Friday, November 30, 2012

Running Update

I think it's funny that the week I get quoted in a running blog (love this woman! she is such an inspiration to me), I've mostly been writing about sewing.

Of course I've been thinking about running, and have been running too (though not as much as I 'd like to thanks to work), but my season is over and my next race isn't until April. I've been enjoying not feeling pressured about specific workouts, yet keeping in mind my larger goals. And happy to be at the end of a running season without injury!

A couple of months ago there was a Runner's World article (sorry, can't find it online) asking "What Kind of Runner Are You?" I was disheartened to see that based on schedule and mileage, I qualified as "Moderate" (in my heart I saw myself as "Progressive", i.e., kick-ass) and was recommended to stick to 5 and 10ks, with maybe a half once a year. But after some time I reconciled myself to this. As one friend told me, with small kids I may just not be in the running season of my life. I set my goals and races for 2013 accordingly, with the big picture plan of getting faster so that I can qualify for Boston some day.

Well, things change on a dime around here, is that true for you? And it looks like I'll be running my marathon next year after all. Woo-hoo! So I've been working on my training plan for April's Shamrock Shuffle 8k, and will base my marathon goals on my performance in that. And am looking to tweak my nutrition so I can shed those last pounds by May.

Now to start researching marathon plans...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Grateful for Mercies

A comment from a new reader on my "About Me" page had me rereading that page for the first time in months. Boy, was I surprised about a couple of things.

"I am very good at my job. I am not exactly happy with it."
"And somehow make a name for myself. "

I shouldn't have been, these are attitudes I have actively been trying to change for some time. So it is really a joyful surprise, that I have been blessed enough, through the grace of God, to have had such a change in spirit that my previous words are now foreign to me.

I'd been meaning to write more about the graces I have been receiving this last month, but this isn't really that kind of blog and I don't mean it to be. So instead I will leave the words that I have been meditating on that best describe my process:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God --- what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

The letter of Paul to the Romans, chapter 12, verses 1-8.

Inspiring Words from a Late Night

But even as a small kid I was in love with the idea of being an artist: Making extraordinary things, having time to meditate, consider things, a daily practice or ritual.
~ Cameron Platter (Hand/Eye Vol. 9)

When we make things we are connecting to that part of ourselves that we imagine is the spiritual part, the part most resembling divinity.

Our making was becoming more important than the products of our craft.

Growth and progress are also mirages of accomplishment; being present here and now are the things we really need to worry about.

~ Callie Janoff (Handmade Nation)

Craft is a way of rejoicing, passing time, meditating, harnessing power, sharing and keeping creative forces in motion.
~ Betsy Greer (


Monday, November 26, 2012


Whenever I pick up sewing again after having let it slide, I immediately get itchy fingers and wonder how I could have ever stopped in the first place.

Pretty much the same way I feel when I've returned to running after a break.

I think it's time to acknowledge that I have these two (often competing) loves and to see how I can satisfy them both.

I know a part of my getting blocked with sewing is that I expect more from myself than I can reasonably hope to. I have an art (history) degree, for goodness' sake! I've been making things (off and on) my entire life!

Yes, well, the same could be said of my running. And I never managed to improve my speed or do more than dream of running a marathon until I started to run consistently and seriously, three and a half years ago. So perhaps consistency is the key to doing something with my sewing as well.

I don't know yet what consistency in sewing will look like for me. I'm open to suggestions.

My New Year's resolution has come early this year.

Along the same lines, I need to stop reading art/sewing magazines and books and comparing myself to the professionals in there. I don't compare myself to professional athletes when I read Runners' World, fer chrissakes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Year Ago

A year ago, my sweet Goo was born.

And now he's ready to take over the world.

Happy birthday, baby.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sewing Again!

The weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and my fingers start itching to make things again. Thankfully, my mother-in-law is visiting, and could help me think through a problem I was having with my current quilt, so now I can finish it and get started on others. (And as thanks, and because the baby it was for has grown a bit big for a baby blanket, she is going to get it for a lap quilt for Christmas.)

Here is one I finished this summer. That baby was born in March. At the time the baby was born, I had about 2 hours work left to do on it. It took me three months. As usual with my sewing projects, I got stuck because I had more elaborate plans for what to do than what I really needed.*

You can't tell from these photos, but I used the backing material to make the binding (it's a much darker blue than this picture shows). And the quilting was done with several colors of embroidery floss: purple, white, black, and green.

And now I have big plans for more quilts!

*Example, the quilt mentioned in the first paragraph. Example, my thinking about "what I should be doing with my life." But that's another post for another day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hot Chocolate 15k - 2012

I wanted to write a play-by-play, but sometimes these breaks in time between posts get to a point where it's just ridiculous. Busy, busy, busy at work, which is where I do most of my computer stuff. So here's the short version.

Despite all my grumbling and worrying and complaining about this race (most of which I spared you, believe it or not), I had a really good time.

I've liked the course every year I've done it (and it's been a new one each time), but it's never been big enough to handle the number of runners participating. So that's been a frustrating experience with bottle-necks and running off the edge of the road and the like. This year they staggered the starts in such a way that it rarely felt crowded on the course, which was lovely. The drawback to this of course was the long time spent standing before the race started (I crossed the start line at 41:50 and was only in corral K - it went through corral T) which then resulted in my needing to stop for a potty break shortly after mile 3 and that early in the race there were still lines for the porta-potties. So I lost time there. But that's a logistics issue to keep in mind for next year or any other race with a lot of participants (I heard this one was just over 20,000).

Oh, and the swag was better this year too (photos below).

Lots of elevation fluctuation on the course, which I like (makes it interesting). Lots of great views.

Right from the start I was running on tired legs because I just didn't get enough rest the week before. So the challenge for me was going to be keeping my pace steady and then, if possible, bring it up again in the last 5k. And I did! There were two key difference between this race and previous ones that I think made it possible. First, I've gotten better at "sucking it up". I've practiced this in long tempo runs, figuring out what I need to do mentally to be able to tolerate discomfort longer. And two, in the past I would have only taken one gel, and this time I had two and also carbo-loaded a bit more the day before and even before the race started --- I could really feel the difference on the second gel and I'm sure that's what allowed me to push harder in the last 5k.

I finished in 1:33:41 at a pace of 10:04/mile. So I didn't make my first or my second goal (to break 1:30:00 or 1:32:30 --- I was so close to that last one but that potty-break is what blew it for me), but I did hit my third one of (nearly) 10 minute miles. Most importantly to me, my last 5k split was the fastest one, at 29:32. (Actually, it was so much faster, it shows me I can do better overall.)

So, lots to work on for next year. Logistically, I want to remember three things:
  1. Bring a throw-away shirt for the time between gear check and the start.
  2. Don't enter the corral until the last possible minute - I could have entered 20 minutes later and gotten another pee in.
  3. Stop drinking an hour or so before when I plan to have my last pee - chew gum instead for dry mouth.
The other thing I want to keep in mind with my training for this next year is to not start training for this race so soon. I'm probably going to train for the Chicago Women's Half again along with this one for my longer races of the year; if I do go that route then I'll make sure to take a longer break after the half so that I'm not running out of steam in October again.

All-in-all, lots of lessons learnt through training for this and running it!

Finally, they have a decent looking item that I have been wearing.

I liked the emblem on the back shoulder - also the little one running through the picture.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One Last Movie - And A Race

So, we ended up sneaking in another movie last night, even though my plan was to go to bed early (again - I am always trying to go to bed early and I so rarely succeed), because, really, this is not a high-stakes race tomorrow and I am not a professional athlete and my running needs to support me and my life and not be my life. And this movie came in the mail today.

Troll Hunter (2010)
A Norwegian movie, shot cinema-verite style, about students who start off investigating mysterious bear deaths and end up following (and filming) a troll hunter. Way more fun than you'd think it should be. Too tired now to think what else to say about it.

Oh yes, I have this race tomorrow. The Hot Chocolate 15k. This race that I trained all season for... only to have my training go off the track two months ago, never to really return. This race that I want to love (because I did so much my first year)... but am so disgusted with the race organizers, and have been, year after year, that I just get angry thinking about it, and have no confidence that it will be well run tomorrow. This race I have planned for so seriously all year... only to realize that I need to radically rethink how I go about my training and my racing so that, as I wrote above, my running supports my life rather than being my life.

I have gone back and forth on whether to even do this all week, and if so, how. (In the end I am doing it because I regretted so much not running the Chicago Half after all, and I don't want to repeat that experience.) My original goal was 1:30 or less (basically a 9:40 pace). I am very dubious about my ability to pull that off, though I am willing to try. My first time at this race was in 2009, and it was my first long race since Buddy was born. I ran it in 1:39:26 (10:41 pace). I am in much better shape now than I was then, so I fully expect to do better than that.

My second time was in 2010, after running the marathon three weeks before. I ran it in 1:32:30 (9:56 pace). I don't have the endurance that I did back then, but I am actually faster. So I think it's possible to run it this year faster than that, and I guess, in the end, that's what I'm shooting for.  I've loaded up my iPod with inspiring music (I don't usually do races with music but I'll take whatever help I can get), I'm heading to bed soon, happy to take advantage of daylight sayings time, and I'll put my best game face on tomorrow and not let myself get upset by the surroundings.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Scary Movie Month - The End

Well, Scary Movie Month kind of went out with a whimper this year, which has been pretty much been the case since we had kids. Oh well. The Dude had his gig Halloween night so had to cut out right after dinner, I spent the rest of the evening staying up WAY too late, eating candy and reading. (Not even scary stuff but the latest Sports Illustrated and Jonathan Kozol's new book, "Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America". Well, maybe that last one was a little scary.)

BUT we had a lovely Halloween night anyway, we picked up the boys at school and trick-or-treated on the way home, and then Buddy got to have some candy and he and The Dude watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" while I got the baby to bed and dinner ready.

This was in the morning, before the addition of his Capt. Hook mustache.
And now it's November and time to plan Thanksgiving!