Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year! and a bear

WARNING!! Contents may be too unbearably cute; diabetics beware of the sugary sweetness.

My little blue bear arrived safely at the office on Friday. Since I've been so busy I enlisted his help.
No. You can't just sit there and watch! Get to work!

"this one is too big. I need a smaller chair please."

"Hey look! It's me!"

"i before e except after c? this alphabetical filing is hard!"

"poof! another sheet pops out!"

"if you get me better shoes I'll run your next marathon with you"

"this work is hard; I'm taking a break to smell the flowers"

"I wonder if she'll notice if I go out for coffee"

After a long day I brought Jack Frost home to meet the (fuzzy) family. He's very happy in his new home with his cold brother and pretty sister. And the bazillion other bears.

Thank you to the kind folks at my favorite bear company for helping to ease my winter blues! Yes, I know it sounds like a commercial or dumb ad, but I happen to love their bears. No, I don't get a volume discount (although hello, that's a good idea!). If you're tired, or sad, or sick, or injured, or happy, or celebrating, or bored, go to their website and look around. It'll make your day a little bit better.

I hope you all have a safe, fun New Year's Eve and a healthy, happy, prosperous and fuzzy New Year. Cheers to 2008! (::clink!::)

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's so cold ...

... that we're all turning blue here at Great Place to Work, LLC. In fact it seems that our newest worker, Jack Frost, is not only blue but he's fuzzy and sparkly! And dressed way better than the rest of us. Although he showed up this morning for his first day at the office I think he's going to quit as soon as he can. Pictures to come!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh yeah, and there was a trip in there too

It seems like months but it was only three weeks ago that I went to Huntsville, Alabama for a race. There I was worried about it being cold and nasty and here I am where it's all of 31 degrees this bright December morning. Go figure.

I located the local yarn shop, Yarn Expressions, and after the expo on Friday we drove over to check it out. Located in a little strip mall, this was a very pleasant surprise. I did my little walk through, pausing here and there to fondle some particularly soft looking specimens. I hadn't planned on buying anything -- much. I'm only buying special things now, yarn I haven't seen anywhere else.
The first thing I saw that was new to me was this lovely soft alpaca; Alpaca with a Twist, Fino, lace weight 70% baby alpaca/30% silk; 875 yards. Although it isn't my colors (green with browns and white) it was the prettiest, softest thing. I've tried to swear off lace weight but I couldn't resist.

I hadn't seen any Malabrigo Lace before; 100% baby merino wool, ~470 yds in Vermillion. I don't know whether it was the color, the feel, or the Malabrigoness that made me buy this. Probably a bit of all of the above. Mmmmm, Malabrigo .....
I had read about Dream in Color yarn and was happy to finally see some. I bought one skein of Classy in Black Parade, worsted weight 100% superfine Australian merino superwash; very subtle blacks and browns and blues. I'm planning on both swatching and knitting a little scarf to see if I can tolerate it against my skin and then if it works out well, knit the Wonderful Wallaby, the pattern I bought in NY. It's about time I knit something challenging!I also couldn't resist one skein of their Smooshy in Gothic Rose; sock yarn, also 100% superfine Australian merino. The color doesn't show well here but it's beautiful. Yes, I bought it because it's called "Smooshy" and every great named yarn deserves a home in my house. That and the fact that it really is smooshy and soft.The shop was warm and welcoming and the women there were helpful and gracious and full of southern hospitality. My sis was looking for a new project and they assisted with looking for patterns and yarns. Oh! And they were having a big sale too! Added benefit of showing up when we did.

Meanwhile back at the home front, still working long days, not doing anything else right now. Except waiting for my little blue friend to arrive. Tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to all ...

...except for those who don't celebrate Christmas. And to you, cheers and have another glass of wine. Like I'm doing.

Ok, it's not like I've been sitting at home all day and consuming vast quantities of wine and chocolate (like I've been doing most days this week month). I celebrate Xmas, which is like Christmas without any of that messy religious stuff added in. Y'know, only the gifts, food, family and friends that even Jews like me can get behind. Whoohoo, another reason to sleep in and stuff my face.

For about the past 16 years or so I've spent Xmas day with my friend Ellen and her family (who celebrate the real Christmas). Today was no exception and it's something I just love to do. I get few enough chances to see her so a day spent together is a gift in itself. Throw in some good food, wine and a drive to see the holiday lights and it's a perfect day.

I think I'm having some seasonal affective disorder. I can't find any other reason for why I'm feeling so blue. Almost every winter I feel down but it normally doesn't get bad until January or February. I have no energy, no initiative, no get-up-and-go. I really would love to stay in bed until noon, eat for three or four hours, drink a bottle of wine (or Irish coffee) (or Cosmos) (or ... well, you get the picture) and go back to bed. I don't want to exercise, don't want to run, really don't want to work. Give me a bag of chips and a drink and a good book and I'll be in hog heaven. Literally, if I don't snap out of this soon.

Part of my sluggishness is that I've gained weight from all the sit-around-eat-chips-drink-wine stuff that's going on. It's a cycle; the bigger I get the less I feel like moving. For now I'm letting myself wallow in self-misery and not really doing anything about it. But I've set January 6 as the day I'm going to snap out of it.

Why not the 1st? Well, that's too normal. And on the 1st I'll have a hangover and go for a run and then out to breakfast. And I'll eat what I want. It's the middle of the week and I'm a Monday change-your-life kinda gal. January 6 I'll be back to counting points, running, cross training, less wine, no chips, no chocolate, no whining. Well, maybe a little whining, I can't give up everything at once!

And what better way is there to ease the blues? I'm going shopping for something blue!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is it the weekend? Is it the end of the world?

Yeah, I'm much busier than I predicted for this week. Usually the last week of the year is busy for me at work but because of several things, this week sucks is busy too. I'm working longer hours than normal and collapsing with my knitting needles when I get home.

How busy am I? I haven't planned my next marathon. I know a couple of halfs that I'm doing and I'm thinking vaguely about a couple of fulls and I'm anticipating the tri but I haven't done any research or in-depth looking.Haven't made any reservations. Haven't even presented any options to my marathon pals. That is just so not me. I'm more glad than I can say that I decided to skip the January/February marathons. I haven't been exercising and my diet has consisted mainly of chocolate, cheese and wine. Very nutritious.

This will only last, at the worst, for the next couple of weeks. I'm really looking forward to lazing around because I want to, not because I'm too tired to do anything else!

Sunday I'm going to see the Nutcracker with Bree and I'm very excited. It's been years since I've seen it and it's one of my favorite pieces of music. I also like watching the adorable little girls in their pretty dresses and bows and the little fellas in their boy-suits. I'm even determined to stay awake during the performance!

My favorite crack dealers merchants have been bombarding me with emails about their holiday specials. Truly bombarding me; I think I've been getting one email each day (oh yeah, they know a sucker when they see one!). Since I bought a big beautiful bear recently I haven't paid much attention to them, trying to show a little restraint. But they have a new holiday bear that I love and I'm trying not to think about. Too much. But it's like the chocolate and cheese; I have a hard time resisting when I'm this worn out ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Where has all my spare time gone?

When I started blogging I seemed to have several more free hours in the day than I have now. Somehow I managed to fit in the time to talk to myself for many paragraphs at a time and to even toss in a picture or two. Now I'm too busy at work, too busy at home and oh wait, that's all the time there is.

But to catch up, last week after returning from Huntsville I mostly worked hard during the day and went home and fell asleep on the sofa. One night I had the ladies over for stitch n bitch and went the pizza route (which also provided my dinner for the next several nights). At least I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed before they arrived. I did some straightening around the house, read a lot, watched some television, and didn't exercise at all until the weekend.

On Saturday I ran 5.5 miles with my usual group on a changed-on-the-hoof route through the streets of Danville. It was cold and I was miserable and actually almost got lost on the same route we run all the time. It warmed up just a titch before we finished, just in time to all head over and eat a filling breakfast at the Rising Loafer. After stuffing ourselves we dropped by Forward Motion and the Farmers' Market before all heading our separate ways.

Saturday night I helped Olivia celebrate her birthday. She threw a dinner party at her house and it was a blast. The food, company and especially the birthday girl were great. Thank you Olivia and a very happy birthday to you!

I tried on Sunday to be productive but mostly, not. Again I got lots of reading, sleeping, eating and knitting done but I ignored the tasks waiting for me. There's always tomorrow!

I ran again last night with Pam. It was our last run of the year -- boo hoo hoo -- since she's off to visit her family. While she's gone I'll be running on my treadmill and ... yeah, probably not. Let's just say I'll be attempting to run while she's gone and leave it at that.

Have you noticed in the little "Upcoming Events" column that I don't have a race planned? That's right, no races have been set in stone. In fact we haven't even made tentative plans beyond "hey let's run Kaiser" and "I'd like to run Vermont" and "Mount Desert Island in the fall" and "oh sure Claudia I'll do the Pacific Grove Triathlon with you this year." Wait, what? I agreed to WHAT? Do a tri?? Claudia kept pouring wine in my glass on Saturday night and then took advantage of me. Heh. Well, I've always said I have at least one tri in me so I guess this is my chance to prove it. Now I just have to figure out what marathons I'm running next year and fit my tri training around that. Swim?? Bike?? Oh crap.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rocket City Marathon Race Report

I spent the couple of months preceding this race in a tizzy about running in freezing weather. My performance at cold races has been poor and I was very worried about completing the Rocket City Marathon within the six hours allowed.

Although there was online registration, I actually sent in a check to register. This went very smoothly and I soon saw my name on the online confirmation list. About a week before we left for Huntsville, Alabama I received the 2007 race information book. This 60 page tome had information about everything from course maps to local attractions and restaurants. Anything that wasn't included wasn't worth knowing.

The race sold out at 1500 a few days before race day. What a difference from our last race, NYC Marathon. Accordingly we lowered our expectations because some of the small races we've run didn't have all the necessities or amenities. Unnecessarily since almost everything was well done.

The expo was held on Friday and it was open all day (it was also open on Saturday during the race). Like everything else it was held at the host hotel, the Holiday Inn. We headed over there, got our bibs and chips and picked up our shirts. We all know my issues with shirts being loose enough; I had asked for an XXL since they were doing sizing by sex. They also were doing different colors. The female shirt was was a tech fabric pink and like most Nike shirts was tightly fitted. It didn't come in an XXL and the XL wouldn't have fit me on a good day, so I was offered the option to take the blue tech men's shirt. Yeah! I liked that color even better!

We didn't notice until my sis pointed it out that our names were written on the bib. Darn, no anonymity during this race. There really wasn't a goody bag; the bag we got had lots of ads, race fliers, coupons, and nothing else. There also wasn't much in the way of samples at the expo but I didn't really need any extra stuff.

The expo had a number of vendors, several selling incredibly discounted shoes and clothes. I bought a long sleeve tech shirt for $10 and Sandy bought two pairs of shoes at half off the normal price.

Like most southern races this was run on a Saturday morning. Starting time was scheduled for 8:00 am so we got to sleep in a little. My sis got up and left just before our alarms went off; she's more used to early mornings and wanted to get out of town before roads closed. Sandy and I arose, did the morning things, and headed across the street to the start.

There was a bank of porta potties but we walked into the hotel and used the bathrooms inside. When we walked back outside they were calling runners to the starting area so we went to line up. At the back. There were pacers holding signs and we went back behind the last one. Several people hung out back there with us, including one dude dressed up as Mr. Incredible. Yikes, he was going to melt.

Because it was already warm out. At the gun it was about 62 degrees, overcast and pretty darned humid. I ran the race with shorts, a short sleeved top, my buffs and my hat. I tossed the gloves on a curb before we even started. My sunglasses were on top of my head would be pretty useless for most of the day.

The anthem was sung and the gun shot rang out. We were off! With so few people it thinned out pretty quickly. There were people around me but not too many. I tried to run my own race, staying as slow as possible at the start. The race wound around the historic downtown area before heading south.

There was a brief downpour that had me seeing visions of slogging through wet streets like at Erie. Luckily it stopped quickly with only a bit of drizzle for the rest of the day.

The route was the most twisty turny of any race I've done to date. This was done to keep us off busy streets and to help us avoid big hills. There were people at every turn so you could know ahead of time that you'd turn. But not which way. The volunteers weren't standing there with an arm out pointing which way to go. Which we really couldn't expect them to hold out their arm for hours on end but it would have helped pick a tangent. There were arrows painted on the roads before, during and after each turn.

The only long stretch of straight road was from about mile 9-1/2 to about 14-1/2. It was a straight, flat stretch directly into a headwind. A cool wind so I didn't want to complain too much. Well, the complaint would have been in my head, but I still tried to stay cheery. Heh. Yeah, me cheery. Shut up.

Aid stations were were located about every 2-3 miles. They had water and gatorade and one or two stations later in the race had gel. I hit two that closed early, the boy scouts horsing around and ignoring people running by (and getting in our way). The first time that happened I needed to fill my bottle and had to stoop to the curb and grab three cups of water. I felt bad taking so many since there weren't many there, but I needed the fluids. The second closed station didn't even have cups left out. I hoped that there would be some open later and and there were.

At every intersection with possible traffic there were police directing and giving right-of-way to the runners. They were fantastic, and knowing I didn't have to even pause made things even easier. We had been promised six open hours and the police and volunteers were there the entire time.

With a couple of exceptions there were not many spectators. One exception to that was a group picketing a women's health clinic. ::sigh:: I really would have like to brain one of them with their own hateful sign but decided to focus on the race. The other main exceptions were two groups of students from the local high school. The were hilarious. One group actually did the wave for me when I ran by all on my lonesome. The other group yelled and cheered and made lots of noise. It was a great break from the monotony.

Porta potties were available along the route but I didn't have any need. Plus, I was in a hurry and didn't even want to take a minute or two.

Run run run, turn, uphill grade after uphill grade. Nothing big but it seemed to never be flat, always that very slight uphill grade. Turn turn turn, run run and walk. I stuck with 9:1 until mile 16, then went to 4:1, then went to whenever whatever.

I finally pounded across the finish line in 5:57:57 chip time, 5:58:59 on the clock; two whole minutes faster than I thought I would finish. I could hear my name being called as I panted to a stop. I saw the photographer snapping pictures and a woman took charge of me. She put my medal around my neck, led me to the chip removal people and then sheepishly handed me a hat.
Which had "2006 finisher" on it. Wha??? She explained that they ran out of hats and were giving out some old ones they had. Nuh-uh, I wasn't going for that! I wanted my promised premium! I had just run for six hours and I wanted my hat. Yeah, just like a two year old I was ready to pitch a fit and start crying. My handler led me to a harassed looking lady who wrote down my bib number and said she didn't know if they'd be ordering more. Oh yeah, my lips were quivering. I was very very unhappy.

The woman led me further along the way to the water coolers so I could get a cold drink, then took her leave. There weren't any heat sheets but since it was over 70 degrees it wasn't really necessary. I knew it would be a while before I cooled down. Sandy joined me and commiserated about the whole hat thing; she hadn't gotten a current one either. I sent her back to put her name on the list and headed into the hotel toward the food.

I wasn't expecting anything much since the food section was supposed to close at six hours and it was six hours. I wasn't too sure which way to go so I just wandered forward. To my surprise the food tables were still there, loaded with food. I got a lunch bag and put in a nice ripe banana (they had apples and oranges too), then a chocolate moon pie. They had little ice cream sandwiches which I passed up since the cold water had already given me brain freeze. The next two tables had bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly. A volunteer spread my requested cream cheese and strawberry jam on a half bagel and I continued down the line. There was also hot soup that looked too beefy to me to be interesting so I passed. I ate my bagel, found Sandy and we wandered back across the street to get a shower.

After cleaning up we slowly made our way back to the host hotel for the award ceremony. We normally wouldn't bother but this time they were having a random drawing at the end of the ceremony for two $500 cash awards that you had to be present to win. Yup, we'd give up lazing around in bed for that chance. We got back in the middle of the age group awards, found seats and listened to names being called.

The ceremony was kind of mesmerizing. Names called, people weren't there, next name called, next, next. Then horrifyingly a woman started screaming. A man had a seizure. Someone called 911 and the EMS and Paramedics soon arrived and took care of him. It was scary to everyone that this happened but the responders had him lucid and talking before carrying him away for further medical assistance.

After a short speech on the efficacy of prayer (it's the south) the ceremony continued and finally they got to the drawing. Kind of strange how they did it but whatever. The names were called and finally two people were present and collected. It wasn't either of us so we slowly arose and left.

I have very few complaints about this race and lots of positive thoughts; it was one of the best organized and supported that I've run. It would have been nice to get a hat but I got an email last week that they've ordered more and they'll arrive in January. I'll post a picture here when I get it. Or else I'll post an addendum whining that it never came!

My race bear came from the Space and Rocket Center, the largest space museum "on Earth" and a fascinating place to spend some time. Obviously, his name is Rocky!
Funny thing about the medal. When we were wandering around the airport the next day we met up with a young guy wearing the race hat. Yeah, that hat. I told Sandy to distract him while I ran off with his hat. Heh. Instead we all started talking and had lunch together with him. He pointed out that on the back of the medal was written "2007 Rocket City Marathon FINSHER Huntsville, AL." We said yeah, it said finisher. Nope, it says "FINSHER."

In my email thanking the race organizer for such a well run race, I mentioned that most of us hadn't noticed the misspelling. Her reply: "Well that is the first comment on the medal. We meant to do that…it’s a southern thing!"

Bwahahahah; Riiiiight!

ETA: On 1/7/08 I received the finishers hat!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pizza, knitting and a bear

Tonight I had my friends over for a Stitch n Bitch. We hadn't gotten together to knit in a couple of months so it was a chance to show our current projects and eat and drink. Unfortunately, because of the holiday season several friends couldn't make it. As a post-marathon treat (to myself) I decided t'heck with cooking or nutrition and picked up a couple of Costco pizzas and shrimp. Jeanette and Anita brought salads, Olivia brought yummy gingerbread and chocolate cookies and Claudia brought peppermint bark and wine. And a bear.
The Gratuitous Holiday Bear of the Day is a little gingerbread man and this picture doesn't do his cuteness and plushness justice. He's adorable, soft and squishy. Thank you Claudia!

I finished the scarf that was my traveling knitting project. It's knit with Karaoke by SWTC, Inc. It's 50% soy silk/50% wool, made in China. I used 2 skeins of the Black Rose for the scarf and it's shorter than my usual 6-7 footers (intentionally). I was lazy and instead of just figuring out a nice easy cable scarf I used a pattern I found from The Karaoke Cable Scarf was very simple and made a great traveling project. I used size 8 needles and I'm glad; the 7 would have been too tight. The colors in the picture aren't true, especially the brightest red. I was annoyed by the first ball; there was a break in the yarn so the black didn't repeat at all, but I think there's enough black in the finished scarf. I wore it to work and it was toasty warm in my freezing office. I'm trying to decide whether I'll block it since it would open up well, but I'm sure lethargy will rule.I'm hoping to get to the race report this weekend; with long days at work I haven't had a chance to even think about it. Or to write a letter asking for my finisher's hat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Busy at home, busy at work. We're expanding our office space and this is moving time. The next week or couple of weeks or month (or longer) will be moving time. And at home I'm still unpacking and putting away stuff from the weekend. Last night I got all my pictures off my camera onto the computer but I haven't had a chance to look at them yet.

I'm working on thinking about my race and weekend reports and hope to have them up soon - before I forget which city I was in and which race I ran!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Change in plans

I'm back, safe and tired, from warm humid Huntsville, AL. The weekend and race reports will follow this week, but in a nutshell it was a long, tiring weekend with some wonderful and some strange parts. My sis joined us for a way too short visit on Friday for our wandering around the city. I finished the Rocket City Marathon in 5:57:57 chip time. The last 80-100 people finishing the race (including Sandy and me) didn't get the promised finisher's premium, a running cap (and that's not even counting the almost 50 runners who apparently didn't finish, nor the almost 200 who registered and apparently didn't show up at the start). For shame!

The power was out in the hotel, and in a large part of the city, when we got up at 4:05 am to catch our flights home. Luckily we had packed the night before because although the common areas of the hotel were lit by a generator, our room was pitch black. Our flights connected through Dallas/Fort Worth and the winter weather in the mid parts of the country caused our second flight to leave an hour late. It's good to be home!

I had an epiphany while I was tossing and turning in bed on Friday night, before the race. Sandy and I had gotten caught up in the numbers thing. Huntsville would complete our 4 in 4 in 4 (4 marathons in 4 states in 4 months) and we were anxious to continue that through 6 in 6 in 6. Our tentative plan was to run Rock 'n' Roll Arizona in January (even though we've both run an Arizona full marathon) and to run probably Austin in February (although Sandy ran the full already). Then we'd have "bragging rights" to 6 in 6 in 6. But what the hell? I certainly have nothing to prove, to myself or to anyone else. The whole 4/4/4 thing is in itself pretty incredible, especially to someone who only started running 8 years ago. Huntsville was my 30th marathon (good grief: 30th marathon! Can you believe that?) and I will hopefully continue to run several more each year.

But I'm tired. Deep, bone tired. Tired of getting up in the middle of the night to catch a plane to or from a race; tired of the logistics and planning; tired of not being able to sleep in hotels; tired of the whole travel thing; tired of running 26 miles. I need to get back a little of the wonder, a little bit of the specialness of the marathon experience. I love running (and finishing) marathons, and the excitement, and the new courses, and the new states, new cities, new people, (new medals), all the hoopla. So I'm taking a break and ditching the 6/6/6 plans. 2008 is time for a fresh start and better training (no, really) (no, I'm serious) (quit laughing) (stop it).

Come March though and I'm off and running again! Watch out 'cause here I come!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

They're havin a heat wave

My biggest concern for the race this weekend was the possibility, or probability, of cold weather. Because of my asthma (and because I'm a wuss) I find it incredibly hard to run in sub-freezing temps. I'm been fretting for the past couple of months since we decided to run this thing. I didn't start watching their local weather until last week and it didn't look good. Until now.

Last night I set out many choices of clothing to take with me: shorts, capris, long pants, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, accessories, jacket. Tonight I'm going to have to put a sleeveless top in the pile too. As of this morning the forecast is for a low of no colder than low 50's with a high approaching 70. And medium to high humidity. Wow. Not in the least what I'm mentally prepared for. Very strange but I'm not complaining.

Once I finished the last Temescal Bag I needed a project for traveling. Since it's cooled off here I'm looking for scarves to wear every day. I've been knitting a simple double cable scarf with a wool/soy yarn but I think I'll probably finish it in the middle of the trip. I couldn't take the chance of not having a project on the plane so I went through the stash and decided that my next project will be another scarf, using the silk/cashmere yarn that I got in New York at School Products. I'm going to make a very simple ribbed scarf out of it, doubling the yarn. I think it'll turn out very nice.

I won't be posting again until after the race; see you then!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting ready

It's a bleary morning. Rainy, foggy, cool. Must be winter, or nearly so. I'm trying not to whine about it since we so desperately need rain. At least I won't have to run in it today or tonight.

I'm keeping a close watch on the weather predictions for Saturday. I've been worrying myself to a frazzle because of the possibility of freezing weather. We all know I don't run well in freezing temps. Well, not to worry. I think I may have to worry about being too warm. The current forecast has it going from the mid-40's to the mid-60's. Excellent. I've gone from planning to wear heavy pants and a jacket and warm accessories to thinking about wearing short and a short sleeved shirt. I'll pack everything, just in case of last minute changes. I don't want to have to buy stuff while I'm there.

Last night Pam, Olivia and I ran our short short route. I like running at night this time of year because of the holiday lights. They're fun to look at and they brighten the route. I started out running faster and slowed down midway. That's when Olivia sped up. Heh. She really picked it up after the last light with Pam and I trailing behind, refusing to be left alone. We're going to have to work on coordinating our speed.

In celebration of the First Night of Hanukkah the Gratuitous Bear of the Day is a Hannukah bear. He has little dreidels on his feet and a sort of yarmulke on his head. I'm not sure why he's blue, maybe someone stole his gelt. Or maybe he burned his little paw on the menorah. Happy Chanukah to all and watch for dripping candle wax!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bah Humbug and a Bag

No, I'm not being Scrooge-ish, I'm talking about the City of San Ramon's annual 5k winter race, the Bah Humbug. Like most of their races, this is decidedly on the lower end of the scale. There's not even a start line; people cram up along the street, the gun goes off (I guess, I didn't hear anything) and people start running, walking and skating. I'm not sure the last one is approved but several small kids had roller shoes. There are many families, many strollers, many dogs, and a few serious runners trying to get around them all. My goal was to run as hard as I could for as long as I could.

It was a cool morning but not as cold as I had hoped. I was trying to see how I'd feel running hard in weather 30-40 degrees. Since the race didn't start until 9am it was already in the low 40's. I was overdressed in a long-sleeved shirt and long tights but when the wind blew (which it did pretty hard in certain directions) I was glad to pull the sleeves down. I was surprised when my first mile split was 11:50. Not knowing where the official start line was I had started my watch when I started moving and I think it was before the official "line." I was breathing hard, probably scaring all the people around me with my wheezy inhales, but I was ok so I kept going. My second mile split was crazy, 11:31. I knew I was going too fast, but decided I'd only take a walk break when I got to the water stop. But there was no water stop at all on the course so I didn't take any walk breaks, running the whole time. My last mile was even more bizarre, 11:06! The final tenth was 1:04 but I had to stop just before the finish line because they were lining up the finishers to get their tear-tags from their bibs.

My finish was 35:30, nowhere near a PR for me but a darn sight faster than I've been running lately. This was by far the hardest I've run and the fastest race I've completed in a while. Shoot, it's been about 3 years since I've had anything like this 11:25 average. I know the course is marked correctly, I've run it several times. The absolutely worst part of the race was the finish. I was in the finish shoot for 9 full minutes, inching along. Not the smartest thing to do after a hard run and sprint. I know the race was full of newbies but they could have been moved along faster. I still hadn't gotten any water and my head was spinning. Sheesh. My lungs were sore too, from the accumulated schmootz in the office all week and sucking in the cold air.

I was impressed with the spread afterward though, once they finally let us through the line. There was water and some coffee, oranges and bananas, bagels and muffins, and ice cream. Yeah, it was in the upper 40's by then and we were eating ice cream. Including me, I had half an ice cream sandwich while I cooled down enough to get in my car. I was disappointed because in past years Starbucks has been there passing out small cups of their Peppermint Mocha. I had been looking forward to that.

The shirt is a long-sleeved white cotton shirt with a very cute logo on it. I think probably the entire race fee ($25-$30) goes to the licensing fee for using the Grinch. They also hand out a cute ornament to all finishers.I missed running with all my buddies but I couldn't have run as fast if I had been socializing. None of them felt like coughing up the high price for this low-rent race and I couldn't really blame them. But I was very happy with my own effort and performance.

I gave the finished Temescal Bag to my friend on Friday in time for her birthday. I was a little nervous about giving it to her. We've been co-workers for almost 18 years and for most of that have been friends. We've had some bad times when we weren't friends though. She's a quilter and does beautiful work and has a great eye and feeling for color. She had picked out the colors and we used the random color generator for the stripes. The rest of it was up to me. I finished knitting the bag on Tuesday and felted it. By Friday morning only the bottom was still damp but I couldn't wrap it so I just put it in one of the fancy bags they sell at Whole Foods. With a bow on it. Heh.
I ended up using a little over 8 skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Avocado, Amethyst Heather, Dove Heather, Mist and Coal. The colors aren't quite right here; the dark gray isn't this blue. I used the size 13 Options needles and again did the extra repeat on the bottom to make it a bit bigger. I really didn't like how the colors looked together pre-felted, I thought the transitions were too bold.I put it through the heavy duty cycle 1-1/2 times to get it to felt as much as I wanted. After the first time I noticed that the purple had run onto the light gray so I used one of those color catcher sheets the second time and it cleaned that up. I think the shrinkage was very comparable to the last bag. I enjoyed knitting it thoroughly; it's mindless and turns out nicely.
My friend was thrilled! She was very happy with the bag, the colors, the workmanship. Whew! I'm glad I was able to return the favor for her. Several years ago she made me a gorgeous quilt in my colors and she's made me a fuzzy bathrobe and a quilted bag. It's about time I was able to give her something that I had made!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ya can't name him that!

You may have noticed that I name most of my teddy bears. When you have as many as I do you start giving them very original names like "Brown Bear" or "Bear with Hat." Well, I'm sure as heck not gonna be taking any of my bears to Sudan, just in case the Sudanese authorities don't approve of the bear's name. A teacher was just sentenced to 15 days in prison for naming the class bear after a religious figure. Apparently she insulted their religion and incited hatred. Frankly, if the religion is that unstable that naming a stuffy after their leader is a cause for alarm then I think they have more problems than just the little teddy. I haven't named a bear Jesus or Moses or God or Krishna or Zeus but that doesn't mean that I won't in the future when I'm really digging for a suitable name. Remind me not to run the Sudanese Marathon and get a bear!

Brown Bear

I skipped my workout last night so I could go get a pedicure with Claudia. It was a good chance to catch up with her and as a benefit my nails are nice and short and my feet smooth. My nails have finally grown in enough to be polished although they didn't need any trimming. Nice to finally have 10 toenails again. Too bad my fingernails are all broken, but it saved me from having to get a manicure too.

I won't be running tonight (darn?) because we're having an office dinner event. Yeah, I'd rather eat than run, what of it? I got up early and did my lower body workout tape instead. Words of wisdom from Amy: after a good leg workout, wearing heels is not a great idea. Especially when you usually wear flats. I was pretty wobbly on my feet when I got to work. Good thing my job mostly involves sitting down!

I started a new knitting project last night. No, I didn't pick up one of my old projects that are waiting for me to finish them. No, it's not a gift for someone. It's a scarf for me - more info on it later!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Looking for a good race

With only one race planned in the near future I'm finding myself restless and antsy and ready to sign up for something else. The only problem is the dearth of races in the winter - gee, I wonder why. As I'm the first to whine about running in the cold (or the wet, or the extremely hot) I fully understand why only southern states have winter marathons. Unfortunately we've run in all the states with January races and even though I keep saying I'm not doing the 50-states thing, it seems silly to go back to states when there are so many I've never been to.

I spent some time last night looking at races listed on marathonguide and one by one narrowed the list down to two: PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona and ING Miami. I've already run the RnR, the inaugural year, and it was ok. Miami has mostly positive reviews. Both would cost serious bucks (well, not compared to New York, but still). I just can't decide, but I'd really like a January marathon. I haven't even begun to look at February yet, but for March it seems like Napa will finally have a six hour time limit so I may do that before they change their minds. Or maybe Little Rock.

Last night I finished the Temescal Bag; I wove, tied and/or cut all the ends, stuffed it in a bag and put it in the washer. I hadn't felted any WotA so I didn't know how fast or tight it would go. I love how it turned out. The felting made the edges of the colors blend into each other and they look great together. I even like how the straps look. It's hanging to dry now and will probably take a couple of days but it should be ready to gift on Friday. I'll post pictures after gifting it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(Don't) Light my fire

There was a meeting last night in Livermore, given by (I think) the Air Quality Board, regarding wood fires and pollution. There's a move afoot to ban personal wood fires in homes if the air quality is sucky (wording here is mine, not the Board's). While some people, including yours truly, would jump for joy at such a ban (and actually be able to, since the air would be clear enough to breathe), others feel it infringes upon their personal liberty and privacy. Uh, yeah. And the inability to drive a car in California without a catalytic converter is an infringement too. Suck it up wood burners, you're a worse cause of pollution than a '68 Ford.

Speaking of bad air quality, last night I ran with Pam and Olivia. Welcome back Liv! Missed ya! I didn't have high hopes for a good run since I had gotten notice of a "Spare the Air" night but figured that 3-ish miles wouldn't kill me. So we're running along, I'm blathering about something or other, and Pam asks me why I'm in such a hurry. Uh, I wasn't? I absolutely can't pace when I can't breathe well. I mean, since I'm wheezing anyway I figure it isn't because I'm going too fast, it's because the air is bad. So I slowed down (and still had trouble breathing but not as bad).

We got closer and closer to the end (and I'm still blathering about something), and we all sped up. I sped up more, they sped up. Any time either of them got a step in front of me, I ran faster. In a blur of speed (heh) we turned the corner, faster faster, then I finished right ahead of them. Good thing I hadn't told them I was racing since either of them could beat my socks off without trying. It wasn't our fastest short short run, but it was on the speedy side.

In a great burst of productivity I finished knitting the Temescal Bag last night. I'm not sure I like how I did the straps and I think the stripes looked better on paper, but I hope it'll look much better when felted. I still need to do all the finishing, weaving and tying off the (millions of) ends. I'd like to gift it on Friday but I don't think it'll be dry by then. We'll see.

The Gratuitous Bear of the Day is another twofer. These little tiny bears, just a couple of inches each, tend to fade into the background of the bigger bears. But Tiny Panda and Tiny Polar are still cute!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Eating and sleeping and running, oh my!

Nothing like a nice long weekend to refresh the batteries and be incredibly productive. That was the idea, although only partially successful in execution.

Thanksgiving morning I had a nice 5 mile run with Pam and Bree. We extended our usual route in Danville and then had to run around in a small circle to get the final bit of mileage. It was cold, crisp and a good morning for a run.

I spent the rest of the day at Ellen's house. It was a small gathering this year, just Ellen, her boyfriend, her daughter and me. There of course was enough food for about eight additional people. She had bought her turkey at Costco and it was 24 pounds. Yeah, for 4 of us. Way too much, even if if had been the only food there. Which it wasn't. We talked, ate, drank and had a great time. It was nice getting all caught up with everyone.

Because it was so big, there was still lots of meat on the turkey carcass so I took it home for soup. That hadn't been on the agenda for Friday but I just couldn't see it going to waste. Friday morning I chucked it in a pot with some water, onions and carrots and left it to simmer down. I skimmed the fat on Saturday, simmered it some more, skimmed it again on Sunday and added some lentils, veggies and spices. Yum, dinner for the whole week!

I spent Friday night at my bro's house. He was serving mostly leftovers, with a fresh turkey and fresh appetizers. I brought a salad -- ok, the makings for a salad, he threw them together. A few other friends came bearing even more food including an assortment of fresh oysters. My goal was to carefully watch what I ate and to drink only one glass of wine; I had noticed all the CHP's on the freeway and also knew I was getting up early for a long run. The food was incredibly good but I left before dessert was served -- too much temptation and it was getting late (late in relative terms, actually pretty early if I wasn't planning on rising at 5am).

And rise I did, feeling just a little off. I didn't think it could have been the food since I had been sensible about what I had so I chalked it up to lack of sleep. I did the morning stuff and headed down to the Alameda Creek Trail in Fremont to meet the other idiots sensible runners. Although I was exactly on time at 6:45 am they were all set and waiting for me. That doesn't usually happen, normally I'm the first to arrive.

It was cold (about 38 degrees according to my car), which I kept telling myself was good training for Rocket City. But I had a feeling from my first steps that it wasn't going to be a good run. I felt sluggish and stiff and heavy. I covered my mouth with my buff and breathing warmed air helped a bit. I knew the group wouldn't stay together for too long. Although I'm slowest, Anita will normally stay with me. Pam and Mary Ann start talking and running faster and faster, and which group Sandy stays with depends on how she's feeling. For the most part she stayed with Anita and me. By the time we finished the first 10 mile leg I was toast. I just wanted to crawl in my car, turn on the heat and go to sleep. But I didn't. We chatted for a couple of minutes and then Sandy and I headed off in the other direction.

I knew that running an additional six miles was probably a very bad idea. We went one mile, then another half, then another half, then called it a day and turned around. I was afraid that if I was three miles from the cars I'd never make it back. Actually, I knew I'd make it back, there wasn't any question that I could have run that extra mile, but I was afraid that it would take so much out of me that two weeks until the race wouldn't be enough time to recover. We stuck to the 9:1 run:walk the entire time, with only the last couple of uphills being an exception. We finished 14 miles and decided that would have to be enough. I think it was a smart move.

That afternoon I slept for four hours. Sound asleep in bed. I woke up stiff and a bit sore from the run, feeling like I had a cold coming. Great timing. Although if I get a cold now, it'll be gone by the race.

I've been wanting to pack away some of the items I have on display shelves in my family room. Although I love everything and love to look at all my stuff all the time, there's too much and it's a pain to clean. Don't tell anyone, but I haven't dusted those shelves for a couple of years, there's just too much to move and everything is tiny and delicate. First I had to find a good storage container and luckily I had one stuffed with cheap holiday decorations. Those mostly went in the trash, except for the lights I planned to hang outside (and never got around to). Then I spent several hours Saturday night carefully packing away delicate glassware and other things. Then I'd go through a couple of shelves elsewhere and sort those, then other sorting and packing and throwing away. I'm not done (and the shelves are still not dusted) but I made lots of headway.

I'm almost done knitting the Temescal Bag, I just have one strap and finishing and felting left. It's been nice this weekend having something simple to knit while I socialized but I'm kinda looking forward to knitting something else. Something more in my colors. Hmm, what's next?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I'm thankful

I am thankful for:

Sue (and of course Tracy)
Mom Ron Carol Mac
My other family
My dear friend Ellen (at whose home I'll be celebrating today)
My oldest friend Carol
My running friends
My knitting friends
My running and knitting friends
My friends who used to run with me
My friends who don't knit or run with me
My health and physical capabilities
My job
My home
My bears
My yarn
My abundant stuff
The ability to do almost anything I want, anywhere, at any time
The knowledge that I am whole, complete, and content

Seventeen years ago I was miserable, anxious, bereft and lonely. I would never have imagined then that things could turn out so well. Thank you all for helping me to find happiness. My life would be so much less without your friendship and support.

Happy Thanksgiving!Bear hugs to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not much to say

This is a quick work week, trying to get five days' work done in three. The contractors are making an unholy mess in the office, stirring up dust and schmootz from decades past. It'll be great once it's done but now it's noisy and dirty and messy and not very good for anyone who has an interest in breathing.

I decided to take a night off last night; my legs are feeling better today but last night they were still pretty sore. I think I'll do that cross-training tape again tonight, run tomorrow and, take Friday off and do the long run on Saturday. Hopefully any soreness from cross-training will be gone this weekend.

I'm glad (?!?) that it's cooled down so much because now we get to do a long run with long pants and warm tops as practice for Rocket City. It'll probably be in the low to mid-40's when we start running on Saturday, which still is warmer than I'm expecting in Huntsville. The cold is the only part of that race I'm worried about but I'm trying to just let it go and think about the trip and seeing my sister instead freaking myself out.

I'm about half done with the Temescal Bag. I'm not sure I like how the colors are turning out, they looked better on the computer with the random stripe generator. I think that it'll look better after felting but I'm glad I'm giving this one away.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Smells like fall

Brrrr, it cooled way down overnight. According to my trusty car thermometer it was 42 degrees at 8:00 am today. Pam and I could feel it getting cooler while we ran our short short route last night and could see our breath when we stretched afterward. It was nice weather for running, except people are burning logs and spewing smoke which makes my breathing a bit tougher. However, the biggest obstacle last night was the cross-training tape I'd done on Sunday morning. It still feels like someone took a swift kick to my glutes and then tightened up my hamstrings. Ouch.

Yesterday I overhead a woman at work making some comment about It got me to thinking. I'm extremely happy with my singleness. Singletude. Singleosity. Whatever you call it. I enjoy living alone without anyone to answer to, anyone to tell me what to do, anyone making demands upon me. But every once in a while it just works better to be one of a pair. I'm so over dating and don't tend to meet any qualified men on the street or in the grocery store so what, put my own ad on some dating service? I think it would run something like this:
Cranky, middle-aged overweight woman with very little free time seeks independently wealthy streetable man for infrequent social occasions. Must be available on a whim and out of sight otherwise. Liberal marathon runner with a good sense of humor a plus.
Yeah, that'd go over well. I can see the offers pouring in right now. I guess I'll just stick with "one, please!"

I knit more of the Temescal Bag last night after our run, getting a couple of additional stripes done. At this rate it'll be done by the weekend and I can felt it early next week. The Wool of the Andes is a pleasure to knit with and the size of the bag is keeping my lap warm while I knit.

I realized last night that I get to sleep in on Friday; there is absolutely nothing going on deep sale on Black Friday that I need to buy. Or even that I really want to buy. Sure, there are a couple of things I covet but they won't be on sale at all. So yay, this year I don't need to fight the crowds!

Monday, November 19, 2007

OnStar of India?

As I was inching along in traffic this morning I decided to multi-task and renew my subscription to OnStar. When I bought my Saturn last year a one-year subscription was included with the price of the car. I had purchased a block of phone minutes and so I figured this year what the heck, might as well renew the service in case I drive into a wall and I need someone to help. Plus, I like when my car sends me a monthly self-diagnostic letting me know if any service is necessary. So I pressed the little button and told the nice woman that I wanted to renew on an annual basis instead of being charged monthly (save money!); she put me on hold for customer service.

[Ok, what the heck is going on here? Twice this post has self-posted while I'm writing. Stop it! I'm not done yet!]

Continuing .... after a couple of minutes a new voice came over the radio. Hmmm, interesting. It sounded like I'd been transferred to a call center. In India. Maybe it's just this one man hired at whereeveritis in the US. He took my information, continually calling me "Mrs. Gxxx" which always tends to piss me off since (1) I wasn't ever married to a Mr. Gxxx and (2) it's 2007; if you don't know if I'm a Miss, Mrs. or Dr. then call me Ms.!! Or just don't keep using my name in every sentence. He told me the only way my phone minutes would transfer over is if I bought more. I had been told last year that if I extended my subscription the minutes would transfer automatically so I was irked. Especially since I hadn't used any of said minutes. He said I'd have to speak with a supervisor and he put me on hold again.

After a couple more minutes another man came on the line; definitely outsourced. I had trouble understanding anything this man said and had to keep asking him to repeat himself. He grudgingly said he'd renew my minutes for one year from today (instead of until the end of my renewal period, which huh?) but it was a one-time only deal, Mrs. Gxxx. Whatevs. I just hope if I drive into that wall that someone a little closer to home is monitoring my car!

I had a great, productive weekend. Saturday morning I ran 10 miles on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail with our group. Pam, Anita and Mary Ann turned around after 4 but Sandy and I needed the hill between 4-5 miles so we kept going. We pretty much kicked ass on the return trip even though we were tired. Probably that's why the last mile was our fastest of the day. The fact that it's a down grade in that direction didn't hurt any either. We kept to a steady 9:1 the whole way, even on the hills. When we got back to the parking lot the ladies were still hanging around gabbing and we joined them for -- dang, I think it was at least another half hour before we all got cold and hungry enough to get in our cars and leave.

When I got home I quickly had a bite to eat then headed outside to do more yard work. I know, two weeks in a row! This must be some kind of record! I dug up the other plant in the front yard that I hated, being very very careful not to shovel straight through my irrigation system. Then I got distracted pulling grass out of the flower beds. Something the gardeners refuse to do, along with being somehow unable to keep the border clear. A couple hours of doing garden squats, after the two hour run, had my legs trembling like a tree in the wind. Sunday I bought a couple of azaleas that I hope my gardeners will dig into the ground; I'll probably end up planting them after my long run next weekend.

I got a lot of knitting done this weekend. My hand is feeling better, still getting stiff and sore after using it but at least I can use it. The Temescal Bag is coming along beautifully. What an easy project, just pay enough attention to switch colors when the random stripe pattern says and knit away. At this rate I'll have it done on time, even though it may still be wet when I gift it. While I'm knitting in circles I'm dreaming of lovely lacy scarves and shawls that I'll knit next. I have lots of ideas.

I'm glad this is a short work week even though it'll put me way behind at work. I'm hoping that I'll get lots done around the house but my gut feeling is that I'll just run and get lots of rest. We'll see!

I got the Gratuitous Bear of the Day from my mom, who got it from the San Diego Zoo when the Polar Bear Plunge opened. She attended the grand opening celebration for donors and was given this very cute little guy. He's got his heavy arctic parka and booties to keep him warm ... in my nice heated house!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yay Friday

I'm ready for the weekend, are you? My house has been screaming at me to clean parts, straighten others, do some more yard work, get rid of piles of things. I'm looking forward to a long run on Saturday with the gang and sleeping in on Sunday.

I'm also looking forward to just sitting on my butt and knitting for hours on end. Ok, maybe just hour on end, since my hand is still sore and stiffens up quickly. Last night I finished the bottom of the Temescal Bag and I'm ready to start moving up the striped body. I'm a little annoyed with the yarn. Not intrinsically, but since I'm double-stranding I need to rewind the bitty balls so they don't twist while knitting. I'm using KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight (and follow those links at your peril, the holiday shopping season is at hand!) which I love to knit but the way they're wound makes it impossible to use the outside strand and the inside strand without causing a horrific tangle. And since they're only 110 yards that involves a hecka lot of winding.

Pam wasn't able to run last night so I wasn't looking forward to another night of trying to convince myself to move while ensconced on the sofa. Luckily Sandy wanted to run so she sat in traffic for a very long time and met me out at Danville. We did a slightly longer version of the short short run, going just over 4 miles. I felt bad that she ended up driving more than we ran but I wasn't really in the mood to go longer than that. Hey, it's dark out! As it was, my light started to fade as we were running along the darkest part of the trail. My new head lamp is crappier than I thought; I'm going to have to change the batteries in my old lamp and start using that instead.

Ok, I have to go back and look at KnitPicks website and see what kind of trouble I can get into! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Still trying

I didn't run last night. I didn't cross train. I thought about it though. Somehow I've got to convert my thoughts into action and start moving my body. I plan and then don't execute. It's probably because it's dark when I get home and I just feel like napping. And with all the construction at work my lungs and sinuses are stuffed and breathing isn't great. Tonight darn it! Tonight I'll do something active!

Although still sore my hand is well enough to start knitting again. I started another Temescal Bag, casting on and knitting most of the bottom. I was pretty happy to knit again, even though my hand wasn't always cooperative. I'm making this bag for a woman I work with; her birthday is the beginning of December and I'm hoping to get it knit, felted and dried on time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New York City Marathon race report

I've been strangely, totally resistant to writing up this race report. Not sure why, maybe I just needed some distance. No pun intended. Hang in there for 26.2 miles and then some!

The ING New York City Marathon is one of the largest, if not THE largest, marathons today. According to their brochure they received 90,000 applications for 38,000 spots in the race. Their website is very complete, registration and the lottery fairly easy. Only the "last minute" snafu of construction on the starting bridge raised any fuss. They sent out an email a couple of days before the race warning people not to count on any transit the morning of the race (including their own buses) except for the Ferry.

We went to the expo on Saturday morning. It was great, easily the biggest I've been to. Not necessarily the most booths or the most vendors, but the classiest and most expensive merchandise around. As I mentioned before, the Javits Convention Center is huge and the expo took up a large part of it. Packet pickup was well organized and quick. I got my number and chip, and went to the shirt counter and got my very orange, very large tech shirt. I'll run in that one, no problem. But at night. Dang, it's probably fluorescent it's so bright. The goody bag had the usual tons of paper and ads and coupons and a few other things.
The branded merchandise for sale was abundant and not too overpriced. I got a running cap (don't I always?) in a steel blueish/dark grayish color and a pair of gloves with the name of a borough on each finger. I'll probably never wear them but they're pretty neat. They had shirts, jackets, shorts, pants, bags, everything you could possibly want. I didn't really want anything so I moved on.Every major athletic or running-related vendor was there, with large booths with lots of merchandise. I found a water resistant pouch to carry my camera while I was running, in pink to boot. I tried and tried and tried not to buy anything else but couldn't stop myself. As an impulse buy I got the Timex Ironman iControl for iPod system; wireless iControl watch for the iPod. Ok, it's not as if I need another Ironman watch, I already have them in more than 7 colors. And it's not as if I run with my iPod too often and when I do I have the Nike+ thingamabobby that I usually don't use, and I have my Garmin if I really need a toy while I run. A little buyer's remorse here.

But it was hecka fun buying it! We roamed booth to booth, and realized the one thing we didn't see was plain old Body Glide. The normal catch-all vendors, selling a little bit of everything, weren't there. Sucked for people trying to buy the simple stuff, like Bree who needed some BG for the race.

Bree and I spent a long time at the expo going up and down aisles, checking out the merchandise, but finally met up with the rest of the gang and caught a bus back to the hotel area.
Our group had a disagreement about what time we'd meet up in the morning and so we split into two groups. My experience (heh heh) has made me very cautious about arriving on time, but they were just going way too early. As it was, my alarm went off at 4:00 am after a restless night. The time changed with the end of Daylight Savings Time and for some reason I was worried that the supposedly automatic clock in the room and my phone wouldn't change. Big whoop, that would only mean I'd be an hour early for everything. But I couldn't convince my brain to ignore the issue. As it turned out my phone changed time but the clock didn't. I did my morning stuff, then I met Bree and Lindsay in the lobby and we headed out to catch a train.

After a couple of blocks Bree realized she didn't have her bottle and she ran back to her room. It wasn't a big deal, we were so early I had no doubt we'd get there on time. After she returned we followed the crowds in what they thought was the right direction. I had no idea, my normal directional dyslexia was acting up and I could have gone in circles without figuring where I was. We realized we were at the long long line of buses that we weren't taking - and couldn't take since we were meeting Monica at the Ferry Terminal. We turned ourselves around and found the right subway entrance and got on a train with a few other runners. Right train, wrong train; we weren't sure. A local finally convinced us that we weren't going to be able to get to the Ferry so all the marathoners disembarked and started waiting with a much bigger crowd at another station.We waited for about 10-15 minutes for the next train and then quickly got to the Ferry Terminal where we met up with Monica. It was full, but not horribly crowded. We sat down near the front so we'd get good seats and were among the first to board once the Ferry arrived. It was a fun ride, affording us a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty in the sunrise. Too cool!
The ride took less time than we'd thought and all of a sudden we were trying to get out of the Terminal on Staten Island. We lost Linds and Monica while they got coffee and figured we'd meet up later. There was an orderly crowd piling up to get on one of a long line of buses; I wasn't in any hurry since I knew we'd just have more waiting ahead of us.

A short ride, a short walk, and we found Sandy who led us to the rest of the group, all of them wrapped up in blankets and extra clothes. It was chilly, bordering on cold. There were stands with coffee, tea, hot water, bagels, cold water, bananas. Lots of banks of porta potties with lines starting to form in front. The areas were marked with colors and corral numbers and it seemed to be clearly marked for the start.We sat and lay around for a couple of hours wrapped in our throw-away blankets and sweats and gloves and chemical hand warmers, then finally decided to check our sweats. Bad idea to wait that long. There was a very narrow road, blocked with a fence on one side and a drop-off on another, leading to the UPS trucks. People were trying to go in both directions and it was total gridlock. It was horrible, we were literally stuck in one place for over 20 minutes without being able to move a muscle. People were getting very nasty and pushing and crowding. We made our way to the edge and worked our way up to the trucks. I couldn't see mine so I stuck my bag into Bree's and she tossed hers up. One more stop at the porta potties and we walked over to our corral in the orange start.The kid manning the line between our corral and the ones in front was relentless; nobody was getting by this little self-important nitwit. Even once we started compacting and walking forward he wouldn't let anyone by. Geez, lighten up! I was with Bree and Sandy and we could see the others in front of us, but couldn't get their attention and the little git wouldn't let us by.

We kept walking, then went through a gap in a fence. Was that the start? There were clothes and plastic bags everywhere. Most people started running, past the elite waiting areas, unsure whether we had officially started. We went a little farther, then way ahead on the Verazanno Narrows Bridge we saw the real start. The crowd had surprisingly thinned out by then although there were oodles of people everywhere. We finally crossed the mats and it was on!Bree and I planned on running 4:1, going easily and taking pictures along the way. We were both secretly (or maybe not so secretly) hoping for sub-6, but would take what we got. This was my first race with a camera and I wasn't sure how it would go. As it turned out, pretty well! We ran along the bridge, watching people (male and female) off to the side peeing. Nice. Way down in the water was a fire boat shooting out streams of water in the race colors. All we could see in front and in back and to the side of us were more people, running and walking along.
That bridge lasted forever. Really, we're still there. No, it finally peaked and after a mile we started downhill toward the end of it into Brooklyn. We ran through Brooklyn for a long time, the different color starts running on different sides of the street. Lots of people, lots of cheering crowds. Just before the 8 mile mark there was a jog to the left for the orange runners; lots of people obviously skipped it since we were just about the only ones there. We felt very righteous going the extra way. After that we shared the street with faster runners and it suddenly got very crowded with lots of people trying to pass us.

There were abundant water stops with boisterous support crews handing out water and gatorade (or some facsimile). By the time we got to them the ground was covered with pulped, slippery cups so we walked or ran very carefully through each of them.
After a couple of hours my breathing was getting ragged, my asthma acting up. Going slower helped so we slowed down a little. We passed the 13.1 marker, in the middle of the bridge between Brooklyn and Queens, in good time and feeling ok. At every 5k and at the half were timing mats; you could have your times texted to anyone you wanted. As we headed into Queens Bree got a text from a friend congratulating her on being headed toward a sub-6 hour finish. I asked if she could text and run at the same time and told her to text back "bite me!" She did, and Karma decided to bite back.

We turned a corner, went around a bend, and I found myself going airborne. It felt like slow motion as I went down, thinking "oh CRAP not AGAIN!" as I ended up lying flat out. I knocked off my glasses and hat and took the brunt of the fall on my right side; hand, elbow, shoulder, hip, thigh, knee. I scrambled up as quickly as I could considering my brain felt scrambled too. I was just a little loopy, adrenaline shooting throughout my body. I wanted to get out of the way of the pace group bearing down upon us and wanted to pretend it hadn't happened and wanted the embarrassment of lacking any balance or grace to go away. I was hurt and horrified and determined to ignore what had happened.

As if. I think I scared the crap out of Bree who probably thought I'd be like the poor woman we'd seen back in mile one, convulsing and bleeding on the pavement. No, I was up and trying to run. Ow. As we moved along, slowly, I took stock. Nothing bleeding, nothing broken, just scrapes and strains and deep bruises. At the next first aid station I got a big bag of ice and ran on with it pressed between my sore palm and my thigh. I think that may be what enabled me to finish the race.

We continued on and I wasn't having much fun anymore, it was just a race to get it done and over with before I stiffened up. We made it to the Queensboro Bridge and found it another bridge that went on forever. At least we knew there'd be crowds and noise when we finally finished it and we were right. Wow, the crowds were incredible. Some people cheering for their friends or family, but most just strangers cheering the crowds. In front of bars they were lined up 10-20 deep, sharing their parties with the runners.

I was stiffening up and what sounded good to me was the idea of sitting down on a curb and sobbing for an hour. I knew it would be an ugly cry, never-ending, and decided it was probably a bad idea and I should just suck it up and keep going.

We continued along, sometimes running uphill, sometimes running downhill. At some point we switched to a 2:2 run:walk and tried to stay with it, unless it was a big hill or a messy water station. We saw Jeanette and Olivia and passed them a few times, they passed us a few times. Finally, up and over the Willis Avenue Bridge, into the Bronx. A few corners, another mile, then up and across our final bridge, the Madison Avenue Bridge back into Manhattan.
The crowds thinned through Harlem but it was getting late. The people along the street were more likely to be watching the entertainment than the runners. We realized at that time that we could pretty much count down the streets to know where we were, but I didn't want to know and didn't look at the signs.We ran and ran, the park on one side and very nice houses on the other. There were still people cheering but most seemed to be out for an early evening stroll, or leaving the race. It was getting later, the sun getting lower, getting cooler. We trudged on and on, finally entering the park.
On and on, through the park, reading the signs, not wanting to talk or do anything except move forward. We saw Rocky and Phil, then saw Petra cheering us on. Another turn, another, a big screen with hey-it's-us-there! and uphill a little more, signs counting down the distance, and there was the finish.

We crossed the line together and had our medals placed around our necks. I got a space blanket wrapped around my shoulders and was handed a bottle of water. I had to hand it back and ask the man to open it because my hand had stiffened up so much. I was handed a prewrapped bagel, not at all appetizing. The post-race food and beverage bags that we had been promised were all gone. We had our picture taken and then started the long trek to our sweats.
Uh oh, the trucks were parked head to tail in order, 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. Our truck was number 70. We shuffled forward figuring we had a long walk ahead. Uphill. In the dark and cold. After more than a dozen trucks we saw the chip removers. We had the option to keep the commemorative timing chip and be charged $35 or to have it removed. I had thought to keep it but I was discouraged and unhappy and had it cut off. It took FOREVER to get to our truck (it was at least 20 blocks) and by then they were putting the bags on tables in preparation for moving the trucks out. We wrapped ourselves in our warmer clothes and then started another long trek to a street where we might find a taxi.

We lucked out. After about 10 minutes of flagging anything that looked like it might be a taxi, one stopped in front of us and disgorged a couple of people. We jumped in before anyone else could and made our way, slowly through traffic and the jammed streets back to the hotel

It was a well organized, well planned race. Except for the ABSURD problems with baggage and lack of edible food at the end and the last-minute transit fiasco it was maybe one of the best organized races I've done. And well it should be for what they charge. The amenities were above average, the course support was excellent, we had fully closed roads and no cross traffic, the route was varied and interesting and scenic and showed the City to it's finest. I'd highly recommend that anyone who runs marathons run this some day. Save up your money though, it's very costly!

Strangely enough this wasn't my worst race, even though it was my PW at 6:24:35. When I wasn't aching and wanting to cry I actually enjoyed the whole carnival atmosphere of the thing. My biggest worry, about horrid crowds on the road and poor mannered runners, never really materialized. I was grateful that Bree stuck with me through my bad times and we actually had some fun along the way. I'm still bruised and sore and probably will remain so for about another week. I'm looking ahead to my next race though!

After all that I found the perfect bear. She's a little replica Statue of Liberty with her torch, book and new medal!