Krispy Kreme Challenge 2019


You guys.  I am not one for formalized bucket lists but for a very, very long time, I have wanted to do the Krispy Kreme Challenge.  To sum up: 5 miles, 12 doughnuts, 2400 calories.  Yes!  To benefit a children’s hospital in Raleigh, there has been a Krispy Kreme Challenge for the last 15 years!

Now, I am a big fan of fitness.  As a result, I have a fair number of beautiful people friends who, while very nice people, cannot imagine eating a dozen doughnuts.  Rather, they try to imagine and they cannot.  In smug, horrified tones with a thin veneer of being impressed, they say, “I cannot imagine eating a dozen doughnuts.  Really?  You want to do that? That’s…amazing.”  I stayed with two of these people when I went to Raleigh and what can I say?  We all bring something to the friendship table.

I also have a husband who is a huge believer in moderation.  He, too, thought the idea was interesting (read: repulsive) but I didn’t care.  This was my bucket list!  And what has been on it for years?  A race that, and I quote, “epitomizes the test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude.”


Ha, ha. I hope this reads as tongue-in-cheek as I intend because I love my beautiful people fitness friends and my amazing husband.  Sarah and John used to live in Norfolk and now they live in Raleigh. I stayed at their house with their fun dog Cora and we had the best time!  We drank wine, hung out, and, on Saturday morning, Sarah and I ran the Krispy Kreme challenge.  Except that Sarah is getting married in April (to John) and didn’t want to think about working off the excess calories.  So she joined the fun run challenge, where you could eat as many or few as you wanted.  Lame! (But I understand.)

I, however, was in it to win it.  Well, not really since the winner runs it in about 26 minutes.  For real!  Even though it sounds like a total fat person’s race, there are a lot of very fit people who both run and eat very, very fast.  But, I did want to meet the challenge which is run 2.5 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen doughnuts, then run 2.5 miles back to the start in under an hour.  Now, while running away from a doughnut shop may seem antithetical to some, just keep in mind it’s all part of the challenge.

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Well, as you can see from my Finisher’s certificate, I did it!!  I would have been SO!PISSED! if I had eaten a dozen doughnuts and not made the time cut-off.

IMG_4296So, instead of gloating for the rest of the post on how amazing I am, I would like to point out some other weekend highlights.  We went to an awesome yoga class on Sunday at a local brewery.  The instructor was badass!  It was a great class with awesome flows and her individual practice, which I saw on Instagram, is insane!

Also, hanging out with Sarah and John was a huge highlight.  I’m actually missing their wedding (huge boo!) in April, but it means so much to me that I can keep up with friends even when we move away from the place where we met.  Cheesy but true!

Finally, if you, too, would like to be a KKC winner, I would like to share some tips I learned.  One, try to run the first half quickly but not so fast that your stomach feels queesy.  Two, I read a lot about stacking doughnuts but it did take me about 12 minutes to eat all of them so honestly, I wonder if eating one at a time and just shooting them down the hatch would have been better?  Three, bring your own water but only drink a very small amount.  Four, if you wear a costume, don’t show up too early because that’s when all the serious runners show up in their shorty shorts and conspicuous lack of costumes.  The costumed people seem to roll up about 15 minutes before the start.

The course itself isn’t bad.  A few rolling, very mild inclines so while not flat, it’s not that difficult.  And this is coming from someone who lives and trains (the running, not the doughnut eating) in a pancake-flat area.

5 Days in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tulum Beach

So, this Christmas brought a travel first for me.  I went to Mexico!  Yes, it’s almost strange to admit I’ve never been since I was in San Diego for so long but it’s a fact.  Of course, when I went to Otay Mesa during my Kaiser residency days, I was almost in Mexico.  Early in the morning, I would worry about being too tired and missing my exit and ending up in Mexico instead of work.  That would make me late.

Hotel Room Balcony

We went to Mexico with SMS’s family and had a really great time at an all-inclusive.  We went to Royal Hideaway Playacar, which was really nice.  I did some TripAdvisor reading beforehand and wasn’t too sure about the place but ultimately, it was wonderful.  It is clear that there some people on TripAdvisor who are just never going to be happy.


On vacation, I read a lot and hung out at the beach.  It was delightful.  Linda and I did water aerobics one day, which featured great music and a slightly less great, but enthusiastic, instructor.  The food was really delicious and the portion sizes were perfect.   I would say most meals came out with a proper serving (aka, enough but not too much food), which was great because wasting food was minimal.  I feel that sometimes, all-inclusives (not that I’ve been to many) can serve large quantities to make people feel that they are getting more when really, it just leads to excess- in the belly and in the trash.

I went for two runs and SMS and I went for a walk on the beach.  It was really beautiful- wide, fine-sand beaches with clear blue water.

One day, the four “kids” went to Tulum, Dos Ojos cenote, and Cosme’s Taqueria for lunch.  Tulum was really beautiful.  The sun-bleached stone ruins were gorgeous and we learned a lot (but not too much:) from our guide.  Hiring a guide was definitely a good idea because the context definitely made the viewing more interesting.  Afterwards, thanks to the magic of our smartphones, we found Cosme’s taqueria which was a small spot that served up delicious tacos.  It was a great find and definitely different than the polished all-inclusive or tourist trap restaurants outside of the Tulum ruins.


After lunch, we went to the “Dos Ojos” cenote, which was awesome because I had really wanted to go to a cenote after following the hashtag on Instagram for the last several months.  There are some beautiful looking ones closer to Chichen Itza, which we passed on because we didn’t want to drive all day.  But there are some along the coast and Dos Ojos is really pretty.  There are two separate cenotes, a dark and light “eye,” with a connecting tunnel that I think you could get through without SCUBA gear but I wasn’t going to try.

After 5 days, it was time to head back to California.  SMS and I returned our rental car, which was cheaper than a shuttle and gave us flexibility to go to Tulum without booking an overpriced tour.  But it was a little bit of a hassle so there was definitely a trade-off.

Back in California, we moved apartments from Mountain View to Menlo Park.  Goodbye orange tree in the front yard!  Our place in Mountain View was really nice but the commute for Mark’s new job was anything but so…we moved to Menlo Park.  The location of the new apartment is great and it’s fun to be near a new downtown to explore.

We spent New Year’s Eve in downtown San Francisco with friends.  We went to a 1920’s themed party (flappers and Great Gatsby, not suicidal bankers after the crash of 1929).  Our friend had organized a get-together of several people so it was very easy and a lot of fun.

Then it was New Year’s Day!  SMS and I started out the new year with avocado toast and good coffee so that was a delicious start.  We went to a Australian coffee shop, Bluestone Lane, in SF.  I would definitely like to go back and someday, we will get to Australia proper!

Sunday Soliloquy #3

  • No, Martha!!!  Cease and desist all efforts to make this happen.IMG_4022
  • I’m going to Japan to visit my sister in mid-April.  I’m so excited!  I’ve been reading a few articles about “The Tokyo Fixer,” a very expensive foodie guide and while I’m not planning on hiring him, the food descriptions are making me hungry!  I plan on buying a JR pass but this trip will be a little less planned than others since my main priority is hanging out with my sister, brother-in-law, and their baby!
  • Theparakeetofficial is growing like gangbusters.  The birds now have more followers than me.  The account, and followers, shows that there’s a niche for everyone.IMG_4025
  • I hosted a successful party last week.  Everything went perfectly and it was so easy.  I catered the event from Handsome Biscuit, a Southern Sweet Potato biscuit place that made incredible sliders.  People loved the food.  Most importantly, the two guests of honor for the farewell party had a great time with a strong turnout from all of their work friends.  I was a tiny bit stressed earlier in the day because it was an OR day, which is not the best day to plan afterwork events but it all worked out.  I was done exactly on time and it was actually a really good day in the OR.
  • I also had two book clubs last week.  It was a very social week.  The book club I host read There, There, which we all really liked.  Most of us felt we never would have picked it up if it hadn’t been for book club.  Second book club discussed Little Fires Everywhere, which I had read last year and really liked.  I don’t like most of the books second book club picks (next month is Eleanor Oliphant…, blergh), but I really like the people so I will suck it up!

Reflecting on 2018

Since 2011, I’ve used this list to help reflect back on the year.  I really enjoy looking back while preparing to move forward. So…
1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Ate at Singlethread, a two (now three!) star Michelin restaurant! Watched the Boston Marathon! Went to a music festival with my sister! Drank a Bushwacker at Florabama!  Watched my brother get married! Had an amazing work/vacation trip to Denmark and Sweden! Presented a poster at an international conference! Went to a 95 year old’s birthday party!  Toured the Tesla factory! Became a birdsitter to four parakeets!
2.  Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I dabbled here and there with habit tracking but nothing too serious.  I made some forward progress on my big research project at work by presenting pilot data at two conferences but, unfortunately, money that I was awarded in Oct 2017 wasn’t awarded until July 2018.  Furthermore, the contract wasn’t awarded until 26 Sept.  It was a frustrating 11 month delay, but I really needed to get the project updated before embarking on the larger study.
Anyway, this year I would like to work on the larger project, do a for-reals triathlon race, improve my Spanish, and be more consistent on some smaller daily wellness habits.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister-in-law!  Yay!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.  I continue to be very lucky in this regard.

5. What countries did you visit?
Germany (for five hours!)

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
More time with my husband!  Peer-reviewed publications! More upper body strength!

7. What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Well, I always like my birthday and our wedding anniversary!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Continuing to keep our long-distance marriage vibrant, although I have mixed emotions regarding how good SMS and I have gotten at it!  But on a related note, I have orders to San Diego that I lobbied pretty hard for!  Overall, I am very good at my job and since that entails taking care of people who put their trust on me, I’d say that’s pretty big.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Ugh, failure sounds so harsh.  Maybe I can whine that I failed at being perfect but that seems like an impossible goal, haha.  In seriousness, I would say that while there were outside factors this year that impacted my research, it is still disappointing that I’ve been talking about the same study for over two years.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets! (repeat)
12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent/Two Households.  Plane Tickets.  Our savings account.
13. What did you get really excited about?
The answers to #1, hahaha.

14. What song will always remind you of 2017?
“High Hopes” Panic at the Disco, “Somebody Loves You” Betty Who, “Los Ageless” St Vincent, “Esther” The Hold Steady, “Remind Me to Forget” Kygo & Miguel, “Him & I” G-Eazy and Halsey, “I Dare You” The XX, “Good Kisser” Lake Street Dive, “Pirata de Amor” Yanfourd.  Also, “Despacito” by Fonsi with Bieber.  It isn’t the coolest song to admit to but anyone who says they didn’t hear and at some point find it catchy is either a 1. liar or 2. lives under a rock.


15. Compared to this time last year, are you: 

– happier or sadder? Happier
– thinner or fatter? Samesie
– richer or poorer? Richer (continuing to save)
16. What’s one thing you wish you had done more of?
Foreign language practice
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Reading gossip.  I did really well for several months but I have had a major backside reading British royal drama.  I know!  What a loser but it’s an addiction!
18. How did you spend Christmas?
A great family day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Insecure, Game of Thrones (way to jump on that bandwagon late), Borgen, Victoria
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I read 70 books this year!  Favorites include Pachinko by Lee, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Carnegie, Beartown by Backman, Behold the Dreamers by Mbue, Bad Blood by Carey, The Great Believers by Makkai, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Zeun, Normal People by Rooney,  Less by Greer.  It was a really good reading year.  There were a few duds, but overall, excellent.
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Gulf Shores Fest was awesome.  I also saw the Turnpike Troubadours, who were excellent live.  Groups new to me were Lake Street Drive, The XX, Betty Who.  I also kind of love Halsey- I feel slightly embarrassed about it but I can’t fight an earworm!
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Lady Bird, Free Solo, Won’t You Be My Neighbor
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
38. An amazing weekend in Sedona with SMS, highlighted by an incredible meal and stay at Singlethread.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being in California with SMS!
25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Boden reigns supreme but I am currently loving joggers- they are so awesome looking as long as the pockets don’t lie over sides of the hip (disaster!).
26. What kept you sane?
Getting enough sleep, maintaining perspective

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

Jamestown, with and without an “E”


SMS and I spent the Thanksgiving weekend in the Tidewater area of Virginia.  Since we were in such a historic part of the country, we decided to check out the former site of Jamestown, the first permenent English colony in the U.S.  SMS had been there when he was in junior high and remembered the glass blowing demonstration.  I had never been and really didn’t know that much about it which led to the following encounter-

Upon following Google Maps to Jamestown, we pulled into a large parking lot for a museum.  We walked inside, used the bathrooms, and then I went up to the ticket counter.  I was pretty sure we weren’t at the Jamestown site but I wanted to know where to go and since it was already 3 p.m, I wanted to make sure we didn’t go to the wrong place.

Me: “Excuse me, but is this where I buy tickets to Jamestown?”

Ticket lady: “[Loud Audible Sigh]  It’s been a long weekend.  Jamestown DOESN’T EXIST!!! IT HASN’T BEEN HERE SINCE 1624!!!!”

Me (slightly taken aback): “Um, I’m sorry.  But I thought there was a historic site to see?”

Ticket lady: “Look, this is Jamestowne with an ‘e.’  We’re a living history museum.  The archeologic site of Jamestown (which doesn’t exist) is down the road.”

Me: “So, do I need to buy a ticket here?”

Ticket Lady: “No.”

Can’t rain on my ranger parade!

Sheesh.  What a weirdo!  While I was talking to her, she had pulled out a laminated placard showing the difference between Jamestowne with an ‘e’ and Jamestown.  Jamestown is run by the National Park Service, which is great since SMS and I have an annual pass.  That meant we could get in for free, which was perfect since we didn’t have a lot of time.


First, we went to the glassblowing shop which had on-going demonstrations and was really warm from the incredibly hot oven in the center.  This was delightful since it was so cold!  We drove down to the Jamestown site proper, showed our pass, and walked to the artifact museum.  Then, we walked around the fort which hadn’t even been excavated when SMS last visited.  After looking at the fort that didn’t exist, we walked around the Newtown area, which we slightly regretted since it was so cold.  But, hey, we were there so we had to see the sights!


We hopped in the car and had dinner at La Tienda, a Spanish tapas restaurant.  It was delicious!  I wished we had bigger appetites and/or a larger group because there were several dishes I wanted to try.  But, while we were there, the berenjenas con miel and judiones fritos were particular highlights!


Other events from Thanksgiving weekend: I made a delicious but homely looking sweet potato pie.  It suffered in comparison next to my friend’s Cheesecake Factory worthy dessert.  Ah well.

Also, at a local restaurant, SMS had a fruit salad, Southern style: iceberg lettuce, canned fruit in syrup, and shredded cheddar cheese.  We were both slightly confused.  The restaurant is called The Grey Goose.  The doorstop goose out front was missing its head.  Apparently, this has been an ongoing saga where the head keeps getting knocked off despite trying to glue it back on.  The owner has now given up, per a shamelessly eavesdropped conversation on my part.