Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Repeat Request

If I had to pick a recent day to repeat often, I might very well pick yesterday -- even if weekend days were in contention. 

Let me recap a few awesome highlights of yesterday.  There were other good parts, but these are the real banner moments.

First.  I went running with my friends.  Schedule was 8 miles including 2 miles tempo (designated as 15k pace).  I looked up what my 15k pace should be based on my fall marathon goal time and it did not seem particularly achievable for 2 miles, let alone 15k.  Ran 2 miles easy, stopped for water, then the tempo started.  And I KILLED it!  Actually, I shouldn't say that because I actually failed to nail my paces -- I was too fast.  That doesn't really bother me.  Usually on any kind of pace running, I try very hard to be spot on -- going too fast isn't part of the plan.  But who in the heck knows how to nail 15k pace on their first attempt of a training season?  The first mile started off with a (Dallas) uphill -- I glanced at my pace a couple times as I went up it -- 15 seconds too slow, 30 seconds too slow, so I pushed.  I'm not sure I ever nailed the pace on the uphill, but I more than made up for it on the downhill.  I ended mile 1 about 15 seconds faster than my goal.  So I tried to moderate more for mile 2, which was pretty flat, but included a U-turn .1 miles from the end (and there is no speedy way to U-turn).  Mile 2 ended up about 5 seconds faster than goal.  Score!  I can't remember the last time I hit two consecutive miles at that pace.  It definitely didn't feel easy, and I'm not sure how much longer it was sustainable, certainly not 7.3 more miles, but either way, I gave myself a big pat on the back for hitting my paces.  While normally I would prize being spot on over being too fast, since I was so nervous about even hitting this pace in the first place, the fact that I beat it actually makes me happy.  Still not 5k PR shape, but heck, 2 good miles was a great start to the morning!  I took a pretty long water stop after the tempo finished, waiting for my running group to reconsolidate, and then the last 4 miles were easy effort (monitored by HR) but still surprisingly strong, steady, and sustainable. 

Second.  I checked my work email as soon as I got home from my run and realized there was a division meeting scheduled for 10:30 a.m. -- first set at about 9:30 last night.  I guessed at the subject (raises approved (likely) or not approved (unlikely), and I decided I wanted to be there, so I hurried to finish up some work, shower, and pack for my trip(s), and then get to the office.  I got there about 30 seconds after the meeting started and it was very clear from looking around the room -- raises!  Annnnnndddddd... retroactive to June 1!  Annnnnnnndddd ... office location not moving for at least 15 more months!  (As you know, I love having the option of a 3.75 mile each way running commute, so I've been terrified that when our lease was up, I'd end up with a commute from hell that was not only not runnable, but involved lots of highway miles.) 

Third.  The meeting was short.  I stopped into my office afterward to put away my notepad and the divisional president asked if I could stop by his office.  I said I had about 4 minutes, but I correctly guessed the subject -- my salary/bonus -- so I knew I wanted to make time for it.  More good news there.  Top percentage raise in the office!  Eeeee!  That's exciting, especially since I'd mentioned before my overwhelming disappointment in May when someone less senior than me in another group surpassed me in title.  While I am maintaining my current title, I think I likely got the salary increase to the same level as my co-worker who was promoted. 

Fourth.  I got in my car to drive to the airport and turned on the radio.  Some Pit Bull song came on.  And I sang along as loudly as possible while car dancing on my drive to the airport.  I seriously felt like I was on top of the world -- two strong tempo miles and a raise and (essentially) a bonus!!!! 

Fifth.  Upgrade!  Not a long flight, but every bit helps!

Sixth.  Lovely hotel here in Albuquerque, and an hour or two of free time before dinner to take a self-guided Breaking Bad tour.  Last night I went to the "Northeast" sights.  Walt & Skylar's house.  Hank & Marie's house.  The car wash.  Saul's office.  The laundry.  This morning I'm going to head to Jesse Pinkman's house on my run toward the Rio Grande. 

Seventh.  The most fun work dinner I've had not involving my boss ever.  Defense counsel and two other people involved on our side in this case (one of whom was new to me, but who I've interacted with a lot by phone and email).  Too much good Mexican food and lots of cerveca (cervesa?  cerveza?  how do you write beer in Spanish???).  Will make for a slow run this morning! 

So yeah, this is a day that would be in recent contention for my pick for my own personal Groundhog's Day to repeat again, and again, and again.  Love it!  I'm hoping the mojo stays with me for today's mediation, which is my largest active case. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Crazy Idea?

So on my long run yesterday, I got to talking to a guy who is running an ultra this coming weekend.  In San Fran.  Where I'll be this weekend.  And where they also have a full marathon being held.

My schedule calls for 18 miles.  I was struggling to figure out how I would work out the logistics of that.  Water, route, timing, all of it seemed tough in a city that I don't know well. 

The seed was planted in my mind -- what if I did the race?  What if I ran 18 (or even 19) as a training run, and then walked the rest? 

But the race is sold out. 

My friend doing the ultra suggested I bandit the race, but that doesn't seem right since I really want to take advantage of the water stops.  There are charity entries still available, but on a Sunday, I figured it would be hard to get answers about how much I'd have to fork over for one of those.  Buuuuut there are bibs for sale on Craig's List. 

So I think the wheels are in motion.  I think I'm buying a bib from a woman on Craig's List.  She's in the next age group up from me (which will be my age group in less than 6 weeks).  She wants to keep the shirt, but will give me her bib (actually a friend will since she'll be out of the country). 

I'm trying to decide ethically if I can count this toward 50 states.  I think so.  I just have to finish in under 6 hours, which should be okay with about 3 hours of running and 3 hours of walking. 

I can't believe I'm really maybe going to do this.  I don't want to psyche myself out -- while it would technically be doing the marathon, it's really just an 18 mile training run. 

I'm concerned that 8 miles is a very long way to walk.  But I really love the idea of doing this, not missing a week of training, getting to be among runners, buying my own shirt at the expo.

This is definitely crazy. 

The other option is to do the half -- they actually offer the first half of the race as one event (sold out) and the second half as another (not sold out).  And then just add on 5 more miles. 

But I think I'm leaning toward a 6 hour 26 mile morning...

I'm heading out of town tomorrow so I need to decide for certain today.  It's going to be a long week, mediating in New Mexico and then near LA before finally getting up to San Fran.  I think I really want to do this.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Three minutes

For reasons I will never understand, this past weekend was a big local racing weekend.  In mid-July.  Why?  As I was heading to my Sunday race, I heard it was going to be our first day at or over 100.  I can't really complain, usually we hit 100 earlier than this. 

Anyway, my plan for the weekend was to do a slow and easy 5k on Saturday, and then push for a triple negative split at a 15k on Sunday. 

Planning was not my strength. 

Saturday morning I ran a very short warm-up and then hung out with friends.  Definitely not planning to race.  I ran my first mile at a fairly comfortable pace, pushing just a bit just so I could get out of some of the crowd.  But then I picked it up a bit through the U-turn.  And passed a friend shortly thereafter.  I thought maybe I'd run hard for to have a solid second mile time.  And then somehow I kept going.  My third mile was my fastest, more than 30 seconds off my first mile. 

It didn't feel great, but it also wasn't death.

I checked my time and realized I was almost exactly 3 minutes off my 5k PR.  That's just one minute per mile.  And that was with a not-death-effort first mile.  Wow.  Does this mean it's feasible to 5k PR still?  I mean, I feel like given that first mile, I easily could have shaved 30 seconds.  And take away temps in the 80s and sun, and there's another 30-60 seconds.  And lose ten pounds, there's another 30 seconds.  And work my @ss off, there's another minute? 

That's insanely exciting!! 

Unfortunately, running faster than planned on Saturday did not bode well for my results on Sunday. 

I managed an easy first 5k, and I picked it up for the second 5k.  But unfortunately, mile 6 was the mile of the day.  After that, the wheels came off, though just mildly in reality -- it felt like they were coming way off.  It took so much effort not to just walk.  One of my friends was supposed to double back and run me in, and when I hit mile 9, I was so pissed off that he hadn't come back yet that I almost decided to walk until I ran into him.  Thankfully I didn't because he was just standing around at the finish line, waiting.  He said he was catching his breath and about to head out to get me, but I have my doubts.  Either way, I managed to fight off the walking and that meant I managed a negative split, which I am happy about, but unfortunately, it wasn't the triple negative split that I wanted, trying to have each of the 5ks be faster than the last. 

Technically, I think my splits went like this:

1st 5k:  moderate pace
2d 5k:  one minute and 10 seconds faster than 1st 5k
3d 5k:  30 seconds faster than 1st 5k

So not horrible, but not what I wanted.  Definitely could have been worse!

The rest of the weekend consisted of shopping for more new wheels for the husband.  In addition to the new car we finally got a couple weeks ago, he also got a bike.  Four wheels just wasn't enough...

Sunday was his first ride and it was a mess -- he overestimated his ability, and underestimated the temperature, the distance, and the amount of water he'd need.  He rode to the finish line of my 15k race and found a bunch of my friends, but never found me.  I stayed for a beer after the race and still beat him home.  Yow.  But he's still excited about it. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Prepared Foods

No substance to this post, but it's on my mind.  I read something once to the effect "you know you've made it when you don't have to think twice about adding guac, despite the extra charge."  Along the themes of living large, I've come to realize that sometimes buying prepared foods kicks butt. 

I'm coming up with a rough order of preference for prepared foods.

1.  Diced onions
2.  Sliced mango
3.  Diced butternut squash

I don't count "triple washed" salad greens as being prepared, since I don't trust the washing.  But all that dicing and slicing listed above, huge help.  Onions make me cry.  Mangos are slippery $hits.  Butternut squash is just rock solid, hard to peel, and hard to dice. 

I'm lucky that our division of labor means I only have to make a grocery list and then my husband does the shopping, but it means that I don't even really know what else is available in terms of short-cut prepared foods. 

What else should I add to the list that's a big time-saver?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Baby Visit II


I've got some work travel coming up this month that has me in Albuquerue on a Wednesday, and then continuing on to LA on Thursday.  My LA setting happens to be on a Friday, and LA is so close to San Fran, and San Fran happens to be the location of my newest adorable baby nephew. 


It just so happens that my sister-in-law is leaving town that same Friday, which means my brother will be spending his first weekend alone with baby Willard.

And that definitely means his big sister should come for the weekend and help (although she really has no experience with babies to speak of, at least not in the last 20 years since said brother was a mere babe himself)!

So I just booked a flight from LA to San Fran and I'll get a few days with the little guy. 


And while I'm in LA, I'm going to get to have dinner with one of my best running buddies who moved there.  I kind of wish I had more time, because I have one former co-worker and one other running buddy I'd like to see, but this one wins:
Those are his buffs.  I always make fun of him when he wears one.  Now that's he's all Mr. California, he's got a bunch of them.  Anyway, I can't even begin to count the number of miles, and laughs, we have shared together.  About 5? 8? years ago, some woman he married dragged him out to Cali, and there he lives.  They come back a couple times a year since his folks are here, and they have their own cute little California baby (well, toddler now) too.  It will be so great to get to see him again. 
This makes work travel infinitely more fun -- combining with family and friends! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mid-Week Trip to Europe

Well, my little string of airport luck (finding the airport salad bar to end all airport dining options) has officially ended.  I'm dragging.  And sadly, I woke up in Dallas today.

I FEEL like I should have woken up in Europe. 

I was on a plane long enough to have gone to Europe, so this feels particularly unfair.

How could I have taken a mid-week trip to Europe you wonder?

We kicked butt in court in Philadelphia.  Things went well and things went quickly.  Defense verdict in hand, I left the courthouse and did some "networking" for a little while, took a facility tour, then headed to the airport in Philly.

The woman at the USAir counter was AWFUL.  She was saying I needed to go to American to check in (different terminal).  She just kept repeating the same thing and wouldn't say why my American app was telling me to check in with USAir.  Bitch.  But whatever. 

I got checked in, got through security quickly (pre-check is da bomb) (haha, that's funny because it relates to an airport).  It was about 3:00 at this point, maybe a little bit later.

There was a 3:15 flight to Dallas in terminal A.  I trekked over there as quickly as possible, stopping once briefly to change my shoes.

The door was closed, it said the flight was departed, but the plane was there!  It was about 3:12 at this point, so I began my begging to the gate agent.  Please let me on that plane, please, please, please.  I want to go hooooome. 

And then something weird happened -- 2 passengers got off the plane.

Begging began in earnest because I was now certain there were available seats.  The gate agent (who I can say with no sarcasm at all was professional, courteous, friendly, amazing, etc.) said to give him some time, but he didn't think I really wanted to be on that plane, there was an issue with it and he thought I should stick with my 6:00 confirmed flight.  So I took a seat and waited. 

Sure enough, the 3:15 flight started getting delayed 3:25, delayed 3:35, delayed 3:45.  And then everyone got off.

The rebooking madness began. 
I decided to take a break and get food.  There's an awesome burrito place (Currito) that has tofu right next to the gate American uses for Dallas flights in Philly.  I've always ordered the teriyaki, which is tofu, carrots, broccoli, carmelized onions, brown rice, and teriyaki sauce.  Well, sometime since I last ate there, they've changed the menu -- they've added crispy noodles to the teriyaki burrito. 

So damn good!!  It put me in a good mood. 

The 3:15 flight kept being delayed in 10 minute increments until about 4:15, and then it was pushed until 8:15, and then moments later, delayed until 10:15. 

Gate agent very apologetic, said they're trying, but that's the current info, and people can stay in line to rebook, go to another gate to rebook, or try to get through on the phone. 

And my 6:00 flight to Dallas filled up!  There was also a 4:25 (that left at 5:40), which filled up. 

But then it started raining and they closed the runways in Philadelphia, which meant that the plane that was to be used for the 6:00 flight to Dallas got re-routed to DC, where it had to refuel and then fly up to Philly.  So the 6:00 flight became a 6:45. 

But then they said the 3:15 plane would be fixed earlier, and they reboarded the 3:15 flight.  I elected to get on it.  At that point, it was maybe 4:30? 

We sat, they closed the door and made us turn off everything, like we were ready to go, but I was sitting up front in a window seat and I could plainly see that there were carts of luggage and a ramp alongside the plane.  We weren't going anywhere. 

The pilot gives us an explanation -- the baggage cart's brakes had failed, and it hit the belly of the plane, knocking off an antenna.  They were going to get a new plane, so they took all our bags off, then they decided to epoxy the antenna on, which meant doing that and then waiting 4-6 hours for it to solidify and be cleared.  Then they decided it was not necessary to do that, and they'd get a maintenance exemption to fly without it. 

Well, as we sit, the hours tick by.  They have to stop loading our bags periodically since there is lightning in the area. 
And the baggage loading is slowed down even more because they have to individually rescan each bag before reloading so they can pull off the bags of people who have rebooked.

Eventually, DOT regulations kick in and they have to open the door to let people off the plane if they want to rebook.  They pass out food and water. 

I can see the 6:00 plane at the gate next to us pull up.  Everyone gets off.  Then it's boarding.  Sitting next to us, full, but presumably still with my seat open. 

I struggle.  What will get me home first?  The 3:15 plane sitting there at 6:45 with some bags still waiting to be loaded?  Or the 6:00 plane sitting there at 6:45 with an unclear bag loading situation? 

Struggle, struggle, struggle.  It's killing me not to know what will be the better course, what will get me home as soon as possible.  My fate is solely in my hands, so no one to blame if I pick the wrong flight. 

The pilot mentions that he and this crew are going to Dallas tonight no matter what or when. 

The app on my phone says the 6:00 flight is delayed until 8:15. 

But that app also says we, the 3:15 flight, departed at 7:01 (which must have been the second time they closed the door). 

More time ticks by.  31 planes ahead of us due to the runway closures.  That's 31 planes as of the pilot's announcement, but of course we're still not fully loaded.

I commit to staying on this 3:15 flight, certain it has to beat a 6:00 flight.  But I'm reluctant because there's one more variable I know of that hasn't been mentioned by the pilot or anyone else -- hours.  A 3:15 flight delayed over 5 hours with a  flight duration over 3 hours, I kept waiting to hear the pilot or someone on the crew was over on hours and replacements would have to be brought in.  I was afraid to even think it really, but part of me was braced for that to happen, which was the main reason I was thinking the 6:00 flight might be the better choice. 
Struggle, struggle, struggle.  Wishing for a crystal ball.
Eventually, the weather passes, bags are loaded, we pull away from the gate after 8:00. 

(That picture is of the 6:00 plane, my big competitor.)
We wait in a long line of planes to take off, but actually get to bypass a bunch of them somehow (per the pilot, it was due to something about our maintenance delay).  I don't even know what time we took off, after 8:32 when I took this picture:

In the end?

I win!!!  I got home after midnight, but if I'd gone with the 6:00 flight, it probably would have been after 1:00.

So from the time I got to the airport in Philly until I got home in Dallas, just over 10 hours.  Don't even get me started on the time I called for a cab to get me in Philly, the hour wait for a cab, the driver getting lost going to the airport (how hard is it to take the airport exit??).  All told, I'm sure it was over 12 travel hours. 

I really feel like I should have woken up in Europe.  This feels unfair. 

Maybe if I pretend I'm in Italy? 
At least everyone around me (and on the entire plane as far as I could tell) was very chill about it all. There was one woman who was in the same situation as me that I'd bonded with at about 3:00.  We were both hoping to squeeze onto the 3:15 flight at the very last minute, and when we thought there was maybe a single seat left, wondering if her being there first would beat out my elite status.  We took turns watching each other's bags and going for food, and when I pulled the trigger to board with the 3:15 flight, before boarding, I went to the 6:00 flight's gate to tell her there were seats available on the 3:15 so she could do the same if she wanted.  She decided to do so, and sat in the same row as me so during the hours on the ground waiting, we periodically checked in with each other to assure each other we'd made the right choice.  And the woman next to me was awesome as well.  She'd been on the flight when it first boarded at 2:45, and she was funny and optimistic.  When the plane doors opened due to DOT timing, the other guy in our row got off, so we had room to spread out.  And then today, American emailed me (and everyone else I assume) with bonus miles for the inconvenience.  Very well handled in the end.  You know, except for landing in Dallas instead of Lamezia.