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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall favors

My trip to New Hampshire inspired me to make some fall-themed favors for a friend's wedding shower (the whole thing is actually an autumn theme). I bought plain cream cards from (my  favorite stock website and the place I bought the materials for my own wedding invitations). They just so happened to have fancy homemade linen envelopes on sale for $2/pack of 50! Look at the mica flecks and grass and leaf inclusions. So perfect for the theme!
Grass and leave (top) and mica (bottom) envelopes

The cards were very easy to make: I used craft paint (haphazardly mixing red, yellow, brown and green with gold and champagne glitter paints) and painted the backs of fresh leaves, then pressed them on the cards. We made 200 cards.
My table covered in drying cards

Once they were dry, I bundled them in packs of 6 with envelopes and tied with raffia.
Piles of leaves!

Tada! Perfectly fall favors!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Clarence DeMar Marathon: Race Recap

Well, it was just what I thought it would be... a practice race! Not my best effort at all, but I learned some lessons.
The morning wake-up was way too early: I got up at 5 am for the third day in a row, meaning I was about 9 hours down on sleep. The trip up to New Hampshire had been annoying stressful. We'd planned on having Saturday afternoon in NH for a few activities, but due to mechanical issues on our first flight, we missed out second flight. The next flight we got on was then delayed due to another mechanical problem! We wasted the entire afternoon in the airport, barely made it to packet pick up, and I was left generally stressed, hungry, and dehydrated. I rolled out of bed Saturday wishing I could sleep a little more. Fueling mistake #1: Although the hotel had a breakfast buffet, I felt nauseated from my early wake up and threw my oatmeal out after one or two bites. David dropped me off at the finish area, and I took a bus to the start. Everyone on the bus was talkative and friendly, and I met plenty of Maniacs and 50-staters, including one gentleman who was running his 50th state that day! Fueling mistake #2: I was on one of the first buses, so I had a long wait until the start without any food.  The race started at a church in Gilsum, NH, and (charmingly) the pastor showed up, opened the church (which was the original 1772 building), and started us with prayer.
When 8 am finally rolled around, we lined the middle of a road. There was a clearly marked start on the pavement, but officials pushed us back to some arbitrary imaginary line. Now this did not surprise me, since race info clearly states things like, "The finish line is not marked" (I kid you not). I mentioned the start marked on the road, but no one really responded. we went.
This race is gently hilly with some sharp downhills and an overall elevation LOSS of about 300 feet. Not bad! I thought. Actually, I struggled! The downhills at the start are so sharp that I had trouble controlling myself! I am so unused to hills. But it was fun to fly down them, even knowing I'd be sorry later. I think that for a runner who runs hills regularly, this would be a fast course. And my first half WAS fast, about 1:36. Fueling mistake #3: I started out too fast.
In the mountains near Keene

The weather was, as expected, warm and muggy - even in the mountains. It was low 70's early on and later in the race I passed a school with a sign that put the temp at 81 F. Interestingly, there is no traffic control on the course except at major intersections, meaning we were actually running in the road - no cones, no signs, no road closures. This was a little nerve-wracking in winding, hilly areas.
My Garmin was well ahead of the course since mile one, which was partly due to a slight stray off-course (some of the arrows, it turns out, were for the electric company, not runners, who would have thought), but that should have accounted for only .05 miles...but despite my tangent running my Garmin read 26.67 at the finish! Because of the winding hills, I was having trouble at water stops. They popped up so unexpectedly that I didn't have time to prepare and take some Gu. Fueling mistake #4: I didn't take any Gu until the second half, too late for the pace I was keeping. When I finally did shove some Gu down, I instantly regretted it. And here comes the best part. I started throwing up. I started early on - like mile 14 - and from then on, it was a battle. I threw up every time I swallowed anything. Fueling mistake #5: Throwing up all nutrients is a bad idea. The result was a distinct drop in pace (although surprisingly not bad at first; I was running 8's or 8:10's), and the onset of muscle cramps. As expected, at mile 20 I hit the wall hard, struggling to maintain 10-min miles. Fuleing mistake #6: I only brought three Gu's, so by now I was out of fuel. There was no Gu on the course and only half the stops had Gatorade. I was passed by two women on the way in, and everyone was so encouraging we just cheered each other on. I'd led for the first twenty miles. I finally finished, and I'd never been so happy to be done with a race in my life. I was third female overall in a little under 3:35.
Heading for the and sweaty.
 Post-race I signed up for a massage right away, but the poor lady had trouble with my knotted calves and quads. I got some soup down and started to feel better, but the nausea stuck with me for a few hours. I realized I was starting to dehydrate. I'd sweated profusely (it was pretty warm for a marathon!) and thrown  up, too, and I was starting to feel kidney pain, headache, and anxiety coming on. Unfortunately I could only stomach water - the thought of Gatorade made me ill - so I took some electrolyte tabs from a medic and sipped water.
The race awarded first overall and age group awards. The age groups were a little odd - the first group was "up to 39" and then it was ten year increments from then on. I placed second in my age group, but when I got home I realized I'd been give the third place plaque! Hilarious. The third place lady had left already and they must have handed me hers. And also bizarre - my time was recorded off by fifteen seconds. I have no idea how this could occur. David took a picture of me as I crossed the line, and the clock reads, "3:34:52" clearly, yet my time is recorded as 3:35:09. What the?!
Later,when I got the hydration thing under control, it hit me that my quads were so sore I couldn't sit down or get up from a sitting position. My muscles took a beating from the downhills, and the soreness is lingering two days  later!
Overall, the race gave me lots of "Huh?!" moments (it's kind of crazy, wait for the race review) and lots of lessons (I need to work on pacing and fueling and I need a "wall" strategy - if I hit it again, I can't let myself fall apart like I did this time).  But I still enjoyed this for a small marathon. The organizers and volunteers were some of the nicest people I've run with, and the area of Keene, NH is adorable. I think in a cooler year and for hill-prepped legs this would be a fast course. As for my fitness, I knew I wasn't in fantastic shape, but this race gives me areas that need work. It's obvious that if I want to get faster I have to increase my mileage and actually do some speedwork. It wouldn't hurt to do some treadmill inclines, either.

Do you have any "wall" advice to share? And what lessons have you learned in a race?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weather Channel wins

Despite all my angry staring, the Weather Channel won. Race morning should be 80 degrees, rainy, and between 97 and 100% humidity depending on whether it's raining or just steaming.
Change, weather! Darn you!

I am wearing shorts and a tech T for the race. This is my first marathon in shorts! I've worn capris before but I much prefer long tights. Shorts are my least favorite option, but obviously in this weather I have to go with shorts, even though they are no fun in the rain and offer no compression for my tired muscles.
I am wearing my Saucony Kinvaras. This will be their debut marathon. I thought about going back to the Karhu Fast's, but I decided to give the Kinvaras a try since this is my mulligan* anyway. I'm also thinking about trying out a new music playlist, but I probably won't since I only collected about an hour's worth of music and I don't like messing with my ipod while I race. I just want to get all my new things and kinks out early this year and this race seems like the time to do that.
So, what else do we have planned in miniature Keene? Some rainy walking and hiking; part of a foliage tour (yes, I know it's early); covered bridge photo ops; and a relaxing Sunday night watching the game and having a beer. My hubby is missing the Saints game for this race, and now I feel pangs of guilt. But it's just the Texans; they're boring anyway.
So...will the weather kick my booty? Or will it be cake after a summer of highs and humidity? To be continued!
Tell me your absolute ideal running weather. 

*I had to go to this stupid golf tournament for work and picked up some  terms. I don't play golf and the game nearly bored me to tears.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Keene! What is going on with your weather! Stop this absurdity!

As of today's weather reports, Keen NH will be warmer - and have higher humidity - than New Orleans.
I'm hoping it gives me a competitive edge...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Freaking stupid marathon

I'm running the Clarence DeMar marathon this Sunday, and I should have known it would suck after seeing the injudicious use of Comic Sans on the website (Comic Sans is a non-font and should never, ever, ever be used).
Let's gripe.
1. The weather is going to be terrible: rain, high humidity, not hot but certainly not cold, either. What the heck, New England!
I just realized that since I checked the weather last night, the forecast has been changed to reflect a high of just 76 rather than 79, so I might need to stop whining. But whining is fun.

2. Hills. Boo.
3. I will be exhausted. Because of a scheduling mix-up (my employer's vacation scheduler basically does not understand her job at all), I am going to be putting in about 60 hours this week, including an off-site flu shot clinic, which usually means a day of no food, water, or bathroom breaks.
4. Lucky me, the marathon falls at an unfortunate time of the month, which means pain, cramps, all-around bad-attitude, and 3-5 extra pounds of water weight sloshing around for 26 miles.
5. There is no Gu on the course and I bet the TSA will take all my Gu away. And Keene, NH is in the middle of nowhere so I doubt they will be selling Gu at the grocery.
6. I feel fat and slow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sharpie Queen

My friends used to call me the Sharpie queen because I was always armed with a permanent marker to correct public grammar errors. The problem now is that fewer such errors are on signs and posters. Instead, they are on computer screens, and my husband is annoyed when I marker up my monitor.
Who the heck gave this trash 3 stars?!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Missing Alfred

I just wanted to update regular readers on the family of David's best friend Alfred, who passed away this April. David has been making an effort to visit Alfred's 2 year old daughter every few months. He is her godfather, and now, more than ever, he wants to be a significant part of her life. He'd like her to feel like she knows him, and at her young age he's worried she'll forget him if too much time goes by between visits. We live about an 8 hour drive apart (or a direct flight, hurray!) and we've been able to see the family three times over the summer.
This past weekend David traveled to upstate New York for a memorial service for Alfred. Unfortunately, I could not attend because I could not get time off work. The service was mainly for the sake of his mother, who could not attend his funeral since she was in the CCU recovering from quadruple bypass at the time of his death (while this is a terrible situation for a mother to be in, in a way it was a blessing, because in light of the seriousness of her surgery, she and her son had a long and serious phone conversation just days before his death. It was meant to be a farewell love you call in case she did not survive the procedure; who knew it would be the other way around). I know this service was tough for David, and I wish I could have been there, too.
We, like the rest of Alfred's family (Davis has long been considered basically family), are struggling with sadness, anger, and sometimes still disbelief. It's hard to know how to cope with such a large loss. As the months pass, David and I have tried to handle our grief in appropriate ways.
1. We recall the many funny memories that include Alfred on a regular basis. David has thousands of stories, and even as a newcomer, I have plenty, too. Alfred actually drove David and I to our reception after a limo mix-up at our wedding!
2. We spend time with David's godchild and talk comfortably about Daddy with her. Although she was only 2 1/2 at his death, she is a smart cookie and talks about him clearly. She'll even pick out a family photo and relate what happened at the time ("This is after we went to the zoo!").
3. We pray for peace about the circumstances of his death. As more information comes to light surrounding the events that lead up to Alfred's sudden and tragic death from sepsis, we are filled with anguish as we see how easily his death could have been prevented. But these thoughts only lead to frustration and bitterness and they don't bring Alfred back. We have been struggling to let this go. This is especially hard for me, as, with my medical background, I bristle at the breaches of standard care and sepsis protocol.
4. If we need to be sad, we're sad. We cry if we have to. We miss him.
5. We write letters to the family. I know Alfred's family is feeling a lot more of the same grief we have. We've made an effort to record memories and sorrows and share with his family. We're all bearing each others' burdens of grief.
6. We don't do Alfred-y things. Alfred was a big LSU fan and we avoided watching the game. Although we find that talking about memories is helpful, going out of our way to do things that we would ordinarily do with Alfred (David basically only watches LSU if Alfred wants to watch the game with us) just highlights his absence.

Of course this isn't the kind of sadness that passes quickly, but I think we're doing ok now. David still has rough spots and sometimes I'll see tears in his eyes, but he's coping well.
Please continue to keep all of Alfred's loved ones in your prayers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Did you get your flu shot?

Here I am making sure that everyone at Delgado Community College gets theirs!
I wore my boy hair.

Flu shots and all the fixin's
 Actually...I haven't had my flu shot this year. There are two reasons for this:
1. I work alone, and I don't know how I feel about giving myself a vaccine.
2. The preservative-free vaccine isn't available yet and I think it's inadvisable to inject mercury into your muscle every year.

So. Do YOU get the flu shot? Why or why not?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I did it.

Registered for Boston.
Unicorns run fast!

I kind of never thought I'd run the Boston marathon - I mean, not even a year ago, when I despaired ever breaking 4 hours in a marathon.
Not even when I started to move my legs a little faster and first BQ'd, with exactly 9 seconds to spare (and didn't realize it until Dailymile and bloggy friends told me....I'm such a loser).
I think I'm a little worried that I'll never get in another year, as running gets more popular and I get older and slower. So I went ahead and registered.
I must say, for all my complaining, registration was fast and simple (ie, you select your qualifying race from a drop down menu, etc). That's good, because I was doing it on my laptop at work while trying to figure out why some neurosurgery resident wrote an rx for "morphine 4 mg tablets" (Hello! No such thing! And if you meant "hydromorphone" [she did] that's an entirely different drug!).
I tried to talk my little brother Abe into running it, too, but he may be doing a semester abroad next Spring. I'd like the company, though.
So now I have a late Spring marathon in the books. I'm pretty excited!
Anyone else register/registering?
How did it go?

Monday, September 12, 2011

BR: the new BQ

Was qualifying for Boston a challenge?
Try registration! It opens this week in a wave-style registration that allows the fastest runners to register first, and allots remaining slots to the fastest of the "general qualifying" group.
The idea is to keep Boston fast, which makes sense to me.
But I have some ideas that the BAA might also consider. I mean, if they ask me. Which they won't.
It makes sense to simply make the cutoff times stricter, and not just the 5 minutes that go into effect next year. The time cutoffs have changed a lot over the years, but right now they are just too slow to keep the Boston mystique. I'm not saying BQ time is slow, it's not - it's fast, and any time I BQ I totally act like a jerk about it. But a lot of very average runners like myself is not how the BAA envisions their race, so rather than give a half-chance to people in the lower strata of BQ times (isn't it dumb that I have to use terms like BQ strata?!) they should just make it a lot harder.
And while we're making it harder let's look closer at certain groups. I've come to agree that women are kind of given a pass with qualifying times. I don't have the science to back it up, but I don't think that men on average are capable of a half-hour faster marathon than women. I think 20 or 25 minutes would be better. There is also a little bit of a problem with the age group division. Once you turn 35 you are considered old and get extra time to qualify. That means that for this year a 35 year old woman would get a full 3:45 for her race! And women tend to mature later in running, so she's probably at her peak. Then you get an extra 5 minutes for every five years!
My ideas?
1. It needs to be harder for everyone, like a 3-hr for guys and a 3:25 for girls (and yes, that means I wouldn't qualify!).
2. Let's make it a little tougher on the girls, especially in that 35-40 bracket.
3. Quit with the weird age divisions. How do you have one bracket that is 16 years, then all the rest are 5?
4. Lose the wave registration. Once times are more stringent, you won't need them. This system sounds like a great big logistical disaster that will generate a tide of anger and complaints, and since it judges entrants based on time anyway, BAA might as well simply restrict registration to those it deems fast enough to compete.

So while I'm waiting for BAA to consider my ideas (haha), the big question is - will I try to register? In the past, I have said no, since my husband's frenemy who irritates the crap out of me lives in Boston. However, we visited anyway last Spring and I loved the city so much I do want to go back. So I am going to attempt to register. I'll be in wave 2...or, as the website refers to it. "BQ-10". Silliness!

Are YOU registering for Boston?
Is "BQ" a goal for you?
What's your opinion of the new times and registering procedures?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What are you wearing this weekend?

I truly suck at this. I could NOT get a self portrait with my head and shoes in it at the same time, and just forget about focus. Oh and the fact that the wall and guitar take up half the picture? Sorry. I can't seem to help that.
The classic Myspace self-portrait, bizarre facial expression included.
"Leaning on this banister is so fun!" Take two in an attempt to showcase the shoes.

Gray pointelle polo: No Fleas Market, $2.99
Black Banana Republic cropped pants (yeah, they fit me like capris, but they're labeled as ankle crops. My big derriere takes up so much fabric it makes them too short. The curse of a big booty!): Ebay, $8.99
Fierce Nine West platform peeptoes in black croc: No Fleas Market, $6.99
Chandelier earrings: my jewelry box
Undone hair and makeup: Sunday special!

I hit up the No Fleas Market yesterday on my walk back from bringing Abe some apples at work (everyone needs to have a taste of the first McIntosh crop of the season!). No Fleas is a thrift store that benefits animal welfare (several organizations) and although their selection is small and prices rather high, I did find a few winners. I also got a black strapless cocktail dress by Express. It's simple and elegant, but it oddly has too much fabric around the stomach (it's a slim fit style...obviously, I mean when is the last time Express made something loose and billowy?). It almost seems like it gets wider at the waist and tapers at the hips! Oh, well, nothing a seamstress like myself can't fix!

What are you wearing this weekend?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sad Friday

My nephew demonstrates how pretty much all of we Saints fans feel today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Long run in the rain

Last Saturday I cranked out 18 miles in the middle of a tropical storm. I have to say, it was less than ideal conditions. It was early in the storm still, so temps hadn't dropped much yet, and the rain was ferocious and hard. Winds whipped around me and kept flipping my hat brim up (I wore a ball cap to shield myself from the rain a little). It was impossible to avoid all the puddles and the downed branches turned the park into an obstacle course. I left my Garmin home since a) it couldn't find a satellite in the downpour and b) I didn't want it to be damaged - I know it is water resistant, but this was some serious rain.
Hopefully the Garmin is more water-resistant than the dye used in my shoes, but I wasn't taking chances.

I struggled against the wind for about 11 miles, stopping every 2 or 3 miles to wring my socks out. I decided to cut the run short when I saw how blistered my feet were getting, but when I reached the house David was just leaving for his run. My pace was already pathetic so I decided to run his 5 miles with him. I grabbed some pretzels to eat on the run, and headed back out. It was strange throwing a slow 5 into the middle of the run - David runs between 1 and 3 minutes slower per mile than me, and in this rain he was struggling to keep his pace under 10 minute miles - in fact, it felt harder than if I'd picked it up and run 5 fast miles. I don't know why that is, but it seemed fatiguing. I definitely enjoyed the company, though, since only 4 or 5 hard core types were out in the wet. The park was downright lonely!
I left David to run home by himself and finished the 18 with another loop around Audubon park. I must say I was glad the run was over. It was a challenge!

Some thoughts on this run: Any little change (rain, wind) seems so tough to me. How could I ever handle hills?! What challenges you on your runs?
Lots of people love running in the rain but I could take it or leave it. Are you a rain runner?
For some reason I have not really needed much fuel on my long runs this year. Last year I would have had a Gu, some oatmeal and probably a few chomps during 18 miles. Saturday I had 6 mini pretzels and I was fine - and I did not eat before I ran, and I left the house late (slept in and didn't start until 8:30). How much do you eat during a long run?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee

It brought rain.
I know it was overcast and rainy. My eyes are sun-sensitive.

Strong winds.
Down the block from us.

This is such a hysterical picture on the cover of the Times Picayune. I mean, what is going on here? A disabled man with his pants down is choking on a phone while drowning? Shouldn't there be a caption like, "After this photo was taken, TP reporter pulled wheelchair bound man to safety from flood"???                                                                                                       

Broken umbrellas.
One of many casualties.

But it also brought forced relaxation. That's why we call it a "hurrication" and I must say they are much more enjoyable when you don't lose power. During Gustav the hubby and I enjoyed a few days together playing cards and eating Chex mix, but it was nicer this time around with lights, A/C, and Thai food!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's on your feet?

Lately, these.

I love the Saucony Kinvara's I bought for $39 (last year's model). They're light, wide enough (I got men's), and allow natural foot movement. I'm a little concerned about their durability since the outsole is so minimal, but so far I'm quite happy with them. (The oustsole is black rubber. Can't see any in the pic above? That's 'cause it's only on small areas of the forefoot and heel.)
Of course I'm still loyal to Karhu.
New in Box, woo hoo!

I still have this shoe, the Karhu Fast Ride, in green (I ran my last marathon in them) but they're showing age so I replaced them with these bright red bargains - just $30 on Ebay. I also went up half a size. My feet have grown (or have my arches fallen?) since last year and I've been buying larger shoes. Right now when I wear my green Fast Ride's I have to wear my thinnest socks and it's still kind of rough.

So how about you? What's on your feet these days? 

Monday, September 5, 2011

No. 2 Pencil

What?! What is this horrid, yet familiar thing upon my desk?!
A freakin' scantron?! I thought I had sworn off these things as soon as I had my Pharm. D in my hand!

And it's true that I did promise myself when I graduated that, after 8 hard years of studying and constant tests, I never take another exam. Ha, then I had to take that little thing called the NAPLEX in order to get my license. Forgot about that.
But here I am, years later, with a blue book and scantron on my desk. Why? Well, it's basically so my company can pay to print me new business cards with more letters after my name.
Lots more letters.

Seriously, couldn't they shorten that somehow?!
As the Market HIV Pharmacist, I am required to obtain my America Academy of HIV credential so that I can prove that I kind of know what I'm talking about when I answer my market's HIV questions. The great thing about this is that I was planning to take the exam anyway when my company called and offered to pay for it! Oh yeah! Love that.
I'd love to dive into my exam tonight, but guess what? It has to wait. I don't own any number 2 pencils.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What I'm wearing this weekend

This outfit features my sausage shorts, so named because they make my thighs look like blue sausage.
It's all good.
Sorry the guitar is taking up the whole picture.
Notice the cleverly chosen wedges and shorts to keep most of me dry as tropical storm Lee dumps rain on us. It is seriously wet out. We got about 12 inches so far.

T-shirt: Forever21 (I'm really getting too old to shop there) - $1.99 on clearance
Long shorts: $3.99 at Bloomin' Deals thrift store
Gold Colin Stuart wedges:also $3.99 at Bloomin' Deals thrift store. They were brand new!
Long necklace: Alloy for something like $1.99. It's very long so I tied it in a knot.
Gold hoops: Gift from the hus for our anniversary
Belt: This used to be a purse of mine and when the purse had a run-in with a permanent marker I cut it up and used the braided handles to make this D-ring belt (FYI it is hard to sew leather, but super easy to sew fake leather) FREE.

What are you wearing this weekend? And let's get tacky up in much did it cost?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

We have acquired smog.

It's actually a marsh fire. It's so strange living in the city, yet being so close to big pieces of nature (like huge marshes, wide rivers, alligator-inhabited swamps, and Chalmations....haha, local humor).
This week a water-locked area of marsh was struck by lightening and caught fire, making downtown New Orleans look like Mexico City.
Downtown New Orleans at 9:00 am

View from my parking garage

And because New Orleans love drama and just about everyone who lives here is a hypochondriac, my work day was filled with scores of people wearing masks inside closed buildings. 
I love it.