Thursday, May 31, 2007

Carmel weekend, part 3

Oooooh, my head. That's how I felt when I got up Sunday morning. It wasn't as much too much alcohol, it was too much everything. Too much rich food, too much no sleep, and ok, maybe a little bit too much wine. I didn't sleep well (big surprise there) and got up and dressed early. I had to move my car by 9:30 at the latest and didn't wait around for that. I decided to cruise around town to maybe find another coffee shop but ended up at the same place as the day before, Caffe Cardinale Cofffee, for another latte. I also got one of their granola bites, a small pastry-like thingie that pretended, by the name, to be healthy. I'm pretty certain it wasn't, it tasted way too good.

I had thought I'd go sip my latte by the ocean but the morning was again cool, misty, windy. Nah, don't need that when I'm already feeling edgy. Instead I went back to the motel to pack up. I ran into Sandy, talked with her for a bit, then packed up and checked out.

I made one stop on the way home, at the outlet shops in Gilroy. No, I wasn't looking for clothes, shoes, bags, kitchenware. There was one very important shop that I'd been looking forward to for months. The Jelly Belly outlet. Disturbing, hmm? Yes, I'm a Jelly Belly freak and I'm very particular about the flavors I like. Most stores now have a very limited selection of flavors and only the factory and outlets have fresh, individual flavors. Not to mention the previous holiday's assortments on sale. So I got my beans. A bag of peanut butter, a bag of sour orange, a bag or two (or three) of a mixture of the other flavors I like. It didn't seem like much until they weighed it and it was mpfhxr pounds. Yikes, that better last months! At 16 or 17 per point, I'm going to need to be very careful.

The ride home was slower than the ride down. Lots of people were on the road, driving like the idiots they seem to be. I finally got home and just wanted to collapse, but I didn't have time for that. I wanted to go hear Jeanette's band, East Bay Mudd, playing at the San Ramon Wind Festival. It had been a couple of years since I'd heard them, in fact before she was singing with them, and since it was practically in my back yard I knew I'd have to go.

I have very happy memories of the Wind Festival. Nine years ago I nervously paced around while waiting to see if the previous owners would accept my bid on my house. Luckily they did; within two weeks real estate prices jumped enormously and I wouldn't have been able to afford the price raise. They did everything they could to try to back out of the deal, but I wouldn't let them, I wanted this house. So I think of the Wind Festival as my good luck charm.

I had measured and it was about 1.6 miles from my house to the festival. So of course I drove. Amazing that I'll run 26.2 miles and I won't walk a couple of miles and save money on the parking. Hey, see above re the headache, etc. Heh heh, yeah, I was just being lazy.

When I arrived the band was setting up and Jeanette was just putting on her dancin' shoes. And what shoes they were! The perfect footwear for the hot singer, and she even needed assistance to put them on. But owie, I don't know how she wears them! I wandered around the festival a bit and saw a sign for beer and wine. Ah! The perfect remedy for what ailed me! That glass of wine made me feel more normal.

The band started playing and sounded great. The lead singer has a fantastic voice and great stage presence. I knew a bunch of peeps from the team were going to be there, but for the time I was just hanging around at the back of the crowd. I had a good view, until some woman popped open her parasol and blocked everything. Oh hi Meenu! I'd finally found the other people, who were directly in front of me the whole time. D'oh! Tunnel vision, I didn't even see them. For the most part I continued standing where I was. I just can't sit still when that type of music is playing. I didn't want to go dance, too tired, but I stood there bopping away where I stood.

When the band took a break I took a walk to get some water. Most of the food booths were sponsored by some local fundraising group; the different high school teams and clubs, scouts, etc. It was very confusing having to make a decision about who I wanted to support with my meager water dollars, but I managed. When I returned the band had started up again and Coach Al had arrived. He had cycled in from the BART station in Walnut Creek. And I wouldn't even walk a couple of miles!

When the band had finished playing and the festival closed down for the day, a group of us decided to continue the party with some food and drink. We walked over to the Hop Yard, a local alehouse a couple of blocks away. I had decided I wasn't drinking again for a while. That lasted until I ordered a beer. Hey, way to stick with it! It was a fun time and I was totally wiped out by the time I got home. I unpacked some stuff, left other stuff sitting out, and tried to go to sleep early. Yeah, that'll work.

I met Pam Monday morning to run. Since it was substituting for our weekend run we knew we had to run more than our normal short short route. We ran the 6-ish mile version, the one we pretend we should be running every time. I started out really dragging, every step an effort, and finally gel-ed about halfway through. That helped enormously, made the rest of the run fun and energetic.

The rest of the day was spent doing typical weekend stuff, keeping busy, getting things done. I realized that I really have to start putting my shoes back in the closet after I wear them instead of just kicking them off and leaving them on the floor. It was funny, six pairs of black shoes and slippers just piled out there. At least they weren't strewn about the house, they're in one place. Into the closet they go!

It was a great long weekend, but I'm glad I won't have to do it again for ... oh wait, until tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm going down to San Diego to see my mom and run my next marathon. Ok, I'll rest the weekend after!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Carmel weekend, part 2

Sandy's & Tom's wedding reception was at the Inn at Spanish Bay. The resort is right on the bay, overlooking the golf course. The view was spectacular. When we arrived the cocktail hour was in full swing; total open bar and a cheese/bread table. I decided I'd have one, and only one, vodka martini; I was hungry and wanted the olives. I didn't intend on drinking much since I was driving. I knew I'd probably get lost leaving totally sober and I had no hopes of not driving around Carmel forever if I was tipsy or worse.

We all stood around, catching up with friends we hadn't seen for a while. It was great talking with with all the crazy runners we hadn't seen in so long, finding out what they're doing. Judging by the refilling of glasses, this wasn't going to be a sober crowd for too long.

As we had expected, Pam and I, as the only 2 single women in our group, were seated together. We were surprised to be at the second table of friends but that was no problem. When the banquet room was opened we looked for our seats and realized we had been moved to the other table. It really made no difference to us, they were all friends. We hadn't been seated with strangers from New York so it was all good.

The room was nice, not too big, dimly lit. Which of course made picture taking iffy, especially with my lack of mad photo skilz. When most of the guests had been seated the bridal party entered, followed at last by the newly married couple. Sandy had pinned up her dress so the train wasn't dragging and looked lovely. Geez, that girl cleans up well! Heh heh.

So we ate, we drank, we toasted, we talked, we drank more. Except for Pam, who had the sense, like usual, to drink water only. The meal started with a very tasty salad of mixed greens with bacon, blue cheese, tomatoes, and caramelized onion vinaigrette. Then there was a palate clearing lemon chambord sorbet that was very good. I would have been happy just having a carton of that with a spoon for dinner. Ooops, yeah, that's my little secret way of eating ice cream at home. Oh, don't tell me you don't do the same thing too!

At one point someone had to go to the ladies room, so we all had to go. Yeah, all the ladies in our little group had to. Six of us. Whether we needed to or not. It seemed pretty funny at the time. We made a little stop to see the (by then) lonely bartender and get refills. And take pictures. Hey, we all clean up well! Not one pair of running shoes in the bunch.

We had chosen our entree with our RSVP card. I had chicken breast filled with spinach and ricotta, served over potatoes with fresh steamed veggies. It was a good choice. Even though chicken is a mainstay in my diet this was different. Didn't even come out of a Lean Cuisine box. Of course, I'm pretty certain it had more than 5 points.

Meanwhile, the drinking and toasting and talking continued. At that point I was still attempting to keep my alcohol consumption under control and I was just sipping the wine while drinking water. That wasn't to last much longer.

Then it was time for the first dance. Looks like Sandy's and Tom's dance lessons paid off; they knew what they were doing out there and looked great doing it. I guess having to rush to lessons after 20 mile runs was worthwhile. Afterward the floor opened up and people joined them.

Around then I realized that most of the people around me, excluding only Pam, were getting pretty toasted themselves. Not the "cheers" toasted either. But everyone looked like they were having a great time doing so, and I decided at that point ta heck wit' it, I was having more too! Glug glug. I was really enjoying that wine!

Lots of dancing, which I don't normally do unless I've been drinking. Then I just don't give a hoot how I look and live in the moment. Great, there's the middle aged woman kicking up her heels. Good thing almost everyone else was drinking, they won't remember! And lots of the middle aged other people were doing the same thing.

Finally there was the cake cutting, the bouquet toss, the garter toss. And more drinking and dancing. The happy couple and the attendants had time to mingle and really party with everyone.

People finally started to leave, to drift off in ones and twos. People who weren't spending the night in the area had left before the cake, other people just wanted to be back in their room and off the road before it was too dark. I hung around dancing, talking, and oh yeah, drinking. Sheesh. Finally Bree was leaving and said I could follow them back to the motel. Good idea, not as good in execution. Note to self: when following someone to a strange place, make sure they're more sober than I am. It was a very interesting ride back. The good news is we were going verrrrry slowly and carefully along that 17 Mile Drive. The bad news was there was no parking at the motel when we got back; I drove several blocks away and parked in a space where the time was limited after 8:00 am. I decided to worry about that in the morning!

So, it was a very nice wedding, a great party afterward. After all the crap we gave Sandy about having such an elaborate expensive wedding, it turned out to be a great time. I guess if you're going to throw a wedding party, do it right the first time! All my best wishes to the newlyweds that this is the only wedding they'll ever have!

I'll report on the rest of my weekend tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Carmel weekend, part one

I'm requesting another day for this weekend; three wasn't nearly enough. I'd like one extra day to get stuff done around the house and yard and to sleep. Ahh, sweet sleep, I remember it well.

I left work mid-day on Friday to drive down to Carmel. First I had to pack, which I had put off for the last minute. I realized that my handy Timex running watch, which I have in fqstpnm different colors (what? how many?) didn't look right with a girly dress and rainbow sapphire bracelet. I checked and all of my nicer watches had dead batteries so my first stop after leaving the house was at a jeweler's to get my Seiko fixed. Yup, my Seiko lasted longer than my marriage did. Hmmm? Don't you remember that commercial from the 80's?

The ride down was fine, it seemed that all the holiday traffic was headed in the other direction. At least until I got to 101. Forty seven lanes merged into three so there was a slow-down there. The speed went on to vary from way over the limit back down to 10 mph for the rest of the ride. It ended up taking me about 2 hours I think, which isn't bad at all. I went directly to the motel to check in.

A bunch of us were staying at the Hofsas House in Carmel. It's a cute collection of buildings that they united by painting pink. I found out my room was on the fourth floor - no elevator. From the street it was the second floor though so it wasn't a problem unloading my car. My room was pretty small but cute and clean so no complaints there. It was like being in an old house, the walls were thin and I could hear people in other rooms and on the street. Whatever, like I was going to sleep anyway.

I looked at the map I had been given and realized that the local yarn shop was really close, so I walked on over there. Only getting lost about three times. In three blocks. Sigh. Directionally dyslexic. Nothing I can do about it. The LYS, Knitting by the Sea, was a cute little shop. They didn't have a huge selection but what they did have was interesting. I looked at the Mountain Colors, a hand painted yarn from Corvallis, MT. I ended up buying a couple of skeins of their Bearfoot, 60% superwash, 25% mohair and 15% nylon sock yarn. Yeah, I know I don't knit socks. Yet. What's your point? It has a lovely feel, nice and soft. One skein is Granite Peak, the other colorway shall remain nameless as I bought it as a birthday gift for someone. I also bought one skein of the Weaver's Wool Quarters, 100% sport weight wool, in Moose Creek. I loved the deep, somber, yet clear colors. I'll probably end up knitting, oh, a hat or scarf or shawl or gloves or ... yeah, something that isn't socks.

After I returned to the motel I contacted Pam and discovered that she had been given a really nice room. A really nice BIG room. A huge room. Fireplace, microwave, mini-fridge, sitting area. Apparently there was a problem with the cheap room she had reserved so they gave her the big room for the night. We called Anita, who had arrived with Gary and Kendra, and she came over and we all decided that Pam had definitely gotten lucky. Because of Kendra (her dog) and paying less, Anita had gotten the smallest room of all. They weren't too pleased with that.

The four of us (no, not Kendra) headed out for dinner, figuring we'd find something nearby. We did; we ended up at the Forge in the Forest which looked both casual enough and cheap enough. Hey, prices in Carmel are ridiculous! Anyway, Anita and I ordered Mandarin Mojitos, a liberal naming of a pretty good drink. They muddled the mint with an orange slice and used Mandarin Vodka instead of rum. Very very tasty. Another, please! For dinner I ordered the soft tacos with ahi which was seared on the outside and thinly sliced. Very tasty fresh raw fish wrapped up in a tortillas with typical taco sides. I was very happy. And the mojitos had, I'm sure, nothing to do with it!

Pam and I had decided we were taking advantage of not having to get up to run in the morning, so we decided to contact each other no earlier than 9:00 am. After a mostly sleepless night I got up and dressed early, checked out the so-called Continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, and waited until 9. We decided to walk down to Ocean Avenue to check out the coffee shop situation. We walked to Caffe Cardinale Coffee Roasting Co. and stood in line, eyeing the pastries and wondering whether we should splurge. We did. I got a berry scone, which I ended up not eating since it wasn't good enough to waste the bazillion calories on. My latte was wonderful. I have nothing against Starbucks (obviously, slurp), but it's nice to have something special. This certainly was.

We wandered in and out of a couple of shops, not really in buying mode, just looking. We walked into Lloyd's Shoes, mostly to look at the very fancy, expensive girly shoes they had. High style, higher prices. Who buys these things? Shoes for $400?? To each their own, I guess. Then I looked at the other side of the shop where it was more casual. I tried on a pair of Merrell slides, leather outside and sheepskin lining, and fell instantly in love with them. I thought they'd be perfect for after winter marathons, just what cold sore toesies need. So they stayed on my feet and they've come home with me. They suited the weekend Carmel weather, cold, misty and foggy. [Talking with her later, my sis didn't understand why I had bought fleece shoes in late May. Obviously she hasn't spent a summer in California!]

I went back to the motel and did the whole make-up/hair/dress thing. I was having hair issues; this last cut looks best when I wear it as straight as possible but the humid foggy air thought I'd be better off with curls, waves and frizz. After trying and trying to get it straighter I gave up and whatevered. Waves it is!

We drove to the church, the Carmel Mission Basilica. I was following Pam's car and we managed to only get lost once. It wasn't our fault; the desk clerk at the motel told us to drive straight down the street outside, we'd run right into the church. She neglected to mention that at one spot the road dead-ended and we had to go either left or right. We picked wrong. We did manage to get turned back around, thanks to a helpful gardener in his yard. The Mission was interesting. There's a huge sense of being surrounded by history, not all of it good. Anyway, we met up with a bunch of other friends and waited for the wedding to begin. Which it did, almost exactly on time.

The bridesmaids and matron of honor strolled down the aisle, then Sandy was walked down by her brother. She looked just like a fairytale princess in her gown with the long train and full veil. My pictures inside didn't turn out well because of the dim lighting. The ceremony was long and, I guess, traditional with the whole mass. Stand, sit, amen and repeat.

Afterward we decided to take the scenic route to the reception. We had free entry to the 17 Mile Drive and enough time. Most of the views were incredible. The road was twisty turny and mostly we followed other cars through. People live in there; I'm sure they get sick and tired of all the tourists driving through all the time. Hey, they bought their tickets.

The reception was ... ok, I'll be continuing this tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Weekend getaway

Judging from the (lack of) traffic this morning everyone is taking a four day weekend instead of the usual three day-er. That makes sense; traffic when I left work yesterday was awful. There were too many vehicles, distracted angry rude drivers, big rigs barging into lanes, y'know, the usual it's-about-me syndrome on the road. I'm glad most people have already left for where they're going since I'll be driving down to Carmel in several hours and hopefully the freeways will be less congested. Yeah, of course they will. But I'll be prepared if there's gridlock; I have my phone, my ipod and my camera.

We had a good run last night, despite people driving like maniacs and crazy skaters/cyclists on the trail. It was another warm night, breezy, luckily cooler than the rest of the day had been. We were taking it easy until the last red light where another runner came up behind us. He was a friend and co-coach with Pam and ran the last stretch with us. Obviously he was faster than us and slowing down a lot to chat with Pam, so I sped up. Not sprinting speed, but just short of that. Wheeze wheeze. It actually felt fine and I'm glad we got our speed work (heh) in for the week.

Another few rows done on the everlasting superlong wrap. Zzzzzzzzzz. Must ... start ... brighter ... project ... soon ...

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day was a gift for my 50th birthday from my sis. Shut up, I know I'm old. He's a premium 22" bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. A couple of years prior to that my sis turned 50 and coincidentally that year was the 100th anniversary of the teddy bear. VTBC issued a commemorative bear for the occasion, a 22" bear with an anniversary foot stamp. Since sis was a half century old and the bear was a full century, I just HAD to get her one as a gift. Thus when my 50th rolled around she returned the favor. Although the anniversary bear was no longer available she sent me a regular big bear. I had a very hard time naming him, trying out a half dozen different monikers before I just gave up. He finally became, and remains, Brownie Bear.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Of talking and toes and temps

I find myself in the strange position of not having anything interesting to say now. That's never been a problem before, I'd just keep my mouth shut. I'm frequently in the position where others are talking and they're more interested in hearing themselves speak so I just don't say anything except "um hm" "yeah" "really" "ok" "good" and so on. [Except when I've been drinking and I find myself as fascinating as everyone else finds themselves, but that's another story. ] But I can't have a blog where I just wait for someone else to say something because it would be a very empty blog indeed.

I didn't run last night, I wasn't planning to. My big plans were to get my allergy shots and hopefully some good antihistamines (mission successful) and to get a manicure and pedicure. Because of that whole bit-my-nails-until-30 then wore-fake-nails-for-10-years thing I've never really learned how to cut and file my finger nails. I never had to, they just didn't get long enough before breaking, splitting, peeling or getting chewed. Now for the first time in my life they're growing quickly and I just don't like long nails anymore. I tend to hurt myself if they're too long. So they've been growing and growing and I finally decided that I'd get a manicure before Sandy's wedding so that I have pretty girly hands with even groomed nails.

I have a love/hate feeling with pedicures. I love having prettier toes. Notice I said prettier, not pretty. My runner impaired toesies will never be pretty, what with the warped nails on my second toes and all. But I really don't like anyone touching my feet because they're very sensitive. A good pedicure will get rid of callous on the bottom of my feet (and ends of my toes) but that's painful to me. Since my reflexive action is to remove my foot from the manicurist's hand I have to be alert not to kick her in the face. And unless they're particularly gentle with my nailbeds I'll just be wriggling and squirming all over the place. Normally I'll just grit my teeth and clench my fists until she's done but yesterday I was getting a manicure at the same time so I had to concentrate on not slugging or kicking two different women. Neither of them did a great job but it's a big improvement over when I walked in the door. And it was cheap, about $30 including tips. And I didn't injure either of them.

I decided to watch the season finale of Lost last night. I watched it compulsively the first season, regularly the second and sporadically the third. I just find so many of the characters damn annoying. They had promised to tie up a bunch of ends and explain lots of stuff and not so much. Obviously they're not getting off the island until the program is over because otherwise they'd have to change the title to Lost and Found or something and then be about what their lives were like after getting home. Oh. Wait. Yeah, they did that, didn't they. Bye Charlie. Sorry it wasn't Jack who took that last long swim.

While watching I knit more on the everlasting superlong wrap. I'm pretty darn certain I'll have that finished. Someday. While I'm knitting I dream of blocking it, which I've never done before. I think I'll need my hallway since it's going to be so long. Must. Finish. Wrap!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Tempy. Several years ago I decided I had to upgrade my old fashioned mercury thermometer with one of those newfangled electric ones that you stick in your ear. I found a package deal, the thermometer with a bear. I'm not sure what one has to do with the other, but free bear! It wasn't until I got sick that I realized it's hard to angle that thing correctly in your own ear and get a correct reading. So I went back to using the shake-and-stick-under-tongue model that had worked so well. At least I got a free bear out of the deal.

Looks like I found something to talk about after all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lucky charms

Yesterday's dust storm has settled in my throat. I feel a cold coming on and I just don't have time for it now! I think I'll have to rearrange my schedule so I can make sure to get my allergy shots today and maybe I can head off the worst of this cold-like allergy attack. Fingers crossed!

Last night's buddy run was the first really warm evening run of the season. Shades of things to come, but last night I was taking it easy. Mileage-wise anyway. I only went about 3 miles but I ran them fast and hard. My breathing sucked (thank you office dust) but I turned the music up and just pushed on. I felt good and tired afterward. It was a good taper run, quality instead of quantity. I'm hoping the extra heat will dry up any puddles that the bugs are breeding in because I got tired of wiping the little kamikaze buggers off my sweaty face and spitting them out of my mouth. In unison: ewww!

I'm going to miss my Tuesday night TnT buddy run. I know, I run them alone now but there's something about meeting people that makes it a serious commitment instead of a casual by-myself run. And I know there are other people out there who would have questions if they saw my car at the end and I wasn't there. I'm going to have to find some way to convince myself that I need to run every Tuesday or Wednesday, even though I'm not meeting anyone. The extra weekly run makes a difference in how I feel, how I look and how I run. At least while it's still light out I can run alone, I just have to convince myself to get my ass out there and do it.

Since last night was the season and series finale of Veronica Mars (bye VM, this was a wonderful show the first season, a good show the second, and still better than most the third season. I'll miss ya!) I decided to take a night off slogging on my neverending superlong wrap. Instead I got a lot knit on my multidirectional diagonal scarf since I needed something mindless and easy. It's coming along nicely and looks good. The Noro is showing its typical schlubs and knots and lumps and weirdness but that's giving the scarf "character." I think I'm going to use one more skein for length but I'm not quite sure yet.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is the last of the Safeway charm bears. This one is Ms. Success. The second picture here shows the whole group sitting together bestowing luck on my dining room. I didn't realize how crooked the picture is until just now. I also didn't realize I had cut off the top. Good thing I don't make my living as a photographer!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How not to start your day

I thought it all started out fine. Well, except for waking up an hour and a half early and not being able to get back to sleep. But I got up early, got out of the house early, got my venti non-fat sugar-free vanilla latte and drove to work. Traffic not too bad. Morning still going fine. Got to the office where I had to change the five gallon bottle of water, but that's ok too; I usually change the water since people are lazy and just can't do it themselves. Ahem. Anyhoo, things still going ok. My blinds were closed, which I hadn't done. I remembered that yesterday when we met with (among other people) the on-site building manager one of our employees had asked that our blinds be cleaned. Since they hadn't been cleaned since we moved here nine years ago.

Oh, they cleaned them all right. There's no dust at all on the blinds. It was all on my desk, my computer, my monitor, my keyboard, my papers, my printer, my phone, my calendars, my calculator, my cabinet, y'know, everywhere! Nine years of schmootz all over absolutely everything in my office. I started cleaning up, trying to get a clear surface, and whooopsie. I knocked over my latte. Which was still about three quarters full. It fell on the floor, losing the lid as it fell. About 16 ounces of latte all over my desk, my chair and the floor. Son of a bitch! Oh, excuse me, didn't mean to shout that so loudly that they heard me in San Francisco.

I spent the next hour cleaning up the spill, the dust, the dirt, coffee all over everything. While I got angrier, more congested and gritty. Arrrgh! One of my coworkers came in while I was cleaning and ranting (silently to myself by then), heard the situation and offered to (begged to) go next door and get me another latte. She escaped while I finished cleaning.

Ok, time to start the day over. I have my latte, my desk is clean(er), my chair is (almost) dry and the carpet looks better with a latte spill than with a coffee spill. Hmmph!

I had a good run last night with Pam. The weather was beautiful, warm with a light breeze. We ran our short short route because for some reason my legs felt flat. As if I had just done a long run, instead of being two weeks off the long run. We ended up being a bit slower than normal even though it felt as if we were pushing it. Nobody tried to run us over or run us off the road so that was very nice.

I knit about another inch last night on the neverending superlong wrap. I have the end rolled up and I don't think I'll unwrap it again until the remaining yarn ball is small enough that I think the wrap will be long enough. I didn't knit during the season finale of Heroes because, well, it was the season finale. And wow, they actually did a great job of winding up the past season while cliff-hanging a new season. Good job! Now if only they don't ruin it over the summer with introducing new characters.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Ms. Health, another Safeway charm bear. I thought health would be a good one for today, what with my allergies acting up from the dust storm in my office!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ban Mondays. Hate Tuesday instead.

Yaaaawn. I think we need a national proclamation that henceforth all weekends will be three days. Monday will no longer be the most hated day around, instead it will be the favorite of everyone. Anyone want to start the campaign? Stand at your local grocery store with a clipboard and ask people if they're registered to vote so they can sign our petition? Finance the drive and present it to a national legislator? Anyone??

My weekend, however short it seemed, was mostly restful. I got up early Saturday to meet the team at our mentor-led run on the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. I was planning on running about 8 miles. My friend Mary Ann joined me. I haven't seen her in a couple of months so it was nice to catch up. She's faster than I am and as usual I ran too fast. During our second mile we ran into an old friend we hadn't seen in a long time. He had stopped running for a while -- a couple of years -- but was making another comeback. We stopped and chatted for several minutes until we all decided we had to get the rest of our runs over with.

One of the mentors had marked the missing miles (the L-M Trail is marked every half mile except from 3-1/2 to 4-1/2) so it was clear where the four mile mark was. It was actually farther along the trail than I had thought, by about a tenth of a mile at least. Mary Ann and I ran the full 8 miles and were very happy to finish. Although it had been pretty cool when we started it was turning into a beautiful day. The heavy fog was burning off, the wind wasn't too bad and the sun was shining. We waited around for the last couple of people to finish so we could cheer them in. It was a small group, I'm not sure if people are injured, if they're running on their own or if they're just enjoying the final taper.

The rest of my weekend was exactly how I had hoped. I didn't have anything else planned that I had to do at a certain time so I was able to just catch up around the house. I got a lot of gardening done. The blooming jasmine makes my yard smell wonderful. There are lots of birds around and the hummingbirds are back. One was feeding on the jasmine while I was deadheading the peonies.

I also got lots of knitting done. I did a few rows on my neverending multidirectional diagonal scarf so I may just finish that one day. In the middle of summer. I also started and finished Monica's second hat for the Giants Stitch 'n' Pitch and there's a great improvement over the first one. Once again I used the yarn we got at the game from last year. The orange is TMA Yarn Pop 'n Yarn, 100% acrylic worsted, specially treated with aloe (huh?); the black is Red Heart Super Saver acrylic worsted. I used the same pattern as I did before, Ann Norling's Head Huggers, with size 8 16-inch addi turbo circular needles. I knit a 3x1 rib; k3, p1. This knit much faster and easier than the other hat - the uuuugly one. I'm not thrilled with the feel of this hat but I bet it'll be much cooler to wear than if I had used wool. And won't be at all itchy. And it's not floppy and ugly and strange like the first one!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Look both ways

When I was growing up my mother taught me to look both ways before crossing the street. When I was learning how to drive I was taught to look both ways before driving into or through an intersection, or before turning, or before pulling out into traffic. Obviously, based upon the actions of several drivers (parents) last night, that rule is no longer in force. It seems that now the rule is "look wherever you want then floor it." Thank you very much to the very busy important mom who came this close to flattening us during our run last night. Dads, we appreciate how you pulled out into traffic without a single glance to see if there might be anyone there. Other moms, I hope everyone else drives more carefully around your child(ren) than you did around us.

Pam and I had a great run last night, except when we ran past the elementary school. A large crowd was just leaving the school after some evening function. Parents had anywhere from one to four kids in tow and they were all in a great big hurry to get home for -- well, I have no idea why they were in such a hurry. After mom number one almost took off our legs we detoured onto the sidewalk; that didn't help as car doors were opened and parents blocked sidewalk access. Then we had to cross the street and it got really frightening. Anyway, except for that, and we did speed work to get through it faster, it was a great night for a run. The wind that had been so strong for the past several days was gone, it wasn't too hot (or cold), just a nice night. We ran our short short route and were very pleased when it was finished.

I went back to knitting up my neverending superlong wrap last night, got about another inch done. Snore. Only about eight inches left to go which should only take me -- yeah, until about July. I'll start in on another Stitch 'n' Pitch cap for Monica some time this weekend. I'll have to go through my stash and see whether I'll make it out of Malabrigo, which I probably will, or out of something else. I'm pretty sure my only orange yarn, excepting the crap we got at last year's game, is Malabrigo. I also haven't decided whether to do a plain ribbed cap or maybe something felted.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the day is yet another Safeway charm bear: Ms. Love.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The hat's going nowhere

Last night was Stitch 'n' Bitch at my house. It ended up being a smaller group than usual, just four of us. And we only went through one bottle of wine and one bottle of champagne. I decided that in keeping with the spirit of my diet I'd cook. Shut up, I did too, a little. I marinated some chicken in a ginger lime sauce, then just baked it. It turned out really tasty. Using Pam's recipe as a guide I made couscous with tomatoes, green onions, garbanzo beans and light feta and that was pretty good too. Anita brought a pasta salad with broccoli, Olivia brought chips and seven layer dip, and Claudia brought wine. I had also picked up the traditional shrimp, and got a big bowl with fresh fruit. We didn't even miss dessert!

Anita is knitting a multidirectional diagonal scarf and was having problems. Her biggest problem was she thought the pattern was much harder than it truly is. Also, she wasn't turning the short rows, just continuing on. That made it unidirectional instead. I showed her what to do and after I told her that it's my non-thinking project she realized what to do and how easy it is.

Claudia is knitting a Brangelina hat. She's using Malabrigo in -- I think it was -- Forest and it's just gorgeous. As usual her results are smaller than mine usually are since she knits so tightly. It'll turn out to be a really pretty hat.

I brought out my hat-from-hell, the Stitch 'n' Pitch hat I was making for Monica out of the (crappy) Bernat yarn we got at last years' game. Oy. It was really big (and ugly). I was thinking I could decrease for a couple of rows and just have a big floppy brim, maybe pin it up somehow. When they were all done laughing at the hat (and me) they thought the best idea would be to just decrease and finish it immediately. Or maybe throw it away. Or give it to poor Monica and let it swallow her head. I finished it off and you can see that even Hiyo doesn't like wearing it. I'll offer it to Monica but I'm pretty sure she'll prefer the replacement hat that I'll make her. Yay, I have a further excuse to not knit the everlasting superlong wrap!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Call me Inappropriate

I hate to shop for clothes. I think I always have, even when I was younger and was wearing all the styles of the day. I even worked in an upscale clothing store while I was in high school and college, and bought lots of fashionable clothes (can we say "mini-skirts" and "bellbottoms"?), but I didn't really like the whole trying on, looking in the mirrors thing. In fact, the more mirrors the worse because I just don't need to be taking that close a look at myself.

The only time it wasn't too terribly bad was during the second marriage to Shithead when I was really thin. When I was on the cigarettes, vodka and verbal abuse diet. At least the majority of stuff I tried on then fit and looked good. But his taste in clothing was on the trashy side and in my efforts to please him that's what I tended to buy: short skirts (damn, mini-skirts were back again), tight and low cut tops, y'know, hoochy clothes. I'd slip in more classic, conservative styles for work but everything else was a few steps short of floozy. This was a very short period of time in my life (thankfully) and I went right back to hating shopping.

My friend Sandy is getting married in a couple of weeks and is having an afternoon church wedding. That means I can't wear any of my normal clothing which as I mentioned yesterday consists of jeans and jeans. And running clothes, also not quite right for the occasion. I've been putting off the shopping until the last minute, hoping that by some miracle the right article of clothing would magically appear in my closet. Or that overnight I'd lose about 20 pounds. No surprise, neither of those happened. So at lunch yesterday I dragged myself across the street to Macy's.

I'm never sure what size I am, I just know I'm larger than most clothes will fit. Especially with current styles since I can't stand tight or formfitting clothes. I won't buy from the "women's" department because of the spangled, embossed, shiny, embroidered, bright, chiffoned, polyestered stuff they think big women like. Uh, no. The regular clothes tend to top out at size 14 and I'm on the border of 14/16 depending on styles and fabric. I started looking through the racks, concentrating on the darker colors since that's all I'll wear. Every single time I buy something with a print or pattern, or in a light or bright color, I hate it when I'm wearing it. I know it isn't right to wear black to a wedding but that's about all I ever wear and I'm just way too uncomfortable in anything else. I pulled nine dresses from the rack, including the only two black size 16 dresses in the store, a couple of strapless thingies, a couple of blue dresses, a few things that would require specialized undergarments, in short anything I thought had a vague possibility of fitting.

For the next 45 minutes I dressed and undressed and sighed and chuckled and swore and giggled and frowned and actually managed to find two that might work. I switched back and forth between them and decided that although one was cuter it would involve having to get a different bra (more shopping, oh no!) and had some deodorant stains from someone else that I wasn't sure would come out. So I bought the other one. A black, sleeveless number, pretty conservative, more of a night dress than a day dress but whatcha gonna do? A very typical little black dress. I don't think it's quite right for an afternoon wedding, let alone an evening wedding, but I'm hoping that when I throw my blue silk clapotis on my shoulders it will both dress it down and dress it up. Know what I mean? Hey, at least it's not jeans.

I had a good run at the buddy run last night, alone as usual. I ran just under 3 miles. I probably should have gone longer than that but boring. I had my music without the Nike+ thingie since I don't think it's accurate enough to bother with. As usual when I run with music I went too fast. I didn't' wait around for anyone else to finish because there was a wicked cold wind blowing and I just wanted to get home.

Knitting on Monica's SnP hat continues. I got a few inches done in a 2x2 rib and realized that it's too big. As in pumpkin-head too big. I decided that maybe that will work for a turned up brim and reduced down many stitches, continuing in plain knit in the round. I have no idea if that will work, but it's interesting trying. This part will go fast so I should be able to see within a few more inches whether it's going in the frog pond or whether I can actually give it to someone to wear. It has the possibility to turn out cute. Or horrifying.

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is the third Safeway charm bear, Ms. Courage. "Courage" always makes me think of the Cowardly Lion and with a very large stretch of the imagination you can see that reflected in this bear. Can't you??

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Worn out shoes

It's summer here. That means it's cold, overcast and windy. I think the fog is supposed to burn off later but for now it's chilly. I'm not sure how to dress for this. Ok, that's silly because no matter what the weather is I'm wearing jeans. Probably 95% of the time I'll wear jeans. And I'll probably wear a light weight top with a sweater or jacket because I never know what the temp will be in the office. Since I spend most of the day inside it doesn't make sense to dress for outside, no matter how hot or cold it gets. I guess the difference is whether I wear a sleeveless or short sleeved or long sleeved top, and what kind of shoe or sandal I wear. Since I'm experiencing a short period of ugly toe I don't really want to wear sandals, but my feet get hot before the rest of me. As soon as my toe stops hurting from the marathon-blackened toenail I'll get a pedicure and have showable feet. I always think that someone will look down and get nauseous looking at my ungroomed toes. Yeah, like they really care!

I took my ugly sore toes for a run last night, the usual short short route with Pam. We had a good run, nobody tried to knock us down or run us over. The weather was perfect for an evening run. One of these days we'll increase the length of our run and ... right. We probably won't. It's really nice running for only about 40 minutes (depending on the red lights we encounter) and then going home. We're not exhausted, not sore, just feeling well from the run.

I've mentioned before how I wear through running shoes so quickly. I mean, literally wear out; I go right through the rubber on the heels. There aren't many (any) shoes that I can wear because my feet and/or orthotics just don't fit in many (any) shoes. Either they don't have enough support, are too narrow in the toe, too shallow in the toe, too high at the ankle, too shallow in the heel, fit my foot but make my legs hurt, etc. Or I can't even get my big chunky orthotics into lots of shoes. When I finally find a good pair I'll stockpile several pairs. As all you runners out there know the shoe companies continually "upgrade" their shoe models and you'll be lucky to find the exact shoe for more than a year. I finally found a shoe that works for me and yeah, they upgraded it at the end of last year. I bought out the last 4 pairs from Roadrunner and thought they'd last a while, but I go through a pair about every 100-125 miles. That works out to about 7 pairs of shoes each year. I found a place with close-outs on this particular model and bought another 4 pairs, at half the price they were originally. I've worn each of them for a short run and they're all fine. I'm thinking I may just buy several more, just in case I have a banner year for mileage. That means I could wait at least another year before I have to start trying on new models and brands. I've heard that the shoes will wear out/dry out as they get older, but I've also heard that's an urban myth and they'll be good on the shelf for several years. I'm hoping that's true!

I knit a little on Monica's Stitch 'n' Pitch hat last night. I'm still not sure if I like it. I didn't get too much done because I was concentrating on Heroes too much. I think I'll ask the ladies at Stitch 'n' Bitch what they think. It could still get ripped out and started over with another yarn!

Today's Gratuitous Bear of the Day is another one of the Safeway charm bears. This lovely lavender teddy is Ms. Wealth.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Can you donate more?

Hey people, Noah needs your help. I know you've all got an extra $25 to give to a good cause! In his own words:
Team Cuttler formed many months ago to help cut out cancer by raising $150,000 through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Man & Woman of the Year campaign. To reach that goal, we've relied on the support of online donors and fundraising events across the country, most recently in Atlanta, San Francisco, Davis and Washington D.C.

At the halfway point in our ten-week campaign, with the help of hundreds of supporters and dozens of volunteers, Team Cuttler has raised tens of thousands of dollars. Our efforts are making a real impact on blood cancer research, education and patient services.
Now your donation is as critical as ever.

Please help us raise $2,000 by Friday, May 18th by donating today at

Every $25 contributed awar
ds you a raffle ticket for our quarterly drawing. This quarter ends May 29th and the prize is a $100 giftcard to Starbucks. The largest quarterly contributor will be recognized in the Team Cuttler Newsletter and Cut Out Cancer Blog -!
It looks like my legs are all better, a pretty quick recovery after the marathon. Saturday was our TnT coaches run, in combination with the San Francisco team, in Mill Valley. It was the longest run for the Rock 'n' Roll runners before their taper begins. I've grown to enjoy this run even though the first time I ran there, my very first 20 miler ever, wasn't as much fun. They change the route sometimes and Saturday they had the route I like; out to Blackie's Pasture and then over to Tiburon. I was a little disappointed knowing that I wouldn't be able to do the whole run.

I got up early, too early if ya ask me, got ready for the run and drove over there. I never remember exactly how long it takes but this time with no traffic, it only took about 45 minutes. I wanted to get there early because I didn't know which group I'd try to run with -- or start with. Also wanted to get there early because parking can become a problem if you get there too late! I had to decide whether to start with the earliest group, those going my speed but running 20 miles, or to wait for the half marathoners who would be running more my intended mileage. I asked Coach Al how far he thought I should go, he pondered a moment, then said I should run about 10 miles. !!!Wha???? Here I was thinking I should try for 4-8 miles, depending on how my legs felt. Looks like neither of my coaches is letting me slide these days. So I decided to try for 8 anyway. Heh heh. One shouldn't ask for advice one isn't prepared to follow!

I saw one of our captains who I thought was my speed, maybe a bit faster. She's coming off an injury and has slowed down from that and was planning on running 8 miles so I joined her. She has slowed down, mostly because her injury isn't healed and she's still in discomfort. Or, pain. We ran 4 enjoyable miles together, then I decided that I felt sooooo good that I'd go for another mile before turning around. Dummy. I had forgotten just how hilly that last mile is. But it was a beautiful day, sunny, cool, breezy, I was feeling no pain, so wtf.

A lot of this run is very, very pretty. We got a view of the bay, with San Francisco and the Bay Bridge in the background. But I almost missed the biggest Anita moment. Trish pointed out an egret -- or heron? -- standing by the edge of the water, as still as a statue. As we ran up closer it spread it's great wings and took flight. Just stunning, nature at it's showiest.

For the whole run I had Mama Lisa's voice in my brain telling me I wasn't allowed to walk any hills. Darn, even when she isn't there I can hear her! So for the first 4 miles I ran the hills, except the one short one that the San Francisco coach had told us all to walk, it's too steep. Since I had slowed to Trish's pace running up the hills was actually not too bad. When I continued on I sped up considerably but still continued running the hills. That was much more difficult. And tiring. And painful. I could feel every one of them in my calf muscles, and feel every downhill in my quads. Ouch. I only walked one other hill, a long steep one that happened, coincidentally, to be during my regularly scheduled walk break. Hmmm? Oh, I started 9:1 for the last 6 miles. Every other walk break was on a downhill or flat but luckily the worst hill was a walker. No really, it was a legitimate walk break! I was darn tired when I finished but impressed that I had managed 10 miles within a week of running a marathon.

I hung around, cheering in all the runners, congratulating them on their incredible achievement. Nineteen to twenty miles is nothing to sneeze at. It's quite an accomplishment for all of them and the longest most of them had ever run. So I stayed there, dreading the drive home, talking with friends, having a nice morning. After the last runner had returned, most of the people were gone, I got in my car so I could go sit in traffic.

And sit. Although it had taken only 45 minutes several hours earlier, it took me just under an hour and a half to get home. Most of that time I talked with my sis on the phone so it didn't drag too badly. Nevertheless I was happy to get home finally. I needed a shower, food and a nap, stat!

This weekend I was supposed to get rid of my old, broken television. Because it's too big for me to move it's still sitting in my dining room, face against the wall. I had received a flier on my door from a neighbor who was doing a recycling drive to benefit cancer and his eagle service leadership project. He had included an email address so I contacted him about whether he could come pick it up; he was very agreeable and we set tentative times for the pickup for Friday night or Sunday morning. I didn't get a final confirmation from him but waited around Friday evening and all Sunday morning. Yeah, he never showed. Never emailed, even in response to my latest query. Damn. Time for Plan B. I don't have a Plan B.

While I was waiting for the kid I cleaned the house. And I dusted everything on my bookshelves. No, I didn't pick up each and every book. That's crazy talk! I have many, many MANY books. As in 7 bookcases, 6 shelves on 3 of them and 7 shelves on 4 of them. Full of books, often double rows on the shelves. And lots of stuff on the shelves in front of the books; pictures, figurines, bears, more bears, etc. Being the conscientious housekeeper that I am, I thoroughly dust the bookcases at least once a -- decade? No, more frequent than that, maybe twice a year. Or once. And a little more frequently than that I dust around things. If I spent more time in that room I'd probably keep it cleaner. Yeah, because cleaning is my life. Not. At least, not since I divorced the anal-compulsive needs-to-clean-the-house-spic-and-span every-single-damn-Friday-night shithead. I think every cleaning urge in my body must have been expended during the married years, with nothing left over. I'm lucky I actually use a dust cloth and vacuum at all anymore.

I worked a bit in the garden. It smells wonderful, with the jasmine and peonies in full bloom. I can open my back slider and sit on my sofa and still feel like I'm outside. Without the sun or the bugs or the wind.

I got some knitting done too! Superlong wrap is coming along. And along. It doesn't look like the picture, probably because I switched the yarn to the skinny alpaca. I'm hoping after I finish it (some day) and block it that it'll open up more. I also started on a new instant gratification project. Shhhh -- don't tell the other side of my brain, I'm supposed to just be finishing some off my existing projects. But I told Monica that I'd knit her a hat for Stitch 'n' Pitch. I knit 3 different hats last year, for Pam, Sandy and me. I'm trying some of the (crap) yarn we got at that game, a strange orange/black boucle-ish acrylic. This is supposed to be my fun project? I've only knit a few rows. If I think it's ugly after a couple of inches I'll rip it out and use my malabrigo. Now THAT would be a fun project!

I haven't had a Gratuitous Bear of the Day in a while since I had a bunch of other pictures. I'm feeling it's time for a change. The next group of bears were sold individually at, of all places, Safeway. Hey, I should be safe from bear temptations when I'm grocery shopping! It's hard enough staying away from chips and ice cream, now I had to watch out for the bear aisle too? So this was a set of, I can't recall exactly what they were called, but it was something like lucky charm bears. They each have a little bead necklace that can be removed and worn by person as a bracelet and that's supposed to bring you luck in the trait the bear embodies (which is embroidered on her foot). I've left the necklace on the bears, since I certainly don't know what I'd do with more health, success, love, courage, happiness or wealth! Um, right. So today, here is Ms. Happiness.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pink and white, not red

I like things to go smoothly and evenly and with routine. I'm pretty boring that way. Even though I've been traveling a lot for the past few years I still find going away for a weekend destroys my routine and upsets my system. My normal insomnia is increased and I'll go several days on either end of my travel without sleep. My house is a mess, my yard overgrown, my fridge is empty and my eyes blurry. Last night I finally slept soundly and I'm feeling normal again. Yay!

I ran last night with Pam, our normal short short route. I took the first couple of steps and wasn't sure my legs were ready for running yet. I had a lot of discomfort in my upper quads, or maybe it's my middle IT bands. I'm not too sure which but my thighs were not pleased. After a couple of blocks and a bit of stretching they were ok. In fact, it was a pretty good, if somewhat slower than normal run. The nagging blister/bruise on the bottom of my toe didn't feel too good, and the couple of bruised toenails will take a while until they stop hurting, but otherwise I think I'll be able to start increasing mileage a bit again. Which is good, with the Mill Valley run tomorrow. I had hoped I'd be able to do more than limp a couple of miles.

My neighbor was able to fix our fence. Somehow the cross bars had shrunk, or the posts shrunk, because the bars had lifted away from the post. It's the same way in a few other spots along the fence line. My neighbor told me that he was astounded at how little the previous owner of my house had paid for the fence so I'm sure it was because of cheap wood, short nails and shoddy workmanship. Nice neighbor fashioned a shim to bridge the gap and renailed all the boards with longer nails. It's probably the strongest spot in the yard now. Too bad that the next place the fence will fall apart isn't shared with his yard; I'll have to hire someone to fix it then. What? Fix it myself? Uh, right. Me with a hammer and nails? Bwahahahah!

Mister neighbor also kept exclaiming about how beautiful my garden is. The peonies are in bloom now, many plants with many flowers each. He had no idea what was hidden behind my fence. I let him know that it was, in part, due to his removing his big sweet gum tree. Now that part of my yard gets much more sun and the peonies are responding happily.

It's funny, but there are supposed to be bright red ones, white ones, pale pink, deep pink, etc. but they mostly tend to be either purple, pink and white, or white. I don't know if bright red is just a color that doesn't bloom true or if the description of the plant was simply inaccurate. I also can't tell the difference between the plants that cost about $30 each and those that came in a Costco package for about $10 each. Oh, and the insects in my garden are thrilled at all the peonies. Looking closely at the flowers it's easy to see where they've been nibbled on. The ants are the worst, crawling all over to get the sweet sweet nectar, so I can't really cut and bring the flowers inside. I don't mind; they last longer on the bush than they would in my kitchen.

I resumed knitting on my never ending superlong wrap. I tried it on, hoping I'd like how long it is already, but I think it stills needs about a foot more. Snore. I'm really tired of black, really tired of the same 2 row repeat. But I figure since it's taking me months to finish I should make it the right length. So it's back and forth and back and forth and yo, k2tog, k1 and purl along the back and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Avenue of the Giants Marathon

I've written about the rest of my weekend in Humboldt County, now it's time for the race report.

Although I did this race with the Leukemia and Lymphoma's Team in Training, I was dedicating it to Noah Cuttler's Man of the Year Campaign. As a Team Cuttler Athlete I had pledged to raise another $500 for the L&L Society. I figured that even though the money wouldn't go to TnT's bottom line it would serve the same ultimate purpose.

I was signed up for the early bird start at the race. The regular race was scheduled for a 9:00 am start; the early bird (and early turtle for half marathon runners) was scheduled for 8:00 am. Not so early, hmm? Maui, at 5:00 am, is early. Eight o'clock is practically the middle of the day for runners!

Saturday night I set the alarms on the bedside clock and on my phone. Often I'll set three alarms, just to be sure, but I thought two would be enough. Since I was meeting Bree at the staging area by 6:45 am, and I wasn't sure how long the drive would take in the morning, I figured I should leave the motel by 6:15 am at the latest. That meant a wake-up of 5:15 since I like enough time to shower, dress, eat and, oh yeah, fret a little.

Turned out I didn't need either of the alarms. After tossing and turning (and sniffling and sneezing from the room) all night I finally got up about 5 o'clock and decided to get going. I took my wake-up shower and stood under the pouring water for a while, trying to focus. I could hear from the plumbing noises that my neighbors on both sides were also showering. Guess they were marathoners too!

I had dithered about which top to wear, and finally decided on the short sleeved top instead of the singlet. Saturday afternoon at packet picket had been warm, but the wind was cold. I know my arms and shoulders chill easily so I decided to cover them. Plus, it would mean less area to glop on sunscreen. TnT normally gives the runners purple singlets and the walkers the purple shirt, but I don't like the cut of the singlet and had asked for the shirt; I'm glad I did. My number was already pinned in place. I have issues with crooked or improperly pinned bibs, especially for a marathon where it could flap or rustle or just annoy the heck out of me after several hours, so I always do this the night before. I had also attached my timing chip to my shoe with the garbage twist-tie they had. I was a little worried that it might fall apart during the race, but all went well.

I ate my oatmeal, forcing down every single bite. It's my perfect fuel but that doesn't mean I like it, especially when I make it with hot tap water instead of freshly boiled water. Yum? I read for a while, rested, drank water and finally decided to just hit the road.

The drive down was uneventful. It was interesting to see the lumber mill steaming away on a Sunday morning. [Monday night on the news I saw an interesting story about it - I'll report on that later - if I remember ....] It was a beautiful morning, cold (low-40s), sunny and bright. I remembered the exit from the day before but it looked like the other cars on the road were having a hard time figuring out where to go. At the right place, on the gore point after the exit, was a sign saying "marathon next exit." I actually think it was just misplaced by about 20 feet, but a lot of cars screeched out of the exit lane and back onto the freeway. I took the exit, followed the next (correctly placed) sign and drove up toward the staging area. We had been told the day before that parking would be on the sand spit behind packet pickup, about a mile's total walk to the start (and yes, the thought of an extra couple of miles made me grumpy), but when I arrived close parking was still available on the side of the road. I met up with Bree and we sat in my car staying warm between frequent trips to the (abundant and clean) porta potties. Finally we decided we had better head over to the start line.

I decided to keep on my disposable poncho until at least the start, and to wear my gloves. It was still pretty darn chilly out. The early birds and turtles all lined up at the start. Bree and I moved toward exactly the opposite direction we normally take at the beginning of a race: the front. Most of these starters would be walkers so we wanted to be in front of them. How odd to be among the fastest in the crowd. I ditched my poncho just before the horn sounded. It seemed to take forever, but finally we were off! We had to weave around a few walkers but then it was mostly clear in front of us, only about a dozen people ahead.

The full marathon course is an out-and-back along two different roads. The half marathon followed the first half of the full. Right at the start was a very pretty waterfall -- what a sight for the start and a harbinger of what was ahead! Within yards of the start we were in a heavily forested area, among the big trees. The road, to put it simply, sucked. It was sharply canted, cracked, rutted, pitted, broken, holed; just a totally crappy surface. It was also twisty, narrow and hilly. At this point of the race, and for at least until after we turned around for the return trip, it wasn't too much of a problem because we had essentially the entire road to ourselves. We could find the best surface and cut all the tangents for the shortest route. We could go back and forth on both sides of the road to find good footing or just stay smack in the middle. That was nice, being out front without a crowd.

Our plan was to run:walk at 4:1 and finish about 5:45. That meant running consistent 13:07 or faster splits. It was really hard to pace on that road; not only going back and forth but also the hills. Our first mile was on target at 12:25. On target knowing that we'd start out a little fast before we warmed up. It wasn't too fast for either of us. The next mile was 13:10 and we just didn't understand why, we felt like we had given it the same effort. Then mile 3 was 12:34 and 4 was 14:08 Huh? It was the hills, or it was the surface, or maybe the mile markers were off, or whatever. We felt we were running hard and consistently and didn't understand why our splits were so uneven. At about that time I decided not to worry about my watch and just try to run well.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention, at length, the beauty of the area. It was really one Anita moment from start to finish, stunningly gorgeous along the road. When you could look up from your footing long enough! The peace and serenity of the giant trees seeped into my thoughts, my brain, my soul. Shut up, it did. The undergrowth was new and fresh, bright wildflowers were everywhere. Pale green leaves on shrubs and hardwoods, deeper green in the grasses and ferns, dark shady greens back in the forest. The trees weren't big, they were enormous. Unbelievably wide, incredibly tall. It was like a natural chapel. I would have loved to have plopped myself down for several hours to just commune with nature. It's very easy to see why I'm a treehugger at heart, why my (unused) degree is in forestry, why conservation of our environment is so important to me. It touched me and I'll carry the memory of the majestic glory for my life.

But meanwhile, I kept running. Heh, no stopping for beauty on this trip! We continued on, chatting or not as the mood hit us, commenting on other people or the scenery. We made bets on when the leaders would show up and she won. Math while running isn't my strong suit. It was nice passing the turnaround (where they had a chip mat for a split and to deter cheaters) and going back the way we had come. It wasn't too long before we saw the front runners pounding up the middle of the road. That was the last of our having our choice of where to run. As it started getting more crowded we were relegated to the far right hand side of the road. The slower people coming toward us hugged the left part of the road, faster runners sped down the middle. There were also a few cars coming by, pretty scary with all the runners going both directions.

Faster runners always complain about having to weave past early-start walkers in a race. This would be one of those times. We could see some of the walkers (not TnT thankfully) stretched out across the entire road. They were blocking not only those trying to pass them from behind but those trying to pass in the other direction. As we squeezed past them both Bree and I felt like we wanted to give them a hip check or a shoulder nudge to get out of the way. We didn't but only because we thought it might hurt us worse than them.

Early on, by mile 3, Bree started having significant pain. She had a nagging hip injury that had bothered her while we were running our 20 miler and it had returned, just in time for the marathon. She popped a couple of painkillers and thought that would hold her. It didn't. By mile 9 she was running hunched over, crooked, bent and in great pain. She didn't want to stop and didn't want to give up and wanted to keep going. After talking it over, and talking with a friend of hers (a TnT coach we saw along the way) she decided to do the right thing and give up not only her quest for a sub-6 marathon, but any thoughts of a full marathon at all. She urged me to go ahead without her and being the selfish pig that I am, I went off on my own. I was torn, I wanted to stay with her and make sure she'd be ok, but I also knew she really wanted me to get lost. It was a tough decision, but nowhere near as tough as hers.

For most of this leg there was no crowd support; it was pretty impossible to get out there to cheer unless you had started early and planned to stay until the race was over. As I got closer to the end of the first leg a few people, then a lot of people, were on the side of the road cheering. I'm sure most of them were wondering what I was doing out there with the leaders but I wasn't in the mood to explain it. Everybody kept telling me I was almost there, almost finished. Even the people passing me said that. Oh stuff it! Didn't anyone remember there was a full marathon going on too? Or maybe I just don't look like I can run a full marathon. Whatever, I smiled at most of them and kept running.

I finished the half and hung a right to cross the bridge and start the second half. All of a sudden it got verrry quiet out there. There were about 900 people running the half and only 325 running the full, most of them behind me since I had started early. It was kind of cool, having mostly everyone pass me at some point of the race. And they did: anyone who began at the regular start and finished faster than 4:45 passed me.

The second leg's pavement was a vast improvement over the first. It was still hilly and winding and canted but the surface was much smoother. It was also, for the most part, a wider road. By this time, it was warming up and getting windy. At the intermittent clearings the wind really picked up and the sun was burning strong. Luckily it was, remember, the Avenue of the Giants so it was mostly shady. There was one spot where the whole side of the hill had washed out and the road was technically closed. Of course they let us through. It was just a tad creepy thinking of one of those hillsides coming down. Good thing it hadn't rained in a few days.

There were more people along this stretch too, mostly campers wondering just what in the hell these strange numbered people were doing, and when they'd be able to move their big ol' RV's back along the road. Some were cheering us on, most were just staring.

Water stops were adequate to good. They had water and this nasty (so I'm told) electrolyte drink, urg or ugg or something like that. Some stops had oranges and bananas. There were no gels or bars or beans or sharkies or anything like that available. Luckily I carry my own gu and my own packets of ultima. Yes, I'm one of the seventeen people in the world who like the taste of ultima and I've used it for all my training and races. I was also glad I had my own salt tablets and packets since it was so warm. On the first half there were people handing out cups but by the time I started the last six miles most of the volunteers were sitting and watching the race. Or, watching the few of us still out there. Yeah, that made me cranky but hey, I'm always cranky at that point of the run. I can't really blame the people, they'd been out there for so long, but it meant more work for me to stop and figure out which cup to take and to grab it. So I tossed those on the ground when I finished, instead of trying for a garbage can like I'd been doing. Take that!

I was getting really tired those last few miles. I thought of just walking it in, since I wasn't trying to pace Bree anymore, but I just couldn't do it. Why? Because I opened my big fat mouth and predicted 5:45 is why! On my blog! In public! What a git. Although I knew that was best case scenario, I put it out there anyway. I knew, as early as mile 8 or so, that 5:45 was out the window. But I also knew I could come in some time around 5:55 if I didn't just shrug my shoulders and walk it on in. I knew there were 3 hills at the end; a long gradual one, a shorter steeper one (an overpass) and a short bridge right at the end. I told myself I could walk up all 3 of those, even if they weren't within my 4:1 which I had continued for the rest of the race. My run had become more of a shuffle, but that was eating up the miles.

Bree had walked out for about the last mile (?) to run me in. I didn't want to talk, and didn't particularly want anyone else to either, although it was nice to have company. I was about as focused as I ever get, just concentrating on moving forward. Bree just quietly matched my pace and followed my lead. My breathing was pretty ragged, a combination of exhaustion and asthma. I quickly walked up the long hill, resumed running, trudged up the big hill, then continued running. I quit the 4:1 at that point, turned the beeper off on my watch.

Then I saw, waiting for me along the road, my coach Mama Lisa. Ruh roh. I knew, without a doubt, that she wasn't going to let me slack on that last hill. Lisa and Susan, another runner who had been waiting with her, fell in with me and Bree. Bree told them I'd like quiet and they ignored her. Which was fine, since I was so focused on finishing the damn thing that I was trying to ignore them! Lisa exclaimed about how well I was doing, how good I looked, y'know, all those lies they tell runners. My shuffle sped up and we left Bree struggling behind us. Lisa had no trouble matching my slow pace since she runs in our slower runners all the time; Susan had a harder time slowing her Boston pace to my trudge. As we neared the bridge Lisa told me to slow down a bit in preparation for the bridge. I muttered "walkin'" which was all I had breath to say. She thought I meant right then, and was about to stop, when she realized I meant to walk the bridge. I was right, she was having nothing to do with that! No way was she gonna let me wuss out there, with the finish line almost in sight. I was too tired to argue. In a quiet, calm, encouraging voice she coached me, step by step, up and over that bridge. "Shorten your stride," "don't look at the top, look over there" (I was actually looking at my feet, I was afraid I'd trip), "deep breaths" (deep gasping breaths were all I could get) "up on your toes" and so on. As we crested the top she told me to look and see the finish line, right ahead of me. I wearily raised my hand for a high five and pounded my way across the line, totally spent. Finish time: 5:52:09.

I had my usual emotions at crossing the line; thrills at finishing the race, pride at giving it my best, regrets for not being faster, overwhelming sadness at not being able to tell my Dad that I'd finished another marathon, anticipation of telling my sis and mom and friends about my day, vast happiness that I didn't have to run anymore. Also as usual after a finish line dash I was entirely out of breath, starting to feel the pain in my legs and feet that I had been ignoring for the past couple of hours, wanting to cry, wanting to laugh. At that time everything seems magnified, bigger than life.

I got my chip removed and was handed my medal, then walked over to give Mama Lisa a great big hug. We waited for Bree, walking around a bit to slow my breathing and cool down. We walked up to the TnT checkout tent but they had closed it down already. I kinda knew they would since the full marathon wasn't their race, but I had really hoped I could get a TnT 26.2 pin. I know it's practically impossible to get one after a race is done. We walked over to see what kind of food was available. I noticed them packing up the tee shirt table (and what's up with that? There was still another hour for people to finish the race and I knew there were people behind me) and walked over to see if I could exchange my ugly girly shirt for one of the burgundy shirts. The woman told me I had to hurry up and get my shirt to trade in. I just looked at her and told her I had just run 26 miles, I wouldn't be hurrying anywhere for about 36 hours! Bree very generously offered to get the shirt from my car, so I was able to make the trade.

There was a table with some cookies and pretzels and one quarter of a dried out peanut butter sandwich, and cups of water. I don't know if there had been more than that for earlier finishers. Nothing looked in the least bit enticing but I took a couple of fig newtons for later.

So that was it. My 25th full marathon. Silver anniversary marathon! I'm very glad I did it, glad I got to experience running through that gorgeous scenery. I'm happy with my time but even happier that I didn't decide to just phone it in and that I worked hard for that time. I'm sad that Bree didn't get to finish it with me but we'll have another chance at another race once she's healed.

I made one mistake. I told Mama Lisa that at the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in 3 weeks I was just gonna have fun, just stroll along and walk the whole damn thing if I felt like it. "Oh no you're not!!" was her reply. Hmm. Maybe I'll have to run incognito ....