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Sunday, December 30, 2012

I love this: my Weber-Costello globe

One day, on a whim, I bought this old globe on Ebay. It's a Weber-Costello model with a wood base (probably not original) and a heavy, cast-iron meridian. It's a little scratched and faded, but that's half the charm!
What I love about this globe:
1. It has steam-ship routes marked in the oceans
2. It has a beautiful 1940's san-serif font
3. The colors have faded to muted neutrals
4. Louisiana is much larger than it is now (we're shrinking!)
5. Germany is unified
6. Ireland and Scotland aren't even marked: it's all Britain.
7. The United States is more faded than any other area
8. spelled like that
9. "The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic" is how Russia is labeled
10. Africa is still divided into "French" this and "British" that

How old is my globe? It's a little ambiguous. I'd say late-40's, based on country names. There are several good references to assist with globe dating; this one is good since it's created by a globe manufacturer.
Globes aren't dated, so the first step in determining age is to look at the manufacturer. Weber Costello stopped making globes in 1960, so that narrowed things down quite a bit.
Next, look for known series - for example, were embossed mountain ranges only made between 1975 and 1990?
Then start looking for tell-tale country names.
I can't definitively date my globe, because some of the dates conflict.

For example: 
My globe still lists Indo-China, so it should be prior to 1949. It also says Thailand instead of Siam. Thailand replaced Siam in 1939, but reverted back in 1945...then back to Thailand in 1949. So maybe this globe was made smack dab in the middle of 1949?
But then, it also is labeled Trans-Jordan instead of Jordan, and that change should have occurred back in 1946.
Israel is listed as a country, so that puts us after 1948: another vote for 1949. But the font is slightly different for the country name, as if it were added as an afterthought!

I paid less than $20 for this globe including shipping, but studying old names and borders has provided hours of entertainment. Plus, it adds a wonderful touch to my living room. It reminds me a little of Christmas when I was seven, when we got a globe as a family gift (my parents were big on gifts for us all to share, since there were about 17 million of us). Unexpectedly, the globe stole the show that year, and we kids surrounded it for hours that day, even skipping lunch lest we give up our coveted corner of the world!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012: a year of injury

2012 was a bad, bad running year for me. The funny thing is, I kicked it off with a bang  - I had several good races early in the year, followed by hell and horror for the rest. Slight exaggeration, there.

The good stuff:
January: I came in 3rd female at The Louisiana Marathon, and despite crashing full force into the dreaded wall, I feel like this was one of my best-run races. That or it was just one of the few with good weather all year!
Having a rare good race, despite being surrounded by slower half marathoners thanks to the course design.
February: A few weeks later I won for the women at The Wall 30k, which was my first race longer than a half marathon back in 2010. I took 42 minutes off my time in two years! This year it was a tough race, since we were on top of the levee right on the river and the wind was brutal that day.
This picture is hilarious - and could be used for blackmail - since I am so confused by the finish line tape. I almost look scared of it. 
March: My current marathon PR: RnR New Orleans. I missed my goal of 3:05 by more than a minute and felt like I lost touch with the race in the last ten miles. I was miscalculating pace and off on nutrition and water - just not a well-run race. And my groin was really bothering me.
I'm trying to escape The Loud Breather behind me.  And I don't look happy.
Also in March? My Boston training run: a free entry into the hilly Publix marathon. I nailed my pace on that one despite the uncomfortable heat.
Publix: training race or not, still intent on ruining my finish line picture by messing with my Garmin
Things start falling apart:
April: Ah, Boston. The morning we flew out I fell running (tripped on nothing) and my knee filled with fluid and blood. Then the race itself turned into yet ANOTHER "marathon for fun". What else can you do when you run yet another marathon in the 80s? No 3:05 there...ran  a 3:24ish!
Not hard to run like this at all. In high 80's weather. 
May: With my million marathons behind me, I finally addressed this annoying groin pain. I was diagnosed with osteitis pubis, and was cheerily told I should be out of the woods in just a few weeks.

Crash and burn:
June: Pain, appointments, PT.
July: A sad and miserable 4 mile race on the 4th of July demonstrated my complete lack of fitness and my persistent pain.
These men look better in bikinis than I do, hateful little creeps.
August: Pain now includes adductor tendons, not just joint space.

Short rally:
September: I read a Runner's World thread addressing training with osteitis pubis. To my surprise, more than one runner said regular high mileage helped the problem. Another runner detailed exercises that helped her, so I dropped any PT that caused pain and started doing the bridges, planks, and clamshells that she recommended. I spent September working up to a 45 mile week.
October: I started a Brad Hudson marathon plan and averaged around 65 miles a week. The osteitis pain did, indeed, lessen! But my fitness was lagging. My first race back was uncomfortable and slow.
Nothing wrong with my form can't be why I keep getting injured....
I suck at running:
November: I woke up one day and looked at my Garmin. I was slow. And slowing further. Slower than a year before. What was I doing wrong? I felt tired and everything was an effort. I quit on a few runs. My calf felt strained. So what did I do? Ran a 5-miler on it. I felt sore and achy later, but it wasn't until I tried to run again that I realized I had hurt something badly on the other leg.
December: A chiro diagnosed me with a hamstring tear (pretty obvious based on the striated lines of blood under the skin!) and cracked my joints a few times. Then his coworker did some ART and Graston. Now that helped!
I'm limping back to the starting line.
What does 2013 hold? Hopefully for me it will be recovery from injury, discovery (why am I getting injured?) and victory - a good race or two and maybe a PR as well!
What was your favorite running moment this year? Goals for 2013?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Working Christmas Eve

I'm working today. My little pharmacy is very quiet, but I wanted to be here in case people were trying to get discharged in time for Christmas and needed prescriptions filled. Plus I have a lot to do.

Empty out the drama box. YEAH! Totally empty! That never happens!

Get this stupid recall done.

Return all these narcotics that expired.

Bring cookies to all the floors that are still open!

Divide up these gigantic boxes of Tamiflu, since on top of everything else I do I am also the distribution hub for emergency short supply in our district. 
Oh, and then there is this bomb that went off on my counter. Ugh. I sort of made a dent in this.  I can't believe I let it get so messy! 

I hope if you worked today that you had a lovely day and no one was rude to you. And if you were off, you were able to enjoy time with loved ones. Merry Christmas and God bless you!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting Graston

Since I last left you I've been off running, off reading about running, off thinking about running, and basically not even interested in running.
But I've also been to the chiropractor, who has been robbing me blind while creating a symphony with my joints.
My first visit was mostly diagnostic. On my second visit I had all my joints cracked and my back hurt all week. On the bright side, my left SI joint actually moved for the first time in forever. I didn't even realize it was supposed to move.
On my third visit, I had Graston done on the offending hamstring and tendon. The rest of the day I couldn't tell if anything was different, but I woke up the next morning considerably improved. I was able to do stairs normally for the first time since the injury!

More at the Graston website

Graston is a technique in which the chiropractor uses steel tools to warm the muscle and break up scar tissue. I didn't have a terribly large amount of scar tissue, but the difference was enormous! I went from limping to just nagging pain by the next day.
I've heard that Graston should hurt, but it really didn't. There is some minor discomfort, but I wouldn't really call it pain (but then, I ignore pain like an idiot, so maybe you shouldn't listen to me). I did bruise, though - quite a lot, actually. I'm glad the weather cooled down and ruled out shorts for this weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, I did something bad.
I ran.
Ten miles.

Oops. What happened was that my darling husband and I were out late partying like 20-somethings on Friday, when actually we are both in our thirties (and David's practically 40). After happy hour at The American Sector at the WWII museum, I washed my sazarac down with an Amstel light and a Christmas shot (which tasted like cinnamon Coke, barf) courtesy of our neighbors who own a bar.
Sometimes we decide to irresponsibly enjoy the childlessness of our life and do things like get home at midnight - and for us that's like 5 am. We don't do that stuff much.

This morning David was feeling less than chipper. He was tired (and we both slept in) and a little dehydrated. He didn't want to run. He needed more than encouragement: he needed company. Right? I mean, what was I supposed to do? I dragged him out, planning to get him started with 3, then let him finish his 16 on his own. But I felt fine, so I did ten, which is when I began to be aware of my hamstring. I went home and iced.

The hamstring still feels pretty good, but my osteitis pubis pain is terrible! That is one complaint I have about the chiro: He will NOT leave that joint alone (Shut up in the peanut gallery, all those jokes have already been made). Everything he's done has made that pain much worse, when before I finally had it under control. So I will have to figure out how to deal with that.

So am I back to running? Oh, no. This morning was a mistake. I will ease back and I'm still scratching all upcoming races! But a little cardio sure did feel great!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday pharmacists

Because my pharmacy is open 9 am to 6 pm every day, if I worked all the time I'd be way overtime, so I get to pick one day a week as a short day. On this day I work 6 hours instead of 9, and I have coverage at my pharmacy so I can do other tasks like marketing, sales, meetings, etc.
Right now that day is Wednesday.
I've had a lot of turnover for my once-a-week pharmacist. Initially I hired a pharmacist who had applied for my own position, and he seemed like a good fit. He was perhaps too hesitant to truly manage, but he was kind and helpful and smart. But as time passed he began to be careless and lazy. I discovered why in April when he resigned: he had opened his own pharmacy. It bothers me a little that he was doing much of the work and planning for his new store - my competitor! - while on my clock, behind my back.
When he abruptly left, I scrambled to fill his spot. I ended up without any coverage for a few weeks, then I interviewed two ladies for the position. Neither interviewed very well, but I was pressured to hire a girl whose hours had been cut from 40 to 32 (even professionals can face salary cuts in this economy!). I did, but right away we had problems. She was extremely distracted on the job and made multiple errors (once she sent a new kidney transplant home with no insulin - and the drugs one takes to prevent organ rejection cause very high blood sugar). She interrupted others constantly, making her very difficult to train. I would have to repeat instructions 7 or 8 times! And she claimed to dislike reading, so would never refer to our "Need to Know" binder I made for the store with all of our policies and procedures. Because of this, she did not complete several required processes: for example, certain high-risk drugs require extensive documentation when they are dispensed, but she skipped that step because she couldn't remember my instructions and didn't "have time" to read the guide.
But worse than that, I came in one day after she worked and she'd forgotten to log off the computer. To my chagrin I saw that she'd been online processing claims for the insurance company she works for part time! She was working for another company while on my payroll!

I was baffled as to why she'd take that risk. She should have known it was grounds for termination - unless she decided not to read THAT procedure, too! I didn't want to report her to her supervisor, because I didn't want to be the jerk who got her fired from her first pharmacy job. Instead I met with her and we talked. I made it clear that this was grounds for termination and must never occur again, and I let her go from my Wednesdays (she still gets 32 hours at her regular store).

I had to hire again. I had a temporary pharmacist in the position and I would have LOVED to keep her every week. She's fantastic. But she didn't want it. See, my job is not easy! As the only pharmacist - and the only manager - you have a lot of responsibility. Not many pharmacists welcome that kind of stress, even though it's good experience if you plan to pursue management.

Right now I'm testing out another temporary pharmacist, and she's game and has a great attitude, but in the past she's had problems with spending her time on her cell phone instead of working. So she is still on probation. And she's the type who won't make her own decision, so she calls me ALL. THE. TIME.
And that's my Wednesday situation. The question is, am I a mean boss or just bad at hiring and interviewing? And did I handle the last pharmacist the right way? The correct thing to do would be to terminate her. Was I being kind to not report her, or will that come back to bite me later?

Drama. You'd think me and my two employees wouldn't create all this drama.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sad weekend

I spent the weekend in a sort of fog of sadness after hearing the news of the killings in Connecticut. I just can't comprehend the horror. I can't stop worrying about the little kids who survived: how will this affect their lives?
The worst part is that I don't know how to help. I can give money, but it seems so empty. This is the kind of tragedy that leaves you helpless. It always relieves sorrow when you can do something actively to help. Hurricane Sandy? I can donate clothes and supplies! Cystic Fibrosis? I can support research! Homeless for the holidays? I can cook you warm food!
But your six-year-old was murdered? I can only stand numbly by and offer generic words of condolence.

I don't even know how to pray for these families.

There are some ways to help, which SUAR helpfully listed on her blog - check it out if you can.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Letting my snark flag fly

There was a girl I knew in college who was the object of every guy's crush. She was a flirtatious Southern belle, fully aware of her power over men. I have nothing against her.
Yet it does gratify me somewhat to observe via Facebook that she has aged less gracefully than anyone I've ever met.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Visit to the chiopractor

So I went to see a quack last week. I mean, a chiropractor. I am so squeamish about chiropractors. I have a red flag rule for healthcare providers: If they sell supplements in their office, I question their integrity. 
Red flags were all over the place last Wednesday. I could even join a buying and selling scheme to get some sort of mineral pill.
However, I'm withholding judgment for now until I actually get some treatment done. I went to a sports chiropractor my Varsity group recommends. I know I have a mild hamstring tear and some crazy damage in my knee and hip (how I did this I do not know. I raced slowly and poorly on Thanksgiving, yet somehow inflicted damage on five distinct areas of my left leg. Talent). But what I want to find out is why these injuries keep occurring and what I can do to prevent them. I thought a sports chiropractor could help with that.
The first visit was basically just diagnostic because the hamstring tear is too fresh to do a lot of treatment. It's still in the rest and ice phase (bruising is subsiding though). The chiro did just two things that could be considered treatment:
1. Ultrasound to injured hamstring. Wonderful results. The next day I had a 90% decrease in pain.
2. A casual mention of, "Wow, tight lower back" accompanied by pressure from one hand resulted in soreness, spasms, and pain all week. Um, thanks. My back has never hurt me in my life until now!

So, the diagnostic part:
1. First, looking at the legs/pelvic area, I have some hip-locking. This I knew. We will try some hip-popping once I have healed muscles in that area to keep the popped hip where it should be. Fine, that makes sense.
2. Once acute damage subsides, will look into tightness in calf that is leading to pain and damage (probably contributing to knee pain too).
3. Supposedly I have no mobility in the SI joint. Whatevs.
4. And of course, the most obvious. I have scoliosis. But this is my first actual diagnosis or look into it. I had my first x-ray of the area and I was appalled. I have this giant spinal curve and pretty severe rotation. I find this hard to believe because to me my spine LOOKS straight. But there it is.
Of course I knew/guessed I had scoliosis since I was a little kid. The reason is that my rib cage is uneven: my left ribs are normal, but my right ribs actually bend inward. So my right ribcage is concave!   This is, of course, on the side that is compressed.

The scoliosis part is the one I'm most worried about because I don't see how that can be treated. I know it is affecting my gait, balance, pelvic rotation, hip mobility, etc. The chiropractor I saw treats many runners, but he was a little hesitant to recommend a return to the sport. He actually referred me to an orthopedist for the spine issues as a precaution (I'm not going). He's realistic enough to admit that this is a problem that won't ever go away and will always affect running.

Take-aways from the visit?
1. I'm pretty awesome for running, walking, and functioning well/normally for 30 years with a big fat curved and rotated spine. And I have good posture. So there.
2. I have good strength in all my muscles; poor function in most joints.
3. I will need to maintain flexibility if I ever do run again.

I'll report back once I have some good old-fashioned bone cracking done!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thank you for your advice!

Everyone had something helpful to say on my last post (everyone except the anonymous porn ad - I don't know why this is, but I have been getting a huge amount of spam lately, and Google didn't catch that one).

So many strong runners commented here and gave smart advice. My running future is still pretty uncertain to me (and a return seems far off right now unless I undergo a miraculous healing, which would be fine with me) but I do know that I will be scratching the half marathon I was registered for next week. I'm 99% sure I'm also scratching the Louisiana Marathon in January, unless I'm able to return to jogging by then and run the race with my husband.

Yep, David's still running, and on track for his first marathon in January! I made him a training schedule and he has been killing it, In fact, he's off running 20 miles this morning while I sit here drinking coffee. When he agreed to run a marathon, he set a goal for himself of breaking 4 hours, and I made him a training plan. He has three races as part of his training: a ten-miler a few weeks ago in which he beat his Mcmillan projected pace by several minutes, a five-miler on Thanksgiving in which he nailed his finishing time even though I made it a little harder based on his last race, and the upcoming half marathon. So far he's been getting faster and stronger every day. For illustration, he ran a 10k in April in over an hour, but his five mile race was completed in 38:33. I'm so proud of his improvement!

As for me, I do still have a marathon in late February (RnR New Orleans), and this is the one that I originally thought could be under 3 hours way  back last year. No chance of that now; now the question is only will I be back to running at all, and will I be back to that distance? I'm leaving that up in the air for now, because I still don't know if I even want to continue running! I even cancelled an order for a second pair of running leggings I was buying to stock up!

As I make these decisions I will be thinking about all the comments you guys left. Thank you! Thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful, caring comment to someone you only know over a computer! The kindness and camaraderie of the running community is one reason why I'd hate to leave it.

And now I'm off to do a Bob Harper workout. Because these calories aren't going to burn themselves.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Doubts and discouragement

This year has been a very discouraging one on the running front. I developed an injury that is clearly chronic (osteitis pubis) and that will have to be carefully managed ... forever.
I returned to running feeling slow and out of shape. I've been unable to improve my times.
Then I developed not one, but two additional injuries one on top of the other: first a nasty calf strain that feels like sharper shin splints (but along the side); then a mild muscle tear in the opposite leg that originates deep in the hamstring area but affects the back of the knee and hip as well.

Time off hasn't helped yet. My test run after two weeks didn't show much improvement, although the "I can't step on it at all" pain was gone from both legs.

But to say I'm discouraged is an understatement. I'm really considering dropping running altogether. It just seems that lately it only causes me pain, and continual bad performances negate any cheering effect of exercise. If I can get my endorphins without pain and failure with some other form of exercise, why choose running?

This level of frustration just shows how many doubts have crept into my thinking. Will I ever have a pain-free run? Can I run a marathon again, or is that all history? Am I going to be able to run any of the races I registered for this year?  Is 3:06 my marathon PR for life? Did I overestimate my fitness and ability?

After last year's improbable improvements, I started to think that I could still get faster. I'd long had reservations about my running: I knew I had a funny gait, an awkward build, a non-athletic history. But when I dropped 20 minutes from my marathon time in a year, I persuaded myself that I could do more than I thought. I half-set an ambitious goal: Run a marathon under three hours.

At first, I thought it was doable. If I dropped 20 minutes last year, couldn't I drop 6 this year? Then, after injury this summer, I thought it was doable - but would require more work to make up fitness. But then my fall training got tougher and less and less productive: and I thought I would push the goal back. Now that I'm totally sidelined, slow, and discouraged, I am wavering on letting that goal go forever. In fact, I'm wavering on letting competing go forever. Even letting running go forever, and just jogging to warm up for other activities.  Part of me thinks, "It's only six minutes! Go get this goal no matter the cost!" But the rest of me thinks, "I'm wincing with every step. I'll break my body this way. It is no longer enjoyable for me. Resting for weeks to heal up will make marathon training impossible. Give it up." And I think things like, "You got to this point by training past your ability. Who do you think you are?! Three hour marathon?! You couldn't break four hours until marathon #3! You have bunions! Your knees make funny sounds and you are heavier than any other marathoner out there! You can barely break 20 minutes in a 5k!"

I'm really at a cross-roads. I don't like to quit things, but here I am ready to quit everything about running. What worries me is that when I doubt myself, it's usually with very good reason. It means I shouldn't be attempting what I'm attempting. If I don't think I can run, I'm afraid I might be right. I almost never prove myself wrong. I guess I usually know myself pretty well.

What to do? What to do next? How to graciously fade out of the running world, or graciously creep back in, no longer as a potential age-grouper, but now as the back-of-the-pack occasional jogger? What do my next months of fitness look like?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas with cranes

This year's decorating theme is paper cranes.
I bought jewel tone foil origami paper and we're incorporating the cranes both on the tree:

And on our advent calendar - or rather, advent branch.

David and I wrote Christmas Bible verses on the backs of the origami paper; every day we choose a paper, read the verse, then fold a paper crane and hang it on our advent branch.

Along with paper cranes, we decorated around blues and silvers, including silver snowflake ribbon on the mantles.

The tree also has the glass ornaments that David and I made when we were dating.

What's your tree look like this year?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foody Friday: Homemade peppermint patties

Lasst Christmas my food gift boxes were a hit, so I'm repeating the gift this year. The box for 2012 includes homemade peppermint patties. It's an easy enough recipe that I'd thought I'd share it.
Making the patties was the easy part.
You just combine three ingredients, roll it out, and cut circles. I used a shot glass to cut the patties. I learned that leaving the patties to dry out a little makes a crisper patty and makes dipping easier, too.
You can easily dip the patties on a fork. I let mine dry on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Once they were fully set, we wrapped them in foil wrappers I bought from Wilton.
I see him chewing, little snitch.

David would only help if I plied him with wine.

Dark and milk chocolate on the left; white chocolate on the right. 
I tasted some, too! 
The recipe:
Mix a can of sweetened condensed milk with 5 cups powdered sugar and 1 TBS peppermint extract (or about 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint oil). Mix to form dough, adding an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of powdered sugar as you go. Roll out and cut out patties. Let them dry out for a day for best results. Then dip in melted chocolate. To melt chocolate, you can just put chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Then add a tablespoon of crisco to thin the chocolate before you dip.
Place dipped candies on a lightly greased sheet to dry; when completely set wrap in foil candy wrappers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Walmart running leggings

A few years ago I bought a pair of running tights from, of all places, Wal--mart online.
They were perfect.
They were thick, but not too hot. They were long enough. They had a key pocket. They fit like leggings, but were the material and feel of pants. They were $12.00.

I should have stocked up, but I didn't, and now Wal-mart doesn't make these tights anymore. But they do make running leggings.
Also available in gray.

They're also a steal at $12, but there are a couple of changes from the tights.

1. These are actually leggings, so the material is thinner. And they look like leggings. I wear mine without shorts or skirt over them, but then, I have no shame. I can see some people thinking they need a little more coverage, but you can't actually see through the fabric, so I think it's ok.
(The good thing about the fabric is that it is fake polyester stuff - no cotton-y feel like fashion leggings. I have a pair of running leggings with more cotton, and that does NOT work: the leggings get sweaty and stick to you and bunch up. Terrible. These don't do that.)
2. They aren't quite as warm (which is good for me, since I don't have that many freezing days here). If you get too hot in running tights you might try these.
3. No key pocket. Worst thing ever. But they have a doubled waist band, so I will sew a key pocket into mine.
4. Not flattering. What I mean by this is, these aren't "suck-your-rolls-in" tights like Lululemon or something. The fabric's thin, so they aren't sucking anything in. When you wear them, it looks like you wearing leggings. Period. Not you after lipo and 4 years of Body Pump and spin class daily wearing leggings.

So, there are a few drawbacks to these guys compared to true running tights. But I still really like them, and it's nice to have a lighter weight option. And for that price, it's hard to go wrong!
(PS - For sizing purposes: a few reviews say to size up on these leggings. I would not do that. They fit true to size on me. I have a super pear-shape so if I say they fit true to size, they fit true to size!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Random things of interest

1. This. I love and adore that we cannot break the brave Brits code all these years later. Britain, you rock for saving the free world back in the '40s. In case I forgot to thank you earlier.
2. My little brother Joey is back in the USA! He was in Afghanistan for 9 months. He'll get some leave near Christmas. So glad he's home safe!
3. I'm seriously off running because I'm seriously injured. I ran the Turkey Day Race (poorly) as planned. Racing on one limping leg caused an imbalance that, I believe, strained my other hamstring. And now I can't even walk without pain. I feel a million years old. No more running for me. Catch you in late 2013, races.
4. Buying a pre-lit tree is a terrible idea. Once large sections of lights start dying you have to get all up in there with wire cutters and remove all 500 of them.

5. I love Christmas, but I hate the temporary mess. Dear boxes: please go mail yourselves. Dear ornaments: please go climb the tree and nestle amongst branches. Try to space yourselves out a little.
6. Football this year is giving me stomach ulcers.
7. I found a wine called Tisdale on sale for 3/$10 and it was actually good! So I drank three bottles.
8. I got my Ellimpic medal in the mail this week. It was awesome. Touch-screen gloves, knee socks, water bottle, fuel - great stuff. But no picture because I took it apart and wore/used/ate it already :) Thanks XLMIC!
9. I found some precious miniature pears at the grocery store last week. Popped into wine glasses they made a great mantle decoration!

10. My technician has jury duty and was selected for a jury. Lord help me. I can't function without her. I hope I tell her how awesome she is all the time, because she rocks. I was a pharmacy tech for 10 years before I was a pharmacist and I know it's a hard job - and I appreciate a good tech!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Paris: San Chapelle

It's hard to believe that the intricate glass work and soaring architecture of San Chapelle dates to the 15th century, but it does. In fact an original mural from the 1440's is still visible inside. While the church is beautiful, it is also small and is so often under work that not all the stained glass is visible. So if you are scrimping (it costs 9 Euros to enter) go to Notre Dame for free instead.
The motif for the church is very like a New Orleans motif!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Taking off

I'm taking time off of running.
There are three excellent reasons for this:
1. I mentioned a calf strain earlier. It's not going away and it HURTS. I can run through osteitis pubis because it isn't an impact injury, but a little old calf strain is killing me and needs rest.
2. I didn't go into detail because it's gross runner TMI, but when I was sick Saturday after the race I had some pretty serious GI bleeding. I bleed very easily (chronic nosebleeds, wounds that won't close, etc) which is related to hormone levels. It's not a big deal, but I felt very weak and faint that weekend. I'm still out of breath a lot - just stairs challenge me - so I need a real break to build blood volume.
3. I'm definitely doing the overtraining thing. This seems impossible to me: I'm not doing a ton of speedwork and my mileage is low to mid 60's per week, yet I guess for me this is too much. I have been feeling very tired and weak and simply cannot get any speed up at all. I tried to do the track workout on Monday, and I fell behind in the warm-up! And my races have me working hard for what used to be a training pace.

I jumped into this marathon plan after injury, and even though I built up to mileage in the 40's before starting, the increase was too much. And I've made several classic mistakes:
- Apparently my easy runs are too fast! I actually don't wear a Garmin or a watch for my easy runs, so it's hard to tell for sure, but that seems to be the consensus (My long runs, on the other hand, are not meant to be slow in this plan - however, they are slower than my long runs last year. Proof I'm slowing down). 
- I do too many hard workouts. When I do track with the Varsity Sports group on Mondays, I am skipping the plan's Monday speedwork. Sometimes I read the plan and like the workout so much I will run it on what should be an easy day. That's probably a bad idea.
- I tried to start at my prior fitness level. I got my paces off the McMillan calculator based on my marathon PR - pre-injury and many months ago. I'm just not there yet. A few weeks ago I ran a 15k race at a slower pace than my half-marathon! 

After Saturday's race and tummy disaster, I took a very easy day Sunday and off entirely Monday after dropping out of the track warm-up two miles in. Tuesday I did Bob Harper's hardest workout ever, which does not live up to its name, and today I am wondering if I should do yoga for runners (boo), nothing (yay!), or a short run (meh). Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I am already registered for the Turkey Day 5 mile race in its 105th year of running so I can't miss that, come hell or high ankle sprain.

When I return to marathon training, it will be:
- Without a goal except to run a strong race, hopefully 3:10 to 3:30 range, and ease back into distance running/training. I looked at how close the race is (January 20th) and I can't see myself recovering, building a base back up, getting faster, and PRing just like that.
- At lower mileage. I know I need the higher mileage, but since I'm going goalless anyway, I could really use a little extra free time to get my insane work-life in order.
- At lower intensity. One hard session a week will have to do for now. Kris Lawrence gave me some great advice - adding marathon pace miles to the end of a long run - that I will also incorporate. That will get me some race pace stuff with little extra stress.

After this race I will honestly assess my fitness and ability and set a real goal for the Rock n Roll New Orleans race in February!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Skinny bashing

This Sunday I went to the baby shower of a friend from pharmacy school.
(This baby shower, by the way, had me in frantic crochet mode. I put off starting her baby's sweater until this week, so the whole drive to Manchac and back I was speed-crocheting to get it done).

Baby showers don't generally rock my socks off, just because I find it very hard to feign interest in baby gifts. How many "awwww"s do I have to generate for decorative bottles and onesies with ponies on them? At least at bridal showers I can steal decorating ideas.
But it was good to see some pharmacy school friends I hadn't seen in awhile, especially as there was some super juicy gossip about one of our associates.

This gal...
- Got married to an ex-boyfriend and got pregnant while in pharmacy school.
- While pregnant, had an affair with her also-married boss. 
- Which caused bosses' wife to commit suicide
- Gal did not yet divorce husband, but
- Gal is now pregnant with bosses' child.

Good gosh. I'm speechless.
Anyway, back to the shower. Like many social events in Louisiana, this one had it's fair share of overweight and obese attendees. As in, most of them. Louisiana isn't doing so well as far as health and weight and diet go.
And something occurred that I've observed a lot at these events. As the cake was being cut, one guest - slender - declined cake. She was instantly showered with abuse. Actually, the verbal assaults started before she declined: When asking her if she wanted cake, the mother of the honoree called out, "Hey skinny! I know you could use some cake!"
When the girl said she didn't want any, all I could hear was sarcasm and insults.

What? Are you trying to lose weight?
Good grief, you need to eat some cake!
Oh brother, make us all look fat, go ahead!
You can eat it just this once, geeze, it won't kill you!
Yeah, you look like you never tasted cake in your life! 
Pfft, she probably just wants to lick the knife after you're done serving.

I don't know when this nonsense became acceptable, but it's downright commonplace in public. The poor girl was like, um, I just don't like white cake. Not only is it ok for her to pass up cake, it's ok to be skinny! It's not a crime! Yet it isn't just showers where I see this. Online forums claim that "All REAL women have cellulite" and praise companies who use overweight models, saying they are REAL women. When celebrities lose weight they're criticized, even if they are still a healthy weight. Choosing healthy options over sugary snacks is praised if it's done by someone trying to lose weight, but if you're already thin and skip the cake you get snide remarks.
When did we start condoning skinny bashing? Imagine if the situation at the shower was reversed. I can just see the reaction if an overweight guest accepted cake and everyone condemned her for it. If people told her, "You're already fat, have an apple for once!" or muttered, "Watch, she probably wants the piece with the most icing" - well, we'd be appalled. But we can do the exact same thing to our thin friends.
What gives?
Have you seen this? Have you responded?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Middendorf's Manchac 10 mile race

Welp, the slowness hasn't gone away. 1:08:32 I think for 10 miles.
In a bid for speed, I put on a Swift brand bandaid this morning.

Since I was turning this race into a long run, I came with a lot of fuel. And I don't know how a baggie of olives got into my stash of gels and gu. The only thing I took was the Gatorade prime.

I love this race - even though it's 50 miles away, we always try to run it, mostly for the catfish dinner served afterwards. We drove up early so David and I could get some miles in before the race. I did almost 5 before we started; he did four.
Thursday I developed a calf strain that was tender when I landed on it, so I smeared it with NSAID drops before leaving the house. It still hurt, but I know it will do away.
 I wormed up to the line before the start, but I could NOT get close and started pretty far back. That was my first mistake. My second was forgetting to clear my Garmin from the warm-up! I didn't know what time I had when I started running, so even though I finally had the presence of mind to hit lap at mile 2 I didn't know my total time at all.
It turns out it was plenty slower than I thought - between starting so far from the front and then dodging runners for a whole mile, I estimate based on my Garmin data that my first mile was a 7:48. Ouch.
For some reason this was a small field doing the 10 mile today (plenty in the 5k, though); I worked to try to keep my fast friend Celeste in my sight but never even got a glance at the lead female - Rachel Booth, of Disney half marathon fame. She's the top-ranked runner in the state and the only fastie who showed up today for the ladies.
I did see her at the turn-around, of course, light years in front. Celeste was #2, I was #3. Once we settled down after the 5k turn around I'd picked a few people off who looked like they were over-exerting themselves. By mile 5 I'd also passed one lady who worried me; she's the local professional triathlete who on a good day smokes me.
The last 5 miles were straight into the wind, and even though I though I was picking up pace I wasn't. Actually my splits are pretty even, minus the first mile. The wind was loud in my ears and I couldn't hear if anyone was behind me. I finally glanced back and couldn't even see another female! Then I relaxed. I was anxious to place because there was prize money, and yep, I'm greedy like that.
I wasn't thrilled to death to see a 1:08 on the clock when I finished. I'm not sure how to shake this slowness. I did a few more miles after finishing - I ran back along the course, found David, and ran back with him. He impressed me! He had a great run, 8:20 average pace, and his last 2 miles were both under 8.
I ended up with close to 19 for the day and David did 16.
Prizes! Glass, plaque, and check!
Then my day was ruined. I was thrilled to enjoy the beautiful weather and delicious catfish with friends and was ready for a nice Saturday, when my stomach decided it didn't like catfish, beer, and Gatorade Pro 01 Prime (a gel-like drink I took before the race since I'd added miles to my day). I spent the rest of the day in stomachache agony wishing I was dead.

Lessons learned today: Get closer to the front. Fight the headwind harder. Race the race, don't save energy for the miles after. Recover better - I do think I'm not sufficiently recovering; my legs felt sore close to mile 9. And biggest lesson? No Gatorade Pro 01 Prime. It was the only new thing I tried and I haven't felt this sick in years.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm slow

I can no longer ignore the fact that since starting my marathon training plan, I have slowed noticeably. What the heck, Brad Hudson? I thought your book was called, "Run Faster". As the weeks have passed my long runs have gotten slower, my workouts have gotten harder, and my overall quality has plummeted.
Here's what I'm seeing:
1. My "easy runs" are taking me longer and longer.
2. My regular effort (for warm-ups or easy running - or basically if I run without paying attention to pace) used to hover around 7:30 pace. Now it's 7:40 and climbing. In fact it takes concentration to get it under 7:30.
3. I used to sometimes run sub-7 min miles during a run without meaning to or noticing - it just happened. Never any more. Now it takes a lot of effort.
4. And speaking of effort, all my running seems like it requires more effort.

So what do I do?! I assume I bit off more than I can chew. Should I drop some miles? Drop the number of hard workouts? Taking a day off doesn't help.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paris: Cath├ędrale Notre Dame de Paris

We loved Notre Dame so much we made two trips: one to be obnoxious tourists, and one to attend mass and worship in a beautiful, calm, and solemn environment. We attended mass the morning of All Saints Day, so I think that gets my Catholic husband a gold star or something. Maybe his own planet.

Detail of external decoration

View from the back
Notre Dame was awe-inspiring: the sheer size was breath-taking; the worksmanship from so long ago truly unbelievable. I do suggest attending a mass - either a holiday or a Sunday so you get the real organ - but if you just go to sight-see, it is still free of charge.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Where are all the races?

Hanging out with running friends after The Wall 30k last year

If you read my blog last year, you're probably wondering where are my races went. Last year by now I'd run quite a few fall races...

Clarence Demar Marathon
Gulf Coast HalfMiddendorf's Manchac ten miler
Jazz Half
Turkey Day five miler
Gulf Coast marathon

And I still had my winter races coming up:

Baton Rouge Beach marathon
Ol' man River half
The Louisiana Marathon
The Wall 30k

That's all between October and January. Throw in Spring and you'd have to add:
RnR New Orleans marathon
Publix Marathon
St Charles Ave Road Race 10k
The Boston Marathon

By the way, those races in Spring were all within 6 weeks!

But this year I had to back off. There were a few reasons for that. 
1. Thanks to injury I was not in shape to race early this fall. I was still building a base.
2. Since I'm actually still dealing with this injury. I want to reduce unnecessary hard efforts and save it for races that matter.
3. Recovery time cuts into training time for people who are not in shape (me).

So this year, all I've run is the Lakefront Classic 15k, which I didn't do so well in. And on my schedule for the rest of the season?

Middendorf's Manchac ten miler
Turkey Day five miler

Ol' Man River half

The Louisiana Marathon
Maybe The Wall 30k

RnR New Orleans Marathon

That's half the races I did last year! I certainly miss the fun of racing, but I feel like I need to play it safe since I'm still in pain when I run far or fast. Next week, though, you'll be getting a race report from me! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Paris: The Louvre

  The Louvre is the most value for your money in Paris. It's just 11 Euros, and you are surrounded by the best artwork in the world. David and I went on Monday (which is supposed to be the most crowded day) and had no lines at all. We showed up shortly after opening and entered through the mall entrance on Rue Rivoli.

You can do the entire museum in a day, you just have to pick and choose where to spend the most time. I was the tour guide, and we immediately made a beeline for the Denon wing, housing some of my favorite artists. We spent the entire morning there, broke for lunch, and spent less time in the remaining two wings.

If you eat in the Louvre, the little cafe is not bad food at all, and is faster and more affordable than the restaurant.

My take-home tip for the Louvre: Enjoy the architecture of the building as much as the art. The Louvre itself is one of the exhibits.

One of my favorites by El Greco - and much better in person; photography tends to make the contrasts look lurid.

There were only a dozen or so people in front of some of the most famous works, probably because we were in an off-season.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Running pays off

Look what I found on the levee! (Not the key - that's my key - it was just also  the contents of my pocket)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Running in Paris

I had big plans to run while on vacation.
Big flop.
I left New Orleans Saturday right after an 18 mile run which I crammed in that morning to make sure I got one last long run in. It capped off a pretty solid week for me: I had a very poor race on Sunday, but Monday I had a strong speed workout with the track group and Thursday I did what I think was my first tempo run ever - and it went quite well. Then the 18 miler wasn't bad, either. I saw many friends running the Jazz half marathon while I was in the park. I love that race, but I didn't want to run it and risk missing my flight if something went wrong. This miles I ran going against oncoming race traffic were slow - I was being careful to stay out of the way and off the course, and it was difficult. I did manage to throw some faster miles on at the end, though, and the run really felt effortless.
Twelve hours in a plane later, I wasn't really feeling up to running. I skipped Sunday. When the jet lag wore off Monday, I tried to head out of our hotel and do 8 or 10 miles, but we ran into a major problem. David had packed the wrong USB cable to charge my Garmin, and it was dead after my run Saturday. Without it, I was limited as to where I could run. I was as annoyed as you can be while on vacation in Paris, which isn't much.
There was a second problem, though. David didn't love the idea of my running off by myself with no way to contact him and no way to speak the language in an emergency. He made me drag him along.
Misery. I love that man, but he is so. annoying. to. run. with.
David loves to charge out of the house at break-neck speed, then begin complaining and barely jogging 2 miles in. Then I have to drag his sorry rear around after me for the rest of the run. I swear, this guy does it to me every time. Oh, and he acts like running is a punishment and often flatly refuses to do it.
And it was cold.
So the truth is that we only went running 3 times, for about 16 miles total all week. Like I said, big flop.
View from our hotel window: just run up the street to the Eiffel Tower

But when we did run, it was beautiful. We ended up just running around the park that surrounds the Eiffel Tower since we were familiar with the area and it was close to the hotel. There were other runners there, but most of them were Americans. We did see some adorable French old ladies running in jeans, though!
We ran around the tower at night but didn't do the Seine - too bad, look at that nice running path! 

I tried to jump right back in to my schedule when we got home from Paris and back to New Orleans, and that didn't go so well either. I had a long run on the books, and it just about sucked as much as a run can. I did an easy 1-hour warmup, except my heart rate was through the roof by the end of it. Perhaps a function of the jet lag, no sleep, and long flights and delays the day before? It had been raining steadily since I started running. When I switched to the speed portion, the rain became a downpour. I was soaked through, cars were splashing me, my shoes weighed 15 pounds, and I could not keep my speed up while dodging puddles. When I started chaffing raw I stopped and assessed. I was miserable! And tired and hungry! So I went home.
My shoes still haven't dried, and my running still hasn't come all the way around, but we're getting there.

What's your favorite place to run when traveling? I personally like runs in Atlanta, so I can get some hills in!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A letter to NYC and the northeast

Dear fellow- hurricaners:
I feel for you. I really do. When I say I empathize, I'm not just throwing the word around. I know how frustrating it is to have no transportation, no way to control the climate, no fresh foods, no way of knowing when basic services will be back. I know how unfair it seems that some people or neighborhoods are fine, and some are totally destroyed. I know how helpless you feel that people just a few miles away have food and water, but they can't get it to you. I know the way your heart sinks when you pick your way through closed streets, downed power lines, residual flooding, and blocked highways to a grocery store - only to find it boarded up. I've wryly put on my last clean pair of socks, too. I've stood in line for over an hour to buy whatever food I could scrounge. I've comforted friends and cried for no reason. Oh yeah, I feel for you. It's frustrating because we can't control the weather, but we wish we could control the outcomes.
With every storm we learn a little.
For now I hope your friends, neighbors, and complete strangers come together to help and comfort. Politicians promise, agencies rally, but the real assistance is from each other. So offer help and accept it. Give what you have and take what you need. And no matter where you go from now on, you'll meet someone from your home town, and the conversation will veer toward Sandy and shared experiences.

And New York Marathon? Right call, wrong timing. I feel terrible for runners who trained and flew in and made plans,  but I know the city needs streets open right now and could use its resources better than by hosting a race. So all you New York runners out there, go schedule another race, run your hearts out, and get a PR! I'm thinking of all of you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Home from Paris!

Thank you for all of your Paris tips - great ideas! We got back in on a delayed flight last night. We weren't home until 12:30 midnight after being awake for over 24 hours, so I'm a little droopy today, but still kind of dreamy about the whole vacation. All the Paris cliches are true: it's romantic, it's beautiful, it's historical, it's awe-inspiring. The only cliche that failed was the "rude Parisian" one - the people were especially polite and attentive.
For today, I'll just do pictures, but I will also post my "What to do" and "What to avoid" lists myself later.
The courtyard of the Louvre

We were blessed with beautiful weather for most of the trip and some amazing sunsets!  David got some great pictures and I acted as his art director. I set up the shot; he sets up the camera!

At the top of the Arc de Triomphe (freezing).

Outside the Arc, watching insane traffic (we saw an accident shortly after this!)

David behind Notre Dame
Outside Versailles

Versailles Gardens

The Grand Palais