Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year In Review

Well, I don't want to start this post on a negative vibe but:  2010 can kiss my ass. 

This year has been a year of suck in a lot of ways.  Getting engaged was amazing and happy and I had a few good running moments but other than that, not so much.  Jumping almost straight from the craziness of a work/school double-life into a ramping up of my father's illness in February, his death, my mother's really bad illness and almost inability to function for a month prior to and after Dad's death making an already stressful situation almost unbearable, the defection of my sister at the same time Dad was dying leading to the family being chopped in half and dealing with the aftermath of it all really took a toll.  I didn't really realize all of that until just recently when I am starting to get some more distance and perspective of it all.  It's funny how you can still experience grief and anger when you don't even really miss the people.  Oh, and there's a little guilt for not really missing the people.  It is one of those things I didn't really understand until I had been through it.  Unfortunately it is something we all will know someday.  However, things feel thawed again and I feel like a lot of that turmoil and sadness is over.  I just want a drama free 2011.

But on to happier things, the goals from 2010.  I didn't hit as many as I wanted but I am glad they were out there because they kept me more focused than if they weren't.

The recap:
Running Goals
5K PR - Done!  At the Top Pot Doughnut Dash in April I ran a 29:14
Half-Marathon PR - Done!  The following week at Eugene I ran a 2:21:56 which killed my previous PR.
Run at least 650 miles - Fail!  This is the only one I am beating myself up about.  There is no good excuse for not hitting this.  None.  I ended the year on 511.65 miles.  Pathetic.

Health
Lost a minimum of 40 pounds - I knew this was a stretch goal and would be challenging.  I did lose 20 but some have crept back on.  I haven't been to WW in awhile so I don't know how many (I can't remember what the home scale said at my lowest weight) but I think put on at least six so I am guessing my total yearly loss is 14 pounds.  Once I head in for a weigh-in next week I will post the real number.

Personal
Visit one new place in state - Probably the easiest on the list and it was a fail.  Never got anywhere new this year.
Visit one new place out of state - This was a success.  We hit McMinnville, OR and also saw huge swaths of Colorado I hadn't seen before.
Travel outside the country (offer excludes Canada) - Success!  Big tickets purchases are hard for me to pull the trigger on and if I didn't set this goal I would still be waffling on where exactly was the perfect place to go. 
Drink more -  We drank more wine than we purchased (I think) but we definitely hit our yearly 52 bottle total.  We consumed 58 bottles. Thanks to two friends we had over in January for some over-imbibing for helping us reach for the stars.
Complete 40 hours of volunteer time - Only completed 14 hours.  Does time spent helping your parents out count?
Take four different classes - I took two:  a 10 week yoga program and East Coast Swing.
Really learn 10 new entrees or side dishes - Yeah, I kind of gave up on this right away last year.  I need to break my toast or sandwich for dinner habit.  I get home so late that I don't much feel like cooking dinner and we are frequently gone or superbusy on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for cooking.

So there it is, the goals that were.  I have been mentally compiling my 2011 list and am eager to post it once I get it all sorted out.

Here's to a new year!  And a huge "thank you" to my friends and loved ones for putting up with crabbiness and general out-of-sortness this year.  2011 will be a better, brighter year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And So It Begins

Yesterday marked day one of my 18 week odyssey to run a marathon.  Nothing spectacular; just an easy three-miler followed by a five-miler today at race pace.  I feel much better running with a goal in mind.  I need that race to motivate me or I don't perform at 100%. 

While the looming distances on the training calendar aren't freaking me out too much (yet) there are two things that are:  legs and feet.  I am having neuroma problems in the left foot at even low mileage and tonight the bunion on my right foot hurts. Yes, I am aware that last phrase is lifted straight from the halls of my dear nursing home but dang it, it's true!  The legs are doing something unusual also.  Towards the end of the run they feel like two entirely different legs.  One feels springy and tight and shorter and the other feels loose and weird.  This can probably be eliminated with some concentrated stretching but the feeling is bizarre.  I think I am going to have to come up with some sort of stretching related goal for 2011.

This weekend I am taking a page from wedding planning and making an inspiration board of sorts for my marathon and marathon training.  Anything to keep me focused and ready for Eugene.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Eve Run

I went for a run today.  It was the first in two weeks because of illness and the holiday.  While it was only three miles it was one of the best runs I have had in quite awhile.  Runs like this one remind me why I drag myself out there time and time again.  Feeling your pulse quicken, the lungs starting to work harder, the muscles warm up and your body finding a familiar rhythm.  Feeling the rain hit you in the face and the sweat rising on your skin.  Feeling the cobwebs and confusion clear your mind with each footfall.  There truly is no feeling like it.

There are many people and things I am grateful for but today I am most grateful that I am a runner.

Merry Christmas

I have to admit that I am totally phoning Christmas in this year.  But even with the lack of enthusiasm I think our living room looks pretty festive, cozy and warm.  I love walking down the stairs and seeing this image complete with curled up happy cat on the sofa (cat two is on her rocking chair on the other side of the fireplace).  Please also note the Mistletoad hanging in the corner of the photo.  Not Christmas without a Mistletoad.

We really toned it down this year and there are quite a few things we didn't get around to putting up.  We did hang a swag of cedar all down the bannister and the entryway is decorated and there are a few decorations in the dining area but basically.... not so into it. 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the peace, warmth and of the season.  Oh, and eggnog...enjoy that too!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Twelve Days of Wholesome Language

After a few comments from Kevin over the years about my language and its tendency to veer towards longshoreman I have decided to meet the challenge head-on.  For the last twelve days of this year I am going to abstain from swearing.  Just quit cold-turkey.  Cold, f-ing, turkey.

Now this isn't about to become a permanent change.  I am a beliver that a vocabulary peppered with the occasional obscenity is a necessary and beautiful thing.  But I do agree that I can lean on it a little too much especially when I am worn-out which seems to be the norm these past weeks. 

Wish me luck!

Oh, and by the way I don't think either "hell" or references to "Jesus Christ" are swear words.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Costa Rica Trip Report (sort of)

I've been back from Costa Rica for a week and haven't been able to muster the energy to log in and post anything yet.  Saturday night while watching Roger Water's The Wall , unexpectedly amazing by the way, I started to get a bad sore throat.  I chalked it up to the amount of pot smoke wafting through the Tacoma Dome but by Sunday I had become full-on sick.  In between this and trying to get the house decorated for Christmas and go to work (I finally took today off) I haven't had the energy for much.  We set up the tree Sunday night and it still isn't complete.  Our tree takes hours and hours of work because I am an ornament whore and I am starting to feel like it will never get done.  But I digress...

Costa Rica was fun.  See the above mentioned illness?  That is about the energy I have to describe it.  There are pictures that I took and 90% of them suck (Look, it's a ........blob in a tree!  Maybe bird, monkey, sloth?  No clue!)  Others from the tour part of the trip have uploaded photos to Picassa but I am too lazy right now to log-in and look at their photos and find nice ones for you.  Yeah, even creating a Picassa log-in seems daunting right now, it's that bad.  Maybe when Kevin goes back home for the holidays I might find some time to post a few. 

Here's the trip in a nutshell:  There was a jungle yurt with howler monkeys above.  Many birds and interesting insects including:  mot mots, toucans, parrots, macaws, hummingbirds, leaf cutter ants, tarantula, bullet ants, and stick insects.  We saw sloths, howler monkeys, porcupines, coati mundis, caiman, and crocodiles.  A few of us spent a few hours at an animal sanctuary where I got to hold a kinkajou and have a racoon try to climb up my arm and I got to tickle his feet while questioning my decision not to get the rabies vaccine. 

Tours included a pineapple plantation, coffee plantation and cocoa plantation all of which were fascinating.  Also, it seems even countries we consider "poor" have immigrant agricultural workers.  Most of the food you get from Costa Rica?  Probably picked by Nicaraguans.  Best pineapple I ever ate was picked right from the field where the workers were harvesting it.  It makes you think again about the importance of organics when you see those workers surrounded up to their armpits in pineapple plants about the toxins they must encounter regularly.  This particular plantation was part organic and part conventional and they were picking organic at the time.  Pineapples are done by hand by the way.  We also took a night hike to spot noctural critters and a hike through a deluge that ended in the dark where a view of the elusive Arenal Volcano should be.  Most of us went ziplining through and above the cloud forest one day.  If you ever get the chance to do this you must, must, must.  Exhilirating to say the least.  Just don't think about how if the cable snapped while you are 300 feet above the ground and 1km between trees you would be a little stain on the forest floor. 

There were exploding glass tables at our authentic home cooked Costa Rican lunch, torrential rains that caused washouts and flooding and a general dampness that pervaded everything, a windstorm that caused a power outage and gave us a memorable meal in the dark and a walk through the pitch dark town up the huge hill back to our hotel.  No cabs to be had because it was the night of the, ironically named, Festival of Lights in town.  The bus that skid backwards trying to get up the same gigantic hill and ended up with  its back tires stuck behind a concrete barrier and hanging over a drop-off.  Luckily no one but the driver was on the bus at the time and he was fine.  The boat across the estuary to get to the town that had the ATM that involved boarding in the mud not 100 yards from where I saw the biggest crocodile earlier that morning.  Those were some of the little adventure parts of the trip.

I also spent a few lazy days at the beach by myself just sleeping, reading and walking around.  I did run three times while I was there and I am pretty sure I will never see anything cooler on any of my runs than the howler monkeys I saw on my run through the beach "town" I was staying in. 

So there it is in a nutshell.  Costa Rica was good but I was sure glad to be back home.  I am glad I went ahead and did the trip by myself because I always would have had that goal in the back of my mind if I didn't but I can tell you that being alone doesn't hold the charms it used to.  I missed Kevin horribly and kept thinking how much he would have enjoyed all of the trip especially the night hike, chocolate plantation (he's the biggest chocolate lover I know) and ziplining.  I don't ever want to take a trip like that without him again.  He has kind of ruined being alone in a good way. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Green Lake Gobble 5K

In an effort to motivate myself I signed up for Amanda's PR Challenge and set my sights on a new 5K PR.  I knew this was going to be a long shot but I figured the motivation would at least get my butt out the door.  That and the looming marathon training.  Good motivators both.

The race I chose was the Greenlake Gobble 5K.  As the race approached I realized there was pretty much no way in hell I would PR.  I have been putting in some better mileage lately but all of it has been slow. When I woke up on race morning to freezing temps and snow I almost crawled back in bed and didn't go.  Actually I did crawl back in bed but then talked myself into going.  Races are such happy places and runners have such positive energy and frankly, I can use a bit of that these days.  Besides, I am always happier after a race.  Also, I paid for the race and signed up for this challenge so I felt like I had to.  So off I went, all bundled up (three shirts) and wearing my turkey leg head band proudly to go run 3.1 miles.



Since this wasn't even close to a PR attempt I just set out to have a nice fun run.  Somewhere in the first half-mile I realized I might be able to bring my time in close to a 10:00 minute pace.  So I ran a little faster.  Then I realized how many races I have run with a per mile pace that starts with two digits and how disappointed I am by that.  So I ran faster still.  My new goal was a sub 10:00 pace.  Then, with only about a half-mile to go I remembered my tangent problem and the fact that I can't run the exact distance of any race and always end up with more mileage than the distance.  Crap!  Even though my Garmin says my overall pace is 9:54 there is a good possibility that I will run 3.2 miles and blow my pace goal.....and I did.  With no gas left in the tank I crossed in 31:07 which is a pace of 10:02 per mile and almost two minute slower than my 5K PR in April.

Here are the splits:

Mile 1:  10:06
Mile 2:   9:51
Mile 3:  9:53
Mile .15 (according to my Garmin)  9:02 pace

If I used my Garmin stats I would have ended up with a 9:54 pace.  Considering that my "fast" runs lately have been a hovering around 10:30 I am pleased with this time and pleased that I decided to end up racing it after all.  And I know I raced it when I could feel the soreness in my quads the next day.

Next race:  Eugene Marathon!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Almost Trip Time

Holy crap,  I'm going to Costa Rica next week!  I am feeling fairly unprepared at the moment in spite of the purchase of some new hot weather clothing (tough to find in November) and a pair of light hiking shoes (my hiking boots are waaaaaayyy too heavy and clunky).  Other than the newly purchased items I have no idea what I am going to wear.  I don't really have a wardrobe for Seattle summers let alone one for Central America.

I did get my suggested travel vaccinations for Hep A and Typhoid for a dollar amount that made me cringe and caused wallet pain.  They had better be worth it.  This also prompted a statement I'm not sure gets said a lot:  "For our honeymoon we really need to go to a country that has Typhoid."  You know, just to get my money's worth out of the deal.

I "know" a few of the people that will be joining me on this trip.  Through message board posts on the travel company's website I have learned that there will be a group of four "women of a certain age" who are docents at their local zoo and are primarily interested in the birds of Costa Rica.  There is also a recent female college graduate from New Jersey.  In my mind my trip now includes the Golden Girls and Snooki.  Let's get realistic though, ain't no way Snooki is a recent college grad.

As the time for departure nears I am getting pretty excited about this little adventure.  Still trying to decide if I am going to try and run when I am down there.  The hot humid weather and the unfamiliarity with the area is giving me pause.  Who knows, maybe Blanche and Sophia will want to join me for a run through the jungle.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

So Glad I Am Marrying This Man

I recently sent Kevin a list of Portland bakeries that I have chosen as possible creators of our wedding cake.  I found six that I liked but we are trying to whittle it down to four.  Yes, wedding specialists advise only trying three vendors but dammit this is cake and we are trying at least four different places.

Today I received a response to my e-mail.  I expected him to look at the links, browse through the sites and pick a few he thought looked nice.  Oh no, he is too methodical and analytical and thorough for that.  He loves to spend time learning and researching things and I shouldn't have been surprised that that would include cake too.  Here is his e-mail:

I actually created a weighted matrix based on the below categories and rated each bakery.
Weight 5: Artistry
Weight 4: Flavors
Weight 3: Price
Weight 2: Reviews
Weight 1: Delivery & Web Site

White Rose: 73
Sweet Cakes: 62
Serious Cakes: 57
Laurie Clarke Cakes: 51
Papa Haydn: 42
La Joconde: 39


If you want a go at it I have a spreadsheet ready for you to plug numbers into. ;-)

How freakin' cute and awesome is that?  I just want to hug his little computer nerdness right now.  I absolutely love it. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Squishy, Nasty and Gross

In less than 24 hours I have had to:
  • Clean up everything under our kitchen sink after we discovered our garbage disposal was shooting nasty water from every direction.  This was after I had just taken everything out and cleaned under the sink about an hour before.
  • Clean up strategically placed cat puke from the corner of our couch.  Ollie (and yes I am sure it was him) managed to hit all four cushions and a sofa crack. I swear that he tries to be as obnoxious as possible when he vomits.  Our next couch will be cat puke colored.
  • Clean up and dispose of a pumpkin that actually liquefied.  It liquefied all over the floor and all over Kevin's antique Victrola.  I have never seen one decompose quite like that or that quickly before.
I only thought people with small children had days like that.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Running Growth

Sometimes recognizing change in yourself can be difficult.  Running makes it easy. 

Today I ran for an hour and 20 minutes straight and it didn't even phase me.  It didn't seem ridiculous or impossible or a stretch-goal or something I had to psyche myself up for; it just felt like something I do.  It wasn't too terribly long ago that running for the length of time seemed impossible.  Now, it just isn't that big of a deal.  I like that.  I like that a lot. 

Happy Halloween!

Here are some pictures from last weekend's First Annual Pumpkin Carving Party.  It has to be an annual tradition because we have so much Halloween and pumpkin carving infrastructure now that it would be a shame not to have it every year.  Besides, Kevin's family has held a pumpkin carving party back in Baltimore for over 30 years.  We are merely carrying the tradition to the west coast.  We even made his Grandmother's Hungarian GHOUL-ash for the occasion.

 The lineup in the light.

 The true test of a carved pumpkin.

Todd with the world's thickest pumpkin. 
My prize winning kitty-cat.
My prize winning kitty-cat anus.
Kevin and his creation.

Mike and Amber with, far and away, the best design.  Their Space Needle and witch just weren't deep enough for the light to shine through. Too bad, 'cause this could have easily walked away with it all.
Kim, Nellie, Patty and Paul hard at work.

Kevin giving his pumpkin a colonoscopy.

Pumpkin carving is hard work.

Everyone hard at work.

 I am always impressed with the quality of carvings people do.  Yes, stencils were allowed and most people used some kind of stencil but even with that in mind I thought the gourds turned out fabulously.  Unfortunately, Kevin and I won second and first place respectively.  You never want that to happen when you are the hosts.  We kept some of the goodies out of the prize bags but did give most of it away.  OK, not most.  I hung onto the movie tickets and some Seattle Chocolate truffle bars we bought.

I hope everyone has a happy day and gets rid of their mini-chocolate bars quickly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Would Colonel Mustard Do?

If my relationship goes south at some point I think you can solve the mystery of its demise much like you would a game of Clue:  It was Kevin and Ann-Marie, in the garage, with East Coast Swing.

Yeah, practicing went that well last night.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wedding Update

I actually took a fairly long break from wedding planning towards the end of the summer but now am back into it full-force with the finding of the dress.  Here are some of the things we have decided on:

  • As I mentioned, I found my dress!  That was a huge weight off my shoulders since I was pretty much convinced I would never find one that I liked.  Maybe I should have actually gone and tried on a few before I came to that "woe is me" decision.  It is fabulous and is completely me and is made to go with my fabulous wedding shoes.
  • The wedding shoes have determined the color scheme.  I didn't want to be one of those brides that chooses colors for her wedding.  Somehow in my mind girls who had a color scheme were the same ones that sat around dreamily writing Mrs. Ann-Marie Doe and only ever dreaming of being a wife.  Yes, I know how asinine that sounds now but I have a lot of goofy bride/wife/girly stuff hang-ups that I am just fully realizing the extent of.  Dealing with those as I go.  Anyhoo, the colors are going to be bright yellow and navy.  That is for the reception only.  Not so much worrying about a color scheme for the invitations, ceremony or website. 
  • We have found a new venue for the ceremony.  The location we were going to have it was the same as the reception location.  The venue wanted us to vacate the space for an hour to remove the chairs after the ceremony and we just couldn't see breaking up the flow of the event that way.  What would people do for an hour?  Besides, the space was never really pretty enough for a ceremony and has always been a bad fit for us in that regard.  We chose it for the whole "weekend of fun" thing for our guests and didn't really think through some of the logistics.  Since mid-May is a dicey month for anything outside (really, any time is dicey for that in the Northwest) we had to find a new indoor venue.  I had a rare moment of genius and remembered a place we saw a small concert at in Portland last year.  Lo and behold, they rent out their space and it is awesome.  The Oregonian called it a cross between a church and a bordello and that is a perfect description.  We are getting hitched at Mississippi Studios!
  • I have come to terms with the fact that we are going to have to have chair covers.  I dislike chair covers a lot but the chairs are ugly black metal things and those are the only chair options for the venue so.....chair covers it is.  I draw the line at bows though.  There will be no bows on the back of our chairs.  
  • I can't talk Kevin into wearing a suit so a tux for all the men in the wedding party it shall be.  I can't blame him.  I wouldn't want him dictating what I wear for the wedding any more than he wants me telling him what to wear.  I really do appreciate the fact that he is into this 100% and LOVES the planning.  I am lucky that way.  I still need to expose him to less formal weddings so he can drop some preconceptions though.
  • The custom art we were planning on fell through so now we have to look for a different artist.   It was going to be so cool too.  :-(
 I want to get as much done as possible before the end of the year when marathon training begins so I don't have to try and juggle both too much.  Right now our weekend with the wedding coordinator to go over menu, linens and crap is the same weekend my 20 miler is scheduled.  Nope, no worries there.

Five Weeks of Awkward

I finally broke down and signed Kevin and I up for dance classes.  He has been after me to take lessons with him from very early in our relationship and frankly, I just had too much going on for too long to want to deal with it.  I am not opposed to the idea at all I just think I am more realistic about our abilities than he is.  I have taken a few lessons in the past with not such a good success rate.  Stiff, awkward, type A people like myself should watch dance and appreciate it that way instead of participating.  But I signed us up anyway.

We have signed up for a five-week session of beginning East Coast Swing that will hopefully have us moving slightly less robotically by the end of November.  Tonight was the first session and it actually was kind of fun; hideous traffic to Capitol Hill excluded. 

Part of the impetus for signing up for classes now is that there is this whole wedding thing looming before us.  We haven't decided if we are going to have a first dance or not yet but if we do we want to be prepared.  If we don't we can still utilize our mad skillz at our wedding and any other social events we may go to in the future.

I am pretty certain I will go to sleep hearing "rock, step, triple-step, triple-step" in my sleep tonight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle!

Sometime in my life I got the idea in my head that as some sort of rite of passage a woman should take at least one trip by herself.  Not a little local trip but someplace far and exotic, preferably where she doesn't speak the language.  No waiting on a boyfriend or a friend to go with her but just go because she wants to go and can go.  I am finally making that trip.  The day after Thanksgiving I am leaving for two weeks in Costa Rica! 

My original vision involved Germany where I would eat lots of pig products and drink copious amounts of Reisling and Gewurtztraminer but cost got me looking elsewhere.  I looked at an adventure travel company that Kevin has used in the past and started looking for trips in my price range and stumbled on the Costa Rica trip and was hooked.  Jungles, monkeys, birds, volcanoes, hot springs, coffee and chocolate plantations, and after the tour is over I am heading off to the beach for a few days of hanging out with the leatherback turtles and swinging in a hammock.  Maybe if I am feeling particularly ambitious and graceful I might even take a surfing lesson.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beach Weekend Getaway


Mom and I went to the beach for a long weekend and this was my view for three days.  It was fabulous.  I basically did nothing other than sit on our deck and look out at this for days.  The weather was warm, blue skies and no wind.  Abnormal for a Washington beach especially in October.

To break up the sitting and reading and talking to Mom I ran five miles on both Saturday and Sunday.  The last time I went that far was quite awhile ago so it felt good to get into "high" mileage again.  In addition to the running I also did some swimming and, like a good Finn, some sauna-ing. 

We also ate some wonderful food including a pumpkin yogurt/honey granola trifle that haunts my dreams.  Movies and horrible wedding shows were watched and a good time was had by both.

This weekend was probably the most relaxed I have been in awhile.  Our typical vacations are "go go go" the entire time and this was refreshing to just do nothing and have no agenda.  I know it was a much needed escape for my mother too.  She almost didn't go but gave in to me and was extremely glad she did.  After the crappy year she has had she deserved a few days of R and R.

Oh, and on our way down to the beach on Friday we stopped at a bridal store and I bought my wedding dress!  Whoo-hoo! 



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mojo

Two great runs in two days.  Mojo back maybe?  My motivation seems to have kicked in and I am looking forward to my first double-digit week in months (how sad is that).  Sixteen miles may not seem like very many but it is the first concrete step of my marathon base building. Oh how great it feels to run and run well again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tour de Colorado

We are back from a much needed vacation and I feel a little more like a normal human being again.  It has been kind of a stressful summer for some very obvious reasons and I really needed a complete change of scenery.  Our vacation took us on a tour of dang near all of Colorado.  Since Kevin and I both want to visit all of our National Parks we built the trip around hitting as many of those that we could and getting to spend some time with our good friends in Denver.

The first stop on our trip was Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We climbed the big sand dune and I was fairly certain that was going to do me in.  However, Kevin's mountaineering skills came in handy as he encouraged me to do kick steps in the sand and do rest steps with each step.  That made it much easier to climb the dunes and we made it to the top.  The big dune is 650 feet high and the elevation before you even start climbing is 8200 feet and it was sunny so you can see that it was a bit of work to get up there.  Well worth it even though I will be picking sand dune sand out of my shoes and pockets for the rest of my life.  Running down the steep slopes of the dunes was a blast though!  Hooray for gravity!!!!


The next stop was Mesa Verde National Park to ooh and aah over the cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloans (can't use the term "Anasazi" anymore) and the overall beautiful area of SW Colorado.



We took a couple of guided tours into some of the cliff dwellings including one that involved a climb up a 30 ft ladder to get in and a crawl through an 18 inch wide 12 foot long tunnel and then some more ladders and such to get out. I was kind of convinced my ginormous ass would get stuck in the cliff dwelling and then oh, what a tourist attraction I would become. 

This is one of the small exit ladders for one of the Cliff Dwellings.  Imagine one three times as long to get in.

Mesa Verde is really an amazing place and one that is well worth your time.  So much history and so beautiful.

Kivas, kivas everywhere!  I am pretty sure I have had my lifetime fill of kivas.  Besides, I think they were probably more ancient living rooms rather than holy sites 'cause, well, you know I have that anthropology degree and everything.  Or at least a degree that alphabetically precedes anthropology in the course catalog and that should totally qualify me to make these statements.


Look!  I am doing women's work!!  The women would grind corn with these HEAVY rocks for 6-8 hours a day. 


After camping and exploring Mesa Verde we headed up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and camped there for two nights.  I also got to experience my first night camping in a thunderstorm with torrential rains.  Wheee!  On the way we stopped for a gold mine tour that seemed like it might be cheesy but was actually really interesting and informative.  I learned a ton about mining and got to see a hundred year-old porta-potty on tracks that the miners used to use in the mine.  Yes, even a mine tour can be turned into a discussion about poo.  That is just how I roll.


Kevin summed it up best about Black Canyon:  it is worth seeing but it isn't a "must see" destination.  If you are anywhere near it you should definitely hop on up there and take a look at it.  The canyon is 2700 feet deep at its deepest point and the Gunnison River has some serious drop; 240 feet per mile at its ....um.....droppiest.  Also, some amazing rocks up there.  Quartz, feldspar and mica everywhere you look.  I was a good park visitor though and fought the overwhelming urge to pick some up and take it home.  So. Very. Hard.


While we were camping we made a friend - Olive the camp grouse.  Olive was perched on the picnic table at our neighboring site when we arrived and she hung around for the next two days.  She has been gorging on all the tiny acorns and fattening up for winter.  Smart bird to pick campsites that predators generally steer clear of to live in.  Our bird is wicked smart.

After two days at the Black Canyon it was at trip to Denver to hang with The Blue Sky Girls.  Don't sue me H for unathorized use of your photo!  I'll take it down if you really want.

We went to the Hammond Candy Factory where they have been hand making candy canes, lollipops and ribbon candy for 90 years.  So fun to see how Kevin and I bought our weight in candy at the store. 

We also went to the American Mountaineering Museum where Jim Whittaker tried to kill Kevin,

did some beer tasting, went to a large carnivore sanctuary that was eye opening about how many nutbars there are who try to keep large exotic animals as pets, and had fascinating conversations about pigeons and guinea worms.  And really, can a conversation about guinea worms be anything but fascinating?  The answer is a resounding "no".  If you don't know about the guinea worm you should really Google it because it is insanely creepy and disturbing. Don't be eating spaghetti when you look.

The last day in town we did a Volksmarch through downtown Denver to get to see some of the cool public art downtown Denver has to offer.

We had a great time and are very grateful for our delightful hostesses for loaning us their camping gear and putting us up for three days.  Can't wait to return the favor.







































Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Instant Motivation

My running has been sporadic and kind of crappy lately.  I have been having big motivation issues that I am trying to overcome and I need something to focus on for my running or I just might stay in the "blah" zone for the rest of the year.  I need to get my mojo back so I can build up a strong base to start marathon training in January.  Besides, I miss running and running well.  *sigh* Those were the good ol' months.

Enter Amanda at Run To The Finish and her PR Challenge.  She is getting different people across the running blogland to compete at your chosen distance (5k, 10K, half, or full marathon) to have a bigger PR than your competitors.  The competition runs from October 1 to November 30 and all you have to do to sign up is head on over to her blog and fill out the information for your distance, previous PR, and name.  Whoever doesn't have the biggest PR in your group will send a small token to the winner for a) motivating them to get out and run and b) congratulating them on their accomplishment.  Voila!  Instant motivation!   Since signing up a few days ago I already feel more motivated.

I am signed up for the 5K group of 26-31 minute PRs and will hopefully blow my previous record of 29:14 out of the water.  I haven't picked my race yet but I am leaning towards the GreenLake Gobble on November 21 as my chosen race. 

I know there are a few of you out there who sometimes need some motivation.  Any more takers?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Home Alone

I love my boyfriend very much.  Let's say that up front. I love spending time with him and have fun with him no matter what we are doing.  But, I also enjoy a little bit of alone time and I don't get that very often anymore.  Tonight I got my precious alone time to have the kind of slovenly Friday nights I used to have as a single gal.  While he is off at a wedding rehearsal dinner, I have spent the evening reading outside by our pond, talking to an old friend on the phone, eating cupcakes and frozen burritos for dinner and watching Kathy Griffin on TV.  The most heavenly Friday night I have had in a long time. 

Now if you will excuse me there are TV shows about cake to be watched.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yellow Shiny Happy

I promise that you won't be inundated with wedding related stuff for the next eight months but I do feel the need for one more wedding post.  These, my fine friends, are my wedding shoes:


I am giddy about these shoes.  Seriously, these were in my dream the night they showed up on my doorstep.  I am not a shoe obsessed person but these shoes could turn me down the path to the dark side.  Besides being cute as hell they are actually comfortable and fit my weirdly shaped feet perfectly.  It pains me to have to stick them away in their box until May. 

Now I guess I have to find a dress to match them.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ugly Confession

I have a confession to make.  An embarrassing confession really.  Come, closer so I don't have to say it too loudly.  OK, here goes....My name is Ann-Marie and I enjoy wedding planning.  There I admitted it and said it to the world or at least my tiny corner of the interwebs.  I feel better now.  Admitting you have a problem is half the battle or something like that, right? 

Seriously, since the engagement I don't think a day has gone by that I have not looked at wedding ideas online or in a magazine or discussed them with Kevin.  Dang it but it's fun.  And the creativity people exhibit with their wedding planning blows me away.

Now before you worry too much and wonder what really happened to me I would like to point out that I have not become a white tulle obsessed Bridezilla dreaming of how she can incorporate white swans, ice sculptures, tiaras and 13 matching bridesmaids into her vision of her "perfect day".  None of that crap.  Although if I could get a swan wearing a tiara and a bridesmaid dress that would be kinda cool.  No, I am just talking about throwing a party since that is what a wedding is anyway.  A big-ass party with a quite serious moment at the start and as the impetus for the whole thing.  So really, the planning has been about cool favors, and fun ideas for invitations and table centerpieces and oh, the cake porn, the beautiful, magical cake porn.

If you have never flipped over the rock to peer into this underbelly of the wedding world you might have been as blown away as I was about the sheer number of products and services and websites and blogs devoted to all things wedding.  It is truly fascinating and I had no idea it was really this much of a giant wedding industrial machine.  Here are a few things I have learned so far:

  • THE coolest website for all things left of center regarding weddings is Offbeat Bride.  This site has some of the most creative weddings and ideas featured and it isn't all some little girls cupcakes and ponies and Prince Charming dream crap.  If you want to get ideas how to incorporate sci-fi themed centerpieces,or how to dress a transgendered bride, or about the hand-fasting ritual, or what tattooed brides do about their beloved tattos this is the site for you.  Even though none of the above are things I am concerned with it is still kind of interesting to read and digest.  What this site excels at, and to me its reason for being, is that it reassures you that the most important part of the ceremony and party is that it must feel authentic to you and the person you are marrying and it gives you ideas to send you down that route.
  • Offbeat Bride also gives the sage advice to not worry because no matter what you do someone will think it is tacky or ugly or stupid.  So don't worry about such things and just do what feels right. 
  • Knee-length wedding dresses are very hard to come by.  Are there seriously that few of us who don't want a long-white gown?  And yes, I used to think I would just get a pretty dress in some random color but I decided I wanted the dress to at least look like I was getting hitched.  I truly feel for the poor women who want sleeves, particularly long-sleeves.  You guys are truly screwed.
  • There are a whole lot of crazy women out there.  Dip your toe into the boards on sites like TheKnot and you will see what I mean.  Really ladies, let's chill out and remember why you are doing this in the first place. 
  • I love cupcakes but if I see one more cupcake tower at a wedding I will scream.  Also, the everybody wear a fake mustache things for the ceremony or in the photo booth is not funny and in fact veers to creepy.  Stop it already, please.
I am also lucky because I keep running into articles about how to get the groom more involved in the planning.  Kevin is having fun creating the website and meeting with the photographer and all of that stuff.  It is interesting because this process has revealed how few "normal" weddings I have been to and how few "unusual" ones Kevin has attended.  I think it is an East Coast-West Coast thing but I could be wrong.  We keep having discussions about the wedding and he is definitely the one who envisions a  more traditional gathering and my vision is a little less normal.  Don't worry, no actual fighting occurs but it is interesting to see a different interpretation of weddings than my own.

Now, if you will excuse me I have to go read about a Moroccan/burlesque themed broom jumping or some such thing...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday Night Stampede Race Report

Friday night we schlepped ourselves down to my old stomping grounds, Auburn, for a 5K.  The appeal of this race was twofold:  it is pancake flat and they give you BBQ that you can eat in the middle of Main Street when you are done.  Score! 

The race began at 7:00 and it was a completely different experience than I am used to.  It is a tiny race; last year there were 162 people who ran it.  Such a tiny race does not have chip time, the start and finish lines were chalked or painted on the pavement,  and there was plenty of room to get your own pace going and not jostle or be jostled by anyone...totally novel.

Anyway, the gun went off (guy shouted "go") and we were off through the streets of Auburn (Liane - your old house is for sale!!  The high school looks EXACTLY the same!).  I used to think the town was, quite frankly, a shit-hole.  But it surprised me last night.  It actually looked kind of cute and quaint and just like a charming older downtown.  We ran through Les Gove park and there was music and people were barbequeing and having fun and it just smashed my negative feelings about the place.  I am kind of happy about that.  Still don't want to live there but hey, its progress.

So my brother has a phrase for when he goes out too fast during a race and that is "going out like a burning spastic".  Let's just say that is how I started the race.  I felt good, I felt strong, I felt like the 78 degree heat wasn't going to be an issue so I flew down the streets and was seriously thinking I would PR.  Then I reached the mid-way point and reality slapped me in the noggin.  There would be no PR, there would only be holding on to an attempt to keep my pace under 10 minute miles.  I actually had to take walk breaks that is how bad it was.  I can't remember the last time I had to walk in a 5K.  This was disheartening and a little humbling.  Even though the pace was the real killer I believe if it had been cooler I could have held on and at least been able to run the whole thing.  There was some blazing hot heat for running last night particularly where there was no shade and the sun was beating down on you and the open pavement.  Blech!

So here are the splits:

Mile 1:     9:14  (you see why I fell apart later?)
Mile 2:     9:31  (first half of this mile was still strong; second half went to hell)
Mile 3:    11:15 (ugh.  uff-da.  oy.)
.10           8:27  (I only put that in there to make myself feel better).

Overall time per Garmin was 31:24 which is a 10:07 pace.  Not even close to what I wanted but heading into the race it was kind of what I expected.  Official times aren't posted yet but should be mighty close to the Garmin.

BBQ report:  Beans, chips, pulled pork sandwich and lemonade sitting smack in the middle of Main Street listening to a band play Buddy Holly songs all night.  A pretty nice way to end a race and a day. 

Except, wait...there is more.  I got home about 11:00 and at midnight we headed up to the Tiger Mountain trail-head to lay on a blanket in the parking area and watch meteors until 1:30 in the morning.  Meteor Report:  16 each but we both saw a few the other didn't.  There was still a fair amount of light pollution up there but the sky was clear.  It should still be going tonight so go out late tonight and stare up at the sky for awhile.  You'll feel good.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Backyard Oasis

The back yard is finally finished.  Actually it has been for about two weeks now but I just got around to loading the pictures.

Kevin did an amazing job.  It is almost all his vision and execution.  I did help plant things and dump a 1/2 ton of dirt via five gallon buckets but really it was mostly him.

Here is our little rockery with our wee baby plants that will hopefully grow bigger and stronger and hold in some of the dirt to keep it from washing into our pond.

Another view of the rockery and a better view of our awesome rock fountain.  214 lbs that bad boy is; not so fun to move.

The crab sitting by the pond?  His name is Sig. 

Neither of these photographs show it but Kevin made sure to craft a little shallow area at the end of the pond for a little bird beach.  Between the bird beach and the feeders they are some seriously happy birds.  Mortally wounded bird from last week not included.  I was sitting out last night and we had finches, juncos, chickadees, random little brown bird and a hummingbird all at the same time.  It was wonderful.

The other side of our wee yard.
The groundcover thyme took a beating during pond and rockery construction but it should bounce back.  We are also going to try to get it to grow over the edge of the pond to cover the exposed pond liner.  The wine barrel is our herb garden.

I would like to draw your attention to our trellis.  You might ask "what is that growing on the trellis"?  Well, the answer is "nothing" because the clematis we had on it is dead. The trellis itself is supplying all the greenery.  It is made from willow branches and the center branch that we stuck in the ground must have taken root because the "tree" has taken off like a wild thing.  We are growing a willow tree in our tiny back yard against our fence.  We know it can't stay there but we don't have the heart to do anything about it yet.  Currently it is about three feet above the fence line.  How can you kill something that has that much tenacity?

The zig zag patio was put in place strictly to make sweeping or vacuuming up bird seed easier.  I think it is kind of groovy.

Since it turned warm I finally got the courage to put my lemon tree impulse purchase outside and it is thriving.  What you can't really see in this picture are the wee tiny Meyer lemons it is growing.  The blossoms are about ready to burst into bloom any day now.  I am crossing my fingers we get at least one lemon off of it before we have to move it inside for the winter.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Seafair Torchlight Run 8K Race Report

Apparently the secret to a good race is wine tasting, a cold and anger.  If only I had known this earlier my race results would be so much better.  Hal Higdon never put any of those in his training plans.

I guess I will start with the anger part of the race.  See, I had this brilliant idea to have our friend pick up my brother's bib number and timing chip the day before the race so my brother didn't have to go through the hassle of getting it race day.  Since Todd was going to pick his up that day it seemed like a good idea at the time.  So off we go to the race, carpooling from my house and leaving in plenty of time.  My brother chose not to carpool with us and instead said he would meet us at the race.  A blunder.  They moved the start line this year to South Lake Union which meant traffic back-ups from hell at the Mercer offramp and then getting to the parking area and then waiting in a long line to pay for parking.  But we still ended up getting to the start line with about 20 minutes to go before the race started to find my brother. 

Did I mention that the boys didn't set up an exact meeting location?  My brother just said "at the start line".  Well, let me tell you this new starting area had people packed in like sardines, no room to hardly move on the sidewalks.  My brother was nowhere to be found near the start line.  We looked and looked and looked.  No bro.  Now before I continue, let me explain something; my brother takes his racing very seriously.  Very. Seriously.  He is not laid back at all about these sorts of things.  He likes to corral up early and be very focused on the task ahead.  We knew he was going to be pissed.  Really pissed.  But what can we do?  We tried.  So the race starts and we hang out at the back thinking he might be hanging around and we can see him as the racers thinned out.  Nope.  Finally I gave Todd my brother's chip, because he is faster and that way my brother's time would at least be recorded at a pace similar to his own, and set off down the course pretty sure I might be disowned as a sister and then who would be my Dude of Honor at my wedding?  Did I mention he takes his running very seriously.  (Hi bro!  Sorry again!)

The stress of the drive, the parking, the frustration of not finding my brother made me mad.  I was hating everything and everyone around me.  A teenage girl tried to rush across the street in front of a pack of runners and when she fell flat on the pavement I smiled.  That was the kind of mood I was in.  I was also pissed because the organizers started the 8K and the 5K at the same time this year which created a bottleneck down the parade route.  Especially since we were supposed to keep to only the left side of the street because the 5K doubled back down the same street.  I felt bad for the 5K runners because there was no signage that said this or anyone directing anybody that I could see and the 5K's had to run upstream against clueless 8K runners who were running right at 'em.  Can you say clusterfuck?  I can.

Anyway, I was bobbing and weaving down the street trying to get past all the walkers and slow people and kept getting jammed by people.  I wanted to throw elbows so bad you have no idea.  Finally off the parade route and a screamin' huge downhill on Seneca towards the Viaduct.  Except, wait...there were people holding up on this section of the course.  What the hell?  It is a blissful downhill which is a great way to make up time with very little effort.  Let gravity be your friend you freaks.  But I digress.

Out on the viaduct southbound to the turnaround and then back up the viaduct the other way.  Once again, splitting a street we have always had the whole width of in years passed created some blocking problems.  I looked at my watch at the two mile mark and realized that a PR was a possibility.  After mile three I thought I had it in the bag but made myself reign it in a little during mile four in case my spastic running earlier caused me to completely bonk.  The incline leading to the Battery Street tunnel was a great feeling.  People were tiring and starting to walk on this uphill but I kept powering through and picking people off.  I guess running the hilly routes around my house has paid off.  Then it was through the Battery Street tunnel and into the home stretch.  I didn't feel like I was going that fast but I kept picking people off so it felt good.

I crossed the line, looked down at Garmin and thought:  Holy crap!  A PR.  A serious PR.  I finished in 48:09 which is a two-minute PR and a 9:41 pace.  Not bad considering I was expecting a 10:15 pace based on recent training times.  My previous Torchlight PR was a 50:09 in 2006 and I shaved seven minutes off my time from last year.

Here are the wacky, no pacing ability splits:
Mile 1     10:20 (bobbing, weaving, wanting to punch people)
Mile 2      9:10 (included three blocks of Seneca Street downhill)
Mile 3      9:56
Mile 4     10:06 (purposefully told myself to slow down or risk crapping out)
Mile 5      8:26 (Wha?  What the hell?!  I can't run an 8:26 mile.  Especially at mile five of a race!!!)

The upshot is: I ran the race pissed off at our inability to find my brother, mad that we had caused him to be pissed off, pissed off at the poor race organization, pissed off at the crowding during what used to be a race where you could get a rhythm and not have to bob and weave, pissed off at the new start and finish line overcrowding,  and apparently with enough residual training left in me to allow me to run a great race and PR.  In fact, all of us ran a PR this time.  Oh, the 69 degrees and overcast with a slight cooling breeze helped the cause too.

If they don't make a few fixes to the course next year I might not run this again which is a shame.  This was one of my favorite races and something to look forward to every year.  The old course had room to find a rhythm, more time on the parade route, more energy from the parade goers and a less claustrophobic start and finish line area.  I hope they are able to make some changes for future races. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Birdy

I came home tonight from a great three-miler with Amber, who was kind enough to slow down her normal running pace to run with me tonight, all filled with good energy and ready to get some things done since the boyfriend was going to be working until 1:00 a.m.  However, Mother Nature had other plans for me.  There on our newly constructed, beautiful rockery complete with fountain and pond was a bird.  A bird that was very clearly in some seriously bad shape.  Aw, hell.  I thought briefly about ignoring her but once you see it, it becomes your problem. I couldn't just sit inside and eat my dinner knowing there was a living thing outside suffering and in pain and probably dying.  Of course this happens all the time; circle of life and all that crap.  Something is doing all those things right now but they aren't doing it in my backyard.

So after a quick bathroom trip I tried to find a place to take injured birds and luckily there is a clinic in Bellevue that will hold them for a wildlife rescue in Arlington to come get.  When I picked this bird up and got a good luck at her I realized there was no rehabilitation possible but hoped she could at least be quickly euthanized.  She was missing her right eye and the entire side of her sweet little birdy head was stripped of feathers and was bald and bloody.  I couldn't just let her suffer so I put her in a shoebox with a towel and made the trip to Bellevue, made my donation to the wildlife center and went home trying to convince myself that being picked up by a big pink lady, stuffed into a shoebox, put into a car, driven on the freeway and then placed in a cage while you waited for your inevitable death was somehow less traumatic then dying in the dirt in our backyard.  Not sure it really is any better but it is the decision that I can live with myself for making.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Time To Run With The Big Kids

It's official.  I just registered for next year's Eugene Marathon. 

I am questioning my sanity a bit.  Not for running a marathon but for scheduling said marathon two weeks prior to my wedding.  Half-marathon training absorbed quite a bit of time, I can only imagine what training for a full will be like.  And oh won't my feet be pretty little blistered messes on my wedding day!

2010 Goals Update

Since we are at the half-year (plus two weeks) point of 2010 I thought it would be a good time to revisit my goals for the year and see how they are progressing.

Running
1.  5K PR - Done!  I did this at the April Top Pot Doughnut Dash with a whopping 29:14.  I am pretty certain I can get this record to fall again this year.
2.  Run a minimum of 650 miles.  I am over the half-way mark but I expected to be much further over at this point in the year.  May and June were just sort of wasted months for running and exercise.  So far this year I have clip-clopped my way through a total of 344.61 miles.
3.  Half-Marathon PR - Done!  This was done at Eugene with a 2:21:56.  I am going to tackle another half this year but it is a hillier course so this one might stand for 2010.

Health
1.  Lose 40 lbs.  Well, I am half-way there.  I lost the 20 lbs and then have been treading water for the last two and a half months.  That really isn't too bad since I have been putting almost zero effort into trying to lose and it also means that I can at least maintain this weight.  Starting this week I am back to focusing on the weight loss and see if we can't kick it up a bit for the rest of the year.

Personal
1.  Visit one place in state I haven't been before.  Nope, not yet.  There is a wine tasting trip to Walla Walla in our future though.
2.  Visit one place out of state I haven't been before. Done!  We stopped in McMinnville on our way to the Oregon Coast two weekends ago.  Cute little town and we got to see the Spruce Goose.  Also, Oregon gets waaaaaayy too much of our vacation dollars.
3.  Travel outside the country (Canada doesn't count). Nope.  I was originally looking at a trip to Costa Rica in May but didn't feel comfortable leaving with Dad's health the way it was.  Now that that is no longer an issue I am looking at a Costa Rica trip in late October.  This is my belated graduation present to myself and I think it is particularly important to do it before I get married.
4.  Drink more.  We are on track with this one although just barely.  We are at a total of 30 bottles for the year.  I would like to point out though that that includes bottles shared with others and since we had two dear old friends over on January 2 where the four of us consumed eight bottles of wine that kind of throws the curve off a little. 
5.  Complete 40 hours of volunteer time.  Nowhere close on this one.  I have done six hours total including time spent donating blood and attending a volunteer inservice for the Humane Society.  I did help out for four hours at the Girls on the Run spring 5k by working the registration booth.
6.  Take four different classes.  Since I am counting individual classes or session that I register for and not drop-ins at the Y I can only count my 10 week yoga session from earlier in the year. 
7.  Really learn 10 new entrees or side dishes.  This is one I might just let slide off the radar for the year.  I have done very little with this other than I have learned a bit more about vegetables since we joined a CSA.

Not bad for a mid-year check-up.  How are you doing on your goals or resolutions?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Back

Wow, it has been awhile since I posted.  There is so much to say but also so very little to say.  Things are alright here.  There are good days and there are bad days but the days are mostly good. 

If nothing else, experiencing the death of a loved one has reminded me of the inherent kindness in people and deepened my appreciation for the beauty and fragility of life.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life and thank you all for the kind words and thoughts.  Everyone has been so kind and, with the exception of a relationship with a family member that might be irrevocably damaged, I realize that there are a lot of people who have my back if I need them. 

That's enough sadness and gooey stuff for blog posts for awhile.  I just felt I needed to have some sort of buffer post in here between "my Dad is dying" and "hey, I had a crappy 3 mile run".  Postings of summer fun and running in heat woes to come.

Seriously though, thanks for all your support and friendship. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Happening

Oy vey.

The moments of relative normal have passed and we are knee deep in the real deal now.  I first heard the time "actively dying" when I started working at the nursing home and now I get to experience it in real life.  Dad is now "actively dying".

He is now completely bed bound and hasn't had solid food since Friday.  He is barely taking in any fluids; almost none yesterday but he did drink a little about 4:00 this morning.  Luckily he doesn't seem to be in too much pain.  He is mostly resting comfortably with occasional weird sounds and grimaces.  He was able to swallow some pain pills this morning but couldn't respond or swallow last night so I got to administer his pain meds rectally.  Between that and changing his clothes and cleaning him up on Father's Day I have now done things I am pretty sure neither of us ever thought we would do or would ever want to do.  I don't recommend it.  Apparently all meds that aren't in capsule or liquid form can be administered rectally in case you ever need to know that or in case you are into that sort of thing.

At this point we are just keeping him comfortable and keeping him, and my Mom, company while this progresses.  Luckily my brother is taking the night shift tonight so I can go home and get some sleep.  He is more restless at night and I was up quite a bit taking care of him.  During the day he is mostly unresponsive but seems calmer and more at peace.  I just hope for his sake, and let's be honest, for ours too that this doesn't drag on and on.  I hope he is ready to let go.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Down the Bunny Trail

Woo-hoo!  Eleven s-l-o-w miles yesterday but I did them without needing or wanting to stop.  The best part of the run was that I had a BPM of just a hare under 2.  For the uninitiated, BPM is "Bunnies Per Mile" and I counted 21 darling little brown bunnies on my run yesterday.  Counting your BPM is much more fun than counting your SPM (slugs per mile) which would have been a truly astounding number.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not Ready to Rock 'N Roll

On a cheerier note, I have this half-marathon that I am supposed to be running in just over a week.  My original plan was to build on Eugene and have an even stronger race at Rock 'N Roll.  However, I ended up taking a longer post race break than I wanted to, then I had the pesky pubis issue, then I trained a little and then the poo started to fly around these parts.  It boils down to :  I am not properly trained and I don't care. 

This race isn't a big goal race.  I am not upset that I am not going to do well.  I am looking at it as a 13 mile fun run.  I am going to soak in the atmosphere of my first really huge race and do what I can do.  It is actually kind of refreshing going into a race with no expectations.  It is also nice to go into a race this distance and not be afraid of the distance.  I respect it but I don't fear it anymore.

As soon as next Saturday is done I am going to start focusing on building up for faster shorter distances and try to PR at the other two distance I run:  the 8K and the 10K.

News From the Home Front

Well things have been interesting around these parts.  Within about two hours of last week's post I ceased to feel even the smallest pang of resentment when I realized how much I needed to be here at home.   The shit hit the fan last weekend.

Dad had to stay longer in the home because Mom's health just wasn't strong enough for him to be home.  Even with my brother or I staying with them I think the stress of having him around would not have been conducive to her recovery.  He is significantly better than he was when he went into the home but significantly better still isn't very good.  He is very weak and sleeps most of the time now.  His brain is foggy and his memory is shot.  He came home today and I am staying down here tonight to help take care of him and give him his meds in the morning.  Some morning home health aides are going to start coming soon for the rest of the week.

Mom is still not 100% but is definitely improving.  She ended up staying in the hospital last Thursday and then was released on Friday.  Friday night I had to call 911 and we ended up staying there until the wee hours of the morning.  Did you know it is completely light out at 5:30?  Neither did I until last weekend. 

Put those things together with a meeting with the hospice nurse and social worker where they were pushing hard for 24 hr care (meaning nursing home or adult family home) and a screaming, swearing melt down on my part because of someone's stubbornness, irrationality and a refusal to take care of herself and it was, as my brother so eloquently put it, "31 kinds of suck". 

So things have settled down but I know this is just sort of the lull before things start to get really bad. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Where I Am Not

These ten days should be filled with a lovely trip to Baltimore and Washington D.C.  I should be screaming on terrifying rollercoasters at Hershey Park, watching the worst team in baseball at Camden Yards, attending a ballet at The Kennedy Center, seeing Poe's grave, going for an 11-miler on the banks of the Potomac, doing a dream run on the National Mall, visiting Kermit and The Smithsonian, meeting and visiting with Kevin's family and friends for a whopping second time in our three and a half year relationship and relaxing in a beautiful hotel (for free!) while Kevin attends a conference there next week.  But no.  Instead I cancelled my plans and ate my non-refundable plane ticket and am staying home because there have been some family health issues.

Dad has taken a turn for the worse and thing are kind of up in the air for his ability to come home.  He is currently in a nursing home for a five-day respite stay so my mother can get some rest but honestly he needs a few days of professional nursing care too.  We should have a better sense of how things are going by the end of this week.  However, Mom has been down sick for going on three weeks now so she isn't in great shape either.  I stayed down at their house last night and will be taking her to her doctor's appointment today.

While I am upset at missing my vacation I know staying home was the right thing to do.  They are my parents and they need me and it wouldn't have been fair to go traipsing around the country knowing what is and might be going on back home.  I would have felt guilty and worried the whole time I was away.  I know it is what you are supposed to do as a daughter and concerned family member but, ugly shameful confession time, I do grow weary of all of the medical drama and am slightly resentful right now.  And then I feel guilty for feeling that way. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Still Here

Just been in a bit of a "blah" frame of mind lately and haven't felt much like posting.  The pelvic pain is gone so I am cleared to run again but I am having trouble getting myself ramped up and back in the running groove.  I need to get on that ASAP because, as a friend of mine likes to say, that half-marathon isn't going to run itself.

In addition to the "blahs" I have had quite a few things going on that may or may not get blogged about:  volunteering at Girls on the Run 5K, silent movies at SIFF, some fabulous new touches to the house, some wedding plans, upcoming vacation and various and sundry other things.

I hope to start tomorrow morning with a run and a fresh green smoothie to kick start a new mood and renew my focus on weight-loss and running and not being so off my game in every possible facet of life.  Ahh...the healing power of produce.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different

Apparently there is a part of your body called a pubis symphysis.  I was completely unaware of this until today.  You usually only find out about new body parts you have when something goes haywire with them and my new found knowledge of the pubis symphysis is no exception.

Starting last Friday I was having fairly strong abdominal/pelvic achiness and discomfort.  I went for a really crappy run Friday after work ( seriously, like two miles) and then spent the rest of the evening bent over every time I tried to stand up.  It was still pretty uncomfortable on Saturday but by Sunday I was feeling better if I didn't press on the area so I figured I was good.  I went for a really fabulous run on Sunday night and then it hit me again when I got back and tried to stand up from a sitting position. Other than a vague discomfort a good portion of the time it is really only painful when I go from sitting to standing. 

So I went to the doctor today and she said it was a strain or inflammation of this piece of strong cartilage, the pubis symphysis, that holds your pubic bones together.  She has no idea how this happened but between what she said and the magic of internet self-diagnosis I am guessing running played a part.  It can be considered an overuse injury in runners, albeit a fairly rare one.  Now I would hardly call a peak mileage week of 26 miles overuse but maybe I weakened it in Eugene and the runs I went on last week (my first since the race) were enough to send it over the edge.  Either that or the speed work I did Wednesday night did it and I should take it as a sign from the running gods to banish speed work from my training regimen.  Apparently, the ligaments and whatsits attached to this thing can get pulled and tight and can cause the problems with this cartilage.

The upshot of this is I am sidelined for a week.  No running.  No training for Rock 'N Roll.  I just have to sit around and atrophy.  If it doesn't hurt when I run next Tuesday I am clear to go forward; if it does hurt I don't know what the next step is.  I am not pleased with this in the slightest but I also know that it hurts enough that I don't want to continue to mess with it.  I will take my rest week and cross my fingers that I am all better so I can start training again.  If I have to take any serious time off and I lose all the fitness I have gained over these last few months I will be one pissed off woman.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What's The Meaning of This?

For my birthday I received this drawing from a friend of mine clipped to some cash.  Sure, the safe assumption is that it is meant for a massage but my mind went somewhere else entirely.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

No News is Good News

Since I have had a few people ask recently I thought it was time to give a quick update about Dad.  There really hasn't been much to talk about.  He is plugging along and actually seems to be doing better.  He has been a little chattier and has been moving around a little bit more the last two times I saw him.  In fact, his oxygen sats increased from 92% to 97%.  Don't ask me how someone who is on hospice and, according to his doctor in February, had two months to live actually increased his O2 sats.  Mysterious.  He still sits and watches TV all day and barely moves but that is pretty much what he did before his cancer diagnosis so things really haven't changed much at all in that regard.

I am trying to go down about once a week for visiting and chores with a main chore day scheduled every three weeks.  They have housekeeping help from hospice now so that eases the cleaning chores on my brother and I a little bit. 

Because he is on hospice they can't get any sort of tests done to determine what the tumor might be doing.  So everybody is in a "sit tight and be glad he is seeming better" frame of mind.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Eugene Half-Marathon Race Report

It was the best of times, it was ....well, hell, it was just the best of times.

Heading into Eugene I had one goal in mind: Beat my previous PR of 2:37:22 from the Eugene half in 2008. But as the months of training wore on I realized that a PR wasn't going to be enough to really satisfy me. I knew I was capable of more so I set my mind on a new goal: sub 2 hour 30 minute finish. By the time race day rolled around I had a sneaking suspicion that even that might be low-balling but I wasn't confident enough in what I could do so I kept my goal sub 2:30.

Bright and early Sunday morning, my friend Todd, my brother Matt and I left our hotel and walked the five minutes to the start line. Kevin was along with us but was acting as our race photographer and chief clothing holder for this race. Booking that hotel in November was one of the smartest things I have done. No dealing with shuttles to or from the race plus extra time to sleep in the morning. Score!!!


We milled around the start line for a while before all scooting off to our respective pace areas. I looked for The Cilley Girl but wasn't able to spot her in the big crowd to wish her happy first marathon. Having been at this race since it began four years ago I have seen it grow quite a bit and you could really tell that this was their biggest group yet. More people each year which is good for the race.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Sunny, temperatures in the 50's, no wind. Really, you couldn't ask for better conditions as far as I was concerned. It was a little chilly in short sleeves at the start line but by mile 2 I was warmed up and stayed the perfect temperature for the remainder of the race.

The gun is fired and we are off! And why, oh why, are there people walking in front of me right at the start line? Do the pace signs mean nothing to them? The first mile running is always hard for me. I need at least a mile to feel warmed up and get myself physically and mentally in the groove for running. In mile two I started to get that groove and was just cruising along and enjoying the run. Somewhere around mile four I realized that my pace was better than I thought it was going to be and that I had a really good chance of not only beating my PR but beating the 2 hour 30 minute mark. But it was only four miles in and I didn't want to get too cocky so I tried to slow it down a little just in case I needed some reserves later in the race.
The miles kept clicking by and I kept feeling strong. I kept looking at the Garmin and my pace was hanging out right about 10:45 the whole time so I felt pretty confident that I could, at the very least, hold my pace to a sub 11:00 if I just didn't try to push too fast and just let myself hold steady.

Mile 9 is where the only major hill is and I notched my slowest mile of the race but I ran the whole thing and passed people on the way up which is always a fabulous feeling. In fact, I didn't have to take a single walk break the entire race which means this was also the furthest I have ever run continuously. OK, I did walk briefly at water stops but that was a matter of a few steps and I don't count that.

After Mile 9 I saw Kevin, who was busy taking pictures. I told him at that time that I thought I might have gone out too fast because I was starting to feel tired. I could feel my pace slipping a little but I was pretty certain the wheels weren't going to come off or anything.

Mile 9 is also where they had a banana station set up. Now, bananas and running are a good thing nutrionally but banana peels on the racecourse just seemed like a bad cartoon moment waiting to happen. There was also a dancing sub sandwich at this particular stop which, had it been later in the race, might have made you think you were hallucinating.

The last few miles have you running in the beautiful Alton Baker Park but it looses some of its beauty at this point of the race. I am tired and have been running for a while and frankly would just like to get the hell out of the park and get to the finish line. I tried to increase my speed a little at this point but my legs were going about as fast as they could.  There wasn't anything left in the muscles to push the pace but there was plenty to just keep plugging along.  We cross back over the Willamette and start heading out of the park where you can hear the excitement of the finish line. I enter the gates of Hayward Field, and what a thrill to run on such a fabled track, and enjoy the crowd in the grandstands and the soft, cushy feel of the Hayward Field track and push to the finish line. I crossed in 2:21:56, which is a PR of over 15 minutes which even my non-running friends can figure out is pretty huge. Yes, the bar was set incredibly low but it was still a lot of time to cut off my total.

Here are the splits:
Mile 1   10:46
Mile 2   10:35
Mile 3   10:36
Mile 4   10:43
Mile 5   11:00
Mile 6   10:29
Mile 7   10:13
Mile 8   10:34
Mile 9   11:09
Mile 10  10:45
Mile 11  11:09
Mile 12  10:57
Mile 13  10:48
.10           9:39

I trained hard and really focused on performing the best I was capable of at this race and I believe I achieved that. Can I train harder? Absolutely. Can I pay more attention to cross training and nutrition? Absolutely. Can I improve my time? You bet. But even with those things I am satisfied with my time last weekend. I wanted to go to the starting line feeling ready and have a race I could be proud of and I did that. Also, I had to remind myself that when I began training back in January that I was my heaviest weight ever and was running about six miles a week. Considering how far I came in four months I am extra pleased.

By the way, the boys also had great races. Todd cut more than seven minutes off of his half-marathon PR and my brother lopped just over nine minutes off of his marathon PR.

Matt, Todd, statue of famed Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and me

Bowerman and the "good job" fist bump