Saturday, December 19, 2009


Good gear really does make all the difference in the world. I have always hated running in the cold, and in previous years have just simply not done it. I ran three times this week with my new thermal tights--and it was cold all three days--and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Best of all, today there was snow covering our running path. It was the first time I've ever run in the snow, and it was beautiful.

I ran the shortest distance of anyone (6 miles), and consequently was the first back to the parking lot this morning. As I walked across the edge of the lot back to our water/Powerade station, I saw someone that looked strangely like my teammate, Ann, who lives in Arizona through the winter. I squinted. I stared. Finally, reasonably convinced that it was her, I waved. She waved back, squinting to see who she was waving at. She walked over and we chatted for a minute. I told her I had just finished and was going to wait in my car for the others. No sooner were the words out of my mouth did I realize that no, I wouldn't be waiting in my car, because Coach Mike had my keys (he safely stores all our keys, which I'm grateful for!), and he was on the other side of the park. Crap. She gave me her keys (which she had because she had only just arrived) and so I waited in her gorgeous Mercedes-Benz until Mike came back.

As soon as he came back I got my keys and got into my car to get my extra jacket. As soon as I opened the car door I heard my phone ringing. It was Brendan, calling to see if there were breakfast plans. I told him I'd call him back when I knew. As people started returning from their runs and plans were made, I left to go home to pick up my boys and asked that someone call to tell me where we were meeting. A while later I got a text from Mike that said, "Paneras. Leaving [the park] now." The boys and I packed up and headed over there. Everyone arrived at Panera around the same time. Except Mike. Where was he? Atlanta Bread Company. On the other end of town. I'm laughing, but we missed him. We've all been there.

447.8 + 2.85 + 3.3 + 6.0 = 460.0

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Felt like a caged animal

I realize that I haven't updated my mileage in quite some time. The truth is, a cold front moved in around the first of the month and I was just ill-prepared for running outdoors in the cold. In previous years I've decreased mileage drastically in the winter and have stayed indoors. After my treadmill workout the other day, I have dreaded the idea of running indoors. So, with the cold, I just more or less stopped running after the first. I felt like a caged animal after a week. The answer? Thermal running tights.

HOW HAVE I LIVED WITHOUT THESE?? I bought Pearl Izumi Aurora Thermal Tights. They are fabulous. They look like standard black tights, but they are lined with technical fleece. They made their maiden voyage this Saturday morning, when it was so cold my teeth hurt. Was I cold? Not even a little bit. I have no idea why I didn't buy these years ago. As long as the roads are passable, I think I'll be out running this winter! So, the long overdue mileage update:

431.1 + 3.7 + 6.0 + 2.0 + 5.0 = 447.8

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pictures to go with the Elliot update

My friend CH asked for photos to accompany the last blog update. Pictures really do enhance blog posts, so, I shall oblige! First up is a picture of Elliot playing his game outside the half-bath door. Brendan is in there, ready for the jar lid to come under the door. I love it! I'll miss this when he outgrows it.

I realized after writing the last post that I'd overlooked Elliot's funniest quirk: OCD-esque obsessions. Here are pictures of a few of my favorites. I love these! First, Elliot's beloved seed packets, which I think I've mentioned before. He loves playing with these, but sort of panics if he thinks he doesn't have a chance to put them away when he's finished. They belong in the drawer. Period.

And flashlights must be stored upright. He will take them out of their drawer and do this if they are stored horizontally.

He also strongly prefers that his cup be in a cupholder if possible, which might be my favorite of these traits. I hope it translates into coaster use later in life.

And finally, canisters must also be stored upright, and stacked on on top of another. If they are stored in multiple stacks, he will take them all out and stack them together on the floor, or try to restack them without taking them out of the cabinet.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Elliot at 18 months

Elliot has had an exciting advancement that's prompted me to write a short update on his little life. Re-reading my last "Elliot update" from August, I decided to do another enumerated list of all things E. He's such a great little boy, and I have no modesty about him.

1. He has gotten over his hatred of grass and will now willingly walk on it.
2. We still get lectured in unintelligible baby garble, BUT, he now has some words! His vocabulary includes: no, up, hot, row, boat, uh-oh, momma, dadda, hi, bye, baby. "Row" and "boat" of course go together, complete with arm gestures that go with the song. Other words have appeared a time or two, but not consistently. The ones that come to mind first are Thomas and twinkle, oh, and Hannah, the name of one of his caretakers at daycare.
3. He has changed from playing with the food storage lids to playing with the colander. He puts it on his head and walks/runs around. Sometimes he puts his blocks or other toys in it. If he's awake, it's probably on our kitchen floor. Some days I just give up on putting it away.
4. He still cannot bear the thought of someone being in the half-bath without him. However, his anxiety has evolved into game playing. We keep two odd items on hand: the lid to a baby food jar, and a business card-sized info card from Verizon Wireless. He slides these under the door and waits for the person on the other side to slide it back his way. So those random items on the floor in our half-bath? Yeah, not trash.
5. He has gotten good at stacking his blocks. He can stack them five high now!
6. He LOVES his daycare. He almost always resists going home at the end of the day, and he often wants to go on weekends. We feel so blessed to have found a daycare that is so nurturing of him, and that he likes so much.
7. I have a brush that I don't use any more. He loves brushing his hair with it.
8. He also LOVES brushing his own teeth (often with some assistance) and feeding himself with a fork. We often spear the food for him then let him pick up the fork and feed himself. It's so fun to watch him gaining independence and confidence.

Monday, November 23, 2009


As the IT band issues in my right knee have started to recede, I've felt what I thought was a bit of similar tightness along the outside of my left knee. I've been stretching it and hoping for the best. Well, on Thursday I took running clothes to work with me. Unfortunately I forgot to take a jacket and it was just a bit too cool outside to run in shorts and a t-shirt without a jacket, so I headed to the gym. With IT issues, I thought it best to avoid running on a track, so I reluctantly got on a treadmill.

Side note on treadmills: what a horrible way to experience running! I'm afraid of falling off (which I've done twice--it's a well-grounded fear) so my posture is protective and not exactly as it would be if I were running on ground. Indoors there is also no moving air, so it gets hot and boring. One run on a treadmill after a LONG season of running outdoors (March through now) has convinced me that it's time to get running tights so I can keep running outside.

So anyway, around mile 2.0 my left knee started to hurt. It wasn't bad, so I thought it was just some tightness and kept running. I really shouldn't have. It is now clear that I am having identical IT issues in the left knee. It hurt like crazy that night, all day Friday, and even some Saturday. I had to skip my Team run on Saturday because of it. I joke that my left knee was jealous of all the attention the right one was getting. I'm just glad I can identify the problem and treat it quickly this time around. I ended up running on Saturday, but not a long run. Just maybe the weather will hold for one more week and I'll get out with the Team next weekend. Mileage update:

420.6 + 4.1 + 3.1 + 3.3 = 431.1

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've had several topics working their way into blog posts in my mind, but none more consistently than my Slice, so I'm devoting this entire posting to a review of it.

The Slice is a cordless design cutter made by the scrapbooking supply company Making Memories. It uses designs stored on SD cards to cut shapes in paper in any size between 1" and 4" in half inch increments. In function, it is similar to the older, popular Cricut. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, I'll show you some examples of where I've used the Slice on my layouts. I used it to make the fence, tombstones, house, tree, witch, picture frames, and "Moo" letters on this page; all of the white scrolls here; the lettering on this page; and the flowers and lettering on this page from my niece's album. Without a machine like the Cricut or Slice, the only way to get lettering or images like these is to a) cut them by hand using a scrapbooking scalpel from a computer-printed template (arduous and time-intensive), or b) buy pre-made embellishments (if you can find the color/size/image you want). I honestly don't know what I ever did without such a machine.

At the crops I've gone to over the last few months, I've gotten some questions about the Slice. How does it work? Do I like it? How much are the SD cards? I decided to address the pros and cons of the machine and give it a sort of review here on my blog.

How does it work?
It is mechanically straightforward to use, which I like about it. You:
1. apply Slice adhesive to the glass cutting mat and let it dry, about 2 minutes
2. press your paper to the glass mat so it sticks
3. turn on the Slice and insert the SD card that contains the design you'd like to cut
4. navigate through the on-screen (Slice screen) menu to select the design and size you'd like to cut
5. press the start button and hold the machine in place until it indicates that the cut is complete
6. remove the paper and design cut from the glass mat
7. turn off the Slice

The adhesive needs to be washed off of the mat and reapplied every so often. The instructions indicate that it should be replaced after every 4 cuts (I think), but I always do many more cuts than that. You can do the cuts while the Slice is plugged in, but it can also be used as a cordless device if you wish.

Do I like it?
I can't say it enough: I love it. Although I love the album I made just before getting the Slice, I still can't imagine scrapping without it. That older album that I love, some of it I love because I spent literally hours cutting out scroll work and lettering by hand and buying stickers and embellishments. It is so much easier to be creative and to create nice looking pages when I press a few buttons and the Slice cuts everything for me. Like I said, I love it. But, nothing's perfect. So what's the nitty gritty? What is great and not so great about it?

The biggest selling points of the Slice, for me (and this is not a complete list of pros), were the size, cordless-ness, availability/price of SD cards, and coordination with Making Memories collections. The whole machine is 3 pounds and is about 5x5" and 4" tall (or so). Making its size even better is the fact that it can operate without being plugged in. Why do these features make it so nice? At crops, Cricuts take up an enormous amount of counter space and space can become tight. Not only does the Slice not take up a lot of space, but if need be it can be moved so that you can work on it at your personal work space or in a place where more space is available. It also then does not take up a lot of storage space at home, and let's face it, everyone wants more space to do paper crafts.

Availability and pricing of the SD cards is also nice. New, retail price ranges from about $40-$50, and the cards rarely go on sale in big box crafting stores like Michaels. New, retail Cricut cartridges are around $70. Additionally, you can usually find Slice cards discounted somewhere online, and available new at drastically reduced prices on Ebay (usually $20 or less). There are over 30 Slice cards now available, with themes ranging from holidays to babies to travel, most with a different font.

The final bonus that I want to highlight is that Slice cards coordinate with Making Memories collections. For instance, I had bought some Making Memories metal Halloween embellishments a while ago just because they were cute. When I got the Slice Spook Alley design card, I saw that the embellishments coordinated with the designs on the card. I really like the potential this creates for making coordinated layouts. While I don't want to make this a Slice v. Cricut rivalry, I will point out that Cricut is made by Provo Craft, which does make some other scrapbooking products, but has decreased production in those areas as the Cricut has taken off.

There are three primary drawbacks to the Slice: its size limitations, its adhesive, and its margin of error.

The primary drawback of the Slice is also one of its strengths: its size. As I mentioned, it cuts shapes anywhere from 1 inch to 4 inches, with sizes available in half-inch increments. Some of the whole words available are cut on the diagonal and consequently can be cut to be as much as 5.5" long, but that's the absolute limit. You cannot use the Slice to make die cuts like this gorgeous 12x12 paper. It will cut beautiful shapes like this in up to a 4x4 inch size. It also will not cut letters more than 4 inches tall.

Adhesive, I think, for any design cutting machine, is an issue. The problems with Slice adhesive are that a) it's expensive (though much less so on Ebay), b) it smells truly awful, and c) using too much or too little can mess up your cut. As to the smell, cover your nose or go outside to apply it. I cover my nose and mouth with a sleeve and it's just fine. Using too much adhesive makes it difficult to remove cuts from the glass mat, while using too little (or not changing it frequently enough) often allows the paper to move as its being cut, causing irregularities in the cut. (Side note: irregularities also appear when the machine needs to be recharged). All of these things are avoidable once you learn the machine and how much adhesive works best for you.

The margin of error was something I'd read about before buying the Slice. When you indicate that you want a 2 inch "a" to be cut, the letter that's produced will not be 2 inches tall. It will be scaled so that the tallest capital letter of the font would cut at a 2 inch height. This rule of thumb gets a little bit squishier when cutting shapes rather than letters. Expect to have some trial and error when settling on a size to cut, especially when you are just starting with the machine.

All told, I strongly believe that the pros outweigh the cons, and other than the size limitations (which are also part of why I love this system), the cons can all be more or less prevented as you get to the know the machine. I love this machine and would buy it again in a heartbeat (ok, ask for it as an anniversary present again in a heartbeat). Owning one will also encourage you to get addicted to the Making Memories blog, as I now am. No complaints about that!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The second week of November? Oh, that blur.

Unbelievably, it's Thursday and I'm only now finding a quiet minute in the week. Running hasn't happened this week. I just literally have not had a spare minute in which to do it. I'm planning a good run on Saturday though, so I'm looking forward to that. Here's a mileage update from last week though. The 5.1 run was really nice. Meg and I put on our big girl shoes and decided to bite off a longer distance than either of us had done in a while. It was a good time, even if we walked a little bit of it.

409.4 + 2.8 + 3.3 + 5.1 = 420.6

Other projects! As I said before, I've taken on the project of finishing my scrapbook for 2005. I started by filling in some missing events from the end of that year, Christmas and my brother's wedding. Last weekend I finished a family trip to Chicago and Christmas at our house. You can see those pages here, here, and here. I made these at a crop with some friends. It was the third crop I've gone to, and they just keep getting better. At this crop there were five of us there together. It made me want to make a scrapbook page of pictures of my favorite scrapbooking dwarves, who have noun names instead of pronoun names: Embellishments, Adhesives, Perfectionism, Organization, and Slice. We make a fun set. The pages of my brother's wedding are up next, and I'm really looking forward to making them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Post-race updates

Things have calmed down a bit since the race. As all the stories and pictures have come together, a few things have surfaced that merit updating on here. For instance, I later found out that the woman who drove into the course in Detroit was eventually arrested. Thank goodness! Unfortunately, that's the most exciting update. The rest are: my IT band still gets tight (but doesn't hurt) even on short runs, I got new shoes (the 4.1 mile run below was their debut), and I'm in love with my race tag.

After taking a week and a half off, I finally got back to running. Yesterday afternoon when the babe took his nap, B and I took one too. The 60 degree weather and blue skies overpowered my need for sleep though, and I laced up my new shoes and headed out. I'm so glad I did. Weather like this in November has to be savored. It's just incredible. I need to work this afternoon, but I might tear myself away for a quick run. It's too nice to stay inside.

402 + 3.3 + 4.1 = 409.4

Since I've now given my niece's First Year album to her parents, it's time to start a new project, and I've chosen a worthy one: finish scrapbooking 2005 and 2006. I finished 2005 through my wedding day some time ago and parts of the rest of that year and 2006 are finished. However, there are large chunks of both years that just never got done, like our honeymoon, my brother's wedding, Christmases, and my besty N's wedding. Basically anything complicated I skipped over. It is time! It's getting ridiculous. I don't want to leave you with the false impression that I have the years between 2006 and now finished. Quite the contrary. I like lists, so here:

1999-2004: finished
2005: finished through my wedding with parts of remainder of year completed
2006: maybe 1/2 to 2/3 completed
2007: hardly touched
2008: coming together, but I've barely touched my son's baby pictures, which will likely be an entire separate album
2009: are you kidding me? I'll probably scrapbook the Rock & Roll half this coming weekend, but I think that will be the first thing done for this year

Right now I'm working on last Halloween (I'll post the pages when they're finished) and like I said, will probably do Rock & Roll this weekend, but after that, I'm on a mission to finish those older years. I'll probably cover more of my crafts projects on here now that my running season is coming to a close.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Detroit Marathon

It's official--I finished my first marathon! This is my recount of the weekend, in all its sweaty glory.

On Saturday we (Brendan, Elliot and I) flew to Detroit. My brother met us at the airport, took us to get settled in at our hotel, then went with us to the race expo. Based on an email I'd received before the race, which said they were expecting 50 vendors, I didn't expect the expo to be as big or nice as it was. It was great! They even had a family area, where Brendan played with Elliot while I walked through the expo with my brother. It was fun to introduce him to the world of running, complete with our full line of tools and products, which were all on display at the expo. It was fun to answer questions about technical fabric and runner food (gels, sport beans, etc). We also got to goof around some, like this picture he took of me. He helped me pick out a Detroit Marathon shirt (which I will proudly be wearing to work in a few days). I also picked up a nice Adidas running hat and a 26.2 sticker. He (and me too, if I'm being honest) got a kick out of the fact that I had to present my passport in order to pick up my race packet, it being an international race and whatnot.

In the afternoon, everyone went to the park while I slept, apparently. I have only photographic evidence of this (see below, bundled up and leaving for the park). I honestly don't remember much of it other than presenting them with my niece's First Year scrapbook. We were up around 4am to catch our flight and had been up late packing, so I was really out of it. That evening, my wonderful sister-in-law made us more pasta than 10 of us could have eaten. It was really sweet of her (not to mention delicious), helping me carb load. My brother couldn't get over Elliot's love of cup holders. I have no idea where Elliot got it from, but he has a strong preference for his sippy cup to be in a cup holder if possible, which became apparent while we were eating dinner. Well, his daddy is "function man." :)

Back at the hotel we got settled into our room, which was amazing. The room itself was nice--well appointed, comfortable, and attractive. But its biggest feature was the view! We had an amazing location--the 38th floor of the RenCen Marriott (the official race hotel) overlooking the Detroit River, right across from Caesar's. I took a picture that night. You can totally see me and the whole room in the reflection but I'm posting it anyway. Brendan took one the next day, which I'm also posting.

Elliot went to bed fairly easily. After he was down, I did one last check to make sure everything was in order for morning, then decided to try to get some sleep. No sooner was I in bed than I came to the sickening realization that I had left my knee sleeve at home. Of course I jumped out of bed and uselessly checked the suitcase anyway. All I could think was, "How could I have done this?" The answer is pretty simple: I had stopped wearing it for short, mid-week runs, and it had gotten left either beneath my desk or in the back of my car, out of sight and out of mind. I panicked. It was true that my IT band had more or less stopped hurting, but I hadn't run without the sleeve in weeks. I told Brendan all of this. Without hesitating, he got back up, got dressed, and went out to find a drug store to buy me a new one. The cab fare turned out to be more expensive than the sleeve, thankfully. What would I do without this man? Set for morning, I finally coaxed myself to sleep.

I had to be to the start line no later than 7am. Not knowing how long it would take to get from the hotel to the start area, especially considering I was planning to take public transit to get there, I left myself 45 minutes. A little after 6am I quietly left my boys sleeping in the hotel room and made my way to the elevator. A few floors down, someone clearly involved in the race boarded the elevator. Scratch that, he bounded onto the elevator, carrying a 3:30 pacer sign. This meant that he was a pace team leader, one of the many runners on the course who help runners match time goals by setting a timed, per-mile pace, in his case, to reach the finish line in three and a half hours. I asked if I could go to the start line with his group. He responded, "I'm going to jog over. We might have some pacers who will walk. You're welcome to join us." And with that, the elevator doors opened and he bounded out, jogging. Too much.

So, I made my way to the People Mover (a catastrophic failure in public transportation--it's actually the "don't do this" box in urban planning textbooks), which carried me the half mile to the start area. Rather than stand around in the dark and cold, I walked up and down the start area for a while, checking in with my Teammate Nick and sipping my apple juice. Slowly I made my way to the start area. I was nervous. And cold. Mostly nervous. I just reviewed my strategy in my mind: 3 mile run, then commence 6:1 timed run/walk, run more toward the end if possible. Eat beans/Gu at miles 6.5, 13, and 19.

The race finally started. Before long, we were running over the Ambassador Bridge as the sun rose. To my left, I saw our hotel perched on the river, and thought with so much happiness of my boys, snug in their beds, or awake and talking about "momma's race," or even looking out the window at all the runners on the bridge. I ran a bit past my three mile mark, until we descended off the bridge into Canada. I was having a blast. A few miles through Canada, then the "international underwater mile" through the tunnel back to the US, and all of a sudden I was at mile 8, the spot Brendan and I had agreed on trying to see each other. As soon as I saw them I started stripping, the hat, gloves, and zip-up jacket all had to go. I was sweating and warm. I was so glad I didn't have to throw any of my articles of clothing to the side of the road like several hundred others had done. I love my gear and wanted to keep it! So I tossed it to them and kept going. I saw them again at the 13 mile mark, just after the half-marathoners split off. My brother and sister-in-law were there too. It was SO much fun to see them and hear them cheer for me.

After that, the course followed Lafayette for about three miles. Somewhere in the middle of it I witnessed a loud and heated argument between a runner and a woman walking to church. I have no idea if they knew each other or what they were arguing about, but it was...entertaining. Around there also, a woman on her cell phone disregarded a police officer and started to drive into the race route, nearly hitting a runner about a quarter mile ahead of me. By the time I got there the officer was absolutely reaming her out. Her response? Embarrassment? Heavens no. She was screaming right back at him. Naturally. The few miles after that were through an amazingly gorgeous neighborhood. Some of the residents were handing out various items to runners, including, beer, jelly beans, and Vaseline. By this point Nick and I had passed each other a handful of times. We ran a mile or so together through part of this neighborhood.

Crossing onto Belle Isle was gorgeous, and the island itself is worth a visit if you're ever there and not running a marathon. By the time I got to mile 21 or so, I was starting to wear pretty thin. My feet hurt and I was getting worn out. At this point, blatant rationalization and self-coaching starts to kick in. I just kept telling myself, run this 6 minutes, then walk 1. Walk 2 if you have to. Ok, 6 minutes, 5 if you absolutely can't do 6. Just do it. Just start running. It was around this point that the 4:45 pace team finally passed me for the last time, which was fine with me. Leaving Belle Isle, there was an "entertainer" who was yelling at people that they had only 4 miles left to go and why were they walking (I made a point of running past him so as not to be yelled at). I really wanted to put him on notice.

Then at mile marker 23 nausea kicked in. I'd had a LOT of Gatorade, beans, Chomps, and adrenalin. I walked almost all of that mile, until finding port-a-potties right before mile marker 24, where I collected myself and set my mind to finishing this thing. I ran most of the rest, not quite a 6:1 interval, but something close. I took a sip of Gatorade at the very last fluid station and rather than throwing the half-full cup at the trash, where two men were tidying up, I walked over, folded the cup, and put it in the bag. One of them said I must be a mom, to do that, to which I smiled and said I was. Soon after, a spectator yelled that it was just half a mile to go. I ran that half mile. Coming around the last corner and seeing the finish line ahead of me, it was honestly everything in me to keep myself from sobbing uncontrollably. Not from physical pain, but from exhaustion, mental and physical, and seeing the end of this long, incredible process and life goal. I was so focused that I almost didn't see Brendan, my brother and SIL and the kids. I did see and hear them finally, and in my mind gave them a huge smile, which Brendan later said was more like an exhausted half-acknowledgment. And then I was there, crossing the finish. I looked up at the clock--5:09. I'd crossed the start line around 15:00, which meant I'd finished the race in under 5 hours.

I more or less wandered through the finishers' area, getting my medal, having my picture taken, finding what there was of post-race food, then leaving and meandering half-coherently to the after party half a block down, where the reunion area had been staged. It took a while for all of us to find each other, and by that time I had pulled myself together most of the way.

After putting on my warm-up wants and a jacket, we left the reunion area. I promptly called Coach Mike, Meg, and my mom to let them know I'd finished. Coach Mike looked up my chip time--4:54:54. I can absolutely live with that.

Checking out of the hotel was quite the process, but I'll save that story for another day. Once back to my brother & SIL's place, we spent the rest of Sunday and Monday morning relaxing, eating, hanging out, and shopping. We had such a good time. And if you're ever in Royal Oak, I highly recommend this place for dinner and this place for sweets.

To wrap it all up, the weekend was great. It was more than great. Brendan and I got to hang out with family, and just as importantly, so did Elliot. As for the race, I'll say that I'm glad I did it, and I'm glad it's over. I don't know if I'll do another full marathon yet. We'll see. And finally, you know I can't post this without the mileage update. Officially over 400 miles for the year!

370.5 + 3.3 + 2.0 + 26.2 = 402

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gearing up! Errr, ramping down I mean

It's the final week. Excitement level is up, mileage is down, hence the title. I went to the running store today and bought a thing to carry an arsenal of Sport Beans in, plus the beans themselves. I'm mentally starting to make a list of everything I need to take to Detroit, and what of those things cannot be trusted in a checked bag. What can't I replace at the expo if my luggage doesn't make it? What can I run without? I am so excited!! My knee seems to be doing much better, so I'm lacking confidence, but feeling very encouraged about race day.

Saturday I was scheduled to run an hour. After the first 2.4 miles, Coach Mike said I was running a little faster than a 5 mph pace, so I should aim at running a little over 5 and should not get carried away and do more than 6. Starting the back half of the run, I was warmed up (it was maybe 40 degrees out, so the start was chilly), excited, and just couldn't help myself. I ran as fast as I wanted. I had a ball. It was great. I did 5.4 and came back at around the 55 minute mark. I got glared at a little bit for going so much faster than my race pace, but I just smiled. It was a great way to end long run training. Into the week now, I ran 3.3 today and will probably do the same tomorrow, since the rain is heading back in by Wednesday.

Here is an update on miles. I would like to point out that I have officially passed what was always my annual goal in college, 365 miles, or a mile a day for a whole year. It always seemed like such an easy goal and yet I never did it. So, big smile for that.

361.8 + 5.4 + 3.3 = 370.5

I have a million other things going on, though at the moment most notably scrapbooking. I went to another crop this past weekend and had a GREAT time. I finally finished my niece's first year album! I'm still working on coating a page that's having some issues with ink drying, but the actual making of pages is finished. I will be giving it to them this weekend, which will be another part of the fun. I'm excited about this weekend--can you tell?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Trip to DC

Mileage has been way down the last week and a half. Last week I was out of town for work. I just plain didn't have time for a 12 mile run, so I did my best, which was 5.3 miles. I also got in a 3 mile run on Monday morning before flying back home. Tuesday I took off to get unpacked, caught up on sleep, and get settled in. Wednesday I (brace yourself) planned ahead and brought running clothes to the office so I could break for a mid-afternoon run. It's starting to get dark early, and I had a hundred other things to do that evening, so I ran when I could. It turned out to be a great decision, because the weather was gorgeous when I ran and turned ugly not long after. It's been raining for the last two days, and hence, I've been inside, being lazy. So, the mileage update.

350.5 + 5.3 + 3.0 + 3.0 = 361.8

I'm definitely not as prepared as I would like to be going into my first marathon. I never got to the 18 or 20 mile long runs. My mileage these last two weeks has been way down. It might rain on race day, which I'm not really prepared for. Regardless, I'm excited for the race and hoping for the best!

In non-running news, I'm closing in on my niece's First Year album. I am so excited to finally be giving it to them when we go to Detroit. I'm headed to a crop tomorrow to wrap up work on it. N is going with me tomorrow too, and we're both pretty excited.

As for little Elliot, his babbling is becoming alarmingly more word-like every day. Yesterday while going upstairs it really sounded like he said, "I'm just climbing." It's amazing to watch him develop. I took him with me to DC so he could have some QT with the grandparents. He hung out with Grandma and Grandaddy Paulson for a few days and with his Nana for a few days. We also got to visit with my friends Jamie and Will. It was Will's first time meeting Elliot, and Jamie hadn't seen him since last Thanksgiving. I was SO happy to have the chance to see them and catch up. Elliot did very well with all the transitioning from place to place, and seems to have had fun with everyone. Grandma Paulson took the picture below. The travel was long though, and so he was overjoyed when we finally got home on Monday night. His face just lit up when he realized that we were walking into the house. He ran around the first floor, rediscovering his toys, opening all the drawers he has access to and waving around his play objects (like a sheet of stamps we let him play with). It was great. And his return to daycare on Tuesday was with even more enthusiasm.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Game on, again

After failing the 16 mile long run and nursing a hurting knee through Monday, I woke up last Tuesday pretty sick. I spent all day Tuesday and half of Wednesday in bed. I worked a few hours of Wednesday from home, and returned to the office. However, I didn't feel good enough to run or work out all week. So, I went into this week's long run after a week off.

I was cautious. I did a 6:1 times run/walk, took ibuprofen before the run and at mile 8. I'm very happy to say that it went well. I ran most of the first 8 with Meg and the second 8 with Coach Mike, who is pulling for me to finish the race. I finished all 16 miles and felt so good at the end that I debated tacking on an extra two. Ultimately I decided not to press my luck. With my success this past weekend, I've decided that I will line up at the start at the Detroit Marathon, and will give it my best. If excruciating pain happens and I don't finish, I've vowed not to beat myself up about it. But I will start, and I am hopeful.

The rest of the weekend was fun! Saturday night N and I went out. I enjoyed some great scrapbooking time. I am SO CLOSE to finishing my niece's album. It will definitely be finished in time to take to the Detroit. I've had so much fun scrapping recently. N and I have had great fun talking about scrapbooking and learning from each other. I've been reading scrapbooking blogs again and browsing layouts on Another joy has been my Slice. Before I got it, I occasionally cut out words and shapes by hand. I knew I would appreciate a machine that would do that for me, but I did not know how much I would appreciate it. I've used it on almost every page since I got it. I just keep finding new ways to incorporate its goods on my pages. What did I do before?!? I am officially a huge fan. I would love to post pictures, but I don't want to spoil the "reveal" of my niece's album before giving it to them.

Tonight Meg and I went for a really fun run. It was short (2.6 miles) and FAST. It's becoming windy, that wind that sets in during the fall and stays through the thaw. It's still nice though--temperatures in the 50s and 60s through the day. It was great weather, a nice neighborhood, and of course a great running partner. I had such a good time. Then we downed cheeseburgers. Good stuff.

Mileage update--looks like I'll hit 400 for the year!
331.9 + 16.0 + 2.6 = 350.5 miles

Monday, September 21, 2009

On again, off again

After the 14 mile long run I was feeling encouraged. This week, I'm back to being unsure of the likelihood that I'll enter, much less finish, the race. I am so frustrated.

Last week I very happily plodded through my cross-training and mid-week runs. Saturday was my first (ever!) 16 mile long run. I thought things were going just fine until about mile 12, when, after walking a little bit to talk to one of my teammates, I just couldn't get going again. The outside of my knee hurt, a lot. I stopped and stretched. I tried walking on it for a while. I tried slowly jogging a few times to try to stretch the tendon back out and get going again. It just wasn't happening. So I sadly walked back to our starting area and made note of my miles for the day: 12.6 out of an attempted 16.

I am so frustrated, and more than a little bit disappointed. It's made worse by the fact that I also didn't run today because the outside of my knee is still a bit tender from Saturday.

I am going to try again this weekend, one last time. If I'm even going to attempt the race, this coming weekend has to work out. I'm amending the game plan: ibuprofen at the start and at mile 8. Timed 6:1 run/ in, I will actually wear a watch, and will police myself from the very beginning, no matter how frustrated I get with the pace. That's the plan. If it doesn't work, I will go to the race to cheer for my new teammate, Nick, who just moved here with his wife from Michigan.

So, the saddest mileage update ever:
316.2 + 3.1 + 12.6 = 331.9

On to happier things! I'm going to go scrapbook for a while before bed. This trip to Detroit includes a LONG overdue delivery of my niece's first year scrapbook.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On the mend, looking forward

Good news--the new plan seems to be working. I successfully ran 14 miles this Saturday and felt good afterward. The combination of the sleeve and ibuprofen mostly, with stretching and ice on the side, seems to be doing the trick. Who knew it would be so simple?! The hard part at this point will be getting crazy fit again in short order. Before this weekend, it had been four weeks since my last 14 milers. The 14 this weekend happened, and I'm pleased with how it went, but I did not feel as strong as I did 6 weeks ago. Moving forward, I'm planning 16 for this weekend, 18 for the following weekend, then 12 and 6 for the last two weeks before the marathon.

An update on miles shows that I've finally broken the 300-mile mark! I feel compelled to add here too that part of my recuperation includes switching one more mid-week run to a cross-training day, so while I'm working out just as much (and just as intensely), my total miles will be lower while I finish working through my IT band issues.

284.5 + 1.4 + 9.2 + 3.0 + 14.0 + 4.1 = 316.2 miles

On things not running-related:
This past weekend Elliot did something that amazed me. On Saturday afternoon, he walked into our mud room, picked up my running shoes and brought them to me. He waved them at my feet and put them on top of my feet like he wanted me to put them on. I thought he just wanted to see them on, so I put one on to model for him. He picked up the other one and waved it at me, so I put it on too. As I did that, he walked to the back door and grabbed the door knob (he can reach it, but can't turn it yet). I had no idea that he a) understood that he can't go outside alone, b) understood that you have to put your shoes on first, and c) understood the doorknob. Of course, he's never gone out alone or without shoes (beyond our driveway), and he can't use the doorknob himself, but it was his putting together the whole process of it that amazed me. It sounds so simple, but it amazed me. I love that kid.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Or plan

I went to the physical therapist on campus today and together we devised a new plan that might get me to race day. The new training schedule looks like this:

Monday--EASY run (I mean it this time...I've learned)
Wednesday--easy run (no more track workouts for me)
Friday--cross train
Saturday--long run (as much as possible)

This will be done with the help of Ibuprofen and ice massages for the swelling, stretches for the muscle, and a sleeve of a thing to go over my knee.

In the spirit of getting started, I did 30 minutes of pretty fast-paced cardio using our Eye Toy Kinetic. We bought it a few years ago and always had trouble using it in our living room. Fortunately, it works much better in the entertainment room in our basement, so I'm using it down there. After the workout I did some of the stretches I got at PT today. If all goes well, I'll get back on schedule day-by-day next week. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

taking a week off

I thought that if I did a walk/run, I could get through my 16 miles this weekend. I tried. I made it through 8 miles and later wished I hadn't even done that. The knee is not better. So as an extreme act of preservation, I'm taking the week off. Through all of this, I have appreciated an amazingly supporting team. Two of them offered contact info for a massage therapist. Another brought a foam roller for me to try out. There has been a lot of support and encouragement, and I have appreciated it a lot.

Adding Wednesday and Saturday miles:
273.0 + 3.5 + 8.0 = 284.5 miles

In other news, yesterday I went to my first crop (marathon scrapbooking party). I was there for 9 hours and finished 6 pages. I had a lot of fun!! It was fun to see the younger girls there (high school age). There wasn't much to do in my town when I was a teenager, so seeing them made me realize what a nice, safe option it was for teens. Damaris schooled me on adhesives. I learned how much Jaymie loves embellishments. I saw the incredible range of tools people have. There was an entire table of Cricuts!I hope to go to another one sometime.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A bump in the road...

Metaphorically, of course. Otherwise, in Illinois, we'd call it a hill. Here's the deal: some time between Rock & Roll and the 14 miler, my right knee started bothering me. At first it wasn't much, so I decided to largely ignore it and hope it would go away, as aches and pains often do. It got worse. So much so, in fact, that what I didn't say in my last post is that after the 14-miler, I went home and soaked in a tub of the coldest water my house could produce. I actually carried a bucket of ice to the bath tub with me before deciding that the water was cold enough on its own. It hurt through an otherwise fabulous 3.4 mile run with Meg last week (area we don't usually run! beautiful weather! good venting!). It hurt enough for this past Saturday's long run (scheduled for 9 miles) that I ran-walked 6.6 miles and called it a day. I ran 3.9 miles tonight, came home to a bag of ice, and it still hurts 2+ hours later. The IT band across my right knee is furious.

I am seeking help. I have a marathon to run in less than 2 months and I really, really want it to happen. I'm going to a highly-recommended therapist on Wednesday, and plan to see my doctor on campus, hoping for a referral to the sports medicine clinic on campus. I will be icing regularly, and may look into getting a foam roller. If anyone out there has successfully emerged from IT band issues, please advise me! This sucks.

On the bright side, the weather here recently has been really something to write home about. Summer only got hot for portions of two weeks this year. It's starting to feel like fall. My officemate said today that he's a bit miffed at nature for not coming through on delivering summertime, but I think it's been great. The beginning of fall makes me want to bust out good fall clothes, for both running and work. It makes me crazy for Penn State football. It makes me want to bake until I run out of flour and sugar. We have some warm days left, but fall is giving us notice.

251.8 + 5.3 + 2.0 + 3.4 + 6.6 + 3.9 = 273.0 miles

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mileage hike

Not much for this post other than an update on miles:

235.2 + 2.6 + 14.0 = 251.8 miles

My first 14-miler of the season was this morning. I ran the first 8 by myself then the last 6 with Coach Mike. I held my normal Saturday pace for the first 8. The last 6 slowed down a little bit overall, but not too much. I walked about .7 miles of it. It was pretty hot and humid out, so speed just was not happening. The 2.6 miles posted here was an early morning run yesterday. It was mostly for recovery from Wednesday--work out the stiffness, keep everything limber and in shape for today's long run.

We've had a lot of fun events here recently. Last night we met up with friends who have moved away and were in town for the state fair. It was great to see them and to have Elliot spend time with them. Thursday night was the Team victory party for all the Rock & Roll participants. I'll post a picture when I get one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tonight we ran like crazy people

I don't have enough good things to say about running this week. I seem to be on a multi-day runner's high. But let me back up. On Saturday, Meg and I ran the slowest 6 miles I think we've ever done, and it hurt (for me, at least. I think she was fine). My calves still felt shredded from the race. I babied them through the rest of the weekend and through the day on Monday. Then Monday night I went for my early-week run....and just let it all out. I tore through a 3.9 mile course. If it was hot or humid, I honestly didn't even notice. The sunset was beautiful. I felt great. It was a perfect release from the admittedly overwhelming anxiety I'm feeling right now in other aspects of life.

Yesterday I did yoga. It's good for the soul, the legs, and even the upper body. I felt good about it.

Tonight at the track, we ran like crazy people. The workout went like this:
1 x 1000 m. (0.62 miles)
1 x 2000 m. (1.25 miles)
2 x 1000 m. with a 400 walk break in between (2 x 0.62 miles)
Total: 3.1 miles (plus a 0.75 mi. warm-up and cool-down)

We held a respectable pace through the first 1000 m. Meg led the way through a grinding 2000 m. interval (I don't know what the total time was, but the mile portion of it was 8:20 I think). Then Allison and I positively tore through the last two 1000 m. intervals. We ran 1:50ish quarters, 3:45ish 800s (I can't really remember the times, but it's around there somewhere--Coach Mike, feel free to interject here). And, hold on to your hats, it was great. I had SO much fun doing it. I feel like I'm on top of my game. I feel good. I seem to have found my happy running place.

Tomorrow is a rest day, then Friday morning I'll do a few easy miles. Saturday is a 14 mile long run.

All of this keeps me sane.

218.2 + 2.5 + 6.0 + 3.85 + 4.6 = 235.2

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting to know Elliot

The other day as I was getting something out of the oven, I remembered being pregnant and telling my friend Marla how odd it seemed to grow a person in my belly and know only two things about them: it was a boy and he hated heat. Remembering that moment, I decided I wanted to stop and record the things I know about him now, at 14 months.
  1. He loves anything on wheels. On walks, he inspects every parked car. He also loves toy cars and trucks.
  2. He loves being read to, especially right before bedtime.
  3. He's a talker! Sometimes he lectures us, sometimes he's telling jokes, sometimes stories--all in unintelligible baby garble, of course!
  4. He's blond, with dark blue eyes that have small brown rings. His eyes and (I think) mouth are shaped like mine, but overall he looks more like Brendan. He has Brendan's nose and coloring. He has awesome dimples.
  5. On his play & learn table he shows a consistent preference for the banjo music/movement to the other instruments.
  6. He loves to dig things out of his toy box, sometimes to the point of almost falling into the toy box.
  7. Cell phones and remote controls are his cryptonite.
  8. He loves applesauce.
  9. The blue lids that come on Ziploc disposable storage containers are lots of fun. We almost never have many in the drawer because every day he takes them out to play with them. After slobbering on them, he even sometimes puts them back. :)
  10. He hates grass. I have no idea why. He will play with grass clippings, but will not voluntarily walk on grass and screams if you put him on the lawn, sometimes even with shoes on. He finds it especially not entertaining to be put in the yard and then sprinkled lightly by the garden hose on a hot day.
  11. His most coveted toy is the grill. He simply does not understand why he can't play with it, and that pisses him off.
  12. There are only two things Elliot consistently dislikes. The first is grass (see above). The second is knowing that someone is in the bathroom. It matters not whether he's home with both parents or just one of us. If either of us goes into the half bath and closes the door, he takes up his post, where he hits the door, tries to cram his hands underneath, and talks/yells at whoever is in the bathroom. Why? I have no idea. It sounds annoying, but it's actually really cute.
  13. He loves dogs. There are a few at daycare that are great with the kids and vice versa.
  14. Every time he sneezes, he smiles or laughs.
  15. We think he could find a bag of Cheerios in the middle of a corn field (we live in IL)
Those of you who see him, please feel free to add to this list!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rock & Roll!!

Yesterday was the inaugural Chicago Rock & Roll Half-Marathon! We made it to race day!! I don't have much time to write, but I had such a good time, I have been looking forward to posting some pictures.

The basics: The weather was perfect. It was in the 70s with less humidity (I think) than was expected. It was so perfect, in fact, that I didn't even think about the weather until a slight breeze came up from the lake front, but even that died down quickly. It was perfect.

My finishing time was 2:06:09. That's almost 6 minutes faster than I ran the (almost identically) same course two years ago (pre-baby!) and over 2 minutes faster than I ran Indy last October. My ultimate goal is to run a half in two hours flat. Of course I hoped to do that, but my realistic goal was to beat my previous best race time, and I did that. I am more than pleased!! The only thing that could have made the race more enjoyable and possibly faster would have been Meg, but there will be more races.

Brendan and Elliot came with me to this race, and my friend Lynn met them there. I saw Brendan and Elliot between miles 4 and 5. I have to be honest, seeing Elliot watch all the runners choked me up for a minute. He didn't even see me, but that was ok. Just knowing that he was part of this was touching. Brendan did a fantastic job of containing Elliot and helping him to enjoy the weekend. The only major kid-related snafu all weekend came on the trip home, when I turned around to see that he had spilled milk all over himself, the car seat, the car, etc., after he was already mad about being cooped up in the car. These things happen. We did finally make it home and even got to the tail end of N's graduation party.

One huge lesson learned this time around: it helps to know the course. Having done essentially the same course two years ago, I knew where the harder parts would be, and planned accordingly. I really believe that the combination of good weather and knowing the course helped me to lower my finishing time. After the mileage update, some pictures!

193.4 + 6 + 3.25 + 2.45 + 13.1 = 218.2 miles

Elliot with Honey at Lynn's parents' place

Lynn and me after the race

Elliot and his sweaty Mama after the race

Me (on the left in the purple shirt) somewhere between miles 4 and 5

Friday, July 24, 2009

Catching up while waiting for data

Mileage update:
154.6 + 38.8 = 193.4

Between this afternoon and tomorrow, I should hit the 200 mile mark!

Rock & Roll Chicago is in 9 days. I'm very carefully tapering--watching food (or trying), keeping each run at an intentional pace and distance--all those things. I'm feeling good about race day. Last week and this week at track practice we did 800 workouts (half-mile intervals). Last week I was running each interval in 3:55. This week I ran each in 3:50 (give or take a second, in general). Both weeks, the workout felt comfortable, and even more so this week even though I was faster. So, I'm feeling good about where I'm at physically. I'm pretty excited about the race! Now we're all just praying for good weather.

In other news, life is going about at its insane pace. Elliot is finally having the surgery to open his blocked tear duct (in his left eye). I'm so thankful that we have access to the medical resources needed to safely get it taken care of! That thankfulness is tempered by the unending doctor's appointments, phone calls, and cost associated with such treatment. But nonetheless, I'm happy for Elliot that he won't continue to have incessant goop in his left eye.

As for me, I've been making great progress on the last paper of my dissertation. I've had to ease up working on it in the last week though to focus on getting ready for conferences and related professional endeavors. I'm getting ready to head out to two conferences, which thankfully are both within driving distance. I'm pretty excited about them. They are both good places to meet potential employers, and they are both a little less stressful than the conferences I'll go to in the fall. I'm happy to have lower-stress places to debut my dissertation work and smooth out the wrinkles in what will become my job talk. I do not plan to discuss job applications here, but will say that the season is slowly starting, and with it, B and I are starting to have long conversations about where we can see ourselves living, and how we might plot out a future in which we both can find fulfilling careers.

Finally, a few shout outs.
  1. A HUGE congratulations to N for the successful defense of her dissertation!
  2. I've said it privately, but want to say publicly how proud I am of my Dad for doing something that he enjoys, and not just doing it, but making it an integral part of his life. Check out his website here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

just busy

mileage update:
125.5 + 8.3 + 4.1 + 4.0 + 5.9 + 3.75 + 3.0 = 154.6

The all-team training was great, both because I got to see some new faces and because I got to run a different course once mid-season. A new course is great for two reasons. The first reason is obvious--just simple variety. The second is less obvious. On race day, you're (usually) on a course you don't know by heart. You don't know, for instance, that there's a 0.2% grade from mile 2 to 5, which is virtually invisible to the naked eye but painfully obvious to your legs. You don't immediately know what is causing the drag or when it will end. Exposing yourself to that kind of uncertainty during training only prepares you better for the big day.

Speaking of the big day--it's only three weeks until Rock & Roll Chicago! I'm not sure I'm feeling as prepared as I would like, but even so I'm really looking forward to race day. The course looks good, and all the bands will be great to have on the course. AND, today I reserved a hotel room for the Detroit Free Press Marathon. I registered for it a while ago and have been training with it in mind all spring and summer. It's really happening. It's going to be a great weekend.

Training news: tomorrow is our first 10-miler for the season.

Aside from running, life has been crazy busy recently! I've been working overtime on my dissertation, which is going well. A few job postings are surfacing with January start dates, so I'm starting to consider those. I have two conferences coming up, other professional commitments, and one very active one year old. Our dear friends and Elliot's God parents, MJ and JT, are moving to Iowa this weekend. We're happy to see them moving into a great opportunity, but are really sad to see them, their son, and their bun in the oven moving a few hours away.

There's been so much going on that, despite my best intentions, I feel overwhelmed by the thought of really outlining it all right now. I'm gonna turn in for the night, and maybe get into more detail here later.

Friday, June 26, 2009

quick update

Mostly just a quick mileage update:

106.2 + 3.0 + 8.0 + 2.8 + 2.75 + 2.75 = 125.5 miles

Tomorrow is our second 8-mile long run. I'll be joining other regional TNT chapters for an all-team Saturday. New trail, new running buddies, here I come!

We're getting ready for a Team yard sale, scheduled for July 18. If you have items you'd like to donate, please let me know!

Monday, June 15, 2009


It's bad when I have to get out my weekly planner to remember what all needs to go into updating my blog. It's not all crazy busyness though! Part of the distractions recently have been fabulous--a trip to the beach and a visit from my parents. Before I get into all that though, a mileage update. I've officially (finally) broken the 100-mile mark.

82.4 + 3.0 + 6.0 + 3.25 + 3.0 + 6.0 + 2.5 = 106.15

Things here got totally nutsy after my Mom's Swine Flu diagnosis, mostly because she and my Dad were scheduled to fly out here and babysit while Brendan and I were to go on vacation (I have a thing about not announcing vacations beforehand--something about posting online that my house will be empty totally creeps me out). So for a few days we were weighing whether to cancel or reschedule the trip, take Elliot with us, or leave him with a dear friend (who is completely amazing for agreeing to take him). In the end, my Dad never got flu symptoms, so he came out as planned and my Mom came out last Tuesday, after the doctor cleared her for travel and babysitting. So where did we go, you might ask. The answer--Miami Beach. And it was everything I had hoped for. Beautiful, clear beaches, nice weather, a comfy bed (in which we slept past 6:30 am), and time with my hubby away from work. We got to see our friends Junior and Melissa one evening, which we really enjoyed. We also went para-sailing, rented a wave runner, and ate some awesome Cuban food. I also discovered the Mojito. Have one. They're delicious. Here are a few pictures.

We arrived back in IL on Thursday (6/11), my Dad's birthday. Because it was both his birthday and we were in denial about the end of vaca, we went out to dinner at one of our favorite local places. On Friday, Brendan sadly had to return to work. I, on the other hand, played hooky and took my parents to Springfield to tour the Dana-Thomas House. It was an absolutely perfect day. I can't say enough good things about Springfield in terms of its preparedness for tourism. I didn't even print directions, we just drove there and easily found both the visitors center and nearby parking. Inside, they had walking and driving directions to nearby restaurants and attractions. While walking to a nearby restaurant (which was amazing) for lunch, someone from the visitors center asked if we were finding everything. I was totally impressed. And it didn't stop there. The tour of the Dana-Thomas House was also excellent. The tour started with a short video, then a volunteer led us through the 1902 Frank Lloyd Wright house. We weren't permitted to take pictures inside the house, but my Mom did take a few outside, which I'll post when she sends them. The inside has two (?) barrel vaulted ceilings, which I'm not sure I've ever seen in American residential architecture. He used them a few other times in his houses, apparently, though they are not a common feature of his design. The predominant theme in the art glass is an interpretation of Sumac, which I liked. There was a secondary butterfly theme in the glass, but the Sumac is the clear star. There are three musicians balconies in the house. Can you imagine having a quartet playing above your dining room? Wild. After the tour we went back to the restaurant where we'd had lunch and had some dessert before leaving town. It was a great outing.

On their last night in town, my Mom got some last Grandmothering in. I couldn't resist capturing it.

On Saturday morning I went to the park half an hour early to start my 6-mile long run, then came home to pick up Mom and Dad and take them to the airport. We finished out the weekend with a totally unplanned picnic with friends after church. I love, LOVE feeling like I have friends to whom I can say, "Hey, wanna go home, grab whatever you have in the 'fridge, and meet us at a park in an hour?" And they do. They show up, and we have a great time. That's what it feels like to feel at home someplace. And I love it. I finished the weekend by baking a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread, scrapbooking, and watching In Plain Sight with Brendan.

This morning I jumped back into the reality pool with both feet. I'm feeling the pressure to keep moving my dissertation along. Today was the goal deadline I'd set for myself to finish the all-but-the-data draft of my third paper. I have most of that draft finished, but I've also done a significant amount of the data work, so I think I'm on track. Determined to inject something pleasant into the chaos, I went for my run after dinner. It was cool, and sunset was nice, and I settled in and enjoyed a short 2.5 mile run. I'm sort of inspired by stress to purposefully inject fun, even just small snippets, into as many evenings as possible. It makes for a nice life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

a decision on races

First, a mileage update
74.4 + 8 = 82.4 (5 this past Saturday and 3 today at the track. Running got a little fuzzy in between)

And finally, I have chosen my races for fall. I will be running the Chicago Rock & Roll Half in August, and the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October. I'm excited now that I have these decisions nailed down. I hear great things about the Detroit course, plus I'll get to see The Detroit Contingency (brother + sis-in-law + niece).

Otherwise in life, things have been a little bit crazy here. I think most of you know this already--my Mom has swine flu. Seriously. So it's been crazy getting up to speed on that and rearranging life a bit to accommodate the doctor-prescribed quarantine. She's feeling mostly better, and is medicated, thank goodness! My mother-in-law was visiting last weekend. She hadn't seen Elliot since Christmas! It was long overdue. She went with us to look at the proofs from his one year portraits. We also took E to the park on Saturday, and had a nice dinner out on Sunday at a local Mexican place. It was a nice weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

first track practice

Today was the first track workout of the season, and with little surprise, it kicked my butt. My leg muscles have been really tight recently. So tight, in fact, that I went home and iced them after practice, and during practice I felt like my legs just wouldn't move. I'm not sure what the deal is. If you have insights, leave a comment and let me know! The workout itself was one of my favorites--6 x 400m. I ran each 400 between 1:37 and 1:50. Big range, I know. I blame the fast early intervals on peer pressure. :)

71.4 + 3 = 74.4 miles

Before practice, Meg (who, thank goodness, has some time off from work) and I went to Body & Sole so I could get some new shoes. Here's a recap: we walked in and a sales person greeted us. I held up my old shoes and said "I need a new pair of these." He got said pair of shoes from the back. As we were waiting for him, I thought I might check out some other shoes just in case there was something else great out there. So when he came back I said, pointing at Meg, "she has these shoes now, but before she had these she had Saucony's and liked them better. I thought maybe I should try on a pair and see if I like them better, too." The sales person laughed (a habitual, nervous sort of laugh) and said, "Oh, I thought you were starting a story of something she wanted to say and you were just going to speak for her and not let her talk." A few minutes later he said that one of us smelled nice. The whole interaction was vaguely awkward. However, my new shoes are in much nicer colors than my old ones. They're shiny, and that makes me happy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

All over the place

I am waaaaaay behind on updating miles. Here's the update:
Monday/Tuesday = 6.0 miles
Thursday = 2.0 miles
Saturday = 3.7
today = 2.4
Total = 14.1
57.3 + 14.1 = 71.4 miles

Otherwise, things have been up and down here. My aunt (Mom's sister) died in a car accident on May 16. I made the trip to Pennsylvania sans husband and baby. I wanted to be there for my Mom and family. My brother also made the trip from Michigan. It was really nice to see my cousins, but of course we all wished it could have been under better circumstances.

This weekend my brother, sister-in-law, and niece came to visit to celebrate Elliot's birthday and hang out. It was a weekend filled with good food and good company. We had a batch of the filled pancakes in my new pan, dinners of tri-meat kabobs, homemade pizzas with beer crust and great toppings, and chicken oro bianco. I also made cupcakes for Elliot's birthday. We went shopping, stayed up late playing games, and hung out. I bought a shirt over my sister-in-laws objections (it was fun!). Dan, for funsies, changed my homepage to the Youtube video for my least favorite song on the planet just before he left. We had a good time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

miles and the jogging stroller

51.6 + 5.7 = 57.3 miles

Two of the 5.7 new miles were spent pushing my 21 lb. son in a jogging stroller. I had imaged this would be easy. Not so much. If you ever want a great arm workout while running, give it a try! He seemed to enjoy going for a run with me, and I was glad to try it out. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the people who do races while pushing their handicapped/sick children. They always inspired me, but now to a whole new level.

Monday, May 11, 2009

100th post & Mothers Day

My running-themed blog has hit a mile marker--it's 100th post! I honestly wasn't sure blogging would be a good format for me, but it's turned out to be a nice way to record and share things, running and otherwise.

I mostly wanted to write about my first Mothers Day with a baby breathing outside air (I was enormously pregnant last Mothers Day). It was a perfect day, all around. My husband let me sleep in, which is pure luxury these days. I woke up at 8 to eat breakfast, then went back to sleep until 9 or so. I got up and went to church, then came home and started making a huge brunch to share with my boys and our friends K and N. While I was cooking, B brought me these flowers, because he's wonderful. Both he and Elliot gave me cards, too. Elliot even adorably signed his card (with help from Dad).

For brunch we had sausage, hash browns, toast, fruit, and filled pancakes made in my new pancake pan. I saw this in a catalog a while ago and really wanted it, so B bought it for me for my birthday. A picture of the first batch is below. As you can see a few are a bit darker than is probably optimal, so I need to refine my technique a bit. That aside, I loved them. We filled them with blueberries, chocolate chips, peanut butter, pb & chocolate chips, and blueberries & chocolate chips. Making them is a bit more involved that I'd envisioned, but not difficult. I don't really like pancakes and I loved these. As my husband's family says, they're a "be back." After lunch we played frisbee outside for a good long while. It was perfect weather, enjoyed pleasantly with good food and friends. What else could I ask for?

And before I forget, mileage update: 48.6 + 3 = 51.6

Saturday, May 9, 2009

starting a new season

Today was officially the start of training for Chicago. It was a great morning for it--cool, no rain. As I ran the 3.7 mile course, I remembered that it made 5 runs since I updated miles on here. So, before I forget again,

33.9 + 14.7 = 48.6

Still not a lot of miles for the year, but it will go up quickly over the next few months.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's a good thing I like to run...

I'll just say it without introduction--I love to bake. I love to watch baked goods come together in my kitchen, knowing that lesser products are bought much more expensively every day at grocery store bakeries. I love the smell of freshly baked bread. I love knowing what's in my bread. I love sweets (hence the title of this post). I love it all. I've tried a few new recipes recently and have enjoyed them so much I decided to share.

Up first is cinnamon raisin swirl bread, from Betty Crocker's Bridal Edition Cookbook. I initially made it at my husband's request. After I saw the first loaf though, I fell for it. Here's a picture of the current loaf.

One of my best friends and I both had birthdays in the last two weeks. We always celebrate together, but she was out of town visiting her family this year, so we postponed until tonight. To celebrate, we and our husbands decided to go out for dinner then have a homemade dessert from the cookbook she gave me for Christmas. We chose "Vanilla bean with white chocolate buttercream." I learned SO much about cake baking from this recipe. It calls for a vanilla bean, which I had never used. The recipe calls for three 8" layers, but no one owns 8" cake pans, so I adjusted the recipe to use 9" pans. Also, the icing follows a recipe with several elements I'd never seen before. It took three trips to the store and several hours of baking (some with assistance from my husband) to get it right. In short, it took some commitment. Like most things, it will be much easier the second time around. My husband insists that I tell you how good the cake was, to clarify that it was well worth the effort. And well...I was pleased. So, here is the 2009 birthday cake:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

waiting for data

Yes, I'm doing the unthinkable and posting to my blog while at work. I'm waiting for data and really have nothing else to do, so I decided it was a good time to update the blog. It's just been an insanely hectic spring. I'll try to pick out some highlights to catch up on the month of April, in roughly chronological order.

I got the month started on a good note, by passing my prelim on April 1. For those of you who are not insane and consequently pursuing a PhD, the prelim is the second of the three big hurdles of a PhD program. The first is the qualifying exam, which is usually an exam covering coursework. The second is the prelim, which is a defense of a dissertation proposal. I've learned that this means different things for different programs. Sometimes passing it is permission to start research. In my case, I had already done a significant portion of the research. It was a mid-process check with my committee and a time for their input on my ideas to move forward. I was pretty anxious going in, but it turned out to be a really constructive exam.

Easter weekend I went to Chicago just to get away for a weekend. It was long overdue and much needed! I went on Saturday morning and came back on Sunday evening. On Saturday I ran around with my friend Lynn. That evening we had dinner with her husband and a good friend of theirs from college. On Sunday I slept in (which was half of the point of going) then went to the Art Institute for a few hours, then headed back to the hotel to get my things and head to the train station. It was my first night away from Elliot since he was born. This trip has made it clear to me that the occasional weekend getaway is a great thing. Everyone needs a break every now and then!

This past weekend I bought a new car. This had been a long time in the coming. Two weeks prior Brendan and I spent a lot of time talking about whether it was worth it to keep up the maintenance and repairs on my Sable or replace it, and we decided it was much more practical to replace it. I loved my Sable. I'd had it for over 7 years and put over 70,000 miles on it. It was 13 years old with 129,000 miles. I loved that car. It had been my Grampa's and felt in some way like an extension of him. But, it was time to move on. So after a lot of tears I forced myself to go look at cars. After much test driving and hours spent on Edmunds, I decided on a 2009 Toyota Prius. I will post pictures of both the Sable and Prius when I get home. I'm still taking nominations for names for the new car. Please make suggestions!

Throughout all of this I've also been working on a scrapbook for my niece, Nadia. It's coming along. I just finished a spread for February that I'm particularly happy with. I'm currently on the Christmas pages (I'm doing them very much out of order). I'll post some pictures when the whole album is finished and given to the proud parents. In the meantime, suffice to say I'm really enjoying working on it. As N says, hobbies keep us sane.

Saturday night we went to card club, a monthly get-together of us and five other couples we're friends with. It's always a good time. We found out that one of the couples is expecting their third child. We're really happy for them!

Monday (two days ago), Elliot took his first unassisted step! I didn't even see it. Brendan was playing with him in the living room while I was working in the kitchen. Brendan said he took one step then fell over. I haven't seen him try again since then. He's happy cruising and using his new walker toy (thank you, Lisa!). We'll get pictures/video as soon as we can. I think he'll start walking more regularly in no time, but we'll see. I just love to watch him figure things out. His other new trick is turning on the water in the bathtub while I'm getting ready for work in the mornings. I think he's pretty much the greatest kid ever.