Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Austin 3M Half Marathon

Some months ago, I signed up to do the Austin 3M Half Marathon with a friend of mine. She ended up not running for personal reasons (job conflict), but I decided to make the trip and have a visit anyway! Oh, how I love Austin. Great weather, great food, moderate COL....mmmm....if only I could talk Princess Charming into moving there (not happening).

Since my friend's wife is about to pop, we spent most of the weekend watching football and cable. Not bad! :) And, oh, the race!

I was dropped off about 6:15 for the 6:45 start. 6:45? Seriously? In January? Well, whatever the reasons, they were moot since we didn't start until 7:30 due to the wind apparently blowing down the traffic barriers all along the course!  Quite a while to be hanging out in the start corrals, but it did give me time to shimmy in towards the 2:00 pacer.  I had waited so long for a porta-potty, I barely made it to the start before the opening charades!

I'd really wanted to break 2 hours with this race. Pre-foot break, I'd only run one over-2 hr half, and that was my first race in 2004 (I didn't run another until 2007).  Since then...well, lets just say I've done a few semi-trained run/walks, then the Philly Half which was OK, but a 2:15.  So I decided to hang out with the 2:00 pacers, a team from a local running club - of which Austin has about 8 dozen based on the tees I saw on the course - who were running at their "training pace". For those not in the "know," that's elite runner speak for "easy run" pace.  This is supposed to be a couple of minutes slower per mile than your race pace. I can't imagine running a 10:30-11ish mile for all of my easy mileage, so perhaps I am just running too slow for my quality (speed and pace and race) mileage? I don't know. Regardless, I am clearly just not "there" in my running skill.

So, around 7:30, we took off. This course is advertised as being downhill, but it really should be labeled "rolling hills with an overall decline in elevation." I PRd here in 2008, so I was aware, but to be honest, the hills seemed much worse this time!  The first few miles were good. I felt good, and I kept with or slightly ahead of the pacers. Around mile 6 though, I walked a water stop and never caught them again....

I kept trucking pretty well until mile 9. There was a pretty nice hill here, and the old muscle in my back started twinging, and I hit somewhat of a wall. I can't believe there is a WALL in a half marathon, and I'd eaten breakfast - though I probably could have used some sport beans around mile 7 - so I think it was mental. I got down on myself about losing the pacers and the tiredness in my legs. Why am I tired, I've only been running 90 minutes? hah.

Somewhere after mile 11 I switched to 3 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking (in addition to the water stops I always walk), but oddly enough, I kept my pace. All of my miles were between 9:15 and 9:40, which I feel good about.

I crossed the finish in 2:03:08, "just a couple of minutes past the pacers!" as Princess Charming and my friend put it. That didn't sit well with me, but they had been waiting at the finish line since the elite folks came through - thanks to the delayed start - so how could I be mad? :)   I decided to focus my anger instead on complaining about the obvious genetic advantages of the guy who passed me at mile 4 pushing a DOUBLE jogging stroller. They'd seen him finish - who could miss that - about 10 minutes before me.

Overall, this is a great mid-sized race, and I'd love to do it again sometime....if only for the chance to go to Austin again! And I still placed in the top 10 of the Filly's class (Embracing my body!), so I can't really complain about my performance. AND it IS a post-injury (x2!) Personal Record!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bathroom Facelift Part 2

Onward to Sunday morning (tile demo was Saturday night)...

We cut away the lower portion of the backerboard to get rid of the parts where there was a bit of mold and some holes from the grab bar.  If we were staying here, we would probably replace the whole thing, but there's a lot of things we'd do differently in this!  But the top part was in good shape and had no water damage, so we kept it.

The bigger part of this day, however, was replacing the fixtures. The old ones were pretty corroded, and we had done some patching last summer to stop a leak.

Yuck. As part of the repair last summer, the decaying backboard was replaced, but the old piping remained.

The original non-moving plan was to re-route this to a single handle control with a temperature regulator but, well, see above...So...

Shiny and new! You can even tell it is brass! Woot.

This was a great project for me - time consuming, but my dad, the handiest of homeowners, taught me how to sweat pipe! See that propane tank on the hallway floor (past the pipes!)? Its attached to my torch!
I think it is quite the accomplished Sunday when you cut a bunch of copper pipe and solder seven joints!

And Sunday night....

Princess Charming and I tiled the surround!
We went with basic white for neutrality as well as budget - you can't beat 16 cents per 4x4 tile! I love the 3x6 subway tiles we added for an accent and to give the illusion of a bit of height to the bathroom (I about fell out of my chair in jealousy when I saw Young House Love putting in the tub surround I dream about!), but they're just too pricey (at 36ish cents each, hah!) for a house we won't be in for long.   The black trim on the top was salvaged from our demo!

Monday's project (since I was off, woohoo!!) was grouting, and returning extra materials (except the extra cement board I don't trust myself to transport alone without cracking it) to the hardware store, which I visited no less than 7 times over the 3 day weekend (lucky for me, it is 1.1 miles from our house!).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bathroom Facelift

Much like our kitchen and den, our bathroom is stuck in decades past. Since we're planning on selling this house for job relocation reasons in the next 6-18 months, we are aiming for the best bang for our buck!

I wish I had a good photo of the bathroom when we moved in. The mint green tile is lovely, but you can't quite discern here how the wallpaper and curtains match (see a theme here?)

You also can't see the ancient light-fixture-cum-single-two-prong-outlet. We changed that to a normal light and rewired the outlet to the wall last summer...with three prongs and GFCI! On the upside, the toilet and sink aren't original to the house and are of reasonable shape and color.

So this weekend, we re-tiled the tub surround!

Who wouldn't want to keep this?

removal in progress!
That trash bag in the tub is one of about a dozen! Tile is Heavy and was just busting through our force-flex bags (those commercials lie!).

Remove soap dish, find newspaper in wall.

Wait. What? Why is there newspaper in the wall? Insulation? Didn't that so out of style sometime after the pioneer era? The reason for this remains a mystery, but unfolding one of the dozens of sheets crammed between these two studs - for more reasons we can't discern, it was only in this one wall space - determined at least this part of the wall was re-tiled in or after July 1974. I still think the tile is vintage 1957 (original), so perhaps they have a leak they needed to fix? (And I just can't imagine how anyone redecorating would choose seafoam green tiles, but maybe Esther thought they blended well with the peach curtains...).

And so ends Night 1 of the facelift.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

new dining room!

OK, not really.

But we did update the dining room! Via the chairs!

Old cushions - amazing ivory-on-peach polka dots:

Our house was an estate, so we made a deal with the seller to keep some of the furniture - less for them to deal with, less stuff we needed to buy...we ended up with a pretty decent dining set and a fairly worn out bedroom set (which we'll be using for a while), as well as a (1981) living room set we donated to charity (well, charity in the form of my rugby team's fundraiser yard sale!).

Anyway, as you may recall from our den,  the previous owners liked the match the furniture to the curtains. And last decorated around 1974, when the original owner got remarried (we learned this from his first wife, who was, oddly enough, the executor of the estate).

Edith (that's what I am calling Wife #2) must have really loved this peach polka dot fabric. Besides the dining room chair, there were throw pillows in the living room, a curtain on the back door, and SERIOUS window treatments in the living and dining rooms made out of it.

The dining room set that came with the all the lovely peach polka dot fabric!
You can also see the heavy valence - the top of that sucker was wood! - the living room had that plus full matching curtains...

18 months later, we are peach-polka-dot free!
I actually kind of like these chairs now, thanks to the handy work of Princess Charming and my mom!

It might help that paisley is my FAV!
Isn't that pretty fabric for $8/yard cotton?

Monday, January 18, 2010

born to run

Distance run that is.
Well, sort of. I'm not exactly Ryan Hall.
But I certainly am better at distance than short! Based on my best half marathon time, I should be able to run a 24 minute 5k. That is elusive by over 2.5 minutes....which is a lifetime in a 5k.

Anyway, today I got in a 10 mile long run for my half next weekend. As par for the course for my recent races, I'm somewhat undertrained, but on the upside, I am not injured (fingers crossed!) and haven't been in some months! Woohoo! I should have done it Sunday, but....blame it on the rain, rain, rain!

The first 3 miles were torture. Then I felt good until mile 7. Feeling good at a point past the fitness-running distance always makes me feel like distance running is a good fit for me, even if I don't "look" like a "runner" (no part of me will ever be petite and slender, except perhaps the parts in my sports bra and my (quite nice) fingers). Then I basically wanted to curl up and go to sleep, a reminder than I am somewhat undertrained. But overall, despite several (ok, 14ish) stops to stretch various parts (and pant at the top of hills) and two water breaks, my pace was ok (disclaimer: I stop my watch when I stop). And I feel good now.

So, fingers crossed, maybe I can run my first-post-injury 2 hr half this weekend?

(if my cold, pretty please, maintains its mildness?)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Den Facelift!

We actually finished this project a couple of months ago, but I don't think I've shared it yet!

Remember our den, ala the previous owner?

(oh...the matching couch & curtains! Upstairs, the dining room chair cushions also matched the curtains!)

(So lovely and dark. And the WESTERN DOORS seperating the room from the utility room - and extra toilet - lovely!)
And remember our re-flooring project?

Handy-woman Princess Charming got the whole floor down in a day while I was at a tournament!  (The glue on the stairs remains, but that's another post...the stuff on the actual floor came up pretty easily with a broom and then a mop.)

Here is our den today!

(same view as above...the stool/space heater are thanks to our 15 degree lows last week, and my desire to keep our heating bill down! )

(The other side of the room, our chair and a half + sleeper sofa. We bought these second hand last year for an amazing deal, and plan to get them new slip custom covers next year sometime)

(and a real door to shut off the utility room and Bailey's spot!)

Not a  bad revision in my opinion!
Total cost?
About $350 - primer, paint, new blinds, door, storage boxes from Ikea and flooring. The floor panels (planks?) were on clearance at Lowe's, and we opted for the Ikea liner (the plaster moisture barrier for between the concrete and the floor) and the Ikea foam under-flooring. It was about half the price of the same products at Lowe's, and we love to browse Ikea anyway (date-night!?). If we were staying here longer, we would add some more trim, but I haven't been convinced it is worth the expense for someone else's visual enjoyment.

All in all, not bad for a budget facelift!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

getting back on track

One of my goals for 2010 (I really should write these out in better form) is to run 1000 miles. I hesitate to "resolve" it or whatever, since it is dependent on other thing breaking my foot again. But it is a goal, which requires running about 20 miles a week. Reasonable (I think. Ask me again in late April when my papers are due and it is the middle of spring season for the team I coach and the team I play for AND it is our busiest season at work. Why exactly am I registered for a May 2 half marathon? But I digress).

So this morning, I went out for a ten mile run. I am 70% on program for my Jan. half in Austin in two weeks (perk of this race - which I just hope to run well and know I can't aim to PR on, but my best time since the foot break will do - get to see one of my bridesmaids/only college friend I'm in regular contact with and give her baby gifts! They're due in Feb! woot!).  I missed a whole week of running over the holiday (at least I snowboarded a bunch, right?).  So this week, no excuses.

I left at 7:50 or so since we were having family over for a late Christmas celebration. About 5 minutes in, I passed a bus company with one of those time/temperature signs, and it said 12. That can't be right, right? I'm wearing full Under Armour tights and a light windbreaker, cotton gloves and a headband. It wasn't that bad out.

Fast forward 30 minutes.
Why are my legs going numb?

Pass sign again.

Hm. So I stop at home for water and to warm up. says 17, "feels like" 7.
Hm. Ok then. Glad I didn't look before leaving.
Then I did another 5 miles, for a total of 10.1.

Crazy. Seriously.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

another one bites the dust

Of the handful of HS friends I am still in touch with, just a couple are not married yet. Last weekend, two of my former band-mates tied the knot. Since it was Christmas weekend, I went alone since Princess Charming was in St. Louis with her family and I was meeting them in Colorado (in retrospect, we should have sprung for the extra plane tickets for me to go to StL for Christmas, and her to come to the wedding, but oh well).

What a lovely wedding...and lucky weather, given the surrounding days - 40 and sunny!

Mustang Band Alumni and Current Staff 
(the Bride is an assistant director for our HS marching band)

Me, the Bride &  My Best Friend From High School 
(the long name I use to identify her to people who don't know her!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Colorado Vacation!

For Christmas this year, Princess Charming's family decided to take a trip to Colorado. Paid lodging makes a ski trip more affordable (though I admit airfare to Denver at Christmas is not cheap), so off we went!

 Us & the In-Laws

  (We bought those coats before we met, so matching is a total accident!)

What a fabulous location. We stayed at Keystone, right in the middle of things, so we were able to visit A-basin, Keystone, and Breckenridge (my favorite!) for a day each! I'm pretty sure I can never go to the Poconos again, since "bad" snow and slopes (the very occasional ice patch on the rare heavily used trail) in Colorado are light years better than the PA slopes, even when they are at half their usual December snowfall! And what a good way to get me to relax - exercise during the day, and nothing to do in the evenings but play board games and watch trashy tv on cable! (We don't have cable, and I rarely watch tv, so this was awesome).
Oh, and night skiing (once):

Sunday, January 3, 2010

returning home

I returned to the east coast from our Colorado vacation yesterday.  As is par for the course for my 2009 flights (see Food Poisoning, and also lets recall that I almost didn't make it back from Nashville for my dad's triple bypass due to US Air's affinity for cancellations) I hit a delay coming home.

Now, I admit, an extra two hours on a layover (on the occasion I have an unfortunate layover - I avoid them like a plague) isn't too big of a deal. Sure, I didn't have my laptop and was pretty bored reading a bad novel in the terminal. But its not tragic. Just ugh.

My layover was in Kansas City. I've never flown through here before, and didn't know that the gates don't all connect within one terminal. Imagine my surprise to emerge from the bathroom and realize I needed to go through security again. Also imagine my surprise when I walked a few more feet - on the same level as the gates - and found baggage claim. There are several interspersed through the gates at this supposedly international airport.  At this point, I only have my coat, purse and our Wii (which Princess Charming had brought to St. Louis to share with the cousins for Christmas), since my rolling carry-on didn't fit in the tiny overhead bin of the Denver-KC plane and the flight attendant had been nice enough to check through for me free of charge. So I set out to get some dinner, seeing as I now had three hours to kill instead of 45 minutes.

As it turns out, KCI does not have actual food, at least not in terminal C. I could get coffee, magazines, $5.99 bags of trail mix, really bad bagels, and a beer, but there were no burgers to be found. This is incredibly disappointing when you want to bury the sadness of flying home from vacation, alone, when you know you won't see your spouse for more than 3 days in a row again for at least 5 months, AND you're landing too late to get home-home and will need to spend the night at your parents house in the guest room. All I wanted was a freaking burger. I ended up with a bad midwestern frozen bagel and a bag of chips.

To give you an idea of the condition of this airport - which is also peppered with posters about KC's past sporting phrases like "Although Kansas City is not as well known as St. Louis, it was also integral to the ...." - here is my favorite sign:

I surmise this mid-sized airport is falling victim to the reduced flights and airport consolidations.  Gates 61-64 (based on the color scheme) used to be Northwest.

Then I had to go through security again. Since this is somewhat of a fiasco and I wasn't sure if there was a restroom within security between gates 61 and 69, and given that I a massive snow coat, a sweatshirt, snow-boots to remove and x-ray, as well as liquids and the Wii (which is apparently a laptop to the T.SA), I decided to use the bathroom again before embarking on this mission.  Now, imagine my surprise when I see my supposedly checked through carry-on running around the baggage carousel all alone. Good thing I drink a lot and am not a camel.

So eventually we board and depart.  Nothing eventful, a couple little jostles but nothing odd for a 60 seat plane. The flight attendant came around with beverages and surprised us me with snacks! Peanuts!

Or not.

I ate them anyway.

Friday, January 1, 2010

on new years

not on, but about.

My goal - not resolution, goal - for 2010 is to PR is SOME race (preferably a half) and get back to my "marathon" weight (a scant 10 lbs).

I was hoping to PR in Austin in Jan like I did in Jan 08, but injury and laziness and busy-ness have made that unlikely. I will be happy with a 2 hr race. I haven't run a two hour half since pre-injury in 2008. Then perhaps a PR in NJ in May?

Also, I resolve - this is a resolution - to not get overly emotionally involved with rugby (eg, my performance issues) as it is in all likelihood my last season.

And to look forward to all 2010 MAY bring...qualifyingexamlastclassnewjobsellinghouseproposaldefensedissertationstatusnewhousebaby...2010 I welcome you.