Friday, February 28, 2014

Mardi Gras baby!

As always, we're heading to Mardi Gras in Mobile today.  So excited!  It will be a short trip this year.  We are actually flying to Pensacola instead of Mobile, and will head to the airport in about an hour.  We'll get to hang out with my best friend (and her husband and her twins and her sister and her parents and her sister's boyfriend and her parents' friends and some other people I knew from law school). 

I'm not keen on eating or drinking a ton -- my waistline would not appreciate that.  And I don't think I'll be running much.  After a couple years of not drinking much on Friday night and attempting a long run on Saturday morning, I've pretty much given up -- too hard to do a lot of miles Saturday morning then spend the day on my feet and then spend the night on my feet dancing in ridiculous heels.  I'll settle for about 5 miles if I can swing it, which isn't really enough to begin to combat any of the food or drink that usually comes with this trip.

But it's one weekend and should be tons of fun.  Things will get back to normal on Monday.  I haven't given any thought to what I want to give up for Lent.

Maybe my car to work?  I was just saying I'm making a plan to get back to my running commute, maybe I could just hit it hard starting on Wed?  Either way, besides whatever I give up, I want to add in extra community service again. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Return of the Running Commute Delayed

Yesterday was supposed to be my first day back to a regular running commute.  My grand plan was to do one day this week, two days for the next couple weeks, then bump it up to the prior 2.5 days on weeks when we were able to work out the car logistics.

Since I'm not going to the Italian conversation group for a couple more months, car logistics are a bit more complicated.  I can't run home on Thursday nights since I have to take my laptop, dirty laundry, garment bag and lunch stuff with me.  And if I'm not going to the Italian conversation group, hubby can't pick me up on his way there. 

So I made peace with the fact that I might have to drive some Thursdays, at least until May, when I'll probably go back to the conversation group.  (As an aside, I'm contemplating undertaking formal lessons at a Mandarin Chinese school later this year as well!)

I figured Wednesday was the day this week since it would be convenient particularly on my way home.  I'm trying to go to the Wednesday night social run for the next few weeks as it's held about a mile from my office and is on my general direction home.  The plan was to run to work Wed. morning, then run to the social run, do the social run, then stay at the cafe where it's held for dinner and maybe a beer with running friends, have hubby meet me there, then ride home with him. 

I did this every Wednesday last year for the 4 weeks the social run is at this cafe, and it worked out well.  Hubby got caught with work stuff one night, but a friend was able to drop me at home on her way after dinner.  But last year at this time, my running was fairly intense.  I was commuting 2.5 days per week every week and had been since mid-November.  Not exactly the same story this year.  I have done less than a dozen running commutes I think since we flew to Europe at the end of September.  But yesterday was the day.  It was going to be the day I officially got back on the commuting horse and stayed on for the year. 

But then we ended up with a cold front on Wednesday morning.  Not cold like what much of the country is experiencing, but cold enough to make me whine (I think the temp was 35, with 25-30 mph winds, so a wind chill in the mid-20s).  It felt much colder since we've had a few mornings in the 60s recently.  Somehow after it warms up, when it gets cold again, it feels extra-brutal to me. 

Anyway, yesterday morning, we went to boot camp and were happy to be working out inside.  We came home, I made breakfast, watched the news, and contemplated running to work.  Then I decided to drive.  Oops.  I just packed my running clothes for the evening, and decided to drive to the cafe, do the social run, then drive home.

Next week.  It's sure to be warmer, and it's probably best to go a bit gradually anyway.  So instead of dumping about 8 extra miles into my schedule this week as I planned, I'm only dumping 3-5 social run miles into the schedule.  Next week I'll do the full 8 extra, and the following week I'll hopefully move to 15 extra.  Slow, recovery pace miles, but it should be good for me. 

I'm ready to get back in my groove.  I hate the way my clothes are fitting these days.  I hate that I'm putting 20 miles per week on my car instead of on my legs. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Surviving the divorcer

My husband and I had quite an accomplishment at boot camp this morning -- we survived an exercise we have nicknamed "the divorcer." 

Thankfully, most trainers don't seem to use the divorcer too often.  I'd guess it comes up about once a year.  I am mildly concerned that our marital discord may be the reason the exercise comes up so rarely, but in reality, the one time this exercise nearly broke us was so many years ago, there's no way any trainer remembers it, but I sure do.

The exercise is basically two partners facing each other in push up position.  Each do one push up.  Each clap hands across the middle.  Then roll over and repeat.  The distance varies, but usually it's well over 50 push-ups covering about 100 meters (hard to estimate from the ground).

So the first time we ever did this, we nearly killed each other.  Even after surviving the exercise today, it's hard to say exactly what the problem is.  In short, I think it's that our abilities to do the divorcer rarely line up directly on the day we do it.  I'm weaker at the pushups, he's weaker at the rolling.  So that frequently means that I roll, do my push-up, and then have to hold myself up with one hand in the air, waiting for a clap.  That "waiting" time really bothers me because I'm just not strong enough to hold it long.  And sometimes that makes me very snippy.  Initally, I'm trying to encourage him to go faster, and then getting frustrated if he doesn't.  And so then I move into bitching, nagging, complaining, irritated mode.

He's endlessly more patient than I am.  So if we do this exercise without the roll -- just push-up, clap, push-up, clap, he has to wait for me (especially if I'm trying to do proper chest to deck push-ups).  But does he get snippy?  No.  Never in fact.  He just waits for me.  I swear, I don't know how anyone puts up with me sometimes! 

But I think what bothers me is that sometimes we don't give each other our best.  It's an interesting dynamic.  I've seen him work harder with someone other than me as his partner.  What does that mean?  That he works harder to impress someone else?  That he's comfortable being himself with me and more relaxed?  

I think I want to work harder at giving him my best me.  There's another blog I read, a big one, some people may know exactly who I mean.  Anyway, she used to write on her blog a lot about how she never washed her hair and spent all her time in workout clothes.  Well, for whatever reason, she is now going through a sudden divorce, and one thing I've noticed is that now she frequently goes out in the evening with friends after her kid has gone to bed, and she seems to be washing her hair and getting "presentable" a lot.  To tie it back to my theme, I'm about to go get ready for work -- and I haven't washed my hair since Thursday -- yuck! 

Friday there was just no chance.  I was in Montana and trying to get on a very early flight, so I was shoveling off the car long before the crack of dawn and trying to get myself to the airport on a snowy highway in a car with no working defroster. 

Saturday I showered (I ran a lactate threshold test in the morning, blech, but fortunately I saw a difference from just three weeks earlier!), but I didn't wash my hair.  We didn't have plans for Saturday night and I figured it was no big deal to leave it in a pony tail to hang out at home and watch more House of Cards.  But then plans changed.  We went out to dinner with friends but by the time that plan was made, there was just no time to wash my hair, so I chose a top that looked good with my hair up.

But yesterday.  No excuse.  I fully intended to wash my hair.  I took a very quick shower after my "long" run, but I had to do some work, and then I had a bunch of house stuff I wanted to do -- laundry, vacuuming, starting to pack for Mardi Gras, packing up a dress to return, just miscellaneous "stuff."  Well, next thing I knew, it was dinner time.  I figured maybe I'd just do it after dinner before bed.  But sucked into House of Cards.  I think we only have 4 episodes left of Season 2?  We went upstairs to get ready for bed and I asked him if he cared whether I washed my hair before bed.  And he seemed quite surprised I was even considering it, he just said, aren't you going to boot camp in like 8 hours?  So, yeah, that's how my hair has stayed in a pony tail and not been washed in three days.

Hardly giving him my best me.  But I guess that's always the danger when you feel like someone really might love you no matter what.  Even with dirty hair or slow rolls during the divorcer (or when you become a bitching partner during the divorcer). 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chinese Lantern Festival

It's funny that we took our big trip to China in 2012, but 2014 has been a very "Chinese" year so far. 

First, we went to dinner in Dallas's Chinatown -- which is to say, a northern suburb.  There are tons of Chinese restaurants there, and our Taiwanese neighbor took us to dinner at one she selected.  It was delicious! 

Second, we went to a Chinese New Year celebration at a Chinese Catholic church with our same Taiwanese neighbor and two other neighbors, and together, we all performed a Chinese New Year's song.  So totally outside my comfort zone, but so much fun. 

This little boy (age 3!) recited a poem in Chinese: 

One of the deacons at the church set aside some nian gou (rice cake) just for me since I really wanted to try it, and we got red envelopes! 

Third, we went to dinner with a good friend and former co-worker who is originally from Beijing and now works in Shanghai.  We'd spent a lot of time with him and his wife and son in 2012 when we were visiting Shanghai.  They were a big part of why we loved Shanghai so much.  He was back in the US for a partners' meeting and spent a few days in Dallas to see some clients (and us!).  We went out for dinner and had so much fun laughing about some of our little jokes from Shanghai.

And fourth, finally, most recently, we went to see a special exhibit of Chinese lanterns here.  We missed the exhibit last year, but they extended the dates this year so we made a point of going.  I had planned on going on Valentine's Day, but we were too tired, so instead we went Saturday night.  Some photos: 

The dragon boat, perhaps the coolest part of the exhibit I thought: 

This resembles a stupa in southwest China:

Up close, it's all made of plates, cups, saucers, and spoons.  Amazing! 

Goldfish, which I know from Grace's blog, are called yu, which is an auspicious word in Chinese! 

Love the pandas and the bamboo: 

The seven daughters of the emperor: 

And of course, since we're in Texas: 

A cool view of the moon as we were leaving: 

Kind of fun, glad we got to see the exhibit.  Not sure what we will do next to keep our Chinese theme going this year, but we will have to come up with something.  I'm actually considering starting formal language classes.  It's so intriguing, so different from French and Italian (and English). 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What went wrong in Berlin

A blog post a long time coming.  Sorry that it's taken me nearly six months to gather and share my thoughts on the 2013 Berlin Marathon.  I think I'm finally ready to discuss.

One of my 2013 resolutions included a marathon PR in Berlin.  Actually, I didn't just want a PR, I wanted a certain magical goal time.

And I didn't get it.  I got a PR, and I got a re-Q, but I missed the goal by close to ten minutes.  A lot, considering my goal was eleven minutes faster than my prior PR.  Haha.  Oops.

So what went wrong? 

The short answer -- math and kilometers and GPS. 

As is generally recommended, I set multiple goals for the marathon.

A Goal = goal time
B Goal = goal time plus about 6 minutes
C Goal = PR (goal time plus about 11 minutes)
D Goal = sub-4
E Goal = "have fun"

I knew the marathon would be marked in kilometers, but I decided to leave my watch in miles, since that was how I trained.  My compromise was to do a pace band that showed all 26 mile splits, plus every 5k split. 

I wasn't sure if they'd actually mark all of the kilometers, or just every 5.  And I didn't know if there would be any mile markers (I didn't expect it, but at the same time, marathons here usually have every mile marked, as well as many 5k splits, so I thought there was a chance at least some mile splits would be marked). 

The weather was completely perfect.  Started in the 40s, warmed to the low 50s.  (According to my Garmin, it was 45, with 7 mph winds and 93% humidity.)  I wore shorts and a tank, and I had gloves and an earband that I ditched with my husband when I stopped for kisses around mile 8.  I also had a long sleeved t-shirt that I wore at the start and peeled off before I got moving. 

I took the subway a couple stops to the start of the race but there was still a fair amount of pre-race walking.  I got into my corral fairly early and I actually peed in the bushes.  The start is in a large park (right by the Brandenburg Gate) and there were tons of bushes, shrubs and trees, and nearly every one of them had a guy standing there or a woman squatting.  It was very funny.  But it worked out really well! 

Next thing I knew, it was time to go.  I fell into pace pretty easily and basically kept my head down and just stayed in it.  I felt like I didn't notice much around me, but I did find my husband around mile 8, which was a huge thrill.  Overall, I was struck by how flat the course was, and I noticed how shady it was.  Lots of big trees even along some of the wider streets.  Some fountains, some bridges, lots of spectators, especially the Dutch. 

I had a solid 16 miles.  Ticking along.  A couple miles were a bit too fast, but holding tight within about 10 seconds of goal pace on all of them. 

Along the course, I realized every kilometer was marked.  I checked my splits at 5k, 10k, and 20k.  I missed the 15k marker.  At every one of those three splits, my pace was "off" by the same amount that I was "off" on the mile marker.  So if I was 1 minute ahead of planned pace at mile 6, I was 1 minute ahead at 10k. 

It may have been just because it was more crowded the first half, but it was kind of amusing because you would hear an audible set of beeps at the mile splits.  Mine was right in there with the others.  Of course, there were tons of beeps around the kilometer splits, but I felt a bit of kinship with the other mile-based runners out there. 

As of the halfway point, all of my average 5k paces were within a 10 second spread, centered right on goal pace.  At the half, I was about 20 seconds TOTAL faster than planned.  I was very happy with it, but of course, those mental demons were there, asking me if I could sustain it for another half marathon.  But I did my best to shut them down and just keep on running. 

At 16, I was getting tired.  I thought I was slowing down, but I figured it was okay, I had a bit of cushion.  Amazing how quickly you can piss away a 20 second cushion though!  Haha. 

The first "fatal" mistake was not keeping the hammer down.  Giving myself permission to ease up, just for 20 seconds. 

I held on for a couple more miles, but at mile 18, my pace slipped off goal pace about 30 seconds in the mile.  And just like that, I needed to hold goal pace exactly for the remainder of the race to make it happen. 

I was pretty much back and forth for the next several miles.  I'd be fairly close to goal pace (10 or so seconds slow) for one mile, then about 30 seconds off for another mile.

Somewhere around mile 21 or so, the math in my head was going crazy. 

The second fatal mistake was giving myself permission to be content with my B goal.  Pretty similar to the first mistake, but at this point, it was a conscious decision to go with the B goal. 

Now, here is where things really fell apart.  I had two miles over a 9 minute pace -- miles 21 and 24.  Oops.  (Don't get me wrong, a 9 minute mile would have been thrilling to me in a marathon not that many years ago, but now, it's more than 60 seconds off my goal mile pace.  Not good, not good at all.)

But I was watching my splits.  My other miles were decent and I was pretty certain that I could clear by B goal by a few minutes.  I was confident that I'd miss my goal time by less than 5 minutes. 

Unfortunately, my third fatal mistake was probably one of the worst.  I had stopped focusing on my 5k splits. 

In my mind, there was no reason to worry about this.  All the 5k splits I'd checked before matched up with where I needed to be according to my mile-based pace chart. 

And honestly, there were just so many kilometer markers!  It wasn't really a conscious decision to, for example, not check my 35k split.  But I never saw 35k.  The same as I never saw 15k, 25k, 30k, and 40k.  Instead, I'd see 34k, or 36k.  But of course, those splits weren't on my pace band. 

And here's the rub.  My fourth and final fatal mistake, I couldn't have told you exactly how many kilometers were in a marathon.  I mean, I knew it was something like 42.  I knew for sure it was over 40.  And I knew for sure it was under 50.  I was pretty sure it was somewhere between 41 and 44.  But after hours of running, I wasn't going to swear to anything more specific than 41-44. 

But I was watching the miles, and trust me, I know EXACTLY how many miles are in a marathon. 

But around mile 24.5 or so, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I knew it should be less than 15 more minutes of running, but something was wrong. 

I felt like we were going the wrong way.  I hadn't paid attention to any of the turn by turn directions because I knew I'd be surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other runners at all times, and of course there were gates and spectators delineating the course as well.

I knew this was generally what the route looked like (start at the green, finish at the red):

I pressed on, along with all of the runners in front of me.  Hit mile 25, then 25.5, then a left turn.  I tried to hit the gas a bit, trying to do a final 1200 meter press. 

My watch hit mile 26, and I still had that feeling.  No finish line in sight either. 

We kept running.  26.2 on my watch, still going the wrong way, though we'd made another left turn from the direction we'd been going earlier. 

26.3, wrong way.

26.4, wrong way.  B goal is now slipping out of sight. 

Finally, we made another left-hand turn.  We essentially made a u-turn from where we'd been at 24.5 and the finish line was finally in sight. 

Ugh.  B goal time has come and gone. 

I ran, I crossed the line, I stopped my watch. 

My total distance was more than half a mile longer than a marathon should have been.

Of course, more than an hour earlier, Wilson Kipsang had run that exact same course and he had set a world record. 

There was no way the course was long.  No way.  So how on earth did I get stuck with an extra half mile on my watch??? 

The most obvious explanation is tangents.  On a marathon course, you always want to take the tightest turns possible, because the course is measured on the inside of the turn.  In a major marathon like New York, Boston or Berlin, there is actually a blue line that traces the course as measured from the start to the finish.

Brace yourself, I know how lame this sounds, but you know, I'm being honest.  During the first half of the marathon, I ran on that blue line a lot.  In my head, one of the things I told myself was that when I was on that blue line, my body wasn't paying the price for those miles.  Instead, I was channeling leftover energy from the elites who'd run on that line half an hour, an hour, whatever, before me. 

And not only did I run the blue line a lot, it also wasn't a course with a lot of turns.  It's a world record course.  It's a loop course, but not a lot of sharp turns.  One of the many things that makes it awesome. 

So I was confident I hadn't f-ed up the tangents. 

The second most obvious explanation is buildings.  Anyone who has run the Chicago marathon knows that tall buildings in a downtown area can mess up your satellite signal.  It happens in downtown Dallas, and I'd expect many major cities. 

But Berlin's marathon course is never "downtown."  Most European downtowns aren't filled with skyscrapers anyway.  We'd passed some buildings that were big, but nothing I'd consider a skyscraper or even close -- 10 stories or so maybe?  Maybe more, but nothing significant.  And it was never a cluster of them really, like a downtown. 

And usually, when you run through a downtown and have satellite issues, it's woefully obvious from your mile split.  During our local Thanksgiving race, you run a mile downtown.  Some years, according to my Garmin, I've run a sub-4:00 mile pace downtown.  For the entire mile.  It might be downhill, but it would take literal wheels to get me to a sub-4:00 mile pace.  Wheels might not even be enough -- maybe a jet pack along with my roller skates.  Or a pick-up truck pulling me on a skateboard a la Back to the Future. 

But no, during the Berlin marathon, there was no downtown with skyscrapers and no telltale "error" mile split that showed up on my watch. 

After the race, I got my beer and walked to the designated meet up spot with my husband.  I tried desperately to find an American with a cell phone so I could call him to tell him I was there, but no luck.  I found a woman from Columbia who was waiting at the same spot for her husband (but she was the spectator).  I was sitting/laying on the grass and I'd told her what my husband was wearing, so she kept a look-out.  Just as she was telling me she saw a green jacket, I heard my name being shouted -- and there he was!  He helped me up and treated me to perhaps the best money we spent in 2013 -- 20 euros for a pedicab back to our hotel.  We snuggled into the seat under a bunch of blankets, I drank my beer and we watched the city go by as some poor fool had to pedal, pedal, pedal us all the way to the hotel.  As the crow flies, it was just a couple miles, but because of street closures for the race, he had to go much further. 

One of my favorite things after any marathon is when I move with minimal to no effort on my part.  It always floors a certain part of my braing -- like here we go, flying past these buildings, and not because of my legs working hard, just sailing along (yes, I also get this feeling when I drive after a marathon, I am shocked and thrilled by how little effort it takes to push harder on the gas and go even faster). 

So in the end, I had no good answer for myself as to why I'd run more than 26.7 miles according to my watch and therefore missed the B goal I'd been so satisfied with the idea of getting.  I just kind of came to peace with the fact that something must have somehow happened to my watch in the second half of the marathon.  I was happy with my race.  Happy with a PR -- even a couple hard fought minutes is better than no PR at all.  Happy to know I can run Boston again if I want. 

We went from Berlin to Oktoberfest, then down to southern Italy for some time with my husband's family, then up to Venice for a few days on our own, then a short stop in Amsterdam to enjoy a direct flight home.

It wasn't until I synched up my watch to the Garmin connect site that I saw exactly how screwed up my data was over the last six miles or so.

One of the reasons that they always set the world record in Berlin so often (always breaking the prior record that had also been set in Berlin) is because the elevation profile is great.  It's pretty flat. 

This is the elevation chart I reviewed prior to the race:

That actually looks mildly not flat -- until you look closely at the scale on the left side.  The change between the lowest and highest points is less than 20 meters -- as in less than 65 feet.  And that big spike around 38k definitely isn't in the course.  I read about the course and found some total elevation change data indicating it was about 250 feet.  Total.  Over the course of 26.2 (hahahahaha) miles, that's nothing.  Many of my weekday runs in flat Dallas will have about 250 feet of total elevation change over 10 miles.  A hilly run will be significantly more than 250 feet of change, even if that hilly run is just 8 miles.  So spreading that out for a marathon, I knew I didn't have to worry about hills.

But this is what my Garmin elevation chart showed:

So it's safe to say that somehow my watch got messed up somewhere.  I assure you, I was never running 800 feet above sea level or 400 feet below it.  According to my Garmin, mile 23 cotained 1497 feet of climbing and 2039 feet of descent.  Mile 26 was apparently flatter, but still nothing to sneeze at:  1014 feet of ascent, 1005 feet of descent. 

It might have felt like the course got tougher around mile 20, but not anything like what this chart would show.  Instead, I recall no elevation changes of any significance anywhere in the course. 

It is what it is.  Honestly, I'd eased up on the pace anyway, and that was what cost me my A goal.  I can blame missing my B goal on the satellites and not catching all of my 5k splits.  Instead of getting a PR by about 6-8 minutes as I predicted around mile 22, I got a PR by about 2 minutes.  Better than nothing certainly, but I do wish that when I'd decided to relax and confidently get my B goal, I'd known how much longer actually remained on the course (instead of on my watch), so I would have known I was going to have to work very hard for the B goal. 

I really can't say enough good things about the race.  The organization was spot on.  The expo was awesome.  The start line was well-organized.  Having ample bushes nearby was a huge bonus.  Tons of people (men and women) were relieving themselves, and the area was very wooded -- in the end, that made for a stress-free start for me.  No waiting in lines, no crowds.  It was really smooth sailing.  The course was great.  Flat, shaded, straight, wide, lined with spectators throughout.  Perfect weather conditions for me.  Actually just so much fun.  And what could be better than a marathon start to a trip to Europe, particularly a marathon immediately followed by Oktoberfest! 

If this ends up being my lifetime PR, it would be something I can live with.  I'd much rather get the 9 more minutes I want for my goal time, and I think I'll probably work on it for a couple more years to see if I can do it, but if it never happens, honestly, it wouldn't be the end of the world.  I've worked hard to get to my current PR and it's far beyond what I would have ever dreamed I could accomplish.  But for my own sake (and for anyone who's interested), I really wanted to lay out what went wrong. 

That's it -- math, kilometers and satellites. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Promises, promises

I bought a dress for Mardi Gras yesterday!  Woot!  It's very plain, kind of an eggplant color with some beading right under the bust and a front slit.  I forgot to take a photo to share but will have to do that.  This is close:

But imagine beading under the bust, a slit in front, and the front pulling out to the shoulders more, with a small keyhole right at the neckline.  And more eggplant than plum color. 

I'm back at work today not loving Citrix again.  It's such a pain!  It seems our office should be large enough that they shouldn't make us go through Citrix, but what do I know?

I'm mostly posting to say that I'm working on perhaps my most thought-out post ever.  Tonight or tomorrow morning (before I go to lovely Missoula for work!), I'm actually going to finish writing about the Berlin Marathon. 

Probably entitled "what went wrong." 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

VD 2014

Our Valentine's Day was pretty low key.  I received flowers at work earlier in the week, which was a nice treat since I work from home on Fridays and therefore wasn't expecting any flowers on my desk.  Then that night, hubby made an awesome dinner -- supposed to be some kind of eggplant stew, but he served it over pasta.  Chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. 

After dinner, we planned to go to the Chinese Lantern Festival, but we were both oppressively tired and didn't want to go out, so we delayed that until Saturday night.  I'll have to share some photos later in the week. 

But I mostly had to share what I made for my husband for Valentine's Day.  I am the least crafty person in the world, but I wanted to do something sweet.  I figured flowers weren't good, and he doesn't really eat chocolate, so I got him a shirt and I made him a bouquet of his running fuel of choice -- chocolate gu!  A dozen gu packets attached to sticks.  He thought it was funny.

A "guquet": 

Blurry pasta he made for dinner: 

Chocolate covered straweberries (his with almonds), with wine and limoncello: 

Saturday was consumed primarily with House of Cards and then the lantern festival.
Sunday was my first solid "long" run in some time.  While it didn't feel super easy, if I don't count time at water stops, it ended up being about 5 minutes slower than my half marathon PR.  Obviously, I can go a lot faster if I get to take water stops every 2 miles that don't count toward my total time, but it is nice to finally start to see some progress.  If I pick up the pace a little and skip those water stops, I'll be on my way to a new half PR at some point in May probably. 
Today I'm actually off work, which is a huge bonus -- we didn't get MLK day, but we get President's Day.  I'll take it!  That's for sure.  Aside from the general beating that work has been for the last five weeks thanks to our switch over to our parent company's IT system (and the RIF in our office), this week is going to be particularly sucky because I have to travel -- I'm off to lovely Missoula on Wednesday morning very early. 
My big plan for today is to shop for a dress for Mardi Gras.  The ball we go to has a pretty strict dress code -- guys have to wear tails, women have to wear ankle or floor length dresses.  I'm looking for something fun and beaded this year.  I think my neighbor is going to go shopping with me, which will help.  If only I'd lost that weight I picked up in the last 5 months, it would be even more fun!  Oh well.  Could be worse! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What I need in my closet

We have a two bedroom house and as I lived there before we started living together, and because I'm horrible about throwing things away (I'd like to say my style is timeless... and not say my weight fluctuates), I have the master bedroom closet and hubby has the guest room closet.

He keeps a few things in the master closet, and lots of folded things in the dresser in our room, but 99% of the closet and 100% of the dresser in the closet are mine.

There is some open wall space at the back of the closet where I could hang a painting or something.

I'd like to find a print that maybe looks kind of like a chalkboard but has a permanent message on it. 

It would say something like this:

Don't wear a white skirt if you're going to eat anything messy today.

It would be in a fancy and bold font and I'd always notice it.  It wouldn't be like anything else in my closet that I just get used to seeing.  The message would totally sink in every single day.

Or if that's not possible, maybe some kind of audible warning that would attach to any hanger with a white skirt and be activated when I unclip the skirt? 

Or heck, maybe just something that loops over the hanger with a white skirt that is a little sign that reminds me.

Ideally it would be like sitting in an exit row on a plane.  I'd have to verbally agree out loud to the conditions before I could proceed with wearing the skirt.

And it's funny because I feel like so many days of the week, I DON'T actually eat blueberry yogurt. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fall Vacation Thoughts

A weekend with a lot of research!  We decided to spend tons of time this past weekend doing research about potential destinations for our fall vacation. 

All we know for sure is that we'll go to India.  Whether we also go to any other country (or countries) is something we have yet to determine. 

We spent time trying to pick sights or cities we'd want to see.

I think we're going to leave on about October 8 and go for about three weeks. 

India -- need to get visas in advance. 
Only true must-see for me is Taj Mahal, any other destinations will be just to see and get a sense of more of the country. 

Other places that are in the running:
Goa (and/or Andaman or Nicobar)
Ajanta Ellora
Amristar, Punjab
and a royal palace somewhere in Rajasthan.

Nepal -- can get a visa at the airport on arrival.
Likely just Kathmandu.
Want to see:
Swayambhunath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa
Durbar square
Pashupatinath Temple
Narayanhiti Palace Museum

Sri Lanka -- need to get visas in advance.
Have heard good things but did no research other than the visa stuff. 

Maldives -- no visa necessary.
Hotels looking very expensive, many are all-inclusive, which is probably good given some of them are on private islands, so no other options.
Also looking like it will take a long time to get there, almost a day from Delhi, given long connections, most flights in Sri Lanka.  Hmm, not loving this either. 
But it looks spectacular, beautiful beaches...

Qatar -- can get a visa at the airport on arrival.
Main reason this is on the list is flight schedules.  If we stop here, just a day or so on the way home to enjoy a direct flight back.  Hubby has already been here. 
Museum of Islamic Art
Villaggio Mall
Souq Waqif

UAE (Dubai) -- no visa necessary.
This would be a short stop on our way home, maybe 2-3 days if we do it.  Hubby loves the idea of calling this trip the Mumbai-Dubai Extravaganza.  Mostly just looking around in awe, but a few sights that sound cool:
Burj Khalifa (of course)
Waterfront in general, maybe a Dhow dinner cruise
Shopping at the Gold Souks
Saeed Al Maktoum House
Grand Mosque
Desert safari (preferably with a camel ride)
Dubai Fountai

As an exciting side note, just a mere week and change after completing our Global Entry applications so we can use expedited processing in US customs, we got our conditional approvals and have set our interviews! 

Unfortunately, DFW is one of the suckiest Global Entry interview options.  In Chicago (downtown or at the airport), you can get an interview this week.  Same with Milwaukee.  In San Antonio, the first appointment is two weeks away.  But in Austin, there's nothing until late April.  DFW is even worse -- nothing until late May!  And it's kind of frustrating because the appointments are weekdays from 8 until 5:30.  So I figured I'd look through the calendar for a day when we could get the 5:30 appointment.  Nothing.  Nothing until July anytime after 3:30.  Somehow, I don't think it's just that other people took all the 3:45, 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45, 5:00, 5:15 and 5:30 slots for every remaining day.  I think it's that they're not bothering to actually offer interviews at those times.  Very frustrating, but oh well.  We took a 3:30 slot on a Friday in June. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another running quiz

Since there wasn't a FMM prompt today, here's another fun running quiz I found here on the Dancing Runner's website. 

Would you rather…run with one of your ancestors or your role models? This one is tough.  My gut is to say I'd rather run with my running role model Meb Keflezighi, or a real world role model like Ruth Bader Ginsburgh, but when I think about that book I read last year (Ursula Under, which I reviewed here), I think it would be insanely interesting to run with the woman who would be about 20 or 30 or 40 in the mid-1700s if you went straight back along my female genetic ancestors on my mother's side, or back to the 1500s, or on my father's side.  I think running with Meb and running with one of my ancestors from the 1700s are equally likely scenarios, but I've at least gotten to meet Meb a couple of times.  He's amazing, but I'd love the historical perspective from an ancestor.  I guess the whole point of this question is to choose one answer, and I'll pick an ancestor from 1750 or earlier. 

Would you rather…run a race that is a few hours drive but in a beautiful location or in your city with a short drive?
  This is tough too!  I think I'd choose a short drive.  A.) I hate being in the car for a long time.  B.) I don't think there's anything particularly beautiful within a few hours or here.  C.) I don't really notice the scenery if I'm racing.  So I'm happy to do beautiful training runs anywhere and would prefer somewhere beautiful, but for a race, it's not particularly significant. 

Would you rather…take an ice bath for a half hour or foam roll for a half hour? Definitely foam roll.  But it's funny, because I'm actually far more likely to do the ice bath!  I'm usually pretty good about doing ice baths after any run 20 miles or longer.  I only do 20 minutes, but by then, given that most of my 20 milers are in the Texas summer, even with 40 pounds of ice plus the contents of my freezer ice, it's usually all melted after 20 minutes.  I've found that if I have a sweatshirt on my top half, a cup of hot espresso, and something like a book or my phone to distract me, it's manageable.  But I think half an hour on a foam roller sounds much easier.  I really should be better about doing that!  I promise I'm good at it if I'm hurting, but I've had a relatively healthy decade or so of running. (knock on wood)

Would you rather…have a black toe nail pulled off or have your entire back chaffed from running and be forced to shower for a hour straight?
Ooh, this one's easy, the toe nail.  While the chafing pain would only last a couple minutes when the water hit it, OMG, that hurts so much.  I ended up with a scar on my back from the weighted backpack that I wore during the Bataan Death March marathon.  I joke that it's my tramp stamp since it seems to be permanent.  But toenails come and go!  I hate even the slightest chafing mark getting wet, let alone the massive heart rate monitor chafing scar that I am presently sporting right below my sternum. 

Would you rather…spend an extra $100 a month given to you on running/fitness or save it?
 Save it, but only since you said it's an EXTRA $100 per month.  I already spend plenty on running/fitness per month and do all the races I want, so another $100 would just mean more clothing, totally unnecessary for me since I've already got about 50 short sleeved tech shirts, 20 long sleeved shirts, 5 jackets, 15 tanks, 5 sports bras I love (and 5 I hate but will wear on short days or for boot camp) and about 20 pairs of shorts.  Yeah, I shop at the running store a lot, and my family knows running gear is always a good gift for me.  I also tend to keep clothes fo-evah.  Funny thing is, I frequently default to wearing some of the same stuff.  Having more options wouldn't change that I don't think, so I'd choose to save the extra money. 

Would you rather…be known for running the fastest marathon or running the longest distance at one time? Definitely the fastest marathon!  I'd have gold medals and I'd be able to run professionally.  I can't even imagine running a marathon under 3 hours, let alone with the elites, let alone setting the world record.  I'd love it.  Running long distance would be neat, but as I couldn't even tell you who has run the furthest distance at one time (Dean?  300 miles?  I have no idea), I'll choose to take the fastest marathon title from Wilson Kipsang (I ran the same course as him on the same day, just significantly slower than his 2:03:23), or from Geoffrey Mutai (I ran same course on the same day too, just slower than his 2:03:02, which technically wasn't a world record because of the elevation change between start and finish), or from Paula Radcliffe (whichever of her times is considered the world record, be it the 2:15:25 with pacers or her 2:17:42 without pacers). 

Would you rather…have your medal handed to you by Kara Goucher or Shalane Flanagan? Hmm, I think I'd go with Shalene.  I don't really have a good reason, they're both awesome.  It just seems like Kara has more devoted followers/fans, but Shalene's running resume is actually more impressive to me and shows more versatility.  Shalene usually beats Kara when they race, but I think they train together, which is impressive.  Plus, Shalene didn't change her name when she got married, so go girl power! 

Would you rather…lick someone else’s armpit after a marathon, or lick their foot after a marathon?  Lol, what kind of question is this??  If I have to choose, I'd go with the foot.  My feet seem to get rinsed somehow during a race sometimes, having water spilled on them at water stops, etc., so maybe people's feet are slightly less disgusting?  Plus, eww, you'd get deodorant chunks on your tongue too if you licked an armpit. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Multicultural Weekend Plans

I just realized how foreign our weekend plans sound so figured I'd share.  I haven't been very inspired to write lately.  The new system at work is driving me bonkers.

Tonight, we're having dinner at the Italian Club with our neighbors (the female half of the couple was born in Italy, they met and married there, but now live here most of the year).

Tomorrow, we're planning to spend the better part of the day researching where we want to visit in India, and trying to decide what other countries we'll visit, if any.  Other spots in contention:  Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, United Arab Emirates, Qatar. 

Tomorrow night, we are performing a song with two other sets of neighbors.  Yes, performing.  In public.  In Chinese.  Dear God, help us!  A.) I am the least musical person ever.  My singing is usually described as flat, and I believe I am legitimately tone deaf.  B.) We barely speak Chinese.  This is a song to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and we are only singing the chorus (which is basically:  Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you.  Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations you (not sure how exactly to differentiate the two lines, one has a finishing word on it, the other does not). 

Sunday night, we are going out to dinner with one of my former co-workers.  We'll likely go for tapas, either Middle Eastern or Spanish (my fave tapas place is closed that night though).  But it's particularly international because my former coworker now lives in Shanghai, and is someone we went there to visit on our 2012 Chinese Vacation Extravaganza!  I'm sure he will be highly amused to hear us give an encore performance of our New Year's chorus. 

So all three dinners (including one in 2 hours, need to go change) will involve speaking foreign languages -- Italian and Chinese, and the day time will be spent planning visits to at least one other country.  So multicultural we are!  Haha. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Winter wonderland in progress! 

Sorry for the crappy picture taken with my iphone out my office window with not even an attempt to reduce the glare.  Oh well.  This has never been a photography blog, and I haven't even posted many non-iphone pictures.  But you can see two of diplomas reflected in the background! 

For about the last two years, I've worked at home on Fridays. Occasionally a few other days, but mostly if we were travelling. It's been rare to work from our actual home on a day other than Friday.

The main reason I go to the office is for face-to-face interaction with my supervisor, which he prefers (as do I). I have a colleague who works from home three days per week, and many who do it two days, but partially because doing a non-consecutive work-from-home day would have screwed up my running commute, and partially because I live fairly close to the office anyway, and partially because I really want to be my boss's favorite, I've stuck to just the one day.

However, my supervisor was out of town Wed-Fri last week and Mon-Tues of this week, so I stayed home all of those days. Oooh, it was so nice. I stayed in my workout clothes most days, though a couple days, I showered immediately and changed into pajamas or the rough equivalent.

Well, today would be a normal in office day. Which is kind of sucky because my husband is off today. But when we were watching the Today Show this morning, we looked out the window around 7:45 and it was snowing!

My husband was planning to go to boot camp at 8:30 right near my office, so I asked if he could drop me off at work, which is where I am now.

I figured I'll work here for an hour while he works out, then I'll go back home. If I can work from home the rest of the day, I'll take my laptop with me. If I need to be in the office, then I'll just drive back in my own car.

Generally speaking, for me to drive with any kind of cold weather accumulation visible, not a good thing and I'd rather avoid it if it's not necessary. So fingers crossed the next hour will indicate no need to stay here all day!  As of now, I think I'll be heading home with my laptop for the coziness of the couch. 

One other notable thing -- first time my running group cancelled for cold.  The rule is that if it's below 10 with the windchill, run is cancelled.  Never, ever, ever happened.  It may have been that cold here before, but not on a group run day. 

I checked the weather at 3:15 when I woke up, did some texting with a running buddy, went back to sleep until 4:30, saw the email about the run being cancelled (which means we have a date tomorrow with Mount Flagpole, ugh), and reset the alarm for 6:45!  That was TWO EXTRA HOURS of sleep!  Sweet!!!! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Houston Marathon

First attempt ever on my low-tech blog at putting a badge that I copied.  No idea why I'm bothering.  Procrastinating I guess. 

I felt a little proud of myself for completing the Houston marathon's post race-survey and mentioning a few of the things I noted in my race recap -- like the fact that they needed sex-specific finisher shirts and that packet pick-up was so efficient I enjoyed the expo and had time to shop. 

But of course then I got to the part of the survey where you can vote for the most spirited water stop or something similar.

As I noted, I ran this race about 30 minutes off PR pace.  (I like how I say that to suggest it was supposed to be an easy race when I signed up, not that I was just slow because I'd been lazy for months.)

So I'd think if I were ever going to be able to complete that kind of question, it would be on a slower marathon.  I'd never have any hope of even guessing at an answer on a PR attempt marathon.

My question is, who can ever actually answer that question? 

I won't say I'm oblivious to volunteers or spirit, I notice both as I pass through a water stop or cheer station, even when I'm going for a PR.  But my main focus is getting fluid and continuing to move.  How in the world am I supposed to remember which mile had the best group and put that on a form?  Even if, as a hypothetical example, some water stop had wheelchairs they put you in and pushed you along for half a mile while giving you a foot massage and they were all wearing yellow shirts, am I going to remember the name of that group or the exact mile where it happened in order to record it on a survey?

It seems like that kind of question is targeted to local runners who choose a group with whom they're affiliated so that group can win a prize, not because they actually did the best job.  I mean, if I ran a race in Dallas, I'd pick my running group's water stop -- they do a good job, they offer tissues in addition to water/gatorade, they cheer a lot (particularly for people they know), but I wouldn't really be able to objectively say they were the best so they should win a prize.  Other people hand out tissue and water and cheer for you. 

So this blog post has a point after all.  I hate that question posed by a race organizer.  Is it just me, or is everyone else fairly oblivious and unable to answer that kind of a question in a race survey? 

Monday, February 3, 2014

FMM: Random Questions

This was a weird weekend.  I'm actually doing an entire week working from home -- Wed through Fri last week, plus Mon and Tues (and then Fri) this week.  It means a lot of time in my workout clothes!

I had made a list of what I wanted to get done on Saturday, and while we didn't manage it all, I was pretty happy with the progress.  What's the point in making a list if you can cross it all off, right? 

Friday night we went to a Mavs game in a friend's suite, which is my favorite way to watch any sporting event.  It was a dramatic finish, but really, aren't many basketball games?  It was funny because my husband is definitely not a basketball fan (contrast with my last boyfriend who was a huge basketball fan, was about 6'5" and played seriously in college).  So when the score was 105-100 with 12.x seconds left, my husband thought the game was basically over.  I knew better and was like, baby, that's a three pointer and a foul! 

We stayed out late enough at the game Friday night that we decided to skip the race on Saturday morning, which is a shame since it's a race I always enjoy.  It's a local race that is age-graded, so first is women over age 90, then women 89, then women 87 and men over 90, etc. (ages are approximate, but you get the idea).  Oldest women start, then oldest men, counting down, then at some point the young kids get involved too (so girls under 8 might start with women who are 68 and men who are 75 or whatever).  And then when your age group gets called, the chase is on.  No age group awards, just first across the line, but the youngest guys start about 30 minutes after the first runners.  Such a fun concept! 

But yeah, we slept in.  We made waffles for breakfast and my local bestie came over for Christmas in February.  We'd seen each other a bunch of times this year, but hadn't had a chance to exchange gifts yet.  That was fun.

And then we got down to the business of a productive Saturday.  Among the things we accomplished:
picked up my car from the shop
picked up dry cleaning from earlier in the week
dropped off dry cleaning (hubby's, not mine, I was in workout clothes all week!)
returned library books
donated our old Christmas tree and a bunch of clothes
completed our Global Entry applications
crazy deep cleaned two bathrooms (we each did one)
put new plates and registration sticker on my car
bought metal ties for the canvas on our porch
affixed metal ties to the canvas on our porch (and my hands were COLD!)
cleaned up the kitchen (but no deep cleaning as planned)

The hardest part of the Global Entry was listing all countries we've "visited" in the last five years.  There was no instruction provided as to what "visited" meant -- a layover long enough to spend money and get some souvenirs (and proof on our credit cart statement that we were there if we didn't list it)? 

But for us, since they don't count Canada or Mexico, it was only 12 countries in the last 5 years (we opted not to count layovers).  That meant it was actually much easier than doing our Russian visa applications where we had to list the last 10 years, which was over 25 for me. 

But still, listing China and Russia makes me a little nervous about whether or not we'll be approved.  I guess that's what the interview is for -- to show them that we just love to see the world and other cultures! 

Sunday I ran a local race but I don't want to talk about it.  Short version is that it was an out and back -- almost.  Oops.  Instead of paying attention, I followed the kid running in front of me, so we doubled back exactly.  Why alarms didn't go off in my head, I don't know.  I knew full well I was over halfway done with the course at the u-turn, but for some reason, I ran the same route back, as did a few others.  So it was like I got a bonus half mile in the race!  Haha.  I was pretty pleased with my position at the u-turn, but by the time I added in the extra half mile or so, I didn't even get an AG award.  When we got back to where we could see where we were supposed to be running, I could see a bunch of women going by.  Oh well.  But the good news is that the extra half-mile didn't cost me a PR, I was too slow even if I'd run the course correctly. 

The rest of the day Sunday was blah -- cold and rainy outside, my friend who was going to come over to watch a movie canceled, I did laundry and cooked and cleaned.  Not too exciting, but it was a good weekend.

And today is more work from home, which is kind of nice for a change of pace.  But I can still start the day with Friend Making Mondays. 


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

Random Questions
1. Did you watch the Super Bowl? If so, what was your favorite part?  Not really.  We had it on part of the time since I wanted to see the commercials, but we're not really into football and the last few years the commercials haven't really impressed me.  So I'd say it was on the tv for about 30 minutes total.  I'm a little bummed I didn't watch the halftime show, sounds like it was really good. 

2. What is the weather like where you live?  Lots of fluctuation.  Very cold some mornings, very mild some mornings.  Yesterday for the race it was about 35.  For this morning's workout, it was in the upper 20s, so I was happy to be in a gym instead.  For highs, on Friday it was mid-70s, yesterday was mid-30s, today upper 40s, tomorrow low 60s.  Lots and lots of fluctuation.  I guess if my choice is consistently cold or this, I'd say I prefer the fluctuation.  But of course my dream would be 45 every morning, 82 every day! 

3. When is your birthday?  End of August, I'm a Virgo. 

4. Do you prefer sparkling water or flat water?  Haha, a huge source of controversy in our house!  I prefer flat water and will only drink sparkling if I'm completely desperate.  My husband only drinks sparkling water except when working out.  He hates flat water, again, unless he's completely desperate.  When we were in Germany a few months ago, I was so thirsty and we bought a huge bottle of water.  I asked to make sure it had no gas.  Opened it a few minutes later, gas.  Ugh.  I took a few drinks because I was thirsty, but then we were on the quest for flat water. 

5. How many hours did you sleep last night?  About 8, slept approximately from 9 to 5. 

6. What is your favorite day of the week?   Hands down Saturdays.  There's usually a good rotation in any given month:  filled with social plans, lazy, filled with domestic chores, lazy.  I like the lazy-heavy balance, but I'm glad they're not all lazy. 

7. If you had to choose between riding a bike or swimming, which would you choose?  Hmm, why can't I just run?  I guess I'd choose biking.  You can still go places and be outside.  But I know swimming is a great workout, especially if you have to avoid impact.  I'm just not a very good swimmer.  If I ever get my goal marathon time, I might try to do some tris, so I guess I'd focus on trying to learn how to swim. 

8. How often do you eat red meat?  Never if I can help it.  Last time was in October in Italy.  There was something mixed in with an eggplant dish that my aunt-in-law made and I didn't realize it wasn't vegetarian.  Last time I voluntarily ate red meat in the US was a steak in July 2001.  I went vegetarian for the most part in late May that year, but I still had a handful of times where I ate it for one reason or another. 

9. What time did you wake up this morning?  Alarm was set for 5:00, but I woke up a couple minutes early.  We go to a boot camp together on Mondays that is downtown and starts at 5:30, so we try to be out the door by 5:15 or so. 

10. Do you have any goals for the week?  A bunch actually!  My New Year's resolutions this year were for Chinese New Year's (I'm the ultimate procrastinator sometimes, this seemed like a good excuse), so this will be the first week I try to follow my new resolutions completely. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments. Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 Resolutions

As always, I'm late in making them (the latest I've ever been in fact), but I think I have some good ones this year.  One of them is actually so challenging that I've really delayed in deciding on my official resolutions -- when I write it down, then it's on.  Since we loved our trip to China in 2012, I thought my new goal for the resolutions would be Chinese New Year on Jan. 31, which lets me start on Feb. 1, which has at least a bit of a "beginning" feel to it. 


1.  Travel for fun!  At least one new country!  And get on a plane to go somewhere for pleasure at least six times during the year!  I'm hoping that I actually do less travel for work in 2014.  As one attorney that I use for a lot of Pennsylvania case has worked on my cases for longer, I'm starting to trust him more and will feel less need to go out there and oversee his performance in arbitrations, etc.  I'll still have to go for settlement conferences and mediations (and god forbid trials, if I ever authorized that!), but it should be less work travel in general.  I'm hoping to actually go to multiple new-to-me countries, but I'd be happy with just one. 

2.  Unplug.  Specifically, no playing on my phone when I go to bed.  This one is going to be tough, tough, tough, and the reason I have waited until Chinese New Year to start my resolutions.  I have been trying to define exactly what this means.  My husband and I usually go upstairs at the same time, but it takes him A LOT longer to get ready for bed.  So I was trying to decide if I could play until he came to bed (particularly since we don't really talk anyway while he is brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, etc.), and whether I could use the phone to check email and weather, and to set my alarm and to text.  I've decided there will be absolutely nothing on the phone except responding to texts after he goes to bed. 

3.  Entertain.  At least 6 dinner parties.  And include at least 3 people or couples who haven't been over for dinner before.  This is a repeat resolution for me, but one I like to make because it presses me to do this when I might otherwise be lazy.  I love cooking and I love when we have people over and we don't have to worry about a waiter trying to turn the table, the noise, etc. 

4.  A legit PR.  I won't specify the distance, but ideally, it will be the half marathon (though if we're talking IDEALLY, I'd prefer marathon or 5k).  I know I've said it before, but I've been running for a long time as an adult and I think my PR days are numbered, but hopefully I've got at least one more in these old legs.  I'd actually be very happy with pretty much any legit PR -- I am not counting 8k as legit since my PR is old and easily beatable if I'd just run that distance again. 

5.  A significant number of running commutes.  I won't set a number.  My office is just under 4 miles from my house each way, so there's no reason I can't get back into doing this.  Last year, I commuted by running about 80% of my possible commutes for the first 9 months of the year.  Then I slacked off after the Berlin marathon.  And I'm not sure I've done it more than once or twice so far this year. 

6.  Lose weight.  So cliche, right?  But I want to get back to my "happy number" which is a few pounds above my racing weight.  I think it's been a bad combination in the last four months of many vacation days with indulgent food and drink, laziness, lack of a goal race, stress at work and poor sleep.  All that has resulted in I think the most I've weighed in at least 5 years.  Ugh.  I'm not happy with the way I look or feel.  Hopefully a few weeks of cleaning things up and not bailing on my workouts (or the effort I put forth) will get me back where I want to be, but then I want to stay there.  No more triple marathons and laziness! 

7.  Finish our wedding scrapbook.  By george, this is going to be the year!  Our fifth anniversary is in April, and I want it done!  I have the scrapbook sitting out in plain view in the living room, but it's still only about 60% complete.   

8.  Do another 30 day Bikram yoga challenge.  I did less yoga in 2013 than before, and I missed it.  While I've frequently noted that a 30 day challenge seems to be bad for my marriage, we can survive one month of not seeing each other enough.  It makes me feel so much calmer, more flexible and more relaxed.