Monday, January 23, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 2

Monday (MLK, and the day off work) morning I woke up in a pool of sweat. I felt nauseous. I puttered around the house, decided to eat breakfast to see if it would help. It sort of did, so I headed out to run about 10:30. I kept flashing sick hot then cold through the run--not awful, but probably feeling about 70%. Bleh. 4 miles.

I finally did it: I joined the gym at work. And the workout that put me over that line: 5 miles of hills and 24 hours of rain, some of which was cold and involved sleet.

About 4pm I closed the blinds and changed in my office, then walked across campus to the gym and got myself signed up. I found a line of treadmills.

I can't believe I'm typing this. Treadmills.

Anyway, I proceeded to do 0.25 mile increments of the following inclines:
Mile 1: 0.5%, 3%, 3%, 1%
Mile 2: 0.5%, 3.5%, 3.5%, 1.5%
Mile 3: 0.5%, 4%, 4%, 2%
Mile 4: 0.5%, 3.5%, 3.5%, 1.5%
Mile 5: 3%, 3%, 1%, 0.5%

Total elevation gain was 568 feet! Boom!

Rest. Yes.

I hit the roads bright and early with Shannon on Thursday for a fast 5 miles. My Garmin insisted for a while that we were running 9:45 miles and then all of a sudden 8:45s. So we ended up a bit faster than intended. A little [running] speed never hurt anyone, right? 

I also tested out the Nox vest I got for Christmas today. It easily makes me more visible than my reflective vest (that my 4-year-old thinks I got from working in the construction industry--not sure when he thinks I did that...)

5 miles easy but at 4pm because that's when it was supposed to stop raining. I still ran in very light rain, which wasn't so bad.

12 miles long with Laurie and it was 50 degrees!! And sunny!!
Short sleeves! Arm warmers! Sunshine! Capris, and a lot of people wore shorts.
I had to work for the run. My legs were tired. I was tired. But--beautiful. We ran rolling hills and saw lots of fog sitting in the low areas, sometimes with sun shining through it. Laurie told me this weather isn't that unusual for Cleveland in January. Yes, we get snow, but we also get this kind of fluctuation. She had 7 miles on her schedule, but ended up doing a little over 8 with me. I ran about 2 from my house to the meet-up spot, then 2 back. I was really happy I didn't have to do too much of this one on my own.


Weekly total: 31 miles
Favorite run: It's a tough call. Probably the long run because it was such a beautiful morning.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Marathon Training: Week 1

Marathon Training Week #1 is in the books!! This past week I was juggling a huge work deadline that had me working pretty long hours. Running was a great distraction from that. I think training is off to a solid start. Here's the weekly recap. 

Easy 4 miles. I found myself holding an 8:45 pace and breathing a little heavy. It was nice to remind myself what the training plan calls "easy" and to slow down.

My Tuesday hill run was magical. I woke up at 5:20 to howling wind and snow-covered streets. I'd gone to bed past 11:30 the previous night--the project had turned me into a mad scientist. I had that I'm-tired-it's-early-vomit feeling. Really? I thought. We're doing this? I checked the weather. The icy rain/sleet combo was set to move in about 7:20. We'd be done and home by then. So I got dressed, backed my car out of the garage* and headed out.

* this is a big deal! One day while it was snowing last week, I said, f-it. This is the day I stop waiting for the garage to get cleaner while my car sits in the snow. I called a trash hauling company. I returned a ton of extra bathroom tile (that's another story), and I parked my car. I felt victorious. 2017: Making dreams come true.

Shannon had master-minded the route. We both arrived just after 6 and quickly found our way to the path we knew.....was there somewhere. It was dark and snowy, and for just a moment reminded me of walking across snowy fields with my friends when I was younger. We laughed at ourselves, trying to find the path, slipping off the side of it now and then. Sometimes we could feel the hard surface under our feet. Other times we were in calf deep snow. I wore ski socks. It was delightful.

We ran the hilliest loops we knew. I'm having trouble getting my Garmin to tell me the total elevation (net) change. Whatever it was, it certainly checked the boxes: strengthened my lungs and legs. Running in snow is beautiful, and a workout. I'm so very thankful for a friend who planned the route and met me to do this. 

Rested the crap out of Wednesday. Physically at least. Mentally, not so much. As I had been doing for many, many days, I kept working feverishly on the research project due by week's end.

Shockingly not sore after the snowy hill run.

Four miles easy. I went mid-day, when something with my data was going very, very wrong and I could not wrap my head around why, what, or how to fix it. I spent the entire four miles reviewing what I'd done, trying to find errors, and trying to solve the problem. The fog hung low over the lake, and I wished I'd had my phone to take a picture. At run's end, I had only decided that at least one part--the major part--of what I'd done had to be correct. Eventually I figured it out. I was still up until 2am working on it, the deadline approaching quickly.

Another four miles easy. I ran again mid-day. Largely from stress and not sleeping enough for several consecutive days, I was also not eating enough; my stomach had turned on me. For perhaps the first time ever, I ate a Gu before 4 mile run simply because I could tell my blood sugar was low. The four miles was good for me. I just tried to shake some stress out. I finally submitted the paper at 11pm. My mind then frantically ticked through the laundry list of things that might have gone wrong that I might not have caught. I checked the weather, made sure clean running clothes were available, and went to bed, about 11:40.

I was to meet my friend Laurie at 7:30 at a park about 25 minutes from my house. At 6:45 she texted me to let her know when I left my house. I saw it and 7:04am. When I woke up. It's extremely unlike me, but I'd slept through my alarm. In fact, I didn't even remember it going off. I texted her to start without me (she was going to do 3 after I left, so she just did them before) and I'd be there at 8. This would give me PLENTY of time. PLENTY. 

I got within half a mile of the park and my GPS just lost it. It insisted I turn into the park at what was not an entrance, then when I used the main entrance, told me it was adding an extra 12 minutes to the trip. I'd been there twice before, but it's an easy place to get lost. So I turned around. I thought I must have missed the entrance. I went back and looked. I hadn't. So I turned around again and went back the way I was going the first time--the right way. And so with what should have been abundantly enough time, I was still 7 minutes late. So.freaking.embarrassing.

I parked and jumped out and we took off. I didn't have a GPS signal yet and didn't care. We ran 8 miles together and talked about all sorts of things, my favorite of which might have been labor and modern manufacturing, as this is an area we're both interested in.

So we ran 8 miles. Know how many I was supposed to run? 10. But I couldn't because my husband had somewhere to be and my catastrophic efforts at 7:30am meant I simply didn't have enough time to run 10 miles. I hung out and played with the kids and cleaned until Mr. Joanna got home, then headed back out for the last 2. I think it's harder, not easier, to run 10 miles this way, which sort of surprised me. You know, in case you ever wanted to make a long run harder, I found your solution.

Because she's an awesome running buddy, Laurie texted me encouraging me to make sure I got that last 2 done. I'd just come back in from it, and sent her this picture. 
And then yeah, took a nap. I napped so hard.

Weekly goal: 26 miles
Weekly miles: 26.51

Favorite run: I loved my long run, but the snowy hills were truly beautiful and funny

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in Review

My oh MY what a year it was! If I had to pick one word to characterize 2016, it would be "uneven". In all possible ways. In work, in living, in running. And since I haven't blogged much, unless you see or talk to me on a fairly regular basis, you've probably only seen a sliver of all of that. Welcome to the 2016 Review--a look at what uneven running looked like, and how it is leading to a 2017 I'm excited about.

This chart says a lot about my year:

Like I said, uneven. Why? How?

Let's go back to October 2015, when I stopped running all together due to an injury I later learned was a tendon in my left foot. This tendon connected some magical way to the inside of my left knee, causing my left knee to swell, limiting my range of motion. This in turn caused my left hip to get tight. The month+ I took off did little to help, so I had to start running again very, very carefully. And that meant running a total of about 40 miles in January and February of 2016. In early January I found a massage therapist who specialized in sports injuries, and she set me on the path to recovery.

In late February, we decided to uproot our Utah lives and move to Ohio. As my dear running friend Rachel once told me, running performance is sometimes a barometer of personal well-being. And, in March, for the first time in 5 months, I set a running goal of 12 miles per week, and was thrilled to hit it.

Having some success, I increased that weekly goal for April and May. In April I ran some 8:30-ish pace miles and felt euphoric about it. I also ran more miles the last week of April than I had in any week since the previous August. I wrote zero words about it, but by my dim memory, I think May went about the same.

Then we moved. It had been months of work in the making--packing, listing our house, packing more, planning the trip, house hunting in Ohio, coordinating the moving truck, on and on and on. My older son's last day of school was June 3, and on the morning of June 4, we put the last few things in our cars and drove out of Utah. North, into Wyoming, then down into Colorado, stopping in Denver for the night, which involved my older son puking during a power outage and us realizing the shower in our room was broken. Some day I'm going to write that one into a novel. 
Stopping for dinner in Laramie, WY. I was very pleased with myself for navigating this little town based solely on my memory from one previous trip. This is not usually my strong suit!
From there we drove to Manhattan, Kansas (the little apple!) to see and stay with dear friends from grad school. From there, to Columbia, Missouri, to see and stay with The Best Neighbors Ever, from our days in St. Louis.
Being greeted in Columbia, MO

From there, to St. Louis to see old friends, though sadly we didn't have enough time to see them all. From there to Indianapolis for some fun at the Children's Museum. 
Chihuly ceiling at the Indianapolis Children's Museum
From there to Cleveland on June 9, to a house we bought sight unseen. Our truck arrived June 10 and we unloaded it June 11 and started what would be a very long (and still ongoing) process of making the house our own (you can read about my dining room transformation here). Trying to help my parents, while they tried to help us, because they were doing the same thing--setting up their adorable little house a few miles away. And, I want to be honest (if in a limited way) about this--it was a difficult period. Leaving Utah was painful--not because I didn't want to leave (I did), but for a whole variety of reasons that meant starting our lives over in a new place felt like a heavy load to bear.
Everything we owned
Once here, I fell in very quickly with the Cleveland MRTT, a free running group for women. It has been one of the best things I've found in a long time! I felt welcomed and joined them for runs and social events frequently.
After a bike trolley bar crawl
With my friend Shannon for an afternoon of drinking, shopping, eating, and drinking

In early fall I decided I was running well enough to sign up for a half-marathon. MRTT'ers seemed to love Towpath, and it was close by, so I signed up. Loved it. Very flat course through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Read all about that here.

Then, November, and the 37-mile-month. Partly, my race was over. Partly, I traveled to Portland and Pittsburgh at the beginning and end of the month. It's not an excuse. I slept in. I didn't make goals. The mileage was low. It was ok.
Lobby of the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh--well worth the visit if you're ever in the area.
After the low mileage November, which I was feeling kinda bad about, and the need to get some base training in prior to actual training, I decided to aim for about 20 miles/week in December. Then, halfway through I accidentally did one run a few miles longer than planned, and just like that a 100-mile month seemed doable, and I went for it.

Finishing out the year, and a 100-mile month, on NYE with Laurie
And so, the year went, and went unevenly, and involved a tremendous amount of change. I saw old friends and made new ones. Sold one house and got to work renovating another. Started the year largely unable to run, and am finishing it out with a stubbornly tight left hip but feeling strong and getting stronger. 

At year's end, some stats:
Miles ran: 695.
Races completed:  3--Hofbrauhaus 10k, Muddy Paws Trail Race, and Towpath Half
States ran in: 7--Utah, Arizona, California, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland
States visited: 16--Utah, Arizona, California, Ohio, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia

Goals for 2017:

  • Marathon #5!!! Football Hall of Fame Marathon, April 30. Training starts in a week!! I'm not looking to PR this (although it would be welcome), but would like to get sub-4 again. 
  • 1000 miles. I own my low mileage this year and look to the future. 
  • Stay healthy. Because, duh. 
  • Do more yoga and strength training.
  • Settling in and finding our groove.
 Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Marathon #5 training!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Towpath Half Race Report

Guys, I think I might be ready to start writing about running again. It's been a long hiatus, which vaguely started due to injury, then persisted I've been running pretty regularly for a few months and so, so much about life has changed in the past 8 months. It's a new world.

As to running, I crossed some milestones I thought about writing up, then didn't. First, there was the regular running. But this didn't seem noteworthy to me (note to self: it was!). Then, my first 100-mile month in who knows how long (actually, I do know: 16 months. Sixteen flipping months!). And finally, a race. And you know, races get us runners right in the feelings, and then I can't resist returning here to write about it. Welcome to the race report.

I'm gonna back up a bit from the race itself, back to about February or March when I told my friend Jodi I was moving to CLE. She immediately added me to a Facebook page for a free running group called MRTT (Moms Run This Town). I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I have been for this group. This is how I've met several of my new friends, who have graciously invited me on social outings and shown me the running paths around here. The group has over 1000 members, and we're everywhere. You go to a race, you're going to see MRTTers. A lot of us have magnets on our cars that say MRTT. Another MRTTer is going to see it eventually and flip it upside down--our way of saying hi.

The MRTT, in fact, was how I learned about the Towpath Half in the first place.

The race was last Sunday. On Saturday I headed out to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park with my family, to the Boston Mills Ski Area, where the expo was being held. Two things on this: 1) I'm really happy to have skiing so convenient. 2) it's adorable. Their website boasts a 270" vertical drop, which, Utah would eat for breakfast. But honestly it's probably grade-appropriate for my family right now, so, winning.

I chatted with my friend Shannon (MRTT) at the expo, who I planned to race with. I snapped a few pictures near the finish line, ran around with the kiddos a bit, and got some ice cream from the general store. Beautiful day.

The surface we'd be running on--a tightly packed, crushed limestone
That night I couldn't decide what to wear. It would feel like 40 degrees at the start line, and warm up to around 50 or 52 by the end of the race. My long/short sleeve cut-off is somewhere between 50 and 55, but in a race I thought I might be warmer than usual. But that start would be cold. I couldn't decide. Finally I put out my trusty old Brooks skirt and a long-sleeved top. I stashed a short-sleeved shirt in my drop bag just in case, and called it a night.

Early Sunday morning I got up and went through the motions: get dressed, eat some toast and jam, double check my bag drop situation, plug in directions on the GPS, head out. Half an hour later I pulled into Brandywine Ski Area (near Boston Mills), parked, and went to find Shannon. We sat in my warm car as long as we dared before heading to the port-a-potty line. We waited too long. The line wasn't moving fast enough to make the start gun, but the guy on the bullhorn told us not to jump out of line about it. Enough people made use of the two-ply leaves in the woods, I got through the port-a-potty line just in time.  The sun came up--glorious--while we waited. 

Sunrise over Brandywine
We crept up about as far as we could in the start area before the gun went off, trying to avoid getting caught behind walkers and slower runners. We still did some weaving in the first mile, but pretty minimal. Shannon ran right in front of me, leading us along the shoulder for a while, and only lowering a shoulder once.

We got to the Towpath itself about half a mile in, and settled in. Our plan was to start around 8:45 and drop to an 8:15 or 8:20 by the half-way point, then decide what the endgame would be. You learn a lot about people when you race with them. I learned, among other things, that Shannon goes out fast. I kept pulling her back, and together I think we made a good team.

Mile 1: 8:42
Mile 2: 8:26
Mile 3: 8:29

Somewhere around here, we're running along when another runner looks at me and says, "Are you Joanna?" She was another MRTTer, and recognized me from a Facebook post. It definitely put a big smile on my face!

Mile 4: 8:17
Mile 5: 8:29
Mile 6: 8:19

Usually when race directors tell you a course is flat, at some point you want to choke them. Not here. It is actually, for real, flat. There is the tiniest of a false-flat-down on the way out, and false-flat-up on the way back, but really truly tiny. And the course is beautiful.

At the half way point we talked strategy. She wanted to speed up. I didn't have faster, so I sent her on ahead. This is where, frankly, if I'd trained, I could have recouped some time. But I didn't really train. Yes, I ran 101 miles in September, but zero speed work, zero tempo runs, nothing. Just miles. And, that's fine. The whole point of this race was to get back out there!

I got a little down for a few miles, sort of hating life a little. Then at some point I thought, I'm supposed to be enjoying this. Look up! Look around! Take it in! Control your breathing and just run.

Mile 7: 8:26
Mile 8: 8:24
Mile 9: 8:32
Mile 10: 8:39

I had something happen at a water stop around this point that I'd never seen before. For a while, I'd been trying to pass a guy. For a while, oncoming runners prevented this. A time or two I thought maybe he just didn't see that I was trying to get around him. Then at a water stop, he took water while staying smack in the middle of the course, and audibly cussed when I squeezed my way around him. What the hell?!? Has anyone ever seen that??

Shannon was still in my sights at this point, and with just a 5k to go I was pretty head-down to get it done.

Mile 11: 8:45
Mile 12: 8:49
Mile 13: 8:29

Coming in the home stretch I got into a race with a guy. We were plainly racing each other, and we were plainly both enjoying it. I honestly think he let me win. I don't care. He pushed me to go faster than I might have otherwise as we came into the last turn.

Finish time: 1:51:34.

I'm pleased with this. It's a little faster than I ran Salt Lake in 2015, and I did it without any structured training. This race got me back to racing.

With such a gorgeous day, I decided to wander and hang out a bit. The beer tent, though very popular, just wasn't calling my name. At 10am. On a Sunday. After a race. (Seriously people, what am I missing about this? I just can't do it.) But there was live music, lots of people, and beautiful weather. I ended up running into 2 co-workers, then randomly meeting 2 MRTT ladies back at the parking lot.

Walking to the shuttle back to the parking lot

All in all, this was a spectacular race weekend. Beautiful weather, mission get-back-to-racing accomplished, and got to do it with friends.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reveal: Dining Room

After moving to Ohio in June, to a house we bought sight unseen, I jumped head first into making the house our home. And I've loved it. I've spent entire days going from lighting stores, to carpet stores, to furniture stores, to Bed Bath and Beyond. I've sketched and searched and laid awake at night imagining rooms that could be. And today, my friends, I get to share one completed project, our dining room.

When we arrived, the room was painted dark olive green below the chair rail and a lighter shade above. The white doors in the far corner of the above photo go to a charming built-in deep china cabinet. It's like the 1930s builders knew I was coming. This is the listing photo.

The large light fixture featured smoky glass and about 10 small light bulbs, which, when paired together, left a less inviting feel to the room after dark. And, regardless of time of day, the smoky glass made it nearly impossible to tell what various color palettes might look like in the room.

Our first impulse was wallpaper. We found beautiful papers, which would truly have been elegant. Ultimately, the wallpaper shop I was working with was having a difficult time processing orders, and I grew concerned that the eventual process of removing the wallpaper would leave me wishing I'd never put it up.
I really liked this wallpaper
After that, I got on Houzz, got out a notebook, and started brainstorming new ideas. The room had to harmonize with the adjacent living room (behind me as I took the photo below). It had to be elegant. It had to make a statement, but in neutrals due to the adjacent room's plans (the red you see in the background will be gone soon). Finally, it had to honor the 1930s vintage of the home. Ready for it?

To accomplish this look, every non-floor surface was painted. We hired a great contractor who painted the ceiling, trim, and lower wall all the same color--Behr's Decorator White. (Aside: Interior designers rarely use Behr, because it's less expensive, and because it's sold at Home Depot. But me? I'm a Behr girl for life. Consumer Reports ranks them strongly and the paints have always performed well for me. And, fyi, you can have colors from the more expensive brands mixed in Behr paint.) The choice of Decorator White endured a painfully drawn-out back and forth with my father, who just insists it isn't really white. It was a whole thing. 

For the rug, I knew I wanted a pattern that would harmonize with the rugs in the adjacent living room and give the room elegance. And, I love a damask but knew I wasn't putting it on the walls. Additionally, this particular rug needed to have a short nap, as it's a dining room and will get food in it, and needed to be relatively inexpensive given the near certainty my children will destroy it eventually. I got a great deal on this hand-tufted wool rug.  

Above the chair rail then. That's not wallpaper (click on the picture to see it larger). Nope. I stenciled that. I stenciled that. Only a very few people knew what I was up to and their response was universally, "Have you lost your mind?" Maybe. But I'd do it again. Why? No one ever has to remove wallpaper. I got to customize my color selections. And my favorite part? The whole thing cost $77. The beige background color (Behr: Sandy Clay)) was $31. The stencil was $48. The brush I applied it with was $8. Done. 

I'd never stenciled, and welcomed the chance to learn. Well, sort of. Ok fine, I called a local artist who does some related work and asked if she could do this. She wasn't available, and encouraged me to try it myself. I was hesitant. I'd had a friend nearly lose her mind handing wallpaper a year prior. I accepted the challenge anyway. I figured, I'm crafty. How hard could it be?

At first it was slow going. This took at least 2 hours, maybe more. And those first diamonds, over the door, are the worst in the whole room. But I kept at it. I have "in progress" photos taken after I stopped each night, showing how far I'd gotten. I listened a lot of The Moth, This American Life, Serial Season 2, and iTunes. I enjoyed my evenings with podcasts and visible progress on a project. I came to find it rewarding. 

The windows are treated in layers: a layer of cool white sheers, and one panel on each window in inky navy silk, on a pullback. My Mom was my hero here. I needed a between-size length, so I ordered up and she shortened them for me. She's sewn all kinds of stuff for my kids' rooms, too, and I truly cannot thank her enough. 

And finally, that chandelier. A huge thank you to Cleveland Lighting on this one. The sales associate was so patient with me while I went through book after book of fixtures, looked at the ones in their showroom about 4 times, and asked questions about how finishes looked in person. I ended up very pleased with this Feiss fixture, up close below. I love how the shape complements the wall pattern, and how the crystal helps to lighten up the room.

I truly enjoyed this process, as I'm enjoying working on the other rooms in our house. I promise to share a bit more in the future. 

In other news, I've been running! I think I'm ready to start writing about that again, too. I may or may not be running a half-marathon this weekend....

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Story of Our Utah Home

Warning: this post is not about running. It's about another of my loves: telling the stories of old buildings. This one, our home in Utah, is particularly dear to me. We poured our blood, sweat, and tears into it. I am so proud to be part of the history of this home. And so, having left the home and Utah behind, to be but one chapter in our lives, I delight in bringing you its story.

The house is an urban legend in the neighborhood. Its legend status means we've heard a lot about it from neighbors, but there's a lot of what I'm about to say that I cannot possibly verify. But I'm going to tell you all of it.

Here's what I know. Our house was built in 1909 by a Dr. Steele and his family. It's a Tudor with Craftsman influences, and was among the first homes in our neighborhood. It sits on a triple, corner lot and has fruit trees, some of which are very old. There is a house about 2 blocks away that was built from the same plans at about the same time.

What follows is what we've been told. Some of it is probably true.

From at least 1980 through the late 90s, and for I don't know how long before, a couple lived here. They had a daughter who was at least a few years older than me, maybe as much as 15 years older. They liked privacy, and kept so many trees that the house was hardly visible from the street. They had a lot of pets, including cats and at least one parrot, and we've heard rumors of other pets.

The mother, who I'm told was a large woman, took to living upstairs in the home and either couldn't or wouldn't leave. The family had financial problems, and sold many of the original features of the home, including the original wood floors on the second floor, a built-in seating area, window frames (with historic moldings) and even the stairs and railing. It's unclear whether there was a second staircase or whether they used a ladder in place of the original stairs to get between floors. They also sold a second home that was on the property in 1980--this I know for sure. It's a sweet little brick home that's perhaps 10 years newer, and is now a separate parcel to the east of ours. I don't know why it was built originally, as part of the doctor's medical practice, a sister-wife situation (which was common in our neighborhood then), or a rental unit.

Toward the end of the 1990s, the wife had to be removed from the home. Some people have told me this was done by crane, others have said they don't know but that a crane seems likely given her size and the lack of proper stairs. After this, the daughter had the father placed in an assisted living facility and she and her boyfriend occupied the home. The home was foreclosed on.

As several people have told me, it sat vacant for some time after the foreclosure, with everything you'd expect to go along with vacancy: broken windows, disrepair, and according to one neighbor "dead people screaming" (?!?). According to one source, the home was on a list of potential demolitions by the City.

Perhaps saving it from demolition, a developer purchased it in about 2000. He made the home habitable again, but strange. There was still no railing, maybe no stairs, and some other oddities remained. My favorite was the very small kitchen sink in the second upstairs bathroom.

Other changes were made to the home at various times, maybe by this developer, maybe by other people. For instance, at some point there was an octopus heater. I'd never heard of this either. If you Google Image search you'll get results showing huge metal installations. What you don't see are the shallow well-like parts of these, the remains of which were still in the basement when we moved in (we've since had it filled in). We could also tell that someone had moved the living room wall to create the dining room, where there had once been a larger living room and a hallway from the side entrance. Upstairs, though, was anyone's guess. I couldn't begin to imagine what it had originally looked like. We're also pretty sure our mud room isn't original, but no one can really tell which part was added.

Another oddity is that when the stairs were replaced, someone also built a play room/loft in the attic space over half of the upstairs. We think to accommodate the stairs leading to it, they moved the stairs from the first to the second floor to the left a few feet. While this is sort of remarkable in its own right, its other consequence is more so: moving the stairs and adding a coat closet beside them meant that there was then no interior access to the basement--only exterior access.

In 2001 or so a family bought the home. They lived here for 12 years (or so) and raised their two kids here. They are lovely people--I've met them several times. They did a lot to make the home more functional, like replacing the windows, installing a back deck with the faux wood surface for durability, etc. They are also big into gardening, and we suspect are responsible for some of the newer features of the yard, including the chicken coop that has a stained glass window. We had never canned anything in our lives when we moved in, and honestly didn't know the yard produced food until we got here. We came to love having apples, pears, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, hops, and more.

When we bought the home in 2013, we set to work on updating a large portion of the upstairs. We spent several months gutting two bathrooms and turning them into two newer bathrooms, a linen closet, a separate laundry room, and turning a conveniently square hallway into an office. There was a lot of this:
Tiling the floor of our renovated Master bath
We also freshened up the downstairs with new paint and light fixtures. My mom and I made draperies for the downstairs rooms, because this was the before picture:
And this was a piece of fabric I fell in love with:
Light taupe with a hint of sparkle. It was gorgeous. 

We made it ours. I learned a lot in the process, about which I long ago drafted a blog post which was delayed for rather complicated reasons I won't get into, but which will appear at some point. But mostly I learned that it's kind of like fashion: there are some rules you really should stick to, and you really do need to measure, but many rules can be broken by creativity and by learning about all kinds of finishes, systems, and solutions you never knew existed. Make a house what makes you happy, but experiment a lot with visual and online tools before you commit to expensive or labor-intensive choices.

Truth be told, I loved this house. I'm honored to have been part of restoring it to the proud home it once was. But it's time for us to move along, and love our new place too.

Monday, May 2, 2016

April Recap

After a successful March of meeting goals and kicking ass, I set a slightly higher April goal, and off I went. So how'd it turn out? Welcome to the April Recap.

April Goal: After successfully running my 12 mile/week goal in March, I modestly increased my goal to 15 miles per week.

April Miles: 60.7. Sixty! I'm delighted. This is basically on target, and for three weeks I surpassed my target. Actually, and this blows my mind, I ran more miles in the last week of April than in any other single week since the week ending August 3, 2015. August.  

With a goal of 15 miles/week, I should have hit about 65 miles. However, we went house hunting in Ohio the week of April 3 and, confession: I did not run at all. I took running clothes, and was bummed that it didn't happen. My excuses were plentiful. First, we were staying downtown, which was really lovely, but not super conducive to running. Second, the weather was bullshit. Yeah, yeah. I know.

May Goal: I think I'm ready to aim for 20 miles a week, but I am planning a cut-back week this week. I'm setting the May goal at 75 miles.  

April Highlights: Oh, easy: my two mid-week runs last week were a blast. On Tuesday I took it up a notch, hitting 8:30 for mile 4. On Thursday, my birthday, I was in a great mood and I wanted to fly. Miles 1-4 were 8:30, 8:37, 8:33, and 8:32. And I was smiling, like probably the whole time. It was easily the best run I'd had in 8 months. 

Since I was feeling amazing after a legit tempo run, I decided to go for a full 8 miles on Saturday. The distance felt easier from an endurance perspective than had a slightly shorter long run the previous week, but I do need to step back slightly this week before ramping up again. 

Other Lovely Things in Life: Just, all the words. All of them. I'm not even sure where to start. 

On the moving front, things are moving forward full steam. My wonderful parents sold their place here, their household goods shipped last week, and they close on their place in Ohio in about a week. Our place is under contract and we are working through the check list (fingers crossed it goes smoothly!). We have an accepted offer on a place in Ohio which we bought via FaceTime (Who does that?!? Apparently we do. And only me. Mr. Joanna has only seen the listing pictures. No, really. This is a frequent topic of discussion in our house.) and have our moving truck and loading crews scheduled. It's all happening! It's all kind of still surreal, to be honest, but it's happening. There will be a whole post (or three) devoted to this. While it's surreal to me, I'm welcoming the whole circus of a journey with open arms. 

And this is starting already. I love it so much.

And my birthday. I felt so loved, so full of blessings and life and a new sense of wonder about the year ahead of me. And my little boy's birthday, earlier in the month. He's so ornery, so mischievous, so cherished. 

May is our last month in Utah before our return migration to the eastern time zone. It's going to be crazy, box-filled, and a blur of motion. Stay tuned!