Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stairwell Mystery

One of the only things I hate about my building at work is that our stairwells are locked.  You can enter the stairwell on any story above the first floor, and you can exit on the first floor.  But you can enter on the first floor.  And if you enter on floor 2 or higher, the only place you can exit is the first floor, unless another door is somehow propped open.

It irritates the crap out of me.  Stairs are good for people!  Much healthier and more energy-efficient (well, not counting human energy) than taking the elevators. 

For a long time, I talked security into opening the stairwell on 1 for me, and then I texted my accounting buddy and got her to come open the door on our floor (9). 

But then building management determined that I should not be permitted to take the stairs.  Major irritation. 

Now, on days I run to work, I take the elevator up to 9, go to my office and check email while grabbing my shower bag and outfit for the day, and then I go fill my water bottle, then I head down the stairs to 1.  I prop the door open slightly behind me.  And when I get to 1, where the gym and locker rooms are, I prop the door open slightly.

I shower and get ready in the locker room, and about 30% of the time, the stairwell door has stayed propped open.  If that's the case, I trek on up to 9.  If the stairwell door has shut, very rarely I will take the elevator to 2 and then take the stairs up to 9.  Usually, if the stairwell on 1 is locked, I'm lazy and I just enjoy the ride up to 9. 

Well, today, the stairwell on 1 stayed open, so on the way up to my office, I took pictures of my current question. 

What do you think? 

I wish the quality of the photo was higher.  It was not there last week.  Is that cotton candy?  Or is something like asbestos or insulation?  Would I be able to tell if I touched it?  Or would I have to taste it? 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Every Day I'm Puzz-uhling

As I mentioned, having my first solo weekend at home in ... years? ... I was excited to break out a new puzzle, especially since one of my best friends said she'd come over and help.

It's taking over my life.  It's 2000 pieces and soooo hard!  

Friday night, it was just the shrink-wrapped box: 

This puzzle was a gift from one of my best friends, and I could tell it was good when I saw this sticker:

Although I have a sneaking suspicion "lost piece service" will not be quite as helpful as I want.  I'm envisioning something where I call and say, "I'm looking for the piece that is under the right side of the vault in the second bridge arch from the left, it looks like it should be salmon colored on the right half, darker purple on the left half, and have the 'out' prongs on the horizontal, and here is a photo of the remaining pieces laid out on my table, please tell me which one it is."  Instead, it probably works like this, "I'm done with the puzzle but one piece is missing, the 33rd row down, and it would be the 19th piece from the left, could you please mail it to me?" 

Anyway, the puzzle description was in a bunch of languages, including Spanish AND Catala.  Anyway, in English, it extolled the virtues (upside down for some reason) of the non-reflective surface, which is quite nice.  Yeah, that's me, living the high-end puzzle life thanks to my Christmas gift!

Saturday at noon, this was the status.  All pieces right side up, edge pieces closest to the camera (and a few easy edge parts built), the remainder roughly grouped by color for the sky/water, and the right half of the table was everything that appeared to be other than sky and water:

It was immediately clear that we wouldn't be able to work on the puzzle on the table unless we added a leaf.  I usually do 1,000 piece puzzles, so this was twice as big.  So we parted the sea of pieces and added one leaf to the table. 

Here we are Saturday around 6:00 p.m.  You can't see it really, but over on the right side of the table where I was sitting, I had put together most of the church dome: 

Saturday night at bedtime.  Edges done (but needs to be moved up on table so it will fit), San Pietro built, part of the Trastevere sidewalk done, and the grates on the bridge built all the way across the puzzle:

Here is Monday morning before work.  Lots of progress on the arches of the bridge:

Tuesday morning before work.  Harder to see the changes, but on the left side, the upper half of the bridge is now done, and a few miscellaneous pieces that were missing are now filled in:

Unfortunately, I haven't taken one this morning.  Suffice it to say that it's slow going right now...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


A few weeks ago, a video was making the rounds on Facebook about a woman given the option of entering one of two doors.  One was marked "Beautiful", one was marked "Average."  I'm not clear on why there wasn't a door marked "Below Average" or "Ugly." 

I didn't watch the video.  So I don't even know why I'm commenting on this.  But from the comments, I guess the point was everyone (or at least every woman) should believe he or she is beautiful?

But if we're strictly talking outward appearance, while I get that different people find different things beautiful, can't we agree that most people are "average"?  Isn't that the definition of the word "average"?  And what's wrong with that? 

What's wrong with acknowledging or admitting that you're not beautiful (or at least not beautiful when another choice is average)?  I'm not.  Maybe I'd pick beautiful if the only other choice was ugly.  But does it matter that I would acknowledge or admit that I'm not beautiful?  Not at all.  It doesn't mean I don't have value.  It doesn't mean I'm not smart, or not nice, or strong, or friendly, or don't have a good heart (not that I'm claiming all those things!).  It just means I'm not a super-model (assuming that super-model is the definition of beauty, but I think it's a fair marker when you're comparing it to "average" and presumably also to "ugly").  And that's really okay for me.  As long as my husband finds me attractive, I'm okay with going through the beauty door that marks me as average.  Looks aren't everything.  I don't think I need to be beautiful, or use some product to make me beautiful.  Average seems pretty fine.  I'm content.  I don't think I'm overly critical of myself. 

Plus, if everyone was beautiful, then wouldn't beautiful be average by definition? 

Not sure what I'm really wanting to say, just on my mind. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Unusual Chafing

I had the laziest weekend ever.  My husband was out of town visiting his parents (I was supposed to meet him there since I was thinking I'd be working in Philly last week, but my court setting was continued, and then it just seemed to late to book a trip on my own dime).  I had the house to myself which meant .... puzzle!  I'll have to share pictures later this week.  It's not even close to done, even with a friend coming over for 5 hours to help on Saturday.

I ran a little on Saturday around lunch time, ugh.  It already felt hot.  Think the high on Saturday was 90?  And of course, given the puzzle, and the fact that I was running solo, meant that I did not get out of the door early in the morning.  Running in the early afternoon sucked.  There were so many families out on the trail, which meant little kids who would just cut across the path with no warning, or who were weaving all over on their bikes.  But I survived and was happy to have gotten at least a little movement.

I stayed awake way too late Saturday night working on the puzzle.  I figured it would be horrible to have the alarm go off in just 3-4 hours to run, but I rationalized that I could nap later in the day.

But then I woke up and it was sunny out.  WTF?  It turns out I'd turned off my Sunday alarm last weekend (we had our anniversary dinner party and I'd planned on skipping my Sunday long run).  And of course I'd never turned it back on.  Ugh.

So that meant another solo run.  Fortunately, I got out there at about 7:00, so it was not as hot or sunny.  But it was humid and definitely warm. 

I experienced chafing in the most unusual place.  My collarbone/upper chest area.

So different.
You can't see it well, but those are little elephants all over my shirt.  I wore it today because my heart is still heavy thinking about Nepal.  I wonder if all the amazing things we saw just six short months ago are still standing, or if they are just piles of rubble now.  I worry about the one person we got to know the most, a guide that we kind of hooked up with.  He hasn't checked in on facebook and I hope he and his family are okay.  And then I wonder about all the other people we interacted with or just saw.  All the smiling people who were so friendly to us.  Are they okay?  Their families?  Their homes?  Their businesses?  It hurts my heart. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Boston pacing amusement

There's a guy who is best described as my ex-running-husband.  After years together, he left me for significantly faster women.  We "separated" temporarily when I was training for the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon in 2012, since I was doing all my training while wearing a 40 pound weight vest.  And I clearly remember my first "unweighted" run after that marathon, meeting my former running husband at the lake for an easy run together.  Thinking we'd pick up right where we left off about 5 months ago, and go back to running together happily ever after.  On that day at the lake, it was just the two of us running.  I felt like I was flying without that weight vest.  He was appalled (in the friendliest way) at how slow I had gotten.  We ran together on and off that year, but by 2013, we were both improving a lot, but he was doing so on a whole other level and we pretty much could never run together, unless he was just running easy and pacing me in a race or something, which he still does with some regularity.  Once he was out cheering for me at an after work race, a 10k, and he saw me at mile 5 and jumped in the race with me to encourage me -- in his dress shirt, khakis, and dress shoes!  A true friend indeed! 

It's fun to see him at races now, and see his times, and be able to say "I knew him when."  We're still friends of course, we sometimes go out for breakfast with a group after doing our separate runs.  He still invites me to run with his new fast group, but I know I can't hang.

Anyway, too much background there. 

So he ran Boston this past week.  He was planning on just running easy, targeting an exact re-Q for his age, probably close to 45-60 seconds per mile slower than what he would be racing for a full marathon.

Well, the weather in Boston started off good (cold, not too windy) and he knew it was forecast to get rainier and windier, so he instead decided to run a bit harder, but still not racing.  That meant instead going about 30 seconds slower per mile than race pace. 

He ended up with his BQ minus about 8.  Nice job, very impressive, and again, fun to say "I ran with him when." 

We're connected on Garmin Connect, so we see all of each other's runs. 

I had some free time and I looked at his Boston data.  He had a 6:53 overall average pace (totally inconceivable to me, that would actually be a 5k PR pace for me!). 

I could see the biggest pace changes immediately in the data.

It was clear he'd stopped for a little bit after about 30 minutes (shoe retie).  And it was clear that he sprinted for the last few minutes on Boylston -- his heart rate and pace were on fire!  He said he was basically racing one other guy at that point and it was an awesome push.  Paces well under 5:30.  Insane. 

But as I was going through his data, it was steady and pretty unremarkable except for the shoe retie and the couple minutes of sprinting at the very end.  Over the first 3 hours, he had instant paces fluctuating between 7:30 and about 6:20.  Usually clustered between 6:45 and 7:00. 

But then I saw a little spike.  The ONLY little spike in his first 3 hours of running.  The only sub-6:10 pace I saw in the first 3 hours.


Wellesley!  Haha.  Putting on a show for the ladies!  I love it.  He joked that it was better than the alternative -- having his pace slow down drastically, which probably would have meant explaining some kisses to his (real life) wife!  Haha.  Such a fun race!  Just seeing that and laughing about it with him makes me think I really need to run it again one day. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Running with the Elites

For anyone watching the Boston marathon this week, you surely noticed the one runner who didn't belong. 

Sometime before the10k mark, right up there with Desisa, Meb, and the other top contenders, there was a runner with his bib number on his front.  The elites wear their names on the front and their numbers on the back, but everyone who does not get assigned a name bib wears the bib number on the front.  A simple way to see who has been invited to race.  His was the only "front" number in the lead pack. 

This guy was wearing number 162 (thanks Jennifer for noting it, I'd missed it, and I was dying to be able to look him up!).  Since the race is roughly 30,000 runners seeded by time, I knew the number 162 meant business.  I have a couple friends who are very fast, and they got 3 digit numbers, but even they weren't in the 100s.  I suppose the fact that number 162 was hanging with the leaders after 6 miles was another clue that he wasn't fooling around.  If it had been a number in the thousands, I would have assumed he cut the course somehow or jumped in late, but with a low number, it was pretty clear that he'd been hanging near the pack. 

The commentators kind of made fun of him.  He was up there at the front for long enough that they went to the trouble of pulling up his name, but they were clear in saying that he didn't belong. 

I have mixed feelings about it.  I'll note at the outset that his info says he is from Fort Worth, but I don't know him, and as far as I know, no one I know knows him (or else I bet it would have been all over FB!). 

For the record, the commentators were right, he set himself up for a crash and burn.  He had a massive positive split. 

Some positive split is normal at Boston, but that's a big positive split.  That's no good. 

Basically his paces went from a 5:14average for the first 5k, to an overall average of 5:30 over 10k, to 5:52 over 15, to 6:07 over 20k, which is the first 4 markers.  That meant that his actual pace on each 5k was even slower than that since I was just looking at overall pace to date.  He hit the half at 1:20, which would have put him on track for a 2:41 if he held steady, but he ended with a 3:04:57.  His overall pace was 6:08 on the first half, and a 7:57 average for the second half.  Yow.  Note that I'm not claiming he's slow.  I can't run a 3:04:57 full to save my life.  Massively impressive.  But I can guess that it hurt a lot to go from a 5:14 pace in the first 5k to the 8:46 pace he ran from 30k to 35k. 

I've never been there at the 5:14 pace, but I'm sure I have slowed down by 3.5 minutes per mile in a race before, and I'm sure it was not pretty or fun.  I recognize I'm making assumptions -- maybe he really wanted to get the experience of running with the winners and thrilling his friends and family who saw him on camera, and then just chilling out and having fun, soaking up the course.  But maybe he wanted to hang and at least get the 2:40 overall.  Maybe (probably?) the positive split hurt. 

So I get what the commentators were saying about him not belonging there up there with the leaders around mile 5 or wherever it was. 

But at the same time, as the commentators acknowledged, it's part of the beauty of this sport, particularly the marathon.  It's one of the only sports (the only?) in the world where us mortals can be out there at the same time and on the same course, competing with the best in the world.  Anyone who is in that race, or pretty much any other race, can go for the win.  Sure, you have to qualify for some races, like Boston, the Olympic Trials, or the Olympics, but if you've made that cut, then you're game to win it.  Of course at something like Boston, there is a huge seeding process that means even if one of my friends had run the race in two hours flat, the fastest marathon ever, he or she wouldn't have been up with the leaders since they all started at least 4 minutes later (and it was my friends with the 3 digit numbers that started 4-5 minutes back; most people are 10, 15, 20, 30 or more minutes behind the elites, depending on their wave and corral assignments).  But in Boston, if you've earned a bib number in the 100s, you're starting very close in time to the elites, and if you're fast enough to hang with them, you can do it.  And if you're fast enough to beat them, then you get all that glory.

So while part of me thinks bib 162 was just going for his 5 minutes of fame, and there's almost always someone who does!, part of me thinks, hey, more power to him, that must have been fun!  Though yeah, I bet the next couple hours weren't quite as much fun if he really was crashing and burning.

He managed to get his re-Q by just a couple seconds, so he gets to go back next year and try again.   Though if he doesn't get a faster re-Q, he won't have a bib number in the 100s again. 

EDITED:  Wait!  162 and I do have a mutual friend!  There's a very popular runner in Dallas that some call Mr. O.  I think everybody who runs in Dallas seems to know him.  He's fast on the roads and on the trails, a recent cancer survivor, a teacher, a tattoo-buddy for those who want company, older than anyone would ever guess, pretty much the nicest guy you could ever meet, and a friend to all.  Anyway, Mr. O just shared a story on FB, an article about our friend 162, and congratulated him on his minutes of fame.  Apparently 162 was so happy his daughters got to see him on TV!  It was his one and only Boston, and he wanted to run with the elites, regardless of whether that meant he'd be "carrying a piano later" as one of the commentators said.  He's a professional triathlete and he's got a sub-30 10k PR -- he indeed earned that bib number in the 100s!  His goal was to lead the race for about 3 miles.  He thought he could do that based on past elite paces, but the elites this year started with a 4:37 mile, which is apparently just on the edge for 162, and he had to run a 4:27 to catch the elites, but he went for it and succeeded in his goal!  He apparently led the race for less than 2 miles he thinks, but what a cool memory for him.  I'm happy.  Yow -- a 4:27 mile to start the marathon.  No wonder there was an 8:47 average 5k later!  Hope he was just enjoying the course and soaking it all in.  As Kris Lawrence said in her Boston recap, "the memories are sometimes (most times) more important than the time on the clock."

Here's the article Mr. O shared:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Re-Qs abound

Yesterday at Boston, I was tracking three bloggers I don't know in real life, as well as 9 friends with whom I have shared miles over the years.  On the whole, this was a smaller group than I usually track, which was odd.  It seems like usually I have at least 15 friends running.  But it was just the lucky dozen this year. 

Anyway, I am happy to report that all but one of them (including the bloggers) managed to re-Q there, a few of them by more than 30 minutes, many of them by more than 10, and a few were within the 5 minute squeeker window.  The one who missed the re-Q missed by less than 100 seconds, so she was close. 

The general report was that it was cold.  The rain really made things wet and it was hard to warm up.  Multiple people mentioned how cold it was after the Newton hills, when you're usually at your warmest and getting into the last 10k.  The wind also got worse in the last hour or so of most races, but fortunately it wasn't as bad as it had been feared. 

I'm so proud of all of them, and currently feeling very bummed that I didn't do the race (though I'm certainly not in shape for it now, if I'd committed when I was considering it, maybe I could have been).  And I'm even more bummed that I don't (and won't) have a qualifying time for 2016, so I couldn't run it if I wanted to. 


Guess I need to get back into the swing of things and do the work if I want to get there again. 

Seeing all their soaking wet but smiling faces made me feel so inspired and impressed. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Marathon thoughts

Since I'm not into "the twitter," and since I loved seeing my play-by-play texts of the Boston elite race last year, I figured I'd do a similar post this year.  Heck, it's not like I'm working this morning anyway!!

As I was watching the lead packs form and pass the first few miles, I set up my athlete tracker for my local running friends, plus 3 bloggers I read.

At mile 8, Deba took water from a non-elite water stop.  That was the first thing that made me count her out.  Desi is leading the women's pack at mile 8.

At 90 minutes into the race, all three American women were still in the mix heading into the Newton hills. 

At about 1:07, American Dathan pulled into the lead on the men's side.  Big surprise!  His first Boston. 

And at 1:36, American Desi was leading, and within about 5 minutes, Shalene was out of the lead pack, running 7 seconds back.  And Amy Hastings fell out near here as well, so down to one American woman. 

At 1:30 in the men's race, Meb and Dathan were both still in the lead pack. 

At 2:00 on the women's side, the crowd noise was incredible and Desi is still in the lead pack toward the very front. 

The big move in the women's race came at about 2:04 when Dibaba dropped the hammer.  3 women made the move with her, but then they eased up and back into a single pack.  And Desi was back into the front. 

And for the record, at 1:39 in the men's race, Meb was leading the pack.  He's so awesome.  Nearly double the age of some of the guys he's running with.  At 1:41, Tsegay took a gu, which was kind of fun to watch since the camera was in tight.  At this point, it's a men's pack of 10 with Dathan and Meb in there. 

At 2:09, there was another surge in the women's race.  Again, Dibaba and this time 2 women chasing her, and Desi just a few seconds back from them.  And then that move became the definitive one.  It developed into a women's lead pack of 3 (Dibaba, Deba and Rotich), and the chasers, led by Desi. 

At 1:45, after the hills, the men's race got a lot more intense.  Meb stayed in it, but Dathan was about 50 yards back within a minute.  The move was huge.  It looks like the pack is down to 7 or so.  5:24 pace for the mile with Heartbreak. 

At 2:16, Deba is leading the women's race, and the other two are right there with her. 

Then, at 1:50, Desisa made another surge for the men, separating it into a pack of 3, with Chebet just off their shoulders. 

At 1:51, they said Meb stopped.  He dropped off the back, bent over, maybe grabbed his hamstring or knee, and then started running again. 

At 2:20 in the women's race, it's still the pack of 3. 

Chebet worked his way back to the lead group of 3 at 1:53. 

2:21, the women are still a tight group of three. 

Eeeee, it's getting good!!!  These are tight packs so it's going to be a very exciting 5-10 minutes in each race. 

From 2008 through 2012, the women's margin was always 3 seconds or less.  Might be the same thing this year! 

At 2:23, the women started to spread out, Rotich is leading, Dibaba is on her heels, and Deba is back.  Then Dibaba makes the surge, both in sight of the finish line. 

Coming down the stretch, Deba was to the far right of the screen.

2:24:30 Rotich was SMILING!  That was it.  The moment everyone watching just knew.

The grin, then the surge, Rotich did it 2:24:55.  Dibaba second.  Deba third.  Desi Davila/Linden fourth!!!!!!  WOOOOO-HOOOO AMERICA!!!!!

Yow, somehow, tears.  I love seeing the winners get hugs from family and coaches.

During the women's finish, we missed the action in the men's race.  Desisa made his move and no one responded.  He opened it up to 15 meters and we didn't get to see it.  Tsegay stayed close, holding on to a secure second.  Then a bigger window to third, who seems to be Chebet.

Around this time Shalene Flanagan finished sixth. EDITED:  ninth.

2:01, Desisa and Tsegay are close still.  Desisa is looking a lot, so I don't think we can count on this order holding. 

The last few miles all 4:48 down to 4:37.  Yeah, that will spread out the pack! 

But that's it, at 2:03, Desisa surged again and Tsegay did not hold on.  He dropped a few seconds back.  Mile 25 just crossed.  2:04.  Desisa is holding his lead.  But he's turning around and looking over his shoulder, but he's got a lead of 7 seconds after a 4:55 last mile.  It could still get shaken up, but I think Desisa might be able to do this.  He just has to hold it together for a few more minutes. 

Yeah!  I hope he keeps this marathon medal.  I loved that he gave his 2013 medal back to Boston, it was such a nice gesture that year with all the pain.  But he deserves a Boston medal and win to keep for himself. 

2:06:30, Desisa seems to be alone.  2:07, took off his hat/headband.  Right on Hereford.  All alone.  Making the left onto Boylston!  He looks amazingly strong!  A surge on his own, no one chasing, but a surge.  2:08:15 and he's waving to the crowd.  Finally, a wide camera angle, he's definitely got it.  But it's going to be slower than Meb's time from last year.  Blowing kisses to the crowd!  He's so happy, I love it!!!  What an amazing athlete.  Wow! 

Crosses the line 2:09:17 it looked like.  Desisa wins!  Tsegay, another Ethiopian second.  Chebet third.  Dathan Ritzenheim not far back, definitely top 10.  Very impressive!  If he qualifies in Feb., I think this will be his fourth Olympics?  There's Meb.  Waving, blowing kisses, I love it!!!  He's my favorite by so much! 

EEEEEEeeeee!  Meb was right at the line with Dionne, female number 21, grabbed her hand as they crossed the line! 

There's Dibaba, celebrating her finish.

Official women's final results.

The winners (before Desisa was crowned).

Crowning Desisa with the laurel wreath. 

And then, the masses start coming through. 

I've got nearly two more hours of runner tracking to do.  Right now, my slowest friend at the race has a 3:54 predicted finish time, so I won't be getting up from the computer anytime soon! 
Such a wonderful marathon Monday! 

Boston Predictions: Elite Women

Here are my thoughts on the 2015 Boston Women's Elite field.  Last year, I made the big Jeptoo prediction, which is now marred by her more recent failed drug test.  So disappointing.  Anyway, there are only 14 elite women this year, 4 of them Americans.  I think there's a pretty low chance for a course record.  Headwind today.

On the American front, all the money seems to be on Shalene.  How cool would it be to have a victory for the American men in 2014, and then the American women in 2015?  Among the elite women's field, Deba and Dibaba, both from Ethiopia, are the likely favorites.  But while the elite field is fast, not a lot of them had strong marathons in 2014.  Even more so than with the men's field, a lot of the fastest of the fast women are in London next week.  I feel like part of that sets up Shalene nicely.  And if the Americans can't win Boston this year, then we have to wait two years since I don't think there's any chance for an American win next year (just given the timing of the trials).  So I think that's a good reason to bank on Shalene. 

But I still can't really predict Shalene to win, though it would be awesome.  I definitely think she will be top 5.

For the win, I'm going with Buzunesh Deba.  Thanks to that whole doping thing with Rita, Deba is actually going to be sporting bib number 1 today.  She was not far behind Rita last year, it will be interesting to see how she does as more of a favorite.  She's got a lot of depth of experience at the marathon level, and I think her altitude training may pay off with a win for her this year.  I like Cherop's and Kilel's course experience (and of the two, I'm leaning toward Cherop), and I think either of them could run strong. But I also think it's an uphill (haha, downhill) battle for them as I worry they've both peaked. 

I can't pick Dibaba because I just don't think she's going to be fresh enough, having already had a 2015 win (and may have left it all out there), though I realize I'm predicting a men's champion with the same issue.

Joyce Chepkirui is someone I like because she lives and trains in Iten, so I'll put her as my second choice.  She's not much of a marathoner based on her credentials right now, but I think she has a good chance of putting her name in the books today.  She's like Shalene with solid track experience, so depending on how the race plays out, it could go very well for her. 

To watch for next year:  Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia.  It's her first Boston, otherwise I would absolutely pick her this year.  She ran strong in Dubai, but I'm guessing she can do more.  Heck, strike what I said about watching her next year.  Watch her this year. 

I will note that I'm also going to be tracking female elite Kris Lawrence (not in the "elite" field, but elite enough to be in the elite women's start with an F on her bib!).  I've read her blog for a long time and so I'm aware that she says she's not going to be setting any PR or getting her OTQ time at this race due to some injuries earlier this training season that necessitated her taking some time off, but I'm still excited to track her and wish her all the best. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Boston Predictions: Elite Men

Was it just a year ago that I was studying the elite fields for Boston, and venturing out to make my predictions?  I hestitated to make Boston predictions this year since I may have been one of the only people in the world to accurately predict the insanely exciting results (well, at least in the men's race) from last year (men's prediction here, women's prediction here), I figured I owed it to the legions of readers to at least take another crack at it.

Marathon Monday is one of my favorite days of the year, even when I'm not running the race.  As I posted last year, it's so much fun to track all my friends running Boston.  And I even took blurry pictures of my computer screen since my eyes were so full of tears when I saw Meb pull out the victory.   

For anyone who wants to read my text recap of last year's Boston to a friend, that post (with those photos) is here; it really is one of my favorites to go back and read.  Wow, it was an intense race!  Honestly, rereading the texts, I remember those feelings so well.  When Meb started pumping his fist at 2:07:30, my tears started flowing.  That was the first time I felt like he was safe, that second when I realized that he was in distress, as I'd noted, but that there was SOMETHING left in his tank, and that he wasn't going down.  By far, the most exciting sports moment I've ever watched.  I actually admitted to my boss that I'm not really working tomorrow.  We have a meeting with the president of our division to discuss one of my "scary" cases, and when we were setting it up on Thursday, I basically said I'll be in the office tomorrow, but I'm totally unavailable unless it's an emergency until about 1:00 (I am predicting a 3:40ish finish for the last friend I am tracking).  My boss is a HUGE sports fan (mostly baseball, but he listens to sports radio literally ALL DAY in the office, so I think he cares about all the other sports too).  And I think because he's a sports day and this is seriously the only sporting event I care about (aside from the Olympic marathon every 4 years), he was okay with me saying I wanted the morning meeting-free. 

Anyway, back to Boston. 

This year is likely going to be amazing again.  The weather looks better than last year, so I think we have a good chance of a new course record.  There may be rain, but I don't think that will be a big factor in the elite times.  And it's exciting that five past champions are returning to compete this year (3 men, 2 women). 

So even though by next tomorrow afternoon, I very well may be thinking I should have gone out on top and not ventured any predictions at all, here it goes with my thoughts on the 2015 Boston Men's Elite field. 

Unfortunately, while my whole heart wants Meb Keflezieghi to win again, I just don't think it's in the cards.  He has had an amazing training season (at least from what I read on FB), but unfortunately, he's too much of a force to be reckoned with and there is no chance that the Africans are going to let him escape from the lead pack again.  I DO think he has a great shot at being among the top runners, and I think he also has a good chance at getting PR. 

Can I still just go ahead and make him my official prediction for the win?  When I was dating a guy who liked college basketball a lot, we used to make two brackets for March madness -- one we made together based on his predictions based on watching lots of games and listening to endless commentary, and the one I called my "heart" bracket, which was based solely on (in order) cities, schools, mascots and colors that I loved.  Meb is definitely winning in my heart 2015 Boston bracket. 

But in the interest of venturing an honest prediction, a lot of the guys who would be in my short list of favorites (Kipsang, Mutai, Kimetto) are going to London this year instead of Boston, so I feel like I'm taking more of a shot in the dark this year. 

My prediction is Lelisa Desisa.  I'm not exactly going out on a limb.  Some people would predict Makau, or at least another Kenyan, and I'm predicting an Ethiopian over a Kenyan since I think Desisa has both the strength and the course experience to do it.  I'm a little nervous that he's coming too soon off of Dubai, but with a strong race there and good temps in Boston, I think he can do it.  He deserves another win in Boston since his 2013 win was overshadowed by the events that happened a couple hours later.  But he does have a lot of second places, and I think mentally, it can be hard to break that. 

If it's not Desisa, I think it's going to be Chebet.  He really made me sweat last year when he was reigning Meb in over the last 5-8k of the course.  I would love to see him win.  On the books, I think he is the strongest in terms of depth of strong finish times.  He's got four wins with times under 2:06.  That's incredible.  And obviously Kenya is always a force to be reckoned with in the marathon! 

So those are my top options.  As for others to watch, I said that I liked him last year, and it holds true again this year:  I like Gebregziabher Gebremariam mostly because of his name.  In terms of less likely options, I'm also rooting for Abderrahime Bouramdane out of Morocco, mostly because this is going to be our Morocco year (assuming we keep that on our Fall trip itinerary). 

On the American front, I've liked Dathan Ritzenhein, but I don't expect anything spectacular from him ... this year.  Definitely one to watch in the future!  Can't wait to see what he does in the Trials next year.  Again, I'm 100% Team Meb. 

More than anything, as always, I'm just hoping for a wonderfully strong and strategic race to unfold as I watch from my computer in my office! 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Gear Review (for women)

When I read Jennifer's post about five brands for spring activewear, one of the items she mentioned jumped out at me:

Quoting from her post:

"4. CALIA by Carrie Underwood
This new line from Carrie Underwood is available exclusively at Dick's Sporting Goods and offers a lower price point than other high-end brands.

I really want to try the Inner Power Cross Front Mesh Bra. It's designed for high-impact performance like running, and it comes in actual bra sizes, which always seem to fit better than bras in general sizes (small or 6, for example). The mesh would be great for hot days, and the back is a unique design. I love this Smoky Plum color.

When Jennifer said "actual bra sizes," I was sold. 

In reality, I couldn't care less about price point if it's something that works.  I run enough that it's worth it to have an amazing sports bra (or five).  I've tried some pricy brands before without success.  I heard rave reviews of Lululemon's Tata Tamer, but I was sorely disappointed, it leaves chafe marks around my shoulders and sometimes near the clasp.  It's one of my last choice bras now. 

For running for the last few years, I've mostly been wearing Moving Comfort's Fiona, or Moving Comfort's Vixen.  I think I have 3 of each in different colors, but both styles seems to have their issues on me.  Those idiotic adjustable straps on the Fiona usually leave marks between my collarbone and shoulder wherever the seam is.  And the Fiona seems to result in band chafing for me, plus frequent chafing from the clasp.  The Vixen usually leaves me with chafing around the band and sometimes where the two off center seams go up.  Yow. 

With summer coming quickly, bringing hot, and sometimes humid runs over 16 miles, suffice it to say, money is not an object, though I'd certainly be reluctant to try something super pricey. 

So based on what Jennifer wrote, I decided to give it a shot.  I ordered one.  And I remeasured my band size for the first time in ages.  Am I one of the 80% wearing the wrong size bra?  Maybe!  (Is that stat real?  I don't know where I heard it, seems implausible, but maybe...)  I actually went down one band size from what I wear most days for work.  (No, I don't think it's a size issue with the Fiona and Vixen that I usually wear, since I have multiple sizes of the Fiona and they all have the same issue, and the Vixen is XS-XL sizing.) 

Shipping was free, but not speedy.  I shipped it to work and it actually arrived on one of my running commute days, so I decided to try it out the very night I got it -- not a tough call since the alternative was the stinky sports bra I'd worn on my way TO work that morning, and plus, my commute is just under 4 miles, so a much more comfortable distance to give a new gear item a test run instead of a regular weekday run, which is always over 6 miles.

My thoughts:

The second I put it on, I could tell, it fits great. I picked the right size. It was comfortably secure when I put it over my head, and appropriately tight when I hooked the clasp. 

My second thought was that it seemed too low cut in the front.  I was nervous that meant it wasn't going to work well.  And I knew, regardless of how supportive it was, I'd hesitate to wear it without a shirt since I'd be giving quite the show with this one, but aside from three runs in near-emergency conditions (all detailed here), I don't run topless, so how it looks is kind of moot. 

On the run, wow.  Fit great, no chafing, fully supportive, not uncomfortable at all, maybe a little cooler feeling with the venting?  Hard to tell.  But great.  Two thumbs up unequivocally while running. 

Got home, and I could immediately feel where the chafing had happened -- in the back, right near the clasp.  The cause?  Plastic tags.  Perforated so I was clearly supposed to remove them before running in the bra.  My bad.  Cut it as close as possible to the fabric, and threw it in the laundry.

Next, I wore it tagless for a weekend run of 12 or 13 miles. 

Perfection!  No chafing anywhere, comfortable, supportive, perfect.  Can't even say how happy this makes me. 

So now, I've discovered the product's true flaw, and my biggest complaint:  it's always dirty.

Seriously, I never get to wear it.  I do laundry on Fridays or Saturdays, which means that it's clean for my Sunday long run, and it's now the first sports bra that I grab from my drawer, so it's never clean and an option on a weekday.  It really feels like I never get to wear it.
Solution:  I ordered a dupe of the one I liked, as well as one in the other color.

Now my biggest complaint is probably the lack of color options.  The Moving Comfort bras have tons of color choices, why only two here?  I'd especially like some lighter colors.  Not that I'll run in just a sports bra ever (barring another emergency), but there's something I don't like about wearing dark colors, even underneath a shirt, for an August 20 miler.  Maybe some blues?  Yellows?  Pinks?  Light greys? 

Thankfully, the second and third ones I ordered were the same price.  Dick's doesn't know it, but they had this priced right for me to try it, but once I knew I liked it, I easily would have paid double the price for the next two.  Whew!  They could be like a coke dealer -- first hit is free, then they gouge you when you're hooked.  Good thing for me that's not a business model they've considered. 

I would assume it goes without saying, but my opinions, my money spent on all products referenced.

So thanks for the tip Jennifer!  You made my upcoming summer much more comfortable!   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Race Report: Fairview Half

Ran the Fairview Half Marathon this past weekend, and figured I'd share my thoughts for anyone local.

Overall, it was a pretty good race, but not likely one I'd consider doing again.  Fairview is a suburb that is really, really, really far away from Dallas.  The drive up there in the morning didn't have much traffic, but it felt like we were in the car for hours.  My husband went with me to keep me company and to cheer.  That was a big bonus, but he was also surprised at how far away it was and I am not entirely sure he would have joined the fun if he'd known before we set out at 6 a.m. 

My biggest complaint was that a few stretches were run on the shoulder of a very busy road that was not closed to traffic.  This made it tough to stay with a pace group, since at most, they could run two abreast, and then one person was kind of running on the gravel. 

I didn't like the course very much overall.  It was hilly (for Texas), and fairly boring -- like running through the residential streets of some random suburb.  Not very exciting.

The best part of the course by far happened twice (the course was not exactly out and back, but a large portion of it was).  There was one stretch where we ran past some fields with cows, horses, and longhorns.  That was really cool and not something you get in your average Dallas area race. 

There was some shade along the streets, but it was somewhat confusing since there were not cones (except on the busiest of the roads), and a vast majority of people were running on the right side of the road, but it was not closed to traffic, so cars would come up behind you.  I didn't like that part at all. 

The best parts of the race don't really have anything to do with the running. 

First, ample (and free) parking at the start (it started at what I guess is like a suburban outdoor mall, and city building?).  Either way, short walk to the start, indoor bathrooms available, seemed well organized. 

Second, the race started at 7:30.  That's relatively early, but since our weather in mid-April can already get ugly hot (even though it didn't this year), I think the early start was very smart. 

The other thing I really liked was one of the treats at the end of the race.  Mini bundt cakes.  Yum!  I wish I'd taken a picture.  They also had bananas and water, and maybe muscle milk?  Can't remember. 

Another favorite part about the race, though I have not actually looked at them yet, is that they offer free downloads of the pictures.  I think I saw two photographers, but I know that the first one didn't get any pictures of me -- a minivan was coming the opposite direction at the exact time my pictures would have been taken.  But I'm betting I got a few from the other photographer.  And since I wasn't racing this one, there's a chance any of those pictures could be decent.  But even if it didn't work out for me, that's a very nice feature to offer runners. 

And the last thing I loved about this race, the medal:

Unfortunately you can't really tell from the picture, but the little thing at the top of the oil rig (?) spins.  Love it! 

The shirts are technical, average quality.

Here is the back:

And two shots of the front (tried to do a closer one so you could see it, and one further back because the shirt is actually fairly long, which I think is nice).  I don't like how the 5k is more prominent in the logo (especially since a vast majority of people were doing the half), but it's fine. 

My "race" itself was good.  The weather was good, overcast, in the upper 50s or low 60s.  It got sunny later, and that was pretty gross when you were also getting exhaust from the trucks on the road, but no real complaints. 
My running buddy and I were pacing one of his co-workers and her friend.  All 4 of us stayed together until about mile 8, then I pulled slightly ahead with the friend, and we finished about 90 seconds ahead of my buddy and his co-worker.  The two we were pacing were both thrilled with the results.  They both apparently slowed down a bit in mile 11, and my friend and I both had to "talk tough" right around mile 12.  I basically told the woman I was pacing that all this great running she'd done so far was about to go down the $hitter if she didn't get it in gear and hold it together for the last mile.  I told her to stay with me, and we were going to move.  I asked her to give me 8 more minutes of hard work.  She gave me 2 more minutes of hard work and about 7 minutes of medium work, but it was enough.  We finished 62 seconds ahead of her A goal (which I only found out about around mile 4; in advance of the race, I'd only been told of her B goal, which we beat by 6 minutes and 2 seconds).  Then all 4 of us went out for beer and pizza afterward.  I was very happy for them and really enjoyed the morning. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter treats

More than a week late now, but I had pictures on my phone that I took with the sole intent of posting here!

Easter morning, we went to my church.  I am Episcopalian, my husband is Catholic.  Since the outset of our relationship, the deal has been Christmas and Easter at my church, any other services at his.  And since my husband used to work Sundays, it really just meant Christmas at my (parents') church.  But since he changed jobs while we were in India, now he's off Sundays, so I got to bring him with me. 

After church, we came home to cook a bit -- our job was bringing salad and an appetizer, and then I also made Hot Cross Buns, an Easter morning tradition I grew up with, and a carrots-and-dirt type dessert.  Then we packed all that up and went to spend Easter with my godson and his family. 

By way of background, hubby and I rarely cook together, but we've undertaken Easter treats for the last couple years.  Unfortunately I don't have 2013 pictures, but at least I wrote about it (here), and 2014 had pictures, here

Anyway, here we go.  Pictures of some of the goodies we enjoyed on Easter.

Best of all was this nut-free carrot cake that my godson's dad made.  He's an amazing baker and I joked with my husband that this cake was the stuff of fantasies, and that he too would begin dreaming of this guy bringing him cake.  Haha, it really is good though! 

This is the carrots-and-dirt dessert we made.  Pudding on the bottom, then oreos, then frosting with edible grass. 

These are the Hot Cross Buns we made.  Not as good as I remember, but still good:

This is what the carrots and dirt were supposed to look like:

This was a dessert idea we considered and rejected (Easter 2016?):

And this just made me laugh: 

So happy (belated) Easter! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Strike That

All that stuff I said about being nervous about going to trial for the first time ever next week? 

Strike that!

The beauty of litigation...

Just found out that the final pretrial took forever yesterday.  The parties were ordered to mediation, and a new trial setting was issued at the end of June.  So no trip to So Ill is in my immediate future!

Bummed I won't get to visit with my aunt and uncle, but so, so happy to be staying home!  Especially since our wedding anniversary is next weekend, so we're having our annual rehearsal dinner anniversary party (where we invite everyone local who was with us in Italy for the actual rehearsal dinner).  It was going to be a very inconvenient week to be gone. 

And with mediation, there's a higher likelihood that next trial setting will not proceed.  Woot. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

So Ill

I think I'm mostly writing this post so it will seem real to me.  I'm still kind of in a state of disbelief, but I think, unless something unexpected happens, I am going to trial for the first time in my life.  And this is going to happen on MONDAY!!!! 

There is a slight chance something will happen today (or technically tomorrow, but today is more likely, at the final pretrial conference) that something will happen to continue it, but as of right now, Thursday morning at my desk, all systems are go. 

I've been a lawyer for about 15 years.

The first half of that was at a big law firm doing securities litigation defense.  I only worked on a few cases (Enron took more than half a decade), and none of them went to trial.  And even if they had gone to trial, it would not have been me trying the case.  It actually likely wouldn't have even been a senior partner in our very large office -- it would have been an appellate specialist from DC who would be able to tailor the arguments to prepare for a possible loss and a certain appeal. 

Then I was at a small firm.  A handful of cases went to trial in the years I worked there (on average about 1.5 per year?).  I never went to trial.  I'd do the pre-trial work, but the partner at the firm was the one who actually tried the cases.

And now I'm at my current job where I basically manage risk.  My entire goal is kind of avoiding trial.  If there is any liability for something that happens, I try to settle that case for a reasonable amount.  And what is a "reasonable" amount is subject to change simply because as you get closer and closer to trial, that "crazy jury" risk gets more real. 

The more I read about more whacked out awards, the more nervous it makes me.  Who are these people that would award millions for a few broken ribs and a bruised ego?  Or BILLIONS for burns (albeit severe burns, but billions?)?  How does someone who is fully healed from a slip and fall with medical bills under $50,000 get an award for over $500,000 (without any punitives!)? 

But it now appears that for the first time ever, one of my cases is going to trial.  And that's happening on Monday.  For the record, I'm not trying this case (or any other), I'm managing outside counsel, so I guess it's marginally less scary than going to trial as a lawyer, but it still makes me insanely nervous.  We've tried to settle this case for a reasonable amount, and we've tried to settle this case for MORE than a reasonable amount.  But the other side is living in a different universe.  I told someone that I can't even say we're not in the same ballpark because here, I might be in one ballpark, but the other side is at a spa in a volcano -- not even playing a sport, let alone in the same sport and a different ballpark!  Totally unreasonable (at least in my mind).  So trial it is. 

I've barely slept for the last few days, pretty much ever since I realized that in all likelihood, this is probably going to happen.  And when I do sleep, I'm having all kinds of crazy dreams about this case (Monday night, I dreamt that the final pre-trial was going to be on Tuesday, and defense counsel had told me it was on Thursday, and so defense counsel failed to appear at the final pre-trial so the case was decided against us.  Of course, that dream scared me awake and forced me to log on to the federal court dockets to check the date of the final pretrial and confirm that defense counsel was indeed correct, it is set for today.) 

I feel okay about it objectively.  The facts seem pretty good.  The attorney we've hired to defend seems to be doing a pretty good job, though I don't have a lot of experience with him.  The venue is likely okay.  So what could go wrong? 

Uhhh, we lose and they award ten BILLION dollars!!!

Haha, okay.  But realistically, what could go wrong?

Uhh, yeah, juries can be totally insane in civil cases sometimes, so we could lose and they COULD award ten BILLION dollars. 

I guess that pretty much sums up why I'm insanely nervous about this. 

It's kind of fitting that I'll be in federal court in the district for So(uthern) Ill(inois), since I'll be feeling "so ill" when I'm there...

The up-side is that I will likely get to spend an afternoon with my aunt and uncle who live near St. Louis, since I think I'm going to fly up Sunday morning. 

So, if you're one of those people who is okay with adding random and not entirely significant things to prayers, or if you could just send some positive energy my way, I'd appreciate it.  But more importantly, please send "reasonable" vibes toward this still unknown to me jury!  (And of course if you're ever on a jury, be reasonable!; public service announcement.) 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring on the Trail

This post is actually probably two weeks old?  But I took photos on my phone and really wanted to share. 

The weekend after St. Pat's was when it became official that spring has sprung in Dallas.  The weekend had incredible weather. 

Everything was in bloom on the running trail a couple blocks from our house: 

And it was jam packed with runners, walkers, dog walkers, cyclists, roller bladers, and probably several other groups I can't even recall.

Mile marker 1 on the south-bound trail (it's the strip inlaid in the path): 

And even neighbors are providing further evidence of Spring:

Unfortunately, the other consequence of Spring -- it's warm.  And by warm, this is what I mean (and this is only significant if you can see that little time stamp up at the top; 4:39, getting dressed to run, already 70 degrees...): 

I think we've already had three mornings over 70 degrees between 5 and 6 a.m. when I start my workouts.  Makes me fear that this is going to be a long and ugly summer, but we shall see. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Amusing Memory

I have gotten into the habit lately of having the TV on during days I work from home, for at least part of the day.  Usually my work from home days consist of status checks on my cases.  I try to do substantive work during the week, and save some of the busy work for Fridays when I'm working from home.  It's so much faster to do status checks when I'm not in the office for some reason.  Fewer distractions?  For whatever reason, Friday mornings tend to be quiet on the email front, and so it's a good time to do the checks.  I can send out a bunch of inquiries and then the responses roll in Friday afternoons and into the next week.  When I'm reading responses, I usually have to turn off the TV.  I sometimes wonder if I have ADHD or something -- it's so hard for me to have distractions on anything substantive.  I need quiet or if it's remotely complex, I read the same line over and over.

Anyway, last week (? the week before? I wrote out the description when I watched, but not sure when) one day I worked from home and I put on a Lifetime movie I'd recorded.  I've found Law & Order and Lifetime movies tend to be easy things to put on in the background -- amusing, mildly interesting, but if I miss 5-10 minutes, no big deal. 

The one I was watching was called The Face on the Milk Carton, a 1995 movie with Kellie Martin, Jill Clayburgh, and Edward Herrmann.  The description: 

"A teenage girl searches for the truth after discovering she has been separated from her original family for 13 years."

I must have repressed the memory, but all of a sudden a childhood memory came rushing back.  I was on a campaign for a long time, possibly over a year, I couldn't say for sure, to convince my next youngest brother he was adopted.  I claimed I even remember our parents trying to decide if they reallly wanted him or if they wanted another girl instead. 

Hahaha.  Older siblings can be so awful!  Or maybe it's just me... 

I was trying to convince him he should try to find his real parents and go live with them. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

April Fool's

A couple days late but had to share some April Fool's fun.

When my boss came in, my new coworker and I totally got him.  There has been a bit of a freak out lately because someone we just started working with had two very significant (and potentially bad) things happen recently and we learned about both of them in the second half of March.  So he's on his guard when it comes to that company already.  Well, Wednesday morning, as soon as he walked in the office, we flagged him into my office (where I pretended to hang up a phone call about the crisis) and we told him about two "new" serious cases with the same company.  Made up facts and all.  He was totally shocked and said something like "Oh my God, are you kidding?"  And we were like "Yes. April Fool's."  At one point I was worried I'd crack a smile so I had to pretend to look at my calendar to get a date.  He'd totally forgotten it was April 1.  I couldn't believe it.  I got him last year too with something similar! 

But the main reason I had to write this post was the car I saw when merging onto the highway after work.  I wish I'd been able to take a picture, but I was driving.  It was a big black SUV.  Something like a Tahoe?  Anyway, three pieces of paper attached to the back of the SUV.  The first one said something like "Say 'Hi Walter!'"  The next one said "Honk, yell and wave!"  The last one said "April Fool's Day 2015".   I'm sure by the time Walter was driving home from work, he'd seen the signs walking up to his car, but it was a cute idea.  I wonder how many people honked, yelled, or waved at Walter.

Funny stuff! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2014 Reading

Another year where I want to keep track of what I read.  Rough goal:  7500 pages, at least half should be fiction.  Unfortunately, I think I stopped keeping track at some point (but the first one on this list took fo-evah to read, so maybe this really is the full list).  I was just working on my 2015 list, and I figured I might as well pull this one together and share it. 

My number one recommendation was a re-read:  Flyboys. 

Private Empire:  ExxonMobil and American Power, by Steve Coll.  Nonfiction, about 700 pages.  Very interesting.  About ExxonMobile, the largest and most powerful private company in the country.  Mostly recent history, from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (which I remember hearing about!  it was early in my worldly/political consciousness), through the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2012.  Lee Raymond was quite the character and makes the book so interesting.  Fairly slow going for me, mostly because I wanted to soak in a lot of the details. 

Dear Life, by Alice Munro.  Fiction, about 325 pages.  A collection of short stories.  I didn't take good notes on my thoughts.  I wonder if I even finished it?  I have a vague recollection that I liked it though, so I think I finished.  I remember several of the characters from stories, well-developed, great fiction. 

The End of Men (and the Rise of Women), by Hanna Rosin.  Nonfiction, 325 pages.  Started strong, but it went downhill.  My husband agreed, after I begged him to read it (particularly as he has a son who isn't exactly a go-getter (though he is wonderful and happy, which I think is more important)). The point of the book is largely about how women are outpacing men by many of the traditional markers of success (education and career largely), but there's still the whole wage gap thing.  It focuses largely on a lack of ambition among young men.  I really wanted to love the book, because it's such an interesting subject, but this wasn't it. 

Gods of Guilt, by Michael Connelly.  Fiction, about 400 pages.  Connelly has two primary series, the Bosch series, about an LA detective, and the Haller series, a LA lawyer who is Bosch's half-brother.  My husband has basically a man-crush on Bosch, to the extent that's possible with a solely fictional character that until Feb. 2015 had never even been made into a TV show.  Well, this was a Haller book.  My husband likes this series less, and I agree, though I still like it a whole lot.  Quick read, another murder case. 

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris.  Fiction, about 275 pages.  A few laughs, but I'm starting to think I just don't like his writing that much, which is a bummer, because the first book of his I read (Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim) was so funny.  Recounting childhood memories, and opining on other issues, telling stories, etc.  Not up my alley really.  But a quick read. 

Hostage, by Elie Weisel.  Fiction, about 225 pages.  A fictional story about an American Jewish story-teller who lives in New York and is kidnapped by an Arab and an Italian who are attempting to negotiate the release of several Palestinians in exchange for Shaltiel.  An interesting book, enjoyable read.  Highly recommended. 

Flyboys, by James Bradley.  Nonfiction, about 335 pages.  A relatively rare re-read.  Favorite line of the book:  "When Perry's Black Ships revealed the impotence of the Tokugawa regime, 'the Japanese had discarded their feudal Shogunate ... cast them off like worn-out garments after almost right centuries of exalted existence.'"  The story of the Air Force's role in the Pacific theater.  I never get tired of books like this and Bradley does a good job of looking at the complex history leading up to the war, and portraying the perspective from both sides.  Highly recommended to all.  While parts are very hard to read (for me, the napalm attack descriptions), I feel like it's our duty as young (okay, young-ish for me) Americans to learn about WWII and ensure it never happens again.

Double Cross, the True Story of the D-Day Spies, by Ben Macintyre.  Nonfiction, about 400 pages.  The story of German spies who were turned into double agents, which was critical to preventing Nazi anticipation of the landings at Normandy, and to instead, have them expect the invasion elsewhere.  I thought it was pretty good, a story I didn't know much about already.  But overall, it wouldn't be on my list of the top 20 WWII books.  I had some trouble keeping everyone and their roles straight.  But lots of character.  My favorite passage:  "'My heart is in very bad condition.  My doctor, who is my biggest friend, said that it is too much alcohol, tobacco, and sin.  The only remedy which I have found sufficient up until now was milk and chocolates.  Please send $100 worth of any kind of chocolate you can think of.  I don't mind what they are, I am taking them as medicine.  Please send me at the same time $100 of nylons, in 9, 9.5, and 10.  Don't think I'm promiscuous.'  Ren did not believe Popov's claim of a medical chocolate emergency.  The chocolates are intended to delight the interiors of those same exteriors which he wishes to decorate with stockings."  Runner-up for favorite quote:  "While waiting for a transfer to London as a refugee, the Marquis took up residence in a Madrid brothel where he spent spent four days and four nights, finally emerging exhausted and happy, but with a nasty dose of venereal crabs."  Those spies were definitely characters! 

Second Wind: One Woman's Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, by Cami Ostman.  Non-fiction, about 300 pages.  Received as a birthday gift a few years ago from the woman with whom I started my marathon journey (a dear friend, mother to my god-son, co-book-club founder, etc.).  The author comes through a divorce and starts running, eventually deciding to run a marathon on each continent.  If that whole Beijing marathon fiasco hadn't happened for me, maybe I would have considered this goal myself.  The book grew on me, but overall, I didn't love it, as much as I love travel and marathons.  What I didn't like about it was the self-centeredness that echoed of Eat, Pray, Love to me (which is one of my most-hated books of all time).  Running is certainly different things to different people, but she was just so caught up in herself and her own happiness that it was a little sad for me. 

Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You, by Hanna Jansen.  Nonfiction, about 325 pages.  This was a book club pick and I enjoyed it.  It's the story of a young Rwandan girl's life in the early 90s, then her experience during the genocide (fleeing, seeing her family killed, fleeing further), and a few bits about her life afterward, living in Germany with a relative.  It calls to mind books like The Diary of Anne Frank and Zlata's Diary.  I've been interested in Rwanda for a long time.  Little known fact, when the trials started and the internet was still relatively new to me, I started printing stories about each conviction that I read about -- and um, I still kind of do (though there aren't any lately, the whole reconcilation thing).  It was one of those things I felt I need to keep a record of.  My favorite book about the Rwandan genocide is We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, by Philip Gourevitch.  This (Over a Thousand Hills) would be good particularly for older kids, young adults.  Quick read. 

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, a Memoir, by Kristin Newman.  Nonfiction, about 300 pages.  This was recommended to me by my husband, who heard about it on NPR.  I desperately wanted to love this book, given that a.) I love to travel, b.) I have no children, and c.) I was still single at 30 (I'd just started dating my husband).  But yeah, it just didn't resonate.  It's a thirty-something woman's travel memoir, largely about trips she took and guys she hooked up with on vacation.  It was interesting to think about the difference between a vacation romance and someone you'd date at home, she's completely right, it's a wholly different standard.  While I did tons of overseas traveling before I met my husband, both solo and with friends, I never quite got into vacation romances the way she did.  I guess it's because I don't tend to stay in the same spot more than a week.  While she doesn't spend much time on the subject, it's true that there's a total double standard regarding women's sexuality, and I appreciate that she told her honest tale and wrote that she would not be "slut-shamed" out of doing so.  I really wanted her to end up with Father Juan, this vacation romance from Argentina that she saw more than once, but in my limited vacation romance experience, she's correct that even if you go back, it's never quite the same (there was a particular guy when I studied abroad in Italy who called me his "anima" (soul) and I was convinced for some time, he was right, but yeah, after seeing him a few more times in the following 5 years, um, no). 

Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer.  Non-fiction, about 225 pages.  How had I never read this before?  It's an account of Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp)'s decision to abandon the confines of a traditional life and hitchhike cross country to Alaska, where he went alone into the wilderness and set up camp in an abandoned school bus.  I'm not entirely sure why there is such fascination with this story (seriously, why would there be any tabloid fascination?), but it's certainly a good book and a quick read. 

Totals based on the listed books:
3900 pages of nonfiction.
1225 pages of fiction.

Not even close to my goal on fiction.  Oops.  I should have done less non-fiction, but I was short on my page count either way.