Sunday, January 30, 2011

Draggin' Ass

For this year's race season, we've stopped Storming the Castle and instead we are Draggin' Ass.
Get it? We're dragons! Draggin' Ass. Dragons. Hee! No, we are not dinosaurs...see, we have wings!
We tested our new costume concept at the year's first race, the Scavenger Dash. We also lived up to our name by completely dragging ass through the whole course.

The race started with Jill, the race director, giving us a clue over the loudspeaker as to where we will find our clue sheets. Our strategy for this race was to follow Paul Kent, the guy who beat us last year. We positioned ourselves right next to him. Jill announced the clues were to be found at the Hackett House. Christy started to look it up on her phone, but Paul said he knew where it was and to follow him. He must have guessed our strategy, or perhaps he's just a really nice guy! The horn sounded and we were off. Well, Paul was off anyway! And a bunch of other teams were off but we were already draggin' ass. Paul's team was well into their clue solving by the time we ran the three blocks. We immediately revised our goal from finishing top 3 like last year to not being last.

We opened our clue envelope and sent a picture of the clues to our internet supporters, Aimee and Wayne. My first glance at the clues showed that we needed to go to Tempe Beach Park for #2. It was nearby and I crave immediate action so we gave up on our strategy to follow Paul and headed off. We also figured that, as the first 3 block run proved, we'd never be able to keep up with him anyway!

The clue was to find a specific tile on the wall of Tempe Town Lake and do a crayon-rubbing of it. As we ran (walked) to the park, we read another clue that said we needed to make a sand castle at least 8 inches high. There are a few tiny sand patches at Tempe Beach Park (not a lot of beach there despite the name). We did this task first, crossing clue #1 off the list and allowing Wayne and Aimee time to solve the other clues. Despite our team name change, it turns out we are still Storming the Castle.

The tile on the wall was very difficult to find, but only because we were not aware that the tiles decorate the wall on both sides of the Mill Ave bridge. We ran the length of the wall on the west side of the bridge and did a rubbing of a tile that other teams were choosing, even though we were 90% sure it was wrong. Wayne and Aimee had solved the clues by this point and Wayne decided we should skip #12 which was the southern most destination. However, since we weren't finding the right tile, it looked like we'd have to go there anyway. Ergh. We gave up on the tiles and headed to the bridge to go to the other side of the lake and find #11, the Trees of Life.

Well, what do you know? There were teams on the east side of the bridge looking at tiles. Duh. We quickly found the tile that we were sure was 100% correct and we crossed #2 off the list, kicking ourselves for wasting time looking in the wrong place.

While we crossed the bridge, I was on the phone with Wayne. A team in front of us took the stairs down from the bridge to go to the park area on the north side of the lake. Should we follow?? Wayne told us not to go to the lake, but to continue to the next stoplight at Washington. Aimee had sent a picture of what we were looking for, but with it being so bright out, I couldn't really make out the picture. Christy argued that Aimee's directions were to stay on the lake. I argued that Wayne said to go to the light. We went to the light. We stopped at a bus stop art/statue and looked to see if it matched Aimee's picture. Nope. But when we looked at the lake from that vantage point, Christy could see the statues we were supposed to go to. They were right on the lake, where Christy wanted to head in the first place. Ergh. More time wasted - should have listened to Christy/Aimee!
Thankfully, that was the end of our mistakes - best to get them out of the way early!

The next stop was #10, Macayo's. This was the starting location for our Tempe Twilight Town Trek, so we knew exactly where we were going. We got to do our first challenge there! There were two tables set up a few feet from each other. On the first table there were bowls of Skittles. One teammate had to inhale through a straw and pick up a Skittle. The second teammate had to transfer the Skittle to their own straw by inhaling it off the first person's straw. The Skittle then needed to be transported to a bowl on the second table. This was pretty hard at first when you are out of breath from running (walking). There were a whole bunch of teams trying to fit in between the two tables and people kept running into each other. Since we are pretty pushy, we were able to jump right in and claim a spot. We only dropped one Skittle and finished ahead of most of the teams that were there before us. I stole a few red and purple Skittles and we headed out. Mmmm, Skittles.

Our next stop was #7, Jaycee Park. It was about 3/4 of a mile away. We caught an Orbit bus for 1/4 of a mile, which was sooo worth it even though it was such a short distance. We got to catch our breath and save a few minutes, which we then spent by stopping at the park's restrooms for a potty break. The challenge at the park was for one teammate to verbally guide their blindfolded teammate to 5 scattered buckets to collect a rock from each bucket. Christy and I are pretty good at this and we finished quickly.

As we left the park we continued to try to complete #6, which was to take a picture of both of us and two strangers all blowing a bubble at the same time. Since the start of the race we had been hollering out to everyone we passed, "Do you have gum??" Finally we found some kids who had 4 pieces of gum and who were willing to play along. We reimbursed them for the whole pack which helped with the willing to play along part. The boy was terrible at blowing bubbles in time with the rest of us, but we finally got a passable picture.
We headed to Zia Records for #3, to take a picture with one teammate and the founder of the Theory of Relativity.
Nearby were the bunny statues, clue #8, which apparently all Tempe races must use as a clue destination. We used them in our TTT race and Urban Dare used them in their last Tempe race. You just can't say no to huge rabbits! The next stop on our route was #4, Devil's Advocate. I had it marked on my map as being right near the bunnies, but I have seen the bar before and knew that couldn't be right. We looked at Aimee's text again and realized that I had mapped it wrong. We had to go a mile away. Ugh! We couldn't run a full mile! We hoped for a bus, but none came. Ugh. We ran about halfway and then gave up and walked. Seriously, dragging ass!

The challenge at the bar was to move 3 empty pop cans from one table to another and stack them into a pyramid. To do this, you could only use your mouths and a piece of uncooked spaghetti. You put the spaghetti in your mouth, threaded the pop-tab and the other teammate took the other side of the spaghetti in their mouth and you very gingerly carried the can to the next table. When our first piece of spaghetti broke almost immediately, Christy realized that the 1/2 piece of spaghetti would be far more stable than a full piece. Genius. The first two cans went easily, but putting the third can on top was not so easy at all! Our base cans were too close together so the tabs were in the way of setting the third can on top. We tried to shimmy them around a bit with the third can, but they were pretty close to the edge of the table and it was obvious we were only going to knock down the whole thing. Uh oh! And then, the piece of spaghetti snapped in half and dropped the last can! Uh oh! Disaster. Except...the falling can somehow managed to push one of the base cans just a little bit and the third can landed squarely on top of the two base cans! It was absolutely improbable, but sometimes you get lucky! :)Our next stop was #5, to find a Frank Kush statue at the stadium. The stadium was .8 of a mile away, which for our lazy, out-of-shape selves seemed really, really far away. We chose to wait for a light rail instead of running. We might have been able to run there faster but running that far also might have killed us, so it was probably the right decision. Christy and Frank:
We had one more stop to go, checking the Solar Time at 6th Street Park. We had also used 6th Street Park in our TTT race and though we didn't remember the exact thing we were looking for, we still thought this would be easy. It turns out that both of our memories failed us and we were each remembering different parks. Since we weren't at the park I was thinking of, I wasn't even starting to look for the sundial. The description we found while we were waiting for the light rail said something about "a trellis and a band shell doubling as a sundial" so when I did start to look I was going to look for something big. As we were running (walking) Christy pointed to a statue we were passing by and said "is that it?" "No," I said and kept running (walking). We weren't even at the right park, after all! She stopped and sure enough, it was Solar Time. Yay, Christy! It's nice to have no idea where you are supposed to be, only to find out that you are exactly where you need to be! This is neither a trellis nor a band shell:
We snapped the picture and headed to the finish line, which was thankfully only two short blocks away. Christy grumbled that because I was excited I was going to run fast. It's true, I found my second (ok, ok, first) wind and we sprinted back. We were the 8th team to finish. With Jill, the race director:Jill checked us in with the comment that she had expected more from us. :) Since we had revised our goal to be to not finish last, we were pretty pleased with a top 10 finish. Wayne was waiting at the finish line and he told us that The Unicorns had finished just 30 seconds ahead of us. Ergh! When it comes to mythical creatures, aren't dragons supposed to be stronger/faster/better than unicorns?? C'mon! We promptly blamed this defeat on Wayne for sending us too far in search of the Trees of Life.

Mostly we were just chagrined because the Unicorns, who were absolutely adorable, had cuter costumes AND they beat us in the race. Gr. However, in the costume contest, our funny punny name earned enough laughs and applause to garner a tie with the Unicorns for Best Costume. Yay, us!
Many thanks to Aimee and Wayne for being our internet support - they were awesome! (Despite our good-natured Wayne-blaming). The overall distance was 6.5 miles; 5.5 miles on foot, 1 mile via public transportation. It was a really fun race, we met a lot of cool people at the post-party and we won a free entry to next year's race. Not bad at all for draggin' ass!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Am I That Boring?

Like everybody else, one of my new year's resolutions was to blog more. I've managed four posts already this month. That's pretty good, right? But it's been a week since I've posted so that means it's time to post again.


What should I post about?

Let's see. What happened today? Well...I lost my car in the Target parking lot. This never used to happen to me because it's easy to find an Elephant. But now I drive a silver Honda CRV (it's my work car.) There are at least 10 silver CRVs in every lot. And 10 more cars that look exactly like it. So very ordinary. It doesn't even beep when I use the remote lock. I honestly have to look for my license plate number to tell if the car is mine. Today, I had to walk up and down 4 rows in the Target lot before I found my license plate.

Ok. That was a boring story.

What else happened today? Well...I emailed some people. Some responded and some did not. I ate at Chipotle for lunch. I walked the dogs. I ran to soccer, which validated my opinion that I hate running. I played soccer. I scored two goals - that is interesting, right? And I didn't get hit in the face which is unusual.

The answer to the post title question? Yep. I am that boring.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pudgy, lazy, out-of-shape racer

I haven't worked out since October. I haven't been running since our horrible showing in the Great Urban Race Nationals at the beginning of November. I can't remember the last time I went hiking. I've barely played any soccer for the past few months either because of the holidays and weeks off in between seasons and games I've missed for work travel. I have truly let myself go.

I'm up 5% of my weight. I'm out of shape. I tried to run last week and couldn't even make it a mile. Yikes. This nonsense has to stop! And it has to stop right now!

Why? Because race season starts on January 29th!

This is my spring schedule:

January 29 - Scavenger Dash. Last year we placed second which leads to some pretty high expectations for this year. Last year I was in shape and the race was in downtown Phoenix where I'd worked for 5 years. This year, I'm not in shape at all and the race is in Tempe, a city in which I've spent almost no time in the past 5 years. Not a good combination for a repeat performance.

February 12 - Challenge Nation. I know almost nothing about this race. This will be their first year in Phoenix. So far I'm not that impressed...their race is less than 4 weeks away and they haven't even opened up registration yet. Hurry up, Challenge Nation! Google tells me that they've offered Groupons for the race in other cities in the past. I am assuming they'll do the same here in an effort to get a big enough showing. I hope so!

March 5 - CitySolve. Talk about high expectations! Last year we won this race. We went to Nationals and made it into the finals. They are expecting us to do well. PRESSURE!

March 12 - Great Urban Race. This is the big-daddy of the races. They get hundreds of teams. Two years ago (in our first ever urban adventure race) we finished third. Last year, to our dismay, we finished fourth. Two years ago we finished 14th at Nationals. This past year we finished something like 65th! Definitely a trend going in the wrong direction here!

March 19 - CityScape Adventure. We won this race this fall, primarily because we were the only team there who had ever done a race like this before. This year the race is in Tempe. Why is everyone going to Tempe? I don't know Tempe!! However, the pressure isn't too high for this race because it's more of a fun race than a competitive one. Whew.

March 26 - Urban Dare. No pressure for this one either as I'll be racing with Pat again this year. When I signed up with Pat last year, I thought that he might help answer my question about how a race like this can possibly take 4 hours? What it is that the slow teams are doing out there for 4 hours?!? Our race included walking most of the way (at Pat speed, NOT Jill speed), going to 5th Avenue instead of 5th Street on one of the clues and thus having to backtrack for a mile and a half, and stopping at Circle K for lottery tickets and Big-Ass Cokes. I thought we would be bottom-half for sure. Yet, we still finished 14th out of 71!! My question was not answered.

April 9 - Oyster Urban Adventure. We did this race in Denver two years ago for my birthday. I think we even placed in the bottom half so there is nowhere to go but up! Yay! I'm pretty sure just being in my hometown will be enough of a factor to put us in the top half. This race is different than the others: it is an out-and-back race, it requires teams of three, it includes biking and it takes a half day instead of two hours. I'm really looking forward to it!

April 30 - Warrior Dash. This is more of a mud-run than an Urban Adventure Race but it includes running through fire, so that's fun.

I'm afraid we had a case of the beginners luck in urban adventure races. Our first year, we were unstoppable. Our second year was okay, but we're definitely on a downward trend. I'm nervous that this third year will not be good. Part of the reason that we did so well in the Phoenix races is that I was armed with stellar city knowledge. Since I worked downtown, I used to spend my lunch hours in the weeks before races walking all the streets so I'd know where everything is. Since I no longer work downtown, I can't do that anymore. It's been a long time since I've been down there and lots of new stuff has opened. I'm pretty sure I've lost my edge. Also, as I mentioned, many of the races are in Tempe this year. I have NO advantage there. I didn't even go to ASU! And, of course, at this point I can't even run a mile. Things are looking bleak for my competitive self.

At least there will be some costume contests. I like costumes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm Famous in the Midwest

Check this out!

I think this article counts for at least 20 seconds of fame for me! It's been so long since I've been famous that I had to search through my old blog posts to see where I was in my 15 Minutes of Fame Countdown. I was at 14 minutes 50 seconds. With the addition of this blog post from the Riverfront times, I've got 14 minutes and 30 seconds left. Better get busy...

Friday, January 7, 2011


Do you remember those picture books we used to play with as kids where you could turn the pages to put a different head on a different body on a different set of feet? You could put a dragon head on a ballerina body on zebra legs. I always wished those creatures were real, cuz how cool would it be to have a dragon/ballerina/zebra for a pet? Or a Border Terrier/Mexican Hairless/Flash Dancer - that one would be cool!

But wait! The Border Terrier/Mexican Hairless/Flash Dance pet is for real!! See for yourself!The head of a border terrier, the body of a Mexican Hairless and legwarmers! Ok, maybe the border terrier is a stretch, but I don't know what else it could be.

His name is Galapogos (intentionally misspelled) and he is the new dog in my life. He belongs to a friend of mine and I get the honor of taking care of him sometimes.

Galapogos is about the ugliest dog you've ever seen. Ugly in a cute way, of course! His body is all warts and scabs and random lone hairs popping out.
There is a random patch of black fur on his neck.

This mish-mash of a mutt is pretty cute though (for being so ridiculously ugly)!
He is quiet and reserved, but once he gets to know you he is the sweetest little snuggler who loves to have his hairless back scratched. He is my buddy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years

I started off the year as the Winner of World Domination again. At our annual game day, while we waited for all our people to arrive, we started off with Blockus. I won. We played Quirkle. I won. When we finally had our whole crowd, we chose Risk with the Mission card variation as our long game. You guessed it...I won! I dominate the world for yet another year. Don't mess with me, people - I am a FORCE!But it's Pat who always brings the PARTY!Later that night was Joe's annual Tweener Party which is supposed to be in be"tween" Christmas and New Years, though this year it was held on New Years Day which confuses the name. He sets up a mini game Olympics. This year there was trivia, poker, guitar hero and Minute to Win It games. Not surprisingly, my team won! Woot! Woot! for us. We each got hot sauces to take home and show off.
There was also an ugly Christmas sweater competition, but it appears that I was the only person who fully read the invitation, so there was no actual competition against my overly embroidered and beaded and padded-shouldered Christmas Tree. I won a whole box of hot sauces. It's gonna be a saucy 2011, folks!

And just for fun, some pictures to show how wild and crazy things get at our New Years' Eve party. That's right...we are puzzling party animals. Watch out!And the obligatory "I stayed up til midnight and I'm pretending to be happy about it" picture:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas with the Diamonds

I'm not feeling very loquacious today and definitely not very this post is mostly just pictures. You probably prefer that anyway.

Here it is - the annual Diamond family Christmas photo:
Micaela, Cerys, Sydney
Me, Lane, Amy, Mom, Matt, Aden Kyle
Brett, Chris, Dad, Pat, Anne, Kevin, Rachel

We went back to Illinois two days before Christmas. The night we got there we were treated to snow! Yippee for a white Christmas!

It snowed all night and all day. On Christmas Eve, Anne and I made this adorably lopsided fella:

Amy got her Christmas wish - to be done with cancer treatments. Yay! She's starting to grow some gray/blonde/orange hair. She's looking really good!

The Christmas Eve tradition of my high school girls meeting for breakfast was supposed to be just me and Maysoun this year, but Elizabeth surprised us by coming back to Springfield early enough to join us. Laura stood us up and went to Colorado with her husband. Boo.