Saturday, September 7, 2013

Three weeks of living out of suitcases…

Greetings from our extended stay hotel! The good news is that it appears this 3 week stint is coming to a close very shortly. Possibly as soon as Monday night! We actually closed escrow last Wednesday but because we had to do the sewer line replacement and then hardwood refinishing, we couldn’t just move in. Sewer guys finished up today and hardwood guys are supposedly going to be finished tomorrow! We saw the first coat today at 6pm when we dropped some more stuff off at the house. Our storage pods were dropped off  yesterday and we unloaded today into the garage (since the hardwood is not ready and we’re also going to be replacing carpet).

The last few days of escrow were a bit of madness because after I told our lender we wanted to close as soon as possible, it was a mad dash of emails, phone calls, loan docs, etc. It was the least smooth escrow closing I’ve had – this is number 4 for me. We also closed in 24 days including 14 days spent during the inspection due-diligence – had the house been in good condition (i.e. not having sewer, drainage, and foundation repair work), we may have been able to close as quickly as 20 days or less. We ended up having to do two separate meetings with the notary because the docs arrived in pieces (first loan came first, second loan came the next day). And our closing costs were more than the repair credit so there was complication there as lenders don’t allow seller credits in excess of non-recurring closing costs (so the seller wrote a check for the remainder to the sewer repair company0. But it all worked out even though we may have incurred more notary expenses, few more gray hairs, etc.

Anyway, the house at closing (these will be good as “before” pictures because, holy shit, we have a lot of work to do):

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

And… We’re “Homeless”

Our house officially sold a few days ago.

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Today is our last day in the house – the new owners needed to be in ASAP and with a full price offer and a 30 day closing, we said “sure!” However, now I am feeling the pinch.

We have purged a lot. Yet, we still have a ton of stuff. I got 4 pods (the Door-to-Door ones, 7x8x5) and, sadly, it wasn’t enough. So we had to get a storage unit and now we’re shuttling stuff there (and too Goodwill) all weekend hoping that the storage unit is also big enough (sigh).

We’ve got camping chairs in the family room, and a small TV sitting on the coffee table that didn’t fit in the pods. Our bed is an air mattress. I am so ready for this to be over!!!

The dogs will be staying with my parents who finally got home last night from their 4 month annual stay in Italy. Welcome home! Here are two crazy Australian Shepherds! Thanks!

We had an offer on a house we liked, but it had quite a bit of deferred maintenance (like ~20K, including asbestos and needing a new roof). The sellers were unwilling to credit even half on just the roof and asbestos (never mind the other stuff). So we cut our losses of $1200 in inspection and appraisal fees and walked away. The day after we sent the cancellation over (I guess they thought we were bluffing), they offered almost half. But my mind was already made up, even if they had come back with 100% of what we asked – as a neighbor put it: “it’s bad juju.” Still waiting for our earnest money to be returned, but I won’t get into that rant here. It’s a big chunk of change (more than our buyers put down, total, on our house).

We were lucky enough to find something the same weekend we decided to walk away. It’s not even a week into escrow yet, but we are hoping to close early since we got nearly all the way through underwriting on the first house (now if only we could get the return of the earnest money from escrow done in a more timely fashion! Argh!). It’s “extended stay” hotel time until we close on the new one (and possibly a bit longer because it’s an older house and has hardwood floors under the carpet - I want to get those refinished before we move in).

And in case you are wondering – tiny human is doing fine and routinely kicking me left and right. I will be happy when she has her own body, free and clear, and I can have mine back!

Friday, June 28, 2013

I’m Still Here… But Not So Much Running Going On

Alright folks. I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I haven’t fallen in a ditch.

Running? Not happening so much right now because I’ve got a 4 inch human (of the female variety) currently residing in my lower abdomen. Yup, no more DINK status for us in about 6 months. I figured, I was getting kind of old (just turned 35) so I’d better get on it before nature took the option away. Sorry I don’t have a cute little reveal picture – it really isn’t my style.

I WAS running a whole lot more until about 4 weeks ago. I ran Ragnar at 6 weeks along – our team placed 3rd in the open submasters group. Had I been able to run my no-baby 7:30 pace we might have gotten second. There was only about 15 minutes between 2nd and 3rd, and then another 15 minutes between 1st and 2nd. Oh well. I kept my pace such that I never had to breathe through my mouth – which at that time was 8:45-9:00. A week later, I ran the La Jolla Half slowly (40 minutes slower than my PR), and then finally, at 8 weeks I ran the Safari Park Half (30 minutes off my PR). By the time I was done with those races I was so over running. It’s really not fun running paces slower than what you’re used to. It’s actually kind of boring. When you’re pushing it, it’s distracting in a good way. When you’re just trotting along, it’s pretty tedious.

After I finished those races, I knew I wasn’t going to run any more races pregnant because it wasn’t all that fun.

Anyway, about 4-5 weeks ago, my gut instincts told me that I needed to sell my damn house and not be driving 50 minutes each way to work (and my husband too, with a similar length commute) dealing with daycare and a baby. Thus running has been replaced with “finish every half-done project and put the house up by mid-July”.

It’s been a major pain in the ass. I feel like a project manager, dealing with delivery schedules of windows, carpet, hardwood flooring, landscaper, chasing down companies that can make me small-ass retrofit windows for the bathrooms, planning out weekends (and weeknights) in order to get it all done by our self-imposed deadline. We’ve hit some snags like when Jeldwen lost our window order (awesome), and then when I screwed up the measurement of one of the windows upstairs. Not ideal. That mistake really chaps my ass because we’d be on schedule otherwise (I can’t help beating myself up about it – I’m as hard on my self as I am on the windows company delivering them nearly 3 weeks late).

The real estate market is looking good but mortgage rates took a pretty big jump in the last month so I’m hoping that isn’t too detrimental to the plan. We’re not going to get what we paid for it (in fact, we’ll probably be selling 40-60K under what we paid, not counting the money we put into it on updates – we’re probably closer to a 80-100K loss). I just hope to get out a reasonable amount of equity to roll into the next house which will be smaller, older, and probably cost 200K more (sigh, living in San Diego proper isn’t cheap, but the 15 minute commute will be worth it).

Tomorrow I’m volunteering at the Harding Hustle 50K – that race was a bull-buster last year (over 90 degrees when I finished – 7000 feet of elevation gain) so I felt like it would be nice to help out because it’s looking like another hot one this year for runners. Apparently record highs in some parts, so I’m guessing it’ll again be over 90, maybe even getting close to 100 when the middle of the pack is finishing. It’s my first time volunteering at a race – I’m kind of excited even if I have to get up before 4am (my shift starts at 5am and I live an hour south). Looking forward to giving back to the running community!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Last Minute Marathon

About a week after I got back from the UK, when it became clear that this cycle was a bust as far as Project Procreation, I said “fuck it, I’m going to go run IMS Arizona.”

Now some us (ahem, SkinnyRunner and Lisa) can run marathons in back to back weekends, but, generally speaking, this is not smart for most of us. In fact, it’s arguably foolish to PR attempt more than 4 marathons a year.

But I was feeling stubborn and knew that if I didn’t run it, I’d sit there and wonder what if I could have broken 3:40. I’ll spare you the suspense: it didn’t happen.

It went something like this:

Weather at the start was perfect. I was on pace – in fact, a bit ahead of schedule through mile 20. The 3:40 pace group had caught up with me around mile 19 – I hung with them for through mile 22 or 23, I can’t remember. All I know is that around mile 21 my quads were seizing up. It had gotten warm – around 70 up from 49 degrees at the start – I was drinking much more water than I had at Carlsbad. In fact, I ran out of my belt stash and had to use water stations from 23 on.

Knowing that the marathon is in huge part, mental, I willed myself through mile 22 with a on-pace split. Seriously, I have never done this in a marathon where I tell myself that the pain is just a wave, it’ll pass, and force myself to ignore it.

However, at some point, the body will refuse to listen to your head. And for me, it happened en route to mile marker 23. I refused to give up. I knew that 3:40 was gone, but, dammit, I am proud of myself for not giving in and walking the rest of it. And I know I was giving all I had because around mile 25, I was feeling dizzy and my vision was a little weird (like I felt slightly cross-eyed and spectators looked kind of wonky). I don’t know if that means I was low on salt (I was taking salt tabs) or dehydrated or what, but something in my electrolyte/water balance was off-kilter.

My pace slipped from 8:20 to around 9:30. Interestingly, only a couple people passed me so I think the majority of the finishers around me were battling in the same way. Maybe it was the dryness or the swing in temps from start to finish but the end was rough. The best kick I could muster was something around an 8:40.

Now, whoever did the timing of this race, screwed something up. My gun time was like 3:44:08. I didn’t start at the front. My garmin had 3:44:06 an I stopped it a second or two late. When I walked passed the results, it had me listed with a 3:40:14. Um. no. I told the girl at the solutions desk and she really didn’t seem to be of help (I think she was just a volunteer – not necessarily knowledgeable in race timing). Later in the day, they posted two sets of results. One appears to be gun time where I am listed with a 3:44:08. The other has chip time and split times, that one has the wrong 3:40:14 with what seems like an accurate half-time split of 1:49:02. So, part of me is kind of glad it didn’t work out because I’m not sure they are going to be able work this out correctly – everyone will be stuck with gun time, looks like.

Am I disappointed? Yes, but not entirely. I still managed a PR on sheer will power. I got to meet The Skipping Pixie who busted her ass with her husband in the full. I also got to see Becka!

Lessons Learned?

  1. I am able to push through pain better than I thought.
  2. Three weeks is probably not enough time between marathons unless you are running one of them for fun. Trying to PR in both is a recipe for disaster for most humans.
  3. Feeling how sore I am today (this is the sorest I’ve been post-marathon since 2003) I know I need a proper 3 week recovery.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Let’s Start with Carlsbad

Before I move onto the UK. I know, like two weeks ago but the trip ate up a week and work has continued to be flush with meetings which means I am scrambling to complete actual work.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had some apprehension around Carlsbad. We had barely managed to squeeze in two long runs and they were backed up to each other 3 and 4 weeks before the race. It could have been worse, but it certainly could have been better. Saturday morning rolls around, I have my coffee start packing for the trip. Husband is still in bed and informs me his head is throbbing, he has the chills – basically he is sick. The flu at that point had been taking people out left and right.

Queue freak out and texting with Nicole who told me to quarantine him (jokingly, of course). I was missing the first day of meetings in the UK for this race, worked hard to squeeze those long runs in, had to sit on a plane for 11 hours (red-eye which sucks), and then needed to contribute in a coherent manner in discussions while jetlagged… to say I was concerned is an understatement.

I started pounding every vitamin, vitamin powder, tea I could find. Zinc lozenges every 3 hours, vitamin C and Echinacea, vitamin B, my daily vitamin, Nuun all-day because it has vitamins – ANY WAY TO GET IN THE FLU-SHOOING VITAMINS.

I didn’t even have wine or beer (!!) at dinner I was that worried I would wake up sick.

Either the vitamins worked and my immune system is badass, or God decided he didn’t want to make my life miserable for a week in a foreign country because I woke up fine other than 4am grogginess. Carlsbad’s marathon starts at 6:15am so even though I live 7 miles from the start, I still have to get up super early.

I met Nicole at the porta-johns which were blissfully un-crowded. I heard that the half marathoners were not so lucky but that’s what happens when something like 10K do the half and only 2K do the full. Running the half in the future will be tough sell for me – the full is so much easier, logistically. And you get extra swag (last year a hat, this year a jacket – both pretty good quality).

We hung out with Pam and her husband who came to spectate (how awesome is she?) and then found our way into the start chute. It was still sprinkling a bit (it had rained in the days before the race) and it was dark but we decided to toss our throwaways there rather than keep them on which was a good call. Pretty much right on time, after another interesting anthem rendition (can they just get someone to sing it normally?) we were off.

The first few miles Nicole and I had to consciously work on keeping an easy pace. We had intended for ~ 8:45 the first few but we ended up clocking 8:37 in mile 1 with a 90 foot climb and then 8:29 with a 108 foot drop. After that we were pretty consistent with 8:40’s in the early miles.  The key to this race, in my opinion, is holding back a bit through mile 9. Reason being pretty obvious:

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Splits 1-9:

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Those first 9 miles went by really fast. It felt like 30 minutes had elapsed when it was well over an hour. That’s the good thing about having a buddy to run with. By the time we got to the half, I was feeling pretty certain we were going to finish together.

I was dutifully eating my blocks every 2 miles (speaking of fuel, they had so many gels at more places than I can remember), Nicole was smiling and thanking volunteers (because she is one of the the nicest/friendliest people I know), and hoarding the free gels (including one for me). Frugal Running Mama is her other name. We had random conversations with ourselves and other people. We spotted other faster bloggers on the opposite side of the road. And we were gradually picking up the pace – I’m not even sure it was planned as much as it was a subconscious agreement.

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Around mile 14 the course merges briefly with the half marathoners who are usually running a faster pace – it is easy to get pulled along too fast, unknowingly. Last year I had merged with the 1:45’ers. This year, we merged with the 1:40’s (we spotted the pacer). Before seeing the pacer, I felt like they were going fast and, well, they were running in the 7:30’s, so, yeah.

We made it up the pain in the ass hill at Island Way and shortly thereafter split from the half marathoners. Signage was much better this year than last – last year I think there were quite a few marathoners that turned with the halfers. This year it was totally obvious we had to go straight.

We got some headwind here and I started to wonder if I was going to be able to stick with my running partner. I think we were both having some self doubts because once we made it past the La Costa hill (it’s not a huge hill, but at mile 18, it’s not small), we both commented that miles 16-18 messed with our heads.

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At that point, I felt like we were on autopilot. It wasn’t easy, but it just sort of happened. Maybe it was from training together for much of the last few months since Nicole moved to North County, but we just picked up the pace and hammered it out.

Though mile 23, the marathoners were spared the annoyance of weaving through half marathoners. I think that partly why our splits through mile 23 look a little better than mile 24 and 25.

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We were cruising – painfully after 20+ miles – but cruising nonetheless. Then we were thrown into the masses.

The unfortunate part of running in the 3:40-4:00 range is when you merge the second time, that is where the bulk of the half marathon finishers are: 2:00-2:20. It’s the most crowded and they are running more than a minute per mile slower. It’s a pain in the ass. This year I knew it was coming so it didn’t affect me as much, mentally. But it didn’t  help the fact that I always run longer than 26.2 at Carlsbad. Tangents thrown out the window.

The final miles were rough and we just gutted it out. Best way I can describe it.

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PR by a 1:20! I think I ran 3:46:45 at Wineglass (easier course, too).

Three years of Carlsbad medals:

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I like the ribbon on the 2013, but the medal itself is pretty boring. I think my favorite was definitely last year’s.

A little useless pat on the back I give myself is that had the BAA not changed then qualification standards, this time would have qualified me for 2014 Boston (35-39 was 3:45:xx, not 3:39:xx). Though I tend to agree that maybe the bar was too low – barely getting in our long runs and the both of us would have BQ’d. So, yeah, I guess I agree with the change, if slightly begrudgingly.

I hung around about 15 minutes with Pam, Nicole, and her super-nice fam, but had to high-tail it home to finish packing for our 6:30 LAX-LHR flight…

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zinfandel is Dangerous

I’m not talking about the weak-ass girly shit of White Zinfandel (this many offend some, but, seriously, it is just one step above a wine cooler), but the Big Red Zin. You can expect that most Zins will be around 14-15%, but because it isn’t super dry and it’s IS super fruity, it can trick you. Let’s just say that pouring out the last bit of wine from the bottle we’re sharing this evening (Leonesse 2009, Temecula Valley), I peeked at the label and it’s 16%. Yes. SIXTEEN.

So the Carlsbad Marathon is this Sunday. We’ve been taunted with forecasted rain, which I decided I would not believe until the day before and, lo and behold, no more rain forecasted for Sunday. Instead we will be freezing our asses off (San Diego style) with low 40s. I’ll take it. I’ll take anything on half a bottle of 16% Zin, but that’s besides the point.

Anyway, so this is the longest stretch in a while where I haven’t raced a distance longer than a half marathon. Last marathon was September 29th. Last 50K (which I honest don’t consider really “racing” because I don’t approach trail races in that mindset) was October 29th. I had a bit of a lapse in December where I fell off the wagon and dragged my ass back on it, Nicole doing the same, and we squeezed in 18 and a 20 miles.Then I surprised the shit out of myself and ran a 1:41:02 half (though, really, I think I was due there based on my 5K and 10K PRs), so I’m a bag of question marks about Sunday,

But I have to say I don’t have the taper crazies. So much so that I’ve had to convince myself to do SOMETHING this week. Work has been busy. Part of me is loving that I’m – to put it in the most mundanely cliché way possible – moving up the ladder. But it’s definitely challenging me not to be lazy. I had to go to Phoenix last week for a conference (with about 3 days notice). This week I’ve had meetings up the wazoo and unrealistic expectations about what a team of 4 software developers can actually complete in 3 months.

The icing on the Marathon Cake is that right after I cross the finish line (provided I don’t blow up and DNF – that has never happened for me, but it’s always possible) I have to haul butt home to a pre-packed suitcase, shower, and drive to LAX to Heathrow for a business trip to our UK office (I’ve never been so that part is cool, but it’s not necessarily the circumstances I’d like to visit the UK under). Thankfully, Husband is driving us (he decided he is coming with me, so at least I’m not by myself – though he will have to keep himself occupied through Thursday in Cambridge while I’m working). Work has certainly turned the screw up a couple notches this month.

So yeah. Nicole and I will be pounding the pavement Sunday. This is the first time in nearly 10 years (last time March 2003) that I’m planning to run a marathon with someone (well, planning as much as one can plan because races are not predictable – we may not have the same race day performance but we’re sticking together as long as it makes sense). I’m looking forward to not being alone for 26 miles and hoping that we both have good races and can push each other through to the finish!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Yes, This is Predictable

I haven’t written anything in nearly 3 months, but, obviously, I feel the need to post the day I destroy my half marathon PR (1:43:56 in December 2011, and 1:41:38 with downhill assist at Faketana Fontana).

So yeah, I’ve been running. And working. And knitting. And remodeling our bathroom (still in progress – we contract out most of the work this time). Though I’ll bet it might have felt awesome to have just been doing nothing for 3 months.But I’d probably be bored out of my skull.

Anyway. I am not one for resolutions. I have written this at least once before. Possibly twice. I just see no significance in starting something just because it’s January 1st. If I want to start something I’ll do it right away. Waiting until the January 1st implies you don’t REALLY want to do and you have to bribe yourself with some kind of deadline.

This is totally turning into a tangent.

So the running. Shin is still wonky. No surprise there. But it’s not really getting any worse and it doesn’t really hurt unless I do too much fast running. Which I am very good at avoiding! Don’t have to twist my arm to convince me not to do tempos or intervals. And, frankly, it seems to be working just fine for me, as far as my race paces.

At the end of October, I ran the Lake Hodges 50K. And because I have awesome luck with trail race weather, the second half of the race the temperatures climbed over 80 hitting 85-90 by the time I finished. It was 100% a death march from mile 26 to 31. I slid from a sub 10:00 pace (including aid station stops) to a walk-run 12:00 or more pace. Managed to finish 5:45 something. I forget the exact time. What I will never forget is mile 1. It was in the 40s that morning so my feet were frozen. Somehow, I chose the wrong foot placement going down a rocky hill and wiped out in a fairly dramatic fashion. I had a 6 inch scratch on my shoulder/back and a huge raspberry and bruise on my outer hip. I got cleaned up a bit at the first aid station but 3 months later I still have lingering discoloration on my hip and some bumps under the skin. And a scar on my shoulder/back. But I finished! While feeling like a newbie trail-running dumbass. Bah.

Two weeks later I ran Silver Strand Half. Finished 1:44 and lots of change. It was alright. The last 3 miles I had no desire to push it for a couple second PR, so I just said “fuck it” and kept the same pace.

On Turkey Day, I FINALLY broke 22 in the 5K at the Oceanside Turkey Trot. Seriously. Finally. I had been chasing that mark for at least a year. I really didn’t expect it since I have been doing zero speed work. Zero point zero. 21:46, a few second shy of a sub-7 overall pace.

I intended to run the Tucson Marathon on 12/9 (I was registered, so, I had to eat that entry fee). My hormones were seriously out of control that week and my shin had been hurting a bit. I felt like driving our asses 7 hours to Tucson, burdening my parents with watching the dogs, all for what likely would have been a half-assed failed attempt to PR/BQ (it’s a downhill course, so it was entirely conceivable I could drop 7 minutes by virtue of 2000 ft of elevation drop – if I was in the right mindset) was a bad idea. It was confirmed to be a good decision when Aunt Flo showed up 2 days early, on race morning. That would have been fun.

I ran Borrego Springs Half on the 15th where coming in second female overall (tiny-ass race) got me nothing. Only 1st place got something and what was more annoying is the first place female’s time was only 1:44. I didn’t have a great race that day finishing 1:46, but every race can’t be good. I did my best with it – at least I had a negative split.

Operation Jack on the 26th – I decided I was not going to attempt any PR and cruise through that one (first mile was 8:43) but I ended up picking it up more as I went along and then got bitch-slapped by the wind in the last 3 miles. Finished 1:45.

Then Nicole and I resolved to get our asses in gear in order to survive Carlsbad on January 27th. Both of us had kind of fallen off the long run wagon and we had barely enough time to ramp back up to 20 with a 3 week taper. 18 miles the last weekend in 2012, then 20 miles the first weekend of 2013. They went surprising well! The bummer for me is that I am supposed to be flying out to the UK the evening of the 26th. At least the rest of my coworkers are leaving that night. I will have to fly out of LAX the same day as the marathon and miss the first day of our meetings. I feel kinda guilty but dammit! I want to run Carlsbad. It’s my favorite race ever and they didn’t set the date for the trip until this week. I hope running a marathon helps me sleep on an 11-hour red-eye.

And finally. This morning.

At the Southern California Half Marathon, I pulled a rabbit out of hat. Or my ass. Sames.

By San Diego standards, it’s been cold. It was 28 this morning at 6am when I left. When I got to Irvine at 7am, it was 37. But I think it works for me (can’t take the New England out of me). I didn’t know how I was going to run. I figured another 1:44-1:45 and I was cool with that (I actually told myself that at the start line). The course is mostly flat – there are some ups and downs here and there but nothing drastic. Starts and finishes in the same place, so, net change of zero. Pretty boring with lots of turns and loops.

I decided to exercise my propensity for screwing up my Garmin and hit the start button TWICE, when I didn’t see “timer started” pop up. Apparently I turned it on and immediately off. Around a half mile in or so, I realized my mistake and started it. Most of the race I had an idea of the pace I was running but I was not really sure where I stood on finish time.

I took advantage of down hills, clocking 7:30’s. Had 7:40-50’s on the uphill miles. Around mile 8, I realized that I had a good chance to PR. There were a few race clocks at mile markers, and quick calculations left me sort of perplexed. I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing, and I was also afraid that IF I believed it, I would sabotage myself.

So I kept trucking, resolving to just try to keep a steady pace. It never felt really bad. It got harder but not crazy uncomfortable. When I turned the corner to the finish the clock read 1:40:xx. My prior calculations were confirmed but I was still not really believing what I was seeing. I tried to kick with whatever I had left. I think I had more left in that final stretch, but to be honest, I was just so damn happy to be massively PR’ing. I really was not clear where exactly my finish time would be because of my Garmin stupidity.

I asked another runner I had leapfrogged with at the end the time she had (I finished a couple steps behind her). She told me 1:41:09. Sweet! Walked around a bit and drove home. Checked out the official results this afternoon… 1:41:02. WTF!? Had I known I was flirting with 1:40’s I would have busted my ass a little harder. But then again – had I been fully aware of what I was doing over the 13 miles, well, I might have added another 1:45 to my pile of recent half marathon results.

So there you have it. A long-winded likely boring recap of my running adventures since October. Now I have to go pee and hydrate some more. Company holiday party tonight!