Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Happy Halloween! The owl cookies
The owl cookies made it to work successfully today. I sent out an email to a ton of people inviting them to come have one, and also informing them that the cookies will be traveling to the control center at 2:30 as part of my totally-not-subtle attempt to bribe my evaluators during my Cert Qual this afternoon.
Yes, today is the day. My big evaluation (I'm thinking of it as Part 1 of a two-part final, and if I don't do well on Part 1, then Part 2 gets indefinitely delayed) is this afternoon. Wish me luck!
Registration opens tomorrow for the Lone Star Half Ironman. I'm probably going to register.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Rachel woke up as a
Rachel woke up as a Mrs. this morning. Congratulations to her and John!
The bloggers KICKED BUTT this morning at the Houston Half Marathon. Five PRs, four debuts, and all outstanding runs. All the results are in one place on Jon's blog, of course, so I won't bother to list them all here. But congratulations to everyone who ran, and I'm a little sad I wasn't there to cheer you all on.
I did do a race this weekend, but with everything I've got going on, I decided to do one closer to home that didn't involve driving downtown. I ran the League City Rotary 10K yesterday morning. The race itself, unfortunately, gets a thumbs down for many shortcomings. But the weather was absolutely gorgeous and with Debbie as my unintentional rabbit, I had a great run, covering the ~6.1 miles in 1:04:43. That's 10:37/mile. (The course was not certified and appears to have been slightly short, according to Google pedometer and thoughts from Buzz, Ron, and Vera Balic -- though Vera said Rudy Rocha felt it was accurate. Ron spoke briefly to the race director, who said they'd had a certified course, but had to change it at the last minute after difficulties with the city. Who knows.) There were no mile markers, so I only had splits for each out-and-back -- 32:41 and 32:02.
The race was put on by the "other" running store in Clear Lake. I've never been there -- what can I say, I'm loyal to On The Run. Apparently they only sell Mizuno shoes anyway (strange). I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that many of the race's issues were a result of having to change the course, but the issues were many and I couldn't help but compare it to what OTR would've done with it.
+ Course was short. And boring -- out, back, out, back.
+ No mile markers, anywhere. Not a single one.
+ Chip-timed, but the only timing mat was at the finish. No point to having chips if they don't record your start time, or splits.
+ Bananas, oranges, and donuts. No other post-race food.
+ Awards ceremony wasn't until noon, at the Food & Wine Festival. Race was at 8 a.m. Debbie finished 3rd in our age group (I was 4th) but left because she didn't want to wait another 2 hours for her medal!
+ $30 entry fee when I signed up last Tuesday
The race did have ample water stops, a nice t-shirt, and awesome awards for the overall winners. But there were enough negatives that I'll think twice before doing it again. Still, I had a good run personally, and got in my long run for the weekend. 10K is the farthest I've gone so far this fall; I'll go for 7-8 next weekend as ramp-up for the Half in January starts in earnest.
Friday, October 27, 2006
First: work. I have been
First: work. I have been studying like mad. Harder than I've studiend in four years. Harder than I've studied since grad school. I hope this all pays off. Cert qual on Halloween, final cert on the day before Thanksgiving. As I've been jokingly saying to others, these evaluations have the potential to make or break two holidays. No pressure though. Heh.
The Halloween store was absolutely insane last night. People everywhere. Junk all over the place. And a freaky guy roaming the makeup section with funky contacts and fangs. We're not sure if he actually worked there or was just really enthusiastic about Halloween makeup; it was hard to tell.
Anyway, the trip to the Halloween store necessitated a trip to Walmart, where we could create our own costumes for a fraction of the price thanks to the fabric section. Jose's going to be a mummy. All the girl costumes were stupid (i.e. I don't want to be a Sexy Nurse or a Sexy Maid or a Sexy Devil or a Sexy Vampire or a Sexy Anything), so I'm gonna be a ninja! Yeah ninjas.
Cardinals won last night and seem to have a grip on the Series. I don't want them to win. But since it seems that they probably will, I am resigning myself to being happy that the NL might come out on top after two years of getting swept.
Last night as we watched TV, a huge thunderstorm swept through that was more entertaining than what was on the tube. We watched from Jose's balcony door as the rain came down in sheets, so hard that it actually beat itself into a mist that swirled in all directions. It was like a mini hurricane! At one point a huge bolt of lightning came down straight ahead, and lingered for a whole second. It was followed by a white glow on the horizon that was distinctly not lightning. The lights of the apartment complex and marina across the way flickered out, then back on. Suddenly, an eerie turquoise glow lit up the horizon and flashed for a moment. The lights of the apartment complex and marina went out and stayed out. I don't know what it was (a transformer, probably) but it was creepy and cool.
Random link: There is a very cool set of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos that I came across on Flickr. I've been meaning to try this technique. The biggest problem is that it just takes planning, since you need multiple images at different exposures to make it work.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I ran last night! Score.
I ran last night! Score. It was fairly cool, but humid and sticky. I did three miles on the Gilruth trail here at work with splits of 11:10, 10:50, and 10:25. Felt pretty good, except I made poor choices in clothing. On top, I was wearing my Half Marathon tech tee from last January. It's a bit big and a bit heavy. On bottom, I was wearing a new pair of mesh shorts that I bought with hopes of them working as well as my beloved (and getting very, very ratty) red Stanford shorts. These new shorts have an extra layer of material underneath the mesh (I guess to prevent see-through or something) which, as it turns out, rides up like you wouldn't believe. The shorts are also a little too big and baggy, and don't stay in one place.
So it was a 3-mile run that included a lot of tugging and rearranging my clothes. Needless to say, I won't be repeating that outfit. I desperately need to find some running shorts that work for me, and I never have any luck. Requirements: 3-4 inch inseam (not super short), not too baggy, slick material so they don't stick, and they don't ride up!
Last night I watched a movie called "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada." It was directed by Tommy Lee Jones (who also stars) and while it was an ok movie, I'm not quite sure what the point was. Tommy Lee Jones is a rancher who wants to fulfill a promise to his illegal immigrant friend, who is accidentally killed by a border patrolman. He kidnaps the border patrolman and forces him to come along as he takes his friend's corpse to Mexico. I was both sympathetic to his character, because he's just trying to do right for his friend, but also disturbed, because he's also a little bit, um, CRAZY. It's slow-moving at times, with a lot of seemingly empty shots. But as Jose put it, "he's really trying to convey the feeling of Texas border towns." And that was true.
Tonight Jose and I are going to the Halloween store to find costumes. I really, really want a set of adult skeleton pajamas. If anyone knows where I can find an adult-sized set, let me know.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I had enough punches on
I had enough punches on my card to get a free coffee from the cafeteria "Starbucks" today. I say "Starbucks" and not just Starbucks because it's not really a Starbucks. They just have one of the "we proudly brew" signs up.
Anyway, I got a pumpkin nut spice latte. (Notice how they add an extra word in there so it's not exactly like the real thing.) I didn't expect it to taste like a real pumpkin spice latte. But I also didn't expect it to taste totally gross. I threw half of it away.
Last night's sim was pretty crazy. I'm very glad that I stayed to watch, because I saw cases that I've never had to work before, and got my brain situated to handle that type of thing. It's funny -- some of the hardest cases only appear on evaluations. You never get to practice them, and then BAM -- you have to deal with it during your big test. I'm not convinced that this is the most effective training method, but it's how they do it, intentionally or not.
The particular case last night was an engine out behind a data path in the throttle bucket. It is my most-feared case because 1) the procedure to deal with it is complicated and 2) I have never seen it in a sim. No one handled it correctly last night, but at least now I've seen it.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I'm bummed out today. I
I'm bummed out today. I hate that everything seems to pile up at once, and I hate that I can't always keep committments. I hate that I can't do everything. I hate that I haven't run since my great 5K last Thursday because I keep talking myself out of it. I want to make everyone happy, but I want to make me happy too.
There's a sim tonight, my last chance to get some experience before my cert qual next week. I'm not actually working tonight, since it is someone else's final certification. He should see a lot of good cases, a lot of cases similar to what I will see next week. I'm going to watch like a hawk.
Since I'll be here late, I slept in. I've never done that before; usually when I have sims that go until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, I go in at my normal time and just build up extra hours. Today I needed the sleep. It was worth it.
As a side note, if you're interested, there's a short article about me in the November issue of My School Rocks! Magazine, a publication that goes out to all K-5 students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) school system, which is where I did elementary, middle, and high school. It also goes out to teachers, administrators, and other Charlotte-area people. My mom still teaches there and sent in my name for their "Where are they now?" series. It's a cute article, and hey, you can see what I looked like in 3rd grade.
Monday, October 23, 2006
This morning I had been
This morning I had been at my desk for about 15 minutes when the phone rang. Jose's car battery was dead. What are the odds that his battery would die less than a month after mine? I drove over to his apartment and sure enough, dead dead dead. A jump start got him on his way, and after work I'll have to give him another one so he can make it to NTB while I go to class. I bought my car in April 2004 and the battery died two years and five months later. He bought his car in July 2004 and the battery died two years and four months later. This just furthers my belief that factory-installed car batteries SUCK.
Last night the news showed the clip of Robert Cheruiyot falling and banging his head hard on the pavement as he crossed the finish line to win the Chicago Marathon. He slipped on some plastic stretched across the road at the finish; the plastic was printed with the marathon logo. I was surprised enough that the marathon would have something potentially dangerous there (the weather was misty, making plastic more slippery); I was even more surprised to read what the head race referee said.
Although Cheruiyot slipped before the tape, he did cross the finish line. It was a painful ending to a race in which he sprinted away from Njenga in the final stretch and finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 35 seconds.
"He just slipped," race referee Pat Savage said. "Luckily for him, he slipped forward."
Is he seriously implying that had Cheruiyot slipped and ended up two inches from the finish line, he would not have won the race? (The second place finisher was seconds behind.) He slipped while he was running through the finisher's tape! He slipped on something that the race put there, and that the race is responsible for. The race's decision to put down a plastic logo made the course dangerous. If Cheruiyot had finished second because of the slip, I think he'd have a serious case to file with USATF and the Chicago Marathon.
My own weekend was less exciting. I spent all of Saturday taking photos at the previously mentioned marching band competition. It was fun, though long, and though I'm scheduled to shoot another one in a few weeks, I'm not sure if I'll do any more after that. Then again, when I do the math, the money I'll earn for the six hours I spent there (and the mileage I drove) is about the same as what I make in one day during the week. So, not too bad as an occasional means of supplementing my income.
Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Wings Over Houston, the annual airshow they do at Ellington Field. My favorite two acts were Sean D. Tucker (an aerobatic specialist) and the Thunderbirds. The static displays were ok; yet again, I found NASA's display to be absolutely pathetic and uninspiring. The Super Guppy was in its hangar, and not on display. The 747 had flown in from Dryden, but you couldn't go inside. I got to walk through a C5 from nose to tail, get inside a helicoptor, and could've gotten in the cockpits of countless planes if I'd wanted to wait in line. But you couldn't go inside the empty NASA 747.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
I'm alternating between watching the
I'm alternating between watching the first game of the World Series and watching the Georgia Tech game. I was just on the ballgame when the Cardinals took a 4-1 lead. I'll give you one guess who put the Cards ahead.
Since the Tigers play in the American League, maybe they missed the memo. Hey Tigers, listen up: DON'T PITCH TO PUJOLS!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Ironic: the adjective form of
Ironic: the adjective form of irony, meaning an incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.
Ironic: I got my worst sunburn of the year deep in the Texas countryside shooting a marching band competition on a day in late October that was supposed to be full of thunderstorms.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Unbelievable! Today I came within
Today I came within 19 seconds of a 30:00 5K, and within 1:01 of my PR. Two days ago it took me almost 35 minutes to run 3 miles. Today I ran the Safety Day 5K at work in 30:19.
That is, by far, my fastest 5K in months, maybe even a year.
As soon as I got home, I mapped it, thinking that the course had to have been short, even though I've run there so often that I knew 80% of the trail like the back of my hand. The verdict was 3.07 miles. So ok, fine, you got me, it was barely short. Close enough that it takes nothing away from how awesome I feel! Even at 3.07 miles, that's a sub-10:00/mile average.
Honestly, I don't know where it came from. Of course the weather was absolutely beautiful today after the cold front finally pushed through; sunny and about 70 with no humidity. If this is my reward for running consistently through the heat of the summer while doing that triathlon training program, well, it was totally worth it.
I ran the first 1.75 miles (to the water stop) with Debbie. Mile 1 passed in 9:54, which I chalked up to my good mood about the weather and getting pulled along by Debbie. She pulled me to the water station, and after a quick stop for water (really must learn to drink and run at the same time), my trying to catch up to her got me through mile 2 in 10:10.
Mile 3 was hard; my brain kept telling me to walk, but the rational part of me knew that I didn't need to. My breathing was still under control and my legs felt fine. So I kept going. I knew the trail so well at this point that I knew right where to pick up the pace! I covered the third mile in 9:36, and the last "tenth" (which was actually the 0.07 -- the mile markers were accurate) in 39 seconds.
The most ironic thing has to be that I was just telling Debbie at the beginning of the race that I'd really like to do another sub-30:00 5K, and that maybe I'd train hard this fall to do one in January or February.
Maybe it's closer than I think.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Woohoo! It cooled off outside!
Woohoo! It cooled off outside! No more mugginess!
Today is Safety and Total Health Day at work, so I started celebrating by sleeping late. (After all, I did work a ton of hours yesterday.) I came in at 9:15, and there were still breakfast leftovers -- score. Instead of work, we get to spend most of the day wandering around the various booths around the ponds, watching safety videos, and looking up stuff on the internet like this solid rocket fuel factory explosion from 1988:
Lesson: don't store oxidizer in bins that, if ignited by, say, a welding spark, turn into the perfect fuel+oxidizer situation. Translation: BIG EXPLOSION. In the video, you can actually see the shock wave from each explosion move across the desert.
The final Safety Day activity is a 5K out at Gilruth this afternoon. I, of course, am running it and will look forward to my free koozie!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Summer is having its last
Summer is having its last gasp, and it is muggy like you would not believe outside. I can hardly stand it; I swear it feels worse than parts of August. Condensation is running down the windows.
I went running last night...outside. Yes, outside. It was so muggy that I was very tempted to run on the treadmill, but I reminded myself that some heat-running is good for me. Plus, I just really didn't want to run on the dreadmill.
Boy, was running a struggle! My legs felt dead (maybe due to the 5 miles on Sunday??) and the mugginess was oppressive. I decided to just take it easy, and ran 3 miles in a plodding 34:50. My fastest mile was the last one at 11:05; I'm obviously one of those runners who needs a mile or two to sufficiently warm up. Good news is that I mentally chided myself such that I only took one 1-minute walking break, after one mile. It seems silly that I keep taking the walking breaks during short runs when I know that I don't physically need them. My half marathon plan is to do what has worked three times before and only walk through water stations. I can't run and drink at the same time anyway.
There's not much to say about yesterday since I did nothing but work and run. After developing a headache around 9:00, I crashed at 10:30, which was just as well because I had to get up before 6 today. I'm in the middle of my 13.5 hour day and doing ok so far. I was in at 6:30 for a sim load checkout for the upcoming mission, which lasted until 12:30 and got us "reprimanded" by the training guys for taking too long. Nevermind the fact that sometimes things just take that long, and this is our one chance to check out most of our data, but that's a story for another day. Break for lunch, checking email, and preparing for the afternoon. At 3:00 I'm back in the control center for an ascent sim, my last sim before my cert qual on Halloween. (A cert qual is like a pre-final.)
The control center is windowless and dim; time gets all screwed up and seems to either slow or stop. Either way, time becomes a bit meaningless. I came to work in the dark and I will leave in the dark.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I've become one of those
I've become one of those people who's always late.
To be honest, I must admit that I have always been one of those people who's 3-5 minutes late. I have some mental block against showing up too early. But now, oh, now it's gotten worse. Jose, you see, is also a chronically late person. If I'm 3-5 minutes behind, he's 15-20. Together, our powers combine to make us late all the time. I've got to put a stop to this.
In other news, we all know that models are heavily made up and Photoshopped before they appear in a magazine or ad, but this movie really hammers that point home.
Monday, October 16, 2006
If I don't get washed
If I don't get washed away on my way home, I plan to sit in my pajamas and drink hot chocolate all night. It's not actually cold outside, but it's dark and dreary and gray and I want to curl up. My class was cancelled because of all the rain! It's like a tropical storm without a cool name. Without class to think of, I considered going to the HARRA board meeting, until I realized that would mean driving 30 miles in torrential rains when some of the roads are flooded and there are a million other people trying to get home from work. So no-go on that idea.
Here is the bayou out my window on a normal day:
Here it is today:
I'm not sure I've ever seen it so full!
Monday, October 16, 2006
Aw, my sister and bro-in-law
Aw, my sister and bro-in-law are so cute. They went camping with Brian over the weekend. It looks like their weather was much better than ours, as it has basically been raining for more than 24 hours straight.
I'd like to think that one of the first things you'd learn in City Planning 101 is: DON'T BUILD A CITY ON A SWAMP. Alas, someone didn't listen and thus my current hometown, merely the 4th biggest city in the country, is located in an area that freaking floods every time it freaking rains hard. The news this morning was full of people who drove their cars into flooded roads and were *gasp* surprised when their car floated away. There was even a big ol' fire truck that got stuck in the water, and was being pulled out by an equally big tow truck. Ugh. I am so glad that I don't have to get on the highway to get to work.
Normally I wouldn't mind a day of rain too much, but yesterday it totally ruined my plans. The Bayou City Art Festival was this past weekend, and we weren't able to go on Saturday because of other plans. We'd been looking forward to it for weeks! At 11:00 yesterday, we decided to take a chance and drove all the way downtown (after the man on the other end of the information phone line told me that the festival was still going on), only to find that 90% of the artists were already gone or in the process of packing up. We saw a couple cool pieces, including a painting that I loved but couldn't check for prints because the booth was mostly packed up, but the whole thing was pretty underwhelming. We were bummed out for the whole drive home.
On Saturday, before the deluge, we had a throwback to our co-op days and went to Bolivar to celebrate Jen's 30th birthday. The weather was less than ideal -- overcast with a steady wind off the ocean that only grew stronger as the evening went on until by 9:00 when we left, we were huddled behind the cars in an attempt to get out of the 25+ mph sustained winds. Despite the mini-hurricane, we had a good time watching the dogs run around chasing seagulls, hitting (or attempting to hit) golf balls into the surf, grilling burgers, and giving each other airbrushed tattoos via one of Jen's birthday presents. The ferry ride was fun both ways, especially on the way over, when at least half a dozen dolphins were swimming through the waves churned up by the ferry and the wind.
On Saturday morning I went for a 15.7-mile bike ride, my first ride since triathlon season ended for me a month ago. I rode from my apartment over to UHCL, then previewed the route of yesterday's 10-miler to find out exactly where the 5-mile relay handover point was, then back home. It was a pretty windy morning, but I had a nice ride and got home just under an hour.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Geez, what a morning for
Geez, what a morning for a race. Rain, rain, and more rain. When I got home, I had to strip at the doorway; otherwise I'd have left a trail of water across my apartment.
One of the reasons I like the 10-Miler is because it's so close -- it takes me less than 10 minutes to drive there, so I can sleep "late" and still be fine. When my alarm went off at 5:50 though, the first thing I heard was the pitter-patter of raindrops. I groaned. While running in the rain is better, in my opinion, than running in the hot sun, steady rain ain't so great.
Fortunately the rain abated for a bit as I drove to the race site, picked up my packet, and met Debbie. Together, we were Team Crackle, Pop, but Please No Snap -- we each did 5 miles. I also started to see a bunch of my running friends. First up was Vic, who I caught up to and laughingly asked "so did the weatherman predict this?" since I knew he'd been obsessively checking the weather all week. Debbie and I also found Michelle, Kyle and Heidi (the latter were also doing the relay), and I also got to chat with Jessica.
The race started only a couple minutes late. I'd told Debbie yesterday that she could expect one of three time ranges from me depending on what kind of day I was having: good day would be 53-55 minutes, normal day would be 55-58, and bad day would be an hour or more. Since I haven't run 5 miles in a while, my actual goal was 55:00 -- 11:00 miles. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I thought I had a shot.
Mile 1 passed uneventfully. Some drizzle, and tons of puddles, but ok. I entertained myself by listening to the people around me. I felt like I might've been going ever-so-slightly faster than planned, and that was confirmed when I passed the mile marker in 10:34. I stopped there for a minute-long walk break and just as I started running again, Cassie came up behind me. We ran the second mile together and chatted a little. As we stopped for a drink at the water station just past the mile 2 marker, who should come running up behind us but Jon! The three of us ran together for a bit and then Cassie pulled away, but I stuck with Jon for the rest of my five miles.
Unless you count the marathon (when Jon and I didn't know each other, but he heard people cheering for me the whole way thanks to the sign on my chest), I've never actually run a race with Jon -- he's usually a couple minutes ahead of me. But with him taking it easy today after running Ten for Texas yesterday, I was able to keep up. It was really nice to get to chat with him, and have him pull me along. I didn't tell him, but he helped me overcome my brain telling me I needed walking breaks! I only walked a total of about 2 minutes the entire race, which is something I really needed mentally. The only real complaint I have is that the mile 4 water station had no water. That was definitely not cool, and left me feeling thirsty for the last half of my 5 milers.
Jon also directly helped me have a good day. He tried his best to power ahead of me in mile 5, and I tried my best to let him. But he wouldn't have any of it -- he told me I could finish under 55:00 minutes, and to keep up. So I gritted my teeth and did as told, and....
Mile 1 - 10:34.2
Mile 2 - 11:15.1
Mile 3 - 11:25.9
Mile 4 - 11:12.3
Mile 5 - 10:32.1
Total - 54:59.6!
HECK YEAH. I beat my 55:00 goal by 0.4 seconds, baby! Thanks Jon! The official results show me at 55:25.7 gun time with a differential of 27.1, which puts me at 54:58.6 -- a whole additional second of breathing room under my goal time. ;)
I hopped in Debbie's car (after making a bad decision on what route to take to get there and ending up with my shoes covered in mud) and drove back to the start line to wait for her and cheer on all my friends. At one point, I was talking to Pony, who'd just finished a kick-butt race, and she said "is the sky getting darker or am I about to pass out??" Fortunately, it was the sky! As I looked across the parking lot, I saw just a sheet of water coming our way -- we managed to sneak under the Striders tent just in time to avoid getting completely drenched (as if we weren't drenched already).
I felt sorry for poor Debbie and all the other runners stuck in the downpour, but I was patting myself on the back for choosing the first relay leg. ;) Debbie didn't mind too much, and a few minutes later, with the rain having let up a bit, she came roaring across the finish line like a woman posessed! She did her 5 miles in 50:55.5.
Team Crackle, Pop, but Please No Snap total time: 1:46:21.2 -- good enough for 2nd place in the Female Relay division! Woohoo! (Though that is the gun time. They never took out the 27.1 seconds of chip differential, so our actual time was 1:45:54.) Debbie and I each got a cool wooden plaque with a space station mission patch on it (since it was the Space City 10-Miler sponsored by USA).
This race report is getting long, and I still haven't mentioned how awesome it was to see all the other bloggers come down to my side of town for the race. In addition to the ones I've already mentioned, I got to see June, Joe, Steve, Bill, and Edwin, each of whom had a good race in tough conditions. I also got to meet a couple more Striders that I hadn't met before, so that was nice. I think that's everyone...hope I didn't forget anyone.
All in all, a good race despite the nasty conditions.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I put Kent's photos from
I put Kent's photos from last weekend up in the gallery to go along with mine.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Write it down and remember
Write it down and remember -- October 13, 2006 was first day it was cool enough to wear a jacket! Oh yeah. Last night's very cool thunderstorm brought the lovely weather with it (though the gray sky could give way to sun without a complaint from me). It's completely unfair that I live in Houston, considering that I love winter clothes.
I've been watching Survivor lately; I haven't watched many of the latest seasons. The division-by-race thing was overrated, I think, and to me the more interesting observation is that this time around, the cast is overwhelmingly young. Of the original 20, there were only 3 or 4 that were over 35.
Ok, so a while ago after Christina posted about it on her blog, I bought Pete and J's CD. But I never listened to it. I just forgot about it. But then they played a little bit at the reception, and I liked them, and then Liz was all like "they're really good!" So I dug out the CD. They are really good.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
For weeks, I've had allergy
For weeks, I've had allergy symptoms that I've been trying to ignore because I have never had allergies in my entire life. Apparently, after 4+ years of living in Houston and 8+ years of spending at least part of my year here, I have now become allergic to the place. I woke up this morning and could no longer deny it, as my nose was dripping incessantly and I couldn't stray from the kleenex box. I finally took a Benedryl Allergy, which seems to actually be working.
I had dinner last night at Mediterraneo's, and somehow I always end up with so much food there. Last night I had baba ganoush (or however you spell it), lentil soup, greek salad, and a kofta kabab. It was all so yummy, and it was the perfect night to sit outside. They have strings of lights up around their patio that are red, white, and green; the color combination made me feel like it was December, not October.
I saw an ad once -- I can't remember what it was for -- with a headline that went something like "Bad Laundry Weeks are Good Running Weeks." It is so true. I'm always doing laundry.
Confession time: I haven't run farther than a 5K since late August. Sure, there was the day I did both Race for the Cure and the XC Relay (5.1 miles total), but there were 8 hours between the two. But on Sunday I'm running 5 miles in one pop as Debbie and I join forces for the 2x5-mile relay at the USA 10-Miler. (Team name: Crackle, Snap, but Please No Pop! in honor of our knees.)
So last night I decided to tackle 4 miles out at Gilruth. Jose ran with me for the first mile and then I set out on my own. For the first two miles, I just was not feeling it. Mile 1 with J passed in 12:15; we took a walk break of just over a minute then I headed off again. I hit mile 2 with the exact same split -- 12:15. I was discouraged, and took another minute-long walk break, but was determined to just get the distance covered.
Around mile 2.25, I spotted a woman up ahead of me turn around and head back to Gilruth. (My 4-mile route is an out-and-back, so I'd turned around.) I see her out there a lot; she's one of the 5-6 "regulars" on the trail. She was turning around just beyond the 1.5-mile marker, and I had started to feel a bit better so I decided that I'd try to catch her. I didn't think I'd have much of a chance, since she was probably 0.15-0.2 miles ahead of me and running at approximately my pace.
Mile 3 passed in 11:11 (which cheered me up). I had gained a bit on the woman, but stopped for my standard 1-minute walk break. As I started up again, I decided that she was still within reach, and I was determined to catch her in the last mile. And...I did it! I passed her with about a tenth of a mile left to go. My time for the last mile, including walking the first minute? 10:18! Wow!
My overall time for the 4-miler was 45:59, which is sort of crappy, but I was pumped about the last mile. The 10:18 felt hard, but not all-out. It made me start wondering what my time trial mile would be if I made it out to one of the SMART workouts. With help, I think I could be very close to 9:00, maybe even under. I'm sure Steeeve can leave a comment telling me when the next one is...
The other thing I decided is that I think I've developed a mental block. My brain keeps telling me I need a walk break every mile. I didn't in the past. I probably don't now. And yet, if I can do 10:18 miles even with walking breaks, I don't mind them too much...
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Yesterday, I sat at my
Yesterday, I sat at my desk as it got darker and darker and darker. I kept peeking out the window, expecting the bottom to drop out at any moment. It kept getting darker and darker. Just when I thought that somehow the black clouds would pass without releasing a drop, it began to pour. According to the weather station atop the building I work in, the temperature dropped 15 degrees in about 10 minutes, from a heat index of 84 to an actual temperature of 69!
(By the way, those of you obsessively checking the weather for Sunday's 10-miler need look no farther than that that webpage, or this one. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group and Nassau Bay are both about a mile away from the race course.)
With the drop in temperature, last night's run was awesome. Jose and I started out easy with two 12:00 miles; he listened while I ranted about height/weight tables. At mile 2, we walked for 1:10, then started running. I was being a little sneaky, and decided to push things. By 2.5, he could tell we were going faster, but we kept going. We finished mile 3 in a total of 11:05. And that included the 1:10 of walking. Jose was very excited to have maintained sub-11:00 pace for almost a mile. (And I was too!) Total time for the lovely run was 35:something.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I offered to be a
I offered to be a human test subject for a study they're doing at work on a new exercise (weight-lifting) device that Chris has worked on. I was denied for not being "height/weight proportionate." Their height/weight chart says that the maximum weight for my height (5'8") is 164 pounds. I'm over that by about 20 pounds. At my lightest in the past decade, I was still over that by 5 pounds. And I thought I looked pretty damn good at 169. I'd love to get back there.
I'm annoyed. I know that I'm on the heavy side, and I could definitely afford to lose 20 pounds -- and I'm trying to as I speak. But I don't feel like I'm unhealthy. I run, swim, bike, play soccer, softball, etc. I do more physical activity that the majority of people I know.
Mostly, I'm just annoyed that the height/weight tables can still make me feel bad about myself.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
A bunch of photos from
A bunch of photos from my weekend are up in the gallery.
First are photos from the only place we went in Chicago (we only had a few hours) -- Millenium Park. This basically consisted of three things -- seeing the Gehry-designed bandshell, spending at least an hour making faces into and taking photos of the giant mirrored bean sculpture, and then doing handstands in the grass.
Second are photos from the pre-wedding softball game. Er, mushball game.
Third are photos from the corn maze we went to, almost got lost in, and almost missed the wedding.
Fourth are photos from the wedding itself, which, sadly, I didn't get many of since it was getting dark and I didn't have a good flash. Still, we had primo seats for the cake-cutting!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I'm sitting in the Chicago
I'm sitting in the Chicago airport waiting for my plane to board. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here -- sunny, cool, barely a cloud in the sky. The weekend has come and almost gone, and Christina is now a Ph.D., a Mrs. (though she is keeping her name), and today she gets a puppy. Talk about a life-changing month.
On Friday, the boys and I went to Millenium Park where we had much fun and took many photos and discovered that we had flown all the way to Chicago only to have the most fun doing things we technically could have done anywhere -- making faces in a large mirror and doing handstands in the grass.
That night we drove up to Wisconsin, and on Saturday woke up to more sunny skies, cool weather, omelets, and the official pre-wedding softball game (the first of many unique and good ideas surrounding this wedding). The softball game drew almost as many people as the wedding itself.
I can only hope that when I get married, I will be able to be as calm, poised, and not-stressed-out as Christina and Ben. The wedding was last night, outside, with a very pretty marina as a backdrop. Actually, I almost missed to ceremony because Carter, Kent and I were lost in a giant corn maze. I love Wisconsin.
Having all the events at a resort was an excellent plan on their part, since it meant that everything we needed was right there. The reception was one of the more fun that I've been to, with a six-piece band instead of a DJ. They were good, and the cameos by Ben's brother and friend (the famous Pete and J) were even better.
Christina's dress was beautiful and had a green sash. I found it very cool that there was something other than white. The bridesmaids all wore black dresses, but whatever black dress they wanted, so they were all different, which I also found very cool.
The mini college reunion was tons o' fun, even if I did have to fly all the way to Wisconsin to see Liz. (Liz lives in Houston.) James and Chrissy made it with time to spare despite a lost luggage scandal. Chris and Ray were there, and Ray and I had fun trading cameras. And of course Christina, who we didn't get to see as much as we would've liked, but hey, she was kinda busy.
Photos to come.
Friday, October 06, 2006
In Chicago -- off to
In Chicago -- off to have fun!
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Like last year, I'm toying
Like last year, I'm toying with the idea of doing the Texas Love the Half challenge. It'd be a way of keeping my motivation and my running at the level I'll need for a Half Ironman on April 1. It would involve doing 6 half marathons (or greater) between October and May. There are lots of choices, but already knowing that I won't be in town for the Houston Half at the end of this month, my six would probably be:
Nov 19, 2006 Houston, TX
Dec 9, 2006 Huntsville, TX
SunMart 25K (does the 25K exist?)
Jan 14, 2007 Houston, TX
Houston Marathon & Half Marathon
Feb 10, 2007 Surfside, TX
Surfside Half Marathon
Feb 18, 2007 Austin, TX
AT&T Marathon and Half Marathon
Mar 18, 2007 Seabrook, TX
Seabrook Luck Trail Marathon & Half Marathon
Thursday, October 05, 2006
A quick note for my
A quick note for my runner friends: the HARRA website is experiencing the proverbial "technical difficulties" and is not currently available at harra.org. Instead, try here until I can get it restored. I made my first attempt at getting it sorted out last night without much luck. Why don't tech support guys at least give you a chance to convince them that you know what you're talking about before getting condescending and talking over you?? Anyway, Jerry Smith should be sending out an email about it to the entire HARRA membership today...
Of course, the website madness (which is happening because the site is now with a new host, the old host is gone, but the domain transfer hasn't gone through yet) happens just as I am leaving town for the weekend. It just adds to the s-t-r-e-s-s-s-s-s-s that I always feel when I get ready to leave town.
I'm headed to Chicago and Wisconsin this weekend. Chicago tonight and tomorrow to hang around town with Carter and Kent and whoever else we come across. Then we'll head up to somewhere in Wisconsin tomorrow night for Christina's wedding on Saturday! The place we're staying, and where the wedding is, looks lovely. They even say they have a walking trail, so I'm definitely planning to squeeze in a run in the cooler, non-Houston weather. I don't expect to get much of a chance to see Christina, which is sad, but she'll be doing the whole getting-married thing and past experience says that the bride is usually pretty busy! But the whole college crowd should be there, and that will be fun. It's like an unofficial 5-year reunion.
Last night was fish night at Becca's, where at least two people complained that all my entries are about running. "No they're not," I said, "in fact, the last week focused almost entirely on the Astros!" Seemed like a reasonable argument to me. "No," they said, "you still manage to squeeze in something about running at the end." To which I finally responded the only way I could: "It's MY blog!" Ha ha. I win.
Truth is, I just haven't had much else to write about lately that didn't sound boring. My evenings are pretty scheduled, especially now that the Astros are done. Leave work, go work out, eat dinner, and then either 1) work on the HARRA website, 2) work on advertising design class work, 3) do something with the boy. Jose has started to realize that me with laptop = in my own world while me without laptop = can actually have a two-sided conversation. As such, he gets very excited when I come over to watch a movie or something and don't have the laptop bag in tow. I guess I'm pretty predictable. And practically surgically attached to my computer.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
There are days when I
There are days when I get too far inside my own head and my thoughts run away and I end up stressed out and worried about things I can't control. Yesterday was one of those days.
See, I feel like I'm stuck in limbo. I was selected for my new job more than two months ago, and the initial excitement is starting to wear off primarily because I haven't actually started my new job yet. I'm scheduled to move on October 17, but that date hasn't been confirmed yet. Meanwhile, my old job is winding down. I have only one project left to complete and one training flow to finish.
(Side note: I am tentatively scheduled for my cert qual and my final cert, and they are both before Thanksgiving. That seems REALLY SOON. In fact, I think it may be too soon. But if I don't certify by the end of the year, I don't get to work STS-117, and certifying by the end of the year really means certifying by the time STS-116 launches which is currently set for December 7. All of a sudden, my heart is pounding. Whew.)
Anyway. New job hasn't started, old job is pretty much finished. I'm in limbo. I don't like it. Being stuck in limbo makes me start thinking thoughts like: "what if I get to my new job and I don't like it? What if I leave this so-so job for another one that isn't any better? What if what if WHAT IF?"
Thankfully, last night I had a 3-mile run and an awesome running partner to stop the head-spinning and calm me down. We did my standard 3 miles on the Gilruth trail in a very easy 37:11. My legs hurt again, which for the first time made me wonder -- is it the Gilruth trail that's giving me problems? Is it not exactly flat? Maybe it's sloped? I know my shin split/leg problems have occurred in other places, but lately, they've hurt only on that trail. On Saturday, I had no problems at either Race for the Cure or the cross country relay.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Our second advertising design assignment
Our second advertising design assignment was to create an automotive billboard. I don't really know much about cars, but here's what I made:
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Adding insult to injury: yesterday
Adding insult to injury: yesterday I got a UPS Express envelope. Inside was $2150 worth of Astros postseason tickets. Three tickets each to every Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series game.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Two fun links for today,
Two fun links for today, courtesy of Tracy:
Monday, October 02, 2006
Soccer last night was rough.
Soccer last night was rough. I got hit in the face (at least I had the instincts to turn my head such that it hit the side of my face instead of straight on) hard enough that a couple parts of my head are tender to the touch today. On top of that, I also did something to my knee. I don't remember anything in particular, but after the game I noticed it was hurting. It continues to hurt today. Right knee. Pain on the upper outside. No apparent bruising. I have class tonight so I wasn't planning to run anyway. Hopefully it will feel better tomorrow.
And my knees had been doing so well. Sigh.
Other than soccer, I did pretty much nothing yesterday. Slept late. Watched the Astros season end. Worked on homework. A typical Sunday.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
All season, there was too
All season, there was too little. For the last two weeks, it was too late. Cardinals look to win the division by 1.5 games. Season over for the Astros. The worst part is that they beat themselves today with errors; the game should have been tied 1-1 in the 9th! And leaving 12 men on base -- UGH.
I can't really say the Astros deserved it. In fact, the entire NL Central is pretty mediocre. The Cardinals won the division with a record of 83-78. Only 5 games over .500? That usually does not equal a division win.
Still, the season has ended for my team. And that is sadness.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
First: I am a bum.
First: I am a bum. I bailed on this morning's planned "long" run (I was going to go 5-6 miles) with BARC, including Joe and Veronica. I was exhausted last night, fell asleep at 10:30, woke up at 6 feeling groggy and congested, and bailed. I am a bum.
Second: Big congrats to Jessica, who finished her first triathlon this morning in 1:23:34! Way to go Jess!
So today I was a bum, but yesterday was good for running. My second race of the day, the HARRA Cross Country Relay, went just as well as the first! (Maybe those crazy two-a-day runners are onto something. Maybe.) I was on a great Open Female team with Cassie, Jessica, and Pony and we finished in ~1:16. Jessica did ~17:00, Cassi ~20:00(?), and Pony ~17:00. I was the slowest and ran the second leg, but I had what was a great run for me, covering the two miles in 21:06.
I went out way too fast, fueled by the adrenaline rush of the baton handoff from Jessica and the crowd cheering as I charged up the first hill. I slowed down a tad, wanting to even out my breathing, but I hit the mile marker and halfway point in 9:51! Nice to know I can run sub-10:00 mile if necessary, but whew it wore me out. Unfortunately the second mile was actually harder than the first with a couple steep hills, and I suffered a major slowdown. I gutted through the second mile in 11:15. I was a little disappointed in the big difference between my two miles, but happy with my overall performance -- I wanted to run my leg in less than 22:00, and I beat that by almost a minute!
It was also fun to have Debbie, Jason, Michelle and Paul come along with me to run the relay as well. They took second place in the Open Mixed division and all got trophies! Ironically, my team actually beat theirs -- Pony finished about 0.5 seconds ahead of Jason. Literally! You can see in the photo below (that I stole from Bill) that Pony is crossing under the banner as Jason is trying to catch her. (He didn't even know that she was the anchor for my team.) But there were so many good Open Female teams that we were well down in the standings.
Debbie, Jason, Paul and Michelle pre-race:
The bloggers (minus Erin and Jon, who were working the HARRA tent, and Joe, who was off somewhere):
All the rest of my photos are now in the gallery!