Saturday, December 30, 2006
I ran my one and only marathon (thus far, anyway) in January 2005. I haven't run farther than 13.1 miles since. So today's scheduled 14-miler was going to be quite an accomplishment...and I'm proud to say that I did it!
14 miles - 2:36:44 - 11:15 min/mile average pace
I broke the run down into 3 laps -- what measured out to be a 7-miler, a 4.6-miler, and an 2.4-miler.
7 miles - 1:18:11 - 11:10 pace
4.6 miles - 51:13 - 11:08 pace
2.4 miles - 27:20 - 11:23 pace
It was nice to be doing progressively shorter laps, and the two breaks allowed me to duck into the house for some water and goo. (I did not include my two ~3:00 water breaks in my total time.) I did my 11/1 run/walk pattern almost the whole way, until the last lap when I walked a bit more on a couple of the more brutal hills. The hills did a number on my knees and they're pretty sore tonight, but overall I'm very happy with the run.
The best part was two hours later though, when I picked Jose up from the airport and welcomed him to my hometown. :)
Friday, December 29, 2006
I finally did a long-overdue update to the latest version of Movable Type, so some things may appear funny on the ol' blog. Most notably, it has somehow entered the first few words of each entry as the title. Odd. Ah well, I'll fix it later.
I also finally incorporated all my old Diaryland entries from 2001-2003 (covering my final co-op tour in Houston, my M.S. grad school experience at Stanford, and my first year of working full-time in Houston). They're available under the monthly archives headings, though the entries do come with a warning: read them at your own risk. Let's just say I was much more angst-ridden as a grad student!! :)
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I did a 5.15-mile run
I did a 5.15-mile run this evening as the sun was setting. Total time was 55:55, or just under 11:00/mile. Here in Charlotte with the hills, I consider that a tempo run!
Despite the pace, I still felt pretty sluggish and generally tired. Not sure what's going on, but I think I've been dehydrated and that could be causing part of it. With a 14-miler (my longest long run) coming up on Saturday, I plan to spend tomorrow chugging water! But my reward for the 14-miler is going to be pretty great: Jose is coming to Charlotte on Saturday night, and sticking around until we both head back to Houston on the 2nd.
Question of the day: should I use my Christmas money to buy a Garmin Forerunner 305, or should I be a good girl and save it? If you know me at all, you can probably already predict what the outcome of this is going to be...
Tonight I set up the new computer my dad bought a few weeks ago and got it up and running; he waited specifically until I was home so I could do it all for him. I insisted that he could do it himself (and he could) -- I don't want my parents thinking they can't handle computers -- and he knows that he could do it. He said I could just do it a lot faster because I know my way around better. That's probably true. My dad is very meticulous when it comes to setting up things, especially computers. ;)
My mom and I did a little more shopping today, and got exceptional service from Circuit City (for a car stereo installation in my sister's car) and from Eddie Bauer (which gave me store credit for a jacket I bought two months ago that the zipper fell off of last week, thus allowing me to order a new one). I don't know why I mention it, except that customer service is on the decline in so many places that it really stands out when a particular store or salesman is helpful.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
After Christmas shopping with Mom
After Christmas shopping with Mom is one of my favorite things to do while I'm home. Today we hit the mall (which, for the record, is totally different than it was 10 years ago when I worked there; I can't even find half the stores anymore, and there's a zillion new and expensive shops in their place). I came away with the two items I was hoping for -- a new purse, which I found at Belk's, and black casual shoes, which I found at Clark's. This was after being basically laughed at by the shoe salesman at Belk's when I dared to ask if they had a certain pair in a size 11. Damn department stores and their prejudice against bigfoots like me!
This morning I did the speedwork that I was supposed to do yesterday -- 4x800 at 4:20 with 400 recovery. Believe it or not, today was the first time I've ever run on an actual track -- today's track being the one at A.G. Middle School here in Charlotte. Now, never having run on a track before, I assumed that the innermost lane was the one that was 400 meters, and that all the outer lanes were progressively more. It wasn't until my cooldown (at which point I suspected that the inner lap may have been slightly short, due to my times) that I finally took a closer look at all the different markings on the track and finally decided that on this particular track, lane two is 400 meters. Which means my lane was a bit short. So, let's call the workout 4x790 meters, with 395 recovery. :)
My "warmup" mile clocked in at 10:41. I really didn't think I'd done it quite that fast, which was the beginning of my suspicions about the track. Anyway, I began my repeats and immediately felt like crap. I've been battling some sniffles ever since I got home (probably just the change in weather), and felt like I couldn't get a good breathing rhythm going. My legs felt heavy too. And every time I passed the far end of the track, a cold breeze blew in my face. I just was not feeling it.
However, somehow the workout came together in the end. I can't say I ever felt warmed up or particularly comfortable, but I got it done. I walked all the recovery 400s just to give myself a mental break. Splits were:
4:04, 4:14 (800 running, 400 walking)
Interesting to note that at that repeat speed, I was running exactly twice as fast as my "brisk walk" pace. Cooldown mile was 11:07.
So I felt like poo, yet pulled off the workout just as called for. Hmm. I can only chalk that up to the weather, which was ideal -- very sunny, in the upper 40s.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
A few years ago when
A few years ago when my aunt moved into a new house, we started going up to Chapel Hill on the day after Christmas to have a big family lunch/dinner. Today was no exception, although the cast was a little different -- Katie is out in Seattle with Joel and his family, and Brian had to fly to New Orleans this morning for work. Work! He is coming back tomorrow night; apparently they have a report due just after New Year's. Without the twins, there were only seven of us. Nevertheless, we had a great meal thanks to Aunt Nancy's heroic efforts in the kitchen, and then exchanged gifts. I got two definite keepers -- photos coasters from Casey (I've made them for other people but never for myself!) and a blanket from Aunt Nancy that she knitted herself. Very cool.
Yesterday was pretty quiet after the morning's present-opening. For the first time ever, I had the fewest presents among my siblings. I must've misbehaved this year. ;) I got many of the things I asked for and many things that I didn't but are just as cool. An REI gift card from Brian, a video game and CD from David, a book and calendar from Katie and Joel, money from Grandmother, and assorted clothes and books from Mom and Dad. Mom says part of the reason I got less is that she still "owes" me some presents -- shoes and a purse. So we get to go shopping tomorrow -- woohoo!
I think all my presents went over well too. A book and an REI gift card for Brian (yes, we each gave the other an REI gift card), Battlestar Galactica Season 1 for David, a camping lantern for Joel, a book and camera bag for Katie, an amaryllis for Grandmother, a UNC fleece jacket for Mom, and the Cosmos DVDs for Dad.
Mom and I went to the movies last night and saw "The Holiday." It was a good chick flick and we enjoyed it, though Mom cried through the whole thing. ;) When we got home the rain had finally stopped, and I knew I'd feel guilty if I didn't squeeze in a run, since I missed today due to our daytrip to Chapel Hill. I headed out at 10:00 for three laps around the block; one lap, conveniently, is right at a mile. Taking a cue from Steve B, I didn't wear my watch! It felt weird. Never fear runners: I will be doing my speed workout tomorrow since I missed it today!
Monday, December 25, 2006
It's chilly and rainy here,
It's chilly and rainy here, but that hasn't stopped the fun. MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
My high school friends and
My high school friends and I had our annual get-together this morning for brunch (which also served as lunch) at Amanda's. It was my first chance to meet Cayce & Dave's new baby, Henry! He turned 6 months old on Friday, though he's a little, ahem, large for a 6 month old. ;) Yep, he's a big boy. Dave the dad's efforts to get us to talk about something other than Henry and life with a baby were futile. Turns out it was pretty entertaining just watching Henry drool all over himself. Babies are funny.
I'm including this photo as proof for Gavin and Jen that I'm not totally freaked out by babies, and therefore can be trusted to take care of theirs when he/she comes along in 6 months or so:
He's cute, isn't he?
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The tallest building in downtown
The tallest building in downtown Charlotte is the Bank of America headquarters, something like 60+ stories. When it was built years ago, we called it the ice cream sundae building, because the top is lit up with bright white lights except for the blinking red dot on top. (It's in this photo on the right; it looks shorter simply because it's farther away.)
As my plane descended last night, I could see that the clouds were very low; you couldn't see the ground, but you could see the clouds lit up by the city underneath. "Wouldn't it be cool," I thought, "if I could see just the tops of downtown above the clouds. Like maybe just the top of the ice cream sundae building."
Then the airplane banked, and like magic, that's exactly what I saw. The top of the ice cream sundae building poking up above the cloud tops, like a beacon drawing me in. I couldn't help but smile and think "ah, Charlotte." I do love coming home to Charlotte.
I went running today, completing my scheduled long run with two 5.1-mile loops. I did my 11/1 run/walk routine just like last week, and my sister ran with me for the whole first loop. It was her longest run in a while, but we took it nice and easy -- we talked the whole way and the 5.1 miles took us 1:02 and change, so that should tell you something about our pace! She has just started running regularly again with the goal of doing a half marathon here in Charlotte in April. I'm hoping to join her.
Anyway, I set out for the second loop alone and without anyone to talk to, I ran it in just under an hour. My total for the 10.2 miles was 2:01 and change, or just under 12:00 pace. I wasn't surprised to end up with a slower average than my long run a week ago, especially because of the hills here. But I didn't expect to be quite a sore! I feel much more stiff than I did after last week's 10-miler. Must be the hills.
Finally -- yesterday just before leaving for the airport, Jose and I stood outside my apartment scanning the sky and straining our ears. We saw the space shuttle -- a bright white speck screaming across the sky at breakneck speed -- and then heard the sonic boom. Turns out we didn't really need to strain our ears; it was loud enough that it scared the birds from their perch on the power lines.
The space program is the coolest.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Against all odds, the crew
Against all odds, the crew has just been given a GO for the deorbit burn for the 2nd opportunity into KSC. This trajectory will bring the orbiter almost directly over Houston, and while it will be next to impossible to see it, you should be able to hear the sonic booms if you listen closely. Here are the details:
4:13:50 p.m. CST - Discovery rises above the WSW horizon
4:16:40 p.m. CST - Discovery closest approach, 70 degrees above the NNW horizon
4:20:00 p.m. CST - Discovery sets below the ENE horizon
If you can hear the sonic booms, they will be right around 4:20 p.m. give or take a minute. I'll be listening!
Friday, December 22, 2006
It's the last day in
It's the last day in the office before Christmas, and as such, there's not really much going on. Oh! Except that shuttle mission thing. Yeah, that. It's landing today...somewhere...anywhere. All three landing sites in the U.S. have been called up: Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Edwards Air Force Base in California, and the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. The first chance to land at KSC has already been called off due to rain showers and generally unstable weather, and Florida's just not looking good in general. Too bad, since KSC is by far the preferred landing site since all they have to do there is tow the orbiter back to the processing facility. At Edwards or White Sands, of course they have to load it on the NASA 747 and fly it back to Florida.
The only problem is that the weather isn't looking too great at Edwards either. We may actually be headed towards a landing at White Sands -- something that has only happened once in the shuttle program, way back on STS-3 in 1982. That particular landing got a horrible reputation because the orbiter ended up full of sand and grit that took a bunch of extra time to clean up. Plus, White Sands doesn't have the facilities that Edwards and KSC do. But we could land there, which might actually be cool since it's something different! But the extra processing time would surely postpone the next mission scheduled to use Discovery. Pros and cons, pros and cons.
Here's hoping for a speedy and safe landing!
Johnny Tri tagged me with the Blog Book tag game, so here you go:
1. Find the nearest book.
2. Name the book & the author.
3. Turn to page 123.
4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Tag three more folks.
I'm at work, so my nearest book is not that exciting -- it's my ARD Support Console Handbook. There isn't one author, however, I'm currently the handbook manager (in charge of maintaining and updating it) so I guess you could say that I am the author!
Page 123...let's see, this page is about the background of the ARD mass track, which is a complicated counter that keeps track of how much propellant is left in the shuttle as it ascends from the ground to space.
The sentences requested are: "Prior to lift-off, the ARD is configured with specific mass properties and engine characteristics. This defines a mass and mass flowrate profile that, in turn, defines an acceleration profile. If the real vehicle mass or flowrate differs from what is planned (and loaded into the ARD), the vehicle acceleration profile will differ from the ARD."
So there's your lesson in the Abort Region Determinator for today. :)
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Did I run last night?
Did I run last night? Of course I did. I am running like a madwoman, because I am going to be ready for the half marathon.
I did 5 miles in 55:59 for an 11:12/mile pace. My splits tell the story more accurately: 11:39, 11:42, 10:56, 10:56, 10:46. It took two miles to really get going, and to work out the pain/tightness in my (as I have now learned it's called) soleus muscle. It hurt, but not horribly, and by mile 3 things had stopped whining. The rest of the run was gravy after that, though I got going a bit too fast in the last mile and slowed myself down in the last quarter mile.
I'm not running tonight; I'm going out to dinner instead. I know, I know, I probably could've tried harder to fit in my 4-miler, but I'll survive. Cheeky chorus can now chime in below. ;) I won't be running tomorrow either, as it's my scheduled rest day and I'll be working, watching a shuttle landing (hopefully), and flying home to Charlotte. The two days of rest, however, should leave me fresh for another 10-miler on Saturday! I can't wait for my week and a half of running in Charlotte; there are so many good routes, and trees, and hills, and cool weather.
So yeah, we're having dinner tonight, but we couldn't wait any longer to do presents. We opened them last night! I gave J an iPod, and he promptly disappeared into his room for the rest of the evening to play with his new toy (and sync all his music) while I worked on the never-ending photomosaic puzzle. Hmm...I think he liked his present. ;) He gave me earrings, a necklace, and a jewelry box. Hmm...I think I like my presents too.
It's been a good year.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Melanie linked to a NY
Melanie linked to a NY Times article called Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying. They're all reasonable questions, and I wouldn't even have mentioned the article if I hadn't taken a look at the reader comments. There were a number of comments suggesting that couples ask questions like "do you really like my parents," "what's your relationship like with your mother/father (if you are a man/woman)," and finally stuff like "how can we make sure we don't end up like our parents?"
It made me think about how many people out there have strained relationships with their parents, and how many people just flat out don't like their mothers and fathers. I'm going home for a week and a half for Christmas, and in casual conversations with some coworkers, I hear them say things like "oh, I could never stand to be at home with my parents for that long, I'd get so bored, and we'd get on each other's nerves." I look forward to going home because I know I'm going to get to go shopping with my mom, hear funny stories from my dad, and just be with them. And suddenly I realize how extraordinarily lucky I am to have two parents that I love, admire, and enjoy spending time with. I'm very excited about going to Charlotte on Friday night.
Last night was another speed workout; this time, it was one I knew I could do: 6x400 in 2:08 with 400 recovery. I did a little speedwork on my own last year in preparation for the 2006 half marathon, and I always did 400s in just over 2:00. So here's how it went:
1 mile warmup - 11:58
400/400 intervals -
2:13, 4:10 (400 walking)
2:03, 3:33 (200w, 200 jogging)
2:06, 3:22 (100w, 300j)
2:05, 3:26 (100w, 300j)
2:04, 3:26 (100w, 300j)
2:05, 3:44 (100w, 300j)
1/2 mile cooldown with Jose - 6:47
My legs were very tight and sore, specifically the back of my legs below the calf muscle but just above the Achilles. They were even sore at the end, which is mainly why I cut my cooldown short -- I was tired of my legs hurting. This has been a fairly consistent problem over the past few years, and I've been unable to find a solution other than just waiting for the pain to subside, or at least dull. I can't figure out how to really stretch that particular part of my leg, and I don't know if that would help in the first place. Suggestions welcome.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
It's rare that I find
It's rare that I find out about new music from David Letterman, but last night I did. He had a guitar duo from Mexico City as his musical guest -- Rodrigo y Gabriela. They were amazing. I immediately found their CD online and bought it, and am listening to it this morning. I have never heard anyone play the guitar quite like this. They are unbelievable. Highly recommended.
While I'm on the topic, if you're looking for new music, I also recommend The Decemberists' newest album, "The Crane Wife," and Muse's "Black Holes and Revelations," which is good for running.
Not much else to say. I tried to do some more Christmas shopping last night, looking for a particular present that I couldn't get on Amazon because it said it'd take 5-7 days to be in stock. I hit two local stores that should have had it, but they were both sold out. Who knew this gift was so popular? Anyway, I found it on Barnesandnoble.com, which I then discovered is awesome. They have a <24 hour turnaround to get products out the door, free 2-3 business day shipping, and a cheaper price to boot. Hooray.
I had the most awful dream last night. I was in a coma for a month, in the hospital, with my right leg seriously broken. I think I ended up there because I got hit by a car while I was running. I woke up and felt extremely relieved to realize I was safe in my bed. I had been sleeping awkwardly on my leg, so perhaps that's part of where it came from. When I got to work and told Jose about my dream, he said "you're going to run on the trail tonight, right??" Yes. Yes I am. No turning my dream into a premonition.
Monday, December 18, 2006
It's definitely Monday. The mist
It's definitely Monday. The mist has returned, it's all damp outside, I'm tired after yesterday's run (despite a full 8 hours of sleep), and I had some work-related frustration this morning. It basically boils down to a project and relationship that I created and cultivated. This project was my baby. It's one of the two truly important things that I feel like I accomplished during my four years in my old group.
But of course since I have finally moved to my new job, this project doesn't fall under my job description anymore. It has passed on to others who don't have the soft spot for it that I do. I find myself wanting to tell them "no, you're not doing it right, you have to do it this way!" Of course it's not my project anymore, and I suppose they can run it in whatever manner they see fit. But the guys we worked with, and the guys that get the information, still need it and want it. And I don't want them to be disappointed.
It's an odd position to find myself in. This is probably how Gavin felt every time I procrastinated on the Mars work. Which was often.
It was a pretty quiet weekend, except for my long run and a few errands. I got a haircut on Saturday, breaking my rule of not driving anywhere near the highway anytime in December. Oh well. My hair looked quite pretty for the rest of Saturday, but sadly by Sunday it was back to its normal poof and frizz. I finally did all my Christmas shopping as well -- thank goodness for the internet. I don't know why people even bother going to malls anymore.
By the way, my mom says that if she's to blame for my spelling and grammar nit-pickiness (as explained a couple posts ago), then it's a title she's proud to wear. As I knew she would.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
What's with the return to
What's with the return to warm weather? Ugh.
Yesterday I ran my 3 miles with J. We both struggled in the 1:00 heat. The warmth would have been nice weather in August, but it's hot for December. We took it nice and easy, covering 3.15 miles in 37:33, about a 12:00 mile.
Today was another run I dreaded -- I always seem to dread my upcoming long runs. It makes me wonder if maybe long distance running just ain't for me, except I do feel good once the run is in the books. It's just the initial hurdle of getting out there that's tough. If only I could convince J that he wanted to take up distance running, so I could have a running partner! But that's highly doubtful.
Anyway, today I was scheduled to run 10 miles, and I did. It was slow going at first, fine in the middle, and tiring at the end. I ran two slightly abbreviated out-and-backs on the Seabrook trails for a total of 10.15 miles in 1:53:40. That's ~11:15/mile. I did the whole run as a series of 11/1 running/walking; otherwise I think I'd have been much more miserable. My brain is always more motivated when I have a little walk break to look forward to.
I hope to stay on track for the rest of the week, with the exception of Thursday. I'm leaving town on Friday night, so Thursday night is date night! I promised I wouldn't run that night. :)
Friday, December 15, 2006
Last week was my final
Last week was my final week of advertising design class, and we each presented our package design and related ad campaign. (I'll post mine later.) There was a lot of good work, with one problem -- SPELLING AND GRAMMAR.
I was going to write a long rant about the subject, but finally decided to spare all of you from reading while I go on and on about how people just don't proofread their stuff anymore. Then today I saw this, and my internal rant started all over again.
It's common knowledge that I'm a stickler for spelling and grammar. I'm pretty sure this comes from my mom, who always offered to proofread my papers when I was in high school. I doubt that I ever turned in a paper that she hadn't redlined for me, pointing out where I'd spelled things wrong or sentences that sounded awkward. (Thanks Mom! I think...) Now, this doesn't mean that I always get everything correct, and if you read through a number of past blog posts I'm sure you'll find a spelling error or two, and certainly some bad grammar. But hey -- this is a blog. It's informal.
But if you were turning in an assignment for a design class, wouldn't you proofread it first? And last? And a dozen times in between? If English is not your first language, wouldn't you have someone else double-check it for you?
To me, poor spelling and grammar on a finished product -- an assignment, a newspaper article, an advertisement -- is like waving a huge red flag in the air and saying "I DON'T CARE." You're saying that you don't care enough to check your work. You're saying that I, the viewer, am not worthy of you taking the time to get the details right. The moment that I see a badly spelled word, or a badly worded line, I dismiss your assignment, your article, your ad.
In class last week, the first three people that presented each had glaring spelling and grammatical errors. I couldn't help it -- I commented. (The whole class critiques each assignment anyway.) I got teased for being so picky, and my pet peeve about spelling and grammar became a joke for the rest of class.
The best part? One guy got up to present his ad campaign, and he looked at me as he joked "you'll be happy to know that I used spell checker." With that, I began to read the ~150 words of copy that he'd written for his ad. Within three sentences I found an error -- "there" instead of "their." ARGH! Spell checker only catches bad spelling -- it doesn't captures homophones! (That would be words that sound alike but are spelled differently.)
I didn't even bother to point out his error; by that time I was resigned to everyone's bad spelling.
Being a naturally good or bad speller is one thing. But most people who can't spell know they can't spell, and so I return to my original opinion: there's no excuse for not proofreading your work, or having someone else do it for you.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tempo run tonight, 4 miles.
Tempo run tonight, 4 miles. When I got out there in the fog, I couldn't remember whether I was supposed to run all 4 miles at tempo pace, or do a warmup and cooldown mile with 2 tempo miles in the middle. So I did a combo -- one warmup mile followed by tempo miles for the rest: 11:25, 10:54, 10:23, 10:42. I walked a half mile at the end as cooldown.
I think my legs are feeling the effects of the increased running I've done this week (and will continue to do through the half marathon). They're sore. They were sore throughout my 4 miles. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's rest day.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The fog this morning is
The fog this morning is thick. As I drove in, visibility was about 50 feet. And, as if you needed more proof that Houston drivers suck, I shall relate the story of how I almost got in a wreck.
I was turning left out of my apartment complex. I stop. I'm going to turn left, so I look right, then left, then right again. I don't see anything (within the 50 feet in either direction that I can see, anyway), so I slowly start to pull out.
As I'm pulling out, I look right again, and out of the fog comes a car going about 40 miles an hour on a small, residential, 25 mph speed limit street. He honks, and I slam on my brakes.
My fault thus far, I admit. Despite looking multiple times, I just didn't see him.
However, it certainly doesn't help that he is driving a silver car, in the thickest fog in months, with no headlights. He doesn't have his headlights on.
At this point, I'm kicking myself for not seeing him, and relieved that we were both able to stop (wasn't hard for me, since I was going about 5 mph). But what the guy does next is the kind of thing that really distinguishes some Houston drivers as complete idiots.
He stops his car in the middle of the road, rolls down his window, looks back at me (since he's past me at this point), and throws his hands out the window at me. He may have shouted something; I'm not sure.
I also had my window rolled down (so I could see through the fog better before I turned, since the windows were all dewey), so in an unusual move for me, I actually shouted back at him. "Turn your headlights on in the fog!" Amazingly, I didn't curse at him.
He sped off before I could see if he actually turned his headlights on.
It's a good thing I have been listening to Christmas music in the car lately. It makes me happy, which keeps me from getting too stressed by that bad driver, or by the horrible, horrible Clear Lake traffic that made me late to last night's Christmas Lights Run (thankfully the group lingered long enough that I made it), or the horrible, horrible Clear Lake traffic that made it a half hour drive from League City to La Madeleine last weekend.
I swear, Clear Lake traffic has gotten significantly worse in the past five years. I just don't remember it being this bad during my co-op years. Of course, it doesn't help that basically every major road down here is somehow under construction right now -- 518, NASA Parkway, and the northbound I-45 feeder. That last one is under construction because they are inexplicably building a bypass, but not a useful bypass. Instead of taking people all the way through the area, it appears that when completed, it will dump traffic out right at the El Camino / NASA Parkway intersection -- already one of the worst intersections in the area.
The Christmas Lights run was lots of fun. We did ~4.25 miles through the Tanglewood area, saw lots of houses that I will never be able to afford, saw lots of lights, and enjoyed the company of some bloggers and Striders. Jose came along and ran the whole way -- the farthest he has run in years. We stuck with the "extremely casual" group and did ~13:00 miles. J has now declared this to be his happy pace, the pace at which he felt he could run forever and still be conversational. Hooray.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
After my run last night,
After my run last night, I just sat around resting on my laurels. JP and I had dinner at Thai Cottage. I really like their food, but I am not crazy about other aspects of the restaurant.
First, we usually end up eating late, and arriving around 8:30. They close at 9:30, and their kitchen closes at 9:15, and they hardly ever have any soft spring rolls when we order them. As far as we can tell, whether they have them or not is directly related to the time we arrive. Before 8, yes. After 8:30, no. Can they not make more?
Second, I know their kitchen closes at 9:15 and I know they close at 9:30, but couldn't they wait until 9:30 to start putting chairs up on the tables and cleaning the seating area? By the time we left last night at 9:30, chairs were up on every table except the 3 that still had people eating at them. This happens all the time, and always makes me feel like I'm being rushed out the door.
Here's a photo of me and coworkers in the back room during Monday's rendezvous with the International Space Station. I wasn't working it -- just learning -- but one day I'll be in the hot seat. That's my new job: Rendezvous Guidance and Procedures.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I'm not sure where to
I'm not sure where to start with this one. If I say my speed workout went well, I have the sneaking suspicion that I'll be setting myself up for even tougher workouts in the future (eeps). If I say it went poorly, then I'd be lying.
It went very well. Extremely well. To be honest, it went better than I ever could have expected, especially because this workout scared the CRAP out of me. It called for 2x1600 at 8:50 and 8:40, with only 400 recovery. I think my heart rate was at about 130 before I even started running.
I ran on this 800m trail at the Gilruth. This is not the Gilruth trail I normally run on, since it's short, rather curvy and not ideal for speedwork. But it's marked every 100m and it picks up some light from the nearby football field so I can see where I'm going, so there I was. After my workout, I had some serious doubts that it was truly 800 m, but Google maps agrees with the Gilruth Center. 800 m it is.
1600 m warmup - 11:58
1600 m speed - 8:58 (!)
400 m walking recovery - 4:24
1600 m speed - 8:40 (!!!)
100 m walking recovery - 1:13
1600 m cooldown - 12:03
I am shocked.
I am amazed.
I truly did not think that I could do that.
Ok, correction: I didn't think I could do that and not vomit afterwards.
I sped up a bit over the course of each repeat. For the first, my half mile splits were 4:37 and 4:21; for the second, they were 4:23 and 4:17. The first mile felt, well, hard. But not crazy hard, which was the surprise. The 400 m walking recovery was much-needed -- I probably was supposed to jog, but I walked. When I started the second mile, I started to feel tired more quickly. I hit my watch after my first 800 m loop but it was too dark and I couldn't see the split! "Just keep running," I panted out loud. I really thought I had to have been going slower, because it felt so much harder. By the end, I wasn't going all-out, but I was close.
So, saying I'm happy would be an understatement. I'm freaking thrilled!
Tomorrow night is the Striders Christmas Lights Run. Hoping to see some of you there!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
We've got a squawk box
We've got a squawk box in our office, a little speaker box that plays a couple of the Mission Control voice loops including the flight director's loop and air-to-ground. This morning at 9:50 a.m., Abba's "Waterloo" came blaring over air-to-ground. I was extremely confused, until I realized that it was the crew wake-up. (It's a tradition to play some music every day to wake them up, even though they're already awake.) Immediately, I knew that it must be for Christer Fuglesang, who is one of the two guys doing the spacewalk today, and who is also the first Swede in space.
Yeah. The poor guy sounded a bit resigned to his fate when he answered the wake up call. I'm sure he's never gotten that before. Because all Swedes love Abba, right? Right?
It is an absolutely beautiful day today, which I've celebrated by holing up in a windowless conference room and then in a windowless cockpit mockup. I did get to enjoy lunch outside, and I ran into the coke break crowd on the way back to my building. I'm looking forward to running in the nice weather, although I am not particularly looking forward to my run. Steeeve calls for speedwork, 2x1600 at 8:50 and 8:40. Now, I don't believe I've ever run a sub-9:00 mile in 5 years of running. He knows this, since I told him. I think I might die if I ran 2 miles in 17:30. Seriously. But I'll give it my best shot.
Last night I made Jose watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Can you believe he hadn't seen it?? I know. Seriously. Thank goodness the situation has now been remedied.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Rainy mornings annoy me. It
Rainy mornings annoy me.
It annoys me that everything is so flat, and there are puddles everywhere, and it's basically impossible to avoid getting my feet soaked while walking in.
It annoys me that I have to walk so far from the parking lot, since everyone and their brother is parking in my lot this week because the mission is up.
It annoys me that Starbucks can't buy a canopy that sticks out far enough to cover my car window, thus allowing me to get my coffee without getting the entire left side of my body all wet. Their current canopy comes out about a foot and a half -- which is where the curb falls. Thus not only do you get rained on, but you get all the water running off the wussy canopy and directly into your car.
It annoys me that Starbucks can't give me a lid that doesn't splash coffee everywhere if I don't carry the cup precisely steady.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I thought I'd do my
I thought I'd do my 8 miles today on the Seabrook trails, since I figured I'd be at work all afternoon. But hey, we launched yesterday! Hooray! So instead, I headed downtown for the Jingle Bell Run, which I'd registered for a few weeks ago.
Now, the Jingle Bell Run is 5 miles, so for the first time ever, I ran before and after a race to get in all my miles! I don't think it's a habit I particularly want to get into, but it's not a bad way to get in the miles while still getting to hit the races.
It certainly would've been nice if the weather'd been better though! Chilly, and drizzling. It wouldn't have been as chilly if it hadn't been as wet, but oh well.
Buzz came along and ran with me the whole way, and I must say, it was really nice to have some company. We got to just run and chat, and she kept me going at the end when my legs were starting to tire.
We headed out a bit before the race and got back to the start in 11:15. (I Google mapped it at 1.1 miles.) About 5 minutes later, we started the race itself. Though I hate the "hills" of Allen Parkway, we finished the race in 55:26. After a quick water stop, we headed back out again for what ended up being 23:16, and 2.1 miles.
That 8.2 miles in 1.5 hours, which is right at 11:00/mile. I'm pretty proud of myself for that run.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Weather prediction has totally got
Weather prediction has totally got to be some kind of black magic. The weather guys forecast and forecast, and they still don't always get it right until it's basically upon them. I don't believe we'll ever be able to predict the weather entirely. Control it, maybe someday, but not predict it.
When I went in to work this afternoon, I rolled my eyes a bit at the thought that we were even trying to launch today. A 70% chance of no-go weather? If chances are bad, it's always a gamble to bring in the entire launch team -- hundreds of people at both JSC and KSC. But the decision had been made to start loading the external tank with propellant, and if you're gonna do that, you might as well try to launch!
What a difference a couple hours can make.
Next thing I know, the weather in Florida is beautiful, the weather in Spain and France is beautiful, and suddenly 3...2...1...
Saturday, December 09, 2006
I decided that I need
I decided that I need to be held accountable for my running to someone other than myself. As such, I finally asked Steeeve for some help in getting me prepared for the half marathon. He responded within hours with a complete plan for the next six weeks, modified for moi. How can I argue with that kind of attention?
He also said that he will leave cheeky comments on my blog if it appears that I'm not running, and I wouldn't want that, so: today I ran 3 miles. I ran 2 out-and-backs, and post-run I discovered it was actually more like 3.15 miles. It was chilly, so I wore a long sleeve shirt, capri pants, and gloves. I was cold for the first mile, but ok after that. The cold weather always affects my lungs a bit -- not right away, but for the rest of the day. I've been coughing a little since I got back an hour ago. This is pretty normal for me.
I ran at a decent pace, but not hard enough that I wanted to take any walk breaks or anything. I covered the 3.15 miles in 32:58 (10:26/mile). I think I was supposed to be going slower, but I really felt ok. And how's this for splits -- 16:30 for the first out-and-back, 16:28 for the second. It's rare that I'm that consistent. Anyway, Steeeve will chime in below if I need to slow down.
Tomorrow is 8 miles. I'll certainly be going slower then.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I didn't look at the
I didn't look at the news all day, so I didn't find out until right now, when J told me that Andy Pettitte resigned with the Yankees because, reportedly, the Astros wouldn't offer $14 million to counter the Yankees' $16 million offer.
AAAAAAARRRRRGHHHHH and SIGH.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I've always been told that
I've always been told that I don't really have an accent (though a southern accent will appear for a word or two once in a blue moon). I guess this proves it. Midland accent, another way of saying I don't have one! But the predominant one is southern, which makes sense since I'm from North Carolina. :) (Thanks Joe for the link.)
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Midland
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I really thought we were
I really thought we were going to launch. I had such a good feeling. We counted down to T-5 minutes! Then...nothing. Hold. The launch window ended and that was it.
There will be no attempt tomorrow; we'll try again on Saturday. If not then, I'm guessing we'll try again Sunday, which means I'll have to miss the Jingle Bell Run.
C'est la vie.
It was far more disappointing to experience a launch scrub in the control center than it is when I'm just watching on TV at home.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Admission time: my preparation for
Admission time: my preparation for the half marathon (in five weeks) has sucked. My longest run is the slow 11-miler I did with June and Erica a month ago. Other than that, my longest run is a 10K, and my most recent long run was the 8.33K I did at the 25K relay almost three weeks ago.
The 11-miler was done at a slower pace than my normal long run pace. The 5-6 milers were done at what would be a great race pace for me, but I've got to be able to maintain it longer.
So my dilemma is as follows: how the heck to do I effectively prepare to cover the distance in anything less than 2:30 in five weeks, while also accounting for the fact that I can be quite the lazy one when it comes to motivating myself to get out the door, and for the fact that life is busy?
Comments and suggestions more than welcome.
In the meantime, everybody cross your fingers that we get some good weather at Cape Canaveral tonight! I've been working like crazy for the past couple days following Marc around and doing everything he does, but if the weather doesn't cooperate, we don't go. And at the moment, the weather's not looking great for a shuttle launch...
Monday, December 04, 2006
When I passed my ARD
When I passed my ARD Support cert sim on the day before Thanksgiving, I actually only finished half of the job.
A flight controller's on-console skills -- detailed technical knowledge combined with good communications -- are the most visible and vital piece of the certification puzzle. If you're bad on console, you will find yourself hard-pressed to ever get certified and thus work an actual mission. On-console skills are the one piece a flight controller's job that can't be entirely taught. Everything else is just knowledge. With the proper training, anyone can learn the off-console tasks.
But then there's all this off-console stuff. Answering questions, completing tasks, and learning all the background work that goes into preparing for a flight.
ARD Support involves a lot of off-console tasks. In fact, once certified, an ARD Support Officer like me will spend 99% of her time supporting a mission doing off-console tasks. Eight minutes of real-time operations are backed up by hours and hours (and hours) of pre-flight checks.
Because such a large portion of this flight control position involves tasks that can only be done when preparing for an actual mission (as opposed to the sims we run so frequently), I still have to follow all the prep for a mission before I can officially be certified.
STS-116, launching on Thursday night, is that mission. Marc is ARD Support, and thus I have been Marc's shadow since at least last week, and will continue to follow him like a lemming until we launch. Today, for example, I spent an hour reading numbers while Marc checked them off a printout. Every single one was correct. And yet every single one had to be checked. Teeeediiiious.
I spent all day indoors, with no windows, in the dull and dim lighting of Mission Control. Because I've only done ascent sims thus far in my flight control career, I'm used to being in the control center for about 4 hours. Today I was there for almost 9, and I'll be there for the same amount of time, if not longer, over the new few days.
In the control center, with no windows, time starts to do some very funny things. It slows down. It speeds up. It ceases to matter entirely. I found myself repeatedly looking up from my monitor with the sudden thought: "What time is it? What day is it? Where am I again?"
Of course I wouldn't have it any other way, but at the same time, I think there's a reason we don't see this stuff until the of our training flow: if we saw it any earlier, we might re-think whether we wanted to do it in the first place. ;)
Saturday, December 02, 2006
The Reindeer Run this morning
The Reindeer Run this morning was pretty chilly. But fun! And I'm happy to announce that Jose's second-ever 5K resulted in a new PR for him. We did the Astros Race for the Pennant in May in 35:18 and today, in much cooler weather (but with much less preparation on his part), we ran 35:00! I looked at my watch with just under a half mile to go and saw 30:00 pass, so I told him we needed to step things up it a notch to finish under 35. He did it! 35 minutes flat. There were no mile markers, so I didn't take splits even though I know approximately where the miles are.
He had some problems with slippery shoelaces -- they came untied three times, despite double knots! It happened twice in the first mile, and each time he stopped and then had to run a little faster to catch back up to Debbie and me. I think that wore him out more than he expected, and he said the cold air was pretty harsh on his throat (he was coughing a lot post-race). So, I don't think he's really too crazy about this "running thing," but it makes me happy to have him at a race every so often. I wasn't really thinking, or I would've gotten a photo of us in our foam reindeer antlers. Of course we wore our reindeer antlers, what are you thinking? Sadly, most people don't. I think they are fun.
As for me, I felt great the whole time and chatted a lot with Debbie; Jose doesn't really talk when he's running, unlike me. Debbie did a number on her knees at a Thanksgiving race, so she took it easy and ran the whole way with Jose and me. She didn't even say she was going to run with me and then leave me in the dust in the last few tenths of a mile like she normally does. ;) Gavin and Mike (his dad) ran about 27:00, and Mr. Joe Carey...well, I'll let Joe share his race on his own blog! Let's just say he pushed hard and was rewarded for it. It was also nice to see the few BARCers that I know -- Vera at packet pickup, Veronica walking around with her camera (I'm not sure if she ran or not), and Jay behind the timing table.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I made my yummy sweet
I made my yummy sweet potatoes for the Christmas luncheon we had at work today. There's not a speck left, so I'll take that as a sign that people liked them. We had the lunch early this year because everyone will be busy for the next few weeks with...a space shuttle mission! We're scheduled to launch on Thursday night.
No running for me tonight, since I'm doing the Reindeer Run tomorrow morning. This is one of my favorite races of the year -- great course (pretty Nassau Bay neighborhood), great organization (On The Run), and usually great weather (tomorrow looks to be clear and cold). If you're not doing anything in the morning and want to do a 5K, think about heading down to Clear Lake and joining me, Jose (who I'll be pacing), Debbie, Gavin, Gavin's dad, and Joe! Race starts at Christus St. John's in Nassau Bay at 8 a.m. Dress warmly!
I totally didn't have enough clothes to run outside last night in the 26 degree wind chill, so I headed indoors. All the treadmills were full when I walked in and I wasn't feeling that motivated to run anyway, so I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine instead while watching HGTV. Yes, HGTV. I don't know why they keep HGTV on in the gym (and refuse to change the channel, as Becca so often points out), but last night it was actually entertaining. They were showing $400,000 homes in various cities. Like: in Manhattan, $400,000 buys you a 450 square foot condo on the 23rd floor with a nice view of the Chrysler building. In Kansas City, it buys you a 1800 square foot condo in the trendy Plaza district. In Denver, it buys you a duplex in the Platt Park neighborhood. In Seattle, it buys a tiny Capitol Hill townhouse. They also showed what kind of amenities and upgrades inside the house you get for that money. So now I know what I can get for $400,000.....I just have to find that much money! ;)