Friday, September 28, 2007

Moved, moved in, renovated, and painted

Phuuu! Finally!

Finally we have made the decision to actually sell our place in South Vancouver and move back to downtown. Don't get me wrong, the Fraserview neighbourhood of Vancouver is quite charming, quite, and has a lot of very nice people living there. The problem is that is you have to drive anywhere and everywhere you want to do. Except for walking and going for a run along the Fraser River, nothing is within walking distance. On top of that pretty much all the things I do are in downtown: work, my running group, my favourite running loop (the False Creek loop), the gym, the YWCA where I like to go swimming or water running, the physio, chiropractor and massage therapist, and last but not least all the nice restaurants, pubs, bars and the like. So Esthi and I have been talking for eons about moving back to downtown again.

Then one day we received one of those realtor advertising cards from the local top-realtor guy (Temmy Ylagan) boasting about another suite he has sold in our neighbourhood. He really does sell pretty much everything in that area. As offered on the card we called him up for a completely non-binding evaluation of the value of our condo. So the following Sunday he shows up, looks around, makes the obligatory compliments, goes into detail of what has been sold where and for how much, and eventually tells us the number we are keen to hear: how much he thinks our place is going to sell for. Great! This is about what we have been hoping for.

Now the next questions is how much we can afford for a new place. As we have already thought about it and now factoring in what we believe we can achieve for our current condo, we have a budget.

Do we buy first and then sell? Or do we sell first and then buy. Temmy walks us through the pros and cons but is adamant that we should sell first to be on the save side. Of course I am getting right nervous! What if we don't find a place?? What if we need to move out and don't have a new place - will we be forced to make too many concessions? The thing is we like our apartment! We just don't like the location... Temmy assures us that he will find us something in time, what we are looking for, within our budget, and where we want it. Even under the thread that we will move into his basement if needed.

The deal is struck the very next day - Monday, June 18, 2007 - and the listing agreement is signed. We could have signed it already on Sunday - Temmy had all the forms with him. That same day in the evening Temmy's assistance Collette visits us to make sure we know what to do to stage the place. We then had three days for staging: get all the extra stuff that sort of collects over time out and into storage, clean, fix, tile, grout, paint, scrub, and decorate the place where required. On Friday Temmy's photographer comes to take the pictures for the website. For Saturday and Sunday Temmy and his cousin Dave had already set up some viewings. Saturday morning we gave the place the final touches and I bought cookies to put out for the potential buyers. Some new viewings and repeat viewing were set up for both Sunday and Monday.

Monday (June 25, 2007) evening we looked at the first potential new places for us. As we met with Temmy at a place on Homer Street in Yaletown, he tells us "I have good news - your place is sold." Holy Shit! But he would not give us the details until we had looked at the places he wanted to show us. So finally we are all done viewing and we sit down with Temmy at the Rosie's on Robson restaurant. He tells us about an offer that was substantially lower than our asking price and with loads of subjects to boot. Urgh, great... Then he tells us there is another offer for our full asking price and without any subjects! SOLD!

That same evening after some consideration Esthi and I put in an offer for the condo on 1318 Homer Street - with the usual subjects for financing, strata minutes, etc. Now we are supposed to get the minutes and other relevant documents right away but it takes the seller until Friday to get them to us. In the meantime we have discovered that it is a leaky building and that they are in the middle of law suits against the builders. Still, the place was so under-valued that it still seemed to make sense even if we had to pay for (what we assumed is) our share of the fix-ups. If the builder has to pay we would look even better. So for Saturday we booked a home inspector for the inside condo inspection. Since we have only received the documents we need to read through by late Friday, we did not even get to calculating our strata lot share until Saturday morning. Turns out that our share would have been significantly higher than we had originally assumed. This on top of the horror picture that emerged from the supplied engineering reports made us back out of that deal. We withdrew our offer and started to look again for a place.

Thankfully Temmy was very foresighted and set a closing date for the sale of our condo for July 25 and a move-out date for July 28. So we have some time. After looking at several places that were just not right for some reason or another, on July 5th our offer on a nice place at 819 Hamilton Street has been accepted. On July 20th we took possession and moved on Friday, July 27, 2007. A day before we handed the keys over to our old condo.

Finally! We are living in downtown again! In a great building and a great neighbourhood to boot! We are super happy.

Oh yea, we also had vacation planned since February of the year. My cousin was going to get married near Cologne and we are invited. Now we are away between August 16 and September 1. Now about that kitchen... of course that was one of those things we knew we had to change. So we started with some reno's before our vacation and ordered the new kitchen from IKEA.

Since we have been back there has been some form of renovation going on in our place. And as of tomorrow, Saturday, September 29 we will have it all completed. And-thank-the-lord-for-that!

Later today someone will come by to fix a deficiency with the new microwave and tomorrow Trail appliances will deliver the new fridge. Ed, one of Ardie's workers will be there tomorrow to happily take our old fridge away, hook up the new one to the water line, and finish some minor painting shortcomings. Ardie (Ardalan Fard, Archway Renovations) has been our most excellent contractor who has arranged for all the sub-trades we needed to get our new place in tip-top shape.

There will then be some final cleaning and putting all the kitchen stuff back into the cupboards and whatnot and we are done!

Oh! There is one more thing... We removed a sliding door between the the kitchen and the solarium and now we have a strip of tile missing there. It seems that this tile can not be found anywhere anymore and we will have to come up with an alternative. So that is still something to do later.

And of course we have to have a housewarming party! Whoohoo! Stand-by for more info on that shortly.


The loneliness of a marathoner's wife

So Esther gets home last night from some four days in Niagara Falls where she was attending a seminar. As usual when one gets home from a few days away - especially if it is in the evening - the various artifacts of travel are strewn around the kitchen and other areas of the home.

This morning, as my usual routine approaches making my breakfast, I notice a newspaper clipping on the kitchen counter. It had the word "marathon" in the title, so naturally I gravitated to it... "The loneliness of the marathoner's wife" it reads.

Of course I read it over cereal with banana and fruit & veggie juice!!

It really was kind of funny - and yes, we (my marathon buddies and I) all are going to be able to draw parallels. And it makes me wonder if I am really that nutty myself, and, perhaps most important, why I don't want to change one bit. And I wonder if it was left there for me to find on purpose...

Here is the article - enjoy: The loneliness of a marathoner's wife

Sunday, April 1, 2007

DNF! What a huge disappointment...

I had my first racing "DNF" (Did Not Finish) today.

We were out at the Mission Spring Ahead 5k/10k/Half Marathon today -- I was signed up for the half. This was supposed to be an evaluation race for me for the Vancouver International Marathon in five weeks time.

Last Sunday we ran a nice and easy and steady 3:20 long run at a 9:40 min/mile pace. It was a perfect running Sunday with fantastic weather and all. I felt great after the run - not tired at all. On Monday was a rest day on which I just did an easy 30 min swim in the morning. Then on Tuesday I did my weight training in the morning (including legs) and a tempo run with The Right Shoe running group in the evening. Tuesday night I had such discomfort in the right leg behind the knee that I did not sleep well.

This has been bothering me a little off and on over several weeks now and recently gotten to be worse. I started seeing my Physio Tracy Barber who diagnosed it as something most likely caused by a weak right glute which turned into a strained/inflamed (??) Popliteal Nerve (pain on the side and back of my leg near the knee) - or something like that. So I have been doing some exercises to get my right bum to fire better. As it had gotten worse I also started seeing Dr. Aaron Case, my Chiropractor. He agreed with the diagnosis and added Active Release Technique to the treatment. It seemed to have improved at little, but certainly not by leaps and bounds.

After the sleepless Tuesday night I managed to get an appointment with Aaron right away for Wednesday morning for some more treatment. Then I went out and bought some of those instant ice packs to be able to ice my leg. I did go out for a 50 min easy run Wednesday night which was probably not the brightest idea. I kept icing it whenever I could and felt somewhat better by Thursday and went for an easy run with friends on Thursday night. Friday was a day off (read: 30 min swim in the morning) and Saturday just a 30 min easy run with some drills and strides. The run was fine, but the drills did not feel so good - especially not the C-drills (butt-kicks).

For the race I even went out to Mission the evening before and stayed at the Best Western so I don't have to stress on Sunday morning. I met up with Catherine and two of her friends Saturday evening for dinner as they were staying at the BW as well. After a nice an relaxing and restful evening and sleep I was totally ready for the race! The leg hurt a little bit but that I was already used to. At the Mission Municipal Hall where the race started and finished I met up with Lara, Megan and Dennis - and later Catherine and friends and some of the others from our group) bright and early and started our warm-up 30 minutes before the race started. The leg felt tight but OK.

At 8:00 AM sharp the half marathon started and I went into a good and comfortable tempo. At around 5k the leg really started bothering me but I thought that's OK and I will ice it well later and take it really easy the next week. The km markers for the half marathon were placed a little erratic, but when I passed the 8k marker I was ahead of my planned pacing by about 2 minutes. That was also around the time where the pain started increasing with every step and my strides shortened step after step. It got to a point where I was just barely shuffling along and searing pain shot up and down my leg with every step.

Needless to say that soon thereafter I ended up walking. Whenever it felt like the pain would decrease a bit I'd try and run again to see if I can get back into it. No such luck... every time it hurt like hell again.

So when I was back at the Municipal Hall (it was a 2x10k loop with an extra 1.1k during the first go-around) I called it quits. I got there just in time to see the start of the 10k race. Then I got myself an ice-pack form the Ambulance and waited to see all our runners finish. Some of them with really nice times!

I suppose a DNF is not the end of the world and it is a quite humbling (and yes, also very depressing) experience. OK, time to ice that bum leg again...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

West - For Free!

We had Dine Out Vancouver reservations at West today at the ungodly time of 5:45 PM. That was the best I could manage for a Saturday night. But what the heck... I have to get up early tomorrow for our Sunday long run anyway. And eating dinner earlier is healthier too, right?

So we drive down Granville Street and noticed that the traffic was really heavy right after 16th. Turns out there is traffic light not working and usually drivers here have trouble counting to four - which then makes the four-way-stop quite challenging of course. In any case, we find street parking near by and arrive right on time.

I thought that we may be the only ones in the restaurant that early... but not to worry. While it was not yet packed, there were already a few diners there. We had reservations for four, but it ended being just the two of us. The friendly hostess asked us to wait a bit while they re-set our table. And while we were waiting we overheard that there was a problem with the power and that parts of the restaurant are in the dark.

We were then let to table 19 -- this the table right in front of the kitchen. Some people may consider this a bad table because of the guest traffic to the washrooms and the general hustle and bustle of the kitchen and wait staff. I however think its the best table in the house - the chef's table! You get to watch the chefs preparing the dishes and still get a view of the entire restaurant.

Since I did not want to drink very much (running tomorrow and I was the driver) I asked our nice waiter for a non-alcoholic aperitif and he got a really yummy exotic fruit cocktail with a great acidity balance. Esther has a glass of BC sparkling wine.

The appetizers were fantastic -- Mosaic of Chicken and Foie Gras for Esther and Slow Cooked Hen’s Egg with Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Soup for me.

Our waiter suggested a glass of Shiraz to go with my main course -- I had the Star Anise Braised Pork Belly and Esther the Wild Mushroom and Ricotta Ravioli; outstanding, absolutely fantastic! While we were chatting and enjoying our outstanding main course, all of a sudden the power went out. Poof! That's all she wrote. Emergency and candle light power only.

It didn't take the manager long to make the call that this is it - restaurant closed for the night! It was just about 7:00 PM now. I think with the power on shaky ground they have been sort of expecting it.

Lucky us, they had started to prepare our desserts already -- Dark Chocolate Caramel Parfait with Banana Blood Orange Mousse for me and Passionfruit and Pineapple Galette with Brown Sugar Lime Sauce and Passionfruit Ice Cream for Esther -- and told us that we will still be served the desserts. Nice!!

Just as we were done, our waiter came and told us that "naturally we would not be charged for our dining tonight as this is not the experience West usually provides". What? Really?? We had enjoyed a full and absolutely flawless meal. I would have understood and appreciated if they had taken the beverages off the bill, but cancelling the entire bill... wow! What an absolutely fine move on the part of the West team. Thank you West!!

So in the end the "ungodly time of 5:45 PM" worked out very much in our favour. Diners arriving at 6:30 PM may have gotten a taste of the fine home baked bread, but that's about it...

Pictures Esther took tonight