Monthly Archives: April 2013

What a week!

Holy god it has been a busy week! I guess commencement + bridal shower + thesis defense will do that to a person. Good thing I have two helpers around to make sure everything gets done properly.

The first very important order of business was to get my nails did (for all of the aforementioned activities…a very responsible way to prepare) and then test them out with a round of patty-cake with Penny. All 10 fingers passed.


P.S. KCN nails in Minneapolis is awesome. Its owned and operated by 3 little Asian ladies (duh), in a part of town that’s just the right amount of hood, and for $13 bucks these babies will be able to play more patty-cake than I even want to think about.

Next we went shopping at Costco for food for Anna’s bridal shower on Saturday.


Upon returning home there was a full inspection of course.

SAMSUNGSomeone is bound and determined to chew her way through 4 pineapple tops in 2.5 days. That’s 1.6 pineapple tops a day Penny nameless individual! Correcting for our (slight) differences in weight, that’d be like me eating 16 pineapple tops a day! Why am I still talking about this?

Next we did some dishes:

Now this is a crappy picture, but the water is ON and she is right in the stream. What can I say? I teach my dishwashers to be hearty!

Now this is a crappy picture, but the water is ON and she is right in the stream. What can I say? I teach my dishwashers to be hearty!

And rested:


(Let the record reflect on who is slaving way in the sink and who is snoozing on the ottoman.) Just sayin’. (This be how yo learn a talk when yo get’n yo nails did).

Finally, we pulled ourselves together this morning. When we realized that it was above 30F for the morning commute we dusted and de-furred Senor Bianchi, bundled up and took the first ride of the summer in to work. 🙂

2013-04-25 07.20.04

The fact that the glasses (allegedly) make me look like a Jedi pilot is not my fault. They are stolen, and the individual that I acquired them from has yet to realize that they have gone missing. Yes, this makes the Jedi factor totally not my fault.

Even though it’s only 4 miles to work I totally have to wear biking clothes for the ride and change once I get there, regardless of the weather. A) I sweat a lot (attractive, I know…I try) and B) my pants are too tight to bike in and I refuse to skip dessert.

Today’s ensemble (32F on the way in and 50F on the way back, sunny and calm for both): fleece lined compression tights from Target last year, Chicago marathon tshirt, Mountain Hardwear super power hoody, shorty socks, Pearl Izumi select MTBs from a million years ago Pearl Izumi Gel FF gloves (also from a million years ago) and stolen sunglasses.

The morning was chilly and the afternoon was warm but good god I’ll take it! 🙂

Unfortunately, the next few days are going to be too busy to get back out again for a while. 😦  Fortunately, I will be busy doing some pretty fun shit…

  1. Commencement is tomorrow. Cross your fingers that I don’t fall on my face when I walk across the stage (I don’t want any injuries that will hamper pineapple cutting)! 
  2. Anna’s bridal shower is on Saturday. Thank god it’s supposed to be 70F on Saturday! Now my fingers and toes are all still crossed of course (hence the aforementioned concern about falling on my face) but I’m a shit load less worried than I was a week ago!
  3. My thesis defense (baring a catastrophe) is on Friday, May 3rd!!!

I will return to do justice to each of these three items as they happen/I freak out about them happening.

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Weekend fun

You will all be relieved to know that with some advise from my fearless leader (and a witty yet relatively sober idea from my mama the night before) I was indeed able to resolve my thesis title dilemma on Friday. The damned things documents were all bound and delivered by early afternoon, in plenty of time to go make a series of bad decisions at Round Table (I.e. happy hour…and bad decisions = bottles of wine 🙂


Step 1/2 to finally blow outa this joint is now complete! Now I am (quite obviously) thrilled to be finishing up and moving on to new things, but it is also kind of hard to believe that the days are really numbered now. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ll eat a basket of Sally’s cheese curds for dinner. Well, maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself just yet…

Drinks at the department happy hour, then more drinks at Sally’s and the off to a party with the Greeks (my friends from the fiscally irresponsible Mediterranean country, not frat boys) rounded out the evening and into wee hours of Saturday morning (and the resulting hangover into the latter part of Saturday afternoon….but never mind). I call bull shit on the growing wiser with age business.

Anyway, 3 delicious meals out with friends, a trip to Party City, a 2 hour nap and the Bourn series (thank you Matt Damon ) has rounded out a lovely post-thesis submission celebratory/lazy weekend. Hopefully I can pull myself together for a productive week before the big 2 for 1 weekend in 5 days – commencement + sister Anna’s bridal shower.

In the mean time, check this out…

…a sweet music video from a local Minneapolis group…

Can you tell who I’m related to?

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Good morning Friday, April 19th.


This week has been crazy.

First, there was Monday. Boston. That really needs no further explanation.

Next, I am in the final stretch of preparing my thesis and have essentially had my ass continuously glued to my desk chair for the last three days. (Do yourself a favor and don’t start thinking of the logistics of that.) I had hoped a submit my draft to my committee last Friday, but that has long since come and gone. Then, the goal was Monday. Same sad story. Then it was “mid-week.” Now it is Friday. The good news is that it is finally written and printed and ready to go for binding and then to committee members by the end of the morning. The bad news is that with all that being said, I have no idea what the title should be! I was was assuming that things would all just come together (which for the most part they have) and a logical title would present itself at some point in the process. It has not. The mission for last night was to dream up something clever and witty that is also still relevant to 1) the design, construction and characterization of synthetic transcription regulators for E. coli and 2) engineering Lactic Acid Bacteria to inducibly express antimicrobial peptides with activity against Gram-negative bacteria, such that they my be an alternative to the current antibiotic administration in agriculture.

Any great ideas?

I do have a number half assed (and even a few 3/4 assed) ideas. I suppose now it’s time to resort to asking my adviser for advise (imagine that) and just get this stack off tree product off of my desk.


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I’m so sorry Boston…

…that your beautiful day and your beautiful race was senselessly vandalized. My heart goes out to everyone who worked so hard, with the support of their families and friends, to have what should have been a celebration turn into a horrific nightmare. My thoughts have been with with all of you today.

On a related note-

1. I stayed at a friend’s last night so this was the closest I could get to a race t-shirt for today –20130416-163632.jpg

Not too bad. Thanks Mile-Posts. Dream big, run long indeed.

2. Blue and yellow or race t-shirts are the thing to do this week if your dress code allows.

3. For anyone who has seen this video, the little old man who was knocked down by the compression wave is ok (and finished the race!)

4. Thank you to all of the Carlos who responded that way that you did.

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Saturdays are for furry friends and pumpkin muffins

That isn’t weird at all. Nope. Not at all.

Today was spent hanging out with these two —

Photo: Every Sat should be spent hanging out @ home w/the girls

Front: Princess Pheona. Back: Queen Penny.

— and baking pumpkin muffins

(and working on my thesis and doing laundry…but those aren’t nearly as fun to talk about).

So as the big moving date inches closer I’m trying to eat my way through all of the very weird unique food items that have accumulated in my kitchen. This weekend’s mission was to make a dent in the baking cabinet. Mission accomplished. 🙂

I got the recipe that I kind of  used from The Novice Housewife. She has a bunch of super yummy (if not just super yummy sounding, as I haven’t had a chance to try more than a select few yet) recipes from all over the place. Now her version is for bread or muffins and includes a glaze as well. I didn’t do the glaze and modified the rest of the recipe a bit too.

Pumpkin Muffins

  1. 3.5 C flour
  2. 2 C light brown sugar, packed
  3. 1/3 C granulated sugar
  4. 2 tsp baking soda
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1 tsp nutmeg
  8. 1 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1 tsp allspice
  10. 1/2 tsp cloves
  11. 2 C pumpkin puree
  12. 1 C vegetable oil
  13. 3 T maple syrup
  14. 1/3 C water
  15. Shaved coconut (the ~1/2 C remaining in the bottom of the bag)
  16. Slivered almonds (~1/2 C again)

Preheat oven to 350 F

Combine dry ingredients 1-10 and mix.

Combine wet ingredients 11-14 and mix well.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until totally combined.

Fold in shaved coconut and almonds (or whatever else you’re trying to get rid of your heart desires)

Spoon batter into greased or papered muffin tins (or bread pan) and bake for ~25 min.

Remove from oven and let set for another ~15 min in the pan.

I gobbled 15 of these babies slathered in butter savored one (or something like that) with a bit of butter and a cup of tea and damn! Pretty awesome!






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Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon Review

Date and time: March 3, 2013, 6:30 am

marathon morning

Sunrise at the start

Location: Moshi, Tanzania (beginning and ending at the stadium on the north side of town)

Weather: Hot and still. 80-95 F. No shade.

Threads and treads:  Champion tank and running skirt, bright pink Pro Compression marathon socksSuunto Vector super watch, pink Tifosi Slip Wrap Sunglasses, LOADS of sun screen and my wonderful Mizuno Wave Creation 11s.


Field: Mostly southeast African (surprise surprise) and a number of non-African transplants to the area. There were <300 for the full marathon, but many more running the half and the 5k fun run. Although there was often a language barrier, everyone was very friendly and encouraging. 

Support: There were 7 water stations, one with straight sugar to refuel with, but that was it. I packed my bra full of jelly beans and Clif Shot Blocks though, thank god. There were also daladalas around to cart anyone back to the stadium who was in need of medical attention (I have no idea what this actually would have entailed) or could not continue the run.

Pre-race Expo: hehehe…this was the most quaint and low-key expo that I’ve ever been too. Now this isn’t a slam (I feel like it kind of sounds like one) it’s just the way it was. There were two or three folding tables outside of the Key’s Hotel and another few tables inside. There were maps showing the 2013 5k, 21k and 42k courses with seven…that’s right, SEVEN water and aid stations labeled. This is the first time that it was actually confirmed – at least for me – that the course was the same as last year, and really did only include SEVEN water stations throughout the 42 km! Yikes!

Race start: The “race” started at 6:30 am from the stadium on the north side of town.

Ignorance is bliss.

Ignorance is bliss.

We luckily were staying just about 1 km away and were able to walk there (in the dark) in about 15 min. All of the runners piled on to the track behind the starting line and waited for the “ready…set….go!” 

Lining up...kind of...

Lining up…kind of…

It was a very mellow start to a marathon but with ~300 participants that’s about what you can expect. It was already about 80F as the sun was just starting to come up so there was no need for pre-run warm up clothes or anything like this. There was no bag drop off, but at least I didn’t need one. As noted above, there was no need for pre-run warm-ups or clothes for later.

The Run: The run began by leaving the stadium and going on a 10mi/16km out and back loop. We headed east out of Moshi towards Arusha along the main Moshi-Arusha highway. There were rolling hills and many well wishers along the way. The surface was either the road’s black top or gravel on the ditch, not bad. Personally though, I began struggling with the altitude right away. My big (ignorant) plan was to hold a “conservative” (hahahahaha) 10 min mile for these first “flat” ~10mi/16km. It was everything I could do not to dip into the mid 11s – thank you Suunto Vector 😦 My lungs were on fire – I couldn’t get the oxygen that I needed to save my damn life.

And then it got hot. 

By the time we got back into Moshi it was about 85 F and the sun was up. There were two water stations on the out and back (one we hit twice) and the another one in town. One of these stations also had straight sugar to fuel up with but this was it. The water stations were just that, water stations. I was carrying one of the bottles from my water belt and filling it up at each stop – along with chugging 1-2 cups of water as I walked through and dumping another 1 or 2 over my head. We spent about 4 miles weaving through town – and town was getting busy! Roads were totally not blocked off and we just froggered it through the normal Sunday morning bustle. I made it through town and back to the stadium which is at the base of the ascent up Kilimanjaro in just over 2:30 according to the Suunto Vector. OUCH!

And the it was up the f#@%ing mountain!

The final ~12 miles were an out and back UP and then DOWN Mt. Kilimanjaro at ~5% grade. This is where the wheels really came off for me. My bat shit crazy goal was to 3 min on, 1 min off run/walk up the mountain and then crank it up and run back down. How hard could it be? 3 min running? That’s nothing, I can always slow down, and then I can even walk for a min! And then coming down, it’s 5% grade! All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and gravity will practically do the rest…at a 9 min mile or better I bet! I’m not sure if I’ve ever been SO WRONG in my life! It was HOT now. There was NO shade, no breeze, 90-95F and only a 4 precious water stations remaining. The 3 on 1 off crap lasted about 15 min and then I walked (aside from a few flat areas and slight down hills). I held ~10 min/km on the ascent (thank you Suunto Vector).

So that’s it, right? The hard part is over! It’s literally all down hill from here! Or this is what my dumb ass thought from the top of the climb. I cranked up my tunes and proceeded to trot off down the mountain like it was my job. How quickly I was reminded that no, in fact this was NOT my job. However, what I actually am is a nerdy graduate student in chemical engineering who quite frankly had NOT A DAMN CLUE what she was getting herself into! If I thought breathing was rough at 3000 ft, breathing at 4000 ft was impossible! So, I slowed down and proceeded to shuffle/walk theh 6 mi back down the mountain. Damn.

All wasn’t lost though – the scenery was beautiful, the little kids that came and tagged along with me were adorable and according to my (very frequent) calculations – thanks again Suunto Vector – I was still going to make it in under the 6 hr cut off. By the time I made it back through the last water, they had run out of cups and were fishing dirty cups back out of the ditch and filling them with water. I was sooooo close to snatching one up and guzzling it down before I noticed this! Not cool. After spending 5 hrs on my feet in the direct sun (now it was ~95F), I am very glad I didn’t test my immune system and go for it anyway. I was tired, hot and dizzy enough that it may have seemed quite rational. And let’s be honest, I’ve probably done crazier shit in my (relatively) right mind. I finally finished in 5:45ish (in the same vein as running water stations, Tanzanian time keeping isn’t the best) and never thought I’d be so happy with a 5:xx marathon as I was when I came back into that stadium.



Lucky for me I had a very patient/understanding buddy waiting for me with water and cookies to help drag my ass back to the hotel for a shower. (Thank you Al!!)


The rest of the day was stretching, leg rubbing, a very slow shower, some toenail surgery and a very very slow walk into town for the best pizza and milk shake for dinner. While I will never do this marathon again, I am SO SO SO glad that I did do it once.

Executive summary:

HARD. Hot (95F and no shade), at 3000-4000 feet, 12 miles at a 5% grade – up then down, 7 water stations and no fuel.




Very, rewarding.


Filed under Marathons, Tanzania, Travel

Pro compression discounts everywhere!

Pro compression has some SWEET deals going on right now!

1. ActiveGearUp has a bunch of compression on sale up to 60% off now through 4/20!Capture


2. On their website, ProCompression has 40% off + FREE SHIPPING right now for all of their marathon socks with code BLG13.


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Running club bail

So my faithful running club bailed out on my today:

“…blablabla…I feel kind of sick…blablabla…it’s too cold…blablabla…you are bat shit crazy, it’s winter out again…blablabla”

Needless to say, our newest member will now (supposedly) be making his debut on Friday and I went out by myself today. All went pretty well. It was chilly and windy but I didn’t want to be out super long so I managed to keep a relatively decent pace…for me of course…

ALSO, I’m just putting 2 + 2 = 5 4 together now, but I really do think that wearing Pro Compression marathon socks help prevent sore knees (even for short runs totally)!! So my few recent runs have been a bit warmer than those in say Jan and Feb. However, I have not (for whatever stupid reason) been wearing my  Pro Compression marathon socks. My knees were achy last week, but I figured it was just because my lazy ass busy self hadn’t been out in quite a while. Now none of my runs have been all that far and my knees are sore after every damn one! Conclusion:  Pro Compression marathon socks are not only super styling and great for long runs and recovery, but they also really do help regulate circulation and ease joint stress in cold weather, regardless of run length.

4/10/13 work out

4.23 miles

36 min

38 F with a wind

Threads:   Champion tank and long-sleeved technical shirt,   Nike Tech – Women’s Running Tights,  Novara Conversion Bike Jacket – Women’s to break the wind (w/o sleeves) and shorty socks

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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Quick trot attempt

For some reason I was in the mood to give a quick trot (relative definition of both words please) a try today, largely  just to see what the hell would happen (and to minimize the time my lazy rear was out of my comfy office chair).

Things actually ended up going surprisingly well. Of course, the lungs were on fire from the beginning and I was working far harder than I really should admit, but it was ok. 🙂

Hopefully I didn’t exhaust myself for running club tomorrow though. (P.S. Aside from a catastrophe, I think we will have a new member joining us tomorrow! Stay tuned. 🙂

4/9/13 work out

4.23 miles

35 min

45 F with a wind

Threads:   Champion tank,  Nike Relay – Women’s Running Capris, shorty socks, short and long-sleeved technical t-shirts from runs that were less than 5 years ago…promise

Treads: Mizuno Wave Creation 11

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I figured it out!!!

So that is actually a bit of a lie. Ok, fine. It’s a complete and utter big fat lie. I most certainly did NOT figure it out, not even close.

To start things off, who remembers this—



If you do not, you can catch your uninformed self up to speed here

So while I probably definitely shouldn’t admit this, I honest to god did the following-

  1. Publicly and privately and incorrectly thanked Dr. A for the absolutely beautiful scarf
  2. Collected the Christmas cards from my girlfriends to compare handwriting samples with the one on the sweet note that came with the beautiful scarf
  3. Wrangled up lab notebooks from previously graduated students in my office (whose Christmas cards to me must have been misplaced by the mail person) to compare handwriting to aforementioned note
  4. Interrogated asked around with my friends to see if anyone knew anything about where this beautiful scarf could have come from
  5. Read the Facebook post from my cousin Elizabeth about how it looked Ethiopian and thought to myself Of course you’d say that Liz, you have two Ethiopian kidos. **headshake…and maybe an eye roll**

Fast forward 3 months to a night at the bar with some friends. One particular (…ahem…Ethiopian…ahem…) friend begins asking me very odd questions about if I have checked my mail box lately…just how long ago did I check it…am I still wearing scarfs…what is my favorite color… O.M.G. Only then did it finally hit me!

Abel, thank you for the beautiful scarf that you brought back for me from Ethiopia. (Liz 1, Dr. T 0) love it. Also, HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY ABEL! May others make you as happy as your make them 🙂

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