My 9 best moments from 2016

I’ve seen this a lot on my friends’ feeds, and figured I maybe should participate (if late).  2016 was not a kind year for many of us, and I had difficulty identifying three things that went well in the year.  I started reviewing photos, and found 6 more!  Here goes my list:

  1. April 2016: Won the BigBlue Healthy Kitchen Wars cooking competition at ODU with the Faculty/Staff team.
  2. May 2016: I got to take my Mom to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens for the LanternAsia exhibit for Mother’s Day (it’s rare for her to be in my area).
  3. May 2016: I got to go to Seattle, WA and give a presentation at the annual Immunology conference!  I’d been wanting to do a talk (rather than just a poster) for a few years.  I’ve also always dreamt of Seattle; I’m a pluviophile, and the city just captured my imagination.  While there, aside from the conference, I got to visit a friend and see the Seattle Japanese Garden which was gorgeous, the Space Needle (so geeky) and the quite stunning Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, the EMP museum, and the Museum of Flight (loved the space exhibits).  It was a great trip filled with amazing food, fantastic scenery, and a lot of really good experiences that I’m glad I had.
  4. July 2016: I got to visit friends and family over the summer; in particular, I went to see Luray Caverns with my best friend.  I’d never been.  It was spectacular.  I have literally hundreds of photos and videos from that (and filled up my phone completely).  They even played the stalactite organ while we were there. We also did the garden maze (and I think we chanted “get through the Labyrinth? Get through the labyrinth?! … movie reference) and the rope adventure park.  You know, for someone who doesn’t like heights, I certainly got some altitude this year!
  5. December 2016: I was a co-author on another manuscript, accepted for publication and published online! Not primary author or senior author, but I’m very happy that some of my data was useful.
  6. September 2016: My 20th high school reunion.  Yikes!  Has it been that long!?
  7. October 2016: Survived Hurricane Matthew (not a highlight) and had a great visit with a friend I haven’t seen in years!
  8. October 2016: Halloween is always a highlight.  I did the Corpse Countess this year and utterly delighted in my costume!
  9. December 2016: I got to visit with my friend, and although the Santa Claus Shuffle did NOT qualify as a highlight, our tour through the Norfolk Botanical Garden of Lights show did!

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From Here to Eternity (5k race)

The sign that started it all...
The sign that started it all…

Earlier this year (in the summer), I realized that my running shoes were getting seriously worn out.  I finally decided to go get new ones.  Ironically, that same day, I saw signs for a 5k race event that was absolutely perfect for me: a 5k run through the Elmwood Cemetery, at twilight, a week before Halloween.  I signed up that night.

Shortly after, I started practicing for that 5k. I know the technical term is training, but I’m not an athlete and “training” seems too serious for a non-runner (me).  Finally, on October 24, 2015, it was race day.  I did opt to run in Steampunk costume. Laughably, nobody thought to get a picture of me BEFORE I was all race-sweaty, so you’ll have to wait to see my Halloween pictures (coming soon).

The run through the Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk, VA (Oct 24, 2015). Image route from my Microsoft Band; blue = slowest, red = fastest.
The run through the Elmwood Cemetery in Norfolk, VA (Oct 24, 2015). Image route from my Microsoft Band; blue = slowest, red = fastest.

Honestly, it was harder going than I expected, partly due to the clothing and partly due to the irregular surface (gravel path and grass).  Despite that, I set a reasonably good pace, but I did end up walking some to catch my breath.

However, my boyfriend and my Mom were there to cheer me on (thanks!) and my boyfriend got video of me crossing the finish line:

My final official finishing time was 39:56.  That was 20th in my age group (30-39), right about in the middle.  I was 5 seconds short of setting a personal record! Although that’s immensely frustrating, I have another race coming up in December to fulfill my New Year’s Resolution goal.  On the plus side, it’s my first race medal!

Finisher's medal and race bib
Finisher’s medal and race bib



Halloween is coming up!  It’s nearly time to carve pumpkins.  One of my coworkers was lamenting her inability to find good, lovely pumpkins… so I went to my traditional place (Mick Shaw’s), which was fantastic. I had a blast.  I decided that video would be easier than pictures–and posted my first YouTube video EVER (gasp!).