Wednesday, August 31, 2011

64 and counting

Today, Wed., will be our 65th day in 2011 at 100 degrees or higher in Dallas.  Yikes!  So if it keeps going, we'll tie the all-time record (1980) on Sunday and break it on Monday.  It's not a gimme though.  They were originally saying maybe we'd only hit 99 on Friday.  Now they're saying it will be 101, but now they're predicting Sat and Sun at 99 each day. 

Is it just me, or is this getting kind of miserable?

I feel gross.  I haven't been working out as much or as intensely in hopes of taking some stress off my soleus, and it makes me feel more like a blob than usual.  Ugh. 

Either way, there's relief in sight.  Regardless of whether we start having highs in the 90s (instead of the 100s) or lows in the 70s (instead of the 80s), in just over a week, I'll be enjoying highs in the 70s probably and lows in the 50s.  My brother's fiancee's bachelorette party is going to be in Lake Geneva, and it should be lovely! 

I'm flying up before the crack on Thursday (my flight LEAVES at 5:45!  ugh!), meeting my newest sister-in-law for breakfast, working from my other bro and his fiancee's place in Chicago on Thursday, meeting someone (either a brother or a former colleague) for lunch, working for the afternoon, then heading to Lake Geneva with her late afternoon.  Not sure of the exact plan Thursday night, doubtless just going out.  Then Friday will for me unfortunately mostly be work, but hopefully I can be efficient and get done fairly early and enjoy some pool time.  This weekend I'm researching Lake Geneva male strippers.  We're not sure we're going to do it, but think her reaction would be absolutely hilarious.  I actually chuckle now out loud just thinking about it!  So anyway, Friday and Saturday will be bachelorette fun, then Sunday I'm going to hitch a ride w/ another bridesmaid to Milwaukee and visit w/ my other brother and his family, including my precious little nieces and my nepphew.  I miss them!  Then I have a very late flight home Sunday night, so I'll be dragging on Monday.  But hopefully my calf will feel pretty solid by then and I can soak up some running weather to counteract the imminent alcohol...


Update:  i-phone forecast currently has 100 or higher all the way through Sunday, with Monday being on 96.  That would tie the record. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So I feel like I barely have time to think right now, but no good explanation.  Here's the quick update, hopefully more detail to follow eventually:

Hit the big 36 on Saturday.  Relaxing day.  Fun-filled (and pizza filled) night.  Definitely will post pictures! 

RARE Sunday in town with my husband.  That seriously never happens.  It's been years.  I got up to run in the morning and then he came out to meet me and my running buddies for breakfast.  I should also post about this later, but it's so strange -- at this restaurant, Cafe Brazil, almost every time I go, I feel this weird circle of love thing.  It's hard to explain but I will try -- just not this morning!

Many hours of errands on Sunday.  I think we had 5 stops and I foolishly guessed 2 hours.  Way wrong.  First stop was to shop for my future sister-in-law's bachelorette party (got a boa, penis straws, and a "pin the torpedo on the sailor" game), then we stopped by my office just to grab something quickly I'd forgotten, then to a drug store (new cheapo sunglasses for me, readers for hubby (!), deodorant and hand sanitizer, how's that for random, and I bought my only little pack of pretzel M&Ms b/c hubby refused to pay for them and I wanted to try them), and then our progress truly ground to a halt -- an AT&T store dealing with phone stuff for a very long hour or more.  Final stop was my fave grocery store (it's all relative in TJ-free Texas), Central Market.  OMG, I remembered why hubby does our grocery shopping.  I hate that place on a Sunday so much.  It was packed.  I almost felt claustrophobic.  I think my blood pressure was skyrocketing from the slow pace.  I'm way too impatient, and not having to deal with that regularly might have even further reduced my tolerance.

The good news is we kind of started shopping for a dinner party at home on Friday!

But the bad news is this is my first week of attempting to work from home on Friday, so I am going to have to be very disciplined to avoid cleaning, cooking and other distractions.  I should have started last week, with far fewer distractions, and maybe I could have laid the groundwork for some good habits.  Fortunately, I like my job enough (and it's busy enough) that I'm trusting I'll be successful at it.  And that we'll have an awesome night.

And other mixed bad-ish news, my calf.  Definitely the soleus.  It's so painful.  But I gave in and went to my ortho yesterday.  Fortunately he didn't tell me to stop running, though he's glad I've cut my mileage.  After 3 weeks in the mid-40s, last week was about 30, and I think this week will also be about 30.  He said it's just inflammation (and I can't take anti-inflammatories b/c of an allergy), so I'm trying to ice, stretch, etc., and for the first time this morning, I wore heel lifts in my running shoes. 

Thank goodness it didn't completely jack me up!  But it was weird.

Last night we went to hear Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak.  It was awesome and I marked it as the most interesting night of our year (hubby voted for a night in Paris as being more interesting, but I'm sticking with Ruth). 

Tonight the cleaning and planning for the dinner party begins in earnest.  Still don't have an exact headcount.  I'm hoping it will be 2 other couples. 

I remember writing notes in high school and a lot of times we'd put LLL at the end -- longer letter later. 

Well, LLL! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Resolution Check-In

So the other day I was thinking it would be a good time to check in on how I'm doing on my New Year's Resolutions.  A blog I read a lot, A Merry Life, checked in on resolutions a month or so ago, and I couldn't believe the year was already more than half over.  This year, with the job change, I've been much less focused on my resolutions, and it seems to be a good time to refocus. 

Here's a link to my original resolutions, with some description of each and some explanation of why I chose it, or what it meant to me.  Reading that almost makes me feel bad b/c I haaven't made a lot of progress on these.  Not to say there haven't been awesome things I've wanted to do for a long time that I did but weren't on the list, just that I haven't made as much progress on this list as I would have hoped.  Definitely need to refocus. 

1. Italian at home (evenings on the second floor (where the kitchen and living room are)).  Mid-August status:  This is maybe my biggest resolution failure.  We did well through about February (specifically my last entries on the vocab list were Feb. 7).  But all this stuff happened in Feb when I decided to change jobs and marital communication took priority over Italian practice, but we really should consider going back to this one.  Even if not every night, at least some.  I bet it would really be good for me.  Kind of like flossing, see below. 

2. Follow at least one ambitious marathon training program to the best of my ability (with this eventually leading to a marathon PR in 2011, either in the spring or the fall or both).  Mid-August status:  CHECK!  A resolution I did!  I faltered for one of the highest mileage weeks of training, worried about an injury, but I stuck to the schedule well and it paid off with a little PR in Boston.  I'd love a bigger PR in San Antonio in November! 

3. Log at least 1400 miles of running.  2009 I was at 1284, and 2010 I was just over 1400.  Mid-August status:  I think I'm on track.  I don't have exact totals right now, but I know I'm over 1000 miles for the year!  Even if my calf (which was painful after last weekend's long run and REALLY painful after yesterday's long run) keeps me down for a few weeks, I think I should be able to hit 100 miles per month for the rest of the year. 

4. Attain a new 5k PR. Mid-August status:  No progress but definitely something I'd love to do.  I already wrote about how I am thinking of registering for the race where my current PR was set -- the one I need to break by only 2 seconds...  That might be a good opportunity to take a crack at this resolution, but I'm not feeling particularly speedy right now.  The odds of beating it are very slim.  I might be better off looking for a mid-October 5k, or maybe even something in early Dec., assuming I finish San Antonio strong and can keep at it.  So bottom line, I don't know when or where I'm going to go for this one, and it's hard to think about seriously right now b/c my left calf hurts.  Maybe this won't happen this year.  Too bad I didn't expressly make a marathon PR one of my resolutions! 

5. Entertaining at home -- similar resolution to last year's in terms of quantity, goal is to host several people we did not host last year.  Mid-August status:  Not good.  I feel like we've been out of town more this year, and that's made it tough.  I'd say we've had people over 2 or 3 times.  Way behind schedule.  Maybe I can work on this for Labor Day weekend, have a few people over that Friday night and do something nice.  I've just sent out invites to 3 couples for this coming Friday.  But I should plan out the calendar and guest lists a bit more and see if I can't get this one done by year end.  Looking at the calendar, there are really only 3 good dates left -- twice in September (this weekend and the last weekend) and once at the end of October.  Need to think of guests and come up with a plan. 

6. Flossing five days per week.  Mid-August status:  Oops.  I have a dentist appointment coming up too, so I really should have looked back at these resolutions a couple weeks ago!  I should see about doing this one, maybe taping a flosser to my calendar each day and seeing if that will help.  For some reason I don't really like flossing at the same time as when I brush. 

7. Operation: Fit-Closet (moving toward having everything in my closet fit me and be things I wear). Mid-August status:  slow progress, at best.  I got about 10 skirts altered to fit me, and I chose 10 pairs of pants and one dress that I want altered, but I didn't get around to doing that before we went on vacation in April and May, and I haven't lost the weight yet that I gained, so I am holding off on altering them until I hopefully get to my fighting weight.  Or at least back to where I was in about February...  The good news is I've been wearing a wider variety of clothes.  There was a section where I was putting things I was thinking of getting rid of, and in my attempt to wear varying things to work, several of them have gotten into the rotation again.  But I need to purge A LOT MORE.  And I should be doing it now.  I need to think of Dallas summer like a winter up north -- time inside to do projects inside.  Maybe that will be a good Labor Day weekend project.  But I need to purge.  I think I own over 50 skirts that fit me (that's including all seasons, and all levels of formality (casual weekend skirts, and a floor length velvet one I'll wear around the holidays sometimes)).  Desperately need to purge, but it's hard for me. 

8. Book Research.  Mid-August status:  not technically stalled, but not making a lot of progress.  I suppose I'm still doing research, but no attempts yet to organize the research, let alone start writing.  But the more I research, the more I realize I need to research more. 

So there you have it, my 8 published resolutions reviewed.  Not pretty.  But like I said, I made progress on other fronts, I just think these were important to me at the beginning of the year, and realistically, are still things I'd like to work toward, so I should refocus. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Racing Dilemma

So perhaps my favorite racing weekend of the year is coming up in mid-September and I have a dilemma.  Two great races on the same day.  And my calf hurts, so there's no guarantee either will be a good idea for me.

First option is an Oktoberfest 5k in the city where my husband works.  Because of the second option, which is a big race that draws the speedsters, this tends to be a big race but with a slower field, so I can sometimes get an AG award.  And the AG awards are awesome -- cool glass beer steins.  It's kind of hilly for a 5k (so crappy course if you're looking for a PR), but actually, it was my PR last year -- and since I haven't broken that yet, it's still my PR.  Can I go 2 or so seconds faster on the same course?  I sincerely hope so, but it's far from certain.  A lot of course would depend on the weather.  And I'm just assuming this pain in my leg will be gone by then.  So the cool thing about this race is that I see a bunch of my husband's coworkers.  They are so awesome and supportive and fun.  And after the race, there are pretzels and beer, along with other traditional foods (bagels, chips, fruit), and donuts.  And with your bib, you get free admission into Oktoberfest that night, something I'll definitely be attending.  I always go with this running/drinking group and it's a lot of fun.  So that's option 1.  5k.  Possible PR (which was a resolution this year).  Food, beer, fun, crappy, crappy t-shirt. 

Second option is a 10k or 20k race at the Arboretum at the lake.  Pretty much no chance of an AG award, but slight chance for a 10k PR, which would be big and make me happy.  And of course a 100% chance of a 20k PR since I've never run a 20k.  But 20k is unlikely since I have a run the next day and I wouldn't want too many miles.  So I have tons of friends running this one.  And there is an awesome post-racee party here.  Bands, tons of great restaurants, beer, etc.  And it's closer to home.  And the shirts are mega-cool. 

These two races seem to always conflict.  I've done Oktoberfest the last two years in a row, the Arboretum in 08, Oktoberfest in 07, the Arboretum in 06 I think.  So what do I do this year?  Based on my resolutions, maybe I should go with the 5k again.  And did I mention that I could get a comped entry into Oktoberfest through my husband's work, and the other one is pricey?  But I haven't been racing much lately, so the budget will cover either, so that shouldn't really be my deciding point.  I almost would rather go for the 10k b/c I don't think I'm in 5k shape and it would be disappointing to crash and burn.  And I think I'm due for the 10k since I did Oktoberfest the last 2 years. 

Hmm... I'm conflicted.  I wish I could do both!  Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Going for Another Record

So you might remember my disappointment/bitterness a few weeks ago when our streak of 100 degree days ended just a couple days shy of the all-time record here for a streak.  Well, fortuntately I suppose, there's another record within reach.  Turns out they also measure total days at 100 or higher (so it doesn't matter if you throw in a day at 99, which ended our last streak, this one starts counting again when we get back to 100 or higher).  And it's that infamous summer of 1980 that has us beat again, well, at least so far. 

Greatest annual 100 degree (or higher) days in Dallas

1.  69 in 1980 (d'oh!)
2.  57 this year (that includes Tues, 8-23, and I'm pretty sure we hit it yesterday too, so 58!)
3.  56 in 1998 (I was here!  But I left in mid-July and spent the rest of the summer in KC.)
4.  52 in 1954 (not born yet)
5.  48 in 1956 (not born yet)
6.  46 in 2000 (I was here!  But I left in August for a month in Kenya, Tanzania, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and maybe one other place I can't remember.)
7.  44 in 1952 (not born yet)
8.  43 in 2006 (I was here but not running long that summer thankfully, I took 2006 off from marathons)
9.  40 in 1951 (not born yet)
10.  38 in 1963 (not born yet)

It's hard to explain why this streak matters to me.  It's notable that for all the years on that top 10 list that have been in my lifetime, I've lived in Texas for all of them except numero uno, 1980.  And the thing is, most of the people I know here have lived here about as long as I have.  I don't know tons of people born and raised  here.  But wow, those few who were here in 1980 talk about it ALL the time.  I want to get a record to reflect the misery of this summer.  I want all those 1980ers to shut it.  Interestingly, our lows are higher this summer than they were in 1980, so it's definitely more miserable for people like me who try to work out first thing in the morning at the coolest time of the day.  But I want the unquestionable badge of a record.  So let's just have 12 more days.  They don't have to be in a row, let's just do it.  I think, looking at the extended forecast, we should get today, Fri, Sat, and Sun.  And it's less certain but probably Mon and Tues too (those days are only looking like 101 or 102, so not much cushion). 

Then we'd only need 6 more days to beat the record!  We'll surely have a couple in Sept.  I wonder if it will happen.  I may have to take comfort in another 2d place finish for the summer of 2011...

But it means that it's guaranteed to make me strong on race day, right?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Book Club

So a few weeks ago, we kind of agreed to join a new book club.  Everyone got to weigh in a bit on our first selection, and it's a little different from most book clubs in that we meet more than once a month (current plan is about every 2-3 weeks), but we only read a chapter or so for each meeting.

This is the description we got of what we chose, Gomorra, which is also a movie -- very violent I think. 

4) Roberto Saviano, Gomorra

The book describes the clandestine particulars of the business of the Camorra, a powerful Neapolitan mafia-like organization. In this book Saviano employs prose and news-reporting style to narrate the story of the Camorra, exposing its territory and business connections. Since 2006, following the publication of the book, Saviano has been threatened by several Neapolitan “godfathers”. The Italian Minister of the Interior has granted him a permanent police escort, but he's often attacked by politicians of Berlusconi's government. Also, his escort has been questioned. As of December 2008, the book has sold almost 4 million copies worldwide.

But somehow, with all the puzzle craziness, time got away from me and I didn't have time to read for our first meeting.  Ooh, that's right, here's the finished puzzle.  I think we're going to break it apart soon, but I'm just enjoying looking at it for a few days. 

And hubby has been working like crazy lately, so he didn't get to read the first 30 pages either.  So we went, ordered and ate dinner, and listened.  But the good news is that it was a lot of language practice for us to just be at the discussion (it's an Italian book club), and better yet, the book apparently is something you can read piecemeal -- each chapter stands alone, so we'll be able to pick up with chapter 2 (entitled Angelina Jolie) and go from there.  I read so slowly in Italian.  I go back and forth between trying to just plow through it without using a dictionary, but then sometimes I worry I'm missing something key or just not getting it, so I go to the dictionary.  And then next thing I know, I'm looking up at least one word per sentence and it takes 5 minutes to read a line of text... 

But I'm going to be prepared for the next meeting.  Without a puzzle to keep me busy, I'll try to do some Italian reading at night.  One of my resolutions this year was to speak Italian at home, and we've completely sucked at that one, so at least this will help toward that.  I need to do a resolution check-in soon.  It's way past halfway through the year, and I haven't been very focused on them, so this might be a good time to try to recommit. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lake Time

One of the things I miss most about summers up north is lots of time on the lake.  I think Texas has something like one natural lake?  There are a few manmade ones, but it's just not the same.  Or maybe it's just that my crowd is different -- most my friends fall into the group of lawyers, runners, or Italians, and some overlap between categories, and I don't have a single local friend that I know of who spends a lot of time on a lake around here.  While every time I talk to my family, they seem to be out on some lake.  My folks live on a lake now, up at what used to be our lake cabin, and they spend happy hours in the evening on a pontoon boat.  My sibs aren't up there, but they spend many weekends on other lakes in boats skiing, tubing, just hanging out.  But that's just not so common among my friends here. 

I'm thinking of going out on a party boat with a whole bunch of running friends next weekend, but I'm still not committed.  It's a special day in our household, but hubby has to work.  So if I don't go on the party boat, I'll have a boring, solo day, and we'll go out to dinner, but if I go on the party boat, I'll have an awesome fun day, but I wouldn't be home in time for dinner.  Hmmm... Still torn.

But this weekend I ended up spending more time on the lake near our house than I maybe ever have before.  We live near a lake called White Rock.  It's pretty small, about nine miles if you run around it, and the only boats out there are sailboats, little canoes or kayaks, and occasionally a small fishing boat, though I have no idea who would want to eat fish from there -- maybe they just enjoy torturing them and throwing them back in the water?  But it's not at all like a lake up north, that might have a beach and be filled with motor boats and water skiiers and docks where you can pull up and stop at a bar/restaurant. 

Anyway, White Rock was big in my plans on Saturday, so I thought I'd write about it a little since I never have before. 

First, I got up Saturday morning to run.  That surprised me for two reasons.  First, I've had a tight left calf lately.  I took the day off from exercise on Friday, so it felt better, but it still would have been smarter probably to take the morning off, but I didn't want to miss out on the time with my buddies.  The guys I run with on Saturdays I only see that one day a week, so it's our only chance to catch up really.  Second, I went out on Friday night.  We went with a coworker of mine and his partner, and we had a pitcher of sangria and a bottle of wine for the 4 of us, and my coworker was driving home afterward so he didn't drink much, so I def had more than my fair share.  Hung over is usually not a good excuse to skip a run for me, but I actually didn't feel too bad Sat morning -- it was mostly just tired.  Since we stayed out late, when the alarm went off at 4:xx to meet my buds at 5:30 to start running, I was at less than 4 hours of sleep I think.  Oops! 

So either way, I went to meet my friends and we did a nice and easy loop around the lake.  About 15k, or 9.3 miles.  Calf felt fine the whole way. 

Then I drove home, made my fave breakfast sandwich, and then we were out the door again.  We rented a tandem kayak for the first time and spent a few hours rowing around the lake.  We started off going up the creek part of the lake a little (not part we run around), then we turned around and went down the coast near the east side of the lake.  We got to a point near a little sailing club where we could see the trail pretty well, so we stopped and waited.  The guys I ran with were doing 2 lake loops, 18 miles, so they had to run another loop when I was finished.  We got to yell at them and wave when they were at about 17.  That was a minute of funniness.  Then we decided to paddle down to the dam at the south end of the lake.  Actually, I decided and I paddled.  Hubby spent a lot of time trying to adjust his seat and telling me that the backrest was bothering him.  The dam was so far away, but we figured it would be a fun destination (you can see it below).

Along the way to the dam, we saw this cool dragon boat.  Apparently it was the maiden voyage, looked pretty cool. 

We got to the dam and he adjusted the seat, we could hear a nearby race announcing the results, so I got to hear two of my friends win age group awards!  Parked along the dam:

Then we paddled back.  It was a loooong way.  We made a deal that we'd both paddle hard for 10 minutes, then we'd just either not paddle or paddle easily for 3 minutes.  Kind of like the Galloway method (or Couch to 5k) of paddling!  Anyway, if you zoom in on this picture, you can kind of see how far back we had to go, the kayak return was right near the base of the bridges at the far end of the photo (and also, here's a shot of the water treatment plant as we rowed away):

We went near the dog park and paddled around, watching the dogs fetch sticks.  By then we were starving.  I kind of wished I'd packed some food -- we were both starving.  But there was a lot of water that dripped off the paddles when the other side went into the water, so things got pretty wet.  So any sandwiches would have probably gotten wet.  In the back of my mind (and I unfortunately voiced this as well), I kept thinking if only we were up north, there would be some cool little restaurant we could have pulled up to in our kayak to get something to eat...  Ah homesick...

The good news is, two of my brothers are getting married this year, one who just did in July, and one in October.  Well, the October bride is having her bachelorette party in a few weeks -- and it will be close enough for me to head over to Milwaukee for about a day on the back end and get some quality time with my nieces and nephew.  Lately I've been missing them like crazy!  But mid-September might not be lake weather up there! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

FMM: The Last Thing

There is something I’ve read on Bella’s blog for several weeks now, and I thought today’s topic sounded interesting. It’s called Friend Making Monday.

Here are the instructions: If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links, too, so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: The Last Thing

1) What is the title of the last book you read? I am currently reading three books: The Terror by Dan Simmons (yes, the link is correct, it’s 784 pages, I’m about 2/3 of the way done, but it was very slow going at the beginning, fiction about arctic exploration in the late 1840s), and Long May You Run by Chris Cooper (non-fiction compilation kind of book about running for a lifetime), and Gomorra by Roberto Saviano (a link in English, but I’m not reading it in English), but the last book I finished reading was probably Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

2) What is the last movie you saw in a theater? Rise of Planet of the Apes a couple weeks ago. I really wanted to see Horrible Bosses, but I don’t even know if it’s still showing. We don’t go to movies very often, I generally hate the theater experience – it’s inevitable someone talks, or some kid cries, or kids walk in and out of the theater, or someone’s texting, whatever.

3) Briefly describe the last person you saw today. Probably my secretary who came in my office to grab stuff out of my in-box within the last 45 minutes.

4) Which store did you most recently shop in? This weekend was tax-free shopping in Texas, so I did a bunch on Saturday – two running stores, two shoe stores, and the Container Store.  I also went to Target in search of something on a wedding registry and some stuff for myself, but since the registry item wasn't there and it was crowded, I didn't bother shopping for myself. 

5) Who’s the last person you spoke to over the phone? The receptionist at the Montana Human Rights Bureau (work-related).

6) Where’s the last place you vacationed? Technically, that would be Troy and Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Canada in mid-July, but that was for a family wedding, not really a vacation destination.  Before that was Port Sanilac, Michigan in late June for the bachelorette party accompanying said wedding. The last real true vacation just for fun was Paris in May. We added it on to our trip to Boston and Italy in April, but Boston was for the marathon, Italy was to see family and friends. Paris was truly just vacation for us.

7) When was the last time you kissed someone of the opposite sex? About 6:35 this morning, saying goodbye to my husband as we got in our separate cars after working out at boot camp. 

8) What’s the last thing that made you laugh? It’s sad that I don’t know how to answer this.  I seriously have no idea.  Possibly something while I was running with friends this weekend or maybe something I saw on tv recently?  But in the interest of thinking of something concrete, it would have been Sat afternoon at a friend's business grand opening.  We were there with a bunch of our boot camp buddies and one was talking about the perfect crime.  I was laughing.  It's just weird though if I haven't laughed in the last 48 hours, but I'm not a big laugher in general I guess. 

9) What’s the latest app that you downloaded on your phone? Nothing recent.

10) What’s the last kind thing you did for someone? Hmm, I called my husband while I was getting ready for work just to tell him that I thought he was a wonderful husband, a wonderful father, a wonderful friend, and a wonderful employee. But does that really count? I offered to share my huge block of chocolate with my office next-door neighbor this morning, but I don’t know if that counts either b/c he didn’t accept.  I failed to bug defense counsel on a case for a status report that she should have given me a few hours ago, but that's not really kind either.  Do happy birthday phone calls count?  Bringing friends as your guest to boot camp?  Buying running shorts for my husband on Saturday that he really wanted using my store credit that I usually put toward running gear for myself?  Putting a lot of effort into making a delicious and nutritious dinner that was ready for my husband when he got home from work yesterday?  Actually, because that made him really happy, I guess I'd say that was the last kind thing I did.  This question makes me think I need to do some pro bono legal work pronto, or at least buy a homeless person dinner or go for a run with them or something!  We have an awesome program here for running with the homeless, but I haven't done it in weeks because it's conflicted w/ my scheduled run with a couple friends lately.  I should get back to it. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to link up in the comments the blog that's hosting this.

Sunday Dinner

I spent most of the day hanging out yesterday.  I got home from my run.  It was 9 miles with the group, plus to and from our starting point, so about 12.5 total. 

When I got home, I was hurting.  My left calf is really tight when I flex my foot.  I'm trying to ice, and I've decided I'm not going to do any additional miles on Wed morning (just boot camp in the morning and a social run at night).  Hopefully that will be enough of a rest that it will get back to normal. 

So I hung out. I did laundry, did some reading for my new book club (I'll have to write about that soon), and mostly just watched movies and stuff.  Very low key.  At about 5, I started cooking.  I made Mediterranean Eggplant Barley Salad, along with roasted cauliflower. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

Puzzle Done

Okay, I should get back to posting regularly soon.  Hubby finished the puzzle last night.  It's beautiful.  He will love tearing it apart.  And now I can go back to the usual ways of occupying my free time -- planning travel, doing random stuff around the house, reading, watching bad tv, reading (and I suppose writing) blogs, sleeping, etc. 

I'll have to write about it later, but hubby and I went to a first book club meeting last night and were the only two there who hadn't done the reading.  I tried to explain the puzzle time suck, but I just don't think anyone understood. 

Should be a nice weekend.  Dinner tonight at my local fave restaurant, then a wine tasting.  Tomorrow likely a run around the lake, then a few hours of kayaking, then some shopping.  Sunday more running and then chilling solo while hubby works.  Hopefully lots of relaxation during the day Sunday, plus I'm going to cook a fun dinner -- Mediterranean eggplant with barley. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Still Working...

I'll have to see if I can upload a photo later, but basically, take the last picture of the puzzle that I posted, and imagine that last night I filled in every single missing piece except the big hole in the lower right quadrant.  It took forever, but now there are only about 70ish pieces to go! 

Seems like that should be quick and easy, but it seems like it takes about 10 minutes to get each one now.  Too many balloons!

Anyway, Wed is my day where I can do a triple workout if I want.  Wed morning boot camp, then I usually run a few miles home with my bestie, then after work I go to a social run sometimes.  Today I opted out of the second part (running home from camp), but I'll go to the social run tonight so I'll get my miles for the day.  I just might not stay at the post-run pool party at the bar tonight -- I'd rather come home and finish up this puzzle! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Puzzle Progress

An insanely boring post, but such is my life these days! 

As you'll recall, this was the puzzle status on Fri morning (long way to go):

And here it Sat night (major progress! that's 2 attorneys working on it for hours):

And here it is Sun night before dinner (progress stalled -- the easy parts are done, now it's slow going):

 And here it is Sunday night before bed:

And here it is last night (slowly but surely):

Hopefully just a couple more days.  But seriously, the parts that are left seem almost impossible.  The balloon density in the open area is very high!  Unfortunately we have a busy week with events most evenings this week.  Tonight might be my best chance at finishing it up b/c this is the week:

Wed night social run, just about 4 miles probably, then going to a bar/restaurant with a pool afterward, and jumping in wearing all my running clothes (not shoes, watch or heart rate monitor of course).

Thurs night a new book club (I'll have to post about that soon).

Fri night, my first purely social event with spouses with a coworker at my new job.  I've been working here since Feb. and there was this really nice guy who originally officed next door to me.  I gradually got to know him as an office neighbor b/c we don't ever work together.  And then they did an office shuffle.  Anyway, he had organized a fundraiser at the end of July, and I was one of the few people from work who attended, and he made it clear in talking to me that night and the next day, that my presence meant a lot to him.  (I actually already posted about the awkward conversation I had that night w/ a random guy.) 

So whenever this guy comes by my office or we run into each other in the hall, we have tons to talk about.  His partner won a million airline miles in a contest for which she wrote an essay, so he travels a lot and he loves a lot of the same places I do.  And he likes running, lives fairly close to downtown, and seems to have a lot in common with me in general.  He's a fun guy and talks a lot, which is just like my husband.  When he stopped by my office last week and asked if my hubby and I would like to join he and his partner for dinner, I jumped at the chance! 

In fact, I hope I didn't seem too eager!  Right away, I offered up this coming Fri night.  Then he went back to his office and I emailed him and said we could do lunch on Saturday if that worked better.  Then I emailed him AGAIN and said if he wanted, hubby and I are going kayaking on Sat morning and they could join us for that and THEN we could all go to lunch. 

Can you tell I miss mixing social extra-curricular activities with my new job?  Everywhere I've worked before, there have been some people I've seen outside the office on a fairly regular basis who have become good friends (like good enough friends to travel to Italy for my wedding, to be a bridesmaid, etc.). 

So I was very excited to be possibly making my first new social-work friend.  He responded to my emails with a reply that this Fri night would work for them, so game on. 

I should note that I have one other colleague that I feel socially close to (she traveled to Montana and Idaho with me, and we instantly clicked when I started here), but she lives way out in the burbs and has two young kids, so they're not likely people we'd see socially very often.  Maybe when their kids get older though! 

But given the plans Wed, Thurs and Fri night, and a busy day Saturday (running, kayaking, a friend's business grand opening, doubtless some errands too), the puzzle really needs to come together tonight -- it drives me crazy to leave it sit unfinished, so I'm going to have to hammer it out tonight!! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wet Stuff Coming Down??

I woke up for my run on Saturday and was confused.  There was wet stuff coming from the sky.  I momentarily thought maybe the world was ending, then I remembered it was this thing called rain, something we haven't seen in Dallas since June 21.  I was so excited to run!

I met my buddies and we thought about delaying the start of our run a bit since there was some lightning.  But of course the problem with summer running in Dallas is that if you wait too long, it just gets more miserable, so we decided to take off in the rain.

It was lovely.  We didn't get struck by lightning, though we saw several more flashes over the first few miles.  The rain continued all 9 miles, and we were completely soaked by the end.  But the rain brought some cooler temps and it was amazing.  9 cool, wet miles.  If you can really call mid-70s cool...  But after these last 6-8 weeks, that 5-10 degree drop in morning temps felt heavenly.  It's strange to remember during my Boston training when we had a "warm" weekend run -- meaning something in the 50s or 60s.  It's all relative!

Anyway, the rest of the day Saturday was as great as a day hubby works can be -- had a friend come over to help with the puzzle, then we went to the vegan Chinese buffet and I ate WAY too much.  Came home to more puzzle work and just some relaxation.  The most miserable part of the day was a trip to Toys R Us for my niece's second bday present.  Talk about birth control!  There were kids having tantrums and screaming everywhere.  What a nightmare! 

Sunday was also nice.  I ended up with 15.5 miles on Sunday morning -- felt fine but it was humid and kind of yucky.  And my left hami/groin muscle is kind of tight, but I don't think it's a big deal.  But maybe I should look for a rest day in the near future.  I know I haven't taken a day off from working out in August, but I just went back to look at my Garmin data, and my last day off from exercise was the weekend of July 23!  I took completely off on 7-23, and I did very little on 7-24. 

Wow!  That's 3 straight weeks of work-outs! 

I don't see a day off anytime soon unless I do it Friday.  I'm running as I always do on Tues and Thurs, plus I think I have at least 2, maybe 3 workouts on Wed (boot camp, maybe a run home, then an evening social run followed by a pool at a bar!).  And I'm pretty locked in to a run on Sat and kayaking for a few hours afterward, and of course a run on Sunday.  So my only option for a day off is Fri.  Hmmm...  Friday may be the PT test at boot camp, and I hate doing that, so that could be an ideal day to skip.  I think I'm seeing a rest day this week! 

Anyway, the rest of the day Sunday was mostly spent with the puzzle and getting caught up on laundry, after our washing machine had been broken for a week.  Turns out one of those nylon footies that I wear with work shoes escaped from a lingerie bag and got caught in the washer's drain, causing an error code to appear.  Whew.  It was $100 for the service call, but the guy also looked at our fridge (water dispenser isn't working), and he's calling or emailing us this week with info on whether he can fix it, so it was kind of like 2 birds with 1 stone. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

And So It Ends

The 100+ degree streak of days ended yesterday here.  40 straight days, which is insane.  But what's more insane is that I'm a little bummed we didn't set the all time record.  If we'd hit 100 yesterday, and today, we would have tied the all-time record, and if we hit it on Saturday, it would have been a new record.  And since it looks like we've got 102 and 103 for most days in the forecast next week, it would have been cool to have kept going since one or two days in the upper 90s doesn't exactly feel like a break. 

Oh well!  Guess we'll have to settle for the second-longest streak ever. 

I'm kind of glad it's Friday.  I've been really worn out this week.  Too many late nights working on my puzzle!  Let's see if I can find some pictures to share.

This is what it looks like in the box: 

Capitol Celebration

Here's the link if you want to buy your own and inflict hours and hours and hours of torture upon yourself.  Haha.  It's fun though:

So basically I have done almost the whole border (missing 1 bottom piece, 2 or 3 on the right side), both of the top corners where there is sky, and for the most part, all of those 8 windows shown along the bottom border.  My photo of where it stands this morning:

Yeah, lots and lots of puzzle ahead of me.  I'm not even at the point where I can clear pieces out of the middle that aren't attached.  I should have put the leaf in the table before I started so there would be more room.  Oh well.

This puzzle was a gift from my folks, so as I was working on it w/ my friend Tuesday night, we decided to call my mom and ask her if she would agree to answer a question honestly, even if it hurt my feelings.  Essentially she wouldn't commit to do that (my mom is sweet), but she basically said she'd try.  I asked her if she hated me.  She laughed with relief (wonder what she thought I was going to ask) and asked me why I'd ask her that.  I told her that she must hate me for giving me such a tough puzzle and she laughed and laughed.  She was happy I was enjoying the struggle with it.  Which is true, if it was easy, I probably wouldn't enjoy it!  So I have many more hours of puzzling ahead of me on this one.  I need to keep working on suckering friends into coming over to help! 

Anyway, my big weekend plans, in order:
1.  Saturday morning lake loop run w/ a couple friends (9ish miles)
2.  Friend coming over to help w/ the puzzle late morning Sat.
3.  Going out for lunch w/ friend at what I call "Chinese Thanksgiving" -- it's an amazing vegan Chinese buffet, so I always eat way too much, just like on Thanksgiving, but this is the vegan Chinese equivalent -- it's very lucky for me that it's kind of far away and my hubby doesn't love it, so I only eat there about 3 times per year.  This will be my first time in 2011.  Can't wait to fill my belly to the brim!
4.  Shopping -- second bday present for my niece.  If anyone has a brilliant suggestion for something she'd love and is shippable, I'd appreciate it. 
5.  Hopeful a washing machine repair person visit...  Still not draining from last week.  Ugh. 
6.  Sunday morning run from home w/ a friend to the running store, then 12 miles with my running group, then running back home.  This will be my highest mileage day since Boston in April I think! 
7.  Puzzle, puzzle, puzzle

There may be some other stuff I'm forgetting, but basically I don't have much planned besides the two runs, lunch and lots of puzzle time. And a weekend like this sounds so lovely right now.

Unfortunately, if I don't wrap up the puzzle by Sunday night, it's going to be another sleep-deprived week next week as I try to finish! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today Show Misinformation

I am sad to admit that I get most of my US news from the Today Show.  I was going to stop watching when Ann Curry became a host because I'm not a fan of hers, but out of habit, I still tend to have it on in the morning as I'm reading blogs, getting dressed for work, eating breakfast, etc.  And that's about it for news for me.  In the evenings we'll sometimes watch BBC news or, more often, RAI news, but there isn't much US news on either of those. 

There are regular breaks in the Today Show where they go to local weather and traffic.  So I'm on top of the Dallas temperature streak.  I'm well aware that we've had 40 days in a row at 100 or higher.  Today will make 41 when/if it happens.  Tomorrow will be day 42 if it happens, and that will tie the record.  They're actually saying it might not happen tomorrow -- we might actually just have a high of 99.  I actually think I'm rooting to break the record.  1 degree doesn't really matter, so we might as well have this go down as the longest streak ever.

But my point is that I'm shocked and appalled at the misinformation (or is it just lack of fact-checking?) on the Today Show.  They have mentioned the Dallas heat streak twice erroneously in the last week or two. 

First, they once reported our total number of days this year over 100 (about 5-10 more than our streak) as being what the streak of 100 or more is.  WRONG. 

Second, they once reported that today will be X days at 100 or higher, but the actual fact was that the day before had marked X days at 100 or higher. 

Minor points and it certainly doesn't really matter, but it makes me think that I'm not doing myself any favors by having the Today Show be my primary source of US news.  If they have that many errors about something so easily confirmed, how reliable is it?  Do they not bother trying to confirm what they report?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: Lords of Finance

When you hear the name George Harrison, if you’d rather have someone other than a musician be the first person who comes to mind (thinking instead of the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York), I have a book recommendation for you. A short review of a book I finished a few months ago but finally got around to writing about: Lords of Finance, The Bankers Who Broke the World, by Liaquat Ahamed.

Great read. Pulitzer Prize Winner. The stories of the 4 men who led the central banks of the U.S. (Benjamin Strong mostly, then Harrison), England (Montagu Norman), Germany (Hjalmar Schacht) and France (Emile Moreau) as the countries tried to reconstruct the world economy after WWI, considered the Dawes Plan and eventually moved from the gold standard. Essentially the decade or so before the Great Depression began. It goes so far beyond the basics everyone learns about reparations/reconstruction, the Depression, interest rates, the international monetary system, inflation, and the role of the central banks. The book is particularly interesting to read now in light of the current global economic climate and the wealth of misunderstanding of history that abounds.  It works both to reassure me that the alarmists have no real concept of what "bad" is, but it also scares me that things are setting up similarly to the alignment that led to Hitler's rise.  If any of that doesn't sound interesting, it's my fault – the book is anything but boring!

This book was a compelling read. There was so much extraneous detail that the characters came to life and it didn’t feel like a dry economic history text. Here’s one example, about the 1927 meeting of the 4 big central bankers:

“Norman dominated the proceedings, seated at one end of the conference room in a fan-backed oriental chair. In spite of the warm weather, he insisted on wearing his velvet-collared cape, which only added to the picturesque figure he evoked. He made it clear that his gold reserves were critically low. Any further erosion would force him to put up rates. The link between the pound and gold was seriously in peril.” Hahahahaha! Suck it, Bank of England!  There are later references in the book too to Norman wearing his cloak, like when he was questioned by the select committee in 1930 and was described by Keynes as looking like "an artist, sitting with his cloak round him hunched up, saying, 'I can't remember,' thus evading all questions."]

That’s just a taste. The best way to show some of the detail that makes the book so captivating may be to share a few paragraphs. I tried to pick a couple themes: facial hair and homosexuality.

I looooooved the facial hair comments.

“As the stresses of raising money for the war mounted, tensions between the Bank and the government escalated, finally coming to a head in 1917. The governor was then Walter Cunliffe, a tall barrel-chested, John Bull sort of character who sported an imposing walrus mustache, was a renowned big game hunter, and looked more like a gentleman farmer than a City grandee. Over the years, he had become increasingly autocratic and erratic in his judgments and had developed an exaggerated sense of his own importance as the governor to the point of insisting that his status required him to deal with the government through the prime minister alone, not even through the chancellor of the exchequer.”

[The walrus comes out again later -- when Schacht is tried by the Americans at Nuremberg, he is described as glaring "like an angry walrus" throughout the proceedings.  Do walruses glare?  I guess I haven't spent enough time in that part of the zoo...]

“Few people were surprised that with this sort of pedigree, Montagu Norman should end up at the Bank. Nevertheless, when he joined in 1915, he had had only a short and not particularly illustrious career as a merchant banker and was not very well known in the City.” Wait for it, here comes perhaps my favorite line of the ENTIRE BOOK: “In his first few weeks, Lord Cunliffe, then governor, was heard to remark, ‘There goes that queer-looking fish with the ginger beard again. Do you know who he is? I keep seeing him creep about this place like a lost soul with nothing better to do.’”

I love it! The queer-looking fish with the ginger beard. The descriptions made these figures from the past come alive again!

And just to make it into a nice, even facial hair trilogy, here’s another gem:

“Von Havenstein, a lawyer by training, did not have the same background but was universally acknowledged to be one of the most dedicated, upstanding, and loyal officials in the entire Reich. With his piercing eyes, long and luxuriant, well-waxed whiskers, and pointed beard, he looked like the impresario of a Victorian music hall.”

And it goes beyond facial hair to actual head-placement:

“‘In appearance [Norman] recalls the early Victorian statesman,’ it went on, ‘Aristocratic in manner and temperament … his Shakesperian type of head sets well upon his tall, silent and dignified figure.”

And there are several pince-nez references, a sure sign of a good book!

“Looking ‘grave’ and ‘gesturing idly with his pince-nez as he spoke,’ he began by announcing, ‘There has been a little distress selling on the Stock Exchange.’” [Keep in mind, this was on Oct. 23, 1929!]

“Tardieu, with his bejeweled pince-nez and his gold cigarette holder, his boulevardier taste in silk hats and fancy waist-coats, his fondness for raffish company, his involvement before the age of thirty-five in at least two financial scandals, was the embodiment of all that the British despised about French politicians.”

Besides the vivid facial hair descriptions, there also may have been an underlying current of homosexuality, or at least my husband thought so (I enjoyed this book enough that I got him to read it). A few examples:

“On the stormy Atlantic crossing, which took twice as long as normal because of rough seas, gale-force winds, and fog, Baldwin and Norman became fast friends. Norman was usually suspicious of politicians, claiming somewhat disingenuously to have no political views himself – he bragged that he had never voted. The stolid uncharismatic Baldwin was the quintessential nonpolitician. They would remain lifelong friends, sharing a common taste for the pleasures of silence, of country walks and string quartets.”

“After Norman’s three trips to the United States in 1921 and 1922, they did not see each other again for almost eighteen months. Falling ill once more, Strong had to take a leave of absence for most of 1923. Thereafter, they agreed to meet at least twice a year, alternating generally between Europe in the summer and New York in the winter. They wrote to each other every few weeks – a combination of financial gossip and views about economic policy. Despite their closeness, they usually addressed each other, in the quaintly formal style of the day, as ‘Dear Strong,’ or ‘Dear Norman,’ although letting their hair down on occasion with ‘Dear Strongy,’ ‘Dear Old Man,’ or ‘Dear old [sic] Monty.’ They furnished each other with advice, often revealing confidential details to which even their own colleagues were not privy. Occasionally they scolded each other. When Norman operated too much on his own and failed to consult his own directors, Strong admonished him, ‘You are a dear queer old duck and one of my duties seems to be to lecture you now and then.’”

“Strong and Norman in particular spent hours ‘closeted together.’”

“They [Strong and Norman] often ribbed each other affectionately. On one occasion, Norman, who had just returned from a visit to Strong in New York and discovered that he had packed one of Strong’s jackets by mistake, wrote: ‘Dear Ben, Since I wrote on the steamer, a further crime has been discovered. The second evening I was home, as usual I changed clothes in the evening and on going downstairs discovered myself in the disguise of a gentleman, if not a dude! This was due to velvet jacket of good style, fit and finish: In other words, Ben, I can only look respectable with the help of your wardrobe!’”

Oh, one more: "A small, sallow, birdlike man with a close-cropped mustache, Hatry was so flamboyant it was said the he even had the bottoms of his shoes polished."
“While the American delegates [to the World Economic Conference in 1933] may not have matched these luminaries in prestige, they made up for it in colorfulness, Senator Pittman [Nevada] in particular providing great fodder for scandalmongers. At an official reception at Windsor Castle, he broke with all social convention by wearing his raincoat and a pair of bright yellow bulbous-toed shoes while being presented to King George V and Queen Mary, greeting them with the salutation, ‘King, I’m glad to meet you. And you too Queen.’ He was usually drunk but even then amazed everyone by his ability to spit tobacco juice into a spittoon from a great distance with remarkable accuracy. One night he was discovered by floor waiters at Claridges sitting stark naked in the sink of the hotel pantry, pretending to be a statue in a fountain. Another night, he amused himself by shooting out the streetlamps on Upper Brook Street with his pistol.”

I don’t think any of them were actually gay, and there were better examples in the book that might suggest that they were, but I can’t remember them, but it was just a different era. Well, some were gay, like WAlter Funk, who replaced Schacht under Hitler as minister of the economy -- he was "an alcoholic homosexual."  Anyway, I think it's just that the drama of the time was high. One of my fave examples:

“The leader of the French delegation, Prime Minister Herriot, by background a historian more at home in the Left Bank literary salons of Paris than laboring over financial minutiae in a conference room, came to the negotiating table radically unprepared and found himself outfoxed at every turn. A passionate and emotional intellectual, he injected a certain operatic quality into the proceedings by more than once publicly bursting into tears of frustration.” Can you imagine being in that meeting to negotiate the Dawes Plan??!! Awkward! “At one point, Herriot and his minister of war, General Charles Nollet, got into such a long altercation at an evening meeting at 10 Downing Street that MacDonald [PM] declared an adjournment and went to bed. Even then, the two Frenchmen continued to harangue each other as they left the building, and stood screaming insults at each other in the middle of Downing Street.” That, I can imagine.

The book isn't all just descriptive details, there are also lots of analogies:

"For some reason Nomran thought the Fed could pierce the bubble with a surgical incision that would bring it back to earth without harming the economy.  It was a completely absurd idea.  Monetary policy does not work like a scalpel but more like a sledgehammer." 

But really, the detail just makes the book more fun to read. The events themselves are captivating. Reading about the standoff between Hoover and Roosevelt as to who would be the one to close the banks. The drama of abandoning the gold standard: “As his friend Baldwin put it indelicately, ‘Going off the gold standard was for [Norman] as though a daughter should lose her virginity.’” How’s that for a hook?!!

Either way, whether historical economics is a subject in which you already feel well-versed, or whether you know that you don’t know enough about it, I highly recommend this book. Those Pulitzer Prize voters know what they’re doing! When you add in things like the dances being done by “the bright young things who set the pace for London society,” “the jog-trot, the vampire, the camel-walk, the shimmy, and most infamous of all, the Charleston,” it’s a book that is a joy to read.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weather update

So the "100 or higher" streak in Dallas continues.

Based on the forecast going forward:
Today -- 107
Tomorrow -- 105
Thursday -- 104
Friday -- 103
Saturday -- 103
Sunday -- 102

Friday will be the day that we tie the all-time record here (set in 1980) for most consecutive days at 100 or higher (Friday will be day number 42).  And it sounds like we should break the record pretty easily.  No relief in sight...

Strangely enough, I feel fairly acclimated to it.  It's like every time I'm outside working out, I know it's hot, but it's just a given. 

We only had 6 miles on the schedule today so I went out for 1 extra when we were done, but our pace was overall pretty slow, which felt nice. 

How many more weeks though until I start feeling fast?  Until it's in the 70s when I run?  Right now I'd even take 79.  I feel like I can barely remember temps in the 60s in the morning...  Oh, that's right, that's because I pretty much never got that this year.  I think that was the second half of April and the beginning of May when we were in Italy and I wasn't running!  Maybe one year we'll become like all the Italians and take our month of holiday in August instead of going in the spring like we usually do. It would be so nice to spend August somewhere other than in Dallas...

Monday, August 8, 2011


Might not be blogging much this week.  Had an awesome weekend, but one of the lame highlights was that I started a new puzzle yesterday afternoon.

It was a nice way to chill out after my first weekend of double-digit miles each day (well, at least first since we've been back from Italy), and day 37 in a row of temps at 100 or higher. 

The rest of the wknd was good.  We had dinner with friends Fri night and she interpreted my being a vegetarian as meaning the meal should consist mostly of cheese.  Ugh... not good for the goal of losing some weight, but so tasty!  We started with a curry-cream cheese dip and baked brie, then cheese tortellini in a spinach alfredo sauce, salad with bleu cheese, then for dessert, brownies and gelato.  Very good, just made me nervous about my stomach holding up on Sat morning.

I went to meet my buddies at 5:30 to loop the lake.  It was really nice.  They were doing 18 miles (2 lake loops), but I bailed just before completing the first loop and instead ran to the race.  My stomach had survived cheese-fest completely intact!  That was good news.  Sometimes I worry that by eating healthy most of the time, I'll be less tolerant of not-so-healthy foods (which is my husband's problem).  Anyway, I ran to the race site and I met my bestie and hubby there.  We hung out until the race start.

It was my first cross-country/trail race EVER.  It was a bit tougher.  Lots of watching for roots, little room to pass, and jumping over the 3 obstacle hurdles (hay bales) on the 2 mile loop.  And there were probably 2 uphill climbs (though the last half mile was all downhill, which was nice).  It was also hot and sunny, so I shouldn't have been shocked by how high my heart rate was by the end. 

So I ran very hard for 2 miles.  It was tough.  But I felt like I ran pretty strong and then handed off to my hubby.  And then before I knew it (busy guzzling water and seeking shade), he was handing off to my bestie.  And then she was done.  That's the beauty of a relay with legs of only 2 miles each -- it's like they're over before you know it.  We didn't end up placing in our division, but we hadn't expected to.  It was a lot of fun. 

Then hubby and I walked back to my car at the lake, just over one very hot mile away.  Along the walk though, we did check out a kayak/canoe rental place and I think we're planning to do that in 2 weeks, which will be a fun Saturday adventure!  Got home, ate, straightened up, ran errands, and went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  Pretty good.  But I came in with little of the "ape movies" background.  Apparently there were a couple references to the original that hubby caught but I of course missed.

Sunday was my group long run.  It was only 10 miles, but we were a little worried about it b/c of the heat.  I added a few extra miles, and it all felt good.  One person in our group ended up having a lot of trouble with the heat, so she fell back a group.  But otherwise, it was all good.  Came home and relaxed, did some more stuff around the house (including breaking our washing machine and finally ordering some pics from my bro's wedding to put into frames in my office).  Then last night I went to a running team dinner, which was fun, but b/c of the puzzle I started after breaking the washing machine, I didn't really want to go. 

I just wanted to stay home and puzzle!  They're so addictive!  One of my good friends is coming over tomorrow night to help me with it, which will be nice.  Right now I've basically just got the border done.  Fun week project! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Big Ambitions

So the scale has been alarming lately.  I don't feel like I'm really doing anything differently, but not only have I still not lost my Italy pounds, but it seems like another couple pounds are joining them.  Ugh.  I need to start watching things. 

I have big running plans for the weekend, maybe that will help.  Unlikely, I know, but maybe.

Tonight we're going to dinner at a friend's house.  I'll probably eat and drink way too much.  But tomorrow, I'm meeting a couple pals for a lake loop very early in the morning.  That will be about 9 miles.  After that, I'm going to walk or run solo to a nearby park for a race.  My local bestie is going to pick up my husband and meet me there, then the three of us are going to be a team for the relay.  It's a 6 mile race, 3 person teams, 2 miles per leg.  I go first, hubby's taking the middle and my bestie's running anchor.  That should be fun.  I want to run really easy for the lake loop so that I can try to go hard in the race.

But who am I kidding?  It's way too hot for me to realistically expect to do well.  But I can try. 

Then we have a day o' crap on Saturday.  Fun things like mailing wedding shower gifts to my next future sister-in-law, washing sheets and towels, taking my car in for an oil change, a couple cleaning/organizing projects, hopefully a movie (hubby's choice, something about apes), and probably several other errands.  If I'm very, very lucky, I'll get to start a puzzle with my bestie.  Hubby and I have a wedding Saturday night but we rsvp'd no b/c it's just too much, esp with our Sunday morning schedule. 

Sunday morning my running best buddy is going to run from our running store to my house to pick me up, then we'll run to the store together (just under 2 miles, so he'll be at almost 4 miles by the time we get to the store together), then we're running with our White Rock training groups for 10 miles, then he's going to run me part or all of the way home (another 2 miles for me, 3-4 for him). 

So I had about 1 mile this morning at boot camp, then about 11 on Sat, and 14 on Sun.  That doesn't sound too crazy really, kind of like doing a 6 on Sat and 19 on Sun, which doesn't seem too bad, but it's going to be the most I've done 2 days in a row in a long time. 

The key for me is not to eat like I'm running 25 miles in 2 days!  Then maybe I can start to undo some of the damage that's being done...


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Serves me right!

So no sooner do I post my first entry of the summer b!tching about the heat, than does this morning get here.  I have the TV on as I'm getting dressed for camp and putting in my contacts.  91 at DFW at 5:10ish.  Oh my... I think it eventually cooled down to 88 or something, but it was 91 when I started.  Ugh! 

But Wednesdays are almost easy for me.  Hubby and I carpool to boot camp, and then one of my besties runs to camp and then we run home together on the trail.  Her place is about a mile before ours, so I run the last mile solo, but it gives us a little chance to catch up.  This morning she said she basically ran down to camp to tell me to get a ride home, it was just too hot.  But getting a ride home wasn't really an option (unless I bummed a ride from a friend), b/c hubby was going straight to work.  So I ran the 5k home despite the heat. 

To me, it didn't feel that much worse than 86 felt.  It's just hot right now.

I would like to be able to tell you about my negative splits on the way home.  I manage to do that most weeeks.  The first mile we sometimes stop for water, but either way, we're chatting a lot, getting into the groove, etc.  The second mile we pick up the pace some, and then I drop her off at home and I try to push a bit harder for the third mile.  I know I succeeded this morning.  I think making each mile about 50 seconds faster than the previous mile.

But that's based on memory.  Because somehow my garmin home data screen is now displaying solely in a language I can't read -- maybe Chinese?  And I have no idea how to change it back.  I will probably call one of my best running buddies today and see if he can walk me through it.  I call my best friend for the same kind of help when there's a big privacy setting change on Facebook.  Since I fb in Italian, and I speak Italian, I can kind of do it myself, but some of the words are odd translations and I want to make sure I'm turning off all the correct settings, so she just tells me to click something like the second button from the left on the top, called Profile, and I'll say, oh yes, Profilo.  But no such luck when it's Chinese.  I can say Nee-hau, but I can't write it!  Let alone change my Garmin online profile back to English (or even Italian). 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Requisite Weather Complaint

No big surprises here, it's now August and that means it's hot in Dallas.  Very hot.

So, we're on a roll in Dallas right now.  31 days in a row in the triple digits.  Yesterday morning when we started to work out at 5:30 a.m., it was 87 degrees.  Yes, 87 at 5:15 in the morning.  I get fun little email warnings and FB messages like this: 


That warning of course was more than a week ago, and nothing has changed.  Currently, we're on the second-longest streak of days at 100 degrees or higher.  Summer 1980 had the longest streak, 42 days.  Right now, we're at second (31 days counting Monday).  Third was 29 days in 1998 (I was here for a little bit of it), fourth was 25 days in 1952, and fifth was 24 days in 1999 (I was here for a couple weeks of this one).  This week, we're supposed to have highs several days over 105, so no risk of the streak ending any time soon. 

All of this heat based conditioning should make for some fast marathon times this fall when the cooler weather arrives!  At least, so I hope. 

I am trying to remind myself that it's probably just a few more miserable weeks.  I try to remind myself of the things I like about summer running -- there's never any question of what to wear, and no one is in a hurry to split right after a run to warm up in their cars, instead you can hang out and leisurely talk, stretch and walk.  There's less risk of injuring a cold muscle.  The wind is a treasure instead of pure evil.  It's light so much longer.  My garmin works better if I'm not wearing gloves.  I have more variety in my summer running clothing.  I try to remind myself how much I truly despise running in sub-freezing temps -- not just running really, doing anything outside.  But the problem is, this year I feel like I've gotten screwed on both ends.  We had a major ice storm and really cold weather for the week before the Super Bowl.  And now we're on the second longest 100 or over streak ever. 

I try to think about how almost everywhere in the country has a miserable month or two (except those lucky Californians and Hawaiians).  It just so happens our miserable month is summer, and not winter.  But this year it really seems like we've gotten a raw deal to have had such a cold winter in addition to a hot summer.  I heard somewhere that climate change or global warming is really just higher highs and lower lows, rather than actual warming, but I have no idea.  But if that's true, then this year in Dallas, it feels like that's really happening. 

Generally speaking, I'd take the heat over the cold.  My ideal running temp is about 50, +/- 5 degrees.  But I'd take 70 over 35.  I'd take 75 over 35 probably.  But what happens when my choices are 85 of 25?  I can't decide which is worse.  I guess it would depend on whether the sun is out -- 85 and dark or overcast sounds better than 25 and dark or overcast.  But 25 and sunny beats 85 and sunny.  But I think when it gets to be anything over 85, the lower temps start to win out without any contest. 

But for just living, I'd rather have a day with a high of 90 than a day with a high of 35.  I'm definitely a warm weather person.  I hate being cold.  It's just the running temps where I'd like it a bit cooler.  Still not cold though.