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!

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