Friday, March 30, 2007

Magical Mystery Friday

This feels like it's been a loooong week. I guess eating well, consistent exercise, long days at work and lack of booze will do that! I'm looking forward to tonight's Magical Mystery Knitting Event at knit-one-one. I've wanted to take a class at Síle's for a while and this is my first chance. I know that Instructor Kate will be absolutely stunned by my choice of yarn colors. Yeah, no she won't. She tends to get on my case about the whole red/grey/black thing I've got going on. I actually do knit with other colors once in a while (such as my fabo silk Clapotis) but that tends to happen when I can't find a colorway in a particular yarn in "my" colors. Fine, I've embraced my red/black-ness and I'm ok with it!

Last night Pam and I ran our short short route. It was nice out; crystal clear sky with the sun setting behind the trees in glorious colors, not warm, not cold, not windy. Pam laughed at me; for some reason my brain decided since I have a diagnosis on my lungs, and I'm working to fix it, that I should be able to run with no problems. Riiiiigh
t! I couldn't figure out why I was wheezing away like normal, until I thought about it and realized that nothing has changed yet! I think I'll have to lose more than one pound before I see any difference. And all the pollen in the air will have to go away too.

Got some knitting done on Clapotis last night. I'm finally at the last section. Finally! I thought the end was in sight until I really looked at the pattern and realized that I have still seven repeats of the 12 rows. At least they're decreasing so I'll have less and less stitches as I go. I haven't been dropping all the stitches all the way down, so when I finally get done I'll have lots of dropping to do.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Dusty. Back in the early 80's I was working in an office in San Leandro. At that point I hadn't gotten fed up to the gills (uh, that's a really strange expression -- where'd my brain pick that one up?) with door-to-door solicitors yet. A couple of people came in selling big stuffed hand puppets and I didn't bite their heads off (ok, there's another one -- "bite their heads off"?? -- ewww!). I saw the bear and it was love at first sight. I bought him and put him on the corner of my desk, where he stayed for a couple of years until we moved the office. Because of his long fur he tends to pick up dust from everywhere! It was probably the last time I let salesmen into my office, but it was the last time one tried selling me something I like!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I started back in on Clapotis last night, figuring I could maybe get it done by summer. I had forgotten how far along I was, it's been so long since I've touched it. Apparently I had just started the third and final ball of yarn. I absolutely love this yarn (Curious Creek Isalo), love the color, love the feel, love everything about it. You can see the shading, stitch definition, the twisted stitches, the luster, yum! There is truly nothing like 100% silk. I can't remember why I put this aside; the pattern isn't hard, you just have to pay attention. It's very repetitive but I have a million stitch markers which you may be able to see in the picture to the left. That was Clapotis when it was one-third finished. The lower picture to the right shows the dropped stitches, and is two-thirds finished. At the rate this knits up it should one take me, oh, another couple of months to finish! This puppy is big, the stitches are small, and even working for a couple hours each night I don't seem to see too much progress. But this time I'm going to finish it!

Last night my legs were hurting big time and I excused myself from abusing them further. I'm torn between the workout-every-day thing and the ow-I-need-to-recover thing. For weight control there definitely has to be at least 40 minutes of heart raising cardio, but for running there has to be a night off. It's really challenging to have a good cardio workout with using your legs! At least I haven't come up with anything yet.

I did end up going to WW yesterday. They've automated everything since the last time I was there (and it's about time). Now they scan your little booklet, you step on the scale, and it spits out a sticker with your current weight, weight change, plan details, etc. Pretty nifty, huh? They've also come up with new 1 point bars. These are little snack bars (and I do mean little), like a little candy bar, and they're surprisingly filling. I was starving when I got to the meeting (no, I'm not going to eat lunch before I weight in - get real!) and after eating one I was fine until I got back to the office and my salad. I'm going to try to go to meetings at least twice monthly, but it's a pain leaving the office in the middle of the day and working late to make up for it.

I went shopping last night and filled my basket with tons of veggies, fruit, yogurt, y'know, that healthy stuff. I treated myself to sushi for dinner but made sure to honestly count the points. I surprised myself by how full I was, and how full I stayed for the rest of the night.

I skipped my latte this morning (since Safeway canceled their buy 7 get 1 free promotion) and I wonder how I'll feel in a couple of hours. I love caffeine, but when I'm fully addicted to it (which only takes about 5 days in a row) I get horrible headaches when I skip it. That's why I quit it entirely several years ago. I know that one cup a day isn't going to hurt my health, and will probably help it, but I hate feeling that I have to have it or else I'll be in pain. A large -- excuse me, venti -- latte fills me up for almost the whole morning, is only 4 points (for the non-fat version), I get part of my daily calcium, it tastes great, but I just don't want to have to do it every day. Oh, what to do, what to do!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A rose isn't always a rose

Last night was buddy run night. Several of the mentors were moving their runs to Walnut Creek so that they could go to Taco Tuesday afterward. That sounded like fun, so I packed my running gear so I wouldn't have to go home between work and the run. It meant staying at the office late so I -- yeah, I ended up going home. I decided at about 5:00 pm that on the second day of my diet it just wouldn't work to go to a Mexican restaurant and watch people eat tacos and drink beer and margaritas. If it had been a couple of months, or hell, even a week, I probably would have done it, but I know that my resolve and resistance isn't that good.

Instead of running I decided to do a lower body toning tape that I have. It's really good, about 40 minutes of various squats, dips, etc. and it totally works my glutes and hamstrings. I've always found it to be great training for running, but when I get lazy I skip it. This morning I can already tell that my legs are going to be sore, probably by this afternoon. I'm glad I did it with enough recovery time before the weekend run.

I'm debating whether to go to a Weight Watchers meeting today. I've always gone to the Wednesday noon meeting, mostly because I've liked the leaders. On the one hand, it's great to go and listen to the information, hear other people's ideas and suggestions, get very enthused about the whole diet -- er, healthy eating program. On the other hand, been there, done that, got the tee shirt (literally, a bright yellow extra large that I was given for, um, I think exercising regularly). I would go, sit there and knit, interject a comment or two, but I think sitting and knitting would be kind of rude. I dunno, I'll decide in a few hours.

I have, at last count, at least 7 wips sitting around the house (that's knitterese for works in progress). I've decided to try to start finishing them before starting another any new projects. Except for the mystery class this Friday, that is. I'd really like to get clapotis done before the summer, it's going to be beautiful and deserves better than sitting around for years, 2/3 done. There's the knitalong that I started last summer with the Temescal group, the one with the KPPPM, and I can't even remember the pattern except I remember I'm using 3 skeins of the yarn at a time. The multidirectional diagonal scarf that I'm making with Noro Silk Garden, the one skein easy lace scarf (which I haven't touched since the class), the super-long wrap in alpaca, the reversible cable alpaca, and a couple more I can't even remember right now. Except for the Noro, they all involve some thinking and I guess I keep starting (and finishing) easy non-brainers.

To me, zen knitting is just going back and forth and back and forth and not having to count, measure, read, memorize, think! I know that many others like the challenge of that, and to a point (like half a project), I do too. But after a long day of work and exercise I like to just sit and keep my hands busy while my mind wanders. Without having to unknit or frog because my mind has wandered too far! I guess it's time to challenge my brain as I'm challenging my body!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Rosie. She's another tiny bear, just a few inches tall. I also got her when I was planning my wedding. I was going around to florists trying to find a place I could afford and there she was, sitting with the potted miniature rose plants. I can't remember if I ended up using that florist or not but I do remember that whoever I ended up using screwed things up on the wedding day. At least I got a pretty bear as a remembrance!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One day down

The first day of the rest of my diet went pretty well. And no, I'm not going to talk about it every day, it would bore even me. I decided to count Weight Watchers' points since that worked for me way back in the past. I'm going to follow the program the way it used to be since that's what I know. They tend to add and change the points on different veggies and fruits and I don't feel like re-learning a program that has worked in the past. All I have to do is actually follow the darn thing.

Our run last night got rained out. I think that it actually stopped at the exact minute we would have run, but by then we had already decided to cancel. Up until, oh, yesterday, I would have just blown off the workout and taken a freebie day, but not last night! Hi Mr. Treadmill, didja miss me? Hi Mr. Exercise Room, remember me? I was on the treadmill for almost an hour, although about 10 minutes of that was a walking warm-up and cool-down. Funny, I never do that when I'm running outside but I always do it on the 'mill. I've always set my treadmill at 2% incline and 5 mph (a 12 minute mile) but last night I ran with it flat and about 4.8. It went pretty well and I watched 3 more episodes of Sports Night. Have I mentioned recently how much I love that show??

The rain has passed for now, but it cooled off considerably - it's only in the 40's! I didn't realize that and of course dressed for the 60's. Good thing that the temp in my office has no relation to the weather outside.

My sis just sent me an email asking if I'd come to see her and run the Country Music Marathon, or the half, in Nashville on April 28th. I had considered running the half when she moved there, but in January we decided that she was too busy. So I went ahead and decided to run Avenue of the Giants the next weekend instead. I feel bad, I'd like to see her, but it just doesn't look possible now. Of course right after I sent her an email explaining why I couldn't come, I checked airfare and flights just in case!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Bunny. He's only a few inches long, very small. I got him back about the time I was preparing for my wedding (the first one) so it was early spring, around Easter time. He was actually in a display of Easter bunnies, and kind of looks like a bunny, hence the name.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Going out in style

After getting my wonderful news on Friday, the rest of my weekend went much better. I had promised myself that I would absolutely positively get my tax information together and I did, but I had time for fun too.

Saturday was a TnT mentor run at Lake Merritt. Bree was meeting me for one lap around the Lake, then I was going to run another on my own or with another team member if one was going my speed. She met me after having already run one lap. We chatted while the team warmed up and stretched, then took off. Well, my legs were still tired. Not exhausted/weak/achy, just tired. We decided that a 4:1 run:walk would be sufficient. Unfortunately for us and the rest of the team, there was a real race taking place at the Lake at the same time we were running. There isn't much room for someone running a 7 minute mile to pass someone jogging a 13 minute mile. I guess the race director complained up the chain of command and word got back to the team and filtered down to us that we were not allowed to run a second lap. Awww. And here I was, all set to -- oh heck, I wasn't going to run that second lap anyway! I was happy to have a good excuse not to run more.

A few people were going to breakfast so I joined them. As a last indulgent breakfast I had a very tasty egg white omelet with cheese and bacon, the only things that make me actually want to eat eggs. I prefer the taste of just the egg whites so that isn't a problem for me. It came with potatoes that I gobbled down. I won't be having too many omelets for a while, but probably sooner than I'll be having those potatoes!

Saturday night I splurged with a last pometini. Or cosmogranate, whichever you want to call it. It's pomegranate vodka (I used the Pearl Persephone, the best), Grand Marnier and Roses Lime juice. I've talked about these before and probably will again, because I really like them! I had one while I was doing my filing in preparation for tax info gathering. Then I sat and watched the first season of Sports Night, one of my favorite television shows ever. Sure, I could have done more tax work, but I wanted a break. I finished knitting my part of the special secret project - I can't wait to see the finished project when all parts are complete.

I slept in Sunday instead of running San Ramon's new race, either the 5k or the half. In addition, I also didn't run the Mermaid race in Fremont, even though it took place on my favorite trail, Alameda Creek. I also didn't run around my neighborhood or on the treadmill. I felt pretty good not running and I think my legs should be back to normal with the rest.

Sunday night I went to dinner with my good friends Ellen, Curt and Tom. We used to spend lots of time together; we were cycling buddies, traveled together, lots of evenings together. Time got in the way and now we only spend a couple of hours maybe 3 times a year together (and Ellen and I get together a few extra times). We went to Casa Orozco in Dublin, our favorite Mexican restaurant. It's always been very crowded with long waits but they just finished their expansion into a larger space. Curt doesn't drink, and Ellen, Tom and I only split one small pitcher of the house margaritas. They were excellent! I had given myself permission to have anything I wanted, as sort of a last meal. Despite that, I got the chicken tostada because that's what I had been craving. It fulfilled all my expectations and then some. Yum!

I think I'm ready now to start the new healthy eating trend. Oh hell, call it what it really is, the new diet. I'm ready to eat less, eat well, and exercise a lot and often. Let's see how long it lasts this time ...

Good news and bad news

The good news is excellent indeed. Friday I had the first (and only) test to see what's going on with my lungs. I was not expecting my doctor to call that evening with the results. The good news/bad news thing was what he said first, and he gave me the good news immediately. My lungs are in pretty good condition. Smoking like a chimney for 23 years did not cause irreparable damage as I had thought; I won't have to run with an oxygen tank after all! The test showed mild asthma, most likely exercise induced. Just like we thought. So what's causing my breathing problem? He didn't put it quite this way, but in a word, I'm fat. Yep, I'm fat, and either I can stop running any kind of distance or I can lose weight.

Ok, relative to diseased lungs, being overweight isn't even on the same scale. Unless you've been trying to lose weight for most of your life, as have I. I know I can lose weight, I've done it before. Well, I was 16 years younger, still had hormones, smoked most of my meals and drank the rest, and lived with an abusive husband, but I did lose weight. Now I just have to come up with a plan that will work for me now. I'm pretty sure I know what to do.

Be hungry. That's it, pure and simple. I'll be hungry all the time (cranky and tired too, but that's another story). I have to eat only 1000 calories per day, exercise obsessively, eliminate all sugars and alcohol, and I'll lose weight. About 1/4 pound per week, if the past is any indication. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Yeah, me either. It pretty much means cutting out all social life too (not that I really have much of one to begin with, except running), because most social occasions involve food and booze. And I love food and booze, and treasure my time spent with friends.

Sure, if I'm in a restaurant I can order a plain salad with no dressing and a piece of dry grilled fish or chicken with no sauce. Yumm, doesn't that sound dandy. Not. And I can drink water while watching my buddies drink martinis and wine. Uh huh, not a problem, I'm sure.

I do have another choice, I can keep things the way they are now. I can plod and gasp along in the back of the pack, run alone because I can't keep up with my friends the way I breathe now. They'll slow down for me, but I know it's hard to run much slower than your natural pace because I've done it before and I'll start feeling like crap keeping them back and they'll stop running with me because I'm such a crab because I'm feeling guilty. Ok no, that won't work, will it.

Wow, this is the most depressing good news I've heard in a long time. I need a bear hug.

I'm jumping ahead in the bears, they'll be out of acquisition order from now on, and will depend on my mood. Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Hi Yo Silver (away!). Known as HiYo or Silver. HiYo is a very special Vermont Teddy Bear. He's their Silver Anniversary Bear, to celebrate their 25 years in business. I got him to celebrate my 25th Half Marathon. Yeah, that was stretching it, but I wanted him because he was JUST SO CUTE!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Inhale, exhale

I had my lung function test this morning. I was assuming it was like the cardiac treadmill test I had; a couple of minutes of not-very-hard running. Uh, no. I didn't run for long but I ran hard enough to sweat a bucket full. I feel like I actually had a workout this morning. Wuss. But I'm excited about finally finding out what the heck is going on, although my money is on exercise induced asthma. Wouldn't it be nice if I was able to breathe easy during a run?

I ran last night with Pam. We did our usual short short run. It was pretty warm out -- I wasn't expecting that. The run went much better than Tuesday's run; my leg didn't cramp and collapse like it did then. We had to take a longer than usual walk break just so I could catch my breath though.

The pictures from Shamrock Marathon are in. I got an email with four sample pictures of me. Except two of them are two different guys, one running the half marathon. Not a very good checking system there. There are absolutely no finish line pictures, although I'm sure I saw photographers there. I went through about 6000 pictures in the lost and found and there was not one single picture from the finish line. That's pretty bad folks! Although there are pictures of everyone running down the boardwalk about a tenth of a mile from the finish, there's nothing with the clock or the arch or anything. Nada! I was looking forward to a finish line picture and I can imagine that someone who has set a PR would have liked one also. All the pictures were pretty mediocre quality, maybe the photographers were just having a bad day. I know it's tough when people have jackets on over their bibs, but it's not too hard to tell male from female. C'mon!

Did some knitting on the secret project last night. It's going well. I may have to make one for myself some day!

I'm considering running the brand spanking new race in San Ramon this weekend. The 5k that is, not the half marathon. Even I'm not that nuts. Normally. But I'd really like to run my hometown half. I'll have to wait and see how tired I am on Saturday. Looks like I'll do almost anything rather than my taxes, which is what I'm planning on doing this weekend. I'd procrastinate, but I keep putting it off ...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Special project

We had an emergency stitch 'n' bitch at my house last night. We're working on a special project for a very special person. No, I'm not telling. Nope, it's a secret and I don't want to give it away. There was some serious swatching going on and it's funny how differently people will knit the same thing. I thought that I knit tightly, but not so much compared to Claudia and Raji.

Using the excuse of the marathon I decided that pizza would be perfect to feed to everyone. And since I haven't gotten nearly my fill of Zachary's since they opened in the 'hood I got a half-baked stuffed spinach & mushroom. Yummy! We managed to eat our way through most of a medium, but I have one slice left for dinner tonight. We also had the requisite shrimp, salad, fruit, veggies, wine. No dessert! Too many of us are either on Weight Watchers or pretending to be so the pizza was the worst of the night. And the best!

I'm feeling almost totally recovered from the race. My legs feel normal, my ankles aren't the least bit swollen. The only thing is -- ok, after writing about bloody pee I decided that was way too much information and erased it! Let's just say my lower back is sore and leave it at that. It'll probably go away in a couple of days. I'm looking forward to another short run tonight, and getting back into training for the Ave.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Sasha. He's another classic Steiff bear and ..... ok, where was I? I just got sidetracked at their website looking at their new (grossly overpriced) bears. Anyway, I got Sasha at a little shop across the street from the San Francisco Zoo. I don't think it's there now, probably been gone for decades. Shithead and I had gone to the zoo together for the first time and just wandered into the shop. I, of course, zeroed in on the bears (and this was way before my bearaddiction started to flourish). I talked him into buying the bear for me, a lovely souvenir of our first zoo visit. This was before we got married, while he was still being nice to me. And long before either of us could really afford the Steiff. I'm happy to have Sasha because he's so pretty!

Oh hey, I just had to edit this to add that today is my 27th nonniverary! In 1980 (when many of you were either not born yet or still in diapers), on a beautiful spring day in Oakland, I married who I thought was the love of my life. Sheesh, hormones. They'll get you into trouble every time!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Virginia Beach

Friday was an early morning, needing to catch the 6:15 am flight to DFW. Sandy and I managed to meet up at the parking lot and shuttled over to the airport. Strangely enough there was no line at the American Airlines counter so we were able to check our luggage and go on our way.

After my last disaster with American Airlines I decided to carry everything that I absolutely needed for the weekend, with things I only wanted in the checked bag. That meant I had to carry stuff for 2 races, food for the long day of flying, knitting, book, iPod, camera, etc. Again strangely enough, there wasn't really a wait at the security checkpoint either. We breezed down to our gate. Our flights were unremarkable, which for AA is remarkable. We got into ORF, Norfolk, late, but only by about 15 minutes.

It took about 45 minutes to get our bags, then another lengthy wait to get the car. I spoke with Heather and she was meeting us at the hotel; actually got there while we were trying to find the keys to the rental car. A winter storm was passing through the area and she had just spent a hellish afternoon driving through it on her trip from the Durham area. We finally got the car going and headed east. Trying to figure out directions, I kept reminding myself that "the ocean is east" "the ocean is east" "the ocean is east." It just seemed wrong.

We finally made the approach to the hotel, the Cavalier Hotel. It was dark and drizzly out, and the hotel reminded me of something. It was big, sitting on the hill, with very few lights in the windows. Now, where have I seen this before? Yeah, the Overlook! Great. Now I'll see blood running from the elevators and redrum on the door. Anyway, we went in and Heather was there! Yay! We got checked in and went up to our room. Down the looooong hallway. Where Jack was waiting with his hatchet. Or something like that.

The hotel wasn't really open for the season yet. All the extras were closed off. I didn't even know they had a pool until I just looked at the link! There were a couple of places we wandered into that were very pretty. Friday night it felt like we were the only guests in the hotel. Redrum.

The room was actually very nice. The bathroom had been renovated recently, with a huge whirlpool tub. Uh oh, that means after the race we'd have to climb up and over it to shower! Well, we'd cross that bridge etc. etc.

We needed to get to the expo before it closed, so we just dropped our gear in the room and took off. It was a mid-sized expo. Packet pickup was quick and almost efficient. We got our bibs for the 8k, our 8k shirt (a long sleeved black cotton shirt), got our bibs for the marathon, our marathon shirt (a long sleeved navy blue tech fabric, very nice) and our chips for each race. Heather was able to register for the 8k with no problems. I was also able to pick up Petra's race package for the half marathon, including her green, short sleeved tech shirt. Not my color, but she'll like it.

The only thing in the goody bag besides paper (ads, race brochures, etc.) was a can opener and a sample of cow balm. Hey, they lost points there! We didn't find anything at the expo that we needed to buy. That's what happens when you're at so many expos during the year. We finally headed out to look for dinner.

Not knowing the area, we just drove down the strip looking for something open. Apparently Virginia Beach doesn't really come alive until later in the spring. It looked like lots of hotels, lots of breakfast places, lots of pizza, not too many places for a pre-race meal. We finally decided on the Raven, just because it was open! We ended up with sandwiches; Heather and I had the crab cake and they were very filling. Our carbs came from fries. So sue me, our potatoes had some grease on them!

We returned to the room, set the clocks and went to sleep (well, I didn't sleep, just because I normally don't sleep, but that's not important now). The alarms went off early and we all prepared for a cold run. We walked over to the start, a little further away then we had expected. There was a big crowd, over 3500 people. We wanted to be in the back, but in front of the walkers. Always a tough placement.

Anthem, gun, and we're off. Slowly. We had to weave in and out for at least the first few miles. It was cold and windy but since we'd only be out there about an hour, we didn't fuss. I managed to keep up with Heather and Sandy and only had to ask them to slow down once or twice. I really didn't want to push too hard on the day before the big race. About halfway through we turned onto the concrete boardwalk and headed directly into the wind. Sandy's hat blew off twice; I kept holding mine to keep in on. It was pretty unpleasant. We finally finished, a mere (not) 1:02 after we crossed the start line. I don't think we'll have any pictures of that race since we all had jackets zipped over our bibs. We got our bottle of water and a bag containing a bit of food, walked over to the beer tent, decided to go get brunch.

Because it was convenient we decided to just have lunch at the Cavalier's beach front cafe. They had a very mediocre buffet but it was warm, so we were content. Afterward we all showered and got into warm clothes.

Unfortunately Heather had to scurry back home, so hugs and she was off! It was wonderful seeing her again. Heather was a perfect running buddy; we were the same pace and always had tons of things to talk about. We trained for several races together, and actually ran Honolulu side by side. I was very sad when she left. Now I'm just going to have to run lots of races in the east!

I got a text message from Petra that she had decided not to come, so we decided to return her chip to the expo so it wouldn't have to be mailed back. Since the forecast was for even colder weather, we both ended up buying running tights. I know, nothing new on race day. But I already own a couple of pairs of them (so why were they all at home??) and I'd worn them for long runs, so I figured it would be ok.

We drove around town taking a couple of pictures. Neptune guards the water. See the clouds? The dark sky? Not looking good for the clearing we had been promised. A large shamrock laden cow was lurking in a parking lot. The palm trees in the area were all gift wrapped. Can anyone tell me why? In California that would mean they had just been planted, but maybe it's a way to protect them from winter. Or maybe the urban foresters are into bondage? Anyone?

At this point the lack of sleep for the past week just overwhelmed me. I really wanted to go to a couple of yarn shops but I couldn't keep my eyes open. We went back to the hotel and napped for a while, until it was time to search out a place for a good healthy dinner.

We had seen a couple of places that looked like possibilities. On the way over we noticed some snowflakes drifting onto our windshield. Crap! We went to one nice looking restaurant, gave our car to the valet, and walked in. Without reservations they had a 2-1/2 hour wait! The very nice lady graciously told us we could wait at the bar. Uh, no. We left and asked the valet for a suggestion. He recommended Rudee's and gave us directions. It looked pretty crowded but we were able to get a table immediately. Yippee! I had a glass of wine, a nice piece of grilled fish, red-skinned potatoes, steamed veggies and a roll. It was perfect!

Back at the hotel we realized we didn't need to get up at the crack of dawn, like we usually would for a marathon. We got everything together and went to bed.

I'm not going over the race again except for yay me! Heh heh.

We decided to splurge on barbecue for dinner after the race. I hadn't been able to eat anything except a couple of cheese sticks, so I was pretty hungry. I used to always be that way after a marathon, so I wonder if it's something to do with how hard I run. I'll get back to you on that after some experimentation! We ended up at the Beach Bully and had ribs and beers. We got the last 2 Yuenglings, which was good since otherwise they just had Bud-ish beer. After dinner we wanted something sweet (and I wanted something alcoholic) so we stopped at the grocery and picked up some wine and a donut each. I swear, that donut was the best thing I'd eaten in weeks!

We packed, went to bed, got up at the unholy hour of 3:00 am, drove to the airport, flew home via DFW, got our cars, drove home. Whew! Long weekend over! Whew! Long weekend report over!

Shamrock Marathon, Virginia Beach

I'm feeling recovered from the weekend and I've decided to talk about the race first, since that was the main reason for the trip. Several months ago Sandy asked if I was interested in running the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA. My immediate reaction was to say nopers, it'll be too cold so I don't wanna. Then I thought about it. And thought about it. And thought some more. Looked it up in, looked over the website, checked into airfare and hotels, changed my mind. I told Sandy that yeppers, lets do it! In fact, she had to decide definitely RIGHT THEN so we could book our flights.

Apparently every single time she suggests a race I'm initially a negative nelly, then I change my mind and am full speed ahead until every detail is planned. I'm just one big marathon pain in the ass! But she agreed to go, and even agreed that we'd have to run the 8k on Saturday so that we'd get the very special "whale challenge" pin. So we made our reservations, sent in the registration form, and started "serious" training again. Then I got the confirmation and I had registered for the half, instead of the full. I still don't know how I managed that. Hysteria reigned until I got a note from the race contact that all I had to do was send another registration form and the difference in price. Whew, crisis averted! Luckily, that was the last thing that went totally wrong.

Sunday morning didn't start as early as most marathon days; the race didn't start until 8:00 am! I got up at 6:00 am and jumped in the shower. I heard an awful ruckus and realized that the half marathon, scheduled to start at 7:00 am, was actually starting right outside our hotel. We listened to the music and announcements, to the anthem, and they were off! It was sold out and we watched about 6000 cold people take off running. And walking. And running really fast because they started so late.

We walked over to the start area (which wasn't nearly as close as the half's start) at 7:15 am. It was cold and pretty damn windy. Luckily we had both bought long running tights at the expo so our legs were warm. I had on a long sleeved top, a light weight jacket, a disposable rain poncho and gloves, a running hat, and a buff around my neck. We had plenty of time to wait in line at the bathroom in the nearest hotel before getting into the start area. There weren't corrals, just some pacers with signs. We lined up between the 5:00 and 7:00 pacers. It didn't look like it, but according to the results there were about 2000 people there.

Once again, announcements, anthem and we're off! We crossed the start after only a couple of minutes and said goodbye to each other. I chucked the poncho after about a mile and realized that I didn't really need my jacket either. It wasn't that it was warming up, I was just having a body heat day (yeah, you can laugh when you reach your 50s and have your own personal body heat days). I really didn't want to spend 6 hours with it tied around my waist and came up with a plan. I saw 4 people standing by the side of the road, honest and trustworthy (yeah, like you can really tell from looks!) and looking like they were actually cheering on the runners (as opposed to accidental tourists who just happened to be there) and asked the nice senior citizens if they'd be going to the finish line area. They said yes, and I asked if they'd pretty please take my jacket with them and turn it in at the sweat check. I had luckily put the tear strip with my bag check number in the pocket so all they'd have to do is turn it in. They quite nicely said they'd be happy to. Yay!

I was feeling pretty good, a little worried about -- oh, everything, but running pretty smoothly. I passed mile 5 and my split was pretty long, but then mile 6 was short so I figured it was just mis-marked. Shades of Vegas. So far we hadn't really run straight into the wind so it went well.

There were several spots where they had set up dj's with very very loud speakers, blaring music. What is it with 80s music and races anyhow? I swear, if I heard Mony Mony once I heard it 3 times - the Billy Idol version mostly. Then someone started blasting Footloose and my feet started doing the Keven Bacon happy dance. Damn you Kenny Loggins for such a catchy tune! I had to make a concerted effort to slow down, but the stupid song stuck with me through the whole race. Except when Mony Mony blasted it out again.

At about 5.5 miles we turned around and started running north-ish. Yuck. The wind wasn't directly in our faces, but close enough. Now, this wasn't just a little spring breeze, it was a big whopper blowing a steady 15-20 mph, gusting 10 mph more in swirly directions. We ran a little loop in Camp SomethingorOther, one of the many military bases in the area. Then we re-crossed the Rudee Bridge, the biggest hill of the day (oooh, 40 whole feet elevation!), ran another little loop, and went onto the Boardwalk at about mile 10. That pretty much sucked the worst of the whole day. There was no protection from the wind and we were running on hard concrete. I put my head down and just concentrated on relentless forward motion (yeah, I stole that expression from an ultra runner's blog a couple of years ago, I wish I remembered who so I could give credit where credit is due-sorry!). I saw my jacket at about mile 12; apparently they hadn't made it to the finish area yet. I pretty much kissed it goodbye in my mind then. But then again I was feeling pretty negative about the whole experience because of the wind.

We popped over to a street parallel to the boardwalk at about mile 12 and got a teeny bit more shelter, but at least we were back to running on asphalt. And then we just kept running that way for the next 4 miles. Directly into the head wind. I could see the fast runners coming back along the same street, heading for the finish. As I counted my miles up I also saw their miles counting down. I made note in my mind that it wouldn't be too long (hah!) until I could see the markers going that direction.

Finally at mile 16 we turned into a more sheltered area. It was still windy, but not in our faces. I was pooped by then. The road was pretty well deserted except for the runners, and there weren't too many of us back where I was. I didn't mention that at a turnaround between miles 5 and 6 I counted everyone behind me (hey, I was bored). I counted 50 people, almost every one of them walkers. There wasn't the usual crowd of 5:45-6:15 runners. I wondered where they were, and figured that I was the slowest runner around, even if the walkers were even slower. So anyhoo, it was pretty sparse out on that sheltered road. Luckily someone had put lots of signs with cute, pithy and (not always) amusing statements. Y'know, like "there's too much blood in my caffeine system" or "do pigs pull their ham-strings" and that type of thing. Maybe a faster runner would have missed them, but I got to read each and every single one. I'm soooo lucky!

Mile 19 we headed back in the other direction, running through Fort Story. There was a cross wind at that point, not horrible but enough to throw me off my stride. Another thing I haven't mentioned: I was doing my standard 9:1 run:walk until we got on the damn boardwalk, where I went to a 4:1. I went back to the 9:1 afterward until about mile 15 where I switched to 4:1 for good. I was pretty determined to finish before the 6 hour mark and the extra walk break insured that I didn't just start walking for no other good reason.

Virginia Beach, except for the boardwalk and close surrounding area, is a pretty little town. Not spectacular, but pretty. Probably looks better in the spring and summer when there's some greenery. I tried and tried to have an Anita moment (someday I'll explain that) but I was hard pressed to come up with one. The ocean was nice, but not spectacular. The wooded area was nice, but nothing special. Saw a few birds, maybe even a hawk, but ho-hum. The only thing that was close (but not quite) were the two lighthouses. Yawn, I've seen better. Sorry, I like the left coast better. Don't get me wrong, it was very NICE in VB. But nice doesn't really cut it.

Back to running. When we finally left Fort Story (hey Sandy, did you know we were running in Fort Story or were you going too fast to notice??) it was what I'd waited for all day. We were finally running south, with the wind at our backs. It certainly didn't help any, especially when the gusts felt like some giant put his hand in the middle of my back and shoved. But at least it wasn't hindering any longer. I started counting the streets backward, knowing I had to do from about 80th down to 30th. At that point I didn't really care about my surroundings. I was insisting to myself that I had to keep up that 4:1. It was hard since I was passing lots of people walking. My brain wanted to join them but uh-uh, no walkin' for me.

I saw the Overlook and realized that I was getting really close. At this point my breathing was pretty bad, heavy gasping during the running parts and trying to catch my breath during the walks. I ignored it. My legs were getting heavy and hurting, oh, everywhere! I ignored that too. Passed the water stop where the volunteers were dressed as belly dancers. With heavy coats, scarves and gloves, so the effect was kind of lost. I saw Sandy walking back to the hotel when I had less than a mile to go and waved to her. Good, she knew I made it. I kept the running, and the walking, and the running. I took my last walk break at just about the 26 mile mark. Hey, I earned it! I realized that I could possibly break 5:50 if I didn't wuss out. I wanted it BAD! So I ran, passed the 13 mile mark left from the half, ran harder, ran harder, sprinted and crossed the finish line at 5:49:06! Whoofreakinghoo! It was pretty comical, I'm sure, to see someone so excited about finishing in 5:49, but I didn't care. Didn't care either that I couldn't breathe and was talking big gasping breaths to get some air. Didn't care that the kid just handed me my medal instead of putting it around my neck. I had such a big grin on my face I probably looked like the Joker!

I had my chip removed (it was the velcro-strap-on-the-ankle-type), got my cape of awesomeness (y'know, the space blanket), a bottle of water, a finisher's cap (how cool is that!) and hobbled through the sand to the beer tent. Yes, the damn beer tent! The title sponsor of the race was Yuengling (that's "ying-ling" not "yung-ling" for those non-beer drinkers, the oldest brewery in the US with pretty darn fine beer) so of course there was beer involved. When I entered the tent I got a bracelet showing I was old enough to drink (and hey, didn't even have to show any id; go figure) and got four drink tickets. Now who in the hell is going to finish a marathon and drink four beers?? They also had beef stew but it looked pretty vile to me so I passed. I drank some of my beer and gave the 3 other tickets to a thirsty looking dude hanging around in real clothes. I really wanted a shower and my bed, so I left. I had to throw out my beer when I left the sand (boo! stoopid drinking regulations!!) but I did manage to drink about a third of it.

The 12 block walk back to my hotel, again into the headwind, took forever. I think it took me 40 minutes to stagger back! It was probably good for me, but I just wanted my shower.

This was my fastest finish in over a year, my 9th fastest of the 24 I've run so far. I was proud, not because of the time (because, hello! it's still pretty darn slow), but because I tried and I pushed and I did not give up! I'm used to just phoning it in, strolling along, not caring whether I finish in 5 (not in this lifetime!) or 7 hours. I really wanted it this time, and was thrilled that I could get it done. Distance running is truly a mental challenge and it's nice to know I'm still mental!

Monday, March 19, 2007

What time zone is this?

I'm back from Virginia Beach and my body is totally confused as to what day and time it is. I hadn't quite made the transition to daylight savings time before going to eastern daylight time for the weekend. Even though I got up at 3 am edt today to get to the airport for our flight, and even though it's about 7:30 pm pdt now, I'm not tired. Uh oh. I hope to sleep well. Sometime in the next few days!

A short review of the weekend is
Friday: got up early, flew to Norfolk with Sandy, drove to Virginia Beach, met Heather at the hotel, went to the expo, had a late dinner, went to bed.
Saturday: got up early, ran the 8k with Sandy and Heather, managed to keep up with them, had brunch, Heather left, Sandy and I went back to the expo to return Petra's chip and buy running tights, went to dinner, went to bed.
Sunday: got up early (but not too early since the race didn't start until 8 am), ran the marathon, finished in 5:49:06 chip time which thrilled the bejeebers out of me (while Sandy kicked ass, finishing just over 5 hours), lazed around the hotel, went to dinner, packed, went to bed.
Monday: got up early (this is a trend), flew home, unpacked, did laundry, sorted out newspapers, mail and my 460 emails, decided to spend time updating here.

Did you notice something missing? Yeah, I never made it to any of the yarn shops in the area. I had a list and directions to 4, but the only time we could have gone was Saturday afternoon and we ran out of time! Noooooo!!!! Good thing I bought so much at Stitches.

I'll add details throughout the week, with a long race report (hey, you saw how long I was out there, you should have to spend a lot of time reading about it!) and pictures. Yay pictures! But probably not tomorrow because at work I'll have to, well, work!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Technology stinks, part 1

Last night I planned to start getting everything together for the weekend. The plan was to do laundry, arrange my clothes and running stuff for both races, update and charge my iPod, charge my camera and, most importantly of all, get to bed early. Well, my clothes are clean and my camera is charged, but that's the only thing that went right.

I plugged my iPod into my computer and it (the iPod) just freaked out. I got the "do not remove" screen, but it was still and wasn't recognized by iTunes or my computer. Then iTunes (that's it, I'm done typing the caps on those) crashed. And my computer froze. So I had to reboot the computer, with the ipod still frozen. Yes, I tried all the five steps for unfreezing it (which, strangely enough do not include putting your ipod in the hands of a higher power), several times. Blah blah try everything again blah, frozen itunes, frozen ipod, frozen computer, over and over, removed itunes, replaced itunes, reupdated itunes, the ipod got recognized by the computer once but said it was damaged, yada yada do this do that yada yada and on and on until I was ready to pull my hair out. [Which may have been a better idea than it sounds, since I really need a haircut.] I virus checked the computer, in case that was causing the freeze. I tried to defrag, in case everything was all blocked up, but my defrag program had expired so I had to buy a new program which turned out to be the wrong program but would work for one defragging so I started that but meanwhile it took for-freaking-ever to do.

So there's my ipod, still telling me do not remove, so I decided to just let the batteries run down and worry about it in the morning. Since it was 11:30 pm and way past my bedtime. But the computer was still defragging. Sigh. I left it running and went to bed. And stared at the ceiling. And tossed. And turned. Have I mentioned lately that I have insomnia? And that I'm still on standard time despite the time change? Sigh again.

This morning I checked the computer and it had successfully changed all the red sectors to blue and white sectors, so at least my defragging maintenance worked. I checked the ipod and yay! It was dead and blank! No more warning screen of death! I restarted itunes and it looked good. I verrrrry carrrrrefully attached the ipod and hurrah! the apple logo appeared. Then the "do not remove" screen started, but it was flashing and the battery charging thingie was charging. And wonder of wonders, it showed up on itunes and started updating. Gee, aren't I glad I spent the entire frigging evening wasting my time!?!

I'm not touching any of that shit tonight. The plan is to pack and go to bed early, since I have to leave for the airport at the ungodly time of -- wait for it -- 4:30 am. Yes, that means no blogging until Tuesday. See ya!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Molasses. Yeah, I already had a Honey, the new one was a little darker, so I was going for a theme here. Work with me people! Shithead gave me 'Lasses right after we started dating. He (the bear) looks kinda funny in the picture, because his legs are formed to hug your arm. Awww!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Smoke gets in your eyes

As a reformed smoker, I love hearing the news that a small (rich exclusive) town in Northern California is thinking of banning smoking, well, almost everywhere. Belmont is holding hearings to see if they should ban smoking even in private apartment buildings. Yeah baby! When I smoked, I didn't care who or what was in my way, just gimme a cig! Well, not really. I was a very polite smoker. But I know that when I lived in my townhouse I felt free to stink up the place as much as I wanted. And I know that the smoke drifted over to my neighbors, none of whom smoked. And this wasn't even in an apartment building with shared ventilation systems.

I smoked for 23 years, and quit 15 years ago, on my birthday. Unfortunately it wasn't soon enough. They used to say that if you quit smoking your lungs would start returning to normal within months, and after a few years, I think it was 5-10, your lungs would be fresh and new, as if you had never smoked. WRONG! My lungs are damaged, something I may not have know for years if I wasn't trying to be a runner. Whether it turns out to be asthma or COPD doesn't really matter, it was caused by my smoking and second hand smoke from my mom's cigs while I was growing up. I smoked "light" cigarettes since they were supposed to be less harmful, but that's been disproved too.

I loved smoking, loved the feeling of holding and touching a cig, loved lighting up, loved my fancy schmancy lighters, loved holding smoke in my lungs, loved exhaling, loved the heady feeling of that first cig of the day, loved the way a cig would relax me or give me something to do in a crowd. I never knew how much I stunk, ignored the morning cough, tried to ignore the dirty looks I got. Smoking was my favorite drug and had the benefit of being legal and available everywhere. I understand why people smoke, and how hard it is to quit. Boy do I understand! Nevertheless, it's a nasty, dirty, destructive habit that contaminates everything around it. I wish all public buildings and public spaces, everywhere, were smoke-free. I'm glad that cigs cost a fortune now, and I think they should increase the price until it's $5 for each stinky cigarette. All that money (except for about 10 cents per pack which can go to big tobacco companies) should go to research into addiction and lung diseases and creation of a nontoxic legal drug that could recreate the feeling of smoking, without smoking. I say, go Belmont!

(this is me stepping off my soapbox)

I had a great run last night. Another warm night, and light until after the run was completed. It was buddy run night, although I don't really have a buddy there to run with; they're all too fast for me. I ran 3.25 miles, at a pretty decent clip -- for me. I felt really good afterward. That'll be my last run until the Shamrock 8k on Saturday, followed by the full marathon. My legs will be very happy for the rest; my ankles are still a little swollen from the long run.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is one last bear, for many years, from Carol. He's a little bear, just a few inches tall. I don't remember why she gave him to me, or exactly when, but it was while I was still living in my teeny studio apartment in Oakland, before I got married. I gave it her nickname, so this is Twink!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Taxononsensical information on trees

It's come to my attention that some people are confusing different flowering trees with the very famous snowball trees. People! Not all trees with white flowers are snowball trees! The flowers have to be in clusters in a somewhat round shape. The trees that have white flowers in an overall, non-clustered pattern are usually wedding lace trees. When standing underneath these trees while they're in full bloom, and looking up, the lovely little white flowers resemble lace. We saw many of these trees while at Lake Chabot last weekend.

A tree with a black trunk, and little pink flowers clustered in a ball shape, are sno-ball trees, named after the famous Hostess pink marshmallow/coconut covered cupcake confection (which they're apparently making now in white or glowing orange, just to confuse the issue). Although the spoken name sounds the same as the snowball tree, let's not confuse them in our own minds, 'k?

The trees that have clusters of flowers in pink, white, red or lavender, appearing on the tips of new wood (and blooming for much of the spring and summer), are crap myrtles. No, I didn't misspell that. Have you ever smelled them? Or tried to clean up the mess left from their flowers/leaves/fruit? I removed a couple of those from my yard when I bought my house and they keep trying to make a grand return. Uh uh, no crap myrtles for me!

Some time in the future I'll give a lesson on flowering shrubs. That'll be fun!

The weather is warm and beautiful. Last night Pam and I ran our short short route. Although we both had our headlamps with us, it was light the entire run and we didn't have to turn on the lamps. It was so warm out we just stood around chatting forever, until it was dark. My brain is saying daylight savings time, but my body is insisting that it's an hour earlier than it really is. Should be interesting to try to get on eastern time in a few days.

Today we have something very special! It's a brand new feature, the Gratuitous (Guest) Bear of the Day! My friend Carol has submitted pictures of her old childhood Teddy. From the front, he's a very cute little sad bear. But Carol's Teddy, apparently, had a disorder not dissimilar to bulimia and has thrown up much of his stuffing. Poor little pancake Teddy! When you're done snickering or guffawing, please send Teddy your good wishes for a return to plump health!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Running and eating and drinking, oh my!

This weekend was full of family and food. My mom came to town for the weekend on Friday night. My brother picked her up at the airport, gathered his family and met me at a little Mexican restaurant, La Cochina Mexicana, in Orinda. Knowing I was running the next morning, I didn't have any of the margaritas they had ordered. Because I really wanted some of their sangria! It was ok, but mine is much better. The restaurant had been written up for their wonderful mole sauce (uh, that's mo-lay, not mole sauce. Eww. Thanks for that visual.) so I ordered the chicken in mole. Again, it was ok, not the best that I've had but perfectly edible. The chips and salsa were very good, and hey, carbo load. We all ate our fill and split for home. Mom stays with me; bro doesn't have a guest bedroom with a bed and I do. Yeah, I had to move all the yarn to fit her in!

Saturday morning I met up with the Team at Lake Chabot. I've always said I hate Chabot, but that's wrong. I love it there; I just hate RUNNING Lake Chabot. It's beautiful but very hilly. I'm not sure why I don't like it since I like the hills at Inspiration Point just fine. I should have run 6-7 miles, but my legs weren't holding up their part of the bargain. I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with the great dinner I had the night before and everything to do with all the running I did last week. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! I gave it my best shot but I flaked out and mostly walked up the steeper hills. I also walked up some of the less steep hills. And some of the flats. And this wasn't even the normal power walking I usually do. This was walking. Nay, this was strolling. Meandering. Slowly going forward while I gawked at the beautiful scenery. La la la la la, see me wander along. Unfortunately my coach Mama Lisa saw me and thought I should be making more of an effort. She didn't want to hear any of this taper nonsense (hey, the woman's run about 250 marathons and 100 ultras so she knows what she's talking about). She guilted me into running a hill that I would rather have sauntered up. Several miles later, while I was taking my good sweet time, I heard her cheering on other peeps and ringing her bell. By the time she came around the corner I was running along, smiling as if I had been doing that all along. Once she passed I continued with my "run/walk" and managed a grand total of 5 miles.

This was the day of our Honoree potluck. Most of our honorees (or honored patients, as they've been called in the past) were there. They told us their stories about finding out they had cancer, fighting it, and in some cases getting as far as remission. Very heartbreaking, very inspirational. This is the reason I keep joining the Team. This is the reason most of us were there. I can only hope that the money we raise will someday keep people from having cancer or having to go through some of the horrible treatments that are often as hard on their bodies as the cancer itself.

Since it was such a beautiful day when I got home, I decided to do a little yard work. Just a little. I've needed to remove all the rotted lemons from my tree. They looked pretty but were as tasty and juicy as the little tree ornaments they resembled. Too many days of hard freezes did a number on the tree and the fruit. I clipped and cut and tossed and shaped and filled the can with branches and lemons. Ouch and damn those thorns! Then I looked at the back yard and realized that there was much more to do than I (a) had time for, or (b) had the inclination for. Again I marvelled that my daffodils (although they're wilted now) and freshly growing columbine plant were as big as my teeny mandarin orange tree. I planted this tree SEVEN YEARS ago! It's had a few fruits, mostly the size (and consistency) of gumballs. The little ones, not the big gobstoppers. Once the columbine blooms the tree won't even be visible.

After I was tired out from (and bored with) gardening I went to my bro's house to meet up with the rest of them. I took along a new knitting project, another Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. I'm making it with the Noro Silk Garden that I got at Stitches. I'm going to make it wider and longer than the first one. I sat and knit and talked with my sis-in-law while my bro and mom were at Berkeley Bowl getting ingredients for dinner.

Our original plans had been to go out somewhere again for dinner, but mom gave my bro the "you're fat and you're going to drop dead" speech so he decided to cook. She told me the talk went well. WHAAA??? I try very hard to not tell off my mom but I couldn't help it. Hell, bro is in his 50's, is very intelligent, owns mirrors and wears clothing. He knows perfectly well what size he is, and knows very well the effect it has on his health. When he's good goddamned well ready he'll do something about it. Having his mommy tell him he's fat is the last thing he wants in his life. Yeah, I probably took it too personally because she's had that "talk" with me in the past. And is probably just itching to give it to me again. Annnnnyhoo, bro decided to cook a healthy dinner. He's a fabulous chef. Which may be one of the causes of his weight. Ya think?

Dinner would have been very healthy. Without the vodka. Or the chocolate cake. Or the pizza. While bro chef-ed away, I bartended. We all started with pometinis. Pomegranate vodka (Pearl Persephone, very tasty), Grand Marnier and Roses lime juice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Too bad, one round finished off the bottle (NO we didn't drink the entire bottle - it was less than half full - sheesh!). Then we went to cosmos. Cranberry vodka, Triple Sec and lime juice. Shake and strain. Yummm. Oh good, dinner is ready.

Bro prepared a very healthy salad with seared ahi. We had homemade sushi rolls on the side. Nephew had fresh cheese pizza made by his mom; she made the dough and grated fresh cheese. If the salad hadn't been so good I'd have been very happy to just eat that pizza. When we finished eating we realized our glasses were empty. Oh no! We can't have that! We decided that we'd better switch from pretty much straight booze to something with juice. The only juice they had was blueberry. No problemo! This lovely drink was made with vanilla vodka, triple sec, lime juice and blueberry juice. Shake, etc. Perfect! And went great with the chocolate cake they brought out for mom's birthday. All in all, too much to eat and too much to drink. But we were all happy. And maybe a little tipsy too.

Sunday was much simpler. Mom and I went out for sushi for lunch (Kane in Danville), and stopped by bro's on the way to the airport. We hung out for a short time, then headed for Oakland airport. What a mess! The persistent construction has funneled all the traffic going to either terminal into 2 lanes. Smart! What genius decided that Sunday afternoon would be a good day to do this? We finally made it to the terminal, I found a porter to wheel her to the gate, and off I went.

I decided to drop by the Sunday afternoon knitting group in Temescal, since I was on that side of the hills. I had gotten the word that they were now starting at 5pm, so I was a little early. I ordered a beer and took out my knitting. And knitted. And knitted. Finally Petra showed, but we were the only ones there. We hung out knitting and departed while it was still light out. I love daylight savings time!

So the score: inches knit, 13; miles run, 5; family members seen, 4; martinis consumed, 3; trees pruned, 1; hours lost (until fall), 1. I need more sleep!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Looking forward to Virginia Beach

I'm starting to get very excited about the weekend in Virginia Beach. I've found out that my second TnT running buddy, Heather, will be coming to see us and run the 8k with us! I started to run with Heather in 2002 when we were doing double training for the Silicon Valley Marathon and the Honolulu Marathon. She was a touch faster than I was (well, who isn't?) but we ran well together. Although we were on the Team at the time, we ran many extra miles to get ready for Sili. We both wanted to PR and make a good showing. Ahhh, yes, I remember those days when I was trying to run faster ...

I can vividly remember a couple of the windy, ugly, long runs we did. Sili went well for both of us; we started together and passed each other a couple of times, ran together for a while. Honolulu was another thing. For a long time it was my PW. I had a touch of stomach flu, never a good thing to experience during a marathon. Especially during a very crowded race like Hono where the porta-potty situation was --- well, gross is too clean a word. Heather stayed with me as I struggled along and made a bad race into a fun experience.

I was terribly sad when she and her family left the Bay Area for the east coast. This past winter they moved down the coast to the Raleigh area. Since it's close-ish to VBeach (by California standards anyway) Heather decided she could day-trip to see us. I'll have a full report of the visit when I get back. Oh yeah, I'm not leaving until next week!

Had a nice run last night with Pam. We ran our short short regular route. My legs are starting to feel more normal. Last night no cars ran the light or tried to run us over. While we're running I'm so focused on the traffic now, instead of on the street lights, that last night I started to run across a busy street before the light changed. Pam was behind me spluttering about how I was going to kill myself. Whoopsie. My bad. The only positive thing was that traffic was definitely stopped and nobody was coming. Note to self: "look both ways" now means look at BOTH the lights and traffic. Sheesh; you'd think I'd have learned that when I was a toddler.

Today's GBotD is Essbee. Yes, that's really SB. Which stands for Santa Barbara. I'm sure my originality in naming bears will begin to astonish you soon. Carol gave me Essbee on one of her trips to the bay area in the late 70's (Carol: do you remember?). Back in the day we used to drive back and forth between there and here very frequently. We'd party all weekend and drive home late on Sunday. Ahhhh yes, back in the days when sitting in a car for hours didn't drive me (heh heh - drive me, get it? oh, shut it!) batshit. And when I could actually party all weekend. I think Carol got Essbee at a fair, or something like that. Or I could be remembering the details incorrectly, it's happened before. Once or twice ...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Slow down

I didn't have to tell myself that this morning, it happened all by itself. I went to get a latte and for once there was no line. There was also nobody making drinks. The barrista (who made up that word, anyway?) finally made my latte and gave it to me. It was cold. Now, I don't like steaming hot drinks. I don't even like them less than steaming hot. But this was barely above lukewarm. So I waited while he made another one, this one hot. Thank you!

I got on the freeway and there was what looked like normal (heavy) morning traffic. Well, if that was what's passing as the new normal I'm going to have to find a new way to drive to work. Oh wait, there isn't one. It took me, literally, 20 minutes to go 3 miles. When it's that slow I really hope there's an accident causing it, but today it was just too damn many cars and trucks! From where I get the latte to my office is about 11 miles. This morning it took me over 45 minutes to drive that distance. Hell, I could RUN that in 2 hours! Grrr. Way to start the morning off.

I didn't run last night and my legs are feeling much better for it. An easy run tonight should be fine, and tomorrow night will be another night off. I'm hoping that a 2 week taper will be enough for full recovery by race time. If not, oh well. I'll finish it anyway, just slower.

I got a lot of knitting done on my scarf last night while I was watching Brothers and Sisters. Unfortunately I was really watching it and not paying as much attention to the knitting as I should have. I did one cable backwards, this time on the front so I had to rip back 2 repeats (6 row each). Then I had to get it back on the needles. I'm knitting it on 6's, using my Denise needles. I tried picking up the stitches on 5's and couldn't do it, I kept dropping more. So I got my KnitPicks double points in 1 and that worked fine. I ended up with very little done, but at least I fixed the mistake. I've gotta start paying more attention to what I'm knitting! Either that or only knit things I can felt so you can't see the mistakes.

The GBotD today is Cubbins. He looks a little strange because he's a puppet. No legs. He's usually stuffed with a sock to give him some body. He was given to me by a college friend who came and stayed with me for a while, not long after I moved into my first apartment in Oakland.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Another chance to donate

One of the reasons that I joined and rejoin Team in Training over and over again is because my dad had multiple myeloma. I think the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society does a wonderful job at their stated purposes of patient advocacy, patient services and research. They also have many creative ways to raise money, TnT being the most famous and maybe the most lucrative. Another way is through their Man and Woman of the Year Campaigns.

A couple of years ago I was happy to hear that my nephew Noah (ok, technically he's my step-nephew for those who are counting) had joined TnT's triathlon team, in part to honor the memory of his grandpa, my dad. I felt that even though he had misguidedly picked the wrong sport - heh heh - he was joining the right Team. At the time I warned him that TnT (not to mention the sport) can get under your skin and not let go. He completed his Half Ironman in such good form that he turned around and immediately did another one, taking first place in his division! Wow! To make a long story short (way too late!) he was asked by the Society to participate in their Man of the Year campaign and agreed. In support of that he's now training for a full Ironman!

I asked Noah if I could join his group of Team Cuttler Athletes and he enthusiastically agreed to let me. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be helping him to raise money for this fabulous cause. Go to his website and read his blog to find out how he plans to raise $150,000 in a 2 month period for the Society. Even better, come back on April 16, the day you pay your taxes (and my birthday, yay!) and follow the link I'll have here to contribute your tax refund -- er, I mean donate as much as your heart tells you to. I'll thank you, Noah will thank you, the Society will thank you and thousands of cancer patients and their families will thank you.

After all that, talking about my short run last night seems a little lame. It was Buddy Run night on the Iron Horse Trail. There were 4 of us plus Mentor Marcie's dog (who had eaten 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies and had to run them off). I was pretty happy to be on my own since my legs were still weary from Sunday. I managed 2 miles, with a little walking thrown in. I'm resting my legs tonight, they deserve it! It was another warm night, fine for short sleeves and shorts.

Today's GBotD is Honey Bear. Very shortly after arriving in California I went to the Oakland Zoo. After walking around and seeing all the live animals I went to the gift shop and saw this adorable stuffed bear. Her name was on the tag, and this became one of the few times I've called a bear by their tag name. Honey is my traveling bear, and has been everywhere out-of-town that I've been, pretty much since I bought her. She's small enough to fit in the smallest carry-on bag and surprises TSA every time they open my luggage to check for -- well, whatever contraband they're checking for at that point.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Hold it!

I'm sitting in my office, 12 minutes on hold in a call to a newspaper journal whose name is a famous New York street (don't want to be dropping names here, y'know). They inexplicably stopped our delivery, so I resumed it via their on-line forms. This morning I received an email confirming that they have stopped our delivery per my request. Whaa?? I could be on this phone a long, long time.

Last night was a good, warm run with Pam. We ran our short short route and realized we were both overdressed, even though we were wearing less than we have been. I was feeling pretty good, and even though my legs were fatigued from Sunday's run we made decent time. Nobody tried to run us over at the horrible crossing. It's nice that next week at least part of our run will be while it's light out. I LOVE daylight savings time!

Today's GBotD is Theodolinda (oh shut up. I was still working the whole "teddy" angle here. Like I'm the first to name a girly teddy bear this way). I was given Theodol while I was in living in the dorm at UofM, by a friend. Actually, it was my boyfriend's roommate. He was giving away his 2 childhood bears; one to me and one to Carol (yes, Carol of the poppppppies -- hi Carol!). Even then, before my obsession -- er, fascination -- with bears, I just didn't get how someone could give away their own bear. Doug did take one last liberty and tried to give Theodol a big black belly button with a magic marker. I was able to wash most of it off, but she still has a faint remnant. She's the last bear I have from when I lived in Michigan; my real obsession -- I mean, interest -- began in California.

I didn't get any knitting done last night. I'm flummoxed by the mistake in the center rib of my scarf, way back many rows. I don't want to frog 4 inches but I'm not sure I want the scarf with the error, even though it's on the "back". Maybe I'll deal with it tonight.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Popppppppies ...... poppies ......

What a long, run-filled weekend. Saturday was a team run on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. I decided to only run 5 miles, since my long run was scheduled for Sunday. Anita and Mary Ann ran 2.5 with me, then continued on to the bathrooms at mile 3. I turned around and concentrated on running slowly and steadily. Well, I managed steadily! My last mile was my fastest of the day, and fastest in a long time. Whoopsie! I was running with another mentor and we were gabbing away; I didn't realize how fast I was going.

A huge crowd of us went to breakfast afterward. I don't think Chow was prepared for 30 hungry runners to all show up at the same time! It took them a while to sort everything out but we finally all got our breakfasts and were very happy with our meals. I enjoyed meeting new teammates, one of my big reasons for rejoining the team.

I didn't do too much the rest of the day, just hung around the house and straightened and laundered. I had a craving for sushi but couldn't be bothered to actually go get it. Why oh why doesn't someone deliver good sushi out here in the 'burbs!?!

Sunday morning was a very very early start. Sandy and I met at 6:30 am in Fremont. Our plan was to run 20 miles on the Alameda Creek Trail. The weather was great; early overcast clearing to mostly sunny, heating up to the low 60s with a breeze. I wasn't too thrilled with the breeze but it was actually really good training for Shamrock, which tends to have strong headwinds. I would have run a perfect half marathon. Unfortunately, that was just about all I had in my legs. I was huffing and puffing, but my breathing wasn't the big problem for once. At just about 15 miles my legs went flat, and the rest of my run was just pure stubbornness. We had broken the run up in a 10 mile leg, an 8 mile and a 2 mile (so we could go back to the cars and get water, etc.). I truly trudged miles 16, 17 and 18, and was run:walking a 4:1. I got back to my car, knowing I needed those last 2 miles but feeling I'd have to walk them. I told Sandy to go on ahead; she was going to go 1.5 miles, turn around, and walk the last mile with me. I ended up run:walking 3:2 for 2 miles, and then decided that I also wanted to go that extra mile since Sandy hadn't caught up with me yet. I just have this mental thing about my marathon prep going over 20 miles. We walked in the last half mile and yay, got our 21 miles done. I was wiped out. Yeah, I AM an asshole!

That was it for the day; I was toast. I did more laundry and managed to go grocery shopping since there was no food in the house. Yum, salad,ice cream and popcorn for dinner. Hey, why else do I run 21 miles?

It's spring here. The hills are green, except where they're covered with bright yellow mustard. Lots of the trees are in bloom, although the snowball trees are mostly done. I saw the first California poppies (and thank you to Wikipedia for the pictures), and a few odd and assorted other poppies. Poppies always make me think of the Wicked Witch of the West. Last year when I visited my old college chum Carol at her new digs in Washington, it was poppy season. Yup, she and her husband also have Oz on the mind when they see the flowers. Now I can't see any without hearing that damn witch cursing the flowers! "something with poison in it" indeed ... what is up with my brain?