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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ten hours of driving and the petrified forest

Like every August, kids go back to school, flu-vaccine season starts, a fiscal year draws to a close, and my work goes CRAZY (many years, you can also throw a hurricane or hurricane threat in there to increase the insanity). I can't even explain how much I have on my plate this month, but last week it included a last-minute trip to Cleveland, Mississippi. I was asked to participate in a town-hall style meeting addressing the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Mississippi delta region.
I was behind this guy for like, 19 miles before I could pass him. Long drive in farming country!

Unfortunately, since it was last-minute, I had to do the trip in one day, and go back to work in the morning. So I left the house at 5:45 am, drove 5 hours to a more-northern area of Mississippi than I've ever been (surprise - it was 10 degrees cooler than New Orleans!), and made it to my meeting with minutes to spare. The meeting was good - the area needs a lot of information, education, and planning, but that's what I'm here to help with! But as soon as it was over, I had to turn around and head right back. I wasn't too happy to drive another 5 hours, but luckily I was able to take a short detour and explore the Mississippi petrified forest! I saw the sign on the highway and turned aside. Why not explore? I'd probably never be back in the area again.

I paid the fee for the short nature walk (throwing on my spare flip flops that I always keep in my car), and it was great fun. There are petrified logs - most very large - all over the place! It was a nice break from driving, and so remote that I couldn't hear a single sound out on the trail. "Nature" in the city (even the small city) is always accompanied by sounds of cars driving by or people yelling, but not here. It was a relaxing change from the clamor of the meeting I'd just left.

The rolling, sandy soil of the badlands

Sitting on a large petrified trunk

Parts of the trail were paved and fenced, 

The area is prone to flooding and erosion

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After my walk, I hit the road again, making it back by about 8:45: a long day! I'm so glad Friday was followed by a holiday weekend so I can recover some sleep!

Friday, August 23, 2013

This is why I have a blog

Why? So I can rant to a small audience about my annoying siblings.

Whenever one of my brothers gets into trouble (it happens at least once a year; remember, there are nine of them), I realize that I am the lone voice of reason in our chaotic family. It's a stressful role, people. Very stressful.

The currently-offending brother is king of bad choices. Now, I'm not talking crime or addiction or bad with the connotation of evil. I mean that he makes choices that obviously hurt himself: almost always financial, with the occasional personal/relational Titanic of a choice (like breaking up with someone via note left in a public place, for example).

As the brothers grow up, it gets harder and harder to be the voice of reason, because they no longer have to obey me or get walloped (well, ok, they were getting too big to wallop safely a couple of decades ago...). Now, I can only give strong suggestions, and seethe as they are ignored.

This one? He doesn't like advice. And his advice shunning has directly led to a situation in which he owes
$3000 in short term loans. 

Yes. Seriously. Goodbye, credit score. Hello, debtors' prison.
Grrr. Now I must excuse myself to go bang my head on a wall.

*edit* - Um, I don't have nine brothers. That would be insane! I have 7. And a sister. Nine kids total. Sorry I forgot how to count.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I am being chased by men in flag shorts

One of my dear running group buddies is nicknamed "Gary Everywhere" because he's...everywhere. It doesn't matter where you are, you'll run into Gary. He lives right on the course of Rock 'n Roll New Orleans, and two years in a row he's snapped great pictures of me running the race.
In 2012, my PR marathon, next to this dude in American flag shorts:

And then in 2013, as I dropped (injured) to the half, next to this dude in Maryland shorts!

What the heck? Two years in a row, same race, nearly the same spot on the I being followed by men in flag shorts?!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Embroidered throw pillow covers

Around about 5 years of marriage, all your lovely wedding gifts start to deteriorate. And since (as an astute reader might have noticed) we just celebrated our 6th anniversary, that means I only waited a year to cover my dilapidated living room throw pillows with new covers.
I sewed them out of tea-dyed linen and free-hand embroidered them in brick red.

I actually have a third pillow to finish, but I can't think of which building or tower to embroider. Suggestions?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Steps with Balance Rewards

*warning - cheesy promotional post for my company*

Walgreens sponsors all my races (um, in the form of my paycheck, that is) so I suppose I have to promote them once in awhile.

But this program is a good one, and I'm a big fan. Walgreens offers a Balance Rewards loyalty card, and you earn points with purchases. BUT! You can also earn points by running! It's called Steps. I love this twist, because it encourages healthy activity. And because I'm making bank on points. There are limits to how many points you can earn each month through exercise, but that's ok. That makes it easier. Every month I just log in and record my runs until I max out, then forget about it until next month.

So, just thought I'd share that with you. You get 20 points per mile, and 1000 points = roughly $1 off your total (more if you save your points up: 18,000 points = $20, etc).

The website is a pain in the rear, but if you just log it all at once in the first or second week of the month, it only takes a minute.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Not much to say...

Three lanes narrowing to one leads to 20 minutes of delays
Gosh, kids, really sorry I have nothing of interest to say. The last few weeks I...
- Took some time off running after my spate of races, just to make sure things weren't going wrong in my leg
- Traveled some, and skipped running due to packing and time restrictions
- Took a long weekend staycation for out anniversary (We like to do it big. August restaurant for dinner and a weekend at the Loewe's hotel downtown!). No running because that's not romantic.
- Late Mondays nights at work thanks to poor discharge planning at the hospital lead to skipped track workouts 3 weeks in a row
- Missed the last track meet and the last free summer 2-miler for the year, thanks to schedule conflicts
- Terrible construction, meetings, and other obligations had me leaving for work an hour to 30 minutes early for about ten days, which meant a short core workout or dumbbell routine subbed for running.
- And then it has been miserably hot.

So. Basically I haven't been running worth a darn in a month. I went out today, barely fitting 3 miles in before work, and it left me sore and uncomfortable! I actually still notice a nagging pain in my left leg: it feels like a tight hamstring perhaps? Better not be a stress fracture lurking, waiting to happen. I'll be furious. I have realized this year that I (and probably all runners) am much more fragile than I'd like to believe. It's up to me to make sure I minimize injury by strengthening and staying flexible.

I'm a little nervous that I felt some pain today, but I will watch that and make sure it's just out-of-shapeness, before progressing to getting a better base in advance of the fall races. Can't wait for some fast running in cooler weather!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Half-marathon training plan

Celeste and I post-race the last time I ran Jazz. We are so awesome.
I've never followed a training plan for a half-marathon, but I think that needs to change. I have the Jazz half-marathon coming up in mid-October, and it's far enough away from any marathons that it can be a stand-alone race, one that is a goal in itself rather than a step along the path to a marathon.

Pros to having Jazz as a goal race:
- Will hopefully finally break 1:30
- Historically great weather (60's)
- One of my favorite local races
- No other races near it to interfere with dedicated training

- I usually like to run this in costume, which doesn't bode well for a massive PR
- The course has been short twice in its 3-year history
- Race is earlier this year, and could potentially feature weather in the upper 80's
- I will be in less than superb shape, given my low mileage summer featuring the current bout of sheer laziness I am in

I'll need a training plan for Jazz whether I think I can PR or not, so I welcome suggestions for a good half-marathon specific plan.
Things I'd like to see in a training plan:
- Running 5 to 6 days a week
- No mid-week run longer than 10 miles
- Only one really hard day per week. More than that = fast road to overtraining and injury for me
- No key lead-up races, as it will be too hot and there aren't many races before Jazz.

Any suggestions? Don't say Brad Hudson. I was using his plan last year and I don't have enough knowledge to adapt the "adaptive" part! I ended up overtrained, slow, and then injured.