Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ya can't name him that!

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

Brown Bear

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Looking for a good race

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(Don't) Light my fire

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Eating and sleeping and running, oh my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I'm thankful

I am thankful for:

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!Bear hugs to all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not much to say

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

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

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

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

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Smells like fall

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

OnStar of India?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yay Friday

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Still trying

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

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New York City Marathon race report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Try harder

I'm not doing so well getting back in the routine. I did run last night with Pam, and that was very nice. It was cool and pitch black but we ran our short short route and did it quickly. We had decided to take it easy but ended up going faster than we had planned. Not as fast as Saturday, but fast enough.

The not-eating-everything-in-sight thing isn't going as well. I'm hungry all the time, whether I'm focusing on a well-rounded diet, or on less carbs, or on more protein, or less sugars, or whatever. I had my soup for dinner last night (and it was delicious, thank you) but afterward I wanted more more more. (sorry for channeling Billy Idol there ...) I had a little of this, a little of that, and before I knew it I had had a lot of too much. ::sigh:: I'll have to try harder today.

Still not back to knitting and lemme tell ya, I miss it! My mind is busily deciding on projects and my fingers are whining and complaining. I'm going to try again tonight, see how it goes after work.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Trying to start a new/old routine

I ran this weekend, the first time since the race (and yes, sooner or later I'll do a race report to go with the weekend report below). On Saturday morning I met up with Sandy, Pam and Mary Ann at Inspiration Point. As much as I'd have liked to stay in bed, I knew I'd feel better after running. Well, kinda.

We ran 6 miles, through cows and young calves. Dumb animals. I was tired enough without doing the adrenaline-fueled cowsprints. The hills were tough but I was determined to run most of them. I was breathing heavily, sucking air as I probably turned red with my eyes popping out. Lovely. But it was a good run (!?!) and I'm glad I had only called for 6 miles! The weather held, the usual headwinds both ways but the rain held off until after we were done.

I got home, did a few things, then napped. Best sleep in a long time, even though I only intended to sleep a short time. Three and a half hours later the phone rang and I got up. Whoops, looks like I won't get as much done as I had anticipated this weekend. Yawn!

I made my pot of healthy veggie soup and did some straightening around the house. I still had stuff on the counters from Portland, let alone New York. I was going to stay home and be a busy little bee until I got a call from Bree, inviting me to join her and a couple of friends at Zachary's. That wasn't something I could turn down so I changed out of my sweats and headed out. If the choice is pizza or vegetable soup, we know which will win.

Sunday morning I started getting ready to leave the house and remembered that I had wanted to do some yard work. Whoops. I cut back all the peonies, knocked the leaves out of all the citrus trees (and this year for the first time all of them have at least one piece of fruit growing) and then dug up an ugly plant from the front yard. I hadn't intended to do any of that. Note to self: wear long sleeves when working with the lemon tree. Additional note to self: wear gloves when cutting the rose bushes. My arms have lots of lovely scratches now. Ouchie!

Then some errands, then another nap, then whoops, it's time to get something done. A nice, productive weekend.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Howdy New York!

Many of you have noticed that I don't like getting up early. And you've noticed that I like to travel. And we've all noticed that these don't go together very well.

Last Friday I eagerly sullenly jumped crawled out of bed at a very early hour. I did the morning stuff, grabbed my last-minute items, stuffed them in my suitcases and headed off for Oakland Airport. I was parking at a different lot this time; our return plane was arriving after midnight and I didn't want to be all alone in the cold dark waiting for a shuttle. I got to Oakland fairly quickly and drove into the lot. I talked the with attendant and realized that I was in the wrong place. D'oh! I got to the correct lot, caught the shuttle, arrived at OAK and stood in line at Jet Blue to get a boarding pass and check in my suitcase. Waiting waiting waiting waiting why do they tell us to arrive so early if only one person is working then??

Because I'm itchy about being early it didn't matter how long the lines were. I just didn't feel like standing in them! I eventually checked my case, made it through security and to the gate where the rest of the gang was sitting around. Waiting. Bree, Claudia, Rocky, Phil and Olivia had gotten there a bit before I had and were chowing down on breakfast burritos. Yum? I'd made a Trader Joe's run the day before so I had a sandwich and salad waiting for my hunger. Not to mention the other snacks and food I tend to take to marathons, just in case the city to which I'm going doesn't have any food. Or something like that. Can't be starving the days before the marathon, right?

I enjoyed the flight, thanks in part to my brother. We had been talking while I was browsing iTunes looking for something to watch during the flight. On his recommendation I downloaded Season 1 of Eureka. I made it through the pilot and the next couple of episodes and thought they were great. I also read for a while, knit for a while, ate for a while, walked up and down the aisles for a while, listened to some music for a while, watched the plane's tv for a while. Yup, the flight was long enough for all of that. The only thing I didn't do was sleep a while but we all knew I wouldn't do that. We arrived at JFK nice and early, apparently the tail winds were pretty strong that day.

We all trooped down to get our luggage and met up with Jeanette, who had arrived a little earlier. Our limo-from-hell came, we crammed inside with our bags, and picked up Petra who had flown on a different airline. We reshuffled bags and people and somehow fit everyone inside and headed off for Manhattan. Slowly, since there was traffic. I think there's always traffic, it didn't matter that it was what everywhere normal would call rush hour. Claudia and Olivia talk about the deficient driver, read it there! On our way we were able to see the Empire State Building lit in ING Marathon colors, very cool.

Check-in went very smoothly and Petra and I took the elevator up to our 19th floor room. I walked in and experienced some deja vu. I had stayed at a Hilton in Portland and in Chicago and I swear they had the exact room furnishings, including wallpaper, in all the rooms. In fact, in Portland I was on the same floor. Cue Twilight Zone music here! This time they'd managed to give us two beds so at least there was that. I think the bathroom was smaller than in the other cities but otherwise the room were the same.

We quickly freshened up and met the gang back in the lobby to head over for dinner. Claudia had efficiently made all the dinner plans so we just followed along to the restaurant. Where there was a huge crowd waiting to get in. We mingled outside, getting grumpier and hungrier while our tables were readied. Unfortunately there were too many of us so we had to split into small groups. And one group was upstairs and one downstairs, so we couldn't even shout at each other across the restaurant. It was that kind of place, loud enough that nobody would even notice.

I'm not much of a pasta fancier and Carmine's is the old fashioned New York kind of family-style Italian restaurant. Big portions, big plates, big tables, big noise. The only thing small was the wine glass but that was ok, we're not supposed to be drinking anyway. Bwahahaha! We decided on a number of pasta dishes, salads and veggies and then someone ordered the cheesy garlic bread. Oh Yum! That bread made up for waiting so long! In fact, we didn't need any of the other food, just more cheesy bread.

We left the restaurant and were surprised that fireworks were going off. I know we're from the big city ourselves but we felt (and probably looked) like rubes from a small town in the middle of nowhere; ooohing and aaahing in Mid-Town while staring at the brightly lit sky, the crowds, the street vendors. What a nice welcome to all the runners and their families and friends!

We got back to our room and turned in kinda early. Saturday morning we met up with the group across the street from the hotel at the local Starbucks. No, the other one. No, the other one. I think there was one on every block in NY. Yeah, just like here. We were surprised to see that the International Friendship Run was apparently going right past our front door and they were closing down the street. We were going to wait and watch the end but decided to head over to the expo and try to beat the crowds. Good luck with that!
We caught the shuttle and went to Javits Center where the expo was being held. I've got to say that it beats the crap out of any other convention center I've even seen. That place is enormous. Again, the walking around like a rube thing.

After the expo we caught the shuttle back and decided to have lunch since we certainly wouldn't want to miss a meal the day before the race, right? We decided on Carnegie Deli, although I had hoped to go there after the race instead of the day before. Being pre-race limited my choices but I had a wonderful smoked whitefish with bagel platter. I enjoyed watching the native Californians in the group look at the ginormous sandwiches and the strange pickles. Someone asked if they had any smaller sandwiches and the waiter said no, only bigger. And bigger they certainly were. We all ate way more than we should have and then oozed our stuffed bodies out of there.In part because of paranoia about morning troubles and in part to walk off the huge lunch a few of us went to find the correct subway to take to the ferry in the morning. I think NY wins: their subway workers are rude and have no information about anything. BART workers may be rude, but at least they normally know the lines and stations and trains. We figured out what, when and where and got back to the surface world.We decided to walk to one yarn shop, Stitches East. I'd link to their website but they apparently don't have one. They also didn't have any interesting or original yarn, nor did they have anyone who was interested in helping us out or even talking with us. Whatever, we were happy to browse and walk out without any purchases. There are way too many other yarn shops to spend money in a place like that.

Claudia, Bree and I headed back to the hotel while Petra continued walking around. I set out all my race gear, making a final decision on clothes. I lay down for a bit and rested and what do you know, it was time for dinner already.

Once again Claudia had made dinner arrangements, and at another pasta joint. I mean nice Italian restaurant. Angelo's Pizza is right next to the Late Show building. We were seated quickly, upstairs, and then ignored for a while. This was another bustling place, lots of people, lots of noise. We didn't do family style this time and we enviously watched the guys eat pizza while we had regular pasta. Darn!
As a nice surprise, as we walked outside there were fireworks going off. How very special, to be in Manhattan on a cold night before a marathon and have our very own personal fireworks! We hung out for a while watching and waiting for the rest of the gang to find something for their pre-race breakfast. After that we headed back to the hotel to try to get some sleep. As a very special plus, we were getting the extra hour as the country switched off of daylight savings times. Thanks Congress!

Fast forward about 22 hours and I made it back to the hotel after the race, freezing and shivering and sore. Very often during a race I manage to de-magnetize my room key and I was afraid I had done it again. I had a horrible vision of hanging out in the hallway, too sore and tired to go anywhere. I didn't know where Petra was and I didn't have my cell phone to call her (and I didn't know her number). I also didn't have any identification with me and was afraid the hotel would laugh at me if I needed a new key. Luckily not only did my card work, but Petra was in the room waiting for my return.

I was a little hypothermic and decided that an ice bath would just be stupid. I needed to warm up since I had no feeling in my fingers and the rest of my body was icy. I stood in the hot shower for at least a half hour, slowly getting that tingly blood-returning-to-extremities feeling in fingers and toes. I dried off, dressed warmly and jumped into bed to rest.

Since it was so late I didn't hang out there for long; I was hungry and wanted a drink, and Petra was hungry too. I got dressed and we went to the hotel lobby bar for a congratulatory cocktail. The server did a fabulous job of ignoring us so Petra went up to the bar for drinks. Yikes, New York! Almost $14 for a call martini?? Damn good thing we hadn't wanted something special. I had asked for extra olives in my drink, which normally means they'll give you 3. I had a good giggle when I saw there were 6 large olives in the drink. Appetizers! Thank you for the drink, Petra!

We walked a couple of blocks away to the Heartland Brewery. I thought about having their Smiling Pumpkin Ale but decided to go with the Cider. Great decision; one of the best hard ciders I've had. Not too sweet, not too dry, just right. Although I was hungry I didn't want anything heavy so I went with the grilled tuna sandwich. A large hunk of fresh tuna, grilled on the outside and red on the inside, on a fresh bun with a caper dressing. Just what I wanted and very delicious. I finished it and the alcohol went straight to my head: time for bed!
Monday morning we were meeting the gang in the lobby to go to breakfast and and make plans for the day. It took for-freaking-ever to get downstairs on the elevators since a conference was starting that morning. The marathoners were trying to check out and the advertising people were trying to cheek in and sell things. We waited and waited and finally jammed onto the crowded box and rode down. Gulp - very claustrophobic!

The rest of our peeps had decided to just have breakfast in the hotel's cafe. Petra and I looked at the menu and the prices, and along with Bree decided that their $27 buffet or anything on the menu was ridiculously overpriced so we walked out to find somewhere else. We ended up at Lindy's (which I found out later isn't the original Lindy's since they were bought by a conglomerate). I couldn't decide between eggs or pancakes or blintzes so I got a side of bacon and a piece of cherry cheesecake. The waitress gave me a look, then shook her head in dismay. Hey, just bring me the food and some coffee and let me worry about my arteries!It was the perfect day-after-race meal. We ate our food, sat around, talked, planned out our shopping for the day. Bree, with very good nature, agreed to come along on our yarn crawl despite not being a knitter. We were doing a very quick tour of NY, knit-style. We actually managed to use the subway system and not get (too) lost!

First stop, School Products Co., Inc. Little did I know upon approaching this place that it was the oldest yarn shop in Manhattan, nor did I know what a lovely lady the owner, Berta Karapetyan is. We had the shop to ourselves and wandered through, fondling the luxurious yarns. You know what a sucker I am for something soft and the Italian Donegal Cashmere Tweed was just that. I bought enough for a scarf and as an impulse while I was checking out, also bought a few skeins of this silk/cashmere yarn that was by the counter. Great shop with high quality, unusual yarns. I recommend it!
Next stop, Knit New York. Another cute place, looking like it had once been a cafe or restaurant. Or even someone's home. A nice selection of yarns but nothing that jumped out at me and said "take me home." I did buy a pattern though, the Wonderful Wallaby. Someday I'll be graduating from hats and scarves!

Moving on (after trying on some shoes and boots along the way) to Purl Soho. This was a tiny little place absolutely stuffed with yarn. Do you like Koigu? You'd love it here! Their selection of Kersti and KPPPM is incredible, leading me to stand in front of the shelves with my mouth open. I managed to walk out of there with only 6 skeins, two scarves worth. I'm going to love knitting this stuff! When I get around to it.By this time it was getting later and Petra had to catch her shuttle to the airport. Bree and I decided to follow her back uptown and wander around there, maybe doing a bit more shopping. And shop we did! We went in and out of a couple places and finally ended up at Rockefeller Center. We watched people falling on the ice and noticed a crowd over at the side. It turned out the be the writer's strike. My heart goes out to these people, walking the line. Good luck to them!As a final NY thing I bought a load of the "pashmina" scarves from a street vendor. Yeah, pashmina my ass. Probably nylon and acrylic but the colors are pretty, they're soft and cheap and will make great gifts.

We headed back to the hotel, figuring we'd have a (grossly overpriced) drink before meeting up with the others to go to the airport. Claudia, Rocky and Olivia ended up joining us in the noisy, overcrowded bar to have a bit of alcohol to prepare us for the limo. We were happily surprised that our return ride was in a big Suburban, with a knowledgeable driver who got us through rush hour traffic lickety split.

We were vastly lucky that our return flight was less than half full. After taxiing forever (I swear we drove all the way to Jersey before wheels up) I moved to an empty row and was able to put my feet up while I watched another couple of episodes of Eureka. Finally we landed, retrieved our luggage, waited for the shuttle, got our cars and headed home.

At just about 2 am I pulled into my drive. Home sweet home!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Trudging along

I'm feeling completely recovered from my run. Not from the fall (more on that in the race report later), but my legs and energy seem to be back to normal. My hand is still painful and sore and my bruises have reached their full technicolor glory. It's hard to grip anything, holding a pen is hard and no knitting has gotten done since Sunday. Even typing hurts, another reason these posts are short. I think it's just deep bruises and will take some time to heal. I'd cross my fingers but that would make it worse.

On Tuesday I had the ugly spider veins in my legs injected to make them go away. The doctor stuck that needle in my legs at least 75 times. The worst part of it was keeping them wrapped for 48 hours. I was sore enough from the fall and tough enough that most of the injections didn't bother me, although one or two of them stung for a moment. Right now they look even worse than when I started but hopefully by next spring the bruised looking spots will be gone. Vanity. What we'll do!

I'm back to running tomorrow and looking forward to it. I'm planning on getting back to a real routine again, none of this whine whine I don't feel like it stuff. Rocket City will be hard enough even if I get in a month of good training. I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking care of myself again!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Holiday season, and counting

Every year it seems that holiday marketing starts a bit earlier. Whereas they used to start with the bombardment of jingle buy jingle buy right before Thanksgiving, and the big ads for huge sales the same time, now it starts some time right after Labor Day. I heard that several large chains were going to start their Black Friday sales before Tgiving which is just wrong.

This morning I tottered into my local Safeway/Starbucks for my morning fix and my eyes were assaulted by visions of employees dressed in red; gooey holiday pastries; signs for peppermint mochas; lots of different big red mugs; and this year's version of the holiday bears. ::sigh:: The bears are dressed in red (for the boy) and pink (for the girl) jammies and each carries a little bear. Cute? Why yes, they certainly are. A woman walked over and picked one up and exclaimed how adorable they were. In a moment of oversharing she said she loved them but already had the bears from the past two years and didn't want to be the bear lady. Heh. I've certainly got her beat there. Hopefully they'll sell out quickly. Or I'll just have to get my morning latte at Peets and not be tempted!

I've been too busy to even think about last weekend, let alone write it up. This weekend I'll set aside some serious time and tell you about all the food, shopping and running. With pictures!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Eat, run, fall over, run more, drink, shop, go home

I'm back from the Big Apple, one more race done forever. It didn't always seem so at the time but I had a wonderful weekend and an exciting race. I had lot of fun with all my peeps from home and the gazillion other people in New York. It may be a while until I can post a full report but the short version is I have a brand new PW, new watch, new hat, new pashmina shawls, new yarn, new pattern, new bruises. I'm taking a few days off running to rest up and start training for the next one!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cute kids, but are they gone yet?

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Back in the day (why yes, I am 87 years old) Hanukkah celebrations weren't much, birthdays resulted in tears from exhaustion, we were too young for New Years Eve, too Jewish for Christmas or Easter, too stuffed at Thanksgiving, too bored at Passover. So a holiday dedicated to children and the pursuit of candy candy candy was wonderful.

This has carried over to adulthood. I look forward to the adorable little kiddies coming by trick-or-treating. Not so much with the older kids, the 13-15 year olds. There are lots of children in my neighborhood, many of whom I'm certain think of me as the mean old lady on the corner because I don't let them play on my lawn. But at Halloween all is forgiven as I give them gobs of candy and exclaim over their wonderful costumes. Or give them candy anyway as I tell them that if they shave and drive they're too old be to out there.

Last night I fitted in pre-packing and bill paying and laundry as I passed out treats from about 6:15 to almost 9:00. Lots of cuties and the oldest pack of brats teens has apparently aged out. I finally turned out my light at 9pm and put my frozen dinner in the oven to cook. No, not packed yet but my race stuff is set out so I just have to figure out what I'm wearing the rest of the weekend.

My little bear made it here from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in good shape, despite the horrible condition of the shipping box and the lax treatment by the men in brown. The box was dumped unceremoniously on my desk, upside down and squished. I opened it immediately, even though it was upside down. And was presented with a bare bear butt. Oops, pretty bear doesn't have panties under her dress.

I turned her right-side up, smoothed down her dress, straightened the bow, brushed off all the loose white fur. Hey VTB people: why don't you brush your bears before shipping? She was very sheddy! But all in one piece, her cute little face not harmed or shmooshed in by the shipping. Whew! I took her home and placed her on the shelf next to my almost-50-year-old baby doll, also dressed in a pretty red velvet party dress. Yes, they look wonderful together.

As a finishing touch I put Frosty next to them. BFFs together! I think I need to knit a red scarf for Frosty so he'll match. Don't you want to just pick them all up and give them hugs? Yes, I'm obsessive! Haven't you noticed?

I finally decided on a name for the new bear, thanks to my sister. The pretty new bear in red, Suzy Sweetheart Bear!