Monday, July 31, 2006
So Debbie went to the
So Debbie went to the Oshkosh Airshow last week, and stopped by the NASA booth. Part of the display was this photo, printed nice and large, of me and Wade on the Vomit Comet back in May. She took a camera phone pic to prove it to me! Apparently someone likes my zero-g hair. I'm famous! ;)
Monday, July 31, 2006
I haven't been updating much
I haven't been updating much about it, but I've been working out as usual. Friday was a 5-mile treadmill run after work.
On Saturday we had a "practice triathlon" over at the Pearland Y. Obviously I was not taking it too seriously, since I drank at least 3 glasses of wine at Becca's on Friday night, and didn't go to sleep until midnight. I paid for it when I got to the run. Still, it was a good way to get in some practice with the transitions, and test out my new tri shorts and swimming top.
300 yard swim - 5:16
T1 - 1:57
9 mile bike - 30:37 (17.6 mph)
T2 - 0:50
3 mile run - 34:26 (11:29/mile)
Total - 1:13:06
I'd estimated 6:00 for the swim, so I did very well there. I actually would have finished in more like 5:00 flat, I think, if I hadn't had to pass two people in front of me. Which I had to do in the first place because I mis-estimated my time. Ah well.
The bike went well too, but I think my downfall really began here. I am not very good at hydrating myself while on the bike -- I never drink enough. By the time I got to the run, I was dehydrated from the previous evening's wine and dehydrated from the swim and bike and dehydrated from the heat...and it was all I could do to keep moving. We did three 1-mile loops, and I walked twice per loop. Blech.
Yesterday I did a 22-mile bike ride. It was pretty windy out, which I didn't like at all, so I just kept reminding myself that it was good exercise. For the first 12 miles of the ride, heading more-or-less into the wind, I averaged a sluggish 14.9 mph. I finally reached the far end of my big loop and turned around to enjoy the tailwind, sped up to 17-18 mph on Todville, and cruised back down Nasa Parkway at 20 mph. The last 10 miles of my ride upped my average speed to 15.9 mph total for the ride.
I capped off the weekend with a soccer game last night. We won 4-1, and I got hit right smack in the kisser with a soccer ball. BAM. Right in the face. I'm surprised my nose didn't start bleeding. I had to sit down, then go off the field just to shake my head and clear the tweety birds flying in circles around me. Unfortunately today I have nothing to show for it. What good is taking a ball in the face if you don't even end up with a fat lip?
Sunday, July 30, 2006
I updated the sidebar with
I updated the sidebar with the races I'm planning to do over the next few months, for anyone interested. Up next is Maribelle's 5K on the Bay this weekend. Close to home, and yet I've never run it!
Friday, July 28, 2006
My Polar S120 heart rate
My Polar S120 heart rate monitor mysteriously died on me today about 10 minutes into my treadmill run. Despite my best efforts, I can't get anything to appear. I've had it for almost 3.5 years and have used it fairly regularly, so I'm hoping it's just the battery.
Anyway. I did 5 miles on the treadmill in 56:50, taking things pretty easy since we're doing a practice triathlon tomorrow morning. It was a good run. I'm still basking in the glow of landing my new job (see below). :)
Friday, July 28, 2006
I was going to write
I was going to write about how last night we sat behind the most obnoxious baseball fan ever. I would go into all the gory details, but Jen has already done so brilliantly.
So instead, I will write about how I got the job I interviewed for last week! Yay! After four years as a Descent Analyst and six months of training to do operations part-time, I will be moving down the hall to work full-time as a space shuttle flight controller and become an RGPO. That's Rendezvous Guidance and Procedures Officer. It's a front-room Mission Control position and, in a nutshell, once certified I will work with the crew to make sure they know how to fly the shuttle to the space station (which involves a lot of complicated orbital mechanics that I now must learn), watch them from the control center during rendezvous to make sure they're doing everything right, and if they do something wrong, tell them how to fix it. And maybe you'll see me on TV. ;)
I'm very, very excited.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I had a stressful day
I had a stressful day yesterday, so when Jose asked "hey, do you want to go get margaritas with Nick and Heather and Melissa tonight?" my answer went something like "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS." That led to fajitas, two deceptively strong margaritas, and Sarah falling asleep at 9:30 last night. I woke up again at 1:45 a.m. with contacts still in my eyes and earrings stabbing my head. Took them out and went back to sleep until almost 7:30. That's ten hours of sleep! And it was still tough to get out of bed today!
In other news, I'm saddened to see that Floyd Landis failed a drug test administered after his awesome victory in Stage 17 of the Tour de France. I really, really want to believe that the cyclists I follow are clean, but it's becoming so much harder to believe that anyone is really clean these days. Even though Lance Armstrong has never failed a drug test, I have a harder and harder time believing that he was truly clean for seven years when so many other top cyclists are falling by the wayside, done in by a positive drug test. Tyler Hamilton. Ivan Basso. Jan Ullrich. Now Floyd Landis. These are the best cyclists in the world -- and I'm supposed to still believe that Lance didn't succumb to the same pressure that the others apparently did?
Astros game tonight. I hate to admit it, but I have not followed baseball as closely this season as in years past. I don't know what's to blame. I've been busy. I've been tired. I've just had other commitments. And the Astros haven't exactly inspired me to be excited this year. Tuesday night I bailed on going to the game because I didn't want to deal with the rain. Gave a new twist to the term "fair weather fan," as Gavin pointed out.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Last night Jose and I
Last night Jose and I watched Control Room, a documentary on al-Jazeera (the Arab news network) made in 2004. The topic, of course, is how the war in Iraq was covered, with emphasis on the journalists stationed at U.S. Central Command outside Doha, Qatar.
Al-Jazeera was constantly criticized during the conflict by Bush, Rumsfeld and others (and continues to be criticized today) because 1) they were perceived to report with a pro-Iraqi bias, 2) they showed graphic images of civilian casualties, and 3) they showed footage of American POWs (you probably remember Rumsfeld complaining that this was a violation of the Geneva Convention). But this documentary shows a different side of the news network -- it shows how they try to be objective, while recognizing that they are sympathetic to the Arab people. But how, they wonder, is that any different from outlets like Fox News being sympathetic to the American point of view?
There were two characters that were particularly interesting -- and actually, I guess I shouldn't call them characters, since they are real people -- Hassan Ibrahim, an al-Jazeera journalist, and Lieutenant Josh Rushing, a U.S. military press officer. (Interestingly, Lt. Rushing resigned from the Marine Corps and has now joined Al-Jazeera International as a correspondant and military analyst.)
Journalist: "Who can defeat the Americans? They are so strong."
Hassan Ibrahim: "The Americans will defeat the Americans. I have ultimate faith in the American Constitution."
He didn't meant that in a bad way -- he didn't meant that we'd be our own downfall. I believe he meant that he had ultimate faith that the American public would realize that bombing the crap out of Iraq was (and is) crazy.
Joshua Rushing: "The night they showed the American POWs and dead soldiers... it was powerful, because Americans won't show those kinds of images. It made me sick to my stomach."
[the previous night Al Jazeera had shown similar images of Arab casualties, "equally if not more horrifying", but they hadn't affected Rushing as much; now he compares his reaction to the two...]
Joshua Rushing: "I just saw people on the other side, and those people in the Al Jazeera offices must have felt the way I was feeling that night, and it upset me on a profound level that I wasn't bothered as much the night before. It makes me hate war. It makes me hate war, but it doesn't make me believe that we're in a world that can live without war yet."
That's what made Rushing a great player in this documentary. He didn't endlessly preach the military's "party line." He spoke more openly and honestly than I had expected from a miliary media liaison, and as a viewer, I felt like I was watching him ask the same questions of himself that many of us were asking here at home. Why were we bombing? Is it really "liberating" Iraq if we leave them with piles of rubble where their cities used to be?
Did you know that the U.S. bombed journalists? I don't remember hearing much about that story in 2003. The official story is that we were fired upon, but regardless -- we bombed journalists. Al-Jazeera has footage of an A-10 dropping bombs on them, and their correspondant was killed. We bombed the Palestine Hotel, where many members of the media were staying. The media let us know where they were; we knew they were there; we bombed them. It's a scary thought to think that we might have done that because they weren't sending the message we wanted to hear.
Anyway, I don't really want to write a whole blog entry about my feelings on the war in Iraq and our continued presence there, mainly because it would take me a very long time to put my scattered thoughts into some kind of cohesive format. From the little I've written, I'm sure you can draw some conclusions about my personal views anyway. (Heck, you can probably figure that out from the fact that I watched the documentary in the first place.)
It was, however, a very interesting documentary that I'd recommend if you are interested in a different take on the media, especially the Arab media, and how they covered the war.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Not much to say today.
Not much to say today. I'm tired because I slept horribly last night. Couldn't get comfortable. Woke up what felt like a hundred times. My neck aches, which is weird because I didn't bike yesterday -- I ran 4 miles on the treadmill, and that part of the day went well.
It's raining. It's gray. Though it is fun to watch the Space Center Houston tourists run screaming from the tram to the door, getting soaked along the way, the weather makes me want to curl up on the couch and stay there for hours.
Monday, July 24, 2006
I had a lovely weekend,
I had a lovely weekend, with the high point being the duathlon. Just thinking about it made me happy all day yesterday. I am so proud of myself for sticking with this training program so far. I know, I know, maybe I'm going overboard with the patting myself on the back, but in the past I have not been great (to say the least) with scheduled training programs. Especially in summer!
Other than that, I had a lot of fun hanging out with some different faces -- Melissa and Matt, Melissa's sister and her boyfriend, Nick and Heather, and Laurie. Friday night was happy hour in Kemah followed by dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Saturday night we ended up in Galveston where we played putt-putt amidst obstacles like a big ostrich, a giant conch shell, and an outhouse. I ended up in second place with a 51. Laurie's golf skills apparently extend to goony golf as well, since she won. Melissa tied for second with me. Basically, the girls kicked they boys' butts. Poor Jose brought up the rear with something like 73. ;)
Yesterday was the day that went on forever. Not in a bad way, just that I seemed to fit so much into one small day! Race in the morning. Saw Superman Returns with Jose, Becca, Gavin, and Jen. Then fixed my brake light. Then watched Tivo'ed Tour de France. Then soccer, played on a field that was really more of a swamp. Then pizza for dinner. Then finishing Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Then, finally, sleep.
Yes, in the middle of that paragraph I mentioned that I fixed my car's burnt-out brake light. I know, this does not sound very tough. But I was so excited. In fact, now that I think about it, I might have been more proud of that than of the duathlon! For some reason I get very excited when I, with my own two hands, fix something. I'm an engineer, yes, but any smarts I have are most definitely book smarts. I can't fix things. I don't know how things work. I never took clocks apart as a kid (though I did have a fascination with Legos). But I fixed my car! Hurrah! How many aerospace engineers does it take to change a light bulb? Just me! Yay! I was so excited that I almost called my dad to share. He would've appreciated it.
In answer to Vic's question on the previous entry about rest days, I must answer that I did take rest days -- three of them, to be exact -- before the duathlon yesterday. I hadn't meant to, but I think it very well may have helped me feel good during the race yesterday.
On Thursday I was scheduled to run 5 miles; I had a plan to squeeze it in between work and our 6:00 softball game. But at 4:30, I just felt totally worn out. I decided to take Thursday off and run on Friday. (Friday was supposed to be the off day.)
On Friday, I left work at 4:00 and went to Gilruth for a 5-mile treadmill run, only to find once I got in the locker room and pulled out my stuff that while I had packed shorts and a shirt, I had no socks and no sports bra. Hmph. Some friends/coworkers were going to afore-mentioned happy hour in Kemah at 5:30 and I'd told Jose that I'd have to be late because of my run. After the lack of suitable workout clothes, annoyed with myself and still tired, I said "screw it" and we went to the bar on time. I figured another day off would do me good.
On Saturday, my schedule called for an 8-mile run, but I didn't want to do a long run the day before the duathlon. Jana, the women in charge of our tri training program, suggested doing an easy 15-mile bike ride instead, and I had every intention of doing just that -- until time got away from me. I'd planned to head out in the late afternoon, but next thing I knew I was headed to Galveston with a large group for some quality putt-putt and pizza. Workout plans down the drain, and I chalked it off to one more day of rest.
So yes, Vic, I took three days off. Rather unintentionally, actually, but in retrospect I think it was a good move. It's back to my regularly scheduled training this week, however, beginning with a 4-mile run tonight.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Well, the Unofficial Houston Running
Well, the Unofficial Houston Running Bloggers Multi-Sport Debut at the Webster Duathlon this morning was a bust, with forces conspiring to keep everyone away except for Jill and me. I can't complain too much, however, because I had a great race. I am starting to see all my crazy training pay off, which is a very cool feeling.
This was my first duathlon -- that's run-bike-run -- and I was a little worried about how I'd fare. One of the women in my training group had done them before, and said that duathlons are actually harder than triathlons, because your legs are already tired when you get on the bike! I found that to be true.
The 2-mile run was a simple out-and-back course past a pond and some smelly horses. I knew I was keeping up a good pace, and actually wasn't that surprised to see ~9:35 when I reached the turnaround. I wasn't sure I could keep it up, and had a passing thought that it might hurt me on the bike, but I decided not to worry and just kept pushing. I finish the run in 19:22. Yes, that's two sub-10:00 miles -- in July heat and humidity!! The training is definitely paying off.
I took 1:19 to change shoes, put on my helmet, and walk my bike out of the transition area and then hit the pavement. The bike course, unfortunately, was pretty boring -- two loops on the feeder road next to the interstate. There was a bit of a tailwind going south, which was nice, but of course meant that there was a bit of a headwind going north, which was not nice. My legs were tired from the run, but not too bad, and I was pleased with my ride. I passed 6 or 7 people, and only one passed me. I finished the 11.6-mile bike in 40:11, or 17.3 mph.
From there it was back off the bike, walk awkwardly into transition in my biking shoes, change back to the running shoes, and get rid of the helmet. After 1:10, I was heading back out to do the run course one more time. Of course at this point I had no illusions of doing sub-10:00 miles since my legs felt like concrete and it was getting hotter, but I was determined to do my best. I made it to the turnaround with one walking break and checked my watch to see ~11:00. I stopped again for a quick sip from the water station and began the last mile. I heard a girl coming up behind me, which motivated me to push a little harder. Though she beat me in the end, she was great motivation and I covered the second mile (and fourth in the race) in ~10:00 to finish the second run in 21:05.
My total time was 1:23:08. This race draws a pretty hardcore crowd, and there weren't more than 20 or 25 people finishing behind me. Nevertheless, I am very happy with how well my race went.
Turns out training does make you faster. ;)
Friday, July 21, 2006
It's Friday, and yet I'm
It's Friday, and yet I'm wearing a skirt and pantyhose. Pantyhose! They make the backs of my knees sweat when I walk outside, in case you were interested.
I just finished an interview for a new position within my current division. Overall, I think it went pretty well. I should find out next week if I get the job. I don't want to say much more about it now, because I might not get it. And if I don't, it won't be the end of the world. But I do really want it, so send good thoughts my way.
Last night was softball (two hits and one great catch for Sarah, although we lost the game) followed by "fish night" at Becca's. What started because Gavin wanted to raise his good cholesterol is certainly growing quickly -- last night we pushed Becca's kitchen table to the limit, squeezing eight people around it. I'm all about free dinner. ;) I had planned to basically eat and run, wanting to get home early enough to ponder what topics and experiences I definitely wanted to work into my interview this morning, but I stayed more than three hours. We were just having too much fun, which is probably due to (as Jen said) the sangria that Katie and Fred brought.
Weekend's here at last. Hurrah.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I'm going to a conference
I'm going to a conference in Colorado in a month, and am taking advantage of a weekend, a day of annual leave, and the plane-ticket-I-don't-have-to-buy to get some more quality hiking in my life this year. Jose is coming along, and since he has never been to Colorado, I want him to be able to help in choosing our destination. Though we may end up elsewhere, tops on my list is Great Sand Dunes National Park.
In searching for some info and photos, I came across Terra Galleria. This guy has some amazing nature photos. I highly recommend checking out the site.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Just catching up. Last night
Just catching up. Last night was my 5th brick workout, and though I felt pretty tired, it actually turned out to be one of the best yet. I rode 20.5 miles in 1:11:52 for an average (that surprised me) of 17.1 mph. Those miles included 4 x 1.5-mile pickups, which is part of the reaston for the speediness. But pickups usually take a bit out of me and I end up going slower overall.
I transitioned quicker than ever, partly because I'd forgotten my biking gloves and therefore didn't have to take them off. A mere 1:14 after getting off my bike, I was off and running. BOY did my legs feel like concrete. Unbelievable. But I ran 2 miles, with 3 1-minute walking breaks (one at each 1/2 mile) in scarily steady splits of 11:32.1 and 11:32.1. Yes, steady down to the tenth of a second. Freaky.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
When I went to see
When I went to see my sister Katie last Saturday night, she was staying at the Doubletree Hotel near the airport. (A few people expressed incredulity when they found out that I drove almost an hour each way just to see Katie for dinner. Either I really like my sister, or I've just gotten really used to how long it takes to get anywhere in Houston.)
I walked up to the front desk and explained my situation. "Hi, my sister is staying here with a large church group. Can I find out what room she's in?" I was slightly worried that they wouldn't tell me, citing security concerns or something, but the lady behind the desk was very helpful. "Oh yes, that group just checked in. What's her last name?"
I told her, and she scanned her list. Not finding anything, she asked me again. I told her, and even spelled it out: "G-r-a-y-b-e-a-l." Nothing. "The only G name I have is Goodson. I'll put you on the phone to the trip leader's room."
I was puzzled, but quickly decided that the room must be under someone else's name, whoever Katie was sharing it with. No one answered the phone in the trip leader's room, and I stood there in the lobby for a moment, pondering my next move. Fortunately, I was saved when Katie appeared in the lobby, having assumed that I'd be getting there soon anyway. I told her I'd been wondering how I'd find her, since the room must be under a different name.
"No, it's under my name," she said. I told her that the woman couldn't find her on the list. "Well, what name did you tell them?"
I rolled my eyes, still not comprehending. I told her our last name. Duh.
She started laughing. "Sarah, I got married, like, a year ago. White dress...big church, remember? My name is Chalmers now."
Oh. Right. I knew that.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I didn't realize the mere
I didn't realize the mere mention of my 80s movie knowledge, or lack thereof, would get more comments than anything ever has, except the topic of Jose himself. And nope, sorry, he's not open for commenting again.
Question of the day: Does high school clique-like behavior end when you leave high school? Or is it just something that always happens, whether at school or in community activities or at work? I'd like to think that being in the "inner circle" doesn't matter once we grow up and become adults. But maybe not. I don't know.
In the latest instances, one at work and one in a community activity, I've decided to just let it go. Taking it personally makes me stressed. Worrying about it makes me tired.
Lately I've been in a very "me" mood. (I suppose you could call it selfish, but I don't think it's always selfish to put your own needs and wants at the top of the list.) I've been thinking a lot about what makes me happy, and what I'm not satisfied with. The good news is that for the most part, I am exceedingly happy with my life at the moment. This was especially apparent on Saturday night, when I went to see Katie.
Because she was traveling with a group from my family's church in Charlotte, I knew quite a few of the other people in the group. After greeting them, they inevitably asked me something like: "So, do you still like living in Houston?" My answer is always a little different than what they expect.
No, I don't like living in Houston. I don't like the weather. I don't like how flat it is. I don't like that there are no tall trees, and I don't like that things tend to be a brownish-yellow color instead of a nice, rich green. I don't like that the air always smells slightly like chemicals. I don't like that the highways are littered with run-down strip malls and dingy strip clubs.
So why don't I move?
Because while I don't like the city, I do like -- really, really like -- the life that I have in Houston. The life that I have partly built, and partly stumbled into. I like my friends. I like my job, most of the time. (Come on, nobody likes their job all the time.) I like my soccer team, and my softball team, and the running community that I have gotten to know. I like the little bit of photography that I do. I like having season tickets to the Astros.
Sure, I could do most, if not all, of those things in another city. But I haven't. I do them here. And I like them here. I don't really like Houston, but I like my life here.
For the first time, I'm starting to think of Houston as a long-term location for me. For the first time, I don't see myself leaving anytime soon.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Technically, I'm a child of
Technically, I'm a child of the 80s. That decade spanned ages 2-12, which, you've got to admit, were pretty formative years. And yet I think I must have missed out on a lot.
I know all the cheesy adult contemporary songs from the 80s because my mom listened to it on the radio, but my knowledge of what most people would consider "80s music" has been gained in later years. I have only vague memories of watching all the 80s cartoons -- Transformers, Smurfs, Fraggle Rock, Voltron, etc -- because we were only allowed one half hour of TV per day, with a special exception made for Saturday mornings. I never saw any of the "classic" 80s movies that dorky kids like me saw -- Short Circuit, Flight of the Navigator, Goonies, etc. And when Jose mentioned a Monchichi last night, I knew what it was only from having seen it on "I Love the 80s" once.
Jose, on the other hand, is a legitimate child of the 80s. Apparently, all he ever did was watch TV and movies, and as a result, he frequently finds himself in a state that goes something like: "What?? Are you serious? You've never seen <insert 80s movie here>???"
This list has grown to include such illustrious titles as Total Recall, Robocop, Alien, The Abyss, Beetlejuice, Terminator, Real Genuis, and Peewee's Big Adventure. (The last one came up because Paul Reubens has been making the talk show circuit promoting some new Peewee thing. And I know, a couple of those are actually 1979 and 1990, but close enough.)
Apparently, having seen The Hunt for Red October at least 10 times each summer -- thanks to it being the only modern movie at my grandmother's house -- doesn't make up for not having seen anything else. And while friends like Kent used to just laugh and ask "are you Amish?" every time he found I hadn't seen such-and-such, Jose has decided that my 80s credentials are seriously lacking and that I need to watch some of these movies.
Last night after dinner and my 1200 yard swim workout, we started with Total Recall. I thought I might feel different this morning, you know, like a more complete person, like I was filling in gaps in my childhood. But alas, I still haven't seen it all.
I fell asleep with a half hour left. ;)
Monday, July 17, 2006
Best line in an email
Best line in an email all day:
"It turns out I did get the FIRST leadership program email... it actually looks like something more than a goofy catch me blindfolded thing..."
(In response to an email announcing a new agency-wide leadership program for early career employees.)
Goofy catch me blindfolded. Hahaha.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Around the world, stuff is
Around the world, stuff is happening. A large earthquake and ensuing tsunami hit Indonesia. Israel and Hezbollah are trying to start World War III. On the plus side, the space shuttle landed successfully this morning.
And what is the lead story on CNN's website? That Bush said "shit" while talking to Tony Blair.
Whoa. Stop the presses, people!
Sigh. You've got to be kidding me.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Unlike Keith, I do complain
Unlike Keith, I do complain about the heat. A lot. And it was FREAKING HOT this weekend. So hot, in fact, that simply saying it was hot doesn't really do it justice. It's too short a word. What I really want to see is something like: it was FREAKING HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT yesterday. Really draw it out. It's got to be a big, long word to fully describe how I felt after doing a 30-mile bike ride in the morning, running errands all afternoon, and playing a soccer game at 5:00. We had only 9 players. The other team had a full team of 11, plus 2 subs. By the end of the game, which was called ~10 minutes early since my team had basically been reduced to walking by the heat and being down two players, my legs were shaking.
Other than that, it was a good, if busy, weekend. I was very happy to get to see Katie on Saturday night. She was tired from her week in Mexico, and looking forward to getting home and seeing Joel, but it was nice to have her in Houston for a few hours.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Discovery just got a "go"
Discovery just got a "go" for deorbit burn and had a good burn. STS-121 is coming home! Landing is at Kennedy Space Center beneath cloudy skies at 8:14 Central time. If you're near a TV, check out the NASA channel or CNN. :)
In other interesting space news, here's an article that confirms that JSC really could have been built anywhere. Why Houston? Because a Houston congressman was head of the Appropriations Panel at the time. Sigh. Too bad he wasn't from California. Or Seattle. Or somewhere with no mosquitos.
That got me thinking, and I spent a few minutes browsing one of the early chapters in the book "Suddenly Tomorrow Came." It's available online and is a history of the Johnson Space Center. My favorite bit from the chapter about how we ended up in Houston:
"Powers launched a campaign at Langley, in cooperation with the Houston Chamber of Commerce, to make the move not only palatable but attractive. He posted signs all over Langley saying that 'Houston is a good place to live!' His office presented slide shows and provided brochures. Ben Gillespie came from Houston to show a movie on the City of Houston and the new site. Powers held open meetings in the Langley cafeteria, and 'shot down' the rumors that Houston had a hurricane every year and that hundreds of snakes crawled around the streets."
Snakes! In the streets! Eeeeeee!
Saturday, July 15, 2006
It's been a really up-and-down
It's been a really up-and-down day:
Skipped Lunar Rendezvous Run after waking up at 6:30 with the afore-mentioned pounding headache. DOWN.
Went back to sleep and woke up feeling better. UP.
Adorable boyfriend left to go home for the weekend. DOWN.
Went to work to put together the entry package for Monday morning's shuttle landing. Had it done in the predicted "two hours, tops." UP.
During last-minute Q&A, Gavin pointed out something questionable on my maps. Didn't want to agree with him, but had to admit that it did look weird. Did some reprogramming that took an hour. Had no effect on the maps. DOWN.
Gavin left. I stared some more, still not satisfied. Finally figured out the problem, fixed it, sent out the package (two hours late but accurate), and left work. UP.
Redeemed myself after the morning's disappointment with a nice, slow, easy 6-mile treadmill run at 12:00/mile. UP.
Waiting for my sister to call to say that her group has arrived in Houston after driving up from Reynosa. Gonna go up to the airport and have dinner with her. UP.
So I'm on an upswing at the moment. Hurrah.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
I missed the Lunar Rendezvous
I missed the Lunar Rendezvous Run this morning. For the second year in a row. I'm MAD.
This year, my alarm went off as scheduled. (Last year it didn't.) I awoke at 6:30, after a fitful night of sleep, with a pounding headache and a nauseous feeling in my stomach. I got up, put on my running clothes, took an Advil, and laid back down to rest until 7:00. At 7:00 I felt slightly better, but moving made my head hurt. I knew I had to come in to work this morning (where I am right now) to deliver some products in advance of the shuttle landing on Monday morning. And my sister will be in town tonight. Something had to give, and it was the 5K. I took off my running clothes and went back to sleep.
Of course after sleeping until 9:00, I feel fine. Dammit, body, get your act together!
I hate feeling bad. More than that, I hate feeling like I'm using feeling bad as an excuse. And it always feels like an excuse. I feel like if I were tougher, I could just run through it.
HRBers, you have no idea how sorry to have missed you. :(
Friday, July 14, 2006
Got problems? Solve them like
Got problems? Solve them like Zidane!
(Thanks Barbara for the link.)
Friday, July 14, 2006
Friday, Friday, Friday! It's Friday!
Friday, Friday, Friday! It's Friday! Woooooooo!
I know it, and my legs know it. They feel tired just sitting here after last night's 4-miler. I hit the trail at Gilruth later than usual, around 8:00, after taking Chris to the airport. It was hot, but I wanted to get outside and away from the treadmill, so I told myself that I'd walk for one minute every half mile. I am a little worried that I'm becoming too dependent on the run/walk thing; however, it is a big mental boost to know that I have a breather coming up. Even with one minute walking each half mile (that would be two minutes of walking in each mile), I finished the run in 43:26 with splits of 10:38, 10:54, 10:54, and 10:59. Four sub-11:00 miles in July heat and humidity! Hurrah.
The downside, of course, of running outside are the bugs. And man oh man are there bugs. First up was the enormous spider sitting in a web that crossed just above the trail. Tall people better watch out or they'll have a palm-sized spider on their head. Then the mosquitos. God, the mosquitos!
It began when I stopped for my first walk break and felt a stinging sensation on my arm. Mosquito! I quickly slapped it. One down, a million to go. I should have realized that this was a sign of things to come -- if walking is not enough movement to prevent the skeeters from attacking.
After the run, I quickly put on a clean shirt and headed to the softball fields for our late game. Bite, bite, bite went the mosquitos. I doused myself in Deep Woods Off (i.e. stuff that smells bad but has lots of DEET, which apparently keeps the biting beasties away), which helped for oh, about 15 minutes.
I played catcher, since Jen is busy working the mission. Home plate was a swirl of buzzing, biting insects of doom that made it necessary to actually concentrate on keeping the glove out and ready to catch the pitch, instead of using it as a makeshift fly-swatter. Er, skeeter-swatter.
Halfway through the game, a mosquito landed on my finger and started biting; it was the one place I hadn't doused in bug spray. (By the way, if you put bug spray on your hands and then rub it on your face, it sort of burns. This should probably worry me. But it was more pleasant than mosquito bites.)
WHY DO PEOPLE LIVE IN HOUSTON???
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Training programs are interesting beasts.
Training programs are interesting beasts. Lately I have been having flashbacks to late 2004, when training for my first (and, to date, only) marathon was in full force. I remember feeling like all I ever did was work, run, eat, and sleep. I'm feeling a bit like that again as I gear up for the triathlon at the end of August.
Last night was our 4th brick workout. One per week. Four weeks down. Yesterday called for a 20-mile bike with three 1.5-mile pickups, followed by a 2-mile run, and the whole thing pretty much kicked my tail. The first half of the biking went ok, but by the end of my last pickup, I felt like I was about to die. When all was said and done, I biked 20.5 miles in ~1:14, an average of 16.6 mph. Not as fast as last week, but then, last week it was much cooler.
I took a couple minutes to gulp water and change shoes before heading out for the run. Again, it was hotter, and I ran slower. Took a minute-long walking break after each half mile and finished with splits of 11:29 and 11:48.
Overall it was another good workout, and the best thing I noticed is that I might actually be getting a little acclimated to the summer heat. I am a person who overheats very easily, and in summers past, the discomfort of being so hot and sweaty has led to me basically not working out at all. This, of course, only makes things harder in the fall when I try to start up again. This year has been different. Yesterday was hot, and it sucked, but it didn't suck as much as I thought it would. So. Am I acclimating? I hope so.
Other than working out, the HARRA website is taking up a ton of my time. At the moment, it's simply going through all of the pages and trying to get them up-to-date, since there are quite a few bits that fell through the cracks earlier this year. But I have long-term plans for a total site redesign. Typical me.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
The other thing, the thing
The other thing, the thing I didn't mention yesterday, that's taking up a huge chunk of my time lately is my crazy triathlon training schedule. (By the way, Operation: Get Up Earlier began today. I got to work at 8:15. YEAH!)
Anyway, back to the tri training. Six days a week! I didn't think I could handle it, but here I am four weeks into a ten week schedule and I'm on track. The only thing that threw me off was the trip to Atlanta -- I missed two swimming workouts, and a 25-mile bike ride had to become a 45-minute ride on the stationary bike. Saturday's urban adventure race took the place of a 6-mile run. And this Saturday I'll have to do another 3 miles before or after the Lunar Rendezvous Run to get in my scheduled 6.
But things are going well. I'm really proud of myself for sticking with this so far. I've found myself needing more sleep, of course, and crashing at 10 p.m. is now a regularly occuring event. I haven't lost any weight, which is disappointing, but then, I haven't been watching my eating either. (Actually, I may have replaced some fat with muscle.) If anything, this training makes me hungrier.
I watched the All-Star game last night, or at least had it on in the background while I did my daily email-cleaning, website-updating routine. I can't believe the AL won again. On its last strike. Sigh. I've had a hard time keeping up and getting into baseball this season, especially with the Astros being so streaky. And the solution to their woes is apparently Aubrey Huff, who they just picked up from Tampa Bay. Jason Lane gets optioned to AAA. Random.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I just took a moment
I just took a moment to watch the rest of the videos from Discovery's launch last week taken by the cameras mounted on the solid rocket boosters. The view is so cool. The links to each video are here. If you only have time to watch one, the separation composite view is the coolest by far.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I spot a black eraser
I spot a black eraser on top of a low bookshelf, and pick it up to further inspect the packaging. It's used for erasing charcoal, and I suddenly realize that I haven't seen him drawing in a long time. I comment on it.
"You haven't done any drawing lately."
It's more of a statement than a question.
"No," he says. "This is going to sound lame, but by the time we've finished working out, cleaning up, and going out for some dinner, it's already 9:00. Or later! The night is almost over and I just want to wind down and watch TV."
It's funny but true. I'm slightly worried about finding time this fall for my class (Advertising Design) when UHCL starts up again. One idea: get to work earlier, so I can leave work earlier, so the evenings are longer! Incredible.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Strong Bad's take on logo
Strong Bad's take on logo redesign, office redecorating, and Hollywood green screens.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Vic and others -- you
Vic and others -- you should be able to comment again. I either need a better comment spam filter, or just a better comment spam filter user. (That would be me, who made a mistake again and blocked anything that had "blogspot" in it, which would be your URLs. Sigh.)
I also forgot to mention earlier today that Jose and I saw the shuttle/station complex fly over Houston on Friday night. We had to stop on the side of the road, since we were on our way from dinner to the movies, but it was worth it -- very bright, and a max elevation of 80+ degrees! I wish I'd thought to mention it sooner, since there was another great pass last night.
There is one more pass tonight. Max elevation is only 20 degrees, so if you look you will need a clear view of the horizon. But it's worth a shot. Get the times and directions here. I can't believe NASA doesn't do a better job of advertising this stuff. Sigh.
Monday, July 10, 2006
As usual, the weekend passed
As usual, the weekend passed too quickly and I find myself staring at this boring desk again. I have crammed a lot of knick knacks in my little bit of office space. Most of the time, they amuse me; today, they annoy me.
The triathlon workouts, while going well, are starting to wear me down, I think. I went for a late bike ride last night (late enough that I had to do the last 4 miles outside my apartment because it was getting too dark to be on the road) and did 20 miles in 1:16:03. That's an average of 16 mph. I was averaging 16.6 through about 15 miles, but my poor worn out legs died at the end.
Of course, a big reason for my fatigue was probably lingering effects of the Houston Urban Adventure Race that I did on Saturday with Debbie. Last year it started at 6:00 and I remember it being pretty darn hot; this year it started at 3:00 and it was downright hellish. We began with a run -- from Minute Maid Park to Teala's on West Dallas. From there we hit a nearby cemetary on Allen Parkway, then had to go all the way back downtown to the transition area. The run portion, as I determined after-the-fact (since they don't tell you the distances) was ~6.4 miles. With all our walking, it took us about 1.5 hours to finish it. It was mega-hot, and we walked a lot more than we ran.
I got much happier once we were on the bikes, and we travelled from Market Square to the intersection of South Heights Blvd and 20th Street, where we found checkpoints 3 and 4 before heading back downtown. The bike was about 10 miles total, which took us a little less than an hour.
Checkpoints 5-7 involved another ~0.75 miles of running around to the Courts building, a cathedral, and bobbing for burritos at Chipotle. Debbie and I crossed the finish line in 2:39 -- which surprisingly made us the 10th place female team! They gave prizes for 1st - 10th, so we each got a medal! My first legitimate race hardware. :)
Overall, it was a fun race, but not my favorite. The race itself is great; some of the logistics are not. We start on the field at Minute Maid Park right before an Astros game, so the start time is dictated by the game time. Still -- starting a race at 3:00 in Houston in July? Crazy.
The other problem is the downtime. The race started at 3:00, but we were required to check in no later than 12:30. Pre-race meeting at 1:00, then walk to Minute Maid, sit around for a while, enter the stadium, go onto the field, yadda yadda. Again, much of this down time is dictated by the baseball game, and their requirements for preparing ahead of time. I understand, but I don't like it. Basically, having to show up at 12:30, get set up, and sit around outside for 2.5 hours means that I'm overheated before the race even starts. Which sucks.
In the end, a race that took less than 3 hours to complete took up 9 hours of my Saturday. I think that's the part that bugs me. It seems horribly inefficient. Nevertheless, we had fun and I'll probably do it again next year.
I watched the World Cup final yesterday and was rooting for Italy, not out of any loyalty to Italy over France, but France just won it 8 years ago. Italy hadn't won since 1982. Yeah, it went to penalty kicks, which I know is a sore point for many people about the nature of the game, but it was still a good game. It sucked to see Zidane end his career with a head butt, red card, and ejection, but oh well. It was his choice to do it. He's a professional, he knows that's a red card.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Here is a seriously cool
Here is a seriously cool video taken from the solid rocket boosters as they fell away from the shuttle last Tuesday.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Happy sigh. Yesterday I had
Happy sigh. Yesterday I had the best evening. Happy sigh.
Before the great part, though, I had the ok part -- three miles on the treadmill. I covered the distance in ~33:30, with progressively speedy miles of 11:45, 11:10, and 10:55. Or something like that, I don't really remember the exact splits, just that the last one was slightly sub-11:00. I had some aches that I haven't had lately. Nothing truly painful, but some tightness in my lower leg muscles and an ache in my heels. Probably a good thing that today's my day off!
OH -- this is for Becca, who has humorously been completely unable to forego using the internet while on vacation -- I actually witnessed one of the staff dudes at the Gilruth change the TV channel after a request from another exerciser. ESPN on Dish network was blacked out because they were showing the Astros, so the dude behind the desk changed the channel to Fox Sports Net, where the Astros game was not blacked out. Small victories, baby, small victories.
And after running, as previously mentioned, I had the best evening. Happy sigh.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Ron, Buzz, Nick, Steph, and
Ron, Buzz, Nick, Steph, and others just got back from a trip to Alaska. I was originally planning to go, but life and a lack of vacation time got in the way. I was just looking through Ron's photos, and glanced at this one of Denali, or Mt. McKinley, and thought "oh well, it doesn't look so big."
Then I looked above the layer of white clouds.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
So obviously I was in
So obviously I was in Atlanta for a few days. The trip was lazy and fun. Saw the boys, Karen, James and Chrissy, the Greens, and met Ben. I ran twice, biked (inside) once. Sat in the hot tub. Rode the golf cart that was all decked out for the 4th with flags and bows. Saw "The Devil Wears Prada" in the theater and "Les Choristes" on TV. Played a new game -- Puerto Rico -- and an old game -- Settlers of Catan. Ate well, had a lot of ice cream, met Karen's dinner group of female grad students, and got a link that will tell me where I can go pick blueberries in the Houston area, though sadly it seems that the nearest farms are either closed or all picked out. Watched the shuttle launch. Watched the World Cup (poor Germany). Did not watch fireworks since nature was providing them in the form of lightning.
The rain stopped yesterday enough to get in our normal brick workout. 15 miles on the bike, 2 miles on the run. Did the biking in 52:10 or so (averaging 17 mph) with 3 x 1.5-mile pickups in the middle. Took two minutes to gulp some water and change shoes, then headed out for the run. Did that in 22:34 with two scarily even 11:17 miles. Interesting note -- I've done a brick workout three weeks in a row now, and have completed the 2-mile run slightly faster each time. I've also averaged a slightly faster speed on the bike. I don't expect that trend to continue indefinitely, but it's nice to see.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Ever wonder what it must
Ever wonder what it must look like to watch 55,000 people in 9+ time groups start the Peachtree Road Race? Well, it looks like this!
The link points to a really neat time-lapse movie made from still images captured by a camera pointed at the start line. You can see the wheelchairs start, elite runners, and then all the other time groups. I was in the very last group -- which also appears to have been the biggest, since so many people have to drop back in order to run with their friends! (Thanks Karen for the link.)
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
The short Peachtree Race Report
The short Peachtree Race Report (cause I'm tired and don't want to write more right now):
Karen and I started with time group 9, a whopping 1:15 after the official start. Not crossing the starting line until 8:45 a.m. meant that we didn't finish until almost 10:00, which meant it was ALL KINDS OF HOT out there.
We rocked through the first 5K since it was mostly downhill -- our splits were 11:37 (we had to walk for the first quarter mile just to let the crowd thin out), 10:17, and 10:46 (which is doubly impressive since we walked through the water station and still did a 10:46 mile -- we were booking it downhill at that point).
Things got tougher during mile 4 with the infamous Cardiac Hill. Running in Houston just doesn't prepare a girl for hills, and I had to walk a bit. We did that mile in 11:48.
During miles 5 and 6, Karen and I both began to have issues -- I was starting to feel severly overheated and Karen's knee was bothering her. We were far more liberal with the walk breaks and did miles 5 and 6 in 12:36 and 12:35.
We did the last 0.2 in 2:20 a finish time of 1:12:02, which, quite frankly, I was pretty happy with given the crowds and the weather. We both got the coveted t-shirt and chugged about a gallon of sports drink. :)
Jon's probably already posted in on his blog, but I just looked and saw that Sean Wade took 1st in the Masters Men division. Cool! Way to represent Texans, Sean.
Annnnnnnd... the shuttle launched today! Woohoo! Go Discovery!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
FYI: Kent says hi. I
FYI: Kent says hi.
I am in Atlanta, which doesn't feel that much different than Houston. Sunny. Hot. Humid. I went for a run this morning -- after much internal debate, since today is really supposed to be my biking day, but Carter only has a mountain bike, and a 100-year-old fan exercise bike where the seat doesn't feel right, and I couldn't get over to Kent's exercise room, sooooo I thought about not doing anything, and sat around for a while, but finally realized that if I didn't at least go running, it would nag at me for the rest of the day. And it would have!
So I went running around 9:45. Carter lives in the greatest location for running, and I was able to run on the crushed gravel trail along the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Since my biking workout was scheduled to be a 25-mile ride, which would've taken me about an hour and a half, I decided to run for two-thirds of that -- an hour. The trail is marked, but I started at Carter's condo instead so I had no idea how far I was running. I guessed about 5.5 miles, and when I Google mapped it a moment ago, it turns out that I was pretty close -- 5.42 miles. Not bad at all, and I felt good for almost the whole run, until the end when I started to get a little overheated.
On Tuesday, the Peachtree! Think I can keep up with Sean Wade? ;)
Just saw that we scrubbed the second shuttle launch attempt and will try again on the 4th. Cross your fingers, everybody!