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Sunday, January 28, 2018

It's carnival time!

Sneaky calendar is sneaky, and Mardi Gras is already upon us! Here we are, just a few weeks from Thoth Sunday, the day of David's parade. Today was the Thoth open house, a family-oriented day in which the krewe opens their den and everyone gets a preview of the parade's floats.
Glossary (let's just get this out of the way):
Krewe: a paid club, invitation only, that celebrates Mardi Gras, usually with a parade (but some don't actually parade).
Den: the warehouse that stores the floats before the parade. Events are also held here sometimes, like meetings or things like this open house. The Thoth den was built over and around old brick slave's quarters in order to preserve their history.
David's brother and his three boys on David's float

We took our nephews to see the floats, and they had fun eating burgers, climbing all over floats, dancing to the live band, and even playing with a little petting zoo in the corner. The food was for sale, but it was cheap ($1 beer, $3 burgers, etc.) and proceeds went to the krewe's charity beneficiaries; the event was free. Riders' dues pay for things like this. Because, yes, you pay to be in a krewe, and you pay for all your throws. I'll never get over this.

More glossary:
Throws: the crap you throw off a float. Mostly beads. But beads are usually called...beads. One string is called a "bead", like, "I caught a bead from David!"

Anyway, the boys had fun, and it was nice to see the floats before the mayhem of the parade to appreciate the theme. Every parade has a theme each year; this year, Thoth's theme is "This is how we roll." I had a little more time to make sense of the theme without it rolling on by - and I needed it, since some of them were...a stretch. David's float is "bankroll" themed, but the one that is "rolls of wrapping paper"? I'm pretty sure they were just re-using a Christmas float from a prior year!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Great Freeze of 2018

Last week, New Orleans ground to a halt as the city iced over for more than two days. Don't laugh at us: it's a big deal! With almost no insulated homes, no de-icing equipment, and a population entirely unprepared for such weather, we were in dire straits.
On Wednesday morning, we awoke to a snow day! It was really more of an ice day in my neighborhood, but I wanted to enjoy it anyway, so I bundled up (tights, two long-sleeved shirts, light jacket, hat, gloves) and did a whole loop around Audubon Park, the most I've walked since my injury (3.2 miles). It was beautiful, and quite empty (except for Drew Brees out playing with his kids!). I did get pretty cold by the time I got back, though - it was only 20 degrees.

Work was silent. No one could travel - the interstate was closed, and there was ice on the roads, and I guess people are just scared to drive on ice. Only two of my employees came in at all! I actually got off early on Wednesday, and that was when the real work started: trying to keep warm. Our floor furnace has been on the fritz for years now, and the repair guys keep telling us it's the thermostat - except, three thermostats later, the problem  persists. Right now the secret trick is to stomp violently near the unit, which usually makes it wooosh on (not a great solution for someone with a broken foot). David and I spent all day Wednesday and Thursday rushing from our side of the house to our landlady's - she was out of town, and we had to keep her heat on, too. With no insulation and pipes exposed to freezing air, it was a balancing act to keep the pipes from freezing. We succeeded, but many of our friends weren't so lucky - people who were at work all day and didn't run water all had burst pipes, with one friend having to replace twenty burst pipes!

We survived the freeze with just a few dead plants, but the city had a rough time: the water pressure dropped so low after so many pipes leaking plus so many pipes being left to run, that the city had to issue a boil order. We live in a third world country, so this is actually a regular occurrence for us. I think we had three or four boil orders last year! As a matter of fact, as I type this, we're being threatened with another boil advisory, as water pressure is still very low. Ah, the joys of NOLA living.

We rarely get hard freezes in New Orleans, and I can't ever remember there being so MANY freeze days - we might get one day every other year, but we've had four or five already this winter. This has been a season of extreme weather! What crazy weather have you had in your area?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Spectating Houston, part 2

We last left off with me drifting off to sleep in my hotel. One thing about Club Quarters, should you plan to stay before a race in the future: it is LOUD. Totally uninsulated, and street noises are blaring in your ear the whole day. I'd recommend ear plugs if you are racing! So after a rather disrupted night, I got up at six, and by 6:30 the gals and I were walking to a coffee shop near mile 1. We grabbed coffee, and were just in time to catch every single member of our team go by! It was a rush to see the elites pass, including Molly Huddle loping toward the American record, and also a thrill to watch our fastest guy, Rich, up in the thick of things. Next came Casey, running his first marathon and hoping for a sub-2:40, and then the guys were coming up fast - Paul; Tom, Wayne, and Paige, all working together; Jimi with Mike and Jeff (this would have been my pace group, and I wondered if I'd feel a little sad seeing them go by, but I didn't; I was too excited and caught up in the moment!).
6:57 pace group: Jimi, Mike, Jeff. Not pictured: ME.

After Daniella passed, we regrouped, and headed back out toward the finish area, planning to catch the women's half marathon finish. To our surprise, the wall next to our coffee shop had this amazing mural of a gorilla - the Power Miler's mascot!
Being apes! 

We trotted briskly over toward the finish, and honestly, we had just enough time to get situation and cheer for some favorites (like Bernard Lagat and Kevin Castille) before Molly Huddle ran to the finish, breaking the women's record. Apparently there was some hype about competition between Huddle and Hasay, but to me Hasay never looked into a race - I mean, she was fast, but it didn't look like she planned to fight for a record. After that exciting finish, we grabbed breakfast, before realizing that, if we wanted to get a good spot to watch Rich come in, we needed to get moving. We were tracking everyone, and so far everyone was right on planned pace. We realized once we left the breakfast place that we were on the wrong side of the road for marathoners, and to get to the other side, we had to make a huge loop behind the finish and past two security checkpoints. As we headed that way, rushing a little by now, we caught up to Doug - his half marathon was done, and that party boy ran a 1:27! Off no training and several vodkas! Crazy. We'd also picked up Preston (like me, spectating only) along the way, and all of us RAN to reach the marathon side of the chute before Rich did. We finally secured a spot right before mile 26. And yeah, I ran for the first time in five clogs. Twenty steps. Felt great.
All champs! 

And just like that, there was Rich! Looking super strong and on pace for a PR! He was obviously pumped about it - I would be, too, running a 2:28! From then on, it was a big coordination of tracking apps and photographs. Our team did great: Casey ran a 2:39; Paul ran his first marathon in 2:49 and WON HIS AGE GROUP at the competitive Houston marathon; Daniella ran 3:10, which was a 23 minute PR! Almost everyone else was at or near their goals; everyone ran a BQ! Our only panic moment was when Dave clearly stopped moving. Never fear: wife to the rescue. His wife actually ran back to find him, and shouted encouragement until he got enough energy to pull it together and cross the line (it was his first marathon - and the marathon is a brutal thing!). It was such an inspiration to see everyone finish - all the hard work all year paid off. We wrapped up the party with drinks in a team member's room and...yeah, the Saints lost. Never mind all that. I'd rather not think about it. Next year, playoffs! Next year, Houston!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Spectating Houston: part 1

I had a truly wonderful time in Houston this weekend, enjoying the race atmosphere and celebrating my running friends' successes. The short trip started out right, when I got to my gate and found my two teammates Doug and Van. We sat together for the flight, sharing race plans (ok, I just ducked under their conversation), and took advantage of Van's free Uber ride to the convention center when we landed.

I picked up my packet in case I needed the number for access to anything, and the guys bought some throw-away gloves, before heading to the hotel. As soon as I got to my room, I got a text from Paige, and headed to her room down the hall to makes plans for the Eagles game. A group of us headed out to a sports bar, but ended up back in the hotel lobby since most places in downtown Houston were closed on the weekend. That was fine, though, because as soon as the game wrapped up, we had to join everyone else for a team meeting - last minute instructions for the runners (I sat in anyway to glean some wisdom!). Then we were off to a team dinner. We had reservations at an Italian restaurant for most of the group (some chose to do their own thing, which I get, race prep being so individual, but we still had 20+ people at dinner. Fourteen members were running the race). Doug, sitting next to me, was...making merry? Let's just say he was having more drinks than I would have pre-race, but he kept cheerily reminding us that he was only doing the half...and that he was undertrained, so it was going to suck no matter what. I firmed up spectating plans with a bunch of Power Miler spouses, and we all made an early bedtime.

And the actual race will go in its own post. But this is a good spot to put my philosophical thoughts: that is, it is very gratifying to see or help others succeed and enjoy the same activities you enjoy. And in that respect, the Houston marathon spectating experience was as fun as running it myself. Yes, I wish I could have run; yes, I'm annoyed that my typical marathon is 70+ degrees and a billion percent humidity, while Sunday was cold and dry. But overall, I thought spectating really enhanced my enjoyment of running, sort of made it complete. It's a thrill to do well racing; it's also a thrill to watch friends do the same. Nonetheless, next year, Houston...I'm coming for you!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Heading to Houston

I decided to go ahead and join the crew in Houston for the marathon weekend. I'd like to see how the rest of my team's races go, and I already booked a non-refundable hotel room (that was some daring do, eh?). Flights to Houston are cheap and plentiful, so I'm going to head up on Saturday afternoon and enjoy some marathon spectating!
It looks like the weather for the race will be perfect, so nearly all the Powermilers are expecting to PR. That will be exciting to watch! And fun to celebrate afterward, too! I won't be alone spectating, because nearly everyone who has one is bringing a spouse.

A lot of people have asked me if it will be painful to watch this race, or if I'll be jealous or sad. No, I won't. I'm not a very jealous person anyway, and I love to see my friends succeed, so I am really excited, actually! If the weather was crummy (hot or rainy) I probably wouldn't attend, because I'd be cringing to see everyone suffer. But I think the weekend will be ideal, and I expect to see a good number of my team crush their goal times. As far as missing running or just feeling like I am missing out, I'm not there yet. My foot is still painful, and just the thought of running makes me wince. So the timing is good: watching the race won't tempt me to cut recovery short.

It's been a long time since I spectated a race, especially a marathon, so this will be a fun outing watching a sport I love. I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Out of the boot

After wearing a walking boot for about three weeks, I ditched it this week for my clogs. I think I needed the boot to enforce total immobility for awhile, but actually, the clogs are a firmer surface (they have wooded soles with no padding) and are more comfortable right now.
The clogs I wear every single day.

I am not sure the status of the bone at this point. The inflammation has receded to the point that I can now press directly on the bone, and it HURTS to do so. It hurts to walk barefoot, or in any shoe besides a firm-soled one, and I can't rise up on my toes or toe off without pain. And most concerning, the area above the break is still red and a little swollen. Obviously, I still have a lot of healing to do. But I am feeling pretty positive, because I've made big strides this week. I don't have pain at rest, and protected impact doesn't hurt. I can wiggle my toes again. And the overall scale of the pain is a lot less than before. I'm healing, and I can tell, and that's good news.

When will I be ready to run again? I don't know yet, but the timeline is measured in "weeks to months" right now. I'm nowhere near that point as of today! I'll keep taking it very easy, keep taking my calcium and vitamin D, and keep praying for fast recovery.