Sunday, March 30, 2008

Race Results

The results from last week's race are in, and hey! I came in 4th in my age group, just shy of a (plastic) medal. How cool is that? It pays to run in tiny little community races. Not only that, but today after a day off and a warm up with Cal (whom I'm trying to train to run with me...old dog, new trick), I managed to kick out two miles of what I was thinking of as "easy" in just over what my race pace was a week ago (lower pollen count this morning).

Someone once said that for new runners, every day is like Christmas in terms of your progress, and I definitely feel in that zone right now. Knock wood it continues for a while.

Quilt: all blocks for one side are finished, and I realized (beFORE I put them together, YAY) that I cannot clean them up to a uniform size and join together until I know the size of the smallest block on the back, too, so will have to have a giant 60 block trimming party once they're all done. ZZZZZzzzzzz. Hobbies are fun!

I did discover that our library carries Threads, which was like finding chocolate in your purse. Brought home back issues and maybe some day, SOME day, I'll even make something cool from there.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Running Post

A local columnist, otherwise intelligent and sane, writes about his cats every couple of months. For those of us who don't have the cat gene, he prefaces them with a "Cat Column" warning, so we know to stay away. I think I will henceforth do that with running posts. But I think they'll probably be popping up more than every couple of months.

I have discovered over the past few weeks that my attitude has as much to do with my athletic performance as does my body. And since I have much more control over my attitude than I do over the whims of my aging body, I've decided to start leaning on that a bit more.

When I ran in high school and college, I knew a couple of things above all else: Other People Are Faster Than Me, and Exercise is Hard. As you might expect, keeping these facts at the fore of my running self-conversation didn't do a lot for my motivation or performance.

At 46, the things at the fore: I'm Way Faster Than the Vast Majority of 46yos in the World, and If I Don't Exercise I Get Fat and My Back Hurts. This change in mental chatter has changed things dramatically. And dang, even if I'm a lot pokier than I was when I was 16, I'm having much more fun. And my times are improving like crazy, which is very gratifying. I found a race set for June 1, and start an 8 week training course on Monday to improve my 5K times as well as up my distance. And as ridiculous as it sounds, I'm just as excited as can be about this.

Post-run today: I made pancakes, (yes, from scratch) for my children (just to prove that I could), have yet more laundry to do, will finally paint the closet doors in the family room and finish touch-ups, and then will try to finish up the first half of the quilt. Fridays off: woo HOO!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Such as They Are, Photos

I am a photography dork. I so admire all who take lovely, arty snaps of life, crafts, children. I'm generally just trying to document that something actually happened, like someone catching a UFO midflight. Art happens by accident, rarely. I have taken so many bad craft pictures since buying our Nikon in June, it's not even funny. I longed for a camera that could do better with indoor close-up shots, but, well, there's always something that needs paying for.

This evening I stumbled upon a camera mode called, um, "Close Up." Gee, think THAT might help?

Here are several photos that need posting, fair and bad. I have about half of one side of the quilt blocks done, plus quite a bit of production piecing waiting to be put together.

Last night I started this little kerchief for the Princess, and should finish tonight during Telly Time. Cal the Dog does not appreciate being a model, nor the flash.

Also, I can't believe I forgot to post this one of JMan's Huge Fish, from about two weeks ago. This was his first catch ever, caught while he and a friend were on a no-adults Tom Sawyer-style adventure at the local lake. It was, really, a Huge Fish. And over the protestations of the Vegetarian Princess, we ate it up. Tasty.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

It was, hands down, the best Easter since I became a mom.

My teen and near-teen insisted that there be an egg hunt. But the most enthusiastic one never woke up, and was rousted by his kind and loving sister at (yay!) 7:30am. They had a lovely time, no arguments, lots of Chip 'n' Dale talk, and even found all the hard boiled eggs so we didn't have to hunt madly.

Then? JMan and I took a run together, and then I ran a bit more. We cleaned up and headed out to the shore. The San Mateo Coast, south of Half Moon Bay, is a wild and wonderful place, and our favorite place for whole-family outings. We went to our favorite dogs-allowed beach on the most gorgeous weekend day I can remember since New Year's, and for the first hour had the place entirely to ourselves. Except for this guy (gal?). It is, sadly, baby elephant seal weaning season. Once weaned, they're left to their own devices in a harsh world. We're hopeful this wee one (about the size of a horse, without the legs) will make it. A cousin down the beach was not so lucky.

Then? We headed inland, away from the relentless wind, for a short hike around the non-aptly named Windy Hill Open Space Area in Woodside, CA. Just lovely! Then back into "downtown" Woodside for a nifty and inexpensive dinner at Alice's Restaurant, and home again to work on some chocolate bunny.

Product review: powdered sunscreen? I tried it for the first time. Spiffy. Looks great on, no grease, works great.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Independent Greeks

Until this morning, I knew nothing of Greek Independence Day, but I am now well-informed (it was 187 years ago this week! And they achieved their independence over the evil Ottomans...which conjures up an amusing image, but I'll not go there). That's the kind of thing that happens when you misread the information on a race and arrive an hour and a half before the start. That, and you get a rockin' parking spot. And you get to find 101 ways to stay warm in your silly running clothes.

Once they let us run, it was great! I finished 38th overall (about 300 registered), in 28:30, which actually would have been good enough for second place in my age/gender group last year, but I didn't place this time (ringers!). Still, I was very happy with myself and the race, and the Princess and Spouse were kind enough to come cheer me on. Once they discovered it was all-the-spanakopita-you-can-eat, they were extremely pleased to wait for me near the food area.

My goal for late May 5K is 27:30 or better, which should be a cake walk in that tree pollen season will be over (yay!).

My machine is back. Today I have to clean, grocery shop, water Mom's plants, pack up the Easter Bunny goodies and do laundry, and then should be able to find some time to, um, sew.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Good Day

As of today:

  • My shoulder is making huge improvements (thanks to weekly acupuncture treatments).
  • I have a new foot control on my Bernina for an astonishingly low price. I pick it up tomorrow.
  • Very best for last: I will be a graduate student in UC Berkeley's epidemiology/biostats program this fall.

I'm a little stunned, after working so hard for this goal for all of 2007, to actually reach it. Guess I'm really going to have to live these dreams.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why I Hate Spring, Or What a Perfect March Day Looks Like

I try, I really try to like spring. Warming weather! Pretty flowers! Baby birds, green grass, pastel clothing! Frolicking lambs, even.

But the months of March through May (into June, in some areas) have always brought only one thing to mind for me: what's the pollen count today?

And the answer this week, is "off the charts, with the wind blowing like crazy!"

It would, in short, be a perfect day to hide in the sewing shed, but my machine is with the nice man who fixes things. And after a brief attempt at a run this morning (I made it two miles before the headaches and sneezing fits made me give over), plans to work in the garden were postponed. I felt it would be a good day to stay in, way in.

Fortunately, there was good TV. The Princess and I watched my favorite G movie, The Incredibles, two episodes of What Not to Wear and ate popcorn. Embroidery was undertaken.

Just 3 months 'til summer!

Friday, March 14, 2008

On Losing Weight

First, lest those readers who wish to be smaller be inclined to dismiss Weight Watchers out of hand because they tried it way back when, hear me out. The WW folk have removed all the things I loathed about the program and inserted some nifty things, just in the last year or so.

Second, no one knows better than me that it's not really the program that matters. What matters is whether you want to be not fat more than you want to keep eating. We can only decide that for ourselves. But if you're looking for a guide in your health journey, here's my story.

I used to weigh 162 pounds (I am 5'4", for reference sake). While this is not technically obese, it's pushing it. I was out of breath after one flight of stairs, had multiple chins, and could not comfortably wear shorts in public. So almost four years ago I hopped on the Atkins bandwagon, and lost 15 pounds, which stayed off for the most part. I started going to the gym at that time, weight lifting, using the aerobic machines.

But I was still chubby, still had a BMI in the overweight range, still out of breath after two flights of stairs. On my last birthday I decided that if I wasn't going to take care of my body at 46, I probably wasn't going to be able to at 86, so I needed to kick it up a notch. I began trying to run for just a few minutes at a time on the treadmill, and started to think about how to improve my health overall. Weight seemed an obvious place to start.

I heard about WW Online: keep track of your points (points are another measure of calories, with fiber content taken into account - more fiber, fewer points) and exercise (move more, eat more) online, weigh your own self in your own house and get as involved in the online community (or not, which has been my choice) as you wish. And cheap, at $16 a month.

I'd tried WW before, but hated the meetings (I just wanted to lose the weight, not be cheered or lectured), hated the public weigh-in's ("Uh oh! Didn't do too well this week, did we?") and thought the de-emphasis on exercise was self-defeating. But this new thing? It sounded great.

And it has been. This morning I weighed 129 pounds. Since early November I've dropped clothing sizes from 8/10 to 4/6. I'm running in earnest - my first 5K race is a week from tomorrow, with a 10K planned for the summer. I'm down to just one chin. I routinely walk all 5 flights to my car in the garage at work, and barely raise my heart rate (which is now typically 55 bpm resting). And through the last four months, I can count the number of times I've felt deprived or truly hungry on one hand.

Their hype is that WW is "not a diet". And they're right. It has taught me to pay attention to portions, to exercise, to eat good food (Fruit! Who knew?), and how incredibly caloric almost all food prepared outside the home is, even the stuff that's billed as good for you. It's taught me how to live like a healthy person, like those women I used to admire. And it's taught me that I really can achieve my goals, with a little guidance.

I never thought I would enthusiastically endorse a weight-loss program. But I do.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's Broke

My poor Bernina suddenly stopped working on Monday night. I'm afraid I'll have little to say until it's back from the shop.

Woe is me. I finally start sewing and poof.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Plain and Simple

It's sad that this is all I have to show for about 8 hours over two weeks in the quilting room. But the whole quilt is now cut, which ain't half bad. Just 29 more of each block to go, and I'm golden.

The idea is that the blocks with white centers are on the front, and the blocks with patterned centers are on the back, and the quilting/embroidery goes in the centers all around, and la la la, I'm probably living in a fantasy and it will become two quilts instead. But I like the fantasy part of sewing, and am usually happy with results that are far from the sweet pictures I create in my mind.

Now that it's cut, it's remarkably easy to throw together, and I hope to have it pieced by end of March. I think. I'm now working full time for the rest of the month to finish up a study by deadline, and have two tournaments and some etcetera to slog through, plus the garden's siren song as the weather warms. But I'll give it a go.

But I counted just now, and what with weather delays in Atlanta yesterday and a dinner meeting that went too late on Monday night and getting up early to run in the lovely NC hills, I have had a mere 16 hours of sleep over the past 3 nights. It's like being a new mom again, only now I'm an old mom. So, despite the ridiculous hour and the cute little 2.5" squares calling to me from the cutting table, abed I go.

Monday, March 03, 2008

On the Road, Running Up and Down Pretty Hills

I'm in lovely Chapel Hill, NC for a few days, for a work-related meeting. Or Chaypull Hail, Nawth CayruhLANa? (The question mark is important.) I don't know why the practice of phoneticizing Southern accents fascinates me, must be some kind of Mark Twain issue, but I always spend time wondering, "how would you spell that in Californian?" when I speak with my wonderful Research Triangle colleagues. I suspect they silently wonder at my use of the word "like" every four or five words and such snappy additions as "awesome" and "sick" thrown into business conversation.

Anyway. This morning I lifted my sleepy head off the pillow at 3:45am California time to run down the Booker Creek Road bike path, which was just lovely. Then this afternoon after the meeting, in order to stay awake instead of take the nap I so wanted to take, I walked a 5K path around the residential area behind the hotel, also really so very lovely. Chapel Hillites know them some modern architecture. Homes that made me want to go knock on the door and ask for a tour.

But hills? Holy cow. Alameda has no hills, none. My calves are not used to hills. Chapel Hill is, well, on a HILL, and surrounded by HILLS, and yoiks, I'm afraid to go to sleep tonight because my legs will end up frozen like a cadaver's by morning.