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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Crescent City Classic

I kind of had a "meh" day at the Classic this year. It was actually a really nice day for a 10k, especially given how hot this race can be: it was pretty cool and overcast, a little breezy, with the only drawback being 85% humidity. David and I brought a friend from church to the start and parked in my work garage. It's only half a mile from the start, so we walked.
 I got in a decent warm up before they closed the corrals. I was in seeded corral C, which I begged for - I had not run any of the qualifying races, so I kind of had to do some explaining to get a seeded bib (the cut-off for C corral was 45 minutes, though, so I thought it was fair to give some equivalent times). Ever since the tighter corral enforcements took effect, the start at the CCC is smooth and easy - considering there are like 25,000 runners (some sources say 44,000. That is a huge discrepancy. I tend to believe 25,000 is more accurate). I ran in a crowd for almost the whole race, but the start was especially tight. I was trying to figure my German garmin out. It worked, but the average pace was not showing all the time - it was blank for good parts of miles 1 and 3 (oddly). I had to ask those around me for our pace.
This is a really boring race report because I ran high 6:40's/low 6:50's the whole race and could not get my engines started for some reason. I didn't feel tired, I just couldn't speed up. Maybe it was the humidity; maybe it was my really bad allergies (being able to breath would be nice), maybe it was the antihistamine I took making me lethargic. The only excitement came around mile 6, when - right at the turn to the finish - we were stopped by an ambulance! I never heard what happened to the person (runner? spectator?) but it must have been serious for the ambulance to cross the race course. I didn't actually come to a stop, just jogged a large loop around. None of the runners really knew what to do! Hopefully, the victim is fine; I imagine that if there had been poor outcomes it would have been a news story, so thing it ended well.

Then it was over, 42:41, slower than I'd like (and poor tangents/crowd running on my part, too). But hey. A year after I was cleared to run and I can still finish top 500! Yay!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Das ist nicht hilfreich

My new Garmin decided to change itself to German. It's still set on English. But the readouts are in German.
And my race is tomorrow....

Dies sollte morgen interessant zu machen!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Garmin 220

In a moment of panic, I bought a cheap, manufacturer-refurbished Garmin 220. It's a big change from the 305, and it's not all good.
New watch, old coffee cup (I despise Disney anything,
which makes this mug funny).

- gets satellite many minutes faster than the 305
- easy to set and change settings

- Only has six data fields. What was I thinking?! I need seven: Time, pace, distance, average pace, lap time, lap pace, lap distance.

Now, I don't need all those fields all the time. The lap time and distance are only if I'm doing a workout off the track. But who wants to reconfigure settings all the time? I guess it's a good thing that it's easy to do on this watch. I'm about to go try it out and see if I can run with the thing. I expect there will be a big learning curve!

Check back in an hour...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Limoncello factory

My sister-in-law had me over to pick some of her plentiful citrus this winter, and that means one thing: limoncello!

Well, it also means tangerine-cello. And tangerine jam. And lemon preserves. And lemon juice. And salted preserved lemons. And tangerine-clove-honey marmalade. I had a LOT of citrus!
The fruit was incredibly pretty
Limoncello is super easy to make: You carefully peel the fruit, then soak the peels in Everclear.
Tangerine peels in Everclear - look at the color! 

After two weeks, you mix with sugar syrup and let it age for a month and a half.
Limoncello and tangerinecello.
Beautiful, huh?
When David and I were buying the Everclear, we were getting SO MUCH attention. You cannot go into a New Orleans grocery store and buy eight bottles of Everclear without eliciting many comments! Besides the general ribbing and teasing while in the check-out line, we were overheard talking in the parking lot: I was telling David the process to make limoncello, and another shopper heard me say, "Well, you can make it with vodka or Everclear" - and he wheeled around and told us he wanted to be invited to THAT party!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Perfect timing

My Garmin died! AND IT'S RACE WEEK!
So many puns in the title...
I've had my 305 since 2011, and only this year did it start giving me trouble: first, it had several totally-dead-need-a-hard-reset events in January. Then, I noticed that the average lap pace wasn't updating. It would get stuck - say, on 7:45; then when it beeped the lap, the time would be far from the average, like 8:30. This didn't happen all of the time, but when it did, it would keep occurring until I did a reset.
Then Saturday morning it just up and died. I turned it on and it beeped like normal, and then...nothing on the screen. Everything about it appears to be working except the screen! I tried all the tricks, but no luck.
The problem is that Saturday is the Crescent City Classic, and I have not been back running enough to do well pacing off a stopwatch. I need my Garmin crutch! But - this is a terrible time to buy a new one. I haven't done any research into which Garmin I'd like to buy to replace the one I have, and even if I can make that decision and get one on time, I'll have no time to learn to use it.
Well, oh well. A few weeks post-marathon wasn't going to be a crazy fast race anyway, probably minutes off my PR, so could be worse. At least ol' Garmin held on for my marathon!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Scheduling my life

I enjoyed reading comments on my first MBA post, because it made this seem a lot more doable. Many readers have gone back to school under much more difficult circumstances; they survived, and so will I!
I'm done with the second week now, and it got a lot easier. My class assignments weren't available until Monday of the first week, and they are due Thursday of each week, so that was a bit of a crunch. But after that, I could view the reading assignments on Saturday morning and start working on projects on Sunday. I took Saturday off, but on Sunday afternoon, I completed all the reading, one set of accounting homework (we are currently doing two per week), and one of three management communications assignments. That made the rest of the week much easier, especially since I had a work event to attend Wednesday night.
So here's my proposed schedule for the week, to work around class requirements:
- Monday: keeping track for now; it might not be continued after the Crescent City Classic 10k in a few weeks (what we're all working towards).
- Tuesday: dropping Tuesday Bible study. This is kind of  long story: we attended this study with our last church, and when we changed churches, we stayed on at the study. And ever since we've been trying to politely leave. We really enjoy the study, but it's just too much every week! This is a good excuse.
- Wednesday: we're group leaders for our community group (with our current church!), so this stays.
- Thursday and Friday - off! Everything is due Thursday, so I get some time to finish last minute schoolwork, and Friday is free time.
- Weekend: Saturdays are forced off of school because nothing is posted unless it's accidentally early. Sundays I have a whole afternoon free, which is perfect to get a jump-start on the week.

Orange lips make it look like I care.
Other ways I've made time for school:
- I roped David into doing the dishes. For some reason, I usually do them. I formally handed that task off to him.
- I've taken to simplifying mornings with easy make-up - just under-eye concealer and lipgloss made infinitely more chic by this LOVELY orange color - and plain hair (the joy of bangs; brush your hair, and it's done).
- I am cutting corners in the kitchen: buying instead of making bagels; using the slow cooker; leaning more heavily on easy meals like beans and rice or pasta. I can survive boring food for a year!

By the way, my management communications class allows us to post all of our assignments to a shared forum, which...heavens. I am slightly appalled. Some of the posts are impossibly incoherent. I keep telling myself in disbelief that all of these posters already have undergraduate degrees, and that floors me. For example, one poster referred to "the et al study" several times. Part of my soul died! This is why I would be a bad teacher: I'd be posting things like. "What is WRONG with you?!" instead of constructive criticism.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Freshening up the living room

My throw pillows were starting to resemble prison-issue bedding, so last month I decided to redo them. I had to replace the worn pillows as well as the covers, so before sewing some cases, I bought new pillows online at Target. I DO NOT RECOMMEND. These were the flimsiest, squishiest, most under-stuffed pitiful excuses for throw pillows you have ever seen.
Before I realized that, however, I'd already headed to Hobby Lobby for some pretty affordable upholstery fabric ($13 a yard, but it's wide-width fabric, so I only needed a yard total). I did three large cushions and two small (we already owned two small pillows that did not need to be replaced). I did one large cushion and the backs of the two smaller ones in a coordinated solid.

See the back?

I ended up coping with the squishy, useless pillows by actually stuffing TWO pillows into each cover: One old, flat pillow and one new, overly soft pillow. That's why the covers don't fit perfectly and are creating those annoying dog-ear corners - not the best look, but much more comfortable now that they have some heft and body.

I also got rid of our coat rack. There was nothing wrong with it; it just seemed to me like we were decorating our living room with our coats!

I bought this small cabinet and, rather than put shelves in, instead screwed hooks into the side and ceiling to hang our jackets on.

The small cabinet on the bottom is used for hats, umbrellas, and ponchos leftover from our Peru trip (I am sure I'll need one at some point, right? Or am I hoarding?).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Best shoe buying experience ever

I walked into my local Varsity Sports and said, "This is a long-shot, but do you have a pair of men's Kinvara 5's left in size 8.5?" and the employee, without missing a beat, said, "Yes, we do" and immediately laid his hands on a pair.

It was on clearance, so I got it for $69, which is less than I could find a pair online. In a matter of minutes I had just what I wanted - no hunting, searching, or waiting. Perfect!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Easing back in

After a week off (totally: except strides and stretching on Monday, I did no form of exercise all week), I got back into running with a Monday night track workout.
I rounded up some of the troops on Facebook, and we had one of our bigger track groups. We had a ladder workout on schedule, which I ran solo, since I started late (the track time is while I am still at work, unfortunately).
The rest of the week was mostly short runs: 4.5, 7.5, 4.5, then off Friday for rain. Saturday I ran ten, which felt oddly short, including my hill repeats: ten on the longest side of the levee, 5 on each shorter hill, for 25 total. The temps weren't bad, even though I woke up very late, with 72 at the end of the run. The humidity, however, is up in the 80's already.
I tried to finish Saturday's run with 2 miles at half-marathon pace, but I really struggled. I got the last two miles at 7:15 each, but that kind of fast finish used to be easy for me. Now I can't even hit it - even adjusting the pace to my new (slower) half-marathon pace. I don't know if I'm still fatigued from the marathon or just tired in general (I've been up late with these classes!) or just darn slow. Anyway, I finished with a 7:26 pace for 10.5 miles and it felt kind of hard.

My ankle isn't swollen anymore, but it really hurts in heels. I've been wearing flats, but I put heels on Friday night to hear my talented friend Sarah Dupee sing at the House of Blues. It was a really fun night: Each hour from 9 to midnight a new young artist was showcased in their covered outdoor patio (The Voodoo Garden). They were also boiling crawfish out there, and I wish I'd known, because I would totally have skipped cooking dinner and had some crawfish!
Off-topic, but the second performance was by a small band that was OH SO VERY BAD. They had a nice sound and talented musicians and the singer had a ton of energy, but he had zero vocal talent and OMG their lyrics. They were terrible. I'm talking, "Your love is the best/better than the rest/you make me want to nest" bad. Yet their high energy carried them through, and the audience loved them! (Except David and I, who kept up a snarky text commentary throughout).
Anyway... long story short, my ankle hurt later, but I covered it with Vietnamese Green Oil from my pharmacist who works with me (she's Vietnamese and hooks me up with some cool remedies), and it felt much better by morning!

Live music, open mic night, up-and-coming bands - what's your worst or best story?

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What was I thinking?!

I started classes on Monday. Yes, I'm 33 and back in school, getting an MBA (much like about 60% of 33 year olds these days!).

I have no clue why I am doing this to myself: an accelerated degree program that can be completed in under a year and a half. So far, I've been up until midnight every night this week. I don't have the kind of job where I could possibly work on classes during a lull or on lunch (I don't get a lunch break). And I work 9 hours days. And I have track on Mondays, Bible study on Tuesdays, and church community group on Wednesdays. So I am cramming in all of my work in the late evening. Tonight will be the first activity-free night, and I will try to get to bed at a more reasonable time.
We were traveling this weekend, so I hope things get easier next week, when I will have been able to do some reading and prep over the weekend.
Anyone else getting their MBA, or got one while already in the work force?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Marathon recovery report

I took the whole week post-race off of any type of exercise, except some shake-out strides the next day (which were necessary to prevent insanely sore and stiff legs). So far, I feel fine. I think my knees settled down; my right hip is stiffer than my left, but that's normal for me.
Now I mildly sprained or twisted my ankle.
Because if running 26 miles won't sideline you, a trash can leaking oil as you rush to the elevator sure will.
Disgusting slime oozing from can that I slipped on. I flew through the air!
Dramatically! Yet managed to hang on to my coffee!

And you know why I was running to the elevator, instead of taking the stairs, like any rational human being? Because the stairs have been roped off for days for repairs, which in and of itself is a huge hazard. What if there is a fire?!
Anyway, I've been compressing my ankle, and it seems better, but it's still painful to stand in heels or wedges, so don't come by my pharmacy if you want to see someone dressed up in cute heels.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Thoughts on RnR NOLA

Now that the race is in the rear-view mirror, I can think more clearly about training and racing. I imagine we all wonder what we should have done differently leading up to a race, so I'll start there.

1. What I could have improved on in training: 
- The biggest thing I should have done in training is upped my mileage. I averaged 30mpw thanks to a few weeks off, and that is just not enough. I should have avoided runner's knee, of course, but since I didn't, I was in a mileage hole. I prefer averaging 40-45 mpw with several weeks well over 50 (hopefully some 55 or 60). Besides injury, I didn't run long enough during the week. I should have been doing 10-12 midweek every week.
- My long runs never exceeded 20. I'm much more comfortable if I've run 21 or 22.
- My speed work was way too short for marathon training. Most of our workouts were just 3 to 5 miles, often including warm-up!
- I spent so much time doing hip strengthening that I neglected full-body strength and core work. I need to get back on that.
I'm back there somewhere (on the right)
2. What went well in training: 
- I was consistent about my physical therapy exercises, and my hips were mostly happy. They felt the worst in December, right after the Ol' Man River half, but they feel pretty good now.
- I did yoga post-long-run every week, for the first time.
- I obeyed all the recovery rules, ran on soft-surfaces once a week, stretched, and did form drills twice a week.
3. The race: What worked:
- I started slow (for once).
- Clothing choices were all good: it was warm, and I wore a white singlet. No chafing or wardrobe malfunctions.
- I'm really ok with my time. I think it's my fifth fastest marathon - that's not too terrible, right? I mean, I had a lot of fitness to regain. And my goal was a 3:20, so I beat that.
- Although post-race my stomach cramps were outrageous, I didn't have a lot of stomach problems mid-race.

4. The race: What was a Titanic-magnitude disaster:
- Really, nothing was a complete disaster. But hitting the wall is terrible. Running over 8-minute miles is terrible. Thinking you're sprinting when you're hardly moving is terrible. I definitely felt my time off and my low mileage here.
- I definitely messed up with my fuel: My choice of Glukos on course left me with 20% fewer calories than planned and 30% less sodium.
- Two women passed me in the last 6 miles (and I passed two others, but still).
5. What's next:
- I took all week off except a shake-out and stretch with Varsity on Monday. I will probably run Monday night....maybe.
- The Crescent City Classic 10k is just 3 weeks away! Far too close to the marathon to do much in preparation, but it's always a fun race. Hopefully I will feel good when I get back to running and a sort build-up will go well.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Post-race - or, "In which my calf reconfigures itself into a baseballand stays that way forever"

As soon as I finished the marathon Sunday, I (stuffing pretzels in my mouth) staggered to the New Orleans Track Club tent. I said my hellos before unceremoniously dumping my glasses, Powerbars, Gatorade, Garmin, and banana in a corner and trotting off to get my marathon finisher's jacket. I did not want to wait forever in line, and I figured earlier was better! Sure enough, there were no women in line at all, and I got my jacket easily. Have you ever worn one of those disposable surgical gowns? The kind you would wear to make a sterile IV or perform surgery? This jacket is basically the same material. I would think long and hard before attempting to wash it...or even wear it in the rain.
Biodegradable jacket

Back at the NOTC tent, I grabbed a beer, and a friend made me a bag of ice. I alternated sitting on it (for my hips) with plopping it on my knees. Then David showed up with my post-race bag, which was most gratifying, as I finally got to slather more chapstick on. You know how I am about chapstick.
My friend Celeste showed up in no time - she'd tried to catch me on the course, and the funny thing is that I DID see her, but she didn't see me. Or I hallucinated that I saw her. That's just as likely given my Jell-o brain.
Anyway, I got up to greet her, and had the most massive calf cramp ever. I was rolling around like a baby clutching that thing and it just wouldn't loosen up. Eventually it relaxed a little, but I'm typing this Tuesday night and it's still in a big knot.
I kicked off my shoes and OH MY GOODNESS WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO MY FEET. I had huge blisters and my toes and toenails were one big swollen blood blister. I didn't even notice this while running (and I don't usually blister, so you'd think I'd notice). I pulled a safety pin off my bib and popped everything right away to get it to start draining, and the grass pretty much looked like I'd just killed a rabbit when I was done.
Then Audrey and her friend Joy stopped by! That was fun! It was so nice to meet them and get a chance to talk (more or less incoherently, sorry about that). The NOTC had plenty of beer, so we drank some and talked about things to do here in NOLA. Hope you two had a wonderful trip full of super delicious food!
After they left, Celeste biked home, and David and I walked to the car. Slowly. And when we got home I just kind of lay there with a book all day and wished my stomach would stop cramping so I could eat real food, until we had to go to an Oscars party at night (I wore heels. I deserve an Oscar just for that).
Monday, it was back to work standing for 9 hours, but I survived. And then we did a recovery day at track: 100m stride, stretches, 100m jog back x 10. The rest of the group followed that by a 2-mile run, but I went home and did Runner's World yoga with a foam roller. It was pretty good: a combination of yoga using the foam roller as support (much like you'd use a yoga block) plus some foam rolling. It was nice, just enough without being painful. I hope the rest of the week I continue to recover and don't have some lurking injury!