Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year! and a bear

WARNING!! Contents may be too unbearably cute; diabetics beware of the sugary sweetness.

My little blue bear arrived safely at the office on Friday. Since I've been so busy I enlisted his help.
No. You can't just sit there and watch! Get to work!

"this one is too big. I need a smaller chair please."

"Hey look! It's me!"

"i before e except after c? this alphabetical filing is hard!"

"poof! another sheet pops out!"

"if you get me better shoes I'll run your next marathon with you"

"this work is hard; I'm taking a break to smell the flowers"

"I wonder if she'll notice if I go out for coffee"

After a long day I brought Jack Frost home to meet the (fuzzy) family. He's very happy in his new home with his cold brother and pretty sister. And the bazillion other bears.

Thank you to the kind folks at my favorite bear company for helping to ease my winter blues! Yes, I know it sounds like a commercial or dumb ad, but I happen to love their bears. No, I don't get a volume discount (although hello, that's a good idea!). If you're tired, or sad, or sick, or injured, or happy, or celebrating, or bored, go to their website and look around. It'll make your day a little bit better.

I hope you all have a safe, fun New Year's Eve and a healthy, happy, prosperous and fuzzy New Year. Cheers to 2008! (::clink!::)

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's so cold ...

... that we're all turning blue here at Great Place to Work, LLC. In fact it seems that our newest worker, Jack Frost, is not only blue but he's fuzzy and sparkly! And dressed way better than the rest of us. Although he showed up this morning for his first day at the office I think he's going to quit as soon as he can. Pictures to come!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh yeah, and there was a trip in there too

It seems like months but it was only three weeks ago that I went to Huntsville, Alabama for a race. There I was worried about it being cold and nasty and here I am where it's all of 31 degrees this bright December morning. Go figure.

I located the local yarn shop, Yarn Expressions, and after the expo on Friday we drove over to check it out. Located in a little strip mall, this was a very pleasant surprise. I did my little walk through, pausing here and there to fondle some particularly soft looking specimens. I hadn't planned on buying anything -- much. I'm only buying special things now, yarn I haven't seen anywhere else.
The first thing I saw that was new to me was this lovely soft alpaca; Alpaca with a Twist, Fino, lace weight 70% baby alpaca/30% silk; 875 yards. Although it isn't my colors (green with browns and white) it was the prettiest, softest thing. I've tried to swear off lace weight but I couldn't resist.

I hadn't seen any Malabrigo Lace before; 100% baby merino wool, ~470 yds in Vermillion. I don't know whether it was the color, the feel, or the Malabrigoness that made me buy this. Probably a bit of all of the above. Mmmmm, Malabrigo .....
I had read about Dream in Color yarn and was happy to finally see some. I bought one skein of Classy in Black Parade, worsted weight 100% superfine Australian merino superwash; very subtle blacks and browns and blues. I'm planning on both swatching and knitting a little scarf to see if I can tolerate it against my skin and then if it works out well, knit the Wonderful Wallaby, the pattern I bought in NY. It's about time I knit something challenging!I also couldn't resist one skein of their Smooshy in Gothic Rose; sock yarn, also 100% superfine Australian merino. The color doesn't show well here but it's beautiful. Yes, I bought it because it's called "Smooshy" and every great named yarn deserves a home in my house. That and the fact that it really is smooshy and soft.The shop was warm and welcoming and the women there were helpful and gracious and full of southern hospitality. My sis was looking for a new project and they assisted with looking for patterns and yarns. Oh! And they were having a big sale too! Added benefit of showing up when we did.

Meanwhile back at the home front, still working long days, not doing anything else right now. Except waiting for my little blue friend to arrive. Tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to all ...

...except for those who don't celebrate Christmas. And to you, cheers and have another glass of wine. Like I'm doing.

Ok, it's not like I've been sitting at home all day and consuming vast quantities of wine and chocolate (like I've been doing most days this week month). I celebrate Xmas, which is like Christmas without any of that messy religious stuff added in. Y'know, only the gifts, food, family and friends that even Jews like me can get behind. Whoohoo, another reason to sleep in and stuff my face.

For about the past 16 years or so I've spent Xmas day with my friend Ellen and her family (who celebrate the real Christmas). Today was no exception and it's something I just love to do. I get few enough chances to see her so a day spent together is a gift in itself. Throw in some good food, wine and a drive to see the holiday lights and it's a perfect day.

I think I'm having some seasonal affective disorder. I can't find any other reason for why I'm feeling so blue. Almost every winter I feel down but it normally doesn't get bad until January or February. I have no energy, no initiative, no get-up-and-go. I really would love to stay in bed until noon, eat for three or four hours, drink a bottle of wine (or Irish coffee) (or Cosmos) (or ... well, you get the picture) and go back to bed. I don't want to exercise, don't want to run, really don't want to work. Give me a bag of chips and a drink and a good book and I'll be in hog heaven. Literally, if I don't snap out of this soon.

Part of my sluggishness is that I've gained weight from all the sit-around-eat-chips-drink-wine stuff that's going on. It's a cycle; the bigger I get the less I feel like moving. For now I'm letting myself wallow in self-misery and not really doing anything about it. But I've set January 6 as the day I'm going to snap out of it.

Why not the 1st? Well, that's too normal. And on the 1st I'll have a hangover and go for a run and then out to breakfast. And I'll eat what I want. It's the middle of the week and I'm a Monday change-your-life kinda gal. January 6 I'll be back to counting points, running, cross training, less wine, no chips, no chocolate, no whining. Well, maybe a little whining, I can't give up everything at once!

And what better way is there to ease the blues? I'm going shopping for something blue!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is it the weekend? Is it the end of the world?

Yeah, I'm much busier than I predicted for this week. Usually the last week of the year is busy for me at work but because of several things, this week sucks is busy too. I'm working longer hours than normal and collapsing with my knitting needles when I get home.

How busy am I? I haven't planned my next marathon. I know a couple of halfs that I'm doing and I'm thinking vaguely about a couple of fulls and I'm anticipating the tri but I haven't done any research or in-depth looking.Haven't made any reservations. Haven't even presented any options to my marathon pals. That is just so not me. I'm more glad than I can say that I decided to skip the January/February marathons. I haven't been exercising and my diet has consisted mainly of chocolate, cheese and wine. Very nutritious.

This will only last, at the worst, for the next couple of weeks. I'm really looking forward to lazing around because I want to, not because I'm too tired to do anything else!

Sunday I'm going to see the Nutcracker with Bree and I'm very excited. It's been years since I've seen it and it's one of my favorite pieces of music. I also like watching the adorable little girls in their pretty dresses and bows and the little fellas in their boy-suits. I'm even determined to stay awake during the performance!

My favorite crack dealers merchants have been bombarding me with emails about their holiday specials. Truly bombarding me; I think I've been getting one email each day (oh yeah, they know a sucker when they see one!). Since I bought a big beautiful bear recently I haven't paid much attention to them, trying to show a little restraint. But they have a new holiday bear that I love and I'm trying not to think about. Too much. But it's like the chocolate and cheese; I have a hard time resisting when I'm this worn out ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Where has all my spare time gone?

When I started blogging I seemed to have several more free hours in the day than I have now. Somehow I managed to fit in the time to talk to myself for many paragraphs at a time and to even toss in a picture or two. Now I'm too busy at work, too busy at home and oh wait, that's all the time there is.

But to catch up, last week after returning from Huntsville I mostly worked hard during the day and went home and fell asleep on the sofa. One night I had the ladies over for stitch n bitch and went the pizza route (which also provided my dinner for the next several nights). At least I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed before they arrived. I did some straightening around the house, read a lot, watched some television, and didn't exercise at all until the weekend.

On Saturday I ran 5.5 miles with my usual group on a changed-on-the-hoof route through the streets of Danville. It was cold and I was miserable and actually almost got lost on the same route we run all the time. It warmed up just a titch before we finished, just in time to all head over and eat a filling breakfast at the Rising Loafer. After stuffing ourselves we dropped by Forward Motion and the Farmers' Market before all heading our separate ways.

Saturday night I helped Olivia celebrate her birthday. She threw a dinner party at her house and it was a blast. The food, company and especially the birthday girl were great. Thank you Olivia and a very happy birthday to you!

I tried on Sunday to be productive but mostly, not. Again I got lots of reading, sleeping, eating and knitting done but I ignored the tasks waiting for me. There's always tomorrow!

I ran again last night with Pam. It was our last run of the year -- boo hoo hoo -- since she's off to visit her family. While she's gone I'll be running on my treadmill and ... yeah, probably not. Let's just say I'll be attempting to run while she's gone and leave it at that.

Have you noticed in the little "Upcoming Events" column that I don't have a race planned? That's right, no races have been set in stone. In fact we haven't even made tentative plans beyond "hey let's run Kaiser" and "I'd like to run Vermont" and "Mount Desert Island in the fall" and "oh sure Claudia I'll do the Pacific Grove Triathlon with you this year." Wait, what? I agreed to WHAT? Do a tri?? Claudia kept pouring wine in my glass on Saturday night and then took advantage of me. Heh. Well, I've always said I have at least one tri in me so I guess this is my chance to prove it. Now I just have to figure out what marathons I'm running next year and fit my tri training around that. Swim?? Bike?? Oh crap.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rocket City Marathon Race Report

I spent the couple of months preceding this race in a tizzy about running in freezing weather. My performance at cold races has been poor and I was very worried about completing the Rocket City Marathon within the six hours allowed.

Although there was online registration, I actually sent in a check to register. This went very smoothly and I soon saw my name on the online confirmation list. About a week before we left for Huntsville, Alabama I received the 2007 race information book. This 60 page tome had information about everything from course maps to local attractions and restaurants. Anything that wasn't included wasn't worth knowing.

The race sold out at 1500 a few days before race day. What a difference from our last race, NYC Marathon. Accordingly we lowered our expectations because some of the small races we've run didn't have all the necessities or amenities. Unnecessarily since almost everything was well done.

The expo was held on Friday and it was open all day (it was also open on Saturday during the race). Like everything else it was held at the host hotel, the Holiday Inn. We headed over there, got our bibs and chips and picked up our shirts. We all know my issues with shirts being loose enough; I had asked for an XXL since they were doing sizing by sex. They also were doing different colors. The female shirt was was a tech fabric pink and like most Nike shirts was tightly fitted. It didn't come in an XXL and the XL wouldn't have fit me on a good day, so I was offered the option to take the blue tech men's shirt. Yeah! I liked that color even better!

We didn't notice until my sis pointed it out that our names were written on the bib. Darn, no anonymity during this race. There really wasn't a goody bag; the bag we got had lots of ads, race fliers, coupons, and nothing else. There also wasn't much in the way of samples at the expo but I didn't really need any extra stuff.

The expo had a number of vendors, several selling incredibly discounted shoes and clothes. I bought a long sleeve tech shirt for $10 and Sandy bought two pairs of shoes at half off the normal price.

Like most southern races this was run on a Saturday morning. Starting time was scheduled for 8:00 am so we got to sleep in a little. My sis got up and left just before our alarms went off; she's more used to early mornings and wanted to get out of town before roads closed. Sandy and I arose, did the morning things, and headed across the street to the start.

There was a bank of porta potties but we walked into the hotel and used the bathrooms inside. When we walked back outside they were calling runners to the starting area so we went to line up. At the back. There were pacers holding signs and we went back behind the last one. Several people hung out back there with us, including one dude dressed up as Mr. Incredible. Yikes, he was going to melt.

Because it was already warm out. At the gun it was about 62 degrees, overcast and pretty darned humid. I ran the race with shorts, a short sleeved top, my buffs and my hat. I tossed the gloves on a curb before we even started. My sunglasses were on top of my head would be pretty useless for most of the day.

The anthem was sung and the gun shot rang out. We were off! With so few people it thinned out pretty quickly. There were people around me but not too many. I tried to run my own race, staying as slow as possible at the start. The race wound around the historic downtown area before heading south.

There was a brief downpour that had me seeing visions of slogging through wet streets like at Erie. Luckily it stopped quickly with only a bit of drizzle for the rest of the day.

The route was the most twisty turny of any race I've done to date. This was done to keep us off busy streets and to help us avoid big hills. There were people at every turn so you could know ahead of time that you'd turn. But not which way. The volunteers weren't standing there with an arm out pointing which way to go. Which we really couldn't expect them to hold out their arm for hours on end but it would have helped pick a tangent. There were arrows painted on the roads before, during and after each turn.

The only long stretch of straight road was from about mile 9-1/2 to about 14-1/2. It was a straight, flat stretch directly into a headwind. A cool wind so I didn't want to complain too much. Well, the complaint would have been in my head, but I still tried to stay cheery. Heh. Yeah, me cheery. Shut up.

Aid stations were were located about every 2-3 miles. They had water and gatorade and one or two stations later in the race had gel. I hit two that closed early, the boy scouts horsing around and ignoring people running by (and getting in our way). The first time that happened I needed to fill my bottle and had to stoop to the curb and grab three cups of water. I felt bad taking so many since there weren't many there, but I needed the fluids. The second closed station didn't even have cups left out. I hoped that there would be some open later and and there were.

At every intersection with possible traffic there were police directing and giving right-of-way to the runners. They were fantastic, and knowing I didn't have to even pause made things even easier. We had been promised six open hours and the police and volunteers were there the entire time.

With a couple of exceptions there were not many spectators. One exception to that was a group picketing a women's health clinic. ::sigh:: I really would have like to brain one of them with their own hateful sign but decided to focus on the race. The other main exceptions were two groups of students from the local high school. The were hilarious. One group actually did the wave for me when I ran by all on my lonesome. The other group yelled and cheered and made lots of noise. It was a great break from the monotony.

Porta potties were available along the route but I didn't have any need. Plus, I was in a hurry and didn't even want to take a minute or two.

Run run run, turn, uphill grade after uphill grade. Nothing big but it seemed to never be flat, always that very slight uphill grade. Turn turn turn, run run and walk. I stuck with 9:1 until mile 16, then went to 4:1, then went to whenever whatever.

I finally pounded across the finish line in 5:57:57 chip time, 5:58:59 on the clock; two whole minutes faster than I thought I would finish. I could hear my name being called as I panted to a stop. I saw the photographer snapping pictures and a woman took charge of me. She put my medal around my neck, led me to the chip removal people and then sheepishly handed me a hat.
Which had "2006 finisher" on it. Wha??? She explained that they ran out of hats and were giving out some old ones they had. Nuh-uh, I wasn't going for that! I wanted my promised premium! I had just run for six hours and I wanted my hat. Yeah, just like a two year old I was ready to pitch a fit and start crying. My handler led me to a harassed looking lady who wrote down my bib number and said she didn't know if they'd be ordering more. Oh yeah, my lips were quivering. I was very very unhappy.

The woman led me further along the way to the water coolers so I could get a cold drink, then took her leave. There weren't any heat sheets but since it was over 70 degrees it wasn't really necessary. I knew it would be a while before I cooled down. Sandy joined me and commiserated about the whole hat thing; she hadn't gotten a current one either. I sent her back to put her name on the list and headed into the hotel toward the food.

I wasn't expecting anything much since the food section was supposed to close at six hours and it was six hours. I wasn't too sure which way to go so I just wandered forward. To my surprise the food tables were still there, loaded with food. I got a lunch bag and put in a nice ripe banana (they had apples and oranges too), then a chocolate moon pie. They had little ice cream sandwiches which I passed up since the cold water had already given me brain freeze. The next two tables had bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly. A volunteer spread my requested cream cheese and strawberry jam on a half bagel and I continued down the line. There was also hot soup that looked too beefy to me to be interesting so I passed. I ate my bagel, found Sandy and we wandered back across the street to get a shower.

After cleaning up we slowly made our way back to the host hotel for the award ceremony. We normally wouldn't bother but this time they were having a random drawing at the end of the ceremony for two $500 cash awards that you had to be present to win. Yup, we'd give up lazing around in bed for that chance. We got back in the middle of the age group awards, found seats and listened to names being called.

The ceremony was kind of mesmerizing. Names called, people weren't there, next name called, next, next. Then horrifyingly a woman started screaming. A man had a seizure. Someone called 911 and the EMS and Paramedics soon arrived and took care of him. It was scary to everyone that this happened but the responders had him lucid and talking before carrying him away for further medical assistance.

After a short speech on the efficacy of prayer (it's the south) the ceremony continued and finally they got to the drawing. Kind of strange how they did it but whatever. The names were called and finally two people were present and collected. It wasn't either of us so we slowly arose and left.

I have very few complaints about this race and lots of positive thoughts; it was one of the best organized and supported that I've run. It would have been nice to get a hat but I got an email last week that they've ordered more and they'll arrive in January. I'll post a picture here when I get it. Or else I'll post an addendum whining that it never came!

My race bear came from the Space and Rocket Center, the largest space museum "on Earth" and a fascinating place to spend some time. Obviously, his name is Rocky!
Funny thing about the medal. When we were wandering around the airport the next day we met up with a young guy wearing the race hat. Yeah, that hat. I told Sandy to distract him while I ran off with his hat. Heh. Instead we all started talking and had lunch together with him. He pointed out that on the back of the medal was written "2007 Rocket City Marathon FINSHER Huntsville, AL." We said yeah, it said finisher. Nope, it says "FINSHER."

In my email thanking the race organizer for such a well run race, I mentioned that most of us hadn't noticed the misspelling. Her reply: "Well that is the first comment on the medal. We meant to do that…it’s a southern thing!"

Bwahahahah; Riiiiight!

ETA: On 1/7/08 I received the finishers hat!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pizza, knitting and a bear

Tonight I had my friends over for a Stitch n Bitch. We hadn't gotten together to knit in a couple of months so it was a chance to show our current projects and eat and drink. Unfortunately, because of the holiday season several friends couldn't make it. As a post-marathon treat (to myself) I decided t'heck with cooking or nutrition and picked up a couple of Costco pizzas and shrimp. Jeanette and Anita brought salads, Olivia brought yummy gingerbread and chocolate cookies and Claudia brought peppermint bark and wine. And a bear.
The Gratuitous Holiday Bear of the Day is a little gingerbread man and this picture doesn't do his cuteness and plushness justice. He's adorable, soft and squishy. Thank you Claudia!

I finished the scarf that was my traveling knitting project. It's knit with Karaoke by SWTC, Inc. It's 50% soy silk/50% wool, made in China. I used 2 skeins of the Black Rose for the scarf and it's shorter than my usual 6-7 footers (intentionally). I was lazy and instead of just figuring out a nice easy cable scarf I used a pattern I found from The Karaoke Cable Scarf was very simple and made a great traveling project. I used size 8 needles and I'm glad; the 7 would have been too tight. The colors in the picture aren't true, especially the brightest red. I was annoyed by the first ball; there was a break in the yarn so the black didn't repeat at all, but I think there's enough black in the finished scarf. I wore it to work and it was toasty warm in my freezing office. I'm trying to decide whether I'll block it since it would open up well, but I'm sure lethargy will rule.I'm hoping to get to the race report this weekend; with long days at work I haven't had a chance to even think about it. Or to write a letter asking for my finisher's hat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Busy at home, busy at work. We're expanding our office space and this is moving time. The next week or couple of weeks or month (or longer) will be moving time. And at home I'm still unpacking and putting away stuff from the weekend. Last night I got all my pictures off my camera onto the computer but I haven't had a chance to look at them yet.

I'm working on thinking about my race and weekend reports and hope to have them up soon - before I forget which city I was in and which race I ran!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Change in plans

I'm back, safe and tired, from warm humid Huntsville, AL. The weekend and race reports will follow this week, but in a nutshell it was a long, tiring weekend with some wonderful and some strange parts. My sis joined us for a way too short visit on Friday for our wandering around the city. I finished the Rocket City Marathon in 5:57:57 chip time. The last 80-100 people finishing the race (including Sandy and me) didn't get the promised finisher's premium, a running cap (and that's not even counting the almost 50 runners who apparently didn't finish, nor the almost 200 who registered and apparently didn't show up at the start). For shame!

The power was out in the hotel, and in a large part of the city, when we got up at 4:05 am to catch our flights home. Luckily we had packed the night before because although the common areas of the hotel were lit by a generator, our room was pitch black. Our flights connected through Dallas/Fort Worth and the winter weather in the mid parts of the country caused our second flight to leave an hour late. It's good to be home!

I had an epiphany while I was tossing and turning in bed on Friday night, before the race. Sandy and I had gotten caught up in the numbers thing. Huntsville would complete our 4 in 4 in 4 (4 marathons in 4 states in 4 months) and we were anxious to continue that through 6 in 6 in 6. Our tentative plan was to run Rock 'n' Roll Arizona in January (even though we've both run an Arizona full marathon) and to run probably Austin in February (although Sandy ran the full already). Then we'd have "bragging rights" to 6 in 6 in 6. But what the hell? I certainly have nothing to prove, to myself or to anyone else. The whole 4/4/4 thing is in itself pretty incredible, especially to someone who only started running 8 years ago. Huntsville was my 30th marathon (good grief: 30th marathon! Can you believe that?) and I will hopefully continue to run several more each year.

But I'm tired. Deep, bone tired. Tired of getting up in the middle of the night to catch a plane to or from a race; tired of the logistics and planning; tired of not being able to sleep in hotels; tired of the whole travel thing; tired of running 26 miles. I need to get back a little of the wonder, a little bit of the specialness of the marathon experience. I love running (and finishing) marathons, and the excitement, and the new courses, and the new states, new cities, new people, (new medals), all the hoopla. So I'm taking a break and ditching the 6/6/6 plans. 2008 is time for a fresh start and better training (no, really) (no, I'm serious) (quit laughing) (stop it).

Come March though and I'm off and running again! Watch out 'cause here I come!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

They're havin a heat wave

My biggest concern for the race this weekend was the possibility, or probability, of cold weather. Because of my asthma (and because I'm a wuss) I find it incredibly hard to run in sub-freezing temps. I'm been fretting for the past couple of months since we decided to run this thing. I didn't start watching their local weather until last week and it didn't look good. Until now.

Last night I set out many choices of clothing to take with me: shorts, capris, long pants, short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, accessories, jacket. Tonight I'm going to have to put a sleeveless top in the pile too. As of this morning the forecast is for a low of no colder than low 50's with a high approaching 70. And medium to high humidity. Wow. Not in the least what I'm mentally prepared for. Very strange but I'm not complaining.

Once I finished the last Temescal Bag I needed a project for traveling. Since it's cooled off here I'm looking for scarves to wear every day. I've been knitting a simple double cable scarf with a wool/soy yarn but I think I'll probably finish it in the middle of the trip. I couldn't take the chance of not having a project on the plane so I went through the stash and decided that my next project will be another scarf, using the silk/cashmere yarn that I got in New York at School Products. I'm going to make a very simple ribbed scarf out of it, doubling the yarn. I think it'll turn out very nice.

I won't be posting again until after the race; see you then!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting ready

It's a bleary morning. Rainy, foggy, cool. Must be winter, or nearly so. I'm trying not to whine about it since we so desperately need rain. At least I won't have to run in it today or tonight.

I'm keeping a close watch on the weather predictions for Saturday. I've been worrying myself to a frazzle because of the possibility of freezing weather. We all know I don't run well in freezing temps. Well, not to worry. I think I may have to worry about being too warm. The current forecast has it going from the mid-40's to the mid-60's. Excellent. I've gone from planning to wear heavy pants and a jacket and warm accessories to thinking about wearing short and a short sleeved shirt. I'll pack everything, just in case of last minute changes. I don't want to have to buy stuff while I'm there.

Last night Pam, Olivia and I ran our short short route. I like running at night this time of year because of the holiday lights. They're fun to look at and they brighten the route. I started out running faster and slowed down midway. That's when Olivia sped up. Heh. She really picked it up after the last light with Pam and I trailing behind, refusing to be left alone. We're going to have to work on coordinating our speed.

In celebration of the First Night of Hanukkah the Gratuitous Bear of the Day is a Hannukah bear. He has little dreidels on his feet and a sort of yarmulke on his head. I'm not sure why he's blue, maybe someone stole his gelt. Or maybe he burned his little paw on the menorah. Happy Chanukah to all and watch for dripping candle wax!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bah Humbug and a Bag

No, I'm not being Scrooge-ish, I'm talking about the City of San Ramon's annual 5k winter race, the Bah Humbug. Like most of their races, this is decidedly on the lower end of the scale. There's not even a start line; people cram up along the street, the gun goes off (I guess, I didn't hear anything) and people start running, walking and skating. I'm not sure the last one is approved but several small kids had roller shoes. There are many families, many strollers, many dogs, and a few serious runners trying to get around them all. My goal was to run as hard as I could for as long as I could.

It was a cool morning but not as cold as I had hoped. I was trying to see how I'd feel running hard in weather 30-40 degrees. Since the race didn't start until 9am it was already in the low 40's. I was overdressed in a long-sleeved shirt and long tights but when the wind blew (which it did pretty hard in certain directions) I was glad to pull the sleeves down. I was surprised when my first mile split was 11:50. Not knowing where the official start line was I had started my watch when I started moving and I think it was before the official "line." I was breathing hard, probably scaring all the people around me with my wheezy inhales, but I was ok so I kept going. My second mile split was crazy, 11:31. I knew I was going too fast, but decided I'd only take a walk break when I got to the water stop. But there was no water stop at all on the course so I didn't take any walk breaks, running the whole time. My last mile was even more bizarre, 11:06! The final tenth was 1:04 but I had to stop just before the finish line because they were lining up the finishers to get their tear-tags from their bibs.

My finish was 35:30, nowhere near a PR for me but a darn sight faster than I've been running lately. This was by far the hardest I've run and the fastest race I've completed in a while. Shoot, it's been about 3 years since I've had anything like this 11:25 average. I know the course is marked correctly, I've run it several times. The absolutely worst part of the race was the finish. I was in the finish shoot for 9 full minutes, inching along. Not the smartest thing to do after a hard run and sprint. I know the race was full of newbies but they could have been moved along faster. I still hadn't gotten any water and my head was spinning. Sheesh. My lungs were sore too, from the accumulated schmootz in the office all week and sucking in the cold air.

I was impressed with the spread afterward though, once they finally let us through the line. There was water and some coffee, oranges and bananas, bagels and muffins, and ice cream. Yeah, it was in the upper 40's by then and we were eating ice cream. Including me, I had half an ice cream sandwich while I cooled down enough to get in my car. I was disappointed because in past years Starbucks has been there passing out small cups of their Peppermint Mocha. I had been looking forward to that.

The shirt is a long-sleeved white cotton shirt with a very cute logo on it. I think probably the entire race fee ($25-$30) goes to the licensing fee for using the Grinch. They also hand out a cute ornament to all finishers.I missed running with all my buddies but I couldn't have run as fast if I had been socializing. None of them felt like coughing up the high price for this low-rent race and I couldn't really blame them. But I was very happy with my own effort and performance.

I gave the finished Temescal Bag to my friend on Friday in time for her birthday. I was a little nervous about giving it to her. We've been co-workers for almost 18 years and for most of that have been friends. We've had some bad times when we weren't friends though. She's a quilter and does beautiful work and has a great eye and feeling for color. She had picked out the colors and we used the random color generator for the stripes. The rest of it was up to me. I finished knitting the bag on Tuesday and felted it. By Friday morning only the bottom was still damp but I couldn't wrap it so I just put it in one of the fancy bags they sell at Whole Foods. With a bow on it. Heh.
I ended up using a little over 8 skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Avocado, Amethyst Heather, Dove Heather, Mist and Coal. The colors aren't quite right here; the dark gray isn't this blue. I used the size 13 Options needles and again did the extra repeat on the bottom to make it a bit bigger. I really didn't like how the colors looked together pre-felted, I thought the transitions were too bold.I put it through the heavy duty cycle 1-1/2 times to get it to felt as much as I wanted. After the first time I noticed that the purple had run onto the light gray so I used one of those color catcher sheets the second time and it cleaned that up. I think the shrinkage was very comparable to the last bag. I enjoyed knitting it thoroughly; it's mindless and turns out nicely.
My friend was thrilled! She was very happy with the bag, the colors, the workmanship. Whew! I'm glad I was able to return the favor for her. Several years ago she made me a gorgeous quilt in my colors and she's made me a fuzzy bathrobe and a quilted bag. It's about time I was able to give her something that I had made!