Monday, April 30, 2007

Visit Claudia's Blog

Ok, first of all, you have to go to Claudia's blog to see what she's up to in Hawaii. Go ahead, I'll wait. No, go there first.

Exciting, hmmm?!?!?! Now back to my regular blogging, which is boring in comparison.

Another busy busy weekend is done. It was a good one, too. Saturday started early with a team run at Coyote Hills. I'd always wondered what was on the other side of the hill at the 9 mile marker on the Alameda Creek Trail, and I finally got the chance to see. It wasn't too big of a crowd, just big enough. Mentor Cindy led us out for the warm-up and was going to turn around and and come back to the start for the stretch. I went a few steps and then remembered that (like usual) I had forgotten my inhaler. Since it was already warm and very weedy/grassy/pollen-y I figured I'd better go back to the car and use it, thinking I'd be back at the beginning when the rest of the group got there. Oopsie, Cindy decided that with the heat she'd just keep going to the next parking area, about a mile out. One other woman and I ran to catch up with the group. Big mistake on my part, since we ran that mile in just over 10 minutes. Oopsie again! That was just about all the energy I had and the other 5 miles were pretty much of a slog.

Mentor Portia had marked our route through the marsh over wooden planks and a dirt road, which was very pretty (and buggy), along the road (buggy too), over the hill (more bugs), along the trail (buggier) and then back again. Ick and patooie! Since I breathe through my mouth when I run I had to keep spitting the little buggers out. But even though I took more walk breaks than I had intended (and walked up the steeper hills too) I was faster than I thought I'd be. Our fabulous mentors had provided fruit, pb&j sandwiches, waters, etc. for after the run. That was the warmest run we've done yet, a taste of summer (and hot marathons?) to come. I was glad there was a water fountain along the route to refill my bottle.

I scurried on home to get out of running clothes, shower and put on girlier clothes. Bree was throwing Sandy a bridal shower at her home in Oakland. She prepared lots of good food, and - oh look, a chocolate fountain! I had said that I'd be the bartender, although I didn't really think that with a shower starting at 1:00 pm, anyone would be drinking except for maybe a glass of wine or a beer. I gave Bree a few suggestions for mixed cocktails and she got all the booze and mixers ready and set up in the only area available, the garage. When I got there I surveyed it and thought it was a great idea. Until I remembered that the reason you need a wet bar is so that you can dump the used ice and rinse out the shaker. Not to worry, I had brought my big ice chest and decided it would make a great sink replacement. I got a pitcher of fresh water for rinsing, and just dumped the used ice and rinsed. I was pretty surprised that almost everyone was drinking! I mixed cosmogranates with pomegranate vodka and Grand Marnier, French kisses with vanilla vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice, regular vodka martinis with lots of olives, umm, and another drink that I can't remember, certainly not because I was sampling my own wares! Ok, maybe I had a drink. Ok, maybe I had two. Umm, I'm pretty sure I didn't have more than that. Probably.

So we ate, we drank, then ate some more. We played the usual (boring) (don't tell anyone I said that) shower games. I didn't win. I wasn't playing too hard either. Then Sandy opened her fabulous gifts. (Not everyone was watching her open her gifts LADIES - a few people were off in the kitchen schmoozing away - and I won't mention any names - but I'll publish the picture!). I sure hope Sandy or Tom take up cooking, because they've got to have every type pot and pan available. And a top-of-the-line mixer. And glasses and pitchers. And a couple of ooh-la-la nighties too, but those won't be for the kitchen (and if they are, don't tell me!).

After the shower I went to see my bro and his family, since I was in Oakland already. I'll talk more about that, and have a picture of my nephew and his new pet rat, tomorrow. Yes, I had more to eat. Yes, I had more to drink.

Yesterday I went to a TnT recruitment effort lightly as an alumni run and brunch. It was just a few minutes from my house and I figured that I needed to run anyway, so I might as well do it with company. They're recruiting for summer season, which is Nike season. Since Nike managed to leak the information for early registration, and also managed to sell out the entire race within a few hours, the only way to run the Nike Women's Marathon is to join TnT. There was a decent sized turnout and they started us with a 5k run along the Iron Horse Trail in San Ramon. At the turn-around point there was a water stop with chocolate (and very cute girl scouts), just like they have in the race (only better than the first year of the race when they were out of all chocolate by the time I got there). When we crossed the finish line there were studly gentlemen holding trays of blue Tiffany bags, just like at the race. Unlike the race, there was no fancy Tiffany necklace inside. Oh, c'mon now, you really didn't expect there to be one, did ya? The bag had a drink, a cd, Nike propaganda -- er, literature, some jelly bellies, and more chocolate. There was a great catered lunch waiting for us too; freshly barbecued chicken or eggplant, salad, potatoes, cookies. There was also a raffle drawing. The only thing there was that you had to actually register for summer season to get a ticket. Hey, I cry bait and switch tactics! They were giving away fabulous parting gifts like an iPod nano and a real Tiffany necklace. Since I'm not joining summer I didn't get a ticket and just said my good byes and took off.

The rest of the day was filled with the joys of getting ready for a busy week to come. Y'know, laundry, grocery shopping, gardening. Yawn. The real countdown has begun for Avenue. I'm pretty excited. At the moment the forecast is for sunny warm weather. A couple of days ago it was for rainy cool weather. I think I'd better stop looking until we're closer to the date; I'm driving myself nuts. Now I just have to get a little sleep this week and I'll run well!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Do what with my what?

My life is full of spam. I mostly use my office email address, except when I'm trying to be a bit more anonymous and I use another one. Unfortunately every spammer in the universe also uses my email address. I get, no kidding, about 250-300 emails per day. Maybe 50 of those are picked up by my spam filter, but the rest get through. Of those going into my inbox, 25-30 are real emails that I need to see. I don't know what the parameters of the filter are, but I get almost identical emails in both my inbox and spam filter. I can't do real tight controls because, and I know this will shock you, I buy a lot of stuff on-line and so I get lots of spam-like emails selling me stuff - that I actually want.

But I'll tell ya, I don't need a new Rolex, I have no use for viagra or the ability to please a lady or to last like a porn star, I don't want to purchase worldwide drugs or hoodia or human growth hormone or the latest weight loss program, I don't bank at BB&T or Citi or BofA and I don't want to review my paypal or ebay account, I'm pretty certain I haven't won the UK National Lottery or the Irish National Lottery, I can't read Chinese or Russian, I don't want a dream vacation (that doesn't involve a marathon!), I'm pretty sure that the outstanding contract payment from the Bank of Nigeria for ten and a half million dollars is in error and I'm damn certain sure that I won't be letting Mr. Kosi Zulu or any other civil servant in Cape Town use my account to give me sixteen million dollars. I mean, who DOES fall for this crap??

Meanwhile, every once in a while a business associate sends me an email that I miss, or a friend writes to say hi and I mistakenly delete it, or a company that I love has a big sale and I just can't stand to see another email. So if you've written me and haven't heard back, try again, will ya? Only don't put any of the above matters in the subject line or I may just delete that too!

I had a good run last night with Pam. We ran, yes, our usual short short run. We were chattering away -- ok, I was chattering away -- and my breathing was pretty bad. I couldn't tell if it was because I had forgotten to use my inhaler, or because I was talking, or because I was running too fast. Or some combination of those. Pam's a much faster runner than I am now so she always lets me set the pace. Turned out that I was running fast, I had forgotten my inhaler, and I was talking too much. So nice to solve a mystery. It was the first really warm evening run this year. Yay spring!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Sweetie. She's yet another lovely Steiff bear and ... darn, there I go again, mesmerized by their website. Ahem. Alright, I'm ok now. Sweetie is a soft, plush modern Steiff, straight from Germany. My sis-in-law was visiting her family there and I asked her to get me a bear, and described the type I was looking for. She did a great job and brought me this one. So I had to call the bear the same thing my bro calls his wife. Awww!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Memories of my first

First marathon, that is (get your mind out of the gutter). After season one of TnT and my very first marathon, the Suzuki San Diego Rock 'n' Roll in June 2001, I wrote a long review of race weekend and race day. I wanted to remember every little thing, every nuance, every feeling. As you'll see from the length I included all of that. This may get boring, but hang in there! On June 3, 2007 I'll run my 26th full marathon, my 5th RnR-SD. The routes may change but the feelings are still the same.

I now present "Memories of Amy's First!"

I DID IT! On June 3, 2001, I crossed the finish line of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego. Four months of intensive training, over 300 miles run, all came down to the final 26.2 miles on a beautiful Sunday.

Saturday morning I arose very early to make certain my trip to San Diego would go well. There was no traffic and parking at the airport was a breeze. I walked to the gate and waited for my team members to arrive. I started worrying when it was boarding time and my running partner Ellen hadn’t arrived, but she showed up in time. A very uneventful flight, met at the airport by my mom. I exchanged cell phone numbers with my friends so we could meet up later (what did we ever do without them?) and left with mom.

We went to the expo at the convention center to pick up the race packet and tee shirt (and try to spend some money!). Parking was impossible and the expo was very crowded. I got my number, my tee shirt and goodie bag. I bought a souvenir timing chip to tie on my shoe and a tyvek marathon jacket with pictures of previous years’ marathons. I also preordered a video of the race and finish line photos. We tried all the different gels, bars and drinks, getting samples of some of them for the race.

My pre-long-run training meal had always been sushi and I didn’t want to change that so we stopped at Benihana’s for a quick lunch. We sat at the sushi bar and had a wonderful snack, then went to check in at my hotel (Red Lion Hanalei). That went smoothly, my room “down the hall, out the door, down the steps, around the pool, through the door, up the elevator and down the hall to the left”. Unfortunately my non-smoking room wasn’t; despite an open porch door there was a heavy lingering smell of smoke. Yuck. Mom said goodbye and I unpacked my racing stuff and set it up for the morning.

I met up with Ellen, Mike, Julie, Denise and Brian and we took the bus back to the convention center for the pasta party (Denise had a walking cast on her stress fracture and was attending for support – ours and hers!). This was held in an enormous room, with the tables coded for the different teams. We finally found a table with enough empty room and sat to eat our pasta. In the center of each table was a large bowl of fruit (apples, oranges and bananas) and small bags of pretzels. Then the presentation began. There were large video screens hung around the room, which was a good thing since I couldn’t see the stage (too far away!). There were awards given to the largest fundraisers (including a Suzuki motorcycle!) and talks by different people. John “the Penguin” Bingham gave a talk but I don’t remember much of what he said, only that he was very funny. The closing speaker was a woman whose young daughter was diagnosed with leukemia a couple of years ago, and after lots of treatment is doing ok. The woman was a TnT runner, doing her first marathon. Her talk was very moving and most of the audience (including me) could be heard sniffling.

The line for the bus back to the hotel was endless. I sat next to woman who was the mentor for a walking team from some southern state. She had run 2 marathons, her first one with TnT. She told me how wonderful and close her group was. We had a great chat.

We finally got back to the hotel and went to our rooms. I double checked all my stuff for the morning, called the desk for a wake-up call, read for a while, watched a bit of tv, read for a while, then put out the light. Then I actually fell asleep!

Sunday morning June 3rd started for me with a 3am (this is not a typo) wake-up call. First I couldn’t find the phone. Then I realized that the phone next to the bed wasn’t working. The bedside light didn’t work either. By the time I stumbled out of bed to the other phone it had stopped ringing. Two minutes later it rang again and I received my computerized wake-up message. The day begins!

I took a quick shower to wake up, and then methodically started to dress for the run while trying to eat my oatmeal (not terribly tempting at that time of morning) and drink water. Shorts, sports bra, racing singlet with my race number pinned to the front (17769), honoree bracelets (dad’s on my left wrist and the other on my right), bus bracelet, heart rate monitor and chest strap, sunscreen, body glide, socks, gloves, sweatshirt, wrist sweatband, shoes with racing chip on one foot and id tag on the other, hat, sunglasses (even though it won’t be light for hours yet). I double checked my water bottle belt to make sure it contained gel, lip protectant, ibuprophen, tums, kleenex, mixed ultima in the bottle, my room key. I opened and read the card from my dearest friend Ellen, wishing me luck in the hours ahead.

I made it downstairs to our 4am meeting (this is not a typo either) with a few minutes to spare. Most of my team, and the other teams staying at our hotel, were assembled in the courtyard by the pool. Coach Al gave us a few final words of wisdom and inspiration, we did a few cheers (and woke everybody else in the hotel, haha) and we got in line for the bus to the start area.

So there we were at the start area. Two hours before the start. It’s dark out. We stood around. We sat around. We felt nervous and giddy. We hydrated. We used the porta-potties (no lines yet!). We sat some more. It started getting light. More people arrived. We got a bit anxious. We used the porta-potties again (still no lines!). We sat some more. I noticed the indelible ink writing on my honoree bracelets was rubbing off (good thing I knew what was supposed to be written there). Finally at about 6:15 we walked over to our starting corral (we were starting waaaaay back at the 18th corral, about 1000 people in each). Stood in line for the porta-potty. Said good-bye to our teammates who were in earlier corrals. Took some pictures. Got really excited. After what seemed like hours (oh wait, it really was hours) we heard a distant noise that must have been the start.

Seven minutes after the official start we crossed the start line and our race began. I was running with my teammate and training partner Ellen, and with our teammate Julie who had lost her training partner Denise to the stress fracture she got during our 16 mile training run. Our goal was to take it slow and steady and to concentrate on finishing in good health. As in our training we walked through water stops to make sure we hydrated frequently. We sucked down lots of gels. We listened to the bands along the route, slapped palms with the cheerleaders and marines, and talked with other runners and walkers.

We saw Julie’s family before mile 6 but didn’t really stop to see them. My good friend Tom, along with friends Gloria and Frank (all wearing tee shirts with “Amy’s TnT Crew” on the front and “You Go Girl!” on the back) and Ellen’s boyfriend Mike were supposed to meet us at mile 6 with fresh drinks, gels and whatever else we needed. We saw Mike, but where were the others? The black tee shirts with yellow lettering should have stood out in the crowd. Oh. There they are, goofing off with the cheerleaders! Not paying attention to whether we were passing or not. I wasn’t too thrilled and I unfortunately let Tom know that. Sorry Tom! But we got our goodies and ran on.

There’s so much about the run I don’t remember, and strange things that I do. After the first mile we saw a runner lying on the ground, never found out what was wrong with her. We ran around Balboa Park, we ran through the Gas Lamp District (not even noticing that the streets were lined with jacarandas in purple bloom), we ran on the freeway, we ran around Mission Bay. The people at the frequent water stops were wonderful, the cheerleaders were great and the bands looked like they’d been up all night and this was the first time they’d seen daylight in ages. Some of the bands were really good and we ran in step with the music. We had our names on our singlets (mine on the front and back, Ellen’s on the front and Julie’s on the back) and people cheered us on by name. It was personal, they were all there just for us!

We kept running. We got tired, and kept running. Somewhere between miles 10 and 12 we kept running past “The Motivator”. This was a woman in jeans and dreadlocks who walked slowly along loudly shouting encouragement to everyone. We couldn’t figure out how she kept getting ahead of us (we finally saw her sprint past us one time when we had our heads turned).

Our friends met us at mile 13, just before the half marathon mark. About mile 16 I saw my mom’s car, then saw my mom sitting on the ground with a “Go Amy” sign. I yelled and waved to her, she got up and walked a bit with us, took a few pictures. We kept running. Our friends met us for the last time at mile 19. I wearily told Tom that he should run the rest of it instead of me (he ignored me). Somewhere during the 20th mile another runner joined us. She and Julie pulled ahead and finally ran out of our sight. That was fine, Ellen and I were used to being among the slowest runners. We kept running.

At some point we stopped bopping to the bands, stopped slapping hands with the cheerleaders, stopped smiling. But we kept on running. We slowed down to drink, and sped up again after. We knew the finish line had to be close. More running. Even this far along the route and late in the day we see lots of Team in Training runners and walkers. The TnT supporters were along the road with bags of pretzels, crackers, jellybeans, lifesavers. It was too much work to chew so I passed, even though the food would have been good nutrition.

Somewhere around mile 23 we both started getting choked up and emotional. I told Ellen and myself that crying took too much energy and to save it for the finish. I kept singing stupid little positive jingles through my brain (“I feel good, I feel fine, we’re getting close to the finish line” “I feel great, I feel good, I’m getting close to the neighborhood”) to keep the pace and keep my spirits up. I thought a lot about my dad, what he had gone through, and how much I wished I could tell him about the race. I was cheered by thinking of how excited he was when I told him I was doing this and what it meant to him.

Still more running. We stopped responding to all the great people cheering us on; no extra energy to thank them or wave. We slowed to a walk to drink but walking hurt more than running so we’d quickly start running again. We ate sharkies and they seemed to give a bit of strength. It felt like we were going really fast (we actually were; our last two miles were among our fastest). Finally we made the last turn and saw that glorious finish ahead.

We crossed the finish line side-by-side at an official time of 6:17:07. We gave each other a hug and walked along the finish area. I was pretty choked up with emotion and exhaustion and couldn’t catch my breath. We were too tired to hold the water being passed out, and luckily the children handing out the medals put them directly around our necks. We were given mylar blankets but we were already overheated and just hung onto them as souvenirs. We waited while they cut the chip off Ellen’s shoe.

We found our friends and hugged and took pictures. We searched for the Team in Training tent to get our special “26.2” pins and sign out. We hung around the finish area for a while, but were too tired to see what was there, look at the displays, look at the booths. We had to stand in line for the bus back to the hotel, but at least they had water for us there. I sat next to a woman from the San Francisco team, also completing her first marathon. Everybody was kind of dazed. We got back to our hotel with just enough time to shower before the victory party.

Mike drove Ellen and me to the party; no waiting in line for a bus tonight. We went back to the convention center, under the flags. The party was huge! We ate, we drank, we danced and we took pictures. I didn’t understand why I was so hungry until I remembered this was my first meal of the day (other than oatmeal and gels). Either the food was excellent or I was starving. And although not recommended, I had three beers (hey, I was rehydrating). There were no speeches, just a party. And we deserved it!

The party was over early, about 8pm. I hugged and thanked my “Amy’s Crew” and my mom, and Mike drove us back to the hotel. We said goodnight, and I went to my room.

It was over. Four long months of training, six days each week. Focused and intent on a goal that was successfully completed. I’d made many new friends, seen lots of new places. It’s impossible to describe the feelings I had and have.

There were about 3700 purple-clad Team In Training runners and walkers participating in our marathon representing The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 320 from our San Francisco group. Together we raised an amazing $14 million toward a cure for leukemia and lymphoma, with $1,084,000 from our group. Our little East Bay Run group raised over $263,890 for this marathon alone!

2007 afternote:

When I finished that marathon I was sure it would be my one and only; I had no need to do it ever again. Within the week I had decided to mentor for the next season. I thought I'd run a second marathon just to make sure the first wasn't a fluke. I had no idea that marathon running would become my life, that I would travel throughout the country for races, that I'd have such marvelous friends who shared my obsession. Thank you TnT! Thousands of miles run (and thousands of dollars spent) later, this race remains special to me. I'm glad I took the time six years ago to write it all down.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Don't touch that faucet

When I moved to California umpty million years ago it was in the middle of a severe drought. The weather was dry and and warm and beautiful and made up for the fact that we couldn't water the yard (but we didn't care because we were renting), we couldn't wash the dishes (but we didn't care because we were in our 20's), we couldn't do a lot of laundry (but we didn't care because we didn't have a washer and dryer) and we had to take 2 minute showers (ok, that one hurt). This summer our utility district is asking that we voluntarily cut back our usage by 15% because we're having the seventh driest year in about the last century. This can be a problem, since we're already very conscious of our power and water usage and conservation.

We're asked to water our yards three times a week on nonconsecutive nights. I already do that. We should fix leaky plumbing. Duh. Run our dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads. Uh huh, already do that. Use commercial car washes instead of washing at home. Wash our cars? People do that?

It's been the same with power over the past few winters. A few years ago the other utility company said we needed to cut back. Ok, heat down to 68 and off at night, lights off when not using them, only full dryer loads, unplug other things when not in use. Check and check. The next year they asked us to cut back even farther. Okey dokey, will do. Then last year they decided to give rebates to people who cut back another 15%. Hey waitaminute! I'm already sitting in the dark with three layers of clothes and a blanket. There's no room for any less power. When it turned out to be one of the coldest winters around I finally gave up. I decided not to conserve. It was time to set a new higher baseline so that next year I could get a rebate for being such a good conservationist. This winter I only wore two layers and a blanket, took long hot showers when I was cold, dried my clothes until they were actually dry, didn't unplug anything. I got a sad letter from the utility saying I didn't meet my goal. Aww, but next year I can!

So I'm afraid I didn't prep well for a drought. If I had known, last year I would have watered my lawn every day, run the dishwasher daily, taken 30 minute showers all the time (oh yeah, I really do that), washed my car -- uh, no. I still wouldn't have washed my car. That's what commercial car washes are for. I guess I won't get a gold star on this conservation effort either.

Last night was our buddy run on the buggy Iron Horse. There were the regular six of us. Or rather, the five of them and me. I'm pretty sure that if I ran only a minute per mile faster I could keep up with them, but I can only do that for a couple of blocks without keeling over. For a while they were just close enough to be the rabbit so of course I ran too fast. I finally took a walk break so they'd get far enough ahead. It was one of the warm dry nights swarming with hard little black bugs. They're not gnats, not squishy enough. I did a lot of spitting during the run to get them out of my mouth. My iPod+ again gave the wrong mileage, short this time. According to the official maps I went 3.96 miles. The iPod+ said I went about 3.4. That's even worse than last time. When I finished Lance Armstrong congratulated me on my longest run yet! Heh heh. If Lance only knew!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Demi. I received him as a get-well gift from a friend after I had a minor surgical procedure. It must have been around Valentine's Day again, thus the heart. This was the first time in my life I had taken Demerol and what a treat that was! I don't normally take drugs (well, not since high school anyways) because I don't like the lack of control. Demerol didn't so much remove pain as it removed my caring about pain. Everything was happy and sharp and la la la isn't life wonderful. I think I had one, maybe two doses, but it was enough to name my new bear after it. I'm pretty sure that Demi is my only bear named after a narcotic!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Don't run me over please

Spring is apparently back. Again. Some more. I'm pretty sure we're not done with winter yet, but it's nice to have warm (not hot) sunny breezy days. Even with the late rains the hills are browning out. There's still some brave mustard blooming above the dead grasses, but this is the end of it.

I had a great run with Pam last night. We did our usual short short run. It was one of those nights where it seems people really were trying to kill us. Jerks squeeling around corners, morons screetching up to lights, loose dogs, etc. Lots of adrenaline made for a faster than normal run. At the last stretch I sped up, more or less unconsciously, and Pam asked me if we were sprinting. Not yet, just running fast. Then I started the sprint. The first few steps were great, then a twinge in my knee. Another twinge. I slowed down a tad, felt ok, sped up again, another twinge. Sprint officially over. No more speed work until after the marathon. My knee's fine, caught it in time. That's why I don't go to track!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Val. I have a hard time in stores during the Valentine's Day shopping season because of all the bears on the shelves. Not only that, but there are also lots of red bears. If I have a weakness for bears I have a severe weakness for red ones! Several years ago I saw Val and she just stood out from the crowd of stuffies on the shelf. [Note: I didn't know they were called stuffies until my then 8 year old nephew called them that. Cute name.] Val just jumped in my basket while I wasn't looking so I had to take her home. Sigh. It's an addiction. I may need a 12-step program. Only I'd probably make it a 12-bear program so it wouldn't work!

Monday, April 23, 2007

What a lovely weekend. Busy and restful at the same time. Lots accomplished and still time to nap. What could be better! Heh heh.

Friday night I had dinner at Mudd's with my dear friend Ellen (no, not that one; the other one). Our birthdays are 9 days apart and some years we celebrate, some we don't. We've had trouble finding time to get together lately and have actually taken to scheduling outings months in advance. This year we hadn't planned anything. In fact, she forgot my birthday. I knew she'd be a lot more upset about it than I was, and she sure was. One of those "I didn't forget when your birthday was, I just didn't realize it was April already." Yeah, I've been there too. So Friday afternoon we realized we both had the evening free (bwahhahaha - as if I'm ever booked up on a Friday night!) and decided to celebrate. In limited fashion, since we both had to get up early and I'm trying to watch what I eat and drink. Um, I mean diet.

We each started with a nice Grey Goose martini with lots of olives. That was a hard decision; we starting by thinking we'd split a bottle of wine, then thought one of their fancy cocktails would go down well, then just decided to stick with the tried and true. One each only though! We split the crab cake appetizer. It was 3 little (very little) round cakes, sitting on an olive tapenade-type thing, with endive salad. Very good. For the main course I had the scallops, seared and placed on pea risotto in a pancetta nage. Yeah, I had no idea what that was either. Pancetta is a type of cured bacon and nage is a thin broth. It was beyond delicious and I cleaned my plate with a piece of warm bread. We passed on dessert. There had been some problem with, I'm not sure, the order, or the kitchen, or something, so it took a long time to serve us and they apologized repeatedly. We didn't care, we were pretty happy to just sit there and chat. The meal wasn't really diet approved but it was worth it all.

Saturday morning was a TnT coaches run. As I mentioned, it was changed to Lake Merritt and yuck on that. I got there in time to start with the first group and ran most of the first loop with Joann(e?), with whom I ran last week. I just wasn't too into it, so I checked with Coach Al and he told me that I only needed to run the loop twice since I had done a long run last weekend. Yay and yippee! I ran the second loop alone and ran at top speed. Contrary to my earlier expectations I didn't fall in the Lake. I hung around after my run while everyone else finished. It was cold, my fingers were getting numb, my lips turning blue, shivering. For some reason I decided that sugar would warm me up so I nibbled on gummy bears. Oh whoops there goes the diet again. At least I wasn't munching bagels.

I did a little work in the garden but the weather wasn't quite right for working outside. Some time during the week my first peony blossoms opened up. It's the plant in the most direct sun and isn't the showiest of the bunch. Still, it's loaded with flowers and the ants haven't destroyed it yet. The other bushes are getting close to bloom, and the columbine is flowering. I have a mystery flower. I've seen the bulb getting bigger the past couple of years but this is the first time I've really seen the plant itself. I have no idea what it is so I'm looking forward to the flowers opening. Maybe an iris? That's my current guess but we'll have to wait and see. There are a couple of little ones behind it that may have flowers too. I'm just hoping it doesn't bloom the weekend I'm off running my next marathon. I'm pretty sure that's what's happened the last couple of years.

Sunday wasn't too interesting, just the usual cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, blah blah yawn boring. I did manage to do one of my cross-training tapes, a lower body workout. I'm pretty sure by tomorrow afternoon I'll be owie owie-ing every time I stand up or sit down.

The only knitting this weekend was rows and rows of the super long wrap. Until I get good sick and tired of it, or I finish it, that's all I'll be knitting. Black alpaca, two rows, over and over. And over. My brain is saying "must finish wips" and my heart is saying "start a new project with the blue silk" or "knit a hat" or "knit some fingerless gloves." It'll be interesting to see which wins out! I have told myself that before I go to Stitches MidWest I have to knit something from yarn I bought there last year!

Have a grantastic Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2007


As I've said before ad nauseam, I quit smoking on my 38th birthday. Since then, when I decide to spend money on something I usually just say "well, smoking a pack a day would cost more -- much more!" The cost of cigs has skyrocketed in California because of all the taxes and I think a pack is over $4.50 now. Something like that. As I've also reported, lately I seem to be addicted to lattes. In particular, large non-fat sugar-free vanilla lattes. Umm umm good! In addition to the caffeine boost I get, there's the calcium and the fact that I'm not hungry the rest of the morning when I have one. (There's also the little problem with a slight lactose intolerance, but we won't discuss that.) When I started with these I'd have them about once a week. Then twice. Then every other day. You see it coming, right? Now it's daily. I'm trying really really hard not to have that many, but I've been soooo tired lately. And since I'm trying to cut back on food, the 4 point drink keeps me from eating anything else for the rest of the day.

I was getting them on my way to work at the local Safeway Starbucks. Then they discontinued their "buy 7, get 1 free" promotion and there wasn't a reason to get it from their surly clerks. Except that it really is right on my way to work, easy parking, etc. This morning I decided that today would be a caffeine-free day. I'd go straight to the office and have yogurt and a tangerine for breakfast. I hopped on the freeway and drove 3 miles and then sat in traffic. Without a latte to sip. Getting crankier and sleepier. Finally got to Walnut Creek, totally drove past my exit, went a mile past there and got off at the exit that would take me to a Starbucks. [Note: in Walnut Creek almost any exit will take you to a Starbucks. Or a Peets. Or another coffee shop.] Parked, ran in, got my latte, ahhhhhh. That's more like it. And it cost less than a pack of cigs!

Noah has posted his awesome Ironman Arizona report on his blog. I'm astounded not only that he completed an Ironman, but that this included his very first full marathon! Wow and double wow! Oh, I don't mean that I'm astounded that he completed it, but that he attempted it in the first place. Being a mere mortal multiple marathoner myself (my, how very poetic that was) an extreme athlete like an ultramarathoner or triathlete is just an overwhelming role model to me. I applaud Noah's determination and resolve to do another one (!). And I urge you to hop straight on over to his website and donate money to his Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man of the Year campaign. He deserves it!

Do you ever get the feeling you've forgotten something? I've had that feeling all week! Hey - if I've forgotten to meet you somewhere, or forgotten to give you something, or forgotten your birthday, let me know, ok?

Our team's coached run for tomorrow was moved from Walnut Creek to Lake Merritt. Yuck. I don't mind running around the Lake once. I'll put up with running it twice. Tomorrow will be at least 3 times. Possibly in the rain. Probably wind. Time to start mentally preparing so that I have a good run. "I will not fall in the Lake. I will not slip on goose poop and fall in the Lake. I will not be body checked by a ranting homeless person and fall in the Lake. I will not be attacked by a flock of Canada geese and fall in the Lake. I will not be tripped by a faster runner and fall in the Lake." What? So I have a phobia about falling into the Lake, wanna make something of it??

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Pittie. Like Penny from yesterday, I got him on a trip to visit my sis in Pittsburgh, also at Harry & David's. He's a smaller version of Penny, but still soft and squishy. Here's a picture of both of them together, since that's how they're cutest.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I only whine for half of this

Yesterday was a beautiful spring day. Today? Not so much. Overcast, cold, windy, blah. Being a creature of the sun this is depressing to me. I just want to crawl back into bed and throw the covers over my head and stay there all day. Whine whine whine.

I didn't get much done yesterday in the way of exercise. I managed to do about a million crunches but blew off the rest of the cross training I had planned. My stomach was still having issues, I was tired and I wussed out. Again, whine whine whine.

I went to weigh-in yesterday and, surprise surprise, I gained a little (tiny) bit of weight. Ounces, actually. I'm not sure if it was the long run upsetting my system, the PF Chang's dinner, the upset stomach, the lack of extra exercises, the excess wine last Wednesday or what. You'd think that if I run for 4-1/2 hours I'd lose something, but noooo. Fooey. Three weeks and already I'm not losing anything. Once more for good effect, whine whine ...

Ahem. Now we return to our normally cheery portion of this blog.

I got a lot of knitting done last night on my super-long wrap. I'm finally back to where I was before ripping out that large section. I didn't remember it being such a big part, I guess I wiped it out of my memory so that i wouldn't just throw the whole thing into a corner and ignore it. Oh wait, that's exactly what I did with it. I love the softness of the yarn but the little alpaca hairs are getting everywhere. I should get used to it, I think it'll take me a while to finish. All the time I'll be thinking of that lovely blue silk on my shelf, waiting for inspiration. Meanwhile I made a little flip card for the wrap so I can remember which row I'm knitting. My normal knitting/sitting spot isn't light enough for me to see the stitches closely enough to be able to tell, and I don't want to have to move and find somewhere brighter to sit. Maybe I really need a knitting light for over the sofa.

I'm getting confused about my Gratuitous Bears of the Day; I haven't been keeping a list and I'm not sure who has graced these pages already -- and I have so many I don't need to start repeats this soon. I initially was going to put them in acquisition order but then I started forgetting when I got them all. Today's BGotD is Penny. I got her at a Harry & David's in Pennsylvania while visiting my sis (before she moved to Nashville). She's a big, soft, squishy bear, much prettier than her picture shows. In case you saw them in the stores, she's the larger version of a multi-sized bear. The incredibly huggable one!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spring day with a bow

I didn't run last night; I totally blew off the buddy run. I've had -- um -- digestive issues for the past several days. My run Monday night with Pam was rudely interrupted by an urgent need to get to a bathroom. To make a long indelicate story short, yesterday I didn't feel like having the same emergency while out on the trail. I stayed home and gave my weary legs (and grumbly tummy) a rest. I think I'll stay home tonight too, probably do some cross-training.

Now that I've finished knitting Clapotis I can move on to another unfinished project. I decided to pick up my super-long wrap and get back to work on it. I haven't touched it for months, since Song at Article Pract put it back on the needles for me. I had made a huge mistake and ripped it back about 4 inches, then couldn't figure it out. I'm using a double strand of black alpaca and was flummoxed. I actually had to unknit another couple of rows last night before I could start going forward again. Now if only I can stop frogging and continue onward, I might finish this some day! It's not like it's a difficult pattern, it's a two row repeat. I don't know how I keep making stupid mistakes; probably the yarn, it's hard to see stitches.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Bo. About 14 years ago I was working with a woman who bought her young daughter a pretty bear for her birthday. Before she wrapped it and took it home I couldn't stop playing with the bear. A couple of months later for my birthday she presented me with a similar bear. I named her for the bow on her head. She's reminds me of a sunny spring morning, just like today!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Outrage and horror

Like most of the country I'm horrified by the tragic mass murders at Virginia Tech. Thirty three dead, mostly young students. One unhappy, crazed individual got a gun and went wacko. "Guns don't kill people, people do" is one blithe saying, "he could have used an axe or a knife" is another. No, there's no way that many people would have been killed without a gun. These simple hand guns turned into weapons of mass destruction. The guns weren't used for "protection" or for game hunting, they were used to hunt down and kill other human beings. We need gun control and we need it now, before the next slaughter of innocents.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happ -- yeah, that's enough!

I had a mostly fabulous weekend, lots of running, lots of eating, lots of friends. It really doesn't get much better than this. At least not in my life.

Saturday morning was a Coaches run at the San Leandro Marina. As I drove over the Dublin grade I got a baaaaad feeling. It was drizzly and windy. But the lowlands looked ok; lots of dark clouds and a breeze, but still dry. I was going to run only about 4 miles, taking it easy in anticipation for Sunday's run. I started to run with one of the newbie peeps, going a nice slow 13-ish minute mile, and just stopped when we were past the 2-1/2 mile area. I decided to walk/run/meander back to the start, cheering on the people who started later than I did. La di dah, despite the wind it was really beautiful out there as I strolled along. The dark clouds added something to the atmosphere (pun not really intended) of water, waves, birdies, marshes, etc. I cheered and yelled whenever I saw a teammate coming along, knowing they had quite a run ahead of them. Then I felt a drop of rain. Yep, I thought, must be rain because I certainly wasn't going fast enough to be dripping sweat. Another drop. More drops. I decided at that point that running was probably a good idea, just to get back to the start/finish before any real rain started.

I don't know why I sped up, or where I thought I'd be going. Fabulous Cindy and her family were cooking breakfast for the team. The whole nine yards; eggs, pancakes, sausages, etc. etc. etc. Tons of food being cooked in the on-coming storm. Luckily for them they had brought a tent to cover the cooking area. Unluckily for us, there was no other cover except for a really big tree. That was ok until the wind and rain got going. We all wanted to wait for the entire team to finish before leaving, and that meant waiting for quite a long time in the cold wet. We were all whining about frozen fingers, frozen faces, frozen bodies. We whined a lot quieter when the runners came in since they had all run 14 miserable miles. The breakfast was fabulous and the team came through and waited for the last finishers before running for their nice warm cars.

While waiting around we received the sad news that Brenda only had a very short time left. Later Saturday afternoon Brenda passed away. I never knew her personally but felt like I knew her and loved her. She left behind a loving family and an enormous group of friends. Rest in peace Brenda.

Sunday morning started early. Way early. To get to my 6:15 am run I got up at 4:30 am. Oy. I'm so not an early morning person, despite the way it might look from when I get up on weekends. Sandy and Bree joined me for our long run, 20 miles for me and Bree and 10 for Sandy. It was a nice sunny morning on the Alameda Creek Trail. There was no breeze until Bree jinxed us at mile 7 or so by saying "at least there's no wind." Uh huh, right after that, within seconds of that, the wind picked up. Often on the trail it's a swirly wind and it was that way Sunday. It wasn't horrific going east but was very strong and directly in our faces when we went west.

We dropped Sandy off at the staging area after 10 miles and continued our run eastward. Once we got out to the DUST marsh area it was really beautiful. Spring wildflowers were in full bloom and the red-winged black birds were flying all around (ok, I don't know that they're technically red-winged black birds; that's really just a description, not a name). Good thing it was so scenic since Bree wasn't feeling too well there. We decided to walk for a while; what the heck, I was in no hurry and just wanted lots of time on my feet. We ended up walking most of miles 15 and 16 but then went back to running for 17-20. It was amazing how good I felt a the end. Stiff, tired, a little achy here and there, but nothing too bad.

I went home and just washed my face and went back to bed. Ahhhhhh. Not much sleep but the rest was wonderful. I popped up after a few hours, showered and dressed and met my buds at PF Chang's for dinner (and drinks -- don't forget the drinks!). Their food is definitely not recommended while you're on Weight Watchers, but I had just run 20 miles and didn't really care. I finally got my ginger mojitos (no, not ginger martinis as I had thought) and the food was wonderful. Thanks guys, for a great evening!

I finished Clapotis. All of it, dropped the rest of the stitches and wove in the ends. It's beautiful. Even better than I had hoped. I wore it to dinner to show it off and it was soft and warm and -- just wonderful! I decided that when I win the lottery (uh, exactly when will that be, hmm?) I'm only going to knit with silk. I can't wait until I finish a couple of other projects so that I can start something with some of my stash silk.

My (step)nephew Noah finished his first full Ironman yesterday in an amazing 13:09. Wow! Because of that, doesn't he deserve your donation to his Man of the Year campaign? If you haven't made your donation this year to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, please consider doing so now through the link on the upper right of this page. I'll thank you, Noah will thank you, the L&L Society will thank you, and grieving families of cancer victims everywhere will thank you. To me, this is personal. We need to keep up the fight against this deadly disease and every little cent counts. Thank you!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Very superstitious

Happy Friday the 13th! Don't walk under any ladders, don't spill the salt, don't let a black cat cross your path, don't break a mirror.

Wednesday night at my house we finished our secret knitting project. It was a prayer/hope blanket for Brenda, our team's honoree and friend to many. Instead of my going through the whole story, read what Claudia had to say about it, look at her pictures, and learn about Brenda. Each of us knit one panel and Cindy sewed them together. We were thrilled with the results; the sum of the parts greatly exceeded their value separately. It was a very intense, emotional experience for us all. I feel honored to have been included in this group.

Pam and I had a good run last night. Yeah, we just ran the short short version since I was pretty tired from Wednesday's knit night. And the 5 bottles of wine we consumed. The run went well though.

Last night I FINALLY finished the knitted part of Clapotis! Yippee! Hurrah! Yee haa! And so forth. I was surprised how much yarn is left over, but I don't think it'll be enough for another project. I still have a lot of work to do though. I have to drop the rest of the stitches and weave in all the ends. Somehow. In the top picture you can see the little bundles on the sides. Those are the ends to weave in. I gathered them into those bundles so they didn't fray or get in the way. Normally I'd have woven them in as I knit but with the drop stitches I couldn't do that. The next time I post a picture it will be totally done. That should be some time next week. Then I can move on to another WIP.

This is going to be a full weekend. Saturday is a TnT Coaches run. I'm just going to do a few miles to warm up my legs. Sunday is our long run for Avenue of the Giants; the gang is going to run with us as Bree and I slog out our 20. Sunday night some of us are going out to celebrate. Full report on Monday! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I am so lucky

I'm not a religious person, or even much of a spiritual person. I don't really pray and I question the presence of a supreme being. I don't believe in fate or predetermined futures. What I do believe in is a sort of energy that we give out, a mental sort of flow with good or bad intent. I think that thoughts have power. I believe in a type of karma and the three-fold rule that if you do bad or evil it will rebound onto you; I believe the reverse also that if you do good it will spread to others and make your own life good. With all that, I know that evil men live full happy lives while good people suffer through needless tragedies.

I have somehow been blessed with friends. I have my sis who is my best buddy, my first and dearest friend. I have two old friends that I treasure, one from college and one from my past married life. I have a new group of friends, women who share my interests, women who are caring and loving and giving to others. Women who will take time from their busy lives to create a symbol of healing and hope and love, just because they can. Women who get together and laugh and cry (and drink way too much wine) and talk into the evening.

I credit Team in Training, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for introducing me to these new friends. Each of us has been involved with TnT for a long time, each of us had our own reason for raising funds for the L&LS. We have all lost loved ones to leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma, even if we've met those loved ones through TnT. We are all ages, all ethnic backgrounds, all religions, all sizes. We're single, married, with and without children and extended families.

We have in common running and knitting and eating and drinking and a deep wish that our friends and families will not be affected by cancer. We believe that there will be a cure, or treatment that isn't as deadly as the disease itself. We share a hope for the future.

Thank you, all of you, for being my friends.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winter's last gasp. Again.

In a place with four real seasons today would be a typical spring day. In California it's more like a winter day. Rain, heavy at times, windy and cool. At least I got to turn off the sprinkler system. And the pollen will be damped down for the day too. We never used to get rain here in April; the hills normally turn brown during a hot spell in March. I'm hoping this isn't like last year when it rained into June. Or maybe that's the new normal and I'll just have to get used to it.

I had an ok run last night, before the weather turned. It was buddy run night so of course I was running alone. Oh, boo hoo me. Suck it up and run. Yeah, I wasn't really in the mood so I just ran a little over 3 miles. This time I remembered the foot part of the Nike+ thingamabobber. I guess it calibrates differently for running and walking because in the 3.26 miles I ran it said I went 3.39. That's a pretty big difference on such a sort run. I know the mileage from the Park Service maps and I'm thinking that it's much more correct than the Nike+. It was fun seeing the (sorta) miles I had run, the (sorta) speed I was going and the (sorta) calories burned. I enjoyed the music and was better able to regulate my speed than last week.

I'm getting so damn close to finishing Clapotis I can taste it. With the knitting part I only have 2 short sets of rows to go. Then I have to finish dropping all the stitches and weave in all the ends. I still haven't quite figured out the weaving part and I may have to go see Song at Article Pract's help night. Normally I would have just woven them in as I knit along but I couldn't do that because of the dropped stitches. I can't believe that I'm actually going to finish this project soon.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Maggie. She's the other bear I got when I bought Winnie. After I received them I needed names that went with their former home and finally decided on Margaret and Winston. Much too lofty for little bears so they got nicknames.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wear sunscreen

I just came from my annual visit to the dermatologist and I have a itsy bitsy band-aid on my nose. About nine years ago I discovered a basal cell carcinoma on my arm. To me it looked just like any of the other little keratosis -- karatoses? keratosises? -- on my skin that I wanted to get rid of. Just to be safe the doctor biopsied the bump, even though she was pretty sure it was benign. It wasn't, which totally freaked me out. I felt I was way the hell too young to have skin cancer, even the "best" one you could get. Sure, I'd had sunburns, lots of them, even really bad ones with bubbly blisters, but I felt that basal cells were for old folks with wrinkles and sun spots. Shut up, those are laugh lines and moles.

I found one more bcc after that, on my shin. It's been long enough since then that I only have to have my skin checked annually unless I find something suspicious looking. I know my skin pretty well and know when something new appears. Of course, I can't see my back and my near vision is getting crappier by the year. Most things I find the doc will just freeze off (and doesn't that just leave a lovely purple blood blister and a big scar) but once in a while she likes to have a biopsy. I was late getting this skin check, by about 4 months. I've been pretty good about the sun screen, especially on my face. But that didn't stop her from sticking a big needle into my nose, then scraping with a scalpel. Does that sound disgusting? Good. Go get your SPF 45 and slather it on anything you don't want removed!

I had a nice run last night with Pam. Yes, we ran our usual short short route in Danville. It looked much warmer than it was, one of those clear early evenings. We didn't go too fast, not too slowly, just ran along chatting the whole way.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Winnie. On that trip with my sister I bought 3 bears. Corny came from Cornwall but I don't remember exactly where Winnie and Maggie came from. It was a little town, probably in the Lake District (because we spent a lot of time there). We were wandering through some shops and found a toy store with bears in the window. A lovely lady ran the shop and delighted in showing us the bears locked up in cases. They're Steiff bears, meaning they would have been way too expensive to buy in the US. The exchange rate was very good on that trip. Sis bought lots of cashmere sweaters, I bought bears. Go figure. I had such a tough time deciding between the bears that I just went ahead and got both. I did show some restraint; there was another bear, smaller, that I wanted also but left to the next buyer. I knew that I wouldn't have enough room in my suitcase to put two more bears so I arranged for the nice lady ship them to me. Several weeks after I got home I received a big box with the bears with a note from the lady. She had put their paws over their faces so that they wouldn't get scared in the dark. Awwww!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What a Jew does on Easter

Not shop at Target, that's for damn sure. Since when is Target closed for a day? They're open all other holidays, including Yom Kippur, so I think they should be open on Easter. Hmpph!

Everywhere else I needed to go on Sunday -- OSH, Nob Hill, Trader Joe's and Safeway -- all wanted my business. Good thing too. This dieting stuff means I actually have to have food in the house. Healthy, fresh food. Except TJ's was healthy frozen food. And don't be silly, of course OSH was for hardware and snail bait. No food there except for candy. And what's up with that? Every single store now carries junk food of some kind. I guess it's for those times when you're starving and you can't walk the 10 feet to the next store or restaurant to get real food. No wonder we're all fat with clogged arteries.

Sunday was a beautiful day; sunny and warm with a breeze. My garden is looking great. See the bunnies in the azaleas? I have lots of stone critters in the garden, everything from the little bunnies here (they're very little bunnies, those are mini azaleas), to big gargoyles. From spring through late fall they peek through the plants but in winter it looks like some strange kind of cement zoo.

Thursday night Pam and I ran our usual short short route. One of these days we're definitely going to run the longer, short route. Right. When we finished we both stopped our watches and said "wow" almost in unison; we had run faster than we normally do. No wonder I was out of breath most of the run. I thought it was because I was talking!

Friday was a lovely day. I didn't go to work. It was a day off and this time I just wanted a nice, quiet, busy day at home. I slept later than usual (looking at the clock every hour or so and not wanting to get up yet). I finished all my paperwork, got everything filed away where it belongs. All that bookkeeping stuff I don't feel like doing after a long day of work. My desk and my filing cabinet top are clear for once. That'll last until Monday's mail.

Saturday's run at Inspiration Point was drizzly and windy. None of us really felt like tackling the big hill at the end so we wussed out and only ran 6 miles. I was soaked when I finished so I really didn't mind the shorter mileage. I'll make up for it next week!

I got some knitting done on Clapotis, but not as much as I'd have liked, although I only have a few sets of repeats left. All that napping and reading, y'know. I also knit a few inches on my multidirectional diagonal scarf while I was on the phone with my sis and my mom. I didn't want to chance making a mistake on Clapotis so I just knit away on the mindless back and forth.

I now have a clean house, with clean clothing, filled with healthy food. I caught up on my sleep, and had a good run. Bring on Monday!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Great Friday This Week

At Great Place to Work LLC we've always taken market holidays as office holidays. For some reason the markets close on Good Friday, so we take that day off. I've always enjoyed the long weekend, although sometimes I shuffle the day off so that I don't have to work on my birthday. This year I've decided that I need tomorrow off! Instead of posting tomorrow morning I'll be having a great Friday morning. Sleeping. See ya Monday!

Last night was our TnT Cause for Celebration. It's been called many things over the years, but that name really suits it well. All the San Francisco teams (that's SF, East Bay, runners, walkers, tri, hikers, ironteam, cyclists) get together once in a season to, well, celebrate. There's usually a speaker from the L&L Society who tells us how incredibly much we've raised, what the Society is up to, what their long range visions are. And there's usually a speaker who's involved in the health or research side of the diseases; either someone from a blood bank, the stem cell organization, a researcher, or a medical person actively involved in treatment. Last night we had a nurse who is a coordinator for transplant patients in San Francisco. Very informative and touching.

For some reason very few participants show up at these things. I don't get it. My first season I went to absolutely everything that was available; my friends and I dove into the TnT experience head first and immersed ourselves in TnT culture for the season. Same for my second season. Last night they asked all alumni to stand up (and that included mentors and captains) and I swear it was 75% of the audience. Where the heck were all the newbies? I don't know if it was miscommunication or what, but the peeps didn't show up. Bad on them!

After the talk there was food and drink. Yeah, they give us wine and beer and shame on them for ruining the training diets for so many people! Heh heh. Just kidding. I actually managed to not have any booze and only lightly grazed the food. It helped that I had weighed in that morning and had lost a couple of pounds. It's working well and I don't want to screw with success (just yet). I was really hungry but for once willpower overcame bad judgment. That's new!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Corny. He's my Cornish teddy, bought in Cornwall. Yeah, that Cornwall. The one in southwest England. Back in the mid-80's my sis and I decided to go on a long vacation to England and Scotland. It was kind of a leap of faith for us; we hadn't traveled together and really didn't know if we'd get on each others' last nerve and commit sistercide. It turned into a fabulous vacation for us both. We rented a car and saw a lot of the countryside (and drove into a lot of hedges on the wrong side of the road), met a lot of locals by staying in B&B's, drank a lot of warm beer and had a great time. Somewhere in South Cornwall, I forget exactly where (Tintagel maybe?), there was a small village where we took a boat ride to see the cliffs and puffins. Afterward we wandered through local shops and I bought Corny. He was the sweetest little thing with a lovely face. Unfortunately I packed him in my luggage for the flight home and his face got a bit squished. He's still very cute though. My lesson learned from that was to always pack bears in carry-on luggage with their paws over their face!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Running with Music

I've never run with music. I'm usually very happy to listen to the wind whistling, my footsteps plodding, my breath gasping. For some reason the TnT buddy runs this season are totally boring to me. Well, one reason is probably that I'm running alone; the others who run at this time and place are quite a bit faster than I am. Another reason is that we're running on the Iron Horse Trail -- pretty enough, but same ol', same ol'. I have an iPod with the Nike+ contraption on it that gives time and mileage along with music but I've never worn it running (although I've used it for walks). Last night I decided to use it.

We all normally run the warmup together, a couple of blocks. We started off and I started the Nike+. Hmmm, why is it searching to calibrate the sensor. It should already be calibrated. Hmmm. So I looked down and realized I didn't have it on my shoe - I had left it on my walking shoes. D'oh! I totally cracked up; the others looked at me as if I were crazy so I explained my (stupidity) predicament. Oh well, I might not have the mileage but at least I'll have music.

I've filled my nano with upbeat, rockin' music. This could have been a mistake. I ran much faster than I should have. I tried to slow down, the music sped me back up again. When I turned around I slowed down. No, not really, I kept pounding along. Faster faster! No, take a breath, slow down! I ended up finishing several minutes faster than I should have. I felt surprisingly good though.

More knitting on Clapotis last night. As much as I feel like I'm nearing the end, I also feel like it's never-ending.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Claus (gettit? claws? bear? oh-shut it!). I got him from Shithead's mother, the first Xmas Shithead and I were together. She handed him to me, unwrapped, like "here: you like bears, you're a Jew, Merry Christmas from Santa Claus. Want a drink?" Uh, yeah. Love ya too. I like little Claus and I don't discriminate against bears from people I don't like!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


I wonder about myself sometimes. Many people, when asked why they started running, say they did it to lose weight. Now I find myself losing weight so I can run. Many people talk about how well they sleep when they exercise regularly. When I workout more than four days per week I stop sleeping. I mean, I'll usually fall asleep within my normal time (which is sadly a long time after I go to bed), but I wake up constantly during the night. It certainly isn't because I'm not tired, because hello, I'm draggin' all day. It's like my body gets loaded up with all these happy chemicals from the exercise and running (thank you endorphins) that give me an overall feeling of wellness, but they also keep me from sleeping. Don'tcha love my scientific explanation for my worsening insomnia??

Since my running buddy Pam was out of town last night I put in my miles on the treadmill while watching Brothers and Sisters. I really like that program and it kept my attention while I was running. For a kick I decided to wear my heart rate monitor; the treadmill has one integrated into the display so I can watch my heart rate while I run. I haven't worn it for years, since I -- well, since I stopped caring about what it was. I was surprised at how comparably low it was while I was running comfortably; that is, while I was running as fast as I could without panting or gasping. I normally don't use an inhaler before I treadmill because I normally forget to. And I figure if things get bad enough I can just turn down the speed. It's nice to know that my heart rate isn't through the roof when I'm running regularly. I'm going to have to turn up the speed next time and see what a sprint looks like, and what hills do to me.

I'm really excited about Clapotis; it's great finally being in the decrease section. Even though it looks like I have tons of repeats left, each row is getting shorter and shorter. I didn't get much done last night but I had two drops and one marker removal. I'm not dropping the stitches all the way down anymore, I'll do that when I'm finished with the knitting part. The end is finally in sight. Ok, far away, but in sight.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is a twofer. My mom picked them up at, I think, a sale at the San Diego Zoo. They're a mama and baby bear; the big bear's paws are velcro-ed around the little bear in a hug. Awww. To me they looked kinda like kangaroos, so I named them after the Winnie the Pooh characters Kanga and Roo.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Friday night's Mysterious Knitting party at knit-one-one was a blast. When I walked in the door I was greeted by Síle and immediately handed a glass of wine (my first in a week!). After everyone arrived, eight intrepid knitters started in with knitting i-cord. Long i-cord. With i-cord attached! I was using a dark gray yarn that was left over from something else I had knit; I had also brought a dusky pink but Kate said I'd have enough in the gray to do the project and it would go well with the secondary colors I had. Although we had pretty much determined that whatever we were making was going to be felted, we didn't really come up with exactly what the finished product would be. A belt? A leash? A cat-o'-3-tails? A very skinny scarf? A headband? Kate wasn't giving away any hints and Síle wasn't giving any either. We took a short break for dinner (pizza, hummus and carrots) and went back to knitting i-cord. It was getting later and we could tell that Kate and Síle were getting a little worried about our progress. Too much talk, too little knitting. They didn't want us to still be knitting at midnight!

When we all had made enough progress they whisked away our long skinny projects - to felt them. We were right about that! Then Síle showed us just what the project was: the Nagano Sakura scarf from the spring '06 issue of Knitty. Well, someone had guessed a skinny scarf - she won! Síle set about teaching us how to make the flowers to go on the scarf while Kate watched the felting items to make sure they didn't turn into shoe laces. We did the flowers in one color, just to speed things up. I tell ya, I'd never have gotten that cast-on right without a little additional instruction. I'm not sure any of us would have! The scarves felted pretty quickly and soon we each had one flower done. All in all, a great night. Oh, and we even got party favors! We each got a ball of yarn filled with chocolates. Thanks Síle and Kate! (And thank you to HiYo for modeling my finished project!)

Ok, I wasn't as thrilled that I had taken that class when my alarm went off at o'dark hundred to get ready for my run. I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and scurried over to Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry where we were meeting up. Although it was an official TnT coaches run, I had my buds Bree, Sandy and Anita meet me there. We were all going to run 12 miles except for poor Bree, who had to run about 18. I wasn't sure that my legs were recovered enough for 12 but it worked out ok. It was a beautiful morning for running; sunny, bright and not too warm. After the run they all left and I hung around to bond with the team.

A group of mentors/captains went out for breakfast afterwards. It took FOREVER for us to get our food. I managed to not inhale my food within 15 seconds of it arriving but it wasn't easy since I was starving after the long run. When I got home I took a shower and drooped onto the couch where I remained for the rest of the afternoon. Practically comatose.

Saturday night I knit six more flowers for the scarf, totally forgetting for the first few that it should be in two colors. (And yes, my Saturday night was exactly that exciting. Shut up.) By the time I remembered I decided that I'd just stick with the one color this time. After all, I probably won't be able to wear it anyway, the wool is too itchy. I think when (if) I make the next one I'll do it out of malabrigo so I can actually wear it. And I'll plan the colors differently, although I like the way it came out.

Sunday morning I decided that I couldn't just sit around on my butt all day so I dressed, grabbed my iPod and went for a long walk. There's a huge hill behind me so I walked up there. It was nice out except for the massive pollen in the air - but that's still better than wood smoke from people's fires. That little stroll around the block was just short of 3 miles.

When I got home I did some gardening, the type of thing my "gardeners" should be doing but aren't. I think it's time (again) to try to find a better gardener. In the past either the new ones won't do anything better than the old ones, or they cost twice as much. I think I'm getting to the point that I'll have to pay more just so that I get a gardener who isn't destructive. I have a few bulbs blooming, the ones that the mole/gopher didn't eat last year. It looks like I'm going to have a banner year for peonies if the ants don't get them first. Maybe I'll just end up with another banner year for ants!