Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are Legwarmers Still Cool?

I think if my legs were as speedy as my fingers I would probably have qualified for Boston and NYC ten times over. Typing, piano, doodling, drawing, painting, sewing, and crocheting. As an toddler (I think maybe 18 months old?), my mother said on of my favorite things to do was to sit on the table with two-liter soda bottles just unscrewing and screwing the caps on and off. Fast, chubby, little hands. What a little weirdo! Hmmm. I’m still kinda weird. And a shorty. So… still a valid moniker.

So. (Did you notice I love the word “so”?) I have blurry, crappy photos for you from one of my guest rooms – the only room with a full length (dusty) mirror – of my latest creation which I bravely decided to wear to work today (we have a liberal dress code but leg warmers are always, well, potentially pushing the envelope, though if we were a marketing/design firm, this would be fair game! I’ll just pretend I’m an infinitely cooler version of Chacha who is actually a  graphic designer rather than a dorky programmer and can pull off leg warmers). Longest parenthesis wordage ever.

2010-10-26 08.18.23

2010-10-26 08.20.54

Seriously, I think I am going to make a foray into the Etsy business. The price for legwarmers on there is like $20 minimum and they aren’t even as cute as mine. Really. I would happily take $20 for a pair I make. With gusto! And the cowl neck scarves on Etsy? Also pricey and I would, again, take $25-30 and mine are just as cute, if not cuter! Who hearts herself entirely too much?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Faulty Verbal Filter

Stupid things said this weekend both out loud and in my head:

“I thought you were a woman.”

“Please don’t shit on me.”

Not surprisingly enough, both said in the context of running.

I was finishing up 8 miles this morning (after yesterday’s race – more on that later) – at a gingerly pace of 9:07 – a flock of birds flew overhead and I was brought back to when I was 8 years old standing outside in my catholic school uniform and felt something hot land on my shoulder. Hot Pigeon Poo. I swear that shit was on fire. As the 10+ seagulls or pigeons flew over this morning as I ran, I couldn’t help saying a silent prayer of “please don’t shit on me.” Because it would be no fun buying bathroom mirror removal tools at harbor freight tools and then driving 15 minutes home, sweaty and tired from my run with stinky caustic bird crap in my hair.

On Saturday, I decided to take advantage of my open weekend (scheduling was such that I am not teaching yoga until November 13) and run a Saturday race. That coupled with the prospect of placing in my age group and getting a medal and I was sold. Even if that medal was like taking candy from a baby.

My legs were rested enough to handle a 5-mile race (which I haven’t done since the Summer Solstice Watermelon Run in Long Beach circa 2003 – when I was two age groups younger [sigh]. Finished 41:37, I think). It would also give me an idea of what time to shoot for in my city’s upcoming Turkey Trot (of which I have only missed the inaugural year because I was stuck in Real Estate Hell Inland Empire).

I drove 60 minutes north to the 56th Annual Distance Derby and found quite a nice little race. Seriously, the more I do the smaller races the more I hate the bigger ones. I got more swag - random swag  like Boil in a Bag rice and automative rubber/vinyl spray protectant (odd race goodies right?) – but a package of Clif Bloks was very awesome. And it was chip timed and I didn’t even need it. The 5-mile was half the size of the 10 mile; all the fast runners did the 10 and the less intense runners did the 5. It was the first time I have run a race, in adulthood, where I could count the women ahead of me during the race. I was 5th for the first half, then got passed by a runner that I had no chance of beating (hello, go out too fast much? Yeah. 7:26 first mile. Too fast). I was passed once more, but I so could have beaten her. I just doubted myself. She finished 6 seconds ahead. I finished as the 7th woman and I knew my place the entire time which was weird for me. I’m never that far up in the field even in a small race.

About 20 yards to the finish, this guy started yelling to someone behind me “Go! Go get her!” All I could think was that it was another chick and “Hell NO!!!” I was not getting passed by another female. I was shocked at the kick I had left (which is why I think I could have beaten the other chick). I finished and looked to my left and there was this dude who told me: “Nice kick!” And me, with my foot permanently implanted in my mouth, replied: “I thought you were a woman.”

Wouldn’t have “Thanks!” been a good enough response? Verbal diarrhea is what it is. He looked at me like I had just told him Betty White is a hot piece of ass. I then had to explain that, “I was more concerned with another chick passing me than a guy” which seemed to smooth things over a bit and he then asked me what time we came in. So I felt less like an awkward butthole.

My time was 39:06 – more than 2 minutes faster than when I was at my fastest after San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon in 2003. Sweeeeet. First in my age group – though I have to say that this 1st was less triumphant than the 3rd I got 6 months ago at a 5k in Irvine. I am faster now but I feel like I worked harder for that 3rd. This felt too easy  – the 2nd place person was 44+ minutes. The 3rd place finish in February I just barely beat out #4 by 10 seconds or so.

On the  craft and home front, I have finished another cowl neck scarf and just about finished a pair of legwarmers (I need to scare up a couple buttons to finish them off). I am seriously considering selling some of these things, they are turning out cute! The cowls on Etsy are a bit high on the price but the materials cost nothing and I like doing it. So, maybe my low prices (that’s a low price!) will get me some sales.

The Huz and his buddy removed the bathroom mirror and it went off without a hitch thanks to the suction cup glass holder things. I wasted $25 on windshield removal kit since I had read it was useful in removing large wall mounted mirrors. Lesson learned. We also had to replace our shower head this weekend too since the old one decided to spring a leak and spray the entire bathroom on Monday. I decided that since that master bath is going to get an overhaul (it’s next in line) I would just get a cheap one at the place I hate to love, Walmart. They converted our stores to Supercenters so it’s even more of a draw now. We have three Supercenter Walmarts in our city. Might as well be a monopoly at this point.

Gotta go make coffee now – I finished up this post in the AM and it’s still dark out (hate this shortening of the days – boooo). And what’s with all this rain in October? I’ll take it over a crazy forest fire, but it’s still kinda weird.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Long Beach Half Marathon: At Times, a Total CF

And I don’t mean “Capillary Flow” or “Compact Fluorescent.”

I’ll start out by saying, initially (i.e. before race day), I was impressed with the race organization, the materials, the website, the price, etc. The expo was small and little to no shwag – though Clif did have this big sample thing where I tried everything and saved two clif bloks in a coffee cup (because I am cheap) for race day (and I totally used them – I shoved them into my already open pack of blocks). The technical tee is actually quite nice though I wish there were more races that did tanks because I much prefer running in tanks over anything with sleeves.

Our goodie back also contained a Chocolate Clif Shot and a little package of Don Francisco Breakfast Blend ground coffee. I’m drinking the coffee as I write this. Mr. Francisco makes a decent cup of joe.

Anyway, so, we stayed at a hotel about a 10-15 minute walk from the start. Left the hotel at 5:45/6am to walk over (my wave - #2 - was scheduled for 7:05am). We make a stop at Starbucks inside the Renaissance Hotel and my two friends used the restrooms there (I was waiting for more “activity” in my body before using a rest room). We spent a bit too much time there and this was mistake #2 (#1 would have been to leave even earlier than 6am). We got to the start around 6:40am, find the bag check and wait 5-7 minutes checking the one bag. This would later be mistake #3 on our part. From here on out, the rest I blame on the race organization. And our mistakes would not have been mistakes with a better organized race.

We find the porta potty (i.e. big-blue-shit-box) line and holy moly. WTF. There was no way I could NOT go – it was urgent, if you get what I am saying. My race buddies also had to go, so, we got in the damn line. We waited at least 20 minutes to use one. Not nearly enough to service the number of runners (18000!). Also? No toilet paper left. FAIL TO THE MAX. Luckily, my one runner pal is always prepared and grabbed the roll from the hotel knowing that this would be an issue. Otherwise I would have been wiping my ass with seat liners.

This is where my non-stop complaining about the race began. As you would expect, I missed my wave. I get out of the porta-john, and walk/jog over to the corrals (which wasn’t even close to the potties) and go in through the back, missing the other side entrance that dumps you into the further ahead corrals. When you’re short, and there are people everywhere, it’s hard to see what the heck is going on. I end up in wave 6. The LAST wave. Apparently, 30% of this wave was people like me who got screwed by the porta line. I got as far up as I could before I just couldn’t move up anymore. I didn’t start until 7:34. I ran into one girl who was running the full and supposed to be in wave 1. I hope that it went OK for her and that she wasn’t trying to BQ from wave 6.

I spent nearly all but the last two miles of the race dodging and weaving. Wave 6 is like a 13 minute mile and higher. I was running 8:30 pace. You can see how that really doesn’t work. Oh, the grumbling and huffing I was doing in my head AND out loud. I swore under my breath more times than I can remember. When I had the energy, I would say “excuse me” or “thanks”. Some runners were really thoughtful and knew when they were part of a block and would speed up/slow down to relieve it – I thanked one guy for helping me out that way – he sped up big time to let me through. Other runners were completely oblivious and would create a wall, shoulder-to-shoulder. The first time I had to run all the way around one group (another runner dude was into the sand, running around them). The second time it happed I got pissed and as I ran up behind them I said “You are all running shoulder-to-shoulder! Excuse me!” This was like mile 8 or so. I was fed up at this point – I could not keep my mouth shut.

Honestly, I feel really bad about all the elbows and arms of runners I bumped into – it wasn’t their fault that I got stuck. It was the damn bathroom line and our later arrival, to a lesser degree. I was trying my best to courteously dart around but it was challenging as the race was packed.

So, that is another issue – the course is actually quite nice. Except for the fact that you have 18000 runners starting together and at mile 6 it narrows to the width of a wide single car lane. Dumb. This mile is where I had my slowest by 20 seconds. I just couldn’t move.

The last mile, the winner of the men’s marathon (and the second place runner) came running by and that was a total boost for me to kick it into gear. It has a downhill finish which was great and the crowd had finally thinned (a bit – I did have to dodge a couple people in the last mile). I finished 1:54:12. And AGAIN I ran longer, 13.24 miles probably because of all the weaving. I was determined to know what time I actually ran for 13.1 miles, so I hit the lap button when I got to that distance – a time of 1:53:05. Had this race not been such a mess for me, I think I could have been in the 1:52’s. Which means I was really pretty damn close to wave 1 (1:34 – 1:51). But I started in wave 6. Nice.

Splits (you can see how I was running all over the place since my best pace was consistently the 7’s but my miles were 8.5-ish):

Split Time Best Pace
1 8:31






4 8:42 7:30
5 8:26 5:38
6 8:55 8:15
7 8:37 7:30
8 8:40 7:13
9 8:41 7:38
10 8:43 8:07
11 8:44 7:54
12 8:43 8:13
13 8:28 7:20
14 0:48 7:18
15 1:02 7:05
Summary 1:54:12 5:38

The fun does not end here though. This is when the real cluster f--- begins.

I cross the finish and somehow miss the water. They only had water bottles one hot second after the finish line. I was EXHAUSTED. By the time my brain processed that I needed water, there was none to be found. I was at the food baggie line and 10 year olds were handing them out – I tried asking them but, seriously, they’re in grade school. I just got blank stares and the “I don’t know” face. Another runner heard me ask and was so flippin’ nice, she gave me her extra bottle. I could have kissed her was I not covered in salt and smelly-ness. To not have more locations with water was kind of a fail.

I was supposed to meet my friends on the other side where the porta-johns were. Well, there was only one way over to that side (and the idea of waiting around in the madness trying to find them on the finish line side was just not happening) via pedestrian bridge. Another 20 minute line to cross a smelly fart chute. Seriously, the bridge smelled of BO and farts from all the runners going through. Again. Fail. More grumbling.

The true epic fail came when I went to get my bag from the check. We were sitting on the grass behind the tent waiting for our other friend to cross the finish and I get up to get in line and realize, holy smokes, the line extends all the way to Jerusalem and another line extends to Shanghai. I get in the line and wait for MORE THAN AN HOUR. A friend comes and stands in for me (since he didn’t run and felt like I should go sit down for a bit). I go sit by the tent and see that someone is opening up the back of the tent. All the fed-up runners tired of waiting for hours to get their bag, essentially, storm the tent and take matters into their own hands.

I go in there and there are runners everywhere. People at the front are just holding up their numbers hoping that a frazzled volunteer will find their bags. The three volunteers in there are losing their minds. Actually, two were not, just one lady. This one lady got so out-of-sorts that she was screaming about how we all need to get out. At one point she yelled “Everyone get the f--- out!” Like that’s gonna work, lady. I, and everyone else, ignored her. The only way things would get better is if she called security. I got out of the tent because I was getting nowhere finding my bag. Ten minutes pass, I go back in and my some miracle of God, my bag (which had my friend’s new iPhone 4 in it) is sitting on the top of this pile with the tag/number facing up. I triple checked it against my number pinned to my body, and then high-tailed it out before security showed up (and they did).

The end result of this is that I would not do this race again. Not unless they cap the entrants to like 12,000 total (rather than 12K half, 6K full). There is simply not enough room in that park area to handle that many runners. I don’t know where they would have even put additional porta johns had they had them. There was no space. The finish line area was cramped and only one way out over a narrow pedestrian bridge. The course can’t handle that many people in the narrow sections. Charge more and cap the entrants lower!

But at least I still PR’d. Yay! Snow Canyon Half on 11/6 is next!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why I am Sometimes an Idiot

My day job is software. Writing code, talking about writing code, reading code, talking about application requirements for the code. This has been pretty much my day-to-day life for 10 years.

And there are some obvious side effects to this other than your standard wonky slightly-carpal-tunneled wrists.

The latest one (aside from the occasional dream I have where I am actually part of the code and am running through it like I am living in a debugger – yes, I have had this dream on more than one occasion), is the fleeting thought that I can just “undo” anything. Including real-life physical things like writing on paper, or doling out too much flour in a recipe, or cutting yarn to short. And then I realize the insanity of what I am thinking.

There is no “Control-Z” for that spilled wine on your shirt.

imagesCtrl- -Z

It’s probably happened 2 or 3 times in the last week. And each time I mentally call myself a Douche and question my sanity.

DVR is another example. I have gotten so accustomed to the DVR that sometimes when I see the dogs do something funny, I think, for a split second: “I’ll just rewind that so I can show the HZ.”

And then I mentally smack myself in the head.

Seriously. Does anyone else think this stuff? Or am I the only wacky one? (I admit, the code dream thing is weird – if any of you have had the debugger “I am the code” dream and you are not a programmer, you are definitely a freak. I am probably a freak, too, but at least I have actually used a debugger).

Monday, October 11, 2010

You Don't Have to Arrest Me

The mystery of the sunglasses was solved last week. We had dinner with at my brother-in-law's place on the drive back down from Santa Barbara, and I swiped them there. My BIL's buddy apparently has a habit of leaving his sunglasses and the house so had he not left them there I would not have grabbed them. See how good I am at deflecting. The HZ mailed them back since the good 'ol postal service will get it to LA in a day and driving it up there would be more annoying and cost more.

On to the bathroom. I drywall-mudded my ass off this weekend - made some decent progress.

Only eighteen-hundred-thousand more coats to go. Ok, like 3-4 coats. But still. I have already done 3 so I'm not so happy about the additional 3-4. This is what happens when you are not super OCD about getting the drywall joints level. And when you patch with too many pieces rather than large contiguous pieces.

And, I figured out what I'm going to do with the massive mirror that I'm taking down. By figured out, I mean, stole someone else's idea.

(photo credit: Landonjacob.com, via Young House Love)

They made it out of old mirrored closet doors and weathered pallet wood. I have two old pallets sitting in my garage so all I'll need is some mirror adhesive and a sheet of sturdy plywood. I also have to figure out how to further weather my pallet wood - I think there is some formula of vinegar and baking soda or something to weather wood but I'll definitely do some online research for that.

The Halloween puppy got his first bath this weekend, and Good Lord, the hair he lost. That dog sheds acres of fur. And it's black so it blends with nothing. While he was getting the shampoo rinsed off, I was in the kitchen and heard him whining through the ceiling above. Nikki doesn't enjoy baths either but she never cries! Leave it to the boys to be incapable of sucking it up. Afterwards he ran around the house like he had taken several nodoze chased with double shots of espresso.

And finally, I have finished my first crocheted afghan. It is by no means perfect. It's kind of not a true rectangle - it's wonky. But you only notice if you spread it out. The pictures of it are "eh" because I used my phone and the lighting in the morning was not ideal. The sucker is heavy.

I also turned out 6 miles Sunday morning. 8:38 pace. Less than a week til the Long Beach Half!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wherein I Somehow Steal Someone's Sunglasses

It's back to the land of work, no spending, and reasonable eating today. The positive is that this week will seem short! We got back around 9:15pm last night - around 4 hours of driving, wine tasting, and eating. I can't believe I have never been to Santa Barbara and I've spent 10 years of my life in Southern California. I can't imagine kids at UCSB get anything done living there. Needless to say (but I'm going to say anyway - isn't that a stupid phrase? Like "no offense" and then you proceed to insult the person), we are going back because I loved it.

One of the downtown tasting rooms we tried, Municipal Wine Something-or-Other, I can't remember:

We stayed at a funky place called the Presidio Motel. It was a 60s building on State St they refurbished with a funky, retro, mid-century modern feel.

They had complimentary beach cruisers which I was psyched about until I actually tried to ride one. One of those instances were the reality of being short smacks you in the face. The bikes had these little license plates on the back that read "I [heart] Presidio Motel" and it prevented the seat from going all the way down. So rather than killing myself after a few rounds of downtown wine tasting, we decided walking was a much better choice. However, all that walking the first day probably helped my soreness from the race...

The Race! Yes, Sunday morning I did a little ditty of 13.1 miles through fields of red peppers, squash, pumpkin, and manure. First time I've ever run with the smell of manure in my nose. Luckily it was only a small stretch of mile 5. I still have some soreness today but it isn't bad. I'm surprised at how easily I'm recovering from this one. Here is a an action shot the Huz snapped as I labored across the finish line about to reach for my Garmin's stop button (the time on the clock was from the 5K - the clock was all over the place with different times throughout the morning).

Like my knee socks? CEP calf/shin compression sleeves. I broke many a cardinal race rule, including trying several new things like those sleeves. They worked out great, though. I also tried Clif Blok Margarita flavor with "Cramp Buster" (3 times the sodium). These also were good. The one thing that didn't work out so well was the Gatorade. Normally I mix my own using the powder because I am cheap, and I must be mixing it weak because I bought a bottle of pre-made stuff (since we were travelling for this race) and Holy Sweetness, Batman. My stomach was so queasy at the end I was cursing it. I didn't even finish half of what I brought along so not only was I not well hydrated, I was carrying around an additional pound of weight on my belt. Partial Fail on that one.

My time was 1:56:58. The course was actually longer than 13.1. I looked down at my Garmin at 13.1 (wishing I was done) and it was 1:55:something. The final distance I had was 13.26 miles, 8:49 pace. A little long but it seems like they (the race directors) sacrificed the accuracy of the half course in order to have the full marathon course be accurate for Boston qualifier certification (since the two courses merged and finished the last few miles together - shortening the half closer to 13.1 would make the full too close to 26.2 - most certified courses are a tad longer than the prescribed distance). I am pleased with my time - and I'm going to shoot for breaking 1:55 at Long Beach in two weeks.

I also got to meet Her Fastness Skinny Runner. I knew she was going to be there, but figured I wouldn't stalk her unless I just happened upon her by chance. Which was the case when she was 20 feet from me taking a shot of the finish line so I had to say hi while trying not to scare her with my caffeine'd up, race-jittered self. I also probably scared her around mile 12.8 when she was running back from the turn-around and I yelled "Go Skinny Runner!"

My splits were:

Avg Pace

The last mile was the toughest. I haven't run longer than 12 miles since Surf City so I was feeling it. However, I never felt like Death Warmed Over which was the case at Surf City. I I can keep the last mile around 8:50 and then get some of those other miles under 8:50, then 1:55 is well within reach for the 17th.

The other thing I realized this morning was that I stole someone's very well used Rayban sunglasses this weekend in Santa Barbara. I feel really bad about it. I was looking in my purse before driving in this morning and saw two pairs of very similar sunglasses and was like "huh?" I have no idea where I took them. Clearly I thought they were mine. If I had an idea of where I picked them up, I'd call but I am at a total loss. I suppose I could call each place we were at this weekend? Kinda seems like overkill. But maybe someone is really missing them. I'd have to mail them since there is no way I'm driving 3 hours north to deliver them. And what if they were also tourists and not at all local? Blurgh. I am now a sunglass snatcher.