Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Goals Recap

So how did you do on your goals for 2009? Me? Not so well. I reached four of nine. They were the four easiest too so it's not like I had to really stretch to hit them. Here is the recap:

Running Goals:
1. 5k PR - Nope. Not even remotely close.
2. Run a total of 650 miles. - Funny, I thought I might have been low-balling a bit when I chose this mileage total. Total miles for the year ended up being a whopping 354.
3. Complete a half-marathon without walking. - No. I ended up Gallowalking the one I competed in this year.

Health Goals:
1. Weigh what my driver's license says I do. - Bwahahahaha!! Not only did I not come close to this one but the six pounds I had lost at mid-year have been regained along with three others. I am now the heaviest I have ever been. Epic fail.
2. Have all preventive health and dental services - Success! I also added a mammogram and a core needle biopsy for good measure. Way to overachieve!

Personal Goals:
1. Go someplace in state you have never been before. - Done. This is the easiest one of all. I went to Friday Harbor for the first time this year.
2. Go someplace out of state you have never been before. - Done. Napa Valley, South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park and Devil's Tower.
3. Pay off a minimum of half of my debt. - This would be the epic fail if not for the weight loss. This would be much closer if Ollie hadn't been single handedly (paw-edly?) trying to stimulate the economy not once, but twice, this year.
4. Finish my Bachelor's degree. - Done. Even though this was probably the biggest challenge in the grand scheme of things this was also kind of a gimme. Unless I was abducted by aliens this was pretty much a foregone conclusion. I also attribute some of my other failed goals to the evils of school. Yes, I could have made running and weight loss more of a priority while going to school, lots of people do, but I felt like I couldn't add much more to my plate.

Have you thought about what you want to accomplish in 2010?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dream Come True

Guess where we are going in February?If you said Vancouver, B.C. for the Olympics you would be correct.

Kevin got us tickets to a men's long-track speed skating medal event and a men's ski-cross medal event. Any events would have been great. Seriously. Women's curling elimination round between Latvia and Uzbekistan? Great, we'll be there. However, he knew that the event I wanted to see most of all was long-track speed skating. That is what I would most want to compete in out of all Olympic events.

Getting to go to the Olympics is a dream come true for me and this is probably the only chance I will ever get. I am practically bouncing off the walls with excitement.

Oh, the critter in my arms is MukMuk. He is a marmot. I am quite enamored of him.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Week Before Christmas

Here are some random bits and pieces from the last week.

Here are Mike and Amber decorating gingerbread houses over at our place last Tuesday.



The top picture below is the house that Kevin and I made. Yes, there is a cactus. Yes, there is also a snowman homicide and yes, the snowman is, in fact, quite happy to see you.
The Sunday before Christmas Kevin and I went downtown to see the professional gingerbread house displays. The theme this year was Christmas movies. Snoopy's doghouse was fabulous. I wish I had gotten a better picture of the inside of it. He even had a dog bowl full of kibble (cocoa puffs).

The best display was the one for "A Christmas Story". The leg lamp was made out of clear gummy bears, licorice and black jelly beans with red licorice sitting in for the red fringe on the lamp. There were little scenes from the movie in gum paste all around the bottom of the display and the whole thing was set on a gingerbread box that looked just like the one the leg lamp was delivered in. I am always amazed at people's creativity. How they come up with the concepts and the materials to use is a true talent.



After gingerbread houses we went out for my belated graduation dinner. Really the dinner was an excuse to open a great bottle of wine we had been saving. We went to my favorite restaurant, Eva, and had a tremendous meal. The wine was well worth the wait.


Just because I wanted to post these pictures: Our Christmas pig!


The Bon Star (It can never be the Macy's star) and the downtown tree. It isn't Christmas without the Bon Star. Every time I see it I think of how my sister once said she wanted to die. She wanted to be standing underneath that sucker and have it fall and pierce her skull. She has subsequently changed her mind.


And a picture that has nothing to do with Christmas but it is proof positive that I have now attended a football game. I somehow managed to get to my ripe old age without ever seeing any kind of football game; not high school, not college, not pro, not Canadian...nothing. It was actually kind of fun. I still don't give a rip about the actual game but I am glad we went.

By the way...only seven weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring training and the real sports season can begin again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Spirit

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I look forward to it all year long. I am a Christmas whore. I get giddy and happy and insanely festive this time of year. Kevin even says I have a "Christmas smile" which is the biggest, most genuine, happiest smile of them all. However, I have not been feeling festive this year. I have even seriously contemplated boycotting Christmas; or at least as much as I can get away with . No cards, no baking, no socializing, no Christmas music and no more decorating aside from the ginormous living room tree already completely covered in ornaments ... and the smaller 6 ft. auxiliary tree decorated only in lights in the bedroom...and the one at my parents house...and the work tree...but that's it...no more!

But since I love Christmas so much I wasn't ready to let it go quite yet so I asked Kevin to take me to Leavenworth for the tree lighting for a graduation present. So off we went early Saturday morning determined to absorb all the Christmas fabulousness that there is to absorb. As an aside, poor Kevin needed a break too. The refrigerator died on Wednesday and he had to buy a new one (and it is beautiful...angels sing when you open this one up) and then we had a pipe burst in the garage on Friday night. Friday night was a combination of cleaning up the garage and busily making a cake for my father's birthday on Sunday. Good times.

Here are some pics of the day:



The last one is the frozen Wenatchee River. Brrrrrr!

Chestnuts were eaten. Wine was consumed. Lights were lit. It had moments of festive and it sure was pretty but the Christmas feeling wouldn't stick. I was ready to call it quits on the holiday until I finally got some well-needed rest last night and a night alone (by shutting myself in my office). Today the Christmas spirit is burbling and I feel the festiveness coming on. The baking and the socializing and the music and the cards and the lights are all back on. I couldn't be happier. I might even flash some Christmas smiles.
I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

To Do

Well, I don't feel any smarter. Quite the opposite in fact. I feel like I have contracted some weird degenerative brain disease.

When I am not suffering from the effects of the degenerative brain disease I am busily plotting all I am going to do with my free time now that the evil that was school is over with. I was actually daydreaming during a class all about that and made a list instead of listening to the instructor's lecture.

Here are a few things I came up with to occupy my free time:

  • Run
  • Back to yoga classes
  • Clean the house
  • Maintain the house cleanliness
  • Restart my Netflix subscription
  • Read books for the sheer enjoyment of it and not because someone will be testing me on my retention. If the books make me want to fall asleep and/or gouge my eyes out from boredom I will simply stop reading them.
  • Spend time with people other than just Kevin and my co-workers
  • Cook
  • Bake
  • Start taking classes for fun
  • Sit on my butt and watch TV

I just have to make it through the busy Christmas season and all of those fun things can be mine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

DONE!!

I am like this now........only less amphibious.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lessons Not Learned

It is 10:24 p.m. and what am I doing that I vowed I would never do again? That's right...waiting for the other members of my group to finish their parts of our last paper that is due tomorrow. At least this time someone else is editing and she will merely pass it to me for final formatting. Clearly, college has not made me any smarter.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Last Few Weeks

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Between Kevin's birthday weekend getaway, cleaning the disorganized and filthy house for Thanksgiving, shopping/prepping/cooking for Thanksgiving, and That Which Shall Not Be Named it has been a little crazy.

Kevin's birthday was great. We went to McMenamin's Grand Lodge and had a great time relaxing, wine tasting, and playing disc golf. Kevin turned 40 with very minimal amounts of weeping and wailing.
Here is the Grand Lodge and the birthday boy posing by a sign in the basement.


This is Kevin gallantly trying to find my bright orange "Frisbee" that I lost in the water feature. Charlie Brown had his kite eating tree; I have my Frisbee sucking pond. We never did find the dang thing and I ended up having to buy one to finish the game. I lost by the one penalty point I incurred by hitting the water feature. Aaarrrgh!

We hosted Thanksgiving this year for my family and our friend J.B. All together there were nine of us but apparently I can't count that high and until my brother pointed out the number of people as we were getting ready to sit down at the table I had no idea. Luckily, we had one extra plate and a metal folding chair so I had a place to sit and eat. Just as we were sitting down to eat, Ollie decided that now would be a perfect time to go on a very vocal, very lengthy "date" with his favorite cat toy. We were serenaded by the sounds of neutered cat attempted fornication while we ate our dinner. Kind of the highlight of the day I would say (for us and for Ollie). Other than a failure to turn on a crockpot, the dinner came off OK. I am always super-hard on myself so I didn't think the food was particularly good but people seemed to enjoy it and enjoy the day which, in the end, is what really matters. I am, however, on the lookout for a good stuffing recipe. Send them my way.
These are the fabulous turkey napkin holders that Kevin made for the occasion. Many hours were spent with the scroll saw to create eight of these little guys.


I hope you all enjoyed your holiday. Thanksgiving has always just been a road bump on the path to Christmas for me so I am (almost) ready to get down to the serious holiday-ing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Things

Nothing cohesive enough to put into a regular posting so bring on the bullet points!
  • We got to see some wonderful dancing last weekend. Friday night was Seattle Dance Project teamed with Simple Measures for a laid back cultural night of dance and chamber music. No, really, it was fun. Saturday night was the Director's Choice rep at PNB which had three fabulous pieces and one "meh" piece. I like how the artistic director keeps pushing the boundaries with the works he chooses. I am always glad to have gone to a performance even if not everything they do moves me. Before hand was tasty Indian food...mmm... mango chicken.
  • I finally broke down and bought new knee-high, high-heeled black boots since my old ones were actually falling apart. O' joyous day! Every woman should own a pair. They are fabulous and make you feel sassy and ass-kicky.
  • I have developed a wee crush on Ira Glass.
  • There are certain musicians or songs that only sound good to me in fall and I have dug out those CDs (Yes, I'm old school like that) and am enjoying listening to them during my commute as the wind whips cold rain at the windows and the leaves fall from the trees. People like Neko Case, Jesus and Mary Chain's "Darklands" and The Bongo's "Numbers with Wings" EP for starters. Glorious, stormy fall music.
  • Christmas is coming.
  • We are heading out of town this weekend for Kevin's birthday. McMenamin's Grand Lodge here we come. I am taking two days off of work so I can get the studying done that I need to.
  • Ken Griffey, Jr. is coming back for one more year.

Happy early weekend to all.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

If Only I Believed in Hell...

This is my last school related rant. I swear.

There is an Oscar Wilde quote that goes something like: "Other people are quite dreadful. The only possible society is oneself." While I don't necessarily agree with that statement, there are times when I agree a little too much. There are times, Lord knows, there are times. Let's take last week for example.

Last week we had our first group paper and presentation due in my Strategic Management class. In addition to writing one of the five sections, I agreed to proofread, edit and format the dang thing and one of the other group members would work on the slides for our presentation. Both items were due Thursday at 3:00. I got three people's "final revisions" at 8:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and 9:50 p.m. THE NIGHT BEFORE. Not only did I not get these in what I consider to be a timely fashion, two of the three sections were riddled with spelling and grammar errors and one had no citations at all. Some of the errors were even caught by spellcheck and were underlined in red but the person was too damn lazy to even correct those. That is how little they proofread their own work. I didn't expect to have to be going through these things fixing large blatant errors at the very last minute. I was up until 1:00 a.m. and finally just had to give in and go to bed since I had to be up at 6:00.

The presentation? Yeah, I didn't see rough copies of the slides until 10:30 THE NIGHT BEFORE the presentation. I would rather have more chunks taken out of my boobs then do a presentation anyway and this just made it oh so much better. Since I was up until 1:00 a.m. editing, formatting and cursing people I didn't get a chance to pull together notes on what I was supposed to say the next day. Luckily, I have a really understanding boss who let me punch out early, sit in my office with the door closed and work on what I was going to say so I didn't entirely embarrass myself.

In some ways I am envious of the people who clearly don't spend the time sweating things like deadlines, quality work or leaving your team members in the lurch. But then I realize that being an inconsiderate, self-absorbed, douche nozzle isn't really something I'm interested in becoming.

Four more weeks and one more group paper with these people. Guess who won't be volunteering to pull together the paper?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Deluxe Apartment In the Sky

When he knew the cats and I would be moving in Kevin decided that he must build a cat cando/cat tree for the wee beasts. He worked and slaved for many, many hours in the garage to create this beauty. It is gorgeous and solidly built.
I actually had to talk him down from making it a foot taller. Good thing otherwise Jackie would be scrunched against the ceiling.
Jackie, as you can see from this photo, LOVES her new toy. She is perched up in one of the top two boxes/beds almost all the time. The condo is positioned so she can also sit on it and look out the window at the bird feeder in the back yard. She is one happy kitty.
Ollie, on the other hand, has no actual use for it. He has scratched on it twice and that is about it. I think that is another reason she likes it so much; it is an "Ollie Free Zone."

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Boob, The Beast and The Brain

I hate to turn on the pity party but I feel the need to tell everyone about my 10 days of stress. Sit back, grab a cup of tea, this may take awhile. I would call it my "worst week ever" but since there was no death, dismemberment or permanent damage other than to my GPA I will just call it "extra super sucky week". Let me begin...

The Boob: Hello interwebs, let's talk about my boobs. Back in late August I discovered a rather large lump in my breast. Now, contrary to logical thought I didn't actually worry about this because I had had benign lumps before and I figured it was the same thing. However, I did go and get it checked out: physician visit, mammogram and ultrasound. On the mammogram they found a second one I didn't know about. Wheee! So, in for my biopsy on the 7th (begin icky week now).

Now I was fine with this whole thing because I really didn't think it was anything and if it was then worrying wasn't going to solve the problem. But on biopsy day I started to get a little freaked out. First of all, biopsy is a horrible word. No happy images come with biopsy. Nobody ever biopsies oh, I don't know, something like a cupcake. So I am getting worked up and start playing the "what if" game. The procedure itself is un-fun. It was a core needle biopsy and they took six samples with the biopsy gun. I went back to work in kind of a daze and was completely unable to focus on anything when I went home. I really just wanted to go curl up somewhere and be alone. At this point the worrying kicked into overdrive. I had every cliched cancer scare reaction in the book. I was driving myself crazy playing the "what if" game which is never productive but I think is kind of inevitable in situations like this. I tried to shove it out of my mind but for the next two days it hung over me like an anvil. In addition to the thoughts of my own mortality it was thoughts of what treatment would be like and what I would miss out on in my life if I had to go through that. I dreaded a bad result of the test not just for me but for my family, who are already going through quite enough, and Kevin, who lost his mother to breast cancer when he was a teenager. I didn't want to put myself or anyone else through that illness. And also my poor boob looked like Mike Tyson (the old one, not the kinder, gentler new one) had used it for a punching bag. A very tiny punching bag.

Friday I got the preliminary results that one was a fibroadenoma, which is what I had before and is totally harmless. The other was either a fibroadenoma or a phyllodes tumor, they can't tell without removing it. The nurse mentioned the results didn't indicate a cancer on this tumor but my brain didn't hear 100% certainty so my worry wasn't entirely assuaged. The internet and the crazy things you can find about any medical condition didn't help either.

The next week I read the pathologist's report and that made me feel better that it was truly only a benign tumor. Friday I had the appointment with the surgeon who told me I could wait until school was done to have them removed. Hooray! Even though I knew it would only be a day surgery I really don't have time for even that right now. Knowing that it is truly benign and that I don't have to try to fit a surgery into my life right now was a major relief. I felt about 50 lbs. lighter walking out the door. I can't imagine how people must feel when the test results go the other way. They must be very brave, strong people and I hope to never know exactly how they feel.

The Beast: Thursday, still feeling weird and overly focused on whatever might be growing inside of me possibly ready to kill me, I get home from school at night and Ollie is nowhere to be found. I finally track him down upstairs and there is obviously something wrong with my kitty. He isn't moving much and when he does it is only for a few feet and then he lies down again. He is walking funny and almost seems like he is limping a little bit. He looks glassy-eyed and dazed. I keep my eye on him and see how he is doing and then around midnight he crawls under the bed to hide. This is not a cat that EVER hides so this is clearly a bad sign. Off to the emergency vet we go. The vet finds nothing wrong with him even though he is clearly not right and we take him home and fall asleep about 3:00 a.m.

After worrying about him more Friday night we got up early Saturday morning and went back to the vet because he was no better and appeared to even be limping more. I postponed my weekend trip with my mother by a few hours to take Ollie in for his checkup where they decided to keep him for a few hours and perform some x-rays and tests. My dear Kevin was good enough to pick him up later in the day and I knew he would be watching him all weekend for me. At this point we thought he might have hurt his leg in a fall but didn't suspect much more.

The x-rays showed no damage but they did show a huge amount of poop inside my kitty. Here is the picture for your viewing pleasure. The little lumps in the intestine? Poo. He has lovely femurs though don't you think?
They performed an enema, did blood work, gave him antibiotics for a slight fever he had and sent him home. No change in the way he was acting at all. By the time I got home Monday afternoon he was still the same. Fretting about my kitty who laid around looking visibly ill while trying to complete schoolwork was difficult to say the least. Thinking he might have some sort of infection we waited for the antibiotics to do their thing.

Tuesday came and I noticed he was the same except now he wasn't eating. Those of you who know Oliver know this cat loves his chow so this was a very, very bad sign. Wednesday he still wasn't eating and I rushed home from work to take him to another vet appointment. They decided to keep him in kitty ICU overnight where they catheterize him to get a urine sample, give him IV hydration because he is dehydrated, more blood work and monitor him to see how he is doing. We bring him home Thursday night after school and he actually seems better. Still walking gingerly, still not quite himself , but better.

We were afraid to not follow through with the visit to the specialist the next day that my vet recommended because we didn't know if he was still suffering from whatever ailed him or if it popped back up we didn't want to put him in an acute sort of situation. So Friday morning it was a 37 mile drive to the specialist for an ultrasound, neurology consult and more work-up while working this around my surgical consult.

The upshot of all of this is: my baby beast is better and I am $1800 poorer. We knew Ollie had turned the corner when he stopped the hiding behavior, started eating, started grooming himself again and began to have inappropriate relations with his cat toys. Whatever was wrong with him appears to be gone (knock wood) for which we are EXTREMELY grateful but I still would have liked to have a diagnosis.

Watching him acting so unusual and knowing he was very sick was heart wrenching to me. I have had Ollie for over 13 years; 1/3 of my life. Thinking the worst and that he might be gone soon ripped my heart out. I know I don't have many more years left with him but I can't bear the thought of losing him yet. I know I am a slightly neurotic cat-owner but he was sick and scared me a lot.

The Brain: With those two emotional, stressful, mind-screwing activities going on simultaneously it was very difficult to focus on my studies. Damn near impossible to be honest. I also should have said "no" to the planned trip to the ocean with my mother but she really needed to get away and can't drive to the ocean on her own. Besides, in my "what if it is cancer" mindset I asked myself what was more important and time with my mother and doing something nice for her won out hands down. Sorry school, you just don't rate.

I brought my homework with me and spent the majority of the waking hours there on homework. I, however, didn't factor in the travel time or time spent eating out which greatly cut into my studying. I also failed to realize how much research the paper I had due Thursday would take and without an Internet connection or laptop I was hosed. I scrambled when I got back home and put in long hours to turn in a paper I am humiliated by. I don't even want to make eye contact with the instructor when we get it back tomorrow. It is that bad. I was so consumed trying to do this stupid paper that I failed to study for my exam in the other class and got what I believe to be my very first "D". Yes, that is correct. A "D". On an exam that is worth 20 percent of my grade. I am now pulling a "C" in that class. I have only received a "C" once in my life and that was 9th grade art because I spent the whole semester screwing around and didn't turn anything in until the last minute. I am not that kind of student but last week school was the least of my concerns.

I know I said I would make this quarter my bitch but I didn't factor in that in order to do that you actually have to care. My summa cum laude dreams might die this quarter and I don't even give a damn. As an astute fellow student once pointed out: C=Degree.

Oh, and on Thursday night I found out that my Dad was admitted to the hospital where he spent the next four nights recovering from some sort of infection. He is doing better now and is at home. How is that for a capper on the week? This week though? Much, much better.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Crush

Two weekends ago Kevin and I went to the third of our Adopt-A-Vine events: Crush!!! It was a beautiful fall day in Wenatchee and we were lucky enough to spend part of it really seeing how wine is made and, of course, partaking of a little as well.

Here we are punching down some merlot that is fermenting. The grapes stay in these tubs for about two weeks and are punched down every twelve hours to make sure the skins stay wet and can color and flavor the wine properly.


They were unloading some cabernet sauvignon and running it through the de-stemming machine while we were there. I love the de-stemming machine. Grapes go up on a conveyor belt and stems come spitting out the end and tasty grapes drop out of the middle. I was surprised at how sweet and good the grapes actually tasted. I somehow figured wine grapes wouldn't be good for eating but the cabernet sauvignon were these sweet little grapes.



We also got to try some chardonnay juice. It was being pressed in a different machine because you don't need to run them through the de-stemmer. Even though chardonnay is my least favorite wine the actual juice was good.

Of course what would crush be without stompin' on some grapes. So stomp we did. This was something that everyone should put on their life list because it was just too much fun. The bins got very slippery towards the end of our stomping time and the grapes were cold but it was great fun. Our team didn't win but we gave it the good old college try.


The people who run the Adopt-A-Vine program and the winery are fabulous and they had a great snack spread and let us have glasses of a beautiful '07 red blend right out of the tank that they will be bottling soon.

Oh, and don't worry. The grapes that touch the feet were grapes they brought in that weren't good enough for wine and no wine will actually be made from them.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Summer Reading List

One of the things I miss the most while I am in school is reading for pleasure. After spring quarter was finished I attacked books voraciously. I was starved for anything that was actually interesting to read and that nobody would test me on later. I kept a list and here is what I managed to finish this summer. It started off really well but stalled out around the time that I moved.

"My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom and Insights of a Road Racing Icon" by Bart Yasso.
Quick read. The best parts were excerpted in "Runner's World".

"When You Are Engulfed in Flames" by David Sedaris
Can't go wrong with David Sedaris. Laugh out loud funny as usual.

"Slam" by Nick Hornby
Not his best work. I agree with my friend Mike that trying to come off as a sixteen year-old doesn't work for him.

"Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell
One of my new favorite books. Witty and interesting whether you are a history dork or not.

"Take The Cannoli" by Sarah Vowell
Not as good as "Assassination Vacation" but still pretty fabulous. There is no one quite like Sarah Vowell.

"Bowerman and the Men of Oregon" by Kenny Moore
Truthfully, I started this last year and got bogged down in school and didn't have time to finish it but I did this year. Interesting story of the famous running coach, his proteges, and Nike's co-founding. I got it signed by the author, an American distance running legened, at the Eugene Marathon expo in 2008.

"Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World" by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
Every library should have a cat. I always approach books like this with trepidation because you know the animal is going to die at the end. I held it together much better than I did with the Norton books.

"Running for Mortals" by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield
John "The Penguin" Bingham is always good for running inspiration whether you are a newbie or have been doing it for awhile. Waddle on!

"The Partly Cloudy Patriot" by Sarah Vowell
OK, it clearly became the summer of Sarah but you could do a heck of a lot worse than that. Another one I highly recommend.

"Valley of the Dolls" by Jacqueline Susann
Trashtastic. I think I would have enjoyed it more though if I knew beforehand that the three main characters were modeled after Marilyn Monroe, Liza Minelli and Grace Kelly.

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver
Got me thinking far too much and far too seriously about produce. The premise of eating nothing but locally grown food and things you grow and raise for an entire year is a little nuts to me. It would be the year without a Diet Coke and that is a year of sadness and tears. However, we are probably going to try and grow more vegetables next year and are looking into joining a CSA.

"The Dew Breakers" by Edwidge Danticat
I have been wanting to read a book of hers every since I stumbled on her name years ago. She has one of those names that is just fun to walk around the house and say; like "Nomar Garciaparra" or "Peter van den Hoogenband". The book was disappointing though. She is also the first Haitan author I ever read.

"Drink, Play, F#@k" by Andrew Gottlieb
The man's answer to "Eat, Pray, Love". Hilarious parody of the very chick centered book (that I admit that I enjoyed).

I hope everyone enjoyed their summer reading. I have many more interesting titles sitting on the shelf waiting for the textbooks to be finished. I think I am going to spend all of January reading books after I get home from work. I can't wait.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Second Thought...

After two beautiful nights of long, deep sleep and two days of not leaving the house other than to go for runs I have calmed down my panic for the quarter.

Yes, between work, school, commute and homework I am looking at an 80 hour week. However, people do that all the time for their jobs. Drunken, sour, miserable people but they do it nonetheless. I can surely do that for 10 weeks. The hard work part, not the drunken miserable part.

With my new rest-induced take on this whole thing I have decided this: I am going to make this quarter my bitch.

All I have to do is be hyper-organized. All clothes washed, ironed and put away over the weekend and laid out the night before so I can find them in the morning. Healthy lunches packed the night before and put in the fridge. Getting all the required reading done for the week done on the weekend prior and all appropriate lecture notes and slides printed out and put in binders ahead of time. Paying close attention to my schedule so I know when I have events scheduled and need to front load my studying. Putting no other social things on the calendar other than what is already there and can't be moved. Getting to bed at a decent hour so I am not sleep deprived and can continue to feel positive and energetic. Going out for runs a few days a week to keep my body moving and clear my mind.

The best boyfriend in the world has also offered to take on a disproportionally larger share of household chores, shopping, and cooking while I finish school. As much as I appreciate that offer I feel weird about accepting it. I hate inequality and feeling like I am not pulling my own weight. I truly appreciate him recognizing the challenges of the next weeks and for wanting to help out and be as supportive as possible. We'll see if I change my mind about the help as I get deeper into the quarter.

Back to the books!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Does Not Bode Well

I don't think it is a good sign when you come home from the first day of the quarter and you burst into tears when your boyfriend asks you how it went.

These classes seem like the kind that will actually require the recommended two hours of study time for each hour spent in class. I fear it might actually end up being more than that. Where, exactly, can I carve out 20 extra hours a week when I have already added 8-10 extra hours a week in commute? And that is before I added the longer school commute. My commute on school days involves 85 miles of driving.

This will all seem better after catching up on some sleep this weekend. Then it is time to nut up, hunker down and grind through this. I can do this for ten weeks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Good gravy. The last four weeks have been insane and I have barely had time to catch my breath let alone write blog posts about what I have been up to other than embarrassing myself in the running arena. So begins the rundown for the last four weeks of summer.
Since it was so long ago I will be brief. We went to Vegas for four days in August to help a friend celebrate her 50th birthday. Wonderful people, wonderful food, good times. On this, my fourth trip to Vegas, I finally got to check "see a show" off my list when we went to see "KA". Well worth the money; really fabulous. I still have not achieved my other Vegas goal of receiving my free drink while gambling but then again I don't spend a ton of time actually gambling so there might be a correlation. Kevin and his friends did try their hands at the craps table and learned how to play the game and, in one friend's case, actually walk away with some decent cash.

We didn't get the nice, hot weather we wanted for lounging around the pool. In fact, they actually closed the pool on the day we had the cabana because it was raining. Sure sign you aren't in Seattle anymore. Even without the sunshine and hot temps we had a good time.

I have decided that I am going to make these guys my posse; my entourage if you will. Somehow I feel so much thinner when I am next to them.
When we got back that Monday night it was off to a Mariner's game and then two nights of shopping and trip planning until the wee hours. Thursday I continued the gambling theme for the week by taking my annual trip to the horse races with my friend Todd. I actually came out ahead on this trip and won a bet in every race but the last one.

Friday night was more wee hour packing for our early morning road trip departure. We wisely gave away our baseball tickets for the night so we could take care of all the last minute chores and tasks that are necessary when you are planning a week long road trip with six nights of camping.

Exhausted and over-scheduled, we headed out early Saturday morning. Stay tuned for tales from the road.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Iron Girl 10K Race Report

Meh. I am a Tin Foil girl at best.

Blah, blah...under trained..blah, blah...slow...,blah, blah...personal worst...blah, blah...seven minutes slower than when I ran this race three years ago..blah, blah...regression...blah, blah...no motivation..blah, blah...fat..blah, blah...sucked.

I am even more tired of hearing it then anyone else is. Time to step back and figure out what my problem is and why I can't get my shit together. I already have a pretty good idea what my problems are and how I am going to fix them.

On a positive note, Amber smashed her 10K PR and it was fun to have someone to hang out with ahead of time. All of my running friends are guys so I would have been running this one alone if she hadn't decided to sign up. Bonus (I think): I got a way too girly women's tech tee and an Aflac duck out of the experience.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Absence

It has been a whirlwind two and a half weeks and I realized I have neglected my little blog. Stay tuned for tales from four days in Las Vegas, baseball games, horse racing, eight day 3500 mile road trips, bison, national parks and the best dang Dave Alvin concert ever.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bits, Pieces and Observations

  • Sheep, both the word and the animal, are inherently humorous.
  • The "Mahna Mahna" song might be the biggest ear-worm song ever. We saw the Jim Henson exhibit at EMP last Thursday and for days after I couldn't stop Mahna Mahna-ing.
  • I am out of hiking shape. Kevin and I went to Cougar Mountain and did about seven miles with a few hilly spots and I sucked on the hills. Just like running my hiking mantra will be "more hills".
  • When hiking, the sports bra is almost as important as in running if you want to avoid unpleasant underboob chafing. You know, as opposed to the pleasant kind of underboob chafing. Ouch.
  • I miss hiking and vow to go more often.
  • I am far too interested in the digestive system.
  • The Eastside has a greater proportion of douchebag drivers than anywhere else in this region. I can't count how many times already I have had the alpha-male wannabes almost drive up my ass on the roads around here. Look guys, stop compensating for being hung like a brine shrimp and being as flaccid as month-old celery. You are not impressing anyone with your BMW and your overly aggressive driving. Oooh...you went really fast and passed one whole car. You will now arrive at your destination mere seconds before anyone else. I can't imagine how it feels to be so important. Asshats.
  • There are few things better than summer fruits.
  • Nectarines, already a fabulous fruit, are even better when basted with honey, roasted on the grill and filled with whipped cream. Mmmmm...happy.
  • Why is running six miles one day so easy and then you can barely eke out three the next?
  • Saturday was my 20 year high-school reunion. I didn't go, but for some reason I almost felt like I should. Like somehow there was this shared cultural moment that I would miss out on and my life would forever have this tiny void in it. Sunday came and just as I suspected...no void. High school wasn't a horrible experience; in fact it really wasn't bad. It just seemed silly to make idle chit-chat with people I haven't seen in 20 years and wouldn't see for at least another 10. The idea of it all seemed phony and forced. Besides, we had such a huge graduation class that when I looked at the list of classmates I, honest to God, didn't recognize over half the names and some of the ones I did were merely names I know I had heard but couldn't put a face or any memory too. We went to a friend's chili cook-off and casino night instead and had a good time.
  • I am desperately trying to stay out of the cellar in my fantasy baseball league. To think I won this thing two years ago.
  • Kermit the Frog makes everyone happy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Moving

For those of you who don't know yet, I moved on August 1 to the dreaded Eastside. While I am excited about the next phase of my relationship with Kevin I am not so excited about not living in Seattle or the commute that blossomed from five blocks to 30 miles.

Determined to enjoy the new neighborhood I took a break from unpacking and overwhelming chaos on Monday to go for a run and find some routes. Having a regular route will help me feel more at home. There is a nice little pond nearby with a mile and 1/4 trail around it that I ran around. It is woodsy and smelled amazing on a sunny day. Not Green Lake but it will be a nice local run at least until the trail turns into mud. Kevin and I also went to a concert in the park series on Thursday at a local park he didn't even know existed. Afterwards we went to the local Mexican restaurant that I used to go to all the time for lunch when I worked nearby and we were serenaded by mariachi music. I LOVE mariachi music even though I couldn't begin to tell you the name of any song so the band played something sad per my request. Sad music is the best. Friday night was dinner and drinks with friends in Bellevue. Overall, the first week of adapting to the Eastside went well.

Overall, the move has been good so far. The cats are enjoying their new space and two big pink people around to feed and pet them instead of just one. They were quite freaked out at first and there was much hiding behind toilets and under beds but by about the third day everyone was back to normal. The boxes are mostly unpacked but there are still some challenges to squeezing in two households worth of stuff into one place. Slowly but surely we are coming along with it.

Even with all the moving chaos I managed to squeeze in 17 miles and a yoga class last week. That is my highest mileage week in a long time. Maybe the avoiding the commute thing will end up being beneficial to my fitness.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Torchlight Run Race Report

I've discovered the secret to a good race: lower your expectations. I did just that and ended up being pleased with my Torchlight Run this year.


I love the heat but hate to run in it. I overheat quickly and every run feels like a slow slog through sludge when it is hot out. With these conditions in the weeks leading up to Torchlight I was concerned about how I would do come race night. I was worried I couldn't maintain a strong pace and would wilt in the heat of race day. Turns out all that worry was for naught; I did better than I expected. It was actually a personal worst for that course and distance but I was still pleased with my time.


Race day was hot and muggy; about 84 degrees at race time. Todd, Matt, Mike and Amber were running too which made it more fun knowing there were friends out there suffering along with me. The sun was hidden behind clouds so it didn't feel quite as hot as when it is blazing down on you. I fully expected to have to take walk breaks on this race but I felt strong throughout and only walked briefly at the water stations to make sure I drank properly. One cup of water in me and one on me was my game plan that night. The water over my head worked wonders too. Once again, the smell of the Hostess bakery made me sick to my stomach. Funny how something that normally would smell so yummy can make you want to puke when you are running.

Here are the splits:

Mile 1 10:26
Mile 2 10:53
Mile 3 9:47
The tunnel had to have messed with my mile 3 pace. There was no way I was holding that pace during that mile.
Mile 4 11:43 (WTF happened here?)
Mile 5 9:52 There was a nice downhill section here coupled with the fact I knew I was getting close to the finish line and would make it just fine this year probably lead to a faster time.

And, *sigh*, I actually ran an extra .26 miles at a 9:27 pace which, had the race been a 5.26 mile race would have lowered my overall pace to 10:29. Sadly, the course is only a 5 mile course which means my overall official pace was 11:02. Drat! I purposely tried to run the race mindful of not adding extra distance but I am quite clearly incapable of doing this. It happens every time out. I would blame my Garmin but when my brother borrowed it for a race last year it measured the exact distance so I know it is all me.


They changed the end of the course a little bit this year so it was hard to know when to kick. You turned around a corner and then the finish line was right on top of you. Other than that and the grand total of 18 port-a-potties at the start line the race was great as usual. It is such a kick to run down 4th Avenue with 100,000 people lining the street watching the race. OK, they are waiting for the parade to start so they are a bored and captive audience but it is still a great experience.


A good time was had by all even if not everybody was happy with their times. Hats off to Mike for running almost two miles more than he has ever done before and finishing the race looking strong. Not sure it is usually advisable to almost double the longest distance you have trained at for the first time on race day but it was gutsy and it worked for him. Yay Mike! After cleaning the stink of five miles off of us, the five of us headed out to the glorious 74th St. Ale House for tasty grub.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Too Hot to Blog

I'm still out here with lots of actual stuff to blog about: race report, nearly attacked by a cat on my run Monday night, the joy of ice cubes, packing, moving, etc. However, with temps in my apartment the last two nights at 95 degrees (85 by 7:30 in the morning) I worry about my little computer overheating. The fan kicks into loud continuous overdrive with temperatures much less than the ones it is experiencing now and I don't want to risk damaging the darn thing. Aiming the box fan at the CPU seems to help, at least I can't hear the computer fan angrily whine because the box fan is so loud, but that also means the fan isn't pointed at me and that is just wrong. And, really, by the time it has "cooled down" to 91 at midnight and I am starting to feel marginally more awake my brain is far too tired to craft sentences.

I promise interesting posts to come after our little heat wave is over and I have finished with my move this weekend.

Stay cool...this is still better than cold and snowy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

At the Zoo

I am off on vacation this week and am spending it reading, sitting in the sun, packing and organizing, running and various other not very exciting but very relaxing stuff. I did actually do something marginally noteworthy today; I went to the zoo.

The rest of this post should contain pictures of (my favorites) the penguins in their beautiful new exhibit. It should also have pictures of the grizzly as close as I have ever seen him outside of the viewing window. There should also be video of a tree shrew running down to the end of a branch and then doing a back flip about two feet behind him to land on another branch; over and over and over and over. Quite fascinating and a little sad. Poor little guy needs some head shrinking and a Valium.

There should be all of these but my Nikon is possessed and instead of those photos there are seven photos from the Pigs on Parade swine hunt Kevin and I went on in 2007(!) and a random lost photo from last summer. The photos were definitely there earlier and now they are not so you will just have to take my word for how great the zoo was today.

If you will excuse me I need to find some holy water to sprinkle on my camera. Does Diet Coke count?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Four Days of Fun

What do you get when you cross cute cat pictures, silly captions and America's pastime? You get "I Can Has Cheezburger" Night with the Seattle Mariners. Over 1000 cheez fans showed up for the game last Thursday night and cheered on the Mariners to a victory over the Texas Rangers. Being fans of both LOLcats and baseball, Todd and I knew this was a "must attend" event for us.

Here I am embracing the theme by wearing my Cheezburger t-shirt while eating a cheeseburger on Cheezburger Night.
Here is Todd willfully ignoring the theme by wearing a University of Minnesota shirt while eating chili-cheese fries on Cheezburger Night.


On Saturday, Kevin and I attended the second of our Adopt-A-Vine events at Chateau Fair le Pont winery. This session was all about blending and was educational, fun and, using proper wine lingo, yummy. Each table got three bottles of wine made from pure varietals: cabernet sauvignon, nebbiolo and merlot. We also got beakers, pipette and Erlenmeyer flasks to play wine scientists. The whole point of this was to play around with percentages of wine and make a tasty blend.

We were all amazed at how adding 2% more of one varietal and dropping another varietal 2% could change the flavor of the wine so dramatically. I think we tried probably eight different combinations before we came up with the blend our group liked the best.

While we were at the winery we visited the vines we "adopted" and pruned in April to see how they were doing. Here is Kevin with Sarah (pronounced like Syrah .. she is a pretentious vine, you know)

Here I am with Matilda. Who do you think is winning the "my vine will totally kick your vine's ass" competition?

Later that night Kevin surprised me with tickets to see Leavenworth Summer Theater's outdoor production of "The Sound of Music". He had no idea I had been wanting to see this for years now. He just thought it sounded like something we would both really enjoy. What a wonderful boyfriend I have.

This is the view from the seats.
You couldn't ask for a more perfect location for this play than in the hills in Leavenworth. Maria even came down from the woods on the hill next to the stage singing the theme song. I didn't grow up with the movie; in fact I didn't even see it until about five years ago, but the music is something that has become such a huge part of our cultural landscape that I could almost sing along with every song. A wonderful end to a beautiful summer day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Personal Worst (Almost)

Friday night I had my second go-round with the Firecracker 5000. It has confirmed my suspicions that I am actually getting slower and weaker. I actually recorded my second personal worst for a 5K. Aside from that fact, I still had a really good time.

Mike and Amber decided to run this one too and it was fun to have people to run a race with. This race is at midnight on the Fourth of July on the streets around Seattle Center. Running with the beautiful lit up Space Needle as your backdrop is a beautiful thing. I remembered the course being pretty and I remembered it being good fun to run around the streets at midnight. What I forgot was that there were some nasty hills in it. I remembered the first and most major hill but it was much easier last year. Running this race has renewed my commitment to training on hills. In fact, last night I finally made it up the long, challenging hill near my house without having to stop. Progress is being made.

The splits weren't so bad except for the fact that I ran an additional .13 miles that pushed my pace down even further. The splits:

Mile 1 10:18
Mile 2 10:46
Mile 3 10:30
Mile .23 8:37

I love my Garmin. I can now quantify exactly how much I suck. I have official data. Anyway, the official results for a 3.1 mile course was 33:36 which is a 10:49 pace. Garmin recorded a pace of 10:23 for 3.23 miles. I like Garmin's numbers better.

On the bright side, we got really cool race shirts. Part of them glow in the dark. Here we are; "mooning" in our shirts the next night.

The other good part about running such a piss-poor race is that there is no where to go from here but up. Well . . . I guess there is always down too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Resolution Update

We are at the half-way point for the year so it is time to look back on the New Year's Resolutions and check my progress.

Running Goals:
1. 5k PR - Not yet. Not even close. Still hopeful though.
2. Run a total of 650 miles - 203.13 down so far. With more free time this summer I think I can get this back on track.
3. Run a half-marathon without walk breaks - No. Not sure I am going to get this one. I am focusing on building a stronger base and speed for shorter distances right now. I haven't ruled out another half this year yet but it is looking bleak.

Health Goals
1. Get down to the weight listed on my driver's license - I have only lost six pounds; 28 more to go. Forty-two more to ultimate goal weight. I need to go drink and cry now.
2. Have all scheduled preventive services. - I had my first dental cleaning but still need to schedule the girly check-up, eye exam and one more dental cleaning.

Personal Goals
1. Visit one place in state I have never been to before - Done. Went to Friday Harbor yesterday.
2. Visit one place out of state I have never been to before - Done. Napa Valley.
3. Pay off half of my debt - Close to half of the goal right now so this looks good. Mind you this isn't counting student loan debt. I am not even thinking about that right now.
4. Get my bachelor's degree - Two classes left. One quarter to go. This was always the easiest on the list and barring any really weird circumstances this is a lock.

I clearly need to get my running in order and get more serious about the finances.

How are your resolutions or goals going for the year?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Favorite Sign

I have been busy lately but not feeling wordy so in the interest of having something to post I give you this sign:

They finally took this sign down at work a few months ago. It used to make me smile every time I saw it. Smile and then shake my head at how ridiculous it made us look.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Getting Better All the Time

Today was the first day in a week that I didn't either:

A) spend the day on the couch; or
B) spend the day wishing I could stop whatever it was I was doing so I could spend it on the couch.

Whatever this flu/cold/sickness thing was got me pretty good. I am still coughing today but I am much improved from a few days ago. I even managed to go out for a three-mile run tonight. I did two, sat and had a coughing fit, watched a mama duck and her nine ducklings and then ran the one more mile. Other than the fact that I was the only runner out there that sounded like she had a two-pack a day smoker's cough it went pretty well. Onward with the training!

The Pillow Fight

I recently finished "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell which is a book about her road trips to the sights associated with the first three American presidential assassinations: Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley if you don't remember (I sure didn't). Funny and fascinating, Sarah Vowell brings her inimitable voice to American history that is a joy for people like me who enjoy American history and, at the very least, a good read for those who don't really give a rip about it. Wonderful book; go pick it up.


But the book itself isn't what I wanted to write about. It is one particular paragraph towards the end that talks about how most famous American victims of assassination had a good day the day that they were killed (excepting JFK). She mentions that Booth timed his shot so that it would coincide with a funny line in the play. Lincoln's last conscious thought was a laugh. Bobby Kennedy spent the day at the beach in Malibu with his family at the home of the director of The Manchurian Candidate. McKinley spent the day sightseeing with his wife at Niagra Falls.


The one that got to me though was Martin Luther King Jr. The very day MLK Jr. was shot he and his brother and some of their friends had gotten into a pillow fight in the Lorraine Motel. When I read this line I pictured the scene exactly the way Sarah Vowell said she always pictures it: black and white, slow-motion, handsome men in shirts and ties laughing and enjoying life. Something about this is so achingly simple and beautiful while at the same time gut-wrenchingly sad. A regular guy blowing off steam from what must have felt like the true weight of the world on his shoulders only to be gunned down a short while later. The image of these men and this pillow fight actually brought tears to my eyes. I don't know why this moved me so much.


History tends to deify the assassinated and dehumanize them at the same time. After awhile you only think of the powerful speeches or their place in the broader scope of history. We tend to forget about the real people beyond the mythologized personalities. This paragraph broke down that myth for a brief moment.


I don't know if I will ever be able to think of Martin Luther King, Jr. again without this image coming to mind. I kind of like that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sick Days

Well, I thought the yoga class really busted my behind. I woke up Monday morning with sore hamstrings but they were the good kind of sore muscles that signify a good workout. No problem there. By that night the soreness had spread to my whole legs and had become more of a sharp ache. By the time my upper body got into the act and my whole body ached I finally figured out ('cause sometimes I am not so bright) that it wasn't residual muscle soreness from Gumbifying myself but rather a lovely virus. My first week of scholastic freedom and I get the flu.

So, the last two days have been spent at home sleeping, coughing, sweating and being thankful this didn't happen before finals.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Stretchy

I finally broke down and went to a yoga class on Sunday. I had been thinking about this for awhile and now that school is done for the summer the time seemed right. Running really tightens up the muscles and I have started to have some problems from this tightness and lack of flexibility. Besides, seeing what happens when people don't work on their flexibility and balance as they age it seemed prudent to jump on it early before I actually become old and decrepit.

The session was two hours of learning some basic poses and I kind of enjoyed it. I am one of those people who has no sense what their body is doing so I really need an instructor to point out the correct body alignment. I can be curled like a question mark and think I am in a perfectly straight line.

There was a wee bit of the hippy-dippy "find your heart center" "inner eye" "one with the universe" crap but if you put aside the words the act of finding a little bit of calm and mindfulness probably isn't such a bad idea. I tried to clear my mind and focus but it is a little hard to do at first when you are overly concerned with not falling over or trying to hold a pose. Not helping matters was the fact that I was starving so the last hour of the class all I kept thinking about was what I wanted to eat. That and I kept cursing my choice of a super high-fiber breakfast cereal. Perhaps I have found my yoga mantra: "Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger. Don't fart."

The plan for the summer is: one yoga class a week and then practice some poses at home so I can maintain some stretchiness.

One Foot In Front of the Other

Hooray! I actually managed to make it out to run four times last week for a grand mileage total of 14 miles. I can't remember the last time I got in four runs in one week. Even though none of the runs were particularly easy it still felt good to get out there and put in some miles to get some conditioning back. A few more weeks of that and continuing to do speedwork one day a week and I might actually see some improvement in my times.

The toughest part though is that I am trying to lose weight at the same time. To do this I am back to counting Weight Watcher points. However, if I stay in my points range I don't feel like I get quite enough fuel to put in the kind of workouts that I would like. If I put in enough fuel then I can't seem to stay in my points range. Maybe it will just take a little tweaking and once I get my body used to running more I won't feel so worn out and the fueling issue won't become so cumbersome. I know that if I lose the extra 40 pounds I am carrying around I can increase my speed and be more effective at distance. It is just taking me forever to make the scale move.

On the plus side (HA!) I can still register as a Clydesdale for the Firecracker 5000. Maybe the rest of the big girls will stay home this year.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Notes About Nothing

This was a blissful weekend of (almost) freedom. I got to feel like a real person again. Aside from a Mariner's game on Friday night with the boys I did pretty much nothing. I slept, I read books for fun, I watched "Sports Night" on DVD, I ran, I got a massage, I slept some more, a wee tiny bit of studying...it was great.

The weekend wasn't totally devoid of learning. I did learn that when your massage therapist tells you to take a deep breath it means she is going to cause you a fairly intense amount of pain. It is a good pain though and lordy are my hips and IT bands tight, tight, tight. Ow.

I also saw a man riding a bicycle at Greenlake with a large, fluffy cat perched on his shoulder. He didn't appear to be wearing body armor and wasn't visibly dripping blood. I am pretty sure I would be eviscerated before I even got a half-mile into my bike ride if I tried that with either of my cats.

I actually feel rested enough that the thought of work tomorrow doesn't make me want to cry. Hooray for sleep and relaxation!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Real College Student

I have almost made it through the quarter. Finals are next week and last week was the big push with a whole lot of work that needed to be done by Wednesday morning. I spent almost all of last weekend (sunny, beautiful, summer-like weekend) inside working on my project and finishing up all the last minute readings and assignments. I got everything done by Monday except one last assignment for my fraud class. I figured there was still time before it was due on Wednesday.

Kevin and I had tickets to see the Mariners play the Orioles on Tuesday night and I decided the responsible, mature thing to do would be to call him and tell him to find someone else to go because I wasn't done with my homework and studying. I also decided that I had had quite enough of responsible and mature and, dammit, I wasn't spending one more evening thinking about accounting when I could be at the ballpark having a good time. So I said, "to hell with school" and I blew off my studies and enjoyed a beautiful night at the ol' ballgame. It is the closest I have felt to being a real college student. Minus the binge drinking, hopeful optimism and perky boobs of course.

On a final school note, I have to keep reminding myself that I am not done yet and that I still have two finals on Wednesday. I have already checked out, packed up and shut the mental doors. I am not entirely joking when I say I am worried that I will simply forget to go to class on Wednesday. That is how done I already feel.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why You're Fat

Because the contents of your vegetable drawer look like this:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dear School,

I no longer find you charming and think we should reconsider our relationship. Just give me the damn piece of paper that says I have learned some shit and we can go our separate ways.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Careers In Air Guitar

I forgot the best part of the Gorge concert: rockin' ASL signers!

Throughout the entire show there were two women, taking turns, at the end of the stage who not only signed the words to the songs for all the deaf concertgoers (and can there really be that many?) but they also played air guitar, air drums and air keyboards during all the instrumental breaks. And not just a little tame air guitar...they were vigorous air guitar playing professionals. Their job seemed to consist more of rocking out then for helping the hearing impaired get the insightful lyrics to "China Grove. Well, one ASL girl was rocking out more than the other. The other one kind of looked like she was either Joe Cocker or she was having an epileptic fit; which is kind of the same thing I guess. I am sure there were some super-baked people in the audience who just thought they were either part of the band playing bizarre instruments or the world's least sexy go-go dancers.

The funniest thing though was that between the Allman Brothers and their almost wordless set filled with 15 minute rambling jams and The Dead with their many, many long instrumental breaks these women spent almost eight hours just playing imaginary instruments. No actually sign language involved. That might be either the coolest job in the world or it would make you feel like a world class tool.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Truckin' To the Gorge

I survived! Saturday was the Doobie Brothers/Allman Brothers/The Dead show at The Gorge that, being a fabulous girlfriend, I agreed to go to with Kevin. Kevin is a huge Dead fan so I knew this would be a big deal for him. Once I resigned myself to my fate I actually had a pretty dang good time.

The Doobie Brothers were kind of fun. I didn't realize just how many of their songs that I knew. The Allman Brothers were dull. Every song bled into another and they seemed to be going through the motions. Beer was $9 a can.

The Dead are truly talented musicians. The only problem I have with them is exactly what makes them special to their fans: extended jams. Long, long jams. Jams that last 15 minutes or more. I get bored and lose focus and the melody and rhythm of the song is completely lost. The worst part was something known as "Drums and Space" by the Deadheads. Kevin thought I would do alright for the rest of the show but he figured he would lose me here. He was correct. "Drums and Space" is apparently the highlight of every Dead show for the Deadheads. At every concert, there is a part where everyone leaves the stage except the two drummers who improvise some, actually pretty amazing, drumming. Then other members of the group come back one by one and proceed to noodle around and make random sounds that may or may not be music while the sound effects guy plays weird noises. Not horrible for a few minutes I guess but it goes on and on and on and on. I wanted to claw my eyes out. Other than that, I enjoyed their set. I didn't know one song they played except a cover of "Into the Mystic" but still had fun. The Dead apparently aren't the kind of band that plays greatest hits.

People watching was a blast. To quote Cary Grant: "Cliches are only cliches because they are true."

This show also exemplified reason number 24 to legalize marijuana. If it were legal then there could be a designated smoking area where all the pot smokers could go to light up and we wouldn't have to breathe it in and smell that rank smell for 8 1/2 hours. Of course, at this concert I don't know where they would put a third of the audience. I'll tell you though...the McDonald's food that we HAD TO HAVE at 2:00 a.m. on our way to the hotel was the best tasting McDonald's food ever.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rodents, Ritzenhein and ?

A few random things from Eugene weekend that I didn't get to put in my already too long post.

  • See that thing up there? We thought it was a beaver when we saw it sitting on the sidewalk on our way to dinner. Then it turned around and we saw its ginormous rat tail. This is a nutria. I have heard about them but have never seen one before. They are large aquatic rat-like critters that can grow to be about 20 lbs. I am pretty sure they had to be the inspiration for the R.O.U.S. in The Princess Bride. Kevin got this shot of our cute little friend the next day.

  • We got to hear two-time Olympian and Eugene local, Dathan Ritzenhein speak at the race expo. He is part of the bright young future of American distance running and it was pretty cool to get to see him. He just got back from the London marathon where he clocked a time of 2:09:59 and was deeply disappointed. I would be dancing in the street if that were my half-marathon time. He also mentioned he logs about 125-130 miles per week. At that point, that is about what I had logged for the year. *sigh*

  • Standing at the finish chute waiting for my brother to finish we were treated to numerous bloody nipple sightings by the marathoners. The most impressive one was a guy in a bright white shirt with the two most perfect, bright red, nickel sized circles on his chest with the large accompanying blood streaks down the front of the shirt. Much more impressive than any of the others. Then he passed us. On his back was another perfect bright red nickel sized circle with the same blood streak. Uh-huh...on his BACK. Third nipple? Large mole? Gunshot wound?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It Was 1989. That's My Excuse.

In honor of prom season, Pieces of Me threw out a challenge to everyone to post their prom pictures. To protect the innocent I cropped out the others in the photo. It is too bad because the whole picture is so dang cute.



A little background is in order. I graduated high school a semester early and didn't actually feel the need to go to my prom. I was done and out of there. However, my friend Gayle probably watched Pretty in Pink too many times and decided I needed to go to my prom or my life would be missing something. So, I went with Gayle as my date. I clearly didn't take this very seriously as is evidenced by my lack of fancy dress or hair. This was a cute (for 1989) stretchy cotton two piece tank dress with flouncy ruffled skirt that I think I picked up for about $10 on a clearance rack. For our prom dinner, Gayle and I went through the drive-thru of a McDonalds. Prom was at the Tacoma Dome and I don't really remember much about it. I remember someone throwing up in the bathroom and some dancing but not much else. Profoundly unmemorable but I am glad Gayle talked me into going because now I don't feel like I missed out on an "important" rite of passage. Our prom theme song was "Hold Onto the Night" by Richard Marx. Hated it then; still hate it. I wanted "Welcome to the Jungle".

The thing that is great about the rest of this photo is that it is the least prom-y picture I have ever seen. It is a group shot of six of us: me, Gayle (groovy floral dress she made), my friends Liane (dressy casual in rocking fuchsia tights and flats) and Dan (with big white cravat and flip-flops), our wonderful Spanish teacher who was chaperoning and we invited into the picture with us, and a friend who dressed as the Dread Pirate Roberts complete with a black head scarf and a real sword. I am pretty sure showing up to prom with a sword would not only get you kicked out of prom but probably expelled these days. He bore a striking resemblance to Cary Elwes so it kind of worked. The other thing I am proud of is that of all the people I went to high school with I still see Liane, Dan and Gayle and can count them as friends.

Post your prom pictures people!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eugene Half-Marathon Race Report

Forgive me Blogger, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last posting and there is a race report to give. Let's get to it. It's long but it has been two whole weeks. I have words backed up in me.

Race Day! Alarm goes off at 5:00. I am crabby. I had a horrible night's sleep. I saw every hour on the damn clock. I am too tired to even drink a Diet Coke and that is really saying something for me. We leave the hotel, drive downtown, get on the shuttle and get to the start line at 6:15. Lots of time to mill around and wake up a little while standing around in a light rain. I am having a hard time shaking the grumpy off. Kevin, being the great boyfriend that he is, got up with us at that ungodly hour to hang out, be our personal bag check guy, take race photos and cheer us on. It meant a lot to me that he went through all of that for me.

Me and the boys pre-race

This year the marathon had pace teams from Clif Bar there. I notice the balloons of the 5:00 hour pace team. Half of that, of course, would be a 2:30 half-marathon and I think to myself: "That's my time goal. I can't run with them but I can keep them in sight I will be fine. Don't lose sight of those balloons. That's my 12:00 minute pace right there." Last year I ran a 12:01 pace and the Galloway training run went so well there was a tiny thought in the back of my mind that I might actually be able to PR even with the lousy training. Keep in mind that it was early and I was tired. Thinking is not my strong suit under these conditions. Last year I almost put my mp3 player in the urinal of a port-a-potty because I thought they were providing us with cubby holes to put our belongings while we did our business. So I went out with the plan of keeping those balloons in sight and maybe still PR.

The uber-crabbiness won't quite leave until I get in the starting corral. The gun has gone off and I see the bobbing heads of people waaaaay ahead of me starting down the road. At that moment a big ol' grin appears on my face and I think "THIS is why I do this." Standing at the start line before a race is a thrill I haven't gotten over yet. I start the race happy.

Cold and wet waiting for the start

I have the Garmin set to the 3:1 run/walk ratio and I start that way right off the bat. I hate walking that early in a race but I know that if I want to finish remotely strong that this is what I will have to do. Run/walk, run/walk, run/walk. I have become a slave to the beeps coming from my wrist. Garmin says RUN; I run. Garmin says WALK; I walk. Garmin says JUMP; I say "Might as well jump" because I am old like that. The balloons are in sight but with each walk break they get a little further away. I reel them in a little on the runs but can't catch them. It doesn't feel like I am that slow. I think to myself that I can't be running more than a 12:00 minute pace right now but I must be because there go the balloons. By the four mile mark I reaffirm my earlier decision that I am not even going to look at the distance or pace on the Garmin and merely obey the beeps and enjoy the course.

The temps are perfect for running, about 48 degrees, a little mist on the course but no real rain. The miles start accumulating. The hip twinges every now and again but no real problems. At mile eight there is a scream-tunnel section packed with people screaming your name (it's on the bibs) and high-fiving you and generally making you feel like a rock star. Those few seconds really gave me a needed energy boost.

Mile 9

Run/walk, run/walk, run/walk...see Kevin at mile nine. He tells me I am doing great which I don't believe because my balloon people are long gone and can't he tell how slow I am going? He still makes me feel good and actually manages to take race pictures of me where I don't look like I am going to vomit. Good man.

Head across the beautiful Willamette River into Alton Baker park and enjoy some quiet peaceful miles. Quiet peaceful miles that I am starting to feel. The calves are tightening. The hip has become fairly painful about mile 9.5. I find myself wincing and changing my stride a little bit. My stomach is rumbling and I keep thinking about the pancake feed at the finish (thanks Krusteaz!) and how I would really like those pancakes now. Can't stop now. Across the Autzen footbridge and back to the U of O campus and the finish line. The Galloway method says that if you are feeling good you can throw off the run/walk the last mile or two and just run. I did not feel good. I ran/walked until about 1/3 of the mile before the finish line. Turned the corner near Hayward field and saw the FINISH sign in the distance. Once you become a runner the phrase "the finish line is in sight" takes on a whole, new, warm fuzzy feeling. There is so much energy from the crowd and other runners in the finish shoot, I kick with what I have (not much) and cross. Garmin says 2:38 with a 12:00 pace. Garmin also says 13.2 miles so I know the official pace will be more than that. The official pace is 12:06 per mile and a 2:38 chip time.

The finish chute

But how can that be, I ask myself? The balloons!? The 5:00 pace balloons left me in the dust. Something must be wrong. And then it occurred to me. A 5:00 hour pace is not 12:00 minute miles. In fact, it is slightly sub 11:30. I was doing math in my head while exhausted and possibly cost myself a PR. If I hadn't given up looking at the Garmin I would have known what my average pace was and maybe I could have sped up here or there on the course. Maybe I could have reeled in another 78 seconds to beat my last year's time. Truthfully, I didn't have much left in the tank at the finish so I don't know if I could have done it. But dammit, I think I could have.

When you factor in my whopping 7.5 mile a week average, I am pretty pleased with my time. I went out and did it and enjoyed the race. I got my medal, my pancakes and some good memories.

Todd and I reliving the race

More importantly, Todd and Matt had good races too. Todd had a PR (of course he never ran this distance; skipping ahead to the marathon a few years back) with a 1:51. He is the most naturally gifted runner I know. He definitely trains but if he got really serious about his training he would be so dang fast.

"Where is Matt? Shouldn't he be here by now?"

Cheering on the gimp

The big inspiration was my big bro. He had gone into this race with a goal of 3:45 which would have smashed his last year PR of 3:53. He was trained and ready to go. The PR was a slam-dunk; the time goal doable but a stretch goal. Kevin, Todd and I waited for him at the finish. 3:45 rolls around; no Matt. 3:53; no Matt. Uh-oh, something has gone wrong. Clock keeps ticking and then we spot him lurching and limping but still running with a grimace on his face to the finish. Just under 4:00 hours. Turns out his hamstring went wonky on him around mile eight and then got really bad around mile 13. But he persevered and finished in a time that most people would be giddy with. I don't know if a lot of people would soldier on for 18.2 more miles with a bad hamstring. I know he was disappointed with his performance. He trained ridiculously hard for four months for that morning. However, I hope time will show him that, in some ways, this was a greater victory than his other two marathons and he should be very proud of his time.

Once again, these guys put on a great race. They are so organized. Plenty of port-a-potties, plenty of water and Gatorade on the course, shuttles worked well, tasty finish line goodies, wonderful volunteer support. A well-run race in a beautiful little town. I am done with this distance for the time-being. It is too much for me to train properly for with everything else going on in my life right now. I am going to focus on building a stronger base and getting some speed in the shorter distances. I plan on toeing the line again for the half-marathon; just not sure when.