Friday, August 31, 2007

Yes we did

I know that everyone is just clamoring to know whether we ran last night in the hot hot hot. Heh. Of course you are. Yes, Pam and I ran. Yes, it was hot. Yes, we were slow. Yes, we ran a shorter route than we normally do. Yes, we didn't enjoy it. Yes, we were glad to be done!

When I arrived at our meeting place it was 95 degrees out. Yikes. So we only ran 2.2 miles, very slowly, taking a couple of walk breaks so we could drink more. The air was really bad. I kept wondering where all the oxygen was. That, more than the heat, affected my running. Funny how lungs and muscles really need oxygen to function well.

Yesterday's forecast called for possible thunderstorms (!?) in the afternoon but the sky was clear as can be when we ran. Brown and tan, but clear. Eww. This morning there are bunches of clouds around but the sun is shining brightly and it's already hot. It did rain on my way in: as we crept along on the freeway at 30 mph a drop splattered on my windshield. Then another. Then another and another and another and another and another and another and another until there were about a hundred big fat droplets of water and then another and then it stopped. So much for the rain. Hopefully the lightning will keep away and not burn up the Bay Area.

I didn't knit at all last night, although I stared and stared at the Temescal Bag and the yarn I have left, trying to decided how I'll pattern the straps. I made no decisions. I'll have to stare more tonight or maybe even just start knitting and figure it out as I go.

The Gratuitous Bear of the Day is another twofer. One of the things sis and I used to do when I'd visit her is go shopping at various and assorted cute little shops. We'd go to the outlet shops, or Smicksburg, or just some cute little local shops near her home. Of course we'd check out any teddy bears and one year I started a trend of buying us both matching bears. How cuuuuute. [Hush. I know we're strange. Shut it!] This first year I saw two little lady bears, with their hats and bows and flowers. We each got a set to commemorate sisterhood. They never got their own names and became our first set of Sister Bears.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hot boring Thursday

I had a great time after work yesterday. Claudia and Olivia and I blew off our run because of the heat (local thermometers showed it was 106 degrees in Walnut Creek!) and the poor air quality. Olivia and I got wonderful soothing pedicures and Claudia met us there while our nails were drying. We decided to go for Japanese food, and the closest place was in a little strip mall down the street.

Even though it's a block from my office, and has been there for several years, I've never managed to eat there so I was excited to try this new (to me) sushi joint. The food was very good and plentiful indeed, although the service last night was incredibly slow for a mostly empty restaurant. I never know if the maki is going to be little tiny things or big ol' fat rolls so being very hungry I ordered three rolls. Turns out this is one of the big ol' fat roll restaurants. I had the spider roll, Philadelphia roll and a the special tuna roll. [And why is it that every single time I type "roll" it ends up "rool" instead? ] I ended up taking home six pieces; half of the salmon and tuna. It'll be very tasty after my run tonight. Thank you ladies, it was a great evening. We'll have to keep doing this even after we don't need an excuse not to run! Because I just know that you're not going to continue running with me on Wednesdays after New York, right??

After dinner I went to the hospital to visit a friend who had just gotten a brand new knee. Man, he's in some terrible pain, despite having a snootful of good drugs. I kept kidding him that he didn't take enough illicit drugs in his youth or he'd be better able to manage the side effects of the narcotics. He replied that he's probably the only person I know who's never even tried to smoke a single joint and -- yeah, I couldn't think of anyone else I knew who hasn't tried it ever. Or any other drugs. He never even drank alcohol, although in the past few years he's starting having a beer on very special occasions. See people, you have to think of it as training!

When I got home last night my house was hot and stuffy. I opened the windows and doors and realized it was still hot and stuffy outside, despite being about 9:15 pm. So I closed up everything and turned on the a/c. PG&E is going to love me this month. I like being warm but that was too much for even me. The heat wave continues today, temps in the upper 80's early in the day. I hope we're able to run tonight but it's not looking good. There still isn't even the slightest breeze, the sky around the horizon is light brown. Still, quiet, hot; earthquake weather!

I finished the body of the Temescal Bag last night, substituting the dark gray for the last black stripe. I've decided I'm going to do the same type strap that I used on the first bag; tapering down to a plain flat strap instead of a big i-cord. What I haven't decided is what coloring to use, whether I want striped straps, and whether I want the straps to match. I'm pretty sure I'll finish it, including felting, this weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'd watch it!

Close to Home by John McPherson

Hot Wednesday, again

It's another scorcher today, going up to the 100's. The air is already that lovely shade of tan that comes with the inversion layer in the East Bay. Because of the poor air quality, and the extreme heat, I find it highly unlikely that we'll be running tonight. So I dragged myself out of bed this morning and did a cross training tape. I'm glad I did; as soon as the sun slid over the horizon it warmed up considerably.

One of the nicest things about summer around here is the way it cools down at night. Where I live the winds come through, blowing cool or even cold air. It's our natural air conditioner. Well, the switch is off. Last night at around 11pm I opened my slider and looked outside and the trees were completely still, not the teensiest breeze. It was warm and still and quiet and surprisingly bright, with the full moon. The type of night you expect to hear horror movie soundtracks wafting through the air, the stillness that comes before the chainsaw jumps out at you. Creeeeepy!

I took an exercise night off, not because it was planned that way but more because I got involved in the book I was reading and didn't want to get up. Poor excuse, and another reason I got up early today. I have to keep reminding myself that tapering doesn't mean sloth. No matter how much I'd like to spend the next two weeks on the sofa. Eating jelly bellies and ice cream. Oh yeah, that would really prepare me for the marathon.

I'm almost done with the body of my Temescal Bag. I ran out of black, about 10 stitches and 2 rows short of the stripe I was knitting. The last color is scheduled to be black too so I'll have to substitute, probably the dark gray because I have enough of it. The colors are off in the picture; both grays are darker and the red is less orange. It's going to be great when it felts and the edges soften. I'll definitely finish knitting it this weekend, maybe even get it felted. Now I have to decide how I want to knit the straps.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It was a typical Monday

The heatwave is coming but not quite here in full force yet. When Pam and I started our run last night it was in the upper 80's; when we finished it was in the upper 70's. It's already in the mid-70's, early in the morning. I can already tell from the brownish horizon and the still trees that the next few days will be scorchers.

Our run last night went well enough. We ran our usual short short route, out on the streets and back on the trail. Mr. Garmin told me it was 3.3 miles which is a bit longer than it normally is for the same route. Did I not cut corners as usual? I dunno, maybe it's just the satellite was more or less correct than it usually is. Maybe the impending lunar eclipse had something to do with it. Right. Anyway, our run. Pam was in remarkably good condition after her long run but my legs are still feeling tired and achy. We tried to take it easy but my legs weren't cooperating; they kept speeding up as if they wanted the whole run over and done with.

I think I may have hit on a source for some of my current leg discomfort. I had thought it was switching around my running shoes, breaking in new pairs of the same exact model shoe I've been wearing for a couple of years. Maybe one pair wasn't quite right or something, although I haven't had a single problem in the past. Then I realized that I actually walk around during the day too, when I'm not wearing running shoes. I think my problem is I've been wearing sandals all summer without any arch support, just trying to keep my tootsies cool. I have to dig into my closet to see if any of my sandals have support, otherwise I think my legs will keep hurting. Hopefully getting arch support during the day will help my legs.

I knit more on the Temescal Bag last night. I'm definitely going to run out of black before I'm done with the current black stripe. I think I'll substitute the dark gray for the black, since I have so much. I could always switch in a different yarn, either Cascade 220 or maybe Wool of the Andes, but I'm afraid there will be different felting rates and it will screw up the shape of the bag. I can use either of those when I knit the straps though. Other than running out of a color, it's coming along great. Pure, mindless knitting in circles, always a nice change. Just what I needed for my hour of knitting last night after I finally finished the run, ate dinner and got off the phone.

The Gratuitous Bear of the Day is Triplets. I can't remember where I got these three pretty little bears. They're tiny, each just a few inches tall, and sit on top of the cabinet where I keep the Charm Bears. They don't even have individual names, although I'm willing to auction off naming rights for a good cause!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bunnies and drizzle and wind, oh my!

Saturday morning I met up at 7:00 with Anita, Sandy and Mary Ann at Inspiration Point. Last week had been very warm but it was forecast to be cooler in the morning. Way cooler. So cooler that I ended up borrowing a jacket from Sandy. It was drippy, foggy, windy - pretty miserable. At least there wasn't a cow to be seen, just their little leftover gifts in the middle of the trail.

We were pretty whiny at the start. Mary Ann is coming back from surgery and just ran out 1-1/2 miles with us, then was walking back. I had initially said we should just run with her and go get coffee; everyone ignored me. We then decided that we'd just run four miles. After passing the two mile marker we said we'd run five miles. Then we said we'd run six. Then seven. Eventually we were running up that last big hill to the turnaround point and hey, no choices left, we were running the full eight miles.

There had been a wicked headwind for most of the way out and wouldn't you know it, there was another one on the way back. We've never figured out how it can be uphill and headwindy both directions, probably a geographic and meteorological quirk in that area, huh? It was tough going for all of us and we threw in a couple of additional walk breaks. Hey, we're tapering, right?

Probably because of the low clouds and thick fog the bunnies were scampering all over the place. Maybe they thought the normal predators wouldn't see them at their little wabbit games. A cyclist told us there was a coyote out in the field; it must have been like a grand buffet for him.

We finally finished, feeling very virtuous and satisfied (and tired). I ended up running more of the biggest hills than I usually do so it was a good training run. My legs were sore and feeling pretty worn out. I'll have to take it easier for the next two weeks until Erie.

My mom was still with me on Friday night and we needed to have dinner somewhere since (1) I don't cook, and (2) there was no food in my house even if I did. She kept suggesting types of restaurants and I kept rejecting them because of my run the next morning. We finally ended up at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Dublin. Yeah, chips and salsa and a margarita for carbo loading. It was still better than some of her other choices. I ended up getting the grilled chicken breast ala poblana and ate a couple of tortillas, hoping that would be carboriffic enough. I took home most of the meal (it was a great lunch on Sunday). One margarita only, although you know how tempted I was to drink several.

After our run on Saturday I took a short nap then went to an annual pool party given by my boss. Since our company has expanded so much, the party has too. It was enjoyable, good food and drink, good company, nice cool pool. I ate too much dessert and figured that every last calorie I burned on the run was consumed in berry pie, key lime tart and snickerdoodles.

I got into a cleaning frenzy on Sunday. I have a few little bookshelves in my bedroom where I have stuffed animals, everything from the dolly I got for my fourth birthday to the lion I won at a fair. Although I dust around them frequently I don't really do a deep cleaning. My theory of cleaning is that if you let the dust sit there it won't bother you; once you start dusting it gets in the air and that's when the allergies get bad. Really, it works. But it had been ages since I'd cleaned the stuffies and it was time, they were looking darker than they should. I got out my vacuum, attached a brush and got to work. Hours later it looked like a cyclone had gone through my room. One by one I had picked up each bear or dog or tiger or lion and vacuumed the bejeebers out of it. Even the itty bitty ones. Then I cleaned the shelves. Then around and under the shelves. Then everywhere else in the bedroom. Cleaning cleaning cleaning. Damn, this room is clean!

Next time I'll clean the glass shelves over the bar. The ones loaded with fancy glassware and little breakable tchotchkes. Ok, maybe not. But I can write my name in the dust on those shelves so it's really time. I don't think I can wait for a spring cleaning frenzy.

I managed to fit in some knitting on my Temescal Market Bag. I like how the random striping is coming out and I think it's going to felt beautifully. After taking this picture I finished the black stripe and started the next red one. I'm hoping I have enough in each color to finish the striping as written; I'll know in the next few days. I'm going to have to decide soon which strap option to knit but it'll probably be this weekend before I get to that. I like this mindless knitting in circles!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Frabulous Friday

For some reasons this seems like a very long week. Very very long. I must need to talk more about yarn! We've seen this picture before, it's all my yarn from Stitches. I thought I'd let you know about the non-red, non-gray yarns I got.
That lovely blue yarn that stands out on the right is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, 100% superwash in Devon. We were told that was pronounced with the accent on the last syllable, not the first. This is soft, fabulous yarn. I don't know what I'll do with it but I like to touch the skein. Maybe mitts, maybe a hat. I want it right next to my skin.

In the middle of the picture is another Lorna's Laces, this one Lion and Lamb, 50% silk, 50% wool in Black Purl. Buttery soft (their description) and silky and great texture and smells great. It will probably turn into a lacy scarf or wrap.

The gorgeous multi-colored hunk o' yarn at the top of the page is Blue Moon's Twisted, 100% merino, in Fire on the Mountain. The skein is 560 yards so I can do something wonderful with it. When I get to it.

The deep blue (with some purple) skein underneath the Twisted is Valley Yarns Belle, 100% silk dyed by Kangaroo Dyer. In the light it has a wonderful sheen and the colors are deep and true. No idea what I'll do with this, probably (another) lacy scarf.

At the top left are several -- are they balls? skeins? -- of Valley Yarns Northampton, 100% worsted weight wool, in red, black and two shades of gray. I'm using these right now for my Temescal Bag and the yarn is knitting up beautifully. The pattern calls for double stranding and at first I just used the outside strand and pulled a strand from the middle. Wow, big mistake. I had horrible twisting and tangling problems so I wound the rest of the balls/skeins. Since the pattern is basically knitting in circles it should go fast.

I'm not sure if I've already mentioned the great big hank of blue/green/black yarn next to the Northampton. It's Brooks Farms Duet, 55% mohair and 45% wool. The colors are different depending on the light with the blues dominant. Gorgeous and cuddly yarn. I'll probably do a mistake rib pattern scarf of this. Or maybe I'll just hug the yarn.

Whew, I feel better already!

Last night Pam and I met for our run. It was probably in the low 80's when we started, cooling a bit while we ran. We took an option on our run, following a different street than we normally do. It was fun seeing something different, looking at other areas in the neighborhood where we've been running for years. We ended up with 3.6 miles and I'd tell you how long it took except I forgot to stop my watch. Oopsie. As I was driving home I heard Mr. Garmin give out a loud beep telling me I had completed 4 miles. I think I stopped the watch and then accidentally hit the start button when I got in the car. Should improve my average time for the run since I was going about 65 mph!

My mom is back in town, trying to decide whether or not to buy the new place in Rossmoor that she's supposed to be buying. Seriously, one day she's excited and the next she wants to flat-out cancel. She has to decide today, and sign off on the inspection report and sign a bazillion papers. My bro the attorney is with her, he wants her to buy, so I think when I see her at the end of the day she'll have decided that it's going to be her new home. But I wouldn't bet any money on it. Not even a nickel.

Short run planned for tomorrow, just 8 miles. Heh, I love saying that 8 miles is a short run. We're off to see the cows at Inspiration Point, wish me luck!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Forgot the "Stitch n" part

Last night's scheduled Stitch n Bitch at my house was a lot of fun, but we got absolutely no knitting accomplished while everyone was there. We talked about yarn, looked at yarn, discussed patterns, all that knitterly stuff; no actual knitting took place. We did manage to consume a bunch of food and wine though, and did lots of talking.

Claudia arrived early and helped me download the right program for my Garmin. She and Olivia had talked about the maps and other features they had and I just couldn't figure out why I didn't have the same thing. Turns out I was using Garmin's own Training Center and they were using a free web-based program, Motion Based. That's where they have the maps and extra info. If you want map on Garmin's program you have to buy the mapping software. At about $300. No thank you. I transferred all the data from my runs to the new program and it's pretty nifty. The elevation is still screwy and the temperature is completely off but the maps are complete and that's what I was looking for.

Our meal last night consisted of marinated, baked chicken (yes, I turned my oven on even though it was in the 90's outside, thank you air conditioner!); pine nut couscous with added tomatoes, onions, garbanzos and (low fat) feta; broccoli salad (thank you Anita!); and yummy bite sized brownies (thank you Olivia!) with fresh raspberries and Haagen Dazs light cherry fudge truffle ice cream. We topped it off with lots of wine (thank you Claudia). And we talked and chatted and gabbed and on and on. Lots of fun. It was great seeing everyone, especially Cindy whom I don't think I've seen for almost 3 months. Pam came later, to say howdy to everyone that she hadn't seen in a long time. All in all a great night.

After everyone left I knit a bunch of rows on the new Temescal Bag. It's such an easy pattern that knitting in circles after a couple few glasses of wine isn't a problem. Or wasn't, until I realized I had dropped a stitch a few rows back. Still not really a problem, I was able to pick up the stitch with a crochet hook and continue on my merry way.

Our Gratuitous Bear of the Day is a medal bear that was taken off another shelf in my house and given a medal. A friend had given him to me a couple of years before I ran the Big Sur International Marathon. I trained for and ran that race harder and better than I've run any other race. At the time there was a very strict 5-1/2 hour cut-off. I don't start races that I can't finish within the time limit so I knew I'd have to PR that day. Yeah, hardest race around and I had to knock several minutes off my previous fastest marathon. I did it, ran my heart out, pounded my way across the finish line as they were starting to remove it, just making the cut-off at 5:30. It still is my PR; after that race I decided to enjoy the scenery for a while, then my lungs got crappy, then I gained weight, then I just said "hmmph" to finishing quickly. [I've changed my mind about the "hmmph", lost weight, lungs feeling a little better, still trying to enjoy the scenery; someday I'd like to break that PR!]

I couldn't find a bear in the Monterey area that would suit the big clunky ceramic medal that Big Sur hands out. After I got home and I was limping around my house (that race hurt!) I noticed this bear; he looked perfect in his little workout suit and was big enough that the medal wouldn't break his neck. So Blackie got the medal and the move to the shelf with the marathon bears.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Your cold made me fat

A newish scientific study has discovered that adenovirus-36, a common virus from a family of viruses that cause colds in people, makes human cells turn to fat cells. After exposing liposucked stem cells to the virus, researchers found that more than half of these stem cells turned into fat cells and accumulated fats, while only a small percentage of the non-exposed stem cells did the same. The report of the study went on to say that any vaccine would be years in the blah blah blah ...

Unfortunately finding a vaccine wouldn't help in the least. Being fat is still caused by burning less calories than you consume. People, get real! No cold remedy will make you thinner. Well, unless your cold remedy is a little crank or speed or something that makes greasy residues flow uncontrollably from your body. As I know to my own dismay, different people burn calories at different rates. Some people can eat thousands of calories and sit on their ass(es) all day and be skinny as a rail, while others consume 1200 calories and run marathons and are still overweight. No, I'm not talking about anyone in particular here. There are no quick fixes, no easy ways out, no shortcuts (even with surgery), no vaccines, no medications that will change the basic formula of burn more/weigh less. I wish the media would quit jumping on these studies as if they were magic.

Magic! Maybe Harry Potter could do an abracadabra and we'd all be as thin as we'd wish! Sheesh.

I took a rest day yesterday and didn't exercise, decided my legs could use a break. It was a good idea. When my alarm went off an hour early today so that I could get up and cross train, my legs felt well enough that I thought I couldn't just turn off the alarm and sleep for another hour. So I got up, did my workout, and I feel just dandy. Of course my head will probably collapse onto my desk some time about 2pm. Hmmm, can I fit in a nap before tonight's stitch n bitch??

I decided to get started on a new knitting project since I have all that luscious yarn just sitting in my house. So what did I do? Decided to make another Temescal Bag, which uses the most incredibly boring yarn that I own. Plain old 100% feltable wool, this time in my colors of light gray, dark gray, black and red. I used a random stripe generator and I like the pattern that came out. Well, that came out on my ninth or tenth refresh of the screen. I've finished the bottom and now I just knit in circles for a while!

Recovered and ready to go

Last night Pam and I met as usual for our Monday night run. We agreed that either of us would have been glad to have the other call and cancel the run; it was hot out and we were beaten up by our long weekend runs. Too bad that each of us was waiting for the other to call first! To try to alleviate the pain we decided to just run on the Iron Horse Trail; that way if things went really badly we could just turn around and limp back in.

It started out roughly for both of us. Stiff, sore, cranky. Pam was actually limping (she called it "favoring" one leg). We ran for a few minutes, then stretched, then ran on. We needed to throw in a couple of walk breaks but we managed to finish 3.25 miles at much quicker than our normal pace. Amazingly I felt better when I finished than when I started. After stretching again I felt hot and tired, but normal. Before bed I popped a couple of Advil, just to make sure my knee didn't act up again. This morning I couldn't even tell I had done a long run. Yay and yippee! Now I'll just have to see if I stiffen up at my desk; if I do I'll take a walk at lunch time and see if I can loosen things up.

There was something funny I haven't mentioned from our weekend in Chicago. Saturday while we were on the CTA bus taking us to the working train station we saw a street closed off with a lot of SWAT and police vehicles. We saw some people down at the end of the street but couldn't tell what was going on. We thought either something awful had happened or maybe they were filming a movie or tv program. Ding ding, we have a winner! I read later that someone else had seen the SWAT truck, and it said "Gotham City" on the side so I guess they were filming the new Batman film.

Again on the bus, returning from Stitches on Sunday, we ran into a ton of traffic. Then the bus stopped. It sat there, we sat there, everyone else sat there. And sat. And sat and sat and sat and what the hell is going on?? We were told that the bridge was closed. As I stared ahead I saw two military-looking helicopters go buzzing low and tight over the river. What?? Oh, filming another movie. Got it. But the bridge remained closed. The driver announced that she had been told that the bridge over the next street was open and if we wanted, we could get off and walk. She couldn't deviate the route of the bus and it didn't look like she'd be moving anytime soon.

So off the bus we went, trudging down the street, turning the corner, trudging up the next street to the bridge. Remember, I had run the half marathon that morning, then wandered around Stitches for a few hours, and I was tired. As we got right up to the bridge we saw that one was closed too! A couple of people with headsets and clipboards were telling people they could not cross the bridge. That certainly didn't make anyone happy, including one very feisty woman with several children who wasn't about to make them go several blocks further out of their way to cross the river. Especially when we could see other people crossing. As this woman calmly stated her position -- oh hell, she was yelling her head off -- a couple of big dudes started walking across the bridge. The PA (at least I assumed she was a measly production assistant) tried to stop them but they just looked straight ahead and kept going. Since they were twice her size she had no other choice but to back off. And since the big dudes were going, someone else shouted "run" and we all took off across the bridge.

It turned out that Angelina was in town (with Brad and the kids) filming her newest flick. Now, whether the helicopter stunt was part of her film or the Batman film wasn't clear. But everyone around the river that day didn't really care, they were just pissed off at the inconvenience and declaring they weren't going to see any new film of hers. Pretty funny actually. We hung around the other side of the river for a while to see if the action would start again but it looked quiet so we left.

The Gratuitous Bear of the Day is another medal bear. In 2004 I ran the inaugural PF Chang's Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon. It's always a crapshoot whether a new race will run smoothly and this was no exception. There was a late start because of bus and traffic problems which led to more heat during the race. I went out quickly, and blew up quickly. I found the bear in the hotel gift shop and he was absolutely what I was looking for, a western sheriff with his name across the front of his vest. This is Howdy, from Arizona.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What's the big deal?

I spoke with my sis yesterday afternoon and she was wondering why I was so tired. "You've run 20 miles lots of times, why aren't you used to it?" she asked. Hey, 20 miles is 20 miles whether you run it daily or every couple of months or once a year. I don't know about you, but I never get used to it.

I got up early Sunday morning and drove down to the Alameda Creek Trail in Fremont for our anticipated 20 miler. At 6:30 am I met up with Sandy and Anita and we headed west along the trail. I realized that maybe we were starting too late; the sky was rapidly clearly and it was getting warm. Uh oh. I thought it would be ok to run five miles west before turning around, but in that last half mile on the flats beyond Coyote Hills we were getting a strong tail wind. I wasn't looking forward to having that as a head wind so we turned around, headed back, and completed nine miles in that leg.

We resupplied and moved our cars into the lot and started off in the east direction. I was already getting tired, not a good sign so early in the run. It was warm and fully sunny and my legs were feeling flat. Pushing through that makes for great training but a lousy run. We ran all the way to the Niles staging area, turned around and headed back. At this point complaining started in earnest. I switched us to 4:1 run:walk and that helped a bit. We refilled our bottles at a fountain along the way; we were all drinking a lot in the heat.

It was a lovely scenic day, had we been in the mood for it. At the western end of the trail we saw lots of bunnies and birds. It's always amazing to see pelicans and egrets. At the northern end we saw chipmunks, herons, egrets, some unknown-to-us raptors and enormous carp in the creek. We've never seen fish before, never seen the water high enough or clear enough to see through.

The original plan was to finish 19, run to our cars and replenish, run another mile or two before quitting. I was afraid that we'd see our cars and call it quits so I revised that plan. Then I was afraid we'd all run out of our drinks so I re-revised that plan. We zoomed down to our cars, grabbed more drinks and zoomed back to the trail. Ok, zoom was only in relation to the slow speed we had going. Think of a snail zooming. We ran out another half mile, turned around and decided to just walk in the last half mile. Twenty finished and done. Actually a bit more than 20; the last mile leading to Niles is at least .1, maybe .2 long so we ran about 20.4. That's important, I have this mental thing about my long run being longer than 20.

Usually finishing my run is the greatest part of the day, but I was sore, tired, a bit nauseous from the heat, dehydrated, salty, congested. Y'know, feeling totally crappy. We hung around for a while chatting, none of us in the mood to drive or even move from our tailgates.

Finally we couldn't stall any longer and we all wanted showers and food so we headed off. I was going to take an ice bath and it would have been a great idea, but I just wanted to get clean and back into bed. I'm paying for that decision today but it was the right thing at the time. Advil can correct my mistake.

Going way back to Friday night, after work I met Petra, Olivia, Claudia and Rocky at the A's game. They got beaten up by played the Kansas City Royals. Since the home team was playing so poorly we spent most of the time talking instead of watching closely. It seemed that every time we'd look, there was something bad happening. We ended up leaving during the 7th inning stretch; we mostly had early mornings planned and wanted to beat the crowds.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of my yarn haul from Stitches. This is what everything looked like piled upon my dining room table:A lovely rainbow of luscious yarn. What, not enough? Below are the most of the reds. At the right is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Embers; the middle is Ellen's Half Pint Farms 50% merino, 50% silk; left is Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, sport weight 100% merino, in Buckeye; top is Socks that Rock heavyweight in Mustang Sally.

And the gray/blacks. Top is Aussi Sock, 90% Aussi Merino, 10% nylon, in Silver Anniversary; the middle is Art Yarns Beaded Silk; 100% silk with glass beads; bottom is Art Yarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter, 50% silk, 50% kid mohair.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Stitches Mid-West weekend part 2

Last night I had another good run. Pam and I ran 3.2 miles, our new route, the flat version. I just wasn't really up for the hill so we ran along the street and back on the trail. It's a nice change running from the Park & Ride instead of the regular spot. It was cooler than the night before but still warm.

Back to the trip!

We rose early on Saturday, anxious to get out to Stitches. We walked over to the Corner Bakery and ordered breakfast. In addition to needing the sustenance for a full day on our feet, I was carbo loading for the next day. I had their baked french toast and bacon with fruit (and a latte), actually a pretty good meal. We scarfed our food down and headed over to the train station.

Where we found that it was closed for construction work. There are apparently "slow-down zones" through the transit system and they were doing work to alleviate them. They're currently working on the line we needed to ride to get to the conference center. We hopped on the bus and slowly made our way to the station that was open way down the line. Waaaay down the line. The good news was we got a good look at an area of Chicago we wouldn't have seen otherwise. The bad news was it was cutting into our Market time!

We finally got on the train and made our way past several stops to Rosemont. While riding along we noticed many -- how to say this nicely -- uh, geeks. That certain type of male, teens to late 30's, black tee shirts, usually with some logo or picture, and jeans, mildly bad grooming habits, nose stuck in a comic graphic mag or computer 'zine, normally in groups of at least two or three. We idly wondered where they were going and were surprised when they debarked at the same station at which we disembarked. Could they possibly be going to Stitches??

That would be a big "no." We all walked in the same direction, to the conference center, through the blazing sun and high heat and humidity. Nobody was enjoying their black shirts, I can tell you that. [C'mon, you KNOW that I always wear black shirts!] We finally arrived and saw:
Nope, they weren't knitty boys in disguise, they were heading for Wizard World. Ahhhh, that explains the costumes! The guys and gals dressed in various and assorted DC or Marvel or Top Cow characters. That's why we saw a storm trooper! And a Power Ranger! I get it now! We were plenty amused, as I'm sure they all were by all the fiber fanatics headed upstairs.

We decided on a whim to buy a two day pass. After all, we would have to leave early to get to the ball game and didn't want to have to rush. We walked in and stopped for a bit, just staring around, stunned by the yarn and yarn and yarn and WARNING WILL ROBINSON yarn and yarn and oh my. I thought my brain would explode, and this was my third Stitches Market. Wow.

So we were going to go up and down each aisle so as not to miss a thing. If we got separated we planned to meet at WEBS since they had a big area. Petra had decided she'd look at everything first, then come back and buy it. That wasn't going to work for me, I was just going to buy it as I saw it.

And buy it I did! You can't really get burned out buying yarn, but walking around for hours can certainly get to you. Hours later we finally reached the far side of the room and realized we had made it through the entire market. Whew! We were both loaded down with bags of yarns and patterns and notions. And very tired. It was time to scoot back to town if we wanted to get to the game on time.

That was the plan, anyway. We walked back through the heat to the train, shuffled on board with all the fanboys and fangirls, crammed into the bus and pretty much just sat there in traffic. What would have been a relatively short train ride became an everlasting bus torment. Since this wasn't a normal bus they weren't picking up or dropping people off in normal places. The drivers were just as befuddled about the route as the passengers. There were many Transit workers at every stop, and between stops, and along the way, and -- well, everywhere. I don't know what they do with all those workers when they're not bridging construction gaps, but there were dozens and dozens of them standing around directing.

We had planned our schedule to have time to drop our purchases in the room, rest for a bit, walk to another train line and get to the game on time. That wasn't happening any longer. We'd have to scurry, drop and run. It was a tough decision but we decided to bag the Stitch n Pitch and consider our ticket purchases a donation to the White Sox. We really just wanted to rest for a while, eat a good dinner, play with our yarn and go to bed.

We got back to the room and quickly dumped our purchases on our beds. Hmm. Looks like I bought a lot of yarn. Maybe a different view would be better.

No, still looks like a lot of yarn! Of course, this includes the yarn I bought the night before. As if that made it any better. Lots and lots and lots of yarn. Red yarn, gray yarn, blue yarn, purple yarn, speckled yarn, multi-colored yarn, wool, silk, hand dyed, fancy, plain YARN!

Petra also had a theme going with her purchases. Ok, I buy a lot of reds and blacks and grays but she's pretty green happy, as evidenced here. Green green and more green. Not only a color that isn't my favorite, but in general shades that I'd never buy. But great yarns all the same. Nice that we'll never compete for that last skein on the shelf!
It was dinner time, so we transited and walked over to McCormick & Schmick's along the river. We had eaten there last year and while the wait staff was as annoying as they come, the food was pretty good. That was true again this year. The waiter was an obsequious pain in the neck which probably plays well with yokels from the farm but bugged the crap out of me. We sat outside and the views were wonderful, Chicago at its finest. Whichever way we looked were examples of the fine city architecture.

Since I was running (early) the next morning I went with my usual pre-race meal, grilled fish and mashed potatoes. Yum. Very well done. Would have been better with a glass of wine or a martini, but I had already had a glass of wine in the room and that was my pre-race limit.

We got back to the room, I arranged my clothes for the early morning wake-up alarm (5:00 am) and crawled into bed with a book.

After the race we decided that what we really wanted to do for the rest of the day was return to Stitches. Petra wanted to return to look at some yarn she hadn't bought and I wanted to look at books, which I hadn't had a chance to do the day before. We grabbed sandwiches and headed to the bus.

The bus was even slower going on Sunday. The Grand Prize drawing was due for 1:00 pm and we thought if we were lucky we'd just get there in time. I had several entries that I hadn't dropped in the drum because I didn't know we'd be returning. We kept checking our watches, the time drawing closer and closer.

I wasn't in the mood to be running from the station but we did walk at a good clip. We rode up the escalator, time running out, and got there juuuuuuust as they were closing the container. I scurried over and dropped in my tickets and waited, waited, while the third prize name was called (not mine), the second prize name was called (not mine) and finally, the grand prize winner (hundreds of dollars) was called. Naw, that wasn't my name either.

We now had just under three hours left to shop. We arranged a time and place to meet and split up. I headed first to return to Purrfectly Catchy Designs to get more stitch markers. I looked neither right nor left so that I wouldn't see yarn that still wanted to go home with me. I was determined not to buy more yarn. While I was looking at markers Petra walked over; she had won a door prize, a book. Double winner weekend for her! Maybe that means my luck will come through in the lottery this week. If I remember to buy a ticket.

I wandered over to the different places selling books and settled in to browse and get some ideas and see if I wanted to buy any books or if they were all still too advanced and complicated for me. I was peacefully involved in a felting book when Petra ran up calling my name. Apparently we had missed an entire vendor! NO! She insisted that I had to come look so I reluctantly (oh, right!) left with her. On our way over we passed the table where an author was selling his new knitting mystery. I stopped to talk with him, glanced through the book, figured what the heck, I like to read mysteries! He autographed the book and we moved along. (I read the book in the next couple of days. I will not be buying any more books in that series.)

Ooh, Petra was right. There was no way we could leave without buying some of the yarns from Brooks Farm Yarn. What especially caught my eye was their Duet (55% kid mohair and 45% fine wool, sport weight) and their Riata (48% wool, 36% mohair, 16% silk, worsted weight). My goodness, what lovely yarn. Thick and plush and soft and cuddly and it even smelled great. Yeah, I sniff yarn, wanna make something of it? I had a terrible time trying to decide which yarn, which colorway to buy. They weren't cheap but there was a lot of yarn in each skein. We finally decided what we needed to buy and oh look, the show is closing down! It was time to go, we had spent enough and bought enough to keep us in projects for ages. Years. Lifetimes. This was the addition to my purchases:

Next week I'll finish the trip story and tell you about all the wondiferous yarns that came home with me. I have my 20 miler scheduled for Sunday so keep your fingers crossed for cool weather!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Stitches Mid-West weekend part 1

I had a great run last night with Claudia and Olivia. We met in Alamo and ran a short 3.3 miler on the Iron Horse Trail. They slowed down for me until just before the turnaround, then I ran alone for the last half. I pushed it, averaging under a 12 minute mile. It was pretty warm out but after Chicago the dry air felt good. It felt good to be back running again, especially in new shoes. I left the old worn-out ones in the hotel garbage!

Yeah yeah yeah, you want to hear about YARN, don't you!

We got into Chicago Friday afternoon after a crowded but uneventful flight. We had booked our trip through Southwest Vacations and saving all that money had definite downsides. The first was that they issue paper tickets (I know, positively ancient practices!) and so we couldn't get an early boarding pass. We were in "C" group, on a full flight. The only row with 2 seats together was the very last row; I took the window and Petra the center. It was cramped and claustrophobic.

A nice change from our visit last year is that the Chicago Transit Authority [I just cannot see that without singing songs from Chicago's first album] now sells multi-day visitor passes for the trains. We got a 72 hour pass that we could reuse the entire weekend, good for all the lines. We hopped on the train and headed for town.

We were again staying at the Chicago Palmer House Hilton because we'd liked it last year. This year we got screwed by Southwest Vacations. I had been told that "Double Room" meant just that, two double beds. No. According to the hotel it's ONE double bed. What most normal people in the world would call a "Single Room" because of the single bed. That wasn't going to work and after long discussions with a manager she graciously (not) gave us a "Double Room" with a cot. And out of the goodness of her heart she comped the cot. Oh big whoop, ending up with a small room with a small bed and a cot. We will NOT be using Southwest Vacations ever ever again. The savings aren't worth the discomfort and hassle.

We headed up to our room, on the 15th floor, and rearranged the furniture for the cot. Then we headed out for the other Hilton to go to the expo (more on that in yesterday's post). Our plan was to finish up at the expo and head over to Loopy Yarns for their Stitches party and sale. It was too early so we paused at the hotel's lovely lounge and had a martini first. We pulled out our knitting, sipped our cocktails and watched Chicagoers (Chicagoans? Chicagoites?) walking by.

When we were done we walked over to Loopy and were pleasantly surprised by the sign on the door saying that everything was 20% off. Yippee! The store was crowded with knitters and yarn buyers and wine and snacks and yarn. Oh, the yarn.

My plan for the weekend was to only buy special yarn. Things I couldn't get just anywhere. Pretty, soft, different yarn. I wasn't going to buy just any old felting yarn, anything I could get here. I made the circuit of Loopy, then walked around again. There were quite a few empty shelves but there were still yarns that I needed desperately. I decided to have a glass of wine, knit for a while and think about it.

There was an author signing copies of her new book, Mary Beth Temple and "The Secret Language of Knitters." She did a couple of readings and I decided the book would make a great souvenir of the trip. She autographed a copy to me personally. Awww.

One of the things on my list to buy were several row counters. I had lost my favorite one, the mid-sized locking green one, on a flight somewhere and hadn't seen them in any LYS. Since they were 20% off at Loopy I bought several, enough for many projects and possible losses on other planes. Then I had to pick the yarns I wanted.

I finally decided on two different yarns. The first was a sparkly gray/black, perfect for an evening shawl or scarf. It was Art Yarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter, 50% silk/50% kid mohair. The second was Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, sport weight, 100% merino, in Buckeye. I had a little more trouble with buying that, since I was sitting there knitting away on my fabulous Cider Moon Cherry Bomb chevron scarf and the yarns are similar. But only similar, not exact and I talked myself into buying it. Because I had spent so much I got a free Loopy Yarn bag. Sweet!

Petra was the winner of the bag full of goodies; she got a Loopy Yarn bag with a huge skein of bright green yarn (her favorite!), some huge wooden needles, and a couple of other things that I'm forgetting. Lucky girl!

After we had drunk too many glasses of wine and bought all our yarn we decided we wanted real food so we left and headed back toward our hotel. For lack of anywhere better to go we stopped next door to the hotel at Miller's Pub. The very taciturn host led us to our seats and we ordered beers. Because nothing goes better with vodka and wine than beer. We split an order of delicious crab cakes, then split a very tasty smoked white fish salad. Very filling and precisely what we wanted. We finished and returned to our room to admire our yarn and get some sleep.

Continued later!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chicago Distance Classic report

You're just going to have to wait another day (or so) for the YARN, race review first!

This was my second year in a row running the Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon, my first running it by myself. Last year I "ran" it with Petra who hadn't trained. At all. We ended up walking most of the last few miles and gained ourselves bright shiny new personal worsts, 3:18. That's more than 3 frigging HOURS to complete a lousy 13.1 miles. Normally even my training runs are faster than that. This year I told myself I'd do much better. Otherwise I'd have to change the name of this to "Walker Girl Knits." Doesn't have quite the same ring.

Packet pickup and the expo were at the Hilton Chicago again. We walked over Friday night after checking into the other Hilton, the Palmer House. More on that little fiasco later. Packet pickup was very easy and straight forward. I got my bib, chip, goody bag and shirt. This year the shirt is a tech fabric, that strange stretchy cottony feeling stuff instead of the light weight fabric of most tech shirts. Playdry? It's made by RBK (Reebok?) and a bit weird. It's gray, sized and shaped just like a man's tee shirt. I know I complain about sizing a lot, but this is way generously sized. Too generously sized. The only printing is a very restrained logo and date on the chest and two sponsors names on the back. I probably won't wear it for running but it'll be good for cross training. Shut up, I do too.

The goody bag didn't have too much in it; lots of ads for other races and running products and samples of Bear Naked granola, Gatorade Endurance Formula mix and Propel fitness water mix. The expo seemed much smaller than last year. Saturn had a big display and was giving away their red bell with the race logo (and I finally got one of their little back packs after telling them I'm one of their best repeat customers). I'm getting to have quite a red bell with race logo collection. Crocs had a big booth too, selling several of their different styles and jibbitz. Those are decorations to stick in the holes of the shoes and are pretty addictive if you wear Crocs. As I do. Bear Naked had samples of the granola with yogurt and Mars had a booth with samples of the marathon bar. There were several other booths, none of which interested me much. Of course, I'd just been to a pretty good expo a few weeks ago.

Sunday morning I left my room at 5:50 am and headed over to the race start, just a few blocks away from the hotel. There were lots of people going in the same direction so I couldn't have gotten lost if I had tried. And we all know I don't really have to try to get lost. I decided to start with a visit to the porta potties and was glad I got there when I did; the lines were getting long. My timing was perfect and I walked over to the starting area at about 6:15. There were signs posted for paces up to (I think) a 13 minute mile. The pace group leaders were there, all the way from the fast ones to my people, 2:30, 2:45, 3:00, 3:30 and 4:00. I think it's that's the first time I've seen pace groups for people that slow. I decided to line up to the side of and between the 2:45 and 3:00 groups.

I got a little worried standing there waiting since it was already warm. I had on a tank top and shorts and was feeling just a bit hot. I think it was in the mid-70's already with a bunch of humidity on top of that. Like usual I got antsy standing there waiting. Waiting waiting waiting. There were about 10,000 people (give or take a couple of thousand) waiting with me. Finally John "The Penguin" Bingham started the race and -- yeah, we just stood there. Waiting waiting waiting and finally we started inching forward. Somehow I got ahead of the pace groups since my side of the road was moving faster. I was determined not to start too quickly.

The roads were wet and in my early morning delirium for some reason I decided that Chicago must hose down their streets at night. In fact later when Petra said she heard it rain that night I told her that no, they were washing down the streets. Yeah, no. Don't ask why I thought that. Of course it had rained during the night and there were puddles, some pretty big and wide and deep, all over.

I needed to do surprisingly little dashing around people; most everybody had lined up at least semi-correctly so there weren't too many slower people in front of me. The race start is across the entire street so there's room to spread out. Also, it seemed that most of the people my pace and slower were run:walking. I decided to start with my favorite 9:1 and change to 4:1 when it got hotter. I wanted to keep the beginning of my race at about 12:30's, give or take some seconds, knowing I'd slow down as I overheated.

I had a great 10k. My splits were 12:34, 12;31, 12:25, 12:46 (I took a gel there), 12:24 and 12:34, for an average of 12:32. Totally on schedule but I felt like I was burning up inside and started running about :45 slower per minute after I passed the 10k sign. I waited until we were done with the bridges and then after 6 or so miles switched to the 4:1 hoping the extra walk breaks would let me cool off a little. Nope. Wasn't happening in that heat.

There were frequent water stops that were consistently set up with Gatorade tables first and then water tables. The way it should be. The only hitch in this was at the water stop between miles 5 and 6 which had already run out of cups. Whoopsie. They were pouring water from jugs directly into people's mouths and over their heads. C'mon, if you're running 12:30's+ in that expected heat you should be carrying a bottle. No way you should go 2 miles without fluids. I really can't feel sorry for people of that speed who don't prepare better.

Of course, cooled fluids would have been nice, especially since it had been hot in the mid-west for weeks, abnormally hot for a long time. You'd think they'd have noticed this heatwave and had enough time to do something about it.

There was intermittent shade, but not enough of it. It kept getting hotter and hotter and in the back of the pack we all got slower and slower. Actually, the back of the pack was way behind me, an hour at least. I could see those poor people coming toward me and they didn't look too happy.

I saw the same people over and over again during the race, again because everyone was run:walking and struggling with the heat. I talked with some people, shared commiserating glances with others. I drank 3 bottles of Ultima and lots of water, pouring more water over my head and body. I took a total of 4 gels, including the one at the start of the race, hoping they'd pep me up. Not really. I got worried at one point because I stopped sweating and my skin felt chilled. Uh oh, not good.

I think they changed the route from last year; I don't remember the looping back and forth at the end. You'd think you were getting closer and you'd have to go away from where the finish was located. By this time it was at least in the upper 80's, maybe hotter. And humid. I may run in the heat during training but I'm not used to the humidity.

At the last turn I mustered up a finish line sprint, finishing finally at 2:53:24. Hey, a 25 minute course PR! I was pooped and overheated. I was looking forward to the cold wet towels they had last year, but there weren't any. I was hoping for some cold fluids, but the water they had was warm (but abundant). I got my chip cut off of my shoe and got my medal. It looked the same as last year except in a different color and with the current date; very big, very nice. There were bags and bags of plain mini bagels, unripe bananas (which I don't like but some people do), and chips. I grabbed a bagel and washed it down with water, and ate a bag of chips to get some salt back in (instead of on) my body.

Petra met me a the end. I had asked her to since I knew I'd get lost walking back to the hotel. There was some sort of finish line festival but it was in the opposite direction of where we were going and I didn't feel like doing any farther than I had to. The people coming from there weren't carrying anything different from what I had so I doubt there was anything too exciting there. I was disappointed that they didn't have the cheese sticks like last year; the protein was very welcome after the race.

Walking back to the hotel we stopped at Starbucks and I treated myself to an iced raspberry mocha (nonfat, of course) (but with whipped cream to make up for it). It was wonderful having something cold.

Final thoughts of the race: mostly a great, well done race. I love running through Chicago, although running across the bridges with the grates creeps me out since I'm sure I'll trip and fall. I also don't really like running on concrete and prefer asphalt, but it was ok. You get great views of the beautiful city and then the park along the lake. I thought the organization was a little better last year but even so it still rates among the best. It would be better in different month, say September or April, but hey, then it would compete with other races. I'd like to run it again but probably won't next year; I think the next race I'll run in Chicago will be the full marathon some fall. I recommend this race!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Yarn weekend

Yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn.

Yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn I can't believe I bought that much yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn yarn.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A bad influence

Yep, that's me! I've had one-of-those-weeks and just wasn't in the mood for anything except for rest and pampering. I sent an email to Claudia and Olivia asking if they wouldn't rather get pedicures than run; no arm twisting was needed!

After work we met at a little nail salon near my office and had our feet and nails filed, buffed, rubbed, massaged, polished and treated very nicely indeed. Ahhhh, restful and refreshing and pretty toes as a result.

But that wasn't all! We needed to eat, didn't we?? We wandered down the block to Stanford's and indulged in some very non-training menu options. I started with a Pear Blossom: Absolut Pear Vodka, Midori, Apple Juice, and Fresh Bartlett Pear Puree. Yum and yum some more. It took quite a bit of restraint on my part to only have one; I would have liked about six of them. And then I would have fallen on my face and passed out so I stopped with one. I had a chopped salad. And some calamari. Because I haven't had nearly enough fried food in my diet the past several months.

The nice evening was exactly what I needed. I'm so glad we didn't run. Thank you Olivia and Claudia!

I finished my Noro hat while my mom was here (now I need a different traveling project). For the record, I used Noro Silk Garden, about one and a half skeins in color 243. I knit it with size 6 Options fixed 16" circulars. I love those needles! The hat and scarf look great together, but I probably won't be wearing them at the same time. I think I'd be too warm. Ask me again when it's not summer any longer.

I set my alarm to get up early today and do my cross training tape before work. I hit snooze once and then reset the darn thing for my regular time. Maybe I'll be able to squeeze in the workout while I'm packing tonight. Bwahahahahah! Ok, maybe not.

No internet for the next several days; I'll post again on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Ya gotta love them.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Too much going on

This won't be my normal wordy rambling post, no time today.

Last night Pam and I ran our old short short route. They've reopened the trail between Sycamore and Danville Road but it's hard to tell where they improved it. We're hoping that they're not done but since the fences are down I think they've finished. Nice waste of taxpayer dollars guys. I didn't know what to expect from the run since I was already tired out from the long run Sunday. It actually went pretty well. I certainly didn't want to do a long run but 3.2 miles was just right. My sore knee was fine and I felt no pain at all.

I finished the Noro hat last night, except for weaving in the ends. I'll have a picture tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Busy busy busy.

Hope you'll all have a better day than I will!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Cool down just in time

Welcome to Monday! Doing our long run on Sunday always makes me feel like there should be another day in the weekend to recover. Sort of a SunPlusday. Anyone want to sign a petition?

The first half of my weekend wasn't very active or exciting. Friday after work I finally remembered to get my allergy shots. Probably because I was all congested. Funny how that works. Afterward I ran a couple of my normal weekend errands, figuring (rightly) that I wouldn't get them done after the run. Add in a little laundry and poof, Friday night was gone.

Saturday was just about as exciting. I straightened and cleaned the house for my mom's impending visit, did some paperwork, filing and computer updating, uploaded all my current knitting pictures to Flickr, got everything ready for my run and poof, Saturday was gone.

The alarm went off early on Sunday morning. I was happy to note that it was pretty cool and it looked overcast. Yay! I switched my tank top for a short sleeved running shirt and threw the tank top in my bag in case it got hot. On my way to the run I got a call from Bree saying that she wasn't going to run with us, too much fun on Saturday for her to get up that early. Anita and Sandy were right on time though.

It was completely overcast on the Alameda Creek Trail in Fremont. Normally when we do a long run there we run east first, then west, so that the wind will be at our backs on the last part of our run. I switched that up because I was afraid of heat and sun and running out of water; there's a fountain about 3.5 miles east of where we stage so we could fill up there. I had decided, again because of heat considerations, that we would run 8 miles to the west and back, then 8 miles east and back, then do the last 2 with the wind at our back.

The first 8 went really well, if a little quicker than I'd hoped. We got back to the cars (and moved them into the lot which had been closed when we arrived), re-fueled, and took off east. The wind was really picking up at this point and it looked like the clouds might be clearing up. When we got closer to our 4 mile turnaround we decided to go to the end and just do all 10 of our miles in that stretch. Otherwise those last 2 miles would have been pretty tough to get back out and run.

We ran:walked a 9:1 for the first 14 miles, then switched to 4:1. We were running into a pretty stiff headwind at that point and my breathing, which hadn't been too good to start with, got pretty bad. Plus, my sinuses were having a stuffy day and it felt like someone had turned on a faucet in my head (TMI?). And, we were getting tired, hungry and cranky. We pounded out the miles until the last walk break, then decided to just walk the final quarter mile or so as a cool-down. We were beat!

We were all pretty stiff and sore when we finished, par for the course when you run 18 miles for the first time in a long time. After hanging around stretching, etc. we all took off for hot showers, food and naps. It's funny how the day before I was blasting the air conditioning in my car and after the run I blasted the heat and turned on my seat heater. I love the seat heater, it kept my legs from cramping from the cold.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur; napping, more laundry, reading the Sunday paper, napping, eating, napping. For some reason my knee was hurting. It felt (and feels today) not so much as if I had hurt it running but as if I had smacked it into something and bruised it (which is possible, I never remember when I walk into things). It was sore and tender to the touch so I got out the frozen corn and iced periodically during the day. I don't know what I did but I guess it's time for the advil and more ice.

I did manage to throw in some knitting this weekend. I worked on the Noro hat and no, it won't be my traveling project because it'll be either done or almost done by then. I've tried it on and it fits pretty well. I'm decreasing now and I'm going to make up my own decreases since I don't want the pointy top that's in the pattern. It's going to take about 1-1/2 skeins, maybe a little more. I'll be happy to get back to some soft yarn, this last skein has been full of scratchy little bits and pieces. Y'know, classic Noro stuff!

Friday, August 3, 2007

We have a winner!

As we all knew I would, I broke down and ordered one of the holiday bears from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. They had sent me an email with a one week sale but I didn't think I needed a new bear. Then I couldn't decide which to get. I ended up ordering the newest member of my expanding collection, Frosty the Snowbear. I just couldn't resist his white fuzziness (and the opportunity to knit him changeable scarves). Now I need to take myself off their mailing list so this doesn't happen again! Yeah. I'll get right on that.

Pam and I ran last night despite the fact that neither of us really wanted to be there. It was still hot out and we had both had full weeks. We met again at the Park & Ride and I think that was a great decision; traffic headed to downtown Danville looked pretty heavy and we could actually hear music all the way across the freeway. As we started out I realized I had just broken a nail and it was all ragged; I told Pam we should cancel the run and I really think she would have if I had been even slightly serious. We decided instead to bag the hill and just run the flatter route and ended up with 3.2 miles. Not bad, and actually probably a better idea than pushing it a couple of days before my long run coming up. Like usual we felt better after we ran and were glad we hadn't just flaked out.

I knit a little more on the new Noro hat last night. I dunno, it may be too small. It's definitely going to take more than one skein, but it'll be at least another inch before I can tell if it'll fit or if it's going to be a gift to a child. The knitted rows speed by so fast but I'm such a slow purler. It just feels awkward to me. Depending on how much I feel like cleaning my house for my mom's visit next week, I may just finish the hat this weekend. And then yes, I'll need to figure out a new traveling project for Chicago.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A bear addict's lament

I spent 43 hours last night getting my hair unhighlighted and cut. Oh wait, maybe it was really just 3 hours. Yup, three hours sitting on my ass while someone played with my hair. Being pampered for a while is nice, but sitting there with noxious fumes permeating your skull can get old quickly. I waited until the last minute to decide whether I was going to cut it short again or let it grow out. They both have benefits: short hair looks better but takes much longer to make it look that way; long hair can go in a ponytail to get it out of my face, but doesn't flatter too much. Since I like to spend all of about 3 seconds grooming my hair in the morning I decided on the easy solution, do nothing, let it grow until I get sick of it. Since I'm at least a few months away from ponytail length and I'm also letting my bangs grow out I'm going to be having some pretty bad hair days (months) in my future. At least I like the color, for now. The brassy reddish highlights are gone, thanks to not one but two applications of stinky stuff on my head. And sitting there for 43 3 hours.

I didn't have much time for anything once I finally got home but I did manage to knit a little on the Noro hat. Now I'm afraid it's going to be too small, where the other one was too big. I'll need about 12 more rows until I can tell for sure whether it'll have to be ripped out. I don't want to knit too much of it since it'll make a great traveling project. Knowing me I'll finish it before next week and have to think of something different to take to Chicago. I have lots of ideas (and lots of yarn) for what I want to do next, but for traveling I like something simple and small.

I was hoping since I missed last night's run that my legs would feel all wonderful. Not so much, my hamstrings are starting to get sore from yesterday morning's working. Geesh, miss one week of squats and stuff and you pay for it. I'm going to re-double my efforts to do that workout at least weekly. I also need to get to work on the other half of my body, I've really neglected it for running. I'm looking forward to running tonight and I hope it's cooler than it's been the last few nights.

I'm already noticing the days getting shorter again. The late daylight seems to only last about 3 weeks around here, then it rapidly disappears. I only mind because I'd much rather run with sunglasses than with a headlamp. Whine whine whine, hmm? It'll be more of an issue in the early morning when we do our longest runs. One of which will be this weekend, a 17-18 miler.

My favorite dealer merchant sent me an email about a sale they're having. Vermont Teddy Bear is having a close-out sale on their holiday bears. I'm not quite sure why, maybe they're coming out with new models. Sending me an email like that is like offering crack to an addict. I've just gotta get me some. I justify the price in ohsomany ways, like "it's the same as buying 2 skeins of Cider Moon yarn" or "it's only 3 weeks of lattes" or "free shipping" or "I really need another bear in my house." Ok, maybe not that last one. My problem now is deciding which to get, since apparently I've already decided that I just have to have one. Hey, did I mention free shipping too? Now my problem is deciding which one.

The Caroler Girl is gorgeous, and the best deal at the sale price since she was the most expensive to start with. The Papa bear in his jammies with his own little mouse is as sweet as they come. But the Snowman Bear is funny and comical and special with his long white fur. I don't have a white bear. And I could knit him little gloves and booties and a new scarf.

Oh yeah, I've got a problem. I should just put my faith in a higher power (American Express?) and move on. My name is Amy and I'm addicted to soft fuzzy squishy adorable stuffies. Do you think they have meetings for this?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I made it to Ravelry!

I'd been on the list for Ravelry for what seemed like months and months but I don't think was nearly that long. I was lucky and put in my name when I first heard of it. In their words, Ravelry is a knit/crochet website: a place where you can organize your projects, yarns, needles, books and more; a community where you can share ideas and techniques; a place to discover new patterns and projects and yarns and people and more. I haven't had much chance to do more than register and set up a Flickr account so this weekend I'm hoping to get started with some organization. I've joined as Runner Girl Knits; nice to have a usable nom de plume!

I'm busy tonight so I was going to run yesterday after work instead. Did I? That would be a big nope. My legs were still feeling flat from Sunday so I decided to take a day off. Actually, I took a nap and just didn't want to get up. I made up for it by getting up early this morning and doing one of my cross-training tapes. My legs are already feeling it.

When I blow off a workout I tend to feel guilty and I make myself do something constructive around the house to make up for it. I've had a plumbing problem for a while. No, that's not a euphemism for "plumbing problem," it's a self-flushing toilet. I took a look over the weekend and the flapper was worn, causing water to drain out of the tank, causing it to repeatedly flush during the day. It had gotten too frequent for even me to ignore and I had seen a spare flapper somewhere in the garage, so time to fix it. But first I had to locate the darn flapper. It wasn't where I thought I had seen it, wasn't around either part of the tool box, wasn't around the electrical doodads, wasn't in three or four other places I had looked. I turned things over, straightened other places, rearranged others. No flapper. I left the garage, walked around the house, went back and looked in the first place I had thought it would be, and voila! there it was. Gremlins, probably.

I rounded up a trash bag and gloves because I know the worn icky rubber on the old flapper permanently wears off onto fingers and other surfaces, headed into the bathroom and fixed the problem. Yeah, exactly that easy. And exactly that messy. I cleaned up all the messy black drips, flushed a couple of times to make sure it was ok, and left feeling very accomplished indeed.

Then I decided that I needed to do some knitting. Since I had finished the Noro multidirectional diagonal scarf I decided to start the Noro hat that I wanted to go with it. I had already knit one version of the hat that was huge and decided to do this one on smaller needles. Except of course I hadn't made any notes about what size I used in the first place. I wanted to use the KnitPicks circular needles that I had bought and so the size was easy to decide; the pattern recommends size 7 but for some reason I had 6 and 8. So I went with the 6. I cast on and knit about 7 rows last night. Also, I had decided to actually wind the yarn, which I normally don't do with Noro, to make sure there weren't any knots in the way. Uh, yeah, there was one. I cut it out and wound two different balls, I think matching up the colors correctly. And if not, they'll still look fine.

The Gratuitous Bear of the Day was sent to me by my Aunt. She and my uncle were in town a few years ago and came to see my house for the first time. I think they were a little disconcerted by all the bears (even I admit in my saner moments that an adult woman with all those bears is maybe just a little disturbed) but managed to take it in stride. A month or so later I received this adorable bear in the mail from her, with a note that she had seen it and thought of me. How very sweet of her! I made this a sorta marathon bear, but not really. The East Bay Parks District does a Trails Challenge and May Marathon; you run or walk or hike 26.2 miles on certain trails within the District, throughout the month of May, and receive a pin. I did that two years in a row and pinned the pins on the new bear. Her name is on her jacket; this bear is Eddie.