?
You may be familiar with traditional Spanish food, but Tenerife has its own unique twist with some African influences. There are plenty of general restaurants catering to tourists, but try to seek out the more traditional restaurants with a local flavour if you really want to experience the regional cuisine . Many dishes will include local fruit, vegetables and fish, grilled to create a lighter meal which suits the warm weather. Make sure to try plenty of Tapas and the Papas Arrugadas potato dish, famous within the region.

Have Fun at the Carnival
If you can make it to Tenerife in February, make sure to take part in the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The people of the island are known for their warm, friendly nature, so be sure to mingle and make plenty of new friends. The carnival is known around the world and features lots of musical entertainment, dancing and a big parade. Prepare a fancy dress costume in advance if you really want to fit in.

Get Out on the Water
Surrounded by water, it is natural that tourists to Tenerife have plenty of options when it comes to water-based fun. You can charter a boat for a day out at sea, take a Submarine Safari and go diving in the Atlantic Ocean, swim in the rock pools at Garachico or look for whales in the surrounding waters. If you prefer to stay inland, there are plenty of water parks for some family entertainment in the sun, with Siam Park being the best known.

London in the Summertime

London gets a bad rap for weather, which is sort of…deserved. But that’s not to say that you won’t get at least two glorious weeks of summer each year. Since the summer is famously fleeting, be ready to make the most out of it. When the sun comes out, so does everyone else. Although London gets part of its personality from the ubiquitous drizzle, it shines during the summer.

When you’re planning your trip, look at Hotels4U for London Hotels that are close to transport links so you can access all that the city has to offer. Most of central London is walkable, but there’s plenty to see on the fringe and for that, your best option is usually the train system. Here are just a couple of suggestions to get you started.

Richmond

Set on the banks of the Thames, Richmond is the perfect place to find a pub and claim an outdoor table for the afternoon. If you want to do some exploring before settling in, check out Kew Gardens or Richmond Park. You could also visit Hampton Court Palace on the way in or out of London. Bear in mind that when it rains in Richmond, it pours:

High Tide 2 London in the Summertime
Well, that’s unfortunate. But at least the sun is out!

Greenwich

On a sunny day, jump on the Docklands Light Railway to Greenwich, ground zero for the modern concept of timekeeping. This is where time starts, and you can get a photo of yourself straddling the prime meridian. Greenwich is its own little center of activity, with the Royal Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark (the world’s last surviving tea clipper) all within walking distance.

Covent Garden

If you’d rather stick to the heart of the city, head down to Covent Garden. It’s an old covered marketplace that is a constant flurry of activity. You can shop, watch street performers, eat, drink, and generally be merry. Is it touristy? Yes. But for good reason.

Notting Hill

Admittedly, I’m biased towards Notting Hill because I used to live there. It’s close to Portobello Market, a long street lined with a hodgepodge of shops and its main attraction, the Saturday market. It is rammed with people but don’t let that stop you. Get there early and investigate what the stalls have to offer – you could find anything, from trinkets to the best chocolate banana crepes this side of Paris.

London revels in its brief, blissful moments of summer. It’s a time when people break out the Pimm’s and (somewhat bizarrely) eschew the sunscreen, soaking up as much of the season as they possibly can. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you are in London, because you’ll be able to sense the way people’s moods have buoyed. Pull up a chair and join them, but bring an umbrella – just in case.

High tide London in the Summertime
May as well go to the pub.

Aruba, Heaven in the Caribbean

There are a few destinations that would appear on nearly everyone’s bucket list. The Caribbean, and in particular the island of Aruba, would probably be high on most people’s list. If it is not on your wishful itinerary perhaps after reading this you will include it.

beach 26015 640 Aruba, Heaven in the Caribbean

Aruba has an enviable reputation when it comes to sparkling clear water, breathtaking beaches, and a near perfect climate. Aruba is even fortunate enough to be at a latitude below the hurricane belt which blights many other exotic Caribbean destinations.

Aruba has managed to hold on to the charms that attract visitors from across the globe. But not only does it attract visitors it manages to keep them. The island boasts a massive 65% of visitors return to the island. Far more than any other destination in the Caribbean chain

Off the Florida Keys

Ever since the Beach boys waxed lyrical about the island in their massive hit single “Kokamo” visitors have wanted to experience the joy of the island for themselves. It is a fact of life that the island has been developed considerably since Brian Wilson urged people to visit to a place “off the Florida Keys”

Multiple airlines and travel companies offer flights or full packages respectively. There is also a local airline Aruba Airlines that flies within the region. All flights into the island arrive at Reina Beatrix airport, a modern facility with many shops and eateries.

Palm Beach

 

In the north-west of the island you can be fortunate enough to visit a beach voted time and time again as one of the best beaches in the world. Palm Beach is a picture perfect beachside resort destination. It looks just like most people’s idyllic mental image of a palm tree-lined, white sand beach, fronted by crystal clear Caribbean waters. So much so it has an unreal appearance.

Palm Beach is the centre of tourism for the island, boasting many high-quality beachfront hotels. Here you will also find all kinds of shops offering everything from local crafts to boutique fashion. EagleBeach is another extremely popular beach resort area. It is the widest beach on the island and offers, beach huts and some incredibly comfortable shaded picnic areas as well as every conceivable water-sport.

Turtle Time

Another attraction of this particular beach is that for several months each year you will see red and white markers dotted along the shoreline. These indicate the presence of protected Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green and Hawksbill turtle nests. If you are fortunate enough to be there in the hatching seasons you may be witness to one of the most inspiring sights in nature. The nestlings make their awkward way to the sea around sunset, offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to see an increasingly rare event.

Aruba is a Dutch territory, but over 80 ethnic groups call the island home. Because of this diversity which includes Europeans, Portuguese, South American Indians, Spanish and people of Asian descent the island has an eclectic selection of food possibilities.

Pancakes and Pastechi

American chains have left their mark, with delicacies such as KFC and Taco Bell available. But there are still a very an interesting range of restaurants and cafes in every corner of the island. One of the most popular is Linda’s Dutch Pancake House, a strange Dutch-Caribbean mix that produces such delights as chocolate-strawberry or bacon and apple pancakes.

Street food in this part of the world means “Pastechi”. This is a dough pocket which is fried while the chicken, seafood, cheese or meat filling cooks to perfection. The wonderfully named ‘Waka Waka Adventure Cafe and Cantina’ is another popular place to eat. This is a family-owned small restaurant which offers local and international food. On the menu you will find local fish soup, coconut shrimp, grouper and great barbecued ribs.

Aruba really is a dream holiday destination that will lure you in and capture your heart, and the chances are you will be one of the 65% who return again.