Friday, June 30, 2006
Sleepy today. It's my day
It's my day off from training. At last. Six days a week for 10 weeks, and I have just finished week 2. This schedule may kill me, but so far I have done every scheduled workout, and not just the beginner program but the intermediate program! I am rather proud of myself. Not to mention, the boy says that in honor my day off, he's going to pamper me, which means a movie and yummy food. Woohoo! Last night I ran 4 easy miles on the treadmill before our softball game, varying the speed between 5 and 5.7 mph at my whim and covering the distance in ~45:00 in the end.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
There is something seriously freaky
There is something seriously freaky going on with my eyes today. (What is it with people and their eye problems? Jen, Melanie, now me?) I was mega-tired this morning -- last night's 18-mile bike plus 2-mile run left me completely wiped. My eyes looked tired as well, and when I put in my contacts, they stung a bit and felt a little dry. Still, everything was ok until I started driving to work in the bright summer sunshine. Suddenly, tears were streaming down my cheeks and I could barely keep my eyes open through the stinging. I wasn't sure if I could even drive the rest of the way to work, so I stopped at Starbucks thinking the shade of the drive-thru might help. It did, so I decided to go the rest of the way to the office, but the sun made me start tearing up again.
I did make it in to work, but my eyes are still feeling all sorts of wacked out, and I have no glasses. If they don't get better, I'm going to make someone drive me home at lunch so I can retrieve my glasses.
Anyway, last night I did the 18 miles in 1:03:45, took 2 minutes to get my shoes on and drink some water, and did the 2 mile run in 22:48 with only two short walk breaks. My legs felt like dead weight for most of the first mile. Overall, not too shabby.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Nick just walked into my
Nick just walked into my office. He just had his bird, Oliver, or Ollie for short, DNA tested.
Turns out Oliver is actually Olivia.
I am laughing so hard.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
The atmosphere at this morning's
The atmosphere at this morning's sim was like the day before Christmas break. "See you in a few weeks! See you at the next generic sim! Good luck on Saturday!" we all chorused as we packed up our handbooks and sim sheets and left the control center. We even had to use the "2 loops" today for all of our communcation, since the "1 loops" are getting configured for the mission and the countdown, which starts this afternoon. We launch Saturday, assuming the weather in Florida is good!
I ran outside, taking advantage of the slightly cooler day. I did three miles in 32:53, with the most notable item being that I ran the whole way. No walk breaks! Which sounds pretty forgettable, except that lately I've been on a walk break kick. It was nice to prove to myself that I can still just run. Er, jog. Whatever.
After I posted my training schedule for the week, I realized it's going to have to be tweaked a bit since I'm going out of town from Saturday night until Wednesday morning and won't have a bike. SO, I plan to shift my 25 miles of biking from Sunday to Saturday, shift my 6 miles of running from Saturday to July 4th (when I'll be running the Peachtree with 54,999 other people), and shift my off day from the 4th to Sunday. Whew! Now I just need access to Carter's pool to swim some laps on Monday and I'll still complete all my scheduled workouts!
Today I came across the website of a guy who's travelled the world and done a silly dance in each place -- Where The Hell Is Matt?. (Thanks, Nick for the link.) You have to watch the video on the main page. I thought it was silly at first, but by the end, I was smiling and laughing. It made me happy.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Another day, another dollar. After
Another day, another dollar. After arguing with Word all yesterday afternoon, I finally got our console handbook properly formatted with all the new additions and updates included. Off it goes for signatures and other fun paperwork so that we can use it on Saturday for the launch. Yes, launch. We are launching on Saturday! Yay!
Last night I headed home a little early to get in my swim (800 yards in 20:30) before Mom and I headed to Space Center Houston in search of gifts for all the babies. SCH had a disappointing lack of stuff for infants or toddlers; the smallest t-shirts were for 3-4 year olds. I ended up with a onesie for Cayce and Dave's son Henry, and socks for both Henry and Catherine and Christopher's twin girls. The socks are really cute, and hopefully the babies will all be big enough for them by winter.
From there, Mom and I got pedicures and then met everybody for "family dinner" at Mely's. I ate soooo much. Mmm. We haven't been going to Mely's as much lately because everyone's been so busy (not to mention that Jo and Nick were always the biggest Mely's requesters), and as a result, I think I eat even more chips and green sauce than I used to. Mexican restaurants and their chips are a big weakness.
Mom leaves today and then I guess it's back to normal. No one to do my laundry. No one to clean my bathroom. (Yes, my mom has done both, despite my insistence that she didn't have to because it made me feel guilty!) No one to take me out to dinner (well, except Jose). It's probably best that she go home so my dad doesn't have to be lonely and pathetic any longer. ;) But ah, Mom, you can visit anytime!
Monday, June 26, 2006
I went to bed last
I went to bed last night with the Astros playing in the 12th inning. I didn't even stay up to watch the end of the game. I was too disgusted with the team after the bullpen (Springer and Lidge) gave up a seven run lead in two innings. When Roy Oswalt left after 7, the score was 9-2. 9-2! Come on, what team doesn't win that!? But then Russ Springer gave up a three-run homer to Tadahito Iguchi in the 8th. And then "closer" Brad Lidge gave up a grand slam to Iguchi (yes, same guy) in the 9th. Come on. Fire the entire bullpen and start over or something.
I had a nice weekend with Mom in town, and of course we managed to stay busy despite not really having any plans set in advance! Saturday afternoon we joined Jose, Gavin, Jen, Becca and Carolyn for a matinee of Cars, which was really funny and better than I expected. I just don't understand how Pixar consistently manages to come up with creative, clever, and entertaining movies! They are awesome.
Yesterday I got up and did my scheduled bike ride. It was sooo hot, even at 10 a.m., but I got the miles in -- 20.1 miles in 1:15:21 or an average of 16 mph.
I got home just in time to see the replay of David Beckham's crazy free kick goal that took England to a 1-0 win. It was one of the many sporting events Mom and I watched when we weren't out and about. We watched a lot of baseball (both the Astros and the College World Series), and a lot of soccer. Mom remarked last night to Jose about how much sports we've watched, and Jose just said "That's what Sarahs do to you." I had to laugh.
P.S. Vic, Gavin, and anyone with a Yahoo email address, you'll be happy to know that comments should work for you again. Turns out I'd mistakenly blocked the entire Yahoo domain from being able to comment. Oops. ;)
P.P.S. Tri training schedule for the week is: Monday - 800m swimming, Tuesday - 3 miles running, Wednesday - 18 miles biking + 2 miles running, Thursday - 4 miles running, Friday - OFF, Saturday - 6 miles running, 20 minutes swimming, Sunday - 25 miles biking.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Apparently this is the "Week
Apparently this is the "Week of Babies" on my blog. Catherine and Christopher, two good family friends, had their twins yesterday! Whitney and Mary. Two girls.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Claiming to be a runner
Claiming to be a runner in Houston without having ever run the loop in Memorial Park is something like saying you like to travel without having ever left your state. This is what I decided this morning as I ran in Memorial Park for the first time with my tri training group.
With Mom in tow, we headed to the park and arrived just past 7:30. There were people everywhere! I mean, there had to have been more than a thousand people out there -- running, walking, pushing strollers, walking dogs, biking on the road. My mom and I were both incredulous. "Are you sure there's not an event going on this morning?" she asked. "I don't think so!" I replied. "This is crazy!"
We managed to get a good parking spot next to the tennis center, and I headed off to do somewhere between the suggested 4 or 6 miles while Mom started her walk. I felt confident I could handle 4 miles, but felt that 6 might be a bit much for me since I haven't run more than 5K in the past few months. In the end, I settled on 5 miles, starting from the tennis center, running to the 2.5 mile marker, and then turning around and heading back in the opposite direction.
The first 3 miles went pretty well, with a 1-minute walk break each 10 minutes. I neglected to write down my splits before resetting my watch, but I think I covered the first 3 miles in ~33:00 or 11:00/mile. The last 2 miles were a totally different story, as the wheels started to come off, I began to overheat, and the walk breaks became more frequent. By the time I finished in 57:40, my average pace had risen to 11:32/mile.
Nonetheless, I got in the distance and really enjoyed the Memorial Park loop. I was actually a little surprised I didn't see more people that I recognized -- I did see Erica, and watched Sean Wade and Luis Armenteros zoom past me (Sean twice; Luis was with him the first time but not the second). It was a fun morning, and I'm thinking I may make a habit of trying to make it to the park once a month or so for a change of scenery. I really wish it was closer to where I live!
After the run, we went to Tri On The Run for a bike and shoe clinic. The Brooks rep giving the shoe clinic gave a lot of information about shoe materials, fit, and shape, which I found very interesting and informative. I currently wear Brooks's most popular shoe -- the Adrenaline -- so I got her stamp of approval. ;)
From there it was back to Clear Lake (after a stop at Starbucks and the Kolache Factory, the two places that flank the Tri store!), where I hopped in the pool for my scheduled 20-minute easy swim. Last Monday when I did my 800-yard workout, it took me 20:30, so I just did that workout again -- 200 warmup, 4x100, and 200 cooldown with drills. I was the only one there, and the pool felt especially nice since I was still a little icky from running!
Friday, June 23, 2006
Just like last year, Roger
Just like last year, Roger Clemens was on the mound. And just like last year, the Astros gave him no run support.
Now, I'd be remiss to imply that the Astros simply sucked last night, when really they were being strung up on a fantastic performance by Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano -- who is 22 years old, ironically enough, which keeps the night's string of 22s alive. Jen, Jason and I were all tired and as the Astros continued to put up absolutely ZERO offense, we started to feel like the game would never end. Jason Lane's 2-run homer in the 8th woke us up a bit, but it was too little, too late.
It was also apparently the largest crowd in Minute Maid Park history at 43,769. I find that a little hard to believe -- there weren't more people there during last year's post-season? -- but that's what they said.
My workout yesterday didn't quite go as planned, because all of the treadmills were in use at 5:00 when I got to Gilruth. I was scheduled to run 2-3 miles, but I sure wasn't going outside in the heat, so I ended up doing 25:00 on the elliptical. It says I went 3 miles in those 25:00, which I have a hard time believing since I can't run 3 miles in 25:00. Who knows.
Today's my day off, however, which I am very much looking forward to. No running, swimming, or biking. Just working and then hanging out with my mom, who arrived last night for a few days. Hooray for Mom!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Cayce had the baby today!
Cayce had the baby today! Henry was born at 9:13 a.m. Aw, so cute. Congratulations Cayce and Dave!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Tonight, tonight won't be just
won't be just any night...
Today, the minutes seem like hours,
the hours go so slowly,
and still the sky is light ...
Minute Maid Park is going to be crazy tonight, and I can hardly wait. Someone must have planned this, as it's too much to believe it was a coincidence. Roger Clemens is coming back, wearing #22, making $22 million, and making his first start on June 22. Clemens! Clemens! Yaaaaaay Clemens!
I took the morning off to sleep in a bit and watch the US-Ghana World Cup match. If you care about soccer, you'll already know that we lost, 2-1, and were eliminated from the Cup. The Czech Republic also lost to Italy, leaving Italy and Ghana as the survivors who will move on from our "Group of Death." With Italy winning, all we needed was a win over Ghana and we'd be moving on instead of them. Alas, we didn't get it.
I do plan to continue watching the World Cup. From here on out, I think I'm going to cheer for Mexico. They're the sole first-round surviver from CONCACAF (the North American division; Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. have all now been eliminated), so to me they're the equivalent of our "home" team now.
Last night our first brick workout came and went, and it went pretty well. I was sore afterwards, and getting out of bed was rough this morning, but the workout itself felt good.
15 miles biking, 52:52 - 16.4 mph
Easy transition - 2:55
2 miles running, 23:15 = 11:37/mile
I need to get some tri shorts soon, though. Last night I ran in my bike shorts, and it's not the most comfortable thing ever. Not bad, but not ideal.
Tonight, 2-3 miles of running before the ballgame. My mom gets in tonight after the game, and tomorrow's my first training day off! Woo!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
My phone rings. "Flight Design,
My phone rings.
"Flight Design, this is Sarah."
"Hi Sarah, this is Paul at FAA Houston Center. My security people just called to tell me that they have your driver's license."
"Let me check my wallet... heh, well, I have no driver's license! I guess I didn't realize that they didn't give it back after I went through security!"
"Yeah, they usually give it back when you stop to turn in your temporary badge."
"Uh oh -- I didn't stop to turn in the badge, I just drove out the gate!"
"No worries, you're definitely not the first to do that. Want me to mail it to you? Let me get your address."
"Well, the address on the license is correct. Just mail it there."
"That would make sense, wouldn't it."
"Yep. Thank you!!"
I can't believe I went a whole week without missing my driver's license! This is proof that no one checks even if your credit card says "see ID" and that I look enough older than 21 that I can get a margarita at Mely's without getting carded.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The Astros game last night
The Astros game last night was a tease. They were playing well, up 4-1, and even when the Twins came back and took the lead, the 'stros managed to stretch it to extra innings with Preston Wilson's 2 outs, 2 strikes homer in the bottom of the 9th. But then they lost it on a Twins homer on the very first pitch of the top of the 10th. And the Astros struck out one-two-three in the bottom. Sigh. In allowing the Twins to crawl to .500, the Astros are in danger of dipping back below that mark themselves.
I left work early (at least early for me lately) at 4:30 to get in my run. Today I'm feeling a little under the weather -- achey, mainly. I'm not sure if I'm coming down with something or if I'm just tired. With the game last night, I went to bed late, and got up early. Five hours of sleep doesn't really cut it for me.
Schedule: Run, 2-3 miles easy
Actual: 3 miles moderate, 32:22 - 10:46/mile, 185 avg HR
At the HARRA banquet last Saturday night, Jeff Galloway mentioned one of his trainees who ran a 4:00 marathon by running/walking in a 1/1 pattern for 20 miles before running the last 10K, and it had me wondering what sort of pace I would average if I ran a minute, walked a minute. It also had me wondering whether I would feel less spent at the end of a run. Feeling tired and not all that excited about running last night, I decided to give it a try.
I ran a minute, walked a minute, until I'd completed three miles. My splits were 10:33, 11:03, and 10:46 -- almost certainly a bit faster than what I'd have been able to pull off if I'd run straight through.
It's almost as if I did a 16 x ~250 speed workout. My running intervals were, of course, faster than I could have managed without the walking breaks. I made sure that my walking was brisk, but enough to recover. About halfway through, with 8-9 running intervals under my belt, I started to get more tired and the running became tougher. My pace may have slowed slightly. And at the end of the three miles, I felt about the same as I think I would've after a steady run. One big downside of the method, in my opinion, was the stress of the constant watch-watching.
So I don't really have any conclusions about whether I like the 1/1 method any better. I don't plan to start doing it regularly. But it's a nice psychological boost to know that I can maintain a nice average pace while walking half of the distance, and I'll probably end up doing the 1/1 thing again the next time I don't feel like running but need to get a workout in.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I did my first swimming
I did my first swimming workout last night, squeezing it in between rain showers and thunderstorms. Compared to what I usually do -- at least half an hour of swimming, which ends up being at least 20 laps -- it was an easy workout. 800 yards total -- 200 warmup with 20 second breaks between each 50, then 4x100 yards with 20 second breaks, and 200 cooldown with drills, 50 of each. We learned four drills on Saturday:
+ Catchup, where you wait until one hand meets the other before taking another stroke.
+ Fingertip drag, where you drag your fingers along the top of the water during the recovery of each stroke.
+ Thigh touch, where you swim normally but concentrate on touching your fingers to your thigh at the end of each stroke.
+ Six-count, where you count six kicks with each one arm stroke.
I finished my 800 yards, including breaks, in 20:34 with an average heart rate of 142.
In other news, I took this Personal DNA thingy that Brian linked to, and it says I am a Benevolent Director. Probably fairly accurate, though I keep reading "director" as "dictator," and then I start wondering, well, is there such a thing as a benevolent dictator? Doesn't that seem like a contradiction in terms? Anyway, you can mouse over the different colors to see the traits they represent.
And for people who complain when my blog entry is only about exercise, here are some interesting/funny links I've come across lately:
+ What if Microsoft designed the iPod packaging?
+ A review of the recent Mac commercials. ("Hi, I'm a Mac." "And I'm a PC.") The point he makes is interesting. I love the commercials, but they don't make me want to drop my PC and buy a Mac.
+ iPods and baseball, a match made in heaven.
+ If Michelangelo was a soccer fan...
+ Ever wonder about the origin of @?
The rain continues. I'm hoping it stops this afternoon so I can squeeze in an outdoor run while the weather is cooler before heading to Minute Maid for the Astros game tonight.
Monday, June 19, 2006
You may have noticed the
You may have noticed the photo in the Flickr sidebar of Jason stringing Mentos together. A bottle of Diet Coke inevitably followed, and I took a video for posterity. The fact that our Diet Coke fountain only rose about 2 feet just makes it even better. Check out Jason running for cover from what we hoped would be a huge fountain. Check out me and Jose giggling in the background. Check out Cari commenting "that's lame." Hee hee hee.
Monday, June 19, 2006
It was a great weekend
It was a great weekend that started Friday night with yummy Thai food at Merlion. While we were waiting on our food, the Kemah Friday fireworks started! We got to walk just outside and watch the fireworks, and by the time we got back into the restaurant, our food was waiting. Perfect.
Saturday night I made it to St. Arnold's Brewery for the first time for the HARRA Summer Banquet. I enjoyed some great Mexican food, free St. Arnold's beer, and the company of my fun running friends -- Jon and Waverly, Cassie and Manny, Edwin and Donna, Erin and her family, Joe, and Bill. I was also officially elected (along with a bunch of others) to the HARRA Board via a mass "aye" hand-raising. Yep, I'm the new HARRA webmaster for the next year!
Yesterday morning I had the best. breakfast. ever. J spied a can of eggnog waffle mix that had been sitting in my kitchen, unopened since Christmas, when I ended up with it as my white elephant gift from the branch holiday party. I had no waffle maker, thus had made no waffles. A quick trip to Target and $10 solved that problem, and yesterday we had eggnog waffles with blueberries and real maple syrup. It was YUMMY.
In between those activities, I watched a lot of soccer (US vs Italy of course -- whew!! -- plus Brazil/Australia and France/Korea). I'm gonna be on pins and needles Thursday morning as we tackle Ghana and Italy faces the Czech Republic. Go USA! And go Italy!
The rain that I was waiting for all weekend, after being told on Friday that it was going to pour and pour and pour, finally came this morning. I woke up to thunder and the sound of rain pounding on the roof. Thankfully it let up for just a minute as I ran to the car, where my umbrella sat happily.
My triathlon training program officially started on Saturday morning, and I now have my schedule for the next six weeks. There's a beginner option and an intermediate option; I took one of each and plan to do whatever workout seems right for that day, though I hope to stick to the intermediate schedule as much as possible. I'm going to be busy working out, and I'm a little worried that the amount of training will be overwhelming. But I'm also glad to have some structure to follow. So we shall see how things go.
Stroke evaluation was on Saturday morning, and I got some good pointers on things to improve. Breathing on my left side, obviously, and I knew that going in. But there were a couple other things. I need to keep my head slightly lower in the water, and keep my hands closer to my body as I pull beneath the water. Apparently I have a straight arm recovery as well, but they said that wasn't necessarily bad. "Hey, it worked for Janet Evans," said the swim coach.
Yesterday called for a bike ride. There was a group ride scheduled at 8:00 but it was rainy and I didn't want to get up that early, so I rode on my own later in the day.
Schedule: Bike, 12-15 miles, easy
Actual: 15 miles, moderate, 55:29 - 16.2 mph
Biking in the summer is funny. I never realize exactly how hot it really is until I stop, and the sweat comes pouring down from my forehead where it's been soaking what little padding is in my helmet. Sexy, right?
The only bad thing about biking lately is that since I'm just getting back into it, my muscles aren't prepared. I end up with a sore tailbone and a sore neck. No fun.
Friday, June 16, 2006
I am such a streaky
I am such a streaky softball player. Some nights I play well. Some nights I suck. Some nights I can hit but not catch. Last night was one of those -- I got on base twice, but played crappy left center field. No matter though, we managed to win the game 11-9.
This has been a crazy busy week and I'm glad it's over. I had a sim this morning, which makes Friday fly by even faster. The first two runs were crazy and good; the last three runs were boring. Yep, I've been training for long enough now that I can honestly say that some runs are boring!
On tap for this weekend: some exercise (swimming and biking), some soccer (World Cup and my women's team), some lounging around, and some cleaning in preparation for Mom's arrival next week!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
It was ever-so-slightly cooler outside
It was ever-so-slightly cooler outside last night, but I just couldn't get myself out into the sun at 6:00. I hit the dreadmill instead...and it actually wasn't so bad. This was the first time I've run on the treadmills at Gilruth, and they're much nicer than the two at my apartment complex. It felt like running on a cushion!
I ran a fairly easy pace, but upped the difficulty by doing the hill program, which got as high as 4.5% grade. Tough! 30 minutes at 5.3 mph, plus the 5 minute progressively slowing cooldown, and I ran right around 3 miles in 35 minutes. I think the hill program was part of what made the treadmill more bearable -- it gave me some variety. I was also able to watch TV, of course, even though there was nothing good on.
I'm happy to discover that the treadmill at Gilruth is bearable, since I'm going to be doing more running this summer as part of the tri training program than I have in summers past. We'll top out at 8 miles by the end of August, which should put me in nice position to continue upping the mileage for this fall's races, including the new Striders-managed Half Marathon (formerly 20K) at the end of October! I am feeling really positive about this training program, even though we haven't started. I really need a schedule, and some motivation, to get back on track.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Last night was orientation for
Last night was orientation for On The Run's triathlon training program. It sounds promising, though I realized that I am going to be working out a lot more this summer than I have in summers past! That, however, is one of the reasons I signed up in the first place. I need the motivation.
We start on Saturday with a swim session at a local indoor pool. I'm looking forward to it, because we will each get a stroke evaluation. I'm going to go ahead and predict that one suggestion for me will to learn to breathe on both sides! ;) I always turn my head to the right.
There are people of all abilities in this program, and so there will be people who need serious work on their swimming. I'm sure I'm the odd man out -- since the swim is my strongest part! However, it sounds like the program will be flexible enough for us to get out of it whatever we choose. For me, that means training consistently (always a challenge for me, no matter what the event) and hopefully getting a little faster -- in all three disciplines.
The only real disappointment is that the goal race -- the Cinco Ranch Triathlon on August 27 -- has been reduced from Olympic to sprint distance. I was really looking forward to going my first middle distance race! Instead, I'll focus on getting faster rather than going longer. Someday, though, I do have my eyes on a middle distance tri...and hopefully a Half-Ironman!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
How do you pick a
How do you pick a landing site on Mars and keep both the scientists and engineers happy? Well, sorta like this.
(Link is to an article about the first Mars Science Laboratory landing site workshop. I attended the last half day when I was out at JPL a couple weeks ago.)
And, as an afterthought to my previous entry, I should add that if you think you have to go through a lot of security to get onboard an airplane itself, you should try going to an FAA ATC center! I got wanded, had to turn on my computer to prove it wasn't a bomb, and then they searched my entire car, inside and out. They were very amused by the baseball bat in the back. :)
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
This morning I had the
This morning I had the very cool experience of visiting one of the FAA's 23 major air traffic control centers. Houston Center is located in a nondescript building up at Intercontinental Airport and monitors the national airspace stretching from west Texas to Mobile, Alabama, Austin to the Mexico border, and into the Gulf of Mexico. (See a map here -- ZHU is Houston Center.)
We have been working with many arms of the FAA, including their control centers, command center, and commercial space division, to make them aware of how an accident on entry would affect the airspace. We give them the data; they decide how to use it and when/where to clear airspace or reroute flights. This morning we finally did a real-time sim, which helped clear up some of the confusion and miscommunication that's been hampering our efforts. I got to watch from the control center itself, which was very helpful because I finally got to see what their displays look like, and how my data is displayed for them. Things made so much more sense when I could see it for myself. And I think having me there in person to explain our data helped them as well.
We took part in the sim from a normal office. After the sim, they asked "so do you want to see the control center?" "Heck yeah!" I said immediately. The center was pretty simple, actually. Their airspace is divided into six areas, which are then subdivided into sectors. Air traffic controllers are assigned to one area, and then get certified in each of the sectors. The certification process is 3-5 years -- not unlike becoming a shuttle front room flight controller!
Sometimes I get to do really cool things, and those are the days when I really like my job. But getting to do cool things has an unintended side effect. Case in point: I totally want to be an air traffic controller now!
In other news, a link from my sister -- our first cousin once removed (I think? He's my cousin's son...) Greg was just drafted by the Mariners. Random. I never see him; I only vaguely remember that he plays baseball.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
I didn't wear my watch
I didn't wear my watch this morning at the Tejas Triathlon in Sugarland -- gasp! -- so I had to wait until the official results were posted to see what all of my splits were.
Swim (800 meters) - 15:03
Transition 1 - 2:48
Bike (~10.5 miles) - 36:59
Transition 2 - 1:35
Run (3 miles) - 32:23
Total Time - 1:28:48
My biggest surprise was running sub-11:00 miles, even after biking, and even with 3-4 quick walk breaks per mile! I did not expect to be able to do that. With no watch, I had no idea how I was doing, so I just went as hard as I felt comfortable going. Perhaps I should go without a watch more often!
Also cool is that I finished 5th in my group, only 1:46 out of 3rd place and only 2:51 out of 2nd. This race offered an "Athena" category, where women must weigh more than 140 lbs, so that's where I decided to compete. There were only 9 total women in the group, which indicates to me that there are plenty of women who chose to compete in their age group -- I know at least one or two very fit women who weigh 140+ and find it very hard to imagine that there were only 9 of us in the entire race at that weight. Regardless, I hope more triathlons have this category; it's fun for me to be in a group where I'm a bit more competitive. With a little training and some work on making my transitions faster, I could be on the podium in a similar race!
Also interesting to me are the averages, and how I compared. The first average listed below is for the entire field, more than half of which were men. Then I separated out just women.
Swim - 16:26 (all), 17:02 (women)
Bike - 32:54 (all), 35:11 (women)
Run - 25:48 (all), 27:43 (women)
Total - 1:18:20 (all), 1:23:10 (women)
That pretty much confirms what I've always said -- I'm an above average swimmer, an average biker (compared to females anyway), and a below average runner.
As for the "who I saw" report, well, I don't know nearly as many triathletes as I do runners. I did see HRBer Steve and his daughter Taylor at the first water station on the run course (and after the race). I thought that Jill was planning to do the race as well, and I thought I even saw her this morning as I drove into the parking lot, but I never saw her during the race and I don't see her name in the results. Jill, I hope everything is ok!
I love triathlons. I think I may like them better than just running (another gasp!). I definitely want to do a few more this summer, and as a step towards that goal, last night I signed up for On The Run's triathlon training program. It's very reasonably priced, and runs for 10 weeks starting on Tuesday! The goal race is the Cinco Ranch Tri on August 27, so for any HRBers out there wanting to try a tri, I'll encourage you to do that one with me!
Friday, June 09, 2006
One of the secretaries here
One of the secretaries here at work is a very nice older woman who cannot ever get my name right. I have talked to her many times: she has helped set up my travel on many occasions, helped me reserve conference rooms, given me escort-required badges for visitors, and more. I have corrected her on multiple occasions, reminding her that I am Sarah. Yet she continues to call me Rebecca.
I don't know if she calls Becca by my name or not, but it's gone past the point of being annoying and just become amusing. This morning I walked past her in the hall.
"Hi Rebecca!" she said cheerfully.
"Hello!" I said with a smile.
It's just not worth it.
The Astros are showing signs of life again, beating the Braves 7-4 last night. Berkman hit a solo homer in the 4th, and then for good measure, hit a three-run shot in the 6th. Then there was the outstanding 6th inning, when the Braves had the bases loaded with no outs. Things looked grim, but then Pettitte struck one out, and then induced a fly ball to right field, where Berkman caught it and fired an amazing throw to home plate where Ausmus tagged the runner out and the Astros escaped a bases loaded, no outs situation in amazing fashion. We were back in our season seats last night, with no weird ticket scanner issues or being too far away from the action.
In other news, the World Cup starts today! WOOOOOO! I'm so excited. The US boys play their first game on Monday at 11 a.m. Houston time -- Matt and I already have plans to take a long lunch and go watch the game at my apartment!
And for Jo, enjoy this soccer rap with Nacogdoches boy Clint Dempsey.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Last night I was too
Last night I was too tired to even think about working out. Bad, I know, but still true. Instead, I decided to school Jose some more at his race car crash-em-up game. Sadly, I may have overspoken a couple days ago, because I failed miserably in my second attempt at kicking his butt. Ah well. Video games are not my strong suit.
We've also been making our way through his Arrested Development, Season 1 DVDs. I'd never watched the show before, but now I understand why so many people were irate that it was cancelled -- it's hilarious!
The Braves are in town tonight, but I'm hoping the Astros can get another win.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Last night's Astros game was
Last night's Astros game was one of the more interesting experiences I've had at Minute Maid Park. We got to the stadium with about 15 minutes left to game time and headed to the ticket window with two coupons good for four free tickets (courtesy the Race for the Pennant) plus our three season seats in hand. We only needed four tickets, so we planned to use the coupons and give the season seats away. Well, our first misstep was picking a bad ticket agent. He was new, and he didn't even know where the handicapped seats were located in the stadium, much less how to pull up enough seats so that Jen, Jose and I could all sit with Chris.
Our coupons were good for View Deck or Mezzanine seats; the handicapped rows, while located on the Terrace Deck, are counted as View Deck. Mr. New Ticket Person didn't know this. Mr. Assisting The New Ticket Person apparently also didn't know this. So we ended up with tickets way the heck out in the Mezzanine -- right center field and quite far away from the plate. While the view actually isn't that bad from out there, you can't see the wall (and therefore can't see any catches made on the warning track) and the infield is so far away that I felt very detatched from the game. I was only half paying attention the entire night.
We also missed the entire first inning -- the top because of the new ticket man and the 20 minutes it took him to get us tickets, and the bottom for an even more annoying reason! We walked in the door only to be told that no one could enter the stadium at the moment because the ticket scanners were down. No ticket scanners meant that they couldn't scan the barcode on the ticket, which apparently meant that you couldn't enter the stadium.
"Um....can't you just tear the ticket in half?" we asked, only to be shot down quite rudely by the security personn. A minute or two passed. "Seriously, you can't tear the tickets?" I continued, "Because we're missing the game!" You could hear the crowd cheering as the Astros were batting in the bottom of the 1st. "We can't make that decision, ma'am," was the response. A minute or two more passed. Finally, another offical-looking man with a walkie-talkie ran past, looking rather frantic, and told them to start tearing the dang tickets and letting people into the stadium. And thus a couple thousand growing-more-annoyed-by-the-minute fans were finally allowed to watch the game they paid to see.
Sigh. Thankfully, the night was salvaged when the Astros actually managed to win a game. Wandy Rodriguez pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, and Houston won 4-1.
As for the latest update from Brian the European traveler, well, I think my brother is trying to give Cari a run for her money. By my count, he left the US on May 15 plus or minus a couple days, which means he's been in Europe for almost four weeks. His latest email, covering a 10-14 day period I think, reads like a laundry list of cities: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Lucern, Interlaken, Zurich, Budapest, and Vienna.
An excerpt: "Then I went to Lucern and Interlaken in Switzerland. They were both very pretty with mountains and lakes and all. Interlaken is an extreme sports mecca of Europe, and we went 'Canyon Jumping' and 'Paragliding.' The canyon jump is a 90 meter high jump (about the length of a football field) with 50 meters free fall and then you swing an 75mph through a canyon. It was pretty scary, but a lot of fun. Paragliding was a little less scary but very cool, and we could see a lot of stuff from up in the air, its similar to hanggliding. I also rented a scooter one day and rode up into the mountains to see waterfalls. It was fun until I accidentally knocked the bike over and broke the side mirror..."
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I'm only about 90% certain,
I'm only about 90% certain, but I think I graduated high school on June 6, 1996. Which means that I am officially 10 years out of high school. So much, and yet so little, has happened in those ten years.
In honor of the big anniversary, my shoe fell apart.
I've been a little stressed lately, which, interestingly and annoyingly, has manifested itself in upper back pain. Well, maybe not pain as much as just general discomfort. Boo.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Two sims, two early mornings
Two sims, two early mornings -- today I was on console at 7 am; tomorrow is even worse, at 6:30! With tonight's Astros game and tomorrow's early wake up, I will be one tired, tired girl by nightfall.
Last night Jose got me to play his Xbox race car game. I pretty much sucked at the racing part, but then we played head-to-head where the goal is to crash 10 other cars as quickly as possible. Whoever gets to 10 first (or whoever survives the other cars trying to crash you as well) wins. I totally kicked his butt. And I totally needed to announce that publicly.
Monday, June 05, 2006
I mentally checked out of
I mentally checked out of Los Angeles sometime on Friday night. It's one of the few times I've ever been truly ready to go home before it was actually time to go.
My flight home was uneventful and I walked out of the airport (and into the nasty humidity) right on time. My ride, of course, was late, so I sat on the pylon for a while, sweating and contemplating the meteorlogical differences between Houston and LA while playing sudoku on my cell phone. And so it goes.
I didn't want to come to work today. I didn't want to get out of bed. Ever.
P.S. My dad called me to see if I was ok. This is not a sad blog entry! It was supposed to be contemplative. Contemplative! :)
Friday, June 02, 2006
"We want Gagne!" It was
"We want Gagne!"
It was the top of the 9th, and the Dodgers had been up 7-0. But reliever Tim Hamulack had just given up two runs.
"We want Gagne!"
The fans wanted to see their hero, Mr. Game Over, who was available for the first time this year after coming off the DL yesterday.
"We want Gagne!"
A figure appeared in the bullpen, standing up, walking to the mound, preparing to warm up. The crowd cheered.
"We want Gagne!"
Alas, it was not to be. Hamulack managed to close out the game and Eric Gagne never took the ball. Too bad; it would have been nice to see him pitch and to see what kind of intro he gets.
I went to Dodger Stadium last night to see the Dodgers-Phillies game after getting a tip from one of the JPLers that tonight's game is sold out (bobble head night). Gavin decided he'd rather go to the EDL team happy hour, but I'm feeling anti-social this week, and didn't want to miss my 16th stadium. Off I went, alone.
Dodger Stadium is fairly old, but beautifully located on top of a hill just north of downtown. From one side of the stadium there is a lovely view of LA's few skyscrapers, and the smog last night actually wasn't too bad. For dinner I had to have a Dodger dog, to which I added garlic fries. I don't know what I was thinking; my stomach hurt for the rest of the game. I haven't paid much attention to the Dodgers this year and didn't realize that they actually have a pretty good team put together. Nomar Garciaparra (who apparently moved to 1st base), Raphael Furcal (shortstop, so he's the reason Nomar moved), JD Drew, and Jeff Kent, who unfortunately just went on the DL as Gagne came off it.
My only real disappointment was that I wasn't allowed to go down to the lower level of the stadium. My ticket was for the upper deck along the first base side, and ushers stopped me both of the times I tried to sneak down the stairs in an effort to make my ballpark tour complete. Sigh. Oh well.
This morning Gavin and I went to the last bit of the first Mars Science Laboratory landing site workshop, the gathering of scientists taking the first steps towards choosing a landing site for MSL. They ended up ranking about 40 sites in a surprisingly democratic voting process, each of which will now be imaged by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter after it reaches its mapping orbit in November.
After that, we went to a talk given by a high-up in the Mars program office about the difficulty of landing humans on Mars. It's funny -- until today I don't think even I realized how tough it's going to be to get humans down to the surface. There's so little atmosphere, and humans are so fragile. Oh, humans and their inability to withstand more than a few g's of deceleration!
I don't really know what's on tap for the weekend. At the moment, I am completely meeting'ed out but still have 2 hours to go before I'm done for the day. There's yet another happy hour tonight but I'm feeling 1) anti-social, 2) headachey, and 3) just plain tired. Gavin's been talking about hiking tomorrow, but I'm being completely apathetic. I don't feel all that great, but maybe I'll feel more chipper tomorrow.
Everyone here at JPL has a laptop, and carries it around under their arm like college students in the '50s carried textbooks. They take them to meetings, where there is always wireless internet. I would argue that being able to take their computer with them makes them more productive. I would also argue that it means no one is ever truly paying attention. Interesting.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Happy Birthday Katie and Brian!
Happy Birthday Katie and Brian! I can't believe you guys are 23. Geez.
I'm sitting in a conference room at JPL listening to the Design Review topic of the hour -- the TDS. What, you may ask, is the TDS? Well, I think it's something like Terminal Descent Sensor. But really, it's just radar. I don't know why we don't call things what they are. It's radar. Engineers are funny.
Gavin is presenting in another hour or so, talking about entry guidance. I'm starting to understand why he wanted to come do a tour at JPL. He already loved the project, but being here only heightens that feeling. I mean, I don't even really want to be a true engineer anymore, and yet out here I still feel inspired. A feeling of "I could do this, I could help with this." At JSC, I loathe the project and how dumb it makes me feel; at JPL, I wish I somehow had access to the sims so that I could start running stuff now, and coming up with results. These people are incredibly smart, and incredibly motivated. There is no work/life balance -- their work is their life.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't live like they do. I would burn out quickly, and probably badly. But it is sort of amazing and inspiring to see how these people work. I used to wonder how it was possible that we could send a spacecraft all the way to Mars, or Jupiter, or Saturn. They're so far away! It sometimes seems impossible. But then I get here and listen to these guys, and think "oh, that's how you do it." You get these crazy smart guys together in one place, set them talking, and they make it happen.