Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yoga Revelation

In yoga recently (can't actually remember if it was last night's class or one of the classes this past weekend, but I thought about it in class, and more this morning), the instructor said something along these lines:

Try.  Try the posture.  Even if you can't do it all the way, you need to try.  It's not just going to magically happen one day.  You have to work at it.  You get 1% better one day, and 1% better some other day, eventually that's how you make progress.  Standing it out, watching it, not trying is not going to get you any closer.  Just try it.  Don't think about it, just try. 

And I've been thinking about it a lot ever since.  I look at some people around me in yoga and they look like natural yogis.  The same way there are runners who can so effortlessly maintain a pace I struggle to hold for even just one mile. 

I think on some level, I assume they can just easily stand on one leg, lock their standing knee, kick their other leg forward, flex their foot, lower their elbows below their calf, and touch their forehead to their knee.

That's the case for runners -- some people can easily and without training run at a pace that others could run for years and never attain.  But hard effort is the same for everyone -- not the same pace, but the same effort.  100% effort is hard.  And I think yoga in some ways might be more about effort. 

When I had fallen out and was looking around during the second set, gathering my strength to make another attempt, I looked at the woman right in front of me.  She had what I think of as a perfect yoga body, in perfect yoga clothes, and she was totally rocking the posture.  She had her standing leg locked.  She was lowering her elbows, tucking her forehead to her knee.  And I noticed her standing foot was shifting a little bit.  Different muscles and tendons seemed to be popping out in her standing leg.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. 

This isn't necessarily easy for her.

Just because she can do the posture doesn't mean she's not working very hard to hold it. 

It doesn't mean she could do it her first day (maybe she could of course). 

It doesn't mean she can do it every set, every day (maybe she can).

Maybe she's not working at it, maybe it is fairly easy, maybe she's always been able to do it, maybe she can do it every time she tries.  But maybe not. 

But all that's definite is I'm never going to be able to do it if I don't try every class. 

It's not going to just magically happen one day if I never work at it. 

Hmmm.... deep thoughts. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Weather Bliss

On the news the other day, they promised a late July cold front.  Then they re-termed it a late July "not hot" front.

This morning was only about 5 degrees cooler than yesterday morning, but the humidity was significantly lower.  It felt glorious! 

If I could sign on for this for the next month, I would.  We are about to head into traditionally the hottest three weeks of summer, so if we can get a break for even one week, I'll take it.  

I was hitting my paces this morning and everything.  Just lovely!  I never write posts in July about the weather that are anything other than a complaint, a justification for not hitting my passes, or a simple acknowledgment of the misery. 

I'm trying not to get my hopes up when I look ahead at the rest of the week.  Does that make me a pessimist at heart?  I like to expect the worst in hopes of always being pleasantly surprised. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dutiful weekend report

It was the case of the weekend that wasn't, again. 

I think I define a weekend as downtime at home, and lately, that's just not happening and I miss it.  Two more weeks I think, then I'll do that. 

Saturday was a run, a massage, breakfast with friends, yoga, and then an afternoon at the pool with two friends and my godson.  It was so hard to talk to his mom because he was so talkative.  He kept interrupting, telling us to watch him jump in the pool, wanting me to read to him, talking about random things.  It was hard to get a sentence out, let alone for one of us to speak a whole sentence and the other respond.  He's a handful at 5 and a half.  The thing I should most remember at this age is that his pants just will not stay up.  It's so funny.  He has the permanent plumber look with pants and it's even worse with swim trunks.  In the few suits that seem to have real drawstrings, his mom said they loosen up somehow in the water.

Sunday was a long run -- 17 miles!  legit "long" -- followed almost immediately by yoga, then lunch at home, then Chinese class, then we had our neighbor over for dinner, then church.

I was fairly pleased with the long run.  Overall pace was only 1 second faster than last weekend's 16 miler, but I think I felt better.  I felt like the first 15 miles were pretty solid, and I was getting hot and tired the last two, but I'll take it.  My biggest complaint was that my socks and shoes were soaked.  I have no idea why.  I was sopping wet when I finished, as is the case with any run over 10 miles for me since it's often 80 or warmer even at 5:30 a.m. when I start my long runs.  But being soaking wet doesn't usually mean that much movement of my feet in my shoes.  Oh well.  No damage done. 

I think the most entertaining discussion of the weekend centered on our 2015 travel plans.  Just toying with some ideas.  Will have to post about that later.

Most exciting thing on the immediate horizon:  my boss is going on vacation on Friday and all week next week!  I think I'm going to work from home the entire time! 

Between that and hopefully having a quiet Saturday on Aug. 9, hopefully life will feel like it's settling down into the more relaxing pace that I prefer, but now that we're up to 17 miles on the long runs, in reality, every weekend for the next couple months is probably going to largely center on the long run.  I'll take it.  If only I could nap AND go to yoga AND go to Chinese class on Sundays after the run...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Finally on Pace

I feel like I've been in a lackluster training cycle(s) pretty much since the Berlin Marathon last September.  I dutifully took time off to enjoy Oktoberfest and time with my husband's family in Italy (who treat us like we're geese destined to become foie gras).  But I just haven't felt like I ever bounced back from that time off.  Even with no spring marathon, I started fall marathon training and have just remained out of the groove.

And it's dangerous to be 10 weeks into a training cycle (albeit a long-ish one) and be out of the groove still.  Because at this point, the runs are getting more intense.

This past Sunday's long run was 16 miles with 8 miles at marathon pace (which for me is not a pace, but a target heartrate zone based on my last lactate threshold test). 

I just didn't do it. 

I mean, I got in 16 miles, but they were all easy.  Looking at the pace of the last few was kind of scary.  Very, very slow.

Monday was boot camp, I took it easy per my usual rule for the day after any run of 15 miles or more.  I've found pushing hard is an easy recipe for injury.

Tuesday was 8 miles with 2 at pace.  The plan was 4 easy, 2 pace, 2 easy.  Instead I did 1 easy, 7 pace.  I was aiming for 1-6-1, but I couldn't bring my heartrate down enough of that final easy mile.  But it actually felt okay.  I was anxious for each water stop, about every 2 miles, but I survived.

Yesterday was boot camp, followed by a run to work, then a day of work, followed by a run home.  I was a bit nervous because I haven't been commuting more than one day per week lately and yesterday was 100 with an ozone alert.  The temp dropped a bit by 6:30 when I left work, but it was still over 95.  I took it easy, and it was fine, just sweaty and chafe-y. 

So I had no idea what was in the cards today.  The schedule was 6 miles with 4 pace.  The plan was 1-4-1.  By the time I started pace work, I was considering modifying the plan to 1-1-4 (which is to say 1 pace mile, followed by 4 easy).  I survived the first pace mile and had to go another quarter mile to get to the water stop, so I tried to hang on til then.  My heart rate came down a little when I grabbed a drink, and then I decided to try to push to the u-turn point, which would have given me 1-2-3.  That had a nice ring to it.  I hit the u-turn and the mile ahead seemed fairly brutal.  Somewhat uphill, and I was pretty much solo, though a few of my buddies were within shouting distance in front of or behind me.  I tried to push up the hill and while I was going fairly slowly, my heart rate was high.  I crested the hill and decided to push the last bit of down/flat road to get to the water stop.  After the water, I decided I'd just finish out the pace mile since it was just another quarter, which would give me 1-3-2.  We had a sharp turn in between miles 4 and 5, and my watch beeped in the middle, but one of my friends was right there with me, so I decided to try to hang on pace until the stoplight, which was about half a mile away.  And as luck would have it, no cars in sight, despite the fact that it's a fairly busy road 24/7 (Mockingbird).  So instead of getting the breather I hoped to wait for traffic, we sailed through the intersection.  Another friend caught us and by running with the two of them, I decided to try to hold on the final half mile.  I kept asking Laura how much further.  I was desperately hoping she wasn't irritated by it, especially since I had my own damn watch showing distance, coupled with the fact that this part of the run was actually part of my commute and an area within a mile of my house that I know insanely well, so I could have estimated very accurately how much further to finish the pace mile.  She said .4, then .3, then one lap around the track, then .1, and then ... it was over.  I managed the planned 1-4-1.  My final mile actually ended up being solo because I really tried to bring my heartrate down and relax.  I kept telling myself the real work was done, there was no need to push anymore. 

I felt so friggin' proud when I got done that I high-fived about 8 of my friends. 

It seemed like this was the first time I've actually run the plan in all of 2014 (aside from days when the plan was all easy miles). 

It was the first time that the voices wanting to dial it back were as loud as ever but didn't prevail.

 Does this mean I'll get my goal time in October? No.

Does this mean I'll even PR in October? No.  

But does this mean I have some chance at either or both of those?  Maybe. 

I'd really been having second thoughts about having registered for a marathon this fall.  Especially since my husband was adamantly opposed.  He thought it was ridiculous to spend money on a race, flight and hotel, given that we have a massive trip just a few days afterward -- meaning massive packing, massive chaos at work trying to get ready to leave, and massive expenses hitting the bank account.  He also thinks it's a very bad plan to be in India with a post-marathon immune system.  So as I completed lackluster run after lackluster run, I started to think registering was in fact a very bad idea. 

But as of right now, 3.5 hours after finishing my first solid run in ages, I'm thinking I'm glad I've got a race on the horizon this fall...

Perhaps all is not lost. 

Monday, July 21, 2014


I can't begin to say how excited I am for this week.  It SHOULD be the first week in over a month that I haven't gotten on an airplane for some reason.  There's a slight chance I'm going to Philly this afternoon for a couple days, but we have a call this morning and I'm expecting counsel to report that the setting has been continued.

So I figured a post of randomness is in order.

In my effort to do something other than work, when I was in Baton Rouge, I toured the state capitol: 

I need to memorize this chart for Chinese class (along with the accompanying sounds):

I came across this line at work and texted it to my husband.  He said it's totally cringe-worthy.  Any man would read that term and even when preceded by "zero" would still cringe, and possible even physcially recoil a bit:

I'm thinking of trying to do a surprise party for my husband's birthday (while he hasn't read the blog in soooo long, I'm hoping this point buried in one post somehow won't surface in the next 2.5 months). Maybe just having people over for desserts, which I could probably easily make and tell him were for Chinese class or something, and then have my best friend put out while people came over and we were out to dinner.  But the timing is tough.  We'll be in India probably for his birthday, and the weekend before our trip I'll be at the marathon in Portland (and the weekend before that, my folks will be visiting).  Hmmm...

The puzzle is done.  Just so you know, each photo was at least 12 hours apart from the last one.  I got it close, but then the last 50 or so pieces were tough.  All very dark and generally indistinguishable.  And being out of town did not accellerate my progress. 

Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the finished product!

Alone in my hotel room in Philly, I played some game where you tried to guess the name of an 80s song based on the first second.  I sucked at it, but it was still fun to see the videos.  How did we not know he was gay?

I did get to enjoy some of the polar vortex I guess.  It was 65 when I went running in Philly on Friday morning.  That felt cool to me. 

While in Philly, I accidentally ran in the hood. Big time. As in bars on the first AND second floor windows of the houses that didn't seem to be abandoned.  Pavement cracked beyond all recognition.  Abandoned vehicles.  Weeds.  The few people I saw awake seemed to either be homeless or up to no good.  By far the scariest run I've done in the US.  And significantly scarier when I realized I hadn't really told anyone where I was going or when I'd be back.  Of course it was fine, it was just very sketchy.  For anyone who knows the area, I ran in North Camden.  I basically went across the Ben Franklin Bridge, and I wanted to go to the right, toward Rutgers, which looked nice, but there were about 6-10 lanes of traffic separating me from that (only the north pedestrian side of the bridge was open).  So instead, I turned to my left.  Up 6th Street to Pine Poynt Park (which was beautiful), and then back down 7th to the bridge.  I concluded that I'd be okay.  Defense counsel knows I run and he was meeting me at my hotel, so if I didn't show up, I decided that he'd most likely confirm I'd checked in to the hotel and then raise the alarms that I was missing eventually.  He'd call my boss, who would call my husband, who would call my cell phone, which I wouldn't answer, and then he'd track my cell phone to the hotel room, hotel staff would go in and find no running shoes but all my other stuff, and then they'd start looking.  And my husband would tell one of my running friends.  And they'd tell my other running buddies.  And then the 6 people I'd talked to about my grand plan of running across the Ben Franklin bridge and crossing a state line during a run for the first time in my life would happen -- and they'd tell the police and then they'd know where to look.  (After discussing, we concluded it was the first run where I'd cross a state line, since there's no real state line in the Marine Corps marathon, since DC isn't a state, and since we concluded that the NYC marathon starts in NY, even though it seems like it could be another state.) 

I had a pretty dessert (white chocolate cheesecake) after a successful settlement conference in Philly on Friday:

My ankle still hurts. It's so bizarre. No pain when running or walking, but when I touch the outside of it, it hurts so much -- I don't spend much time touching the outside of my ankle, but when I'm attempting to do toe stand in yoga and I attempt to place my ankle on my thigh, crazy, shooting pain.

There was a dog the size of a horse in the hotel lobby in Philadelphia:

And the cold front is officially gone here.  It was only in the upper 60s yesterday for my "long" run (16 miles, which I guess is borderline legit long), but it was humid.  But the forecast this week appears to be getting back to normal -- lows in the mid to upper 70s, highs around 100.  Makes me want to go home, where I saw these temps this past week on my weather app:
I am attempting yoga moderation now.  With all the travel lately, I have only been going a few days per week.  But now, with the potential of two or more straight weeks at home, I'm going to attempt Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun and probably Tuesdays.  That would be 5 days per week, and if I wanted to skip one, it would still be pretty good.  I'm going to attempt to do 3-5 classes per week until the marathon. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Very Inspiring Blogger Award and TMI Questions

First a quick ankle update:  I think it's fine.  It still feels a little tender (and I cringe to think how much it would hurt if I took an uneven step and made it roll outward even a tiny bit), but I decided to try to run on it this morning.  It was fine initially, felt a little wonky around mile one to two, and then seemed fine the rest of the run.  I may have changed my stride slightly because my other Achilles is a little tight, but nothing concerning.  Whew!  That means I will get to enjoy the cold front from Philly.  Right now the low there Thurs night to Fri morning is 64, quite exciting! 

So on to my delayed post that I've meant to write for at least a week. 

When I first saw that on one of my long-time favorite blogs, Amazing in Motion, posted her answers to a TMI survey she'd read somewhere, I thought I'd play along as well at some point, especially since sometimes when I feel uninspired to write, I love doing those surveys. 

And then I saw that another newer-to-me favorite blog, Running Around the Bend, was nominated for a "Very Inspiring Blogger" award and in response to the award, posted his answers to the TMI survey Aimee had answered, so I was extra-inspired to answer them myself. 

THEN one of my newest favorite blogs, Spiritual Creaminess, was nominated for the same award and in turn, passed the nomination on to me.  And then Mike at Running Around the Bend did as well!  Thank you both.  You guys both have fabulously interesting blogs about running and beyond, and I wasn't joking when I suggested we all run Steamtown 2015 and get some other marathoning bloggers that we like to join us. 


So, the basics for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award are as follows:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Add the Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.
  3. Share seven things about yourself.
  4. Nominate a list of bloggers that inspire you and comment on their post to let them know.
  5. Post on their blog about it.
As I mentioned above, in lieu of sharing seven things about myself, I'm sharing 28 contained in this survey. 

But when we get to step 4, it's the obvious problem:  several of the blogs I read have already been nominated by Mike or Running Bear (Megan, Jennifer, etc.).  So I'm going with some on my reader that haven't been nominated as far as I've seen. 

I nominate:
Bella at Bella on the Beach.
Amy at 26.2.
Grace at Grace Dishes.
Sara at 100% Runner Girl.
Kim at Healthy Living in the City.
Anna at On Anna's Plate.

TMI Survey

Here’s a little TMI about me:

1. What are you wearing?
Brown slacks, and a striped button blouse -- not normal stripes, a-frame kind of stripes, blue and brown on white.  And brown wedges.  Accessorized with my work watch, sapphire earrings, and a necklace from my husband (see answer to 28 below). 

2. Ever been in love?

3. Ever had a terrible breakup?
A couple, but by far the worst was while dating my husband.  I remember it well because it hurt so much, though it's funny because he totally denies it even happened if I bring it up now.  Less than three months after we'd started dating, he decided basically that things were going too fast.  He hadn't been divorced very long and he thought he felt too strongly about me, so he wanted to take a break.  That conversation happened over lunch and I went back to the office in a haze.  That night, I left work to meet two girlfriends for a previously scheduled run at the lake, and within a mile, I was walking with one of them and crying endlessly.  This may sound appalling, but I basically decided to kill myself -- the following week.  I had plans the next day to fly to Chicago to meet up with my folks in the airport, then we were all flying together to NY state, where my one of my brothers was playing ball at the time.  His now wife and now mother-in-law were going to meet us there.  We were all going to spend the long Labor Day weekend watching his games and enjoying the time together, visiting Syracuse and nearby towns.  In the back of my mind, I think I knew full well that as long as I held on for a few days, the pain and distress wouldn't be so bad and I wouldn't actually kill myself.  But in reality, I don't think I've ever been so unhappy and wanting it to end as an adult as I was then (there was of course plenty of teenage angst in my life, but I don't think I ever would have been characterized as suicidal, though I definitely told my parents I wanted to die more than once, usually immediately after being grounded, forbidden from going to a tanning bed, told I couldn't go on an unsupervised spring break trip as a senior, given an "unreasonable" curfew, being prohibited from getting another ear piercing, etc.).  I felt so thoroughly rejected.  I felt like I'd put my entire honest self out there for the only guy as an adult that really felt like the right match for me, and if he didn't want me, then what hope was there?  But like I said, in reality, I think I knew time (and in particular time with my momma) would help the process start to heal the wounds.  I woke up the next day with a puffy face and feeling nearly as miserable, I parked at the airport and boarded my flight to Chicago.  My flight landed, and as I was in the jetbridge deplaning, wondering if my flight had beat my parents', my phone rang.  Lo and behold, it was him, saying he had no idea what he'd been thinking, that it had all been a mistake, that there was no reason we should both be miserable just because we happened to find each other quickly, that I was all he wanted in life, and wondering if we could just pretend the entire prior day had never happened.  Oh, the relief!  It changed our relationship of course, and I think I was more conscious of not rushing things, but essentially, it was nearly back to before -- talking, texting or emailing pretty much daily, seeing each other several times per week, and starting to have vague discussions about possible future plans -- though I know I was more reserved and more waiting for him to make the moves, him to call, him to make plans than maybe I was before.  The downside to getting back together when we did, however, is that I was a fairly rotten daughter and sister for part of the weekend -- constantly on the phone talking or texting with him.  I didn't tell my folks what had happened, and I remember my mom snipping at me that if this guy was so special I didn't even see 3 of my brother's 89 pitches or whatever that I should have either brought him with me or I shouldn't have bothered coming.  Ahh, momma, but even that didn't make me stop smiling (though it did help me put the phone down). 

4. How tall are you?

5. How much do you weigh?
I have weighed between 100 and 200 for my entire adult life, though the actual numbers fluctuate daily.

6. Any tattoos?
No, my parents would never let me and while I sometimes consider it now, I've never done it.  I like to joke with my husband about getting one and he vehemently opposes the idea (he has one he got int the military on his upper arm that he's considering having removed).  But in June, thanks to a particular post I read by Running Bear, I entered the exciting world of temporary tattoos.  I am contemplating never having an uninked day again.  I promise I am going to do a regular post about this soon.  It's probably going down as one of the most significant developments of 2014 in my world. 

7. Any piercings?
I have two piercings in my each ear.  I totally wanted more in high school and wasn't allowed, and funnily enough, I totally wish I didn't even have the second holes now.  I wear earrings in the original piercing pretty much daily, but those second holes can still be seen.

8. Favorite song?
All time favorite is Angel, by Aerosmith. 

9. Quality you look for in a partner?
Kindess (stealing Aimee's answer, but so true).

10. Favorite quote?
This one was actually the toughest for me to answer, so I'm going with a half-dozen or so.

"That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger."
-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
-Mark Twain

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
-Confucius (see also Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail."; see also Thomas Edison, "I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.")

"I can do hard things"
-Janae (hungryrunnergirl)

11. Favorite actor?
I don’t really have one but if pressed today, I think I'll go with Denzel Washington.

12. Loud music or soft?
I'm not super musical, but when I do listen in my car, loud; when on a treadmill, loud; when at home during dinner, soft. 

13. Where do you go when you’re sad?
Either to bed or for a run.  One of the saddest days in recent memory was last April when I learned my grandpa had had a stroke.  I remember running and seeing a cardinal, which either doesn't happen often or I'm usually oblivious.  My grandpa loves birds (except blue jays) and I think cardinals are his favorites. 

14. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Out of bed to out the door for work takes me about 4 to 4.5 hours.  That includes a run or a work-out (sometimes both), breakfast, getting dressed, packing lunches if necessary, etc.  Actual time from alarm to out the door to workout is about 15-18 minutes, including grabbing what I'm going to eat in the car.  In terms of getting ready for work, I'm pretty low maintenance.  It takes me a while (15 minutes?) to dry and do my hair (a couple times per month, if I'm doing a second run in the evening, I'll just leave it in a ponytail, but I usually wash it on Mon-Thurs at a minimum).  As for make-up, all I wear to work/court is eyeliner, lipliner, and lipstick (about 2 minutes).  If I'm going to a wedding or something, I'll sometimes do powder, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, but that happens less than 6 times per year on average I'd guess.  Showering and deciding what to wear are usually tied for what takes the longest -- shower is usually about 15-20 minutes (try to stay in long enough that I'm not sweating anymore).  If I manage to decide on outfits in advance by choosing them on a Sunday or if I'm traveling and don't have choices, then getting dressed and "accessorizing" takes minutes.  On some random day when I'm not working out, know what to wear, and don't have to worry about breakfast or lunch, I'd say wake-up, contacts, shower, teeth, hair, make-up, clothes, jewelry, shoes takes me about 40 minutes.  On a weekend day, it's wake-up, contacts, teeth, hair, clothes, maybe jewelry, and it's all done within 15 minutes. 

15. Ever been in a physical fight?
No (assuming fights with my brothers as kids don't count). 

16. Turn on?
Kindness (generally sweet disposition), strong arms, bilingual, well-traveled, smiley.

17. Turn off?
Smoking, shorter than me, shouting, obesity, not married to me.

18. Fears?
My husband dying, financial ruin, dogs not on leashes, serious injury prohibiting me from running and/or traveling, my parents or siblings dying, drug addiction (since I went through the gate by attempting to smoke marijuana in Amsterdam in October 2013, it's only a matter of time before I am hooked on all drugs of all kinds), being left by my husband (I've said it before, he's a better person than I am and I wonder how he puts up with me when I'm particularly unsufferable), and gaining a lot of weight. 

19. Last thing that made you cry?
I think it's good I don't really have any idea.  I know I got pretty teary a few weeks ago when we had a friend visiting and we had a big conversation at dinner about some tough issues she's dealing with, but those were tears for her sadness and not my own.  The last time I clearly remember crying my own sad tears was at Christmas when I saw my grandpa.  It's hard to see him in a wheelchair, so small and frail and in need of assistance -- and most of all, so sad.

20. Last time you said you loved someone?
This morning at about 4:00.

21. Meaning behind your YouTube name?
Not applicable.

22. The relationship between you and the last person you texted?
This one's hard to answer because as I've been finishing up this post this morning, I've been going back and forth in two text conversations, one with my husband and one with my running buddy CW.  Right now, the technical answer is "he is my running buddy." 

23. Favorite food?
Probably cheese.  Or olives.  Or peas.  Or grapes.  Or baked goods.  But probably cheese. 

24. Place you want to visit?
Right now, the top new-to-me destinations that come to mind are the Taj Mahal (going in October!), the pyramids, Fiji/Bora Bora/etc., Israel, Dubai (going in October!), and South Africa.  And the permanent "I'd love to go back any day, any time" list at the moment is Calabria (Italy), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Greece, Istanbul, and anywhere else in Italy. 

25. Do you have a crush?
Yes!  I'm sure he knows, but I should make a point of telling him today anyway.  I hope it's mutual.

26. Last time you kissed someone?
This morning at about 4:00 when my husband left the house to go for a run, a shower/change at the gym, then to work. I kind of can go either way on Tuesday morning kisses.  I love getting a kiss before he leaves, but I hate being woken up 45 minutes before my alarm if it is a random day when I can't fall back to sleep.  The best is when he can kiss me goodbye and it doesn't totally wake me up, but I woke up this morning and we chatted for a few before he left.  And I managed to go back to sleep!  I'm counting on more kisses at about 7:00 tonight. 

27. Last time you were insulted?
Nothing recent in particular comes to mind, but one of the most stinging insults ever came my freshman year of college from some pre-law type class professor.  I went to talk to him about a C I'd gotten on an early exam in the class.  He told me I had a placid mind.  I don't give him any credit for where my life took me, but I will say that his comment spurred me to pull case synopses for class from Westlaw to review, and caused me to study harder for that class (and eventually earn an A in the class, despite the initial C).  And I do think having a good grade in that class encouraged me to continue with the pre-law plan I'd had in mind since high school, and you know, eventually got me to a top 10 law school and to one of the best firms in the country (I believe). 

28. Favorite piece of jewelry?
Very tough call.  I've got a group of favorites (and hmm, seems like I've posted about all of them at one point or another): my engagement ring (a sapphire solitaire, which I almost lost), a diamond necklace from my husband (um, yeah, which I also almost lost), diamond earrings from my husband, a special Boston necklace from my mom, pearl earrings and a necklace from my husband's family in Italy (given to me to wear for our wedding), pearl bracelet and necklace (from our amazing friends in Shanghai), TWO charm bracelets (both with a lifetime collection of charms, the very first given to me by my grandma the day I was born).  But I'd have to go with probably the traditional answer:  my wedding ring (3 interlocking bands of white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold).  Hubby and I have identical rings, which was important to me, but the inside of his is engraved (mine was too small to engrave).  The only time I take it off is during a Bikram yoga class (when I set it on my towel, next to my water) or occasionally if my nieces want to play with it (but no one gets up until I've put it back on, nearly losing other favorite pieces of jewelry has taught me lessons).  Honestly, just looking at the ring makes me feel warm, happy, loved, safe, and mushy. 

A picture from the web (if the image doesn't work, I just searched "Cartier interlocking ring"):


Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend Update

I feel like I should say, what weekend?

I got back from Baton Rouge Friday night after a mixed success day.  I got the case resolved, but not on the terms I envisioned.  But it's nice to cross it off the books, especially since defense counsel was costing an arm and a leg. 

Saturday's schedule (yoga-brunch-volunteer-friend over) looked like this:

7:30-9:00 Bikram yoga

9:15-9:40 home, shower, change

9:45-11 brunch with a friend

11-11:45 home, unpack suitcase, begin repacking for this week's trip

12-2 volunteer

2-2:45 errands

3-3:30 straighten up house

3:30-6 friend over (see photos), start cooking dinner and puzzle

6:30 hubby home, dinner, tv, early to bed.

And just so I have it documented somewhere, this past weekend (July 12-13) was the first time we officially hit 100 degrees!  Insanely lucky, this is perhaps the latest it's been since I've been paying attention. 

Sunday's schedule (race-yoga-Chinese-church) looked like this:

6:15 leave house to go to race

6:30 meet friends at race

6:45 run a couple warm-up miles with friends

7:30-9 race

9-9:45 hang out at race waiting for beer tent to open at 10 (then decide it's not worth another 15 minutes for a Miller Lite anyway, given how the rest of the day looks, and decide to head home), while hanging out with friends and attempting to cool off

10-10:15 change clothes

10:30-12 Bikram yoga

12:15-1 eat lunch, shower, change

1-4:30 Chinese class

5-6 puzzle, cook dinner

6:30 hubby home, dinner

7:10 leave house, gas up car, drive to church

7:30-8:45 church

9:00 bed

So yeah, what weekend?  Haha, oh well, it was just very busy, almost no down time, but it was all stuff I wanted to do so I really shouldn't complain.

There was an obvious highlight to the weekend, below are three progress pictures.  750 pieces, and all that's left is crap leaves and dark tree/rock. 

This morning had two notable happenings.

First, I found out I got an AG at the race yesterday, which is funny because I didn't even stay for awards since my time was so sucky. 

Second, I twisted my ankle at boot camp on my very last frog leap.  Yow.  It hurt a lot for about two hours and it looks a tiny bit swollen now, but it seems to be better than it initially felt.  I might take it easy for a couple days just to make sure it shakes out okay. 

It figures, this would happen right as a "summer cold front" is coming.  All I can say is that cold front better not bypass me (since I'm going to be working in Philly), and my ankle better be healed up so I can enjoy a glorious cooler run or three. 

Saturday night, right before bed: 

Sunday night, right before bed: 

This morning before work (just a few more pieces...): 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Yesterday's Developments

2 notable events yesterday (I'm using a very loose definition of notable). 

1.  Finally made it back to Bikram yoga!  Funny that my first class back in the studio (I did several of the hour-long outdoor classes, but definitely not the same) was with the same instructor that I had on April 30, the last day of my 30 day challenge.

2.  I'm in a new-to-me city! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hair, hair, hair

One overriding theme of the 5 day trip home was my hair. 

As alarming as it is, I think my niece who is 8.5 wants to be a cosmetologist. 

Don't worry, I spent much of one car ride telling her a lot of fun details about my job.  Not that I want her to be a lawyer, but yikes, a cosmetologist?  Of course I want her to be happy, but I want her to aim high. 

I think I had my hair done at least a dozen times by her over the course of three days.  On Saturday afternoon, she actually decided she'd do my hair four times and take pictures of each one, then I could pick which style I wanted her to do for me to wear for the afternoon. 

So funny. 

So some hair options: 

And so after picking one and getting my hair done, both my nieces wanted me to do their hair. 

Somehow (likely a combination of a few younger brothers but no younger sisters, my general lack of interest in my appearance, and the fact that I never had any desire to be a cosmetologist), I have very poorly developed hair styling skills. 

So yeah, their hair was pretty much a mess after I did it, but you know, if they ever need me to assess their liability and damages exposure when they're facing a lawsuit, they'd know who to call! 

My youngest niece's hair after I did it -- total train wreck!! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth Double Fail

So my big 4 mile race on the Fourth did not work out as I hoped. 

I neither PRed nor ran with my niece, but I did attempt both.  But I will say that it was a fun day anyway, though of course I was kicking myself when I realized my time. 

One thing about staying with my folks is that they sometimes forget I'm an adult.  My brother and sister-in-law decided I should be at their house at 6:30 for an 8:00 race.  That meant leaving for their house at 6:15.  So my dad is knocking on the door at 5:30 asking me if I need to wake up, and I'm like, dad!  I'm an adult!  I can set an alarm!  I could have slept 20 more minutes!  Haha.  He did the same thing on Sunday to go to the airport (waking me up half an hour before my alarm), but yeah, that was a bit more embarrassing because in the end, I should have listened to him since I ended up running a bit late! 

So I got to my brother's house and they were getting organized.  My youngest niece did not want to get dressed but eventually came around.  We walked and ran together to the start, about a mile. 

My brother and his family, complete with youngest niece in the stroller after much debate about what she'd wear:
We got registered, and basically just hung out waiting for the race to start.  I went solo to warm up a little and it was lackluster.
While the temps were much cooler than I was used to, it was sunny and that was tough for me. 
I lined up by my sister-in-law and niece but they knew I was going to do my own thing.  Mile 1 was about 9 seconds too fast, mile 2 was 9 seconds too slow. 
And then I was ready to be done.  I tried holding on, but unfortunately, mile 3 lined up with mile 2.  The course was hillier than I expected, but I have yet to actually check the data on my garmin.  In reality, I don't think it was too bad.  And since it was a loop course, everything we ran up, we got to come back down. 
I tried to push hard for mile 4, but yikes, I was struggling.  And then as we got close to the end, I realized the last .1 or .2 was running on the grass, slightly uphill. 
I tried to hang on, but I was really fading.  I could see the finish line clock and it was just ticking past my PR time, but I held out a bit of hope since I'd started a few seconds back.  Imagine my crushing disappointment when I looked at my watch after finishing -- 6 seconds slower than I needed.  Argh!  Sooooo close! 
So much for having a "beatable" 4 mile PR -- it may be beatable, but not in my current physical condition!!! 
I grabbed and drank a water, then I doubled back on the course to see who was coming next behind me.  It was my brother and nephew, running with my youngest niece in the stroller.  So I u-turned and ran with them for a while.  But when they got the grass, my brother asked my nephew if he was ready to really run, he told my niece to hold on, and they took off.  I had no hope of keeping up, though I tried for a few seconds.  Then I u-turned again to try to find my sister-in-law and niece, but I never found them (turned out they were just a few minutes behind my brother). 
But it worked out in the end.  My nephew was in awe of the fact that I'd already finished and came back to run with him.  And my sister-in-law was so impressed by my finish time that she kept calling me "fast" and my niece was so excited. 
Perhaps the best part was the community pool was right in the park where we finished.  So beer for grandma and my brother, fruit for the rest of us, and then a dip in the pool.  My nieces and nephew asked if I'd go in with them, and I figured why not, as long as the pool didn't care if people got in wearing sweaty running clothes.  We checked and were given the go-ahead, so I took off my heart rate monitor, watch, shoes and socks, then went with the kids and jumped in.  They were so excited an adult in clothes was in the pool.  They thought it was hilarious.  Tons of splashing and fun, and it kind of felt like an ice bath for me! 
Yeah, water felt pretty cold.  At one point my youngest niece's teeth were chattering and she was holding on to me.  I kept trying to tell her we should get out and dry off with a towel and put on our dry race t-shirts, but she was having none of it.  Freezing, but having fun. 
The rest of the weekend was also so much fun.  Will have to post about that later, have to get moving for work! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Travel Mile Suck

So this week, two posts have made me think about my yearly and weekly mileage numbers. 

First, Mike posted about his 1525 miles for the first six months of the year, and inspired me to look at my current YTD number (almost 800, which is not unusual when I don't have a spring marathon, but I'd have thought it would be higher to reflect that marathon training started about 6 weeks ago). 

And then second, Bella posted about her challenge to do 150 miles over the summer, and since she directly asked, I decided to tally up my exact miles from last week (45.7, but why that's not good below). 

A combination of those two posts and my responses, and I just realized in black and white why my summer miles aren't adding up as usual.

Week of June 8: trip to Philly for work for several days
Week of June 15: houseguest for the week
Week of June 22: trip to Pittsburgh for family wedding for 5 days
Week of June 29 (this week): trip to Milwaukee for family visit for 5 days
Week of July 6: trip to Baton Rouge for work for a couple days
Week of July 13: trip to Philly for work for several days

Not having a full 4 days in a row in the office makes it hard for me to do my running commute, and it's showing since I'm just not getting in my usual miles. My running commute usually adds 18 or so effortless miles to any basic running week.

Last week totaled up at 45.7. Which is fine. EXCEPT that included two "long" runs since I ran on Saturday instead of Sunday due to wedding fun. That means that my week would have otherwise been in the low 30s, which for me does not a marathon PR make.

Anyway, maybe I can ramp it up big time in August? Oh wait, I see work trips on the horizon then too. Boo.

I think I'm writing this so that I can attempt to convince myself to just buckle the f- down (that's for you Mike, similar to slow the f- down).  Even when I'm on the road, I need to start getting more miles in, and when I'm home, even if I can't get in my preferred 5 running commutes, I need to just do a single roundtrip day. 

Here's to a solid second half of the year, better late than never! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Racing over the Fourth?

I definitely want to share some of my thoughts from our 5 days in Pittsburgh -- things like weather, elevation, marriage changes after 50 years (not for the better I don't think :( ), baseball, WWII, puzzles, new life plan, wedding festivities, revised vacation plans, etc.  And I will probably feel better if I get some work drama off my chest -- leadership change in progress rather unexpectedly, huge meeting to discuss today. 

But instead, I just have to write about something funny.  I'm making a solo trip home tomorrow for 5 days to see my family.  And one awesome thing about my family being filled with equally or more active people is that they just assumed I'd want to run over the 5 days, and one of my brothers chose a race and made sure I'm in for it.  Not sure who all will be participating, but definitely me, my next youngest brother, my nephew (who is 9.5), my niece (who is 8.5), and my niece (who is almost 5).  My youngest niece is going to be in a stroller that my brother pushes, possibly because he doesn't want to have me beat him without an excuse, but that's just my suspicion.  Anyway, for the race, I feel like I have two options:  go for a PR, or go with my niece.

In favor of going for a PR, are the facts that (1) it's an unusal distance so basically a single opportunity to run it every year here and that opportunity is in the summer, (2) the weather will be significantly cooler than my annual shot here, (3) I have a weak PR at the distance, (4) even out of shape, I ran 50 seconds off my PR in early June (and like I said, this will be at least 20 degrees cooler). 

In favor of running with my niece (who is 8.5) are the facts that (1) it would be fun, and (2) I'd have a hope of inspiring an early love of running in her.  I have no idea what her pace would be, but my running buddy has a daughter about the same age and he guesstimated it would be a 10-15 min pace. 

So today, I discussed both options with my running buddy.  He suggested (as I knew he would) that I go for the PR.  Guess we both know I'm not teed up for many this year....  But he also suggested I check the results from past years to see if a PR-ish run would get me an AG award, which he reasoned would be equally inspirational for my niece.

So I looked up past results this morning. 


My AG winner last year ran a 5:4x/mile pace. 

Hahahahaha!  Or, as they'd say in Italian, ahahahahaha! 

So, um, yeah, inspiring my niece while PRing by getting something AG is totally not an option.

Think I'll wait and see how I feel in the morning, but a large part of me wants to try to run hard since I seriously don't see another PR in the cards this year (of course hoping for a marathon PR in October, but the magic 8 ball demonstrated by the scale and recent runs suggests that's less than likely).  Anyway, just had to share how funny it was.  Humbling too since my 50 sec over PR run last month won my AG here (obvs a significantly smaller race and all).