Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Baby Steps (Running)

Taking care not to screw up the running calculator, I ran a hard fast can-I-really-do-this run today, putting a mile warm-up at the front and a half mile at the end with a 3.25m in the middle. I have to pay the entry fee for this weekend's race by end of day today, so just wanted to check.

The wind was wicked (some day I need to write a post about my changed relationship with the weather since I started running), just nuts, all over the place in gusts. I didn't have a lot of optimism.

But I passed the one mile marker at 8:43, which is fast for me. So I kept it up, trying to figure out the best way to pace. At the 1.1 point in this route I turn a corner, always, into wind from the northwest. And today, whew. It was a push for the next half mile, and my heart rate was a little scary. At the two mile mark I'd slowed down to 9:30, although it felt like I was running all out. But in the end I finished with a pace for the whole 3.25m of 8:58.

And for you whippersnappers who might laugh at such times, that would have been good enough for me to place third age-ranked in the Devil Mountain race last year. Granted, the F 45-49 pool sucked in 2007 (for instance, with that time, I would only have placed 5th in the 50-54 age group, 11th in the 40 to 44 group). But still. I have hope that I will finish in the top 20% of the group. A "B" is all I'm looking for.

In other running news, I discovered that, in a few years when I'm 50, if I shave about another minute off my 5K time (which, barring injury or substantial weight gain, it would be weird not to do), I can be a sub-seeded master's runner in the SF Bay to Breakers. And that would be pretty cool.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Holding Breath for Photos

After about 100 years' worth of research over the last few days, the new camera was ordered and paid for this afternoon, should arrive by early next week. I splurged a bit to get one camera that would do everything I want. Now I'm all on pins and needles waiting for it! [I'm tempted, sorely, to "squeee" here. But I'm OK, I've got it under control.]

Also: I have Stefaneener's Second Sleeve Syndrome. I am so sick of Tangled Yoke's second sleeve, I can't even tell ya. Remember, I thought the sleeves were not long enough when I enthusiastically dove in to Sleeve #1? No, I was definitely wrong. They are about a billion times TOO long. Zzzzzzzzz.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

2008 Youth Ultimate California State Champions

My princess made the varsity Ulti team this year, and the varsity team took home the California state championship trophy today, and if you think that is a coincidence, she'll comma your house and set you straight.

It was a great weekend of great sport, and seeing my little sophomore girl out there with the big boys and girls (the boys on the team are mostly seniors, girls mostly juniors, just based on skill) and watching her actually make points and great defensive moves - it was, well, it was priceless. It was also the last co-ed play of the year and because so many of the team are graduating, it was really sweet and sad, so many hugs and cheers across the gender lines, especially in the last game. Next up is Western Regional Championships in Missouri, which is played single gender.

The action got too intense for me to pay attention to and finish up that Tangled Yoke sleeve, but I am 2/3 of the way through. Other than that, I have nothing to show for the weekend but a happy child and a good tanning base for summer.

Sunday in April

I planned all week to do a fast Sunday run to bolster my confidence for next week's Devil Mountain Race. I've been feeling very negative, wondering if I could possibly top my last time, thinking I'd probably just trip and fall and make a fool of myself, or worse. So I set out this morning to do a tempo run and really pay attention to what I could do.

I messed up the running computer not once but TWICE on the run (the second time the quiet Sunday morning neighborhood learned that graying middle aged ladies can and do have foul mouths). But after extensive work with the watch, a map and all the math skills I re-learned to take the GRE (how handy is that?), I figured out that I ran the 5K portion in 28:14, and that was with a short walk at the 2m point. Extremely cool. With a shorter warm-up, two days off beforehand, competition and no hills, I might even be able to get close to 28 even.

The other good thing, ironically, that I got out of the run is that I learned I can, I really can, run more slowly. I just have to, um, I was able to get all the way down to an 11:00m pace for the warm-up mile with a nice slow heart rate (this is necessary for good warm ups and recovery runs). I've spent the last week working on slowing down, and it's the first week I've felt zero knee pain in a couple of months, so I can feel good about that. As always, 'twas Julie who gave me the good advice.

"Slow down, sis," she said.

She's so smart.


I'm writing happy, light-hearted posts this weekend, but feeling the loss terribly of my grandmother, who is back in hospice now, playing out her endgame.

When you're loved, there's no good time to die. I will miss her, as will the many others who love her. And I will be grateful for the parts of her that live on, especially those in my own children. My daughter has her lovely figure and clarity about the right way to do things, and my son shares both her birthday and the exasperated noise she makes when we've said something ridiculous. My sister has her weird thumbs and artistic vision. Me? I really scored. I got her bad girl sense of humor, the slightly cockeyed, sometimes mean but always spot-on truthful sense of things that neither of us felt comfortable airing in public, in general. We discovered that the same things made us laugh later in life, and it brought a new dimension to our relationship.

I will really miss that.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring, No Camera

It's finally True Spring here, and I have no camera to show off the wisteria or lovely vegetable beds ready for seeds or birds' nests. I'm undecided about which direction to take with cameras - I did not love the Coolpix, I have to say. It will cost just $40 less than the cost of a new camera to fix it, so that seems silly. But that means I have to research a new one, and probably pay more to get one I'll be happier with, and I'm not excited about that.

I ran a true 10K today, no stops, and other than leaden legs and hot toes afterward, it was pretty easy. Very slow, but that was what my good buddy Hal Higdon told me to do. I'm pleased with myself (what else is new?). I signed up for a 5K next weekend, as a tester race (to see whether/how I've improved over the last month), and some co-workers will be running this one, so it should be fun (except for the awkward, "no, I don't want to run with you, I'm here to kick your butt and win some PLASTIC" conversation).

Tangled Yoke is kicking right along, I hope to finish within another couple of weeks. Another tourney this week should give me a chance to polish off the second sleeve and shoulder joins, then there are just that tangled yoke and button bands left.

Teen Princess is signing up for her first college class this afternoon and also applying for her first real job. Once we finish frisbee tournaments, she will also begin learning to drive.

So, what the hell happened, THERE? About six weeks ago she was in diapers and Osh Kosh overalls demanding to be put on her father's "soldiers" so she wouldn't have to walk. Where does the time go?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pause Button

One of the things I find more and more necessary in my (early) dotage is down time. No matter how much I want to keep going, I'm catching on that I have to just stop sometimes, and be. Even if it's just for a little while.

That's what I've been up to after returning from too much travel, emotion and weather over the last two weeks. I made it exactly a third of a mile through my planned 3m run on Tuesday before just giving over to my inner walker and strolling home, and didn't even suit up this morning. Slept 10 hours two nights in a row, and worked only 5 hours yesterday. And just like a little avatar, I feel my life points returning. Tonight is knitting on Tangled Yoke Sleeve #2 with Stewart and Colbert, and to bed.


Monday, April 21, 2008

It Stuck

All week, we saw the weather reports: snow and ice in Seattle this weekend for the Ulti Frisbee tourney. Well, no problem, kids! After all, I just came from Iowa, and I saw me some spring snow, and this was SeATTle, for heavens sake, not the Midwest. So I assured everyone, "it won't stick." Yes, I said it with absolute confidence. It will not stick. No sticking snow, none.

So, you may have stuck. And when it didn't stick in Seattle proper, in Burlington? Oh, it stuck around for a good long while.

The weekend was filled with harrowing drives in blizzard conditions, very very wet and cold feet and walking advertisements for UnderArmor (Which, by the way? Greatest invention ever.) But mostly, it was filled, as all Frisbee tourneys are, with wonderful people exhibiting wonderful athleticism and incredible heart. And I, I actually *know* some of them!

I finished the sleeve, but forgot to pack another ball of yarn to start the next one...'s okay, I will start sleeve #2 tonight. And, um, broke my new camera dropping it while loading the van to go home, so no photos of the sweater. Sigh...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not a Running Post

Two more things:

A 5.2 earthquake with no damage and the Midwest is freaking out? Puhleeze. Call us West Coasters when you have something impressive to talk about.

The Teen Princess not only passed the high school exit exam on her first try with two years to spare, but aced the language arts portion. 4/4 on the essay (and as someone who graded those essays a couple of years ago, I can say with emphasis that that's impressive - I only gave out maybe twenty 4's out of hundreds and hundreds of essays I scored) and 100 correct on every question. She's brilliant, my daughter.

Running Post

Just a quickie, as I hit two milestones this morning.

I did a fast run with the Teen Princess, who sets a mighty fine pace, and in there was a mile at 8:55, which was the first time I came in under 9:00 for a whole mile at one pace (no sprints). And this followed a long run yesterday. I may be poky, but I'm getting less poky. Based on the pace we set on this run, I should have no pro shaving a minute off my 5K time, hopefully a bit more.

Also, I finally hit my WW goal of 126 pounds this morning. Yay! I've lost 20 pounds even. I'm a happy gal. Now, of course, I'm thinking of going just a bit lower so that I can run faster. But I've met all my health and aesthetic goals, so I can have a 1 point fudge bar to celebrate!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hair on Fire

Back from Iowa, which was relatively peaceful, and on to High Frisbee Tourney Season. Our first trip is Friday, to Seattle, with 37 moppets aged 11 to 19, sleet and rain predicted (all games are played on a soccer pitch), and us with absolutely no gear. Major shopping trips, all full price, unfortunately, have been happening, and I haven't even unpacked from the last trip.

Plus: work? If it weren't for the money, I swear. I'd stay in bed all day like a sensible person. I'm already job hunting for the job I want after I finish school. In 2 years plus 6 weeks (not that I'm counting).

Nice run today, first one in a week. Cal the Dog is finally coming along as a running partner, he did 3.5m at a regular run pace and heeled about 75% of the time. I may keep him.

Tangled Yoke is body+90% of one sleeve done, other sleeve plus yoke to go, and I would love to hear from anyone else who has knit it about those sleeves. I think those lengths sound awfully short, and I don't have abnormally long arms. Does the weight pull the sleeves down? That happened with Sausalito. I will get to knit on the plane this weekend, but experience suggests that little knitting will happen at the games (no chairs, for one thing).

Next post should contain Frisbee Pix.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

10 Things I've Learned This Week

Knitting is excellent physical therapy for a recovering rotator cuff. By end of day today I will be done with the base body piece for Tangled Yoke, in a lovely rose Rowan Felted Tweed. My shoulder is sorer than it has been in a while, but the pain feels muscular and good. A little exercise while I sit in hospital rooms.

Spring weather is unpredictable in the Midwest. I packed for the predicted highs of 45 to 60, and showed up to highs in the 30's with snow. I am wearing my overcoat everywhere, and look like a masher.

Running without good gear in cold weather is crazy. I didn't even try. My sis has a suitcase full of thin warm socks, head gear, and body-warming fabrics. I have one pair of UnderArmour tights, no hat and cotton socks...not gonna cut it. I'm going to have to run hard when I get home.

Nurses are lovely people, competent and calm and strong. You want them on your side when you're sick.

Sharing a bedroom with your sister is more fun when you're a grown-up. She's hilarious, doesn't snore or take up too much bathroom space, and likes everything exactly the same way I do (lights off at 10, room cool and dark).

Beauty pageant contestants have bigger breasts than they used to. (That became clear during the Miss USA contests on Friday.)

The pollen count is much lower in Cedar Rapids, IA in mid April than in Alameda, CA. Blessed relief.

The hospital I work for has a really good cafeteria compared to Mercy Hospital's in Cedar Rapids. Really, really good.

Panera: not bad, works with the WW program. If you go to Dottie's Weight Loss Zone, you can even get all the point values for their food. It's next door to our hotel, we've eaten there at least once a day.

Best of all: my grandmother is amazing. She had decided to stop receiving nutrition and fluids through her GI tube after a stroke, and moved in to hospice. We all came to say goodbye, and many tears were shed Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Many. Then Thursday afternoon she decided that it was taking too damn long to die, dying was boring, and she might as well get back to rug hooking and wood carving while she waited. And to do that, she was going to need to eat and be hydrated.

So she's out of hospice and at Mercy, preparing to go back to the skilled nursing area of her home in a few days. She's working on physical therapy (hard), swallowing (not as hard, but going to take some time), and in general being pleasant, funny and ornery as the day is long. We expect to be visiting her back in her own independent living apartment in the not too distant future, and she'll probably preside over all of our funerals. She is, truly, amazing. And I'm so delighted to continue to have her in my life.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Iowa Bound

My much-loved grandmother has decided to let go of her earthly connections after a recent stroke, and move to the other side. I'm so proud of her for the life she's lived and the strength she has shown, even in death, but so very sad to have to live on without her.

But this sad time in my life does mean that I get to visit Iowa, which I love, although it is probably the last trip for a long while. I'm meeting my mom and sister there tomorrow. I'm grateful for these family connections and for all the bounty that is mine.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Stop Saying, "God Bless You." He's Not Listening.

Whad? I cad hear you. Dough, it's juss allergies. I'll be OK. Idd Jude or July. Thags for askig, though.

Really, this ranks as one of the worst springs in memory. Today at the frisbee rummage sale I could be found easily by turning in the direction of the screaming, shrieking, explosive sneezes. And the trail of crumpled tissues I left in my wake. I'm consoled only by the fact that it is worse in the desert and swampland, apparently. Arizona, Texas and Florida all have areas with worse tree pollen counts this week. Sorry, y'all.

And yes. I do know about Claritin. It is for people with amateur immune systems, not those prepared to slay each and every grain of oak and pine pollen in the universe by drowning them in snot, like mine. Bud thags adyway.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pie: It's What's for Dinner

Whenever I watch Andrew Zimmern putting away another plate of roasted bugs or fetid goat brains or whatever, I wonder what natives of the culture featured that week would think of good ol' US home cooking. It can be weird, to be sure. I can see rejecting meatloaf. Eschewing tuna casserole? Let me get in line.

But surely, surely pie ought to be beloved the world over. What is not to like about pie? Crust is pretty much universal, isn't it? If not a wheat crust, then some other kind of unleavened pastry turns up in almost every cuisine. And fruit, fruit is good. Everybody eats fruit. And a little sugar (homemade pie should always be slightly under-sugared, if you ask me). That's it. Pie.

But you don't see it in this form in many places. At least one "culture" replaces the fruit with meat (meat!), and calls it pie. It's not really pie, it's a baked sandwich. And the French have a go at with with various baked goods, all a little over the top, outside of the real pie realm.

In the end, we may screw up on an awful lot in this world, but we Americans? We still have pie.

All American Girl that I am, I made six for the fundraiser bake sale tomorrow. The ollalieberry one pictured here was obviously too wet for selling (ahem), so we're down to just five.
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Why Small Crafts Are Better

I have been stitching together 2.5" pieces for approximately 267 million years now. I have caught up on my Podcast listening, used up all my utility quilting thread, and grown about three inches of hair since I started piecing this quilt. And soon, if I stay with it and don't give up, I get to start hand quilting this monster. What the hell was I thinking?

I am reminded why small projects are more fun.

But I did beat the Scrabulous (thanks, Lori!) robot this morning, while putting off house cleaning and exercise. That was gratifying, if more than a little nerdish. I managed to get "zit" and "craze" on a triple word score in one turn, while the robot was busy showing off with all consonant words, like "sh" (so not a word).

My blog? Yes. It's where all those in the know come for their daily adrenaline rush.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Running Long Enough to Forget You're Running

I ran for 55:18 today. Almost an hour. It seems that if I run slowly enough, I can cover quite some distance...I wasn't even desperate to stop at the end. The delicious runner's high kicked in at the end of the third mile, and by the fourth mile marker I had ceased to think about the fact that I was running, and was musing about life, politics, music.

That's a good run.

A huge shout-out to my sister, who started all this and just added a can of kerosene to the fire by sending me her superseded running toys. Thanks to this I can tell you my average heart rate for the run and even time spent down to the nanosecond. Julie is running A Big Race (I hope I have the right one) on Sunday, so send her speedy thoughts. And it's her birthday tomorrow.

And, as my children reminded me this morning, she does silly voices better than I do.

Post run: pizza fundraiser at the school, grocery shopping and then SEWING. Yes, indeed.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Not a Raving Post

Some more photos from Easter. JMan was the one taking most of them, so there are none of him. Spouse? He kept chewing with his mouth open while the camera was on him.

Yes. He was raised in a barn.

I'm dead tired from allergies, running and mostly from lack of sleep due to my &^%$ job, which seems to get incredibly stressful and "want to poke my own eyes out with a fork"-like every spring. So photos from a nice day are the best I can do.

Summer. Will. Be. Better.

Yes. It will.