Monday, October 13, 2008

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Just after the race for the cure, Karen and I stepped onto a beautiful 38 foot long Catalina sailboat with Captain Bill Sharpe at the helm! We were fortunate enough to be invited to join him on this amazing adventure leaving from The Vinoy Marina. We sailed from St. Petersburg, FL to Treasure Island, FL on Saturday and returned the same way on Sunday. This was my first time on a sailboat of such size and with such large sails. On Saturday we had a full boat with three guys on crew hoisting the sails with Captain Bill keeping us on course. One of our crew members was Chris Ross, a seasoned sailor who really knew what he was doing.
He even got us on keel (is that the right terminology?) going about 8 knots with the main sail almost parallel with the water (this means our boat was tipped over at about a 30 degree angle)! This was amazing! Did you know that ovens in the cabin of true sailboats have a thing called a gimbal that keeps the oven level with the horizon even if the boat is tipped over? This has got to be one of the coolest things ever invented!!
We sailed for about 10 hours on day 1 and on the way back we sailed again for 9 hours just barely beating a very heavy thunderstorm. Along the way we lost a few crew members when we docked at John's Pass Marina and gained a few at the same time. Coming into John's Pass, we gained access by calling the bridge keeper at the John's Pass drawbridge. Have you ever gone under a bridge that stops traffic and opens just for you? It kind of makes you feel like a king! Here is the crew:

click on this image to see the pictures better

Also, we had a pod of about 10 dolphins sidle up to the boat and swim along with us for a few minutes! They were jumping and playing in our tiny wake.On the way back to St. Petersburg (when I was manning the jib!), we also spotted a school of thousands of stingrays (maybe the Atlantic Stingray) swimming on both sides of our boat out to the Gulf of Mexico. They were so graceful, gliding along and occassionally flapping a wing out of the water to wave us along. So peaceful! Thanks again Bill for a fantastic trip and to the entire crew for guiding us through safely!

Running for boobs!

This is after the race, so please forgive the sweaty exhausted look!

The weekend of October 4 was a busy busy busy one! Somehow, my roomate, Karen, convinced me to run a 5k race. When she told me it was for breast cancer research I immediately said yes without really thinking about the fact that I'm not a good runner nor do I really enjoy the act of running. But by then it was too late. I was registered and on a team (with the Jolly Roger Hash) and the date was approaching. I decided that if it was too hard I would just walk it instead. So that morning, Karen and I awoke at the crack of dawn, drove to St. Petersburg, parked semi-illegally (the town was packed with hundreds of participants and not so much parking space!), grabbed our pirate hats and power walked to the start in Vinoy Park. Vinoy Park is an amazing place in and of itself, but I don't have much appreciation for such things at 6am, sorry! We got our team t-shirts, took some pictures (I have to get these from the team yet, so hopefully you'll see them soon), and before we knew it the race was beginning. Karen started first because she decided to bravely run the 10k. I was sticking with the 5k race and I knew even that would be difficult for me. 30 minutes later, the 5k race began. We all lined up at the start. They label the starting line with big signs that say something like "6 minute mile" all the way down to "20 minute mile". You are supposed to stand next to the sign that corresponds to the pace you think you will be running. Well, I started walking back to 10 minute mile, when my teammates pulled me all the way back up to the beginning of the starting line...apparently no one pays attention to those signs, so if you go that far back, you'll be stuck behind lots of people walking. Glad that I was there with people who had done this before. Well, to make this story a bit shorter, I ended up running the race in 29:12 minutes! Can you believe it? I ran 5km in under a 10 minute mile! That's a big deal for me! Granted, I almost passed out afterwards and I couldn't really focus my eyes for a good 10 minutes, but I felt really accomplished. Throughout the race, I definitely thought about giving up and lungs burned and my feet hurt...but as I was running I realized that this run really had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with those people battling breast cancer and going through extremely grueling treatments. So who was I to minimize their struggles by quitting a race that really wasn't that long because my feet hurt a little bit? That just didn't seem respectful. So in honor of the fight against cancer that both my aunt and my mother endured for the past year and their bodies are continuing to fight into the future, I pushed myself to keep running. Thanks to the women in my family for never giving up and going through with the brutal and taxing treatments that will hopefully keep them in our lives for many years to come!Aunt Monika was the person I honored for others to see on my back while I ran. Mom, you'll get a sign on my back too when that race comes to town!

Native Plant Society Plant Sale

So this weekend I volunteered to help the Suncoast Native Plant Society with their big fall sale at the USF Botanical Gardens. I arrived, bleary eyed and barely on-time (without coffee), at the gardens at 7:30am on Saturday morning...yes, that's crazy early for me on a weekend, but I didn't want to let them down. We immediately started unpacking a box truck filled to the max with all kinds of great native plants. Our area, which was right smack dab in the front of the event, had hundreds of really beautiful native plants which we labeled with growing information.

Once the customers started streaming in, we were pretty busy helping fill their wagons. Apparently, well seasoned customers know that the best way to carry all the plants they want in their garden is with a wagon, push cart, or luggage carrier (some people were very creative!). So I was able to help customers pick out the plants that would do best in their yards, would look the best with their gardening vision and see their smiles as they carted off healthy native plants. I also got a chance to check out some of the other booths at the event (though many of them did not have the native plants that are so important for this area) and got some great pictures:

Here are some of the booths at the sale. There was an amazing variety of things to look at and purchase at this sale, including exotic fruit from the Rare Fruit Council of Tampa!

Are there any plant sales or other fun fall events going on in your area?