Tuesday, July 31, 2007
A freaking ENORMOUS roach just crawled across the floor of my office. From leg to tip of antenna, it was almost 3 inches long. I almost yelped out loud when I saw it out of the corner of my eye, crawling away from my desk, which means that most likely it just came from under my desk. Ew ew ew ew EWWWWW.
Killing bugs is not something I enjoy doing. Fixing things, however, is something that I do enjoy, and nothing makes me feel more handy than fixing something automobile-related. As I sat in the sim yesterday morning with one more ascent run to go, I got a call from Jose. His car wouldn't start. Dead battery.
After the sim I drove over to give him a jump start. He had no jumper cables, but I do. (My Dad got them for me in 1997 when he bought me the Sentra. I needed the car because I'd gotten my coop job and would be spending semesters in Houston.)
We hooked up the jumper cables and let things run. For a long time. Nothing. Jose's car clicked, but would not start. The engine didn't even make any "I'm trying to turn over but I can't" sounds. Just clicks. The battery was dead dead dead.
"Let's take it out of the car and I'll go buy a new one," Jose said. "Ok," I said, "we need a screwdriver to take off this random plastic covering that's all over your engine, and then we need a wrench to get those bolts off." But alas, Jose had no tools.
We went to work for a while, and then attacked the battery problem again. We went to my apartment, where we picked up my toolbox. (My Dad bought me the toolbox when I moved to Houston full-time because, as he said, everyone needs a toolbox.) We also picked up the Husky 60-piece socket set that I won at a Braves game in 1997 when the Home Depot ad in my program was signed by Bobby Cox. (Some guy offered my $20 for it as I lugged it home from the stadium on MARTA. I declined.) Until yesterday, I had only ever used it for bolting the bike rack on my car.
Back to Jose's place, where my socket set made battery removal a breeze. Oooh, we are so handy. From there we drove to NTB, where the girl who tested the battery gave a laugh as she announced that her super duper battery checking voltmeter thingy was measuring 46 cranking amps...out of 600.
One new battery later, we were reinstalling the battery and voila! The car started with a roar. Successful battery replacement, and we high-fived in celebration of our handiness. Neither of us had ever changed a car battery, but it wasn't hard at all...if you have the right tools.
My dad will be so proud.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I was elected to lead, not to read...
The full moon was still high and bright in the dark sky this morning as I drove to work at 5:45 a.m. Seriously. It was just absurd how early I was up. I'm assigned to work the launch of STS-120 in October, and we had our first flight-specific ascent sim scheduled for this morning at 7:30. Then on Friday they moved it up to 7:00. Which meant that, since I have to arrive an hour before sim start, I had to be here at 6:00. The fact that I was tired did not exactly go along with the fact that I'm rusty on my ascent skills (it's amazing how quickly you forget things when you're not simming every week), and I had a mediocre sim. Fortunately, this is why we have four leading up to each flight, and not just one.
The weekend was good. Saturday seemed to last forever; apparently getting up at 5:00 makes the day last longer. I ran, came home, showered, went to Borders, went to Katie's baby shower, went to the mall, helped Jose pick out "front room" clothes for work now that he'll be simming under the eye of the flight director, ate dinner, agonized about whether an iPhone was too much of a splurge, finally bought said iPhone, went home, and spent the rest of the night playing with my new toy. Whew! It makes me tired all over again just thinking about it.
Yesterday was much calmer. I slept in, and then organized a group outing to see the Simpsons movie. It was funny in exactly the ways I expected. The first half hour or so was hilarious, and then things slowed down a lot in the middle while they just concentrated on forwarding the plot. Things picked up and were funnier again at the end. Going in, I figured they'd be able to maintain the humor at least as long as a normal TV show, but wondered what would happen after that. It was about what I expected. Overall, it was a funny movie and worth the money. Despite seeing it in the previews, Spider Pig still cracked me up, especially when the credits rolled.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
This morning's Orange group run was 5 miles, and it just about did me in. The humidity was absolutely brutal, and let's face it: I'm just out of shape. I keep telling myself that I'm so slow because of the weather, but I can't use that as the only excuse. I have not been consistent about exercise of late, and that's the second culprit.
We met at the absolutely ungodly hour of 5:30. Seriously, I am new to Bay Area Fit and have to know -- do they meet this early all year? The BAF Triathlon group never met at 5:30 a.m. so this was a shock. I mean, whoa. I only got about 4.5 hours of sleep, so I know that didn't help my performance either.
I ran the first two miles in 11:04 and 11:12, not bad at all. But the last three were about 12:00 per mile with lots of little walking breaks. Pathetic. By the time I got back, the group had already started stretching, which left me feeling pretty lame and left out.
The jury is still out on Bay Area Fit. Of course I like having a group to run with, but they're a bit cult-like. Not necessarily in a bad way, it's just...well, the best way to describe it is that the group is geared towards beginning runners, not people like me who have been running for years. (I did know that going in, so it was not a surprise.) The seminar this morning went over information that I already knew. That in itself is ok, but it felt a little too much like I was being lectured to like a child. "DO NOT wear cotton t-shirts! If you wear a cotton t-shirt, YOU WILL get heatstroke!" Ok, so I guess that could happen, but it's unlikely to be solely from your choice of material. You'll just be more comfortable if you don't wear cotton. If you choose to wear cotton, I think that's your choice.
Anyway, I was probably just cranky because I was tired and had a bad run. :) So we shall see. The benefit of having a large group to run with (and one that I don't have to drive into town to meet) is first and foremost. I'd hook up with the Striders free SMART program, but it's hard to justify driving all over Houston when I can run in Clear Lake. Next week calls for 6 miles. Not sure how well I'll handle it, although the meeting time is pushed back to 6:20.
In other news, after much (and I mean much, just ask Jose) debate, I bought an iPhone.
I have thoroughly read dozens of internet reviews, and feel like I know what I'm getting into. After three strikes, the fourth guy I talked to at the Apple store was able to help, as we talked for about 20 minutes about features including my one major concern -- synching with my Outlook calendar at work. (The first three Apple store employees were entirely unhelpful with the answers of "well, I'm a Mac person obviously, so I don't know about PCs..." I understand that they are Mac people, but with the number of consumers using iPods and now iPhones with PCs, you'd think they'd be more educated.)
Anyway, I believe the sync will out as I hoped, so that is good. I fully realize that the iPhone has many shortcomings, and I fully realize that it is overpriced. But I wanted it, and I could afford it, so I got it. It's pretty cool so far. I am in love with the Google Maps app in particular.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
It's called blood doping because if you do it, you're a DOPE...
Never fear JD, I did get in one run along the Charles loop while in Boston. Jose and I ran on Thursday morning, from our hotel across the Mass Ave bridge, along the river, back over the Salt and Pepper bridge, and back to our hotel: this route. It was an absolutely beautiful run, one that I feel like I could do every day and never get bored. Jose hasn't run in a while, so we walked half of the route, but it was still great. We passed dozens of other runners, and the feeling is contagious. It's inspiring. For the rest of the weekend, every time we saw a runner (which happened often) I wanted to lace up my shoes and join them. I had planned to run again on Saturday morning before we left, but our whale watching trip left early enough that I didn't have time to do it again.
I decided to do speedwork last night after all, and it absolutely wore me out. The schedule called for 6 x 800, but I felt like that was way too much of a jump from the 8 x 60-60 that I did last week. So I decided to compromise. I wanted to do speedwork, but not 800s, and I was tired to begin with, so I just bumped up a bit and did 10 x 60-60 with 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown. I walked the 60 recovery, and did each 60 running at around 8:30 pace. The last couple repeats were tough, but I made it.
Here are some great running ads. The link was posted on the Bay Area Fit message boards. Caution that the first image is not entirely work-appropriate -- but rest-assured that runners will find them all funny.
I booked my room at the Hilton for January 13, the night before the marathon. I think this is the farthest in advance that I have ever made a hotel reservation. Six months.
On to another sport.
I have only been paying peripheral attention to the Tour de France this year, but the past few days have been pretty eventful -- and in a bad way. Big star Alexander Vinokourov and his team were ousted on Tuesday after he testing positive for an illegal blood transfusion. And yesterday after he won the stage in dramatic fashion, Michael Rasmussen -- the guy who has been in the yellow jersey for more than a week and who was looking likely to win the entire race -- was cut by his team and dismissed from the Tour for missing two drug tests this spring and not being honest to his team about his whereabouts. (Pro cyclists are required to tell their teams and drug testers where they will be at all times.) Those are the big names this year. In past years, other big names have been involved. Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis. Never-ending rumors about Lance Armstrong who, for the record, I believe to be clean simply because he has been tested so many times in so many places that it seems that he is either 1) clean or 2) incredibly good at hiding drug use, far better at hiding it than anyone else. I choose to believe the former.
I haven't been able to solidify my opinion on drugs in sports yet, despite years of thought. One thing I do believe, however, is that the problem is no more rampant in cycling than in any other sport. People think that cycling has a worse drug problem than baseball, or football, or soccer, or basketball, or running... I don't believe that. Cycling appears to have a worse drug problem only because they are the one professional sport that actually has a rigorous testing program. As fas as I know, professional cyclists are tested more regularly than any other professional athletes. They can be tested at any time of year. They can be tested in any location. At the Tour de France itself, you are tested if you win a stage. You are tested if you are wearing a jersey. You might be randomly tested even if you are at the back of the pack.
Cyclists are scrutinized for drug use more than any other sport, and that is why I think they are continually discovering drug use. Eventually one would think that the athletes would wisen up, realize that it is only a matter of time until they are caught, and stop doping. I hope that happens.
Yet to say that cycling has a bigger drug problem than, say, baseball, is kidding yourself. I believe baseball has a pretty big drug problem as well. They just have turned a blind eye to it over many, many years and continue to do so even now.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
My officemate is funny. He built a very high-tech cradle for his new phone/PDA and it was so popular that he is now selling it on ebay. Don't wait, bid now!
The coke machine downstairs is broken, but in a good way. If you buy one drink, sometimes a second one falls out too. You have to wait a few seconds to see if you get lucky, and it seems to only happen with the Diet Dr. Pepper, but no complaints here. I got another free one today!
I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish Harry Potter. I didn't intend on doing so, but once the finale had started to build it was too hard to stop, and that happened when there were still 150 pages to go. So I kept reading and finished. It was good. It ended just about like I expected it to. I was satisfied.
I am TIRED today, because I then had to get up early for a training session. We are currently working on starting the manual phase of rendezvous, which was fun. On Monday we finally stepped up from rendezvous with small satellites to rendezvous with the space station. We flew approaches all the way in to docking, and I realized that the space station is big. Very big. And even at 0.1 feet per second, it looks like it's coming at you fast. Very fast. I can only imagine what it would feel like if I were an astronaut doing it for real.
Despite my fatigue, have promised myself that I will run after work because I skipped yesterday. It's gonna be a rough one, I can tell already. I'm gulping water trying to get rid of a slight headache. I originally planned to do some speedwork, but I may take it easy instead.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
A Whale of a Tale
I mentioned that we took a whale-watching tour on Saturday morning. It was one of the cooler little side excursions I've ever taken, as 1) I had never been that far out into open ocean before and 2) I had never seen real live whales before, at least not in their natural habitat. They gather at Stellwagen Bank about 20 miles outside Boston Harbor. We got a lot of great views of the whales, and the photos don't really do it justice. The only way it could have been better would've been if the whale had jumped out of the water or something. They came right up to the boat and even swam under us a few times. They seemed as curious about us as we were about them.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Think I'll Move to Boston...
I didn't have a chance to pick up Harry Potter on Saturday, so when I saw it at one of the airport newsstands at 4:50 a.m. yesterday morning as we walked to our gate for our very early flight, I stopped and purchased a copy at full price. Ten minutes later, the airport Borders opened offering the same book at 40% off. Borders proceeded to mock me again in the Cincinnati airport. Who knew that the airport store would open at 5 a.m.? Not me.
I read 285 pages yesterday, between bouts of napping. After the 3 hours of sleep we got before heading to the airport, once we got home I slept from 1:30 to 5:30. I took a nap that was longer than my previous night's sleep! Though funny, I worried that the nap was too long and I wouldn't be able to fall asleep last night. Silly. I crashed again at 11:30 p.m. The book is good so far, but I still don't have a clue how it's going to end. More questions than answers so far.
The Harry Potter mania is amazing to me, not because of the particular characters or subject, but simply because the mania is about a book. Has this ever happened in my lifetime? Such anticipation, such excitement, parties everywhere? It's happened for movies, for technology (iPhone anyone?), for sporting events. But as I passed through the airports yesterday, I spotted the thick book and orange cover peeking out from under dozens of arms. On my flight from Boston to Cincinnati, four of six people in my row were reading it -- only Jose and another man were immune. The guy next to me sat down, looked at my book, pointed at his, and just said "yeah, me too." All this for a book? It seems unprecedented to me.
Our vacation in Boston was absolutely exhausting. Exhausting and awesome! We had a great time and walked all over that freaking city. There are very few fat people in Boston, probably because they can walk everyone. It's no coincidence that Houston is regularly named the fattest city in America; you don't want to go outside in the heat, and even if you wanted to, you can't walk anywhere. Houston is a city designed for vehicle travel alone. Most places don't even have sidewalks.
But Boston is, of course, incredibly walkable. We walked all over Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Newbury Street on Thursday, we walked the entire Freedom Trail on Friday with another lap of Newbury and across the Mass Ave bridge, and on Saturday we walked from Fenway back to Cambridge across the bridge again. In four days, I estimate we probably walked about 30 miles.
I'll be posting more photos as I have time, but for now I'll share the batch of "look at us" shots.
On Saturday, we took a whale-watching tour from the New England Aquarium. It was Jose's idea, and it was awesome! After traveling about 20 miles off-shore, we came across a trio of humpback whales that seemed just as interested in us as we were in them. They came right up to the boat and we got some great views. Here I am doing my standard "arms in the air" thing on the front of the high-speed catamaran, as well as both of us on the boat.
After the whale-watching tour, we had just enough time to grab lunch before heading to Fenway Park for the Red Sox-White Sox game. The Red Sox won big, 11-2, so it was a lot of fun despite the guys behind us that couldn't hold onto their beers. Seriously, when you're paying $7 for a beer, you think you'd be able to avoid spilling it! Oh well, it's part of the Fenway experience I suppose.
On our walk home, we stopped along the Massachusetts Avenue bridge to enjoy the view of the skyline at dusk. It was very pretty, so we asked a passing man to take our photo. I told him that we wanted the skyline in the background, but apparently this was too difficult for him, and so our photo looked like this.
Some people just cannot take a photo! We waited for a bit until another man passed by, and asked him to take a photo for us. Again, the photo was crap. What gives? Finally a third man passed by, and he had a digital SLR. I decided to go with the assumption that a guy with a nice camera should be able to take a decent picture, and fortunately I was right.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
At the end of May, Jose and I bought 2 tickets to this Saturday's Red Sox game. This, of course, necessitated actually going to Boston, so voila! We bought plane tickets a few weeks ago and here we are! Just a random, awesome vacation in Boston. Jose went to college here and this is the first time he's been back since graduation. He wants to move back here. The bad thing is that I want to move here too.
Yesterday we left Houston at the ungodly time of 6:45 a.m. which meant getting up at 4:00. Despite getting about 4 hours of sleep, we made the most of our afternoon here. We checked into the Hotel @ MIT, which is just a fabulously nerdy as it sounds. There are equations on the blanket on the bed, old photos of MIT on the wall, the lights look like circuit boards, and there's a atom on the carpet in the elevator. There are robots in the lobby, and giant prints of MIT patent applications on the wall behind the check-in desk.
We walked around the MIT campus yesterday as Jose talked and talked about his memories of college. "I must be boring you," he said. But he wasn't. I liked hearing all his college stories. I know I'll talk his ear off with the same thing whenever we visit Atlanta together.
We stopped at the MIT bookstore so he could finally embrace his alma mater with a sticker for his car and a few other things. They had ads up all over the place for the Harry Potter release tomorrow, so I went ahead and reserved a copy of the book at the MIT bookstore. I can start reading it on the plane home on Sunday.
Last night we met up with his friend Seth and Seth's friend Sarah and had sushi and then went to hear a musician described by Seth as an "extreme cellist." Sounds a little sketchy, right? But the guy, Erik Friedlander, was actually amazing. He sometimes played the cello normally, and sometimes played it rather like a guitar. It was pretty amazing that he was making all those sounds and all that cool music with a single instrument. Definitely worthwhile. Even crazier was that the concert was just being held in some little gallery in Cambridge. One room, a bunch of folding chairs, on some random street. This is the kind of stuff that just doesn't happen in Houston.
We crashed by 11:00, exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before. This morning we went on a run-slash-walk from the hotel, across the Charles River, along the Boston side, back across the Longfellow Bridge, and back to the hotel. It was almost 4 miles, and Jose has not run in quite a while, so after a few miles of run-walking, we pretty much walked the entire last bit. It took us over an hour, so I hesitate to count it as a run, but it was still good exercise. I hope to get in a solid 4-5 mile run on Saturday. This city is a great city for running.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I'm in Boston! More later.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I Touched an iPhone
On Sunday, I made a fatal mistake. (Fatal to my bank account, anyway.) After taking care of pre-trip necessities like getting Jose a suitcase that doesn't have a giant gash in the side, we had lunch in the food court. The path from the food court to the car passed directly in front of the Apple store. The Apple store had a table front and center full of iPhones.
"Jose, let's go play with an iPhone," I said.
This was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Because, you see, the iPhone is incredibly cool. It looks great. The screen is so bright and clear. Things zoom around the screen at the flick of a finger. I know there are other devices out there with the same capability, but none of them are as elegant or as pretty. And I am a sucker for good design.
I want one.
And now it's only a matter of when.
Monday, July 16, 2007
For the past couple weeks, I have been feeling very restless. This happens from time to time, when a lot of small things manage to build up until I feel like my whole life is off-kilter. At that point, I'm mentally susceptible to getting bummed out about pretty much anything, like:
I had a bad sim.
Someone made extensive jokes about how dumb running is, and that got on my nerves.
I can't decide whether to buy a house or not.
I "wussed out" on the triathlon yesterday, skipping it entirely.
I saw the new flight assignments this morning and my first flight in the front room is still two years away.
I panic at the thought of having to train for another two years.
None of my photos got selected for the Houstonist gallery show.
I wallowed in self-pity for a bit about the fact that I never got an email on Friday from Houstonist, which thus meant that none of my photos were selected. I know that photography is an incredibly subjective field and that what one person loves, another person detests. But I felt like one of my photos was a shoo-in. Even that one didn't get picked!
This morning, I got an email.
Sarah, I just left you a voice mail about this -- for some reason, when we sent the e-mails out to all the photographers whose work was selected for the show Friday, yours didn't go out. It was the only one, and I'm still not sure why it happened, but I apologize for that.
At any rate, better late than never, right? Congratulations!
Two of my photos were selected.
And suddenly I feel like such an idiot.
Even if I hadn't received that email, I'm still an idiot. I let myself get so bummed out by little things, and forget that my life is actually pretty awesome. I have a good job, even if it's boring sometimes and it seems like I'll never get through this training flow. I make enough money that I have the option of buying a house, which is more than most people have. I'm getting a raise. I have awesome friends. I'm in love. I have a great family. I'm less than 48 hours from a 5-day vacation.
Life is really good, and I'm really lucky.
Friday, July 13, 2007
There are just too many events for a girl like me to keep up. I'm excited to be doing the Houston Urban Adventure Race with Debbie tomorrow morning, but I'm bummed to be missing the Lunar Rendezvous Run and all the bloggers that will be there. They're even giving out a cool red tech tee! Color me jealous. Ah well.
I wanted to run last night and planned to hit the Gilruth trail at 7:45 for 3 miles before our 9:00 softball game. Unfortunately, at 7:45 there was thunder and lightning galore so I kept my butt inside. The storm passed by 8:30 and we did play softball, but at that point there was no time for running. At least softball was good. We won 16-3 and I went 2-for-3! The rain cooled the temperature, but it was so humid that simply running from home plate to first base had me dripping with sweat. After the game, Jose asked if I had taken a shower, and he wasn't kidding. I was that wet. After the game I also helped Debbie put the chain back on her bike, so we are set for tomorrow morning!
It's going to be a busy weekend. I've got two races plus a soccer game. Jose's got a major cross-country training flight planned with his instructor. Somewhere in there, I'll hopefully get a nap...or two.
In other news, I got a raise! Raises in my job are based pretty much entirely on time served, not on performance, so it doesn't really say anything about me other than: I've been working here for 5 years. I transitioned from coop to full-time on July 22, 2002. It amounts to ~$50 more per paycheck after taxes. It also means that I have officially topped out. Here at JSC, your salary rises like crazy for 5 years and then suddenly you plateau. I won't get another raise (except for the standard yearly government increase for inflation) from now until I become management. Which isn't likely to happen anytime soon.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
This New York Times article about air quality and exercise is interesting. I didn't have allergies 10 years ago, but now I am usually a bit sniffly, and my eyes itch regularly. I have often wondered if the air quality in Houston (which is bad, and living fairly close to acres of chemical plants doesn't help) is impacting my health. I'm not going to stop running and biking and going outside because exercise will always be better than no exercise, but it does make me concerned.
I rode 23.5 miles on my bike last night in just under 1:30. I averaged right around 16 mph. The first 15 miles went considerably better than the last 8. During the latter portion, I was feeling pretty pooped. While I don't notice the heat as much on a bike as I do while running, mainly because riding a bike provides you with a man-made breeze, I know it still affects me. And mentally, I was done. I have not been riding consistently enough to make the bike comfortable, and once my neck and back start aching, I check out. Nonetheless, I was glad to get in a ride. I double-booked myself this weekend with the Houston Urban Adventure Race on Saturday and Jeff & Brede's Intergalactic Triathlon on Sunday, so I'll get in two more bouts of biking before the week is through.
I know all my blog entries have been about running and biking this week, but there's not much else going on. I'm planning to see the new Harry Potter movie tomorrow night so that will be fun, even though it's been a while since I read the book. I forget books pretty quickly, so I'll probably be all confused about what's going on. Oh well. Harry Potter = good, Voldemort = bad. That's probably enough.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Reason number 3,297 why I love my boyfriend: he's living his dreams and I get a front row seat.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Some people don't know when to quit. Yesterday I sat stewing as someone went on for 20 solid minutes about how awful running is. His wife is training for her first half marathon and apparently I, well-known as a runner and triathlete, was the person he decided to come talk to. I sincerely hope that he is being more supportive of his wife in her goals. He wouldn't stop ridiculing running. Why would anyone want to run? You don't really need $100 shoes to run. You get Runner's World magazine -- see, that's absurd! Why does running need its own magazine? Ha ha, why would anyone run? Ho ho, oooh, I can't run in a cotton t-shirt. A GPS watch, are you mentally ill? Hey, yeah, it's great to have a goal and all, that's nice, oh but why running? It's so dumb.
On and on and on.
At first it was funny -- I'm used to the "you're crazy" comments, because they're usually followed with "but that's cool that you do that." But the longer it went on, the more I began to doubt that he was really kidding, and then it was really annoying. Dude, I get it. You don't like running. You think it's a stupid sport. Just say that and move on. I don't stand around ranting about how stupid your hobbies are. A little respect, please.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I sat down in the locker room at Gilruth last night and started pulling my running clothes out of my bag.
Running skirt? Check.
Tech tee? Check.
Sports bra? Check.
IPod Shuffle? Check.
I forgot to pack socks!
Dilemma. I have never run without socks. What to do? Finally I decided to go for it and see if I could run comfortably without socks. After all, most top triathletes do it, and if I discover that I can go sockless, it'll save me another few seconds in transition. (Not that a few seconds makes a difference when you're slow like me, but hey.) I was planning to do 3 miles, so I thought I'd just go as far as I could. If I felt hot spots on my sockless feet, I'd stop and walk back.
Amazingly, going sockless wasn't a big deal! It felt a little weird, and I don't plan to do it often, but I could certainly do a sprint triathlon without bothering with socks. I got one hot spot on my right index toe, but it was the same blister that formed on Saturday when I was wearing socks.
I ran my 3 miles outside, starting at about 6:00. I am still stubbornly trying to fight the heat, but thankfully I survived. There was a bit of a breeze that made things bearable, and I'm happy to report that I kept a relaxed pace and didn't take any walk breaks! (Walk breaks have become pretty standard for me in the heat.) I finished in 34:00 for an average of about 11:20 per mile.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Apparently I'm going to run another marathon. It must be true, since I joined Bay Area Fit's orange group on Saturday.
I really wanted to join the yellow group, because the coaches are also the triathlon group coaches, and because I have three friends in that group. But their pace is under 10:30 per mile, and I'm just not there right now, not for long runs anyway. So I joined orange, where I should fit in very comfortably on the faster end. Come fall and cooler weather, I hope to make the switch from orange to yellow. We shall see.
Summer heat and humidity has led to some nasty runs of late. I read a lot of blogs detailing bad runs, easily in the top ten worst runs ever, and I had a similar experience on Saturday morning. I met a guy from the tri group at 6:30 for a planned 6-miler at 11:00 pace before the BAF kickoff. While we covered the distance, an 11:00 pace eluded me. Steve was kind enough to slow down for me, even at the end when the walk breaks were plentiful.
The first 3 miles were at about 11:30 pace. The last 3 miles were at 12:00+ pace. UGH. I blame it mostly on dehydration, which I expected since I basically purposefully dehydrated myself on Friday. Rendezvous sims last 8 hours, and there's really no optimal time to take a break. I drank nothing from the time I got up Friday morning until about 4:00 that afternoon. (I haven't figured out a solution to this problem yet.) In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't be surprised that I had a really horrible run.
I have mixed feelings about doing another marathon. I am ready to do another one, but I am not sure I want to do Houston again. I always told myself that the next one I did would be somewhere else. Somewhere like New York, Chicago, Washington, or Hawaii. But I guess I can do Houston again. At the least, I know that training will be much more pleasant with a group; I trained basically alone when I did my only marathon thus far in 2005, and I suffered a good six months of burnout afterwards. I was so tired of running alone.
The final reason I decided to train was just in case I decide to do an Ironman. There, I said it. I know, I'm crazy. I haven't decided anything yet, but a bunch of people from the tri group are doing IM Arizona and I'd be lying if I said they didn't put a seed of a thought into my head.
The one thing I do know is that I train better and more consistently when I am being held accountable to someone or something else. A coach, a group, an event. So here we go...
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Apparently my dad and brother decided that my sim must have gone badly, since I didn't update afterwards. Unfortunately they're right. The sim sucked royally. All the evaluations meant that there were problems galore, and it was all I could do just to follow along. I certainly didn't have the spare brain power to actually add any worthwhile input.
I was really upset about it on Friday night. Logically, there was no reason to be upset. It was my first sim ever, and it was close if not at cert level. For me to do well would have been an almost inhuman feat. No one expected me to get everything right. But since I've been in the group for six months just waiting to get a sim, I felt like I should've done better. I wanted to get everything right, and I totally didn't, and I felt horrible.
That was two days ago, and I'm over it now. I'll do better next time.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
T-16 hours until my first sim. Whee! There are a billion evaluations tomorrow to make things go wrong. Whee! But Jose passed his cert sim today. I'm officially the RPS trainee. Whee!
I have been messing around on Flickr lately. Up to this point I've basically used it as a way to get cell phone photos to my blog. But in the past few days, I've been surfing and oh boy, am I discovering (as so many others already have) that it is addictive. There are always new photos to see.
On Tuesday night I went to the Astros game with a 4-week-old. Carina never got too fussy, perhaps because she is used to the sounds of the stadium from all the games she attended in the womb. The game was a doozy. The Astros managed to tie it in the bottom of the 9th when Carlos Lee of all people beat out a throw to first. Or, rather, the umpire called him safe. I highly doubt he was actually safe, considering the fact that he runs about as fast as a bulldozer. The game continued for another 4 innings, with Hunter Pence hitting a walk-off homer in the 13th. That made the post-game pre-4th fireworks a happy event, though Carina and family had already left.
My holiday was extremely relaxed. I slept until noon, and woke up to more gray skies and drizzling rain. We went to the movies and saw Transformers at 2:20. The theater was absolutely a madhouse, due to the combination of bad weather + everyone being off work. Transformers was funny and entertaining. Paired with Die Hard 4, which I saw over the weekend, they are the perfect summer movies. Big, loud, shiny, and entertaining without making you think too hard. Over the top.
Jose and I followed the movie with sushi. Japanese food in honor of Independence Day. It was good, and the xin xin roll was awesome. We watched another movie at home. Donnie Darko. It was...interesting. The jury's still out deciding my opinion on that one. We paused halfway through to watch fireworks from a distance from my balcony. We saw at least 5 or 6 different shows, and heard at least 2 more, enough that I couldn't even figure out where they were all coming from. Pasadena, La Porte, Baytown, Seabrook, Kemah...?
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
I often worry that I am a "grass is greener" person.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, because sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side -- so maybe it's more accurate to say that I often worry that I always think things would be better elsewhere.
I have been in a work slump since the launch. Working the launch was so exciting, and what I had to come back to post-mission is extremely unexciting. I am reading. Reading, reading, reading. Reading about rendezvous, reading about systems, reading about flight rules. Training to be a flight controller may sound glamorous (and don't get me wrong -- sims and the pilot training I'm currently doing are lots of fun), but there is a dull and boring side to it as well. I'm only halfway through all the material I need to read, and I feel like I can't read another sentence without going crazy.
Yesterday was particularly bad, and I left work thinking that maybe I should just quit, take classes full time to finish my graphic design M.S. from UHCL, and find a new job as a designer/web person extraordinaire.
But if I did that full time, would I enjoy it as much?
Not to mention that despite my pipe dreams, I'm not sure I'm truly qualified to work in that field.
Things are getting better though. Finally -- finally! -- I am getting into the meat of training. I have my first rendezvous sim on Friday, and I made the mistake of looking at the list of evaluations that are also happening that day. It will be my first sim, but it will also be a FDO final, a TRAJ midpoint, and a GNC midpoint. Main point being: those people will have problems to work, and their problems will almost certainly affect me. Little old me. Little old greenhorn me.
Fortunately my mentor will be there to help me, so I'm actually not too worried. If I mess up too badly, I can just blame him. ;)
Monday, July 02, 2007
It's absolutely pouring outside, and I am lucky to have made it from the car to the building without getting totally waterlogged. I haven't seen it rain this hard since...well, since yesterday morning, when we got dumped on at the Y Tri sprint triathlon in Pearland.
Is it me, or has it been ever rainier than usual this summer? I mean, we always get afternoon thunderstorms, but there have been an inordinate amount of rainy mornings in the past few months.
Actually, doing another triathlon in the rain wasn't too bad. It rained hard before the start, which was delayed about 10 minutes due to lightning, but then it stopped during my swim, and only drizzled lightly while I was biking. The wet roads made it necessary to slow to almost a crawl as I rounded the four U-turns on the bike course, but at least I didn't have to deal with the pins-and-needles feeling of raindrops hitting you as you pedal at 17 mph. No, instead, the rain came fast and hard on the run. It would have bothered me, but I decided that I'd rather run in a torrential downpour than in the heat!
Overall the tri went reasonably well. The swim was in the 50-meter pool at Independence Park in Pearland. I had mistakenly submitted a 300 yard predicted time instead of 300 meter, so at #69 out of 300, I was seeded slightly faster than my ability. The person behind me was a no-show, so there was a 20-second gap between me and the next person in the water after me. Still, two people passed me in the water. I will have to be more careful next time to avoid making that mistake again.
I haven't swum in a 50-meter pool since I was at Georgia Tech, and I have to admit I found myself waiting for the wall each length. I finished the swim in 6:42, a deceptive time since there was a 20-30 second run between leaving the pool and crossing the timing mat into transition. My actual in-the-water time was closer to 6:10, which is probably what I should've put down for my predicted time. That is under 2:00 per 100 yards, which I'm happy enough about.
The bike was a 12-miler (Garmin measured 12.25, which I think is accurate; tri distances are often a little bit off the nice round number advertised) that was pretty nice except for the four U-turns. I hate U-turns on a bike. Like I said, it didn't rain too much, but for whatever reason, I was just not feeling it. Maybe it was the 5-miler I did the day before. Maybe it was bad nutrition. Maybe it was just a bad day. I managed to push enough to average just over 17 mph, finishing the bike in 42:32, but I had hoped for 40:00 flat. One of the BAFT women was just behind me, and also competing in the Athena category. At every U-turn I could see her, and at every U-turn she was gaining on me. If the bike had been much longer, she would've caught me.
After the bike, I didn't have high hopes for the run, but somehow the rain actually helped. It was a 3-miler (Garmin measured 3.1, which matches a Google pedometer version of the route) and after some dead legs for the first half mile, I was able to settle into a comfortable pace and do the run with only two quick stops at the two water stations. (At the first one, in the middle of the downpour, I remarked that it seemed unfair that I had to stop to drink, and wondered why my body couldn't just absorb the massive quantities of liquid falling from the sky at that particular moment. I finished in 32:48 for an average of either 10:56 per mile if you go with an even 3 miles, or 10:35 if you say it was 3.1. Either way, it was under 11:00 per mile and I was happy with that.
My overall finish time was 1:24:45. That would've put me 12th in my age group, but was good enough for 1st place Athena. So far this year I've been 2nd, 1st, and 1st in the Athena group. The only race I didn't place in was the Half Iron, and well, those Athenas were hard core. I have to watch out or this stuff is going to go to my head. I know that placing in this category is totally dependent on who happens to show up and who happens to be willing to admit that they weigh more than 150 pounds. But I'll take it. Fastest fat girl in Houston, that's me! :)
I almost lost 1st place yesterday though. Second place was a minute behind me and third place was the Bay Area Fit woman who kept gaining on me on the bike, four minutes behind. Even more interesting: I finished 1st in the category, but did not have the fastest time in any of the splits. There were 5 Athenas. I was 2/5 in the swim and T1. I was 3/5 on the bike, T2, and run. But I was the most consistent, and therefore took the category.