Panthers vs. Falcons

For our first anniversary, I gifted Jay with Panthers football tickets for the Atlanta Falcons game on November 11th. It was really fun to take Jay to a live game, since we had both never been to a pro-football game before (well, American football anyway)! It was a beautiful, sunny day and our seats were awesome. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a Panther victory, but unfortunately they lost to a last minute touchdown by Atlanta. Oh well! At least we got some good photos!

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Working from Home is Hard

The day after the City of Oaks marathon I worked from home, so I could stay in my sweatpants all day and avoid wearing real shoes. It was nice and quiet and I got a lot done! Daisy and Roux kept me company all day in our bonus room/home office. As you can see, they have a hard life!

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City of Oaks Marathon

So after Chicago not going as well as planned, I decided to upgrade from the City of Oaks half marathon in Raleigh to the full marathon to see how I could do if I actually got to run the whole thing! This time the race day temperature was perfect, cold to start but then warming up to a fair 60 degrees or so. However, the Raleigh course was a lot tougher than Chicago! I think I prefer hot and flat to cold and hilly any day! Nonetheless, I finished the race in just over 5 hours vs. the 5 hours and 38 minute finish in Chicago so I feel pretty good about that.

And the great thing about this race was that Jay and several of our friends got to be there to cheer me on and see me finish! That was really nice. Our friends Kathleen, Allyson and Amanda completed the half marathon and Kathleen's hubby Bill completed the full (a full hour faster than me, I may add!). Jay, Allyson's husband John, daughter Elizabeth, and Amanda's husband Chris were our official entourage. It was a fun day!
Amanda, Bill, Allyson, Heather & Kathleen before the race:

Bill, Kathleen, Amanda, Allyson & Heather after the race:

Allyson & Elizabeth

Kathleen & Bill (aka. speed racer)

Amanda & Chris

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Chicago Marathon

In October I traveled to Chicago with Courtney to compete in the 2007 Chicago Marathon. Unfortunately, Courtney had to drop out of the race due to stress fractures that popped up after we registered for the race. Since we were already registered and had reserved a hotel, we decided to book flights and carry on with the trip. I ran and Courtney was my cheerleader! Although, since there were 36,000 runners and 1.5 million spectators out and about, I did not see her until the finish line.

For those of you who did not hear, the race got cancelled at about 3.5 hours in, due to extreme heat. Yes, it was 88 degrees in Chicago, in October! Fortunately for me, I trained in the NC heat all summer so I was prepared, but I saw many runners who were not. Over 10,000 runners dropped out of the race by choice due to the heat. Over 300 runners required paramedic assitance due to heat exhaustion, which is ultimately why the race officials called the race off. Despite the fact that they had brought in paramedic resources from Chicago's many surrounding suburbs, there still weren't enough paramedics to serve the runners and the conditions made it too unsafe to continue. A large portion of the runners got diverted to the finish line and did not get to complete the full course.

Since I was at about the mile 20 marker when the race was called, I was able to complete the full course, but I was forced to walk the last several miles. When I got to the finish line and learned of the many runners who did not get to complete the race, I was just happy I got to the finish line! All in all, I had a great race day despite the conditions and I would recommend the Chicago Marathon to any of my fellow runners. Just hopefully if you choose to run it, you won't experience the freakish weather conditions I did!

Here are some pictures from the trip:

Runners getting underway at the start line.

Me at Buckingham Fountain after completing the race.

Me & Courtney after the race.

Me eating a "hamdog" at the Packers fan bar in Chicago after the race. The Bears and Packers played that night and I have no alliegance to either team so I cheered the Packers on with Courtney, Leslie and KC.

Me with KC & Leslie at the Packers game party.

Court & KC, two of the hottest Packers fans ever!

Heather & Court. (The Packers fan bar had giant beers.)

And no trip to Chicago would be complete without a visit to famous Gino's East for deep dish pizza. Yum!

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Anniversary Cruise

It is really hard to believe that Jay and I have already been married a year! It seems like just weeks ago that we were dancing and laughing with everyone at our wedding reception, but the last year has just flown by!

To celebrate our 1st anniversary Jay and I took a Carnival cruise to the Caribbean the last week of September. It was a wonderful trip! We had never cruised before, but found a great deal on a balcony room and decided to go for it! We visited a private island in the Bahamas, then St. Thomas, San Juan and Grand Turk. All of the islands were beautiful, but St. Thomas was by far our favorite. We found a secluded beach called Sapphire Bay, walked right in from the shore with our snorkeling gear and ended up swimming with a sea turtle, sting ray and tons of fish. Jay was thrilled as it was his first time snorkeling ever!

In the Bahamas we went on a jet ski expedition with the ship and it was amazing. We each got our own jet ski and set out to follow the instructor through a quiet cove, and I was terrified to go faster than 20mph...but by the end I was topping out at 55mph and taking turns at 40! It was a blast! We want to go out and get a jet ski now, we had so much fun with them.

On top of all the snorkeling and jet skiing, we had a wonderful time on the boat. We ended up at a 4-top table for dinner with one other couple, Akos and Linda from Hungary. Akos and Linda were celebrating their honeymoon so we had a lot to talk about and so much in common. We became great friends by the time we pulled into port in Miami and we have been keeping in touch over e-mail since returning from the cruise. We look forward to hopefully seeing them next time we get to go to Europe!

Touring St. Thomas

Heather and Tim the Tour Guide

Heather & Jay at the Overlook

Sapphire Bay, St. Thomas

Iguana at Sapphire Bay

Leaving St. Thomas

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Fort in Old San Juan

Heather & Jay at the Fort

Going Snorkeling in Grand Turk

Jay's Mecca: Margaritaville!

Leaving Grand Turk

Jay's Jet Ski
Stopping for a photo opp!
The adventurous couple...yes I am driving!

Us with our new friends Akos & Linda, the newlyweds!

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Beautiful England

Well I am back home from a 9 day visit in England and I miss it already. Now that I have finally been over I can see why Jay gets homesick. It is so beautiful there! We spent most of our time on the South coast in Brighton, which is where Jay grew up. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco. The streets are very hilly, filled with brightly painted row houses, and it is right on the sea. All that is missing are the trolley cars! Fortunately for us, the weather was gorgeous the whole time we were there, about 75 and sunny, which was a huge relief from the 95+ temperatures in NC. We got a sunburn walking around Brighton the first day because it was so pleasant out we didn't even think to wear sunscreen.

Of course Jay took me into London one day so I could do all sorts of cheesy touristy things there. We had a whirlwind day, cramming in his paperwork at the US Embassy and then Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park & the Diana Memorial Fountain, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben & Parlaiment, and finally the London Eye. London was fun although it was a very jam packed day. I would love to go back and see more on the next trip.

We went down the coast to Worthing one night for take away fish & chips, and we sat on a sea wall overlooking the ocean while we ate. It was so lovely and relaxing.

The last weekend there was Brendan & Nikki's wedding in Great Staughton, near Cambridge. We got to ride on the busiest motorway in the world, the M25, thanks to Kate and her KA! The farm country out near Brendan and Nikki was so pretty and the good luck with the weather continued for their wedding day. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine, a pre-wedding drink at the local pub, and a getaway car that blew bubbles out the back made it a day to remember for everyone. Congratulations to the new Mr. & Mrs. Sturgeon!

On Sunday after the wedding, we met up with Uncle Paul (George's brother) and Auntie Geri in Horsham. Jay's cousin Sam and his wife Debbie opened their lovely home to a whole lot of us for a great Sunday cookout, complete with yummy grilled bananas. It was so wonderful to meet Jay's extended family, and they all made me feel very welcome. The invitation is open to any of the family who are able to make to the states to come and stop with us in NC. We would love to have you!

On my last day there, we were back in Brighton and Matt took us for a walk on the pier and to see the shops at the lanes. We had one last meal of fish and chips and I went to the grocery store and bought all the biscuits I could fit in my suitcase to bring home with me! Now I am just waiting for Jay to get home so we can go on our 1 year anniversary cruise. I also see many more trips to England in our future!

Jay and Matt on Brighton Beach. We stayed with Matt for over a week. It was so nice of him to let us crash his flat for so long. Thanks Matt!

Jay looking out at Brighton Beach from the seafront.

My toes in the English Channel!

More of Brighton Beach. There is no sand on the beach. It is all stones. Not so comfortable for walking barefoot, but they are nice and warm to lay on!

We ate fish and chips at this place overlooking the Brighton seafront twice. They were definitely worth going back for!

View of the ocean from our walk through the city.

A flowerbasket in Hove, the next town over from Brighton. We walked all the way there!

An old church in Hove.

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton. This is a palace that was originally built for a prince to live in, but is now a historic site.

Inside the Brighton train station on our way to London.

Obligatory London red phone booth.

Buckingham Palace
Statue in front of Buckingham Palace.
Guard at Buckingham Palace. They did not have the big fluffy hats on because it was "too hot" to wear them! Also there was no changing of the guard the day we were there.
London tube stop near Hyde Park.
Double decker bus!
Westminster Abbey
Look kids! Big Ben!
Big Ben and the London Eye
Riding the London Eye
The London Eye
Chipwick's fish and chips in Worthing. Jay's favorite! They have been in business 25 years.
View of Worthing sea front....we ate dinner overlooking the sea.
Houses on Worthing sea front.
Brendan & Nikki's church...dates back to the 11th century!

Brendan and his Mum, Ivy.

Brendan's parents.

Heather & Jay enjoying a pre-wedding drink at the pub!

Here comes the beautiful bride!

The happy couple!

The getaway car that blew bubbles all the way to the reception!

Pub in Horsham

Street in Horsham

Cookout at Sam and Deb's house.

Aunt Geri, Davina and Jay

Neil and Niamh

Abby (and Chelsea the german shepherd).

Uncle Paul, Neil and .....

Palace Pier in Brighton

Matt and Jay on Palace Pier

Heather & Jay on the sea front.

The lanes are historic, pedestrian-only streets full of shops, which Matt walked us through on the last day in Brighton.

Matt's dog Theo.

This is my favorite picture from the trip. It is Matt's street, and his flat is on the far right. This picture reminds me of walking around Brighton and the beautiful weather we had for the whole trip. It makes me want to go back!

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