Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dances With Rabbits

I have discovered that Tidbit likes to dance. All I have to do is a few jumps and twirls in front of her and she leaps up to join me, bouncing and running in circles around my feet. Is there anything more fun than a bunny?

I think not.

Last Week's Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minutes elliptical
Tuesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minutes elliptical (intervals)
Wednesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 30 minutes elliptical, 20 minute stairmaster
Thursday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minutes bike, Spinervals 3.0 Suffer-O-Rama
Friday: 45 minutes core and strength training
Saturday: 45 minutes elliptical, 7 mile run, 45 minutes elliptical
Sunday: 2 hours bike, Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter! Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The tortoise and the hare. Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 20, 2005

My what big ears you have! Posted by Hello

Bunny Pix Update

For those of you who come here for the bunny pix, I apologize. The interface program that loads my pictures onto my blog has been experiencing stability problems. These problems are supposed to be corrected very soon and I'll be posting more pictures of Tidbit!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Expensive Weekend

We decided to put Dan's car in the shop Friday. There had been a problem with the front end for awhile, so we got that fixed and had a few other minor things worked on. With his car still in the shop, I went to do the grocery shopping last night. At my last stop, I came out of the store to find my right rear tire completely flat. The security guard told me it had just collapsed for seemingly no reason.


Without Dan's car available to ferry the groceries home, I could only hope AAA would arrive quickly. In the meantime I tried to fill the tire using a can of Fix-A-Flat, to no avail. Odd. I checked the outside of the tire, but could find nothing that explained what was wrong.

The tow truck arrived while I was struggling with the lug nuts, in hope of being able to put the spare on without assistance. The driver was stronger and had better tools though, so he go the spare on quickly and luckily it was good. But the real surprise was when we examined the defective tire. The inside wall was a solid mass of cracks! I check my tires fairly regularly, but how the heck does one look for cracks on the inside sidewall? I was more than a little disturbed, since it would've been a disaster if the tire had decided to self-destruct on the freeway.

So I drove home and then we pondered our new dilemma. Dan and I had planned to ride the new Tour de Houston bike ride in the morning. But if we did that, it might take hours to get a new tire afterwards, which would interfere with lunch, schoolwork, naps and any number of other plans for the day. I went to bed frustrated and uncertain about what to do.

I guess my brain worked on the matter while I slept, because it was pretty clear in the morning. Dan would meet his friend Neil to do the Tour de Houston and I would drop off the car for a new tire and balancing while I went for a run. It was a perfect solution, since I wasn't very sure if I really wanted to do the bike ride anyway. The longest distance was only 40 miles and it seemed like the type of ride that would attract a lot of slow-moving amateurs who would only annoy me.

So things worked out well. Dan went to meet his friend and ride the three miles to the ride start downtown, and I dropped off the car. As it turned out, the NTB downtown was open early and I could've done the bike ride anyway. (Tip to NTB: Put your shop hours on your phone message!) It was too late to try to get home and get my bike, but I ran down to City Hall for the heck of it, hoping to find Dan and his friends in the huge crowds. I was amazed at how many people had turned out for this ride! It's great publicity for the city, but I had to circle the area twice before finding Dan. He told me the organizers had run out of numbers and ride packets and were giving away wrist bands. I guess even the city was surprised!

So after wishing Dan and his buddies a good ride, I crossed in front of the downtown library and headed west on Lamar, through Heritage Park and onto the Allen Parkway side of the bayou trails. It was fun watching the cyclists go by, watching all the time for my friends. I was almost at the point near Montrose where the trail dips below street level when I heard Dan call my name. I turned and waved to him, and he waved back. It was just like old times when he used to ride with his friends every Saturday morning and I looked forward to the points where our routes would cross.

So I continued on my run in a good mood. I decided to keep things simple and went up Memorial to Chimney Rock, then turned around and came back. It was about 14 miles, but I was having a bit of ITB trouble, so with my walk breaks I ran only about 13.5. I was surprised to find myself getting pretty anxious the further west I continued on Memorial. I'm used to knowing I can always cut a run short if I need to and just go home or even call Dan to come get me. I've never needed to do it, but it's one of those things that's nice to know. Today with both cars in the shop, I didn't have much choice but for my own legs to get me back downtown and it messed with my head a bit. Interesting the odd notions one has sometimes.

So I got back to NTB and the car was ready. Luckily none of the other tires had cracks (I had them check) and I was only out $125 for the one tire. There is no such thing as a budget tire for an RX-7, apparently. I drove home and did a spectacularly bad job of parking it. Long runs damage brain cells. That's my story, at any rate. And after I showered and got myself fixed up a bit, we went and had our customary Saturday Indian food. I was so hungry I had double portions! And after lunch, Dan's car was ready, so now we're a two-car household again and all is right with the world.

I had been thinking of doing the Tour de Cypress tomorrow morning, but my right IT band is really giving me some trouble. Given that it's also a bit rainy, I might just blow the whole thing off. I hate it that I'm skipping so many rides this season, but cycling really messes with my IT bands for some reason. I guess I need to schedule another appointment with the bike fitter.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes core/strength training
Tuesday: 45 minutes core/strength training, 30 min elliptical, 30 min run Wednesday: 45 minutes core/strength training, 45 min Spinervals 7.0 Uphill Grind
Thursday: 45 minutes elliptical
Friday: 45 minutes core/strength training
Saturday: run, 13.5 miles

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Busy Weekend

I've had a nice but very busy weekend. It's time for those pesky mid-terms-- two online multiple-choice tests and one four page essay. No huge deal, but more than I really felt like doing. Still, it's a small price to pay to stay in loan deferment for a bit longer. I also intend to write a paper tonight that's due next week. Yes, I'm just so much fun this weekend!

Speaking of fun, when I went for my Saturday morning run, I noticed the Bayou City Classic 10K was going on. So I arranged my run so that I could see some of it because it's a race that encourages costumes. The LifeSavers were out again this year-- a group that runs wearing big cardboard tubes that look like LifeSavers. They toss little rolls of LifeSavers to volunteers, costume judges, cops and spectators, which is kind of fun. I also saw a rodeo clown and the Grinch and Max. Hey, since when could you bring your dog to a race? I guess when he's part of your costume, it's okay. The best individual costume I saw was Martha Stewart-- a woman in a convict stripes and a blonde wig carrying a tray of fruit and pastries. The best group costume I saw was Michael Jackson, glasses, mask and all, with his lawyers and entourage, including one guy holding an umbrella over him to shield him from the sun. It must be hard to run a 10K like that! I'm sure there were other good costumes, but that was all I noticed while trying to get my own run in at the same time.

After running near the race for a bit, I went west on Memorial and then decided I wanted to do something different, so I followed a route that my Houston Fit group used to do years ago, up the 610 feeder road to Post Oak and around some back streets to San Felipe and then through River Oaks. It wasn't the greatest route ever, but it was something new to do. I finished my run by heading east on Memorial toward downtown to see if there was a completely sidewalked and safe way to get to a little park I've noticed for years but never been to. There wasn't a good way to get there, but I did it anyway. Nice little park, good sidewalks, might be fun for short runs. But none of the water fountains worked. What's up with that? Hello, City of Houston.... anyone home?

I spent the rest of the day eating, napping, taking tests and writing an essay. Then I popped in a movie I have to write about and watched it until 3 am. Oops. Time sure gets away from me sometimes. It's like I have so many things I want to get done in a day that sometimes I have trouble understanding why time refuses to expand to accomodate my needs.

Oddly, I wasn't tired today. I got up and ran a few errands, then did a bike workout on the trainer, ate a big lunch, did a bit of housework and started a batch of ratatouille going in the crock pot. This evening will be spent in front of the computer working on another paper. Hey, at least I have the outline done, even if I'm not enthusiastic about the subject. It was the best of many bad topic options, what can I say?

In the New Projects category, I've decided to create a Tidbit garden. I purchased three cilantro plants and some parsley seeds which I'm soaking tonight so I can plant them tomorrow. That will use up the pots and soil I have at present, so I'll have to make a little trip to buy some more this week. I think I'll also plant baby carrots and do a little research on clover and dandelions. I think I can just go to where some are growing and dig up few. I may even buy a really big pot and plant the eyes from a few of those fingerling potatoes I got for the West U ride I didn't do. (See my Private Idaho post from February.) Obviously the potatoes would be for me, not the bunny. It's funny, but even though I grew up with a gardener for a dad and even though I helped out and have a good understanding of how to grow things, now that I'm trying to do it on my own, I find I'm feeling a little unsure of myself.

I have also found that my patio is infested with wasps. Well, that's what husbands are for. I knew he was the man for me when I woke one morning to find him catching a bee that had gotten into my apartment. He picked it up by its wings and put it outside. Yes, that's the kind of man I need-- someone who can do something useful!

So I sure hope Dan gets after those patio wasps soon. Tidbit is anxious to have a garden of her very own!

Weekend Workouts
Saturday: Run, 10 miles per GPS, but I think it was wrong and it was more like 11
Sunday: Bike, two Cyclerobx videos-- one 55 min, the other 45 min

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dreaming of New Mexico Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


I called Dan on his cell phone recently.

"I knew it was you!" he said. My phone has a special ring for when you call.

Wow. No Led Zeppelin-- a special ring just for me? "What is it?" I asked.

Now he faltered a bit. "Uh... well, it's nothing special, really. It's, you know, just the generic default ring that the phone originally came with.

What? Generic? Me? "I object to that," I said. "You should have a special song for me."

"Okay. What should it be?"

I thought for a moment. "'Hail To the Chief' would do nicely."

I have a feeling I'm still on generic ring tone.

This Week's Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes strength training, 30 minutes elliptical
Tuesday: 45 minutes strength training, 30 minute run
Wednesday: 45 minutes strength training, 45 minutes elliptical (supposed to do a Spinerval session but I overslept when I took my post-work nap)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Gator Ride

Finally-- my first outdoor ride of the season! When I was getting my gear together last night I realized that I hadn't taken my bike out on the road since the Iron Star Half-Ironman Tri last October. For shame! There's just no excuse for that here in Houston. Well, no excuse except rain, bronchitis, recovery and general laziness.

I almost didn't go this morning. 5:30 am is awfully early to be getting up voluntarily. I sort of wished I would accidentally oversleep, but of course I didn't. So, remembering that I've never regretted a bike ride, I pushed myself out the door, loaded up the car (amazing how much stuff an RX-7 can stash) and headed to Baytown.

I'd had a bit of trouble finding the ride start last year because the internet directions, while not technically incorrect were not really complete, either. So this year I was pleased to find myself behind a Mercedes with a bike strapped to the back (how odd-looking is that?) and so I just drafted the last few miles to the start. I've found I can usually do this for a bike ride-- just find someone else with a bike and tail them, hoping they know more than I do. They usually do.

I was happy to be directed to a parking spot on the main park grounds, unlike last year when I had to park a few blocks away. I was able to leave everything in the car, walk to the registration table and get signed up, use the restroom and grab a few sugar-coated cookies before going back to my car to get set up to ride. Almost immediately I ran into a problem-- the valve stem on my rear tire broke off while I was airing up my tires. Luckily there was a bike shop doing repairs on site, so I had them replace my tube, since they had better equipment and more experience. I can change a tube myself, but not quickly.

I was ready to go just as they were sending off the 62 mile group. This meant no standing around, but it also meant I was in the back of the pack and had to deal with the slow and stupid newbie riders for the first few miles. You know it's bad when you find yourself shouting at the people in front of you, "We need to go fast enough that we don't fall over!"

I was concerned that I'd have some trouble with slow people on the Fred Hartman Bridge, but that part turned out nice. It's a beautiful suspension bridge that from a distance looks like giant sails in the morning mist. And then it's a long steady climb to the top, where all the cables make you feel like you've somehow gotten yourself stuck inside one of those geometric things we used to make in grade school in the '70s with wood, nails and string. It's kind of cool. And the downhill is great, although once I got up to 30 mph I started hitting the brakes a bit so I wouldn't pick up any more speed. It was too early in the ride for riders to be spread out very much and I was worried I might have to react quickly to dumb moves by newbie riders.

After the bridge the ride winds through some refineries and chemical plants for a couple of miles. This is definitely one of the low parts of the course. Not to mention stinky. But the refineries are intriguing too, in a ghastly sort of way that's kind of hard to explain. They are beautiful in their ugliness and very, very disturbing, dotted all over with blinking lights as if in perparation for some perverse industrial holiday.

Soon after we're past the refineries we come to San Jacinto State Park. This is a good bit, where we go past the San Jacinto Monument, commemorating Texas' 1836 victory over Mexico to become an independent nation. Then we pass the Battleship Texas. Very nice. But those who have done this ride before also know that this is their last chance to pass a few more people before having to wait for the ferry. So I upped my speed a bit and passed a lot of people, including my husband's cousin Jerry, who must've started a lot further up in the pack because I'm a faster rider than he is.

And then it was time to wait for the Lynchburg ferry. We all hate the delay, and this is the only ride I do where we have to actually get on a boat. Compounding the problem, there was only one ferry running, so instead of a twenty minute wait like last year, I waited nearly an hour. If I do this ride again next year, I'll have to make sure I'm in the lead pack at the ride start. Waiting around is no fun at all.

Once we were off the ferry, the real ride began. It was a very nice route without a lot of long boring stretches that go on for miles. I hate those. A few wildflowers are beginning to pop up, which made a nice contrast to the overcast skies. And I liked the way the route wound around through various types of scenery-- farms, old neighborhoods, new construction, empty fields and scrubland, a bit of coast.

With about 20 miles to go, I came up on a guy riding a bike with a little trailer attached and a floppy-eared dog riding in it. What a cutie! The dog had a piece of carpet to rest on, and he would stand up for awhile, enjoying the wind in his ears, and then lie down and rest a bit. I'm always amused by people who take their pets on rides. One year at the Goliad ride, a woman was carrying a little dog in a basket on the front of her bike. I wonder if Tidbit would like to go for a bike ride? Somehow, I don't think she would.

With 15 miles to go, some old riding buddies caught up to me. We had just started exchanging pleasantries when Phil got a flat and had to pull over. Had I been riding with their group all along, I would've hung out and waited while he changed it. But I wasn't riding with them and the long ferry wait had put me behind schedule. If I was going to finish in time to go have Indian food with Dan, I needed to keep going. So after making sure Phil had what he needed to fix his tire and being assured by his buddies that all was well, I continued on.

By this point I could really feel the lack of recent road experience. My shoulders had been cramping for several miles and my lower back was hurting. You know, I work these areas in my weekday morning workouts, so what gives? Specificity is everything, I guess. By this point my hamstrings were hurting and my legs were tired, too. And I couldn't remember if this course was accurately measured in the past or not. I've ridden 62 mile courses that turned out to be as short as 59 or as long as 70. I really didn't know what I had left in my legs, but I knew I didn't have time to be a princess about it, so I abandoned all sense of caution and hammered the last 15 miles, passing people the whole way.

In all, I was really happy with how this ride went. For my first time back on the road in over four months, it was a very strong ride with a strong finish. I really need to get out on the road more and work on my mental game. There were so many times when I wanted to slow down or switch to a shorter course. There were a lot of times I thought about stopping. I found myself counting the tenths of miles on my bike computer as I rode, even though I had thirty or forty miles left to go. Not good. I've obviously been off the roads too long. There's no reason I should have to struggle mentally so much when I wasn't truly tired or in pain. Okay, I was tired and in pain, but only minimally so. Not enough to justify thinking about cutting the course or hitching a ride on the SAG wagon. I couldn't have done the last fifteen miles as fast as I did if I'd been truly depleted.

In short, my legs are in pretty good shape but I need to get my brain back in training.

I drove home from the ride feeling like I was still on the bike, wanting to make all kinds of aggressive sprints and passing maneuvers. I made it home safely anyway. And after a quick shower, I got to have my Indian food. So all is right with the world.

This Past Week's Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes core/strength training; evening massage-- no workout
Tuesday: 45 minutes core/strength training; 30 min elliptical, 2 miles treadmill
Wednesday: 45 minutes core/strength training; 45 min bike Spinervals 4.0 "Muscle Breakdown"
Thursday: 45 minutes core/strength training; 30 min elliptical, 3 miles treadmill
Friday: 45 minutes core/strength training; endurance laundry-- had to carry it all over the complex because the laundry rooms on my side are being renovated
Saturday: Gator Ride, 62 miles, 16.5 mph avg (those slow parts on turns and at lights and rest stops really eat into your average-- I was at 18 and above most of the time)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I love a good story! Posted by Hello

Tidbit's Story

When my previous rabbit died last July, I was nowhere near ready for a new bunny, although I knew I wanted another one someday.

One day, while surfing adoptables on the web (just seeing what was out there- no intention to adopt yet) I came across a sad-looking little creature on the county shelter's website. It was a scrawny little thing, so thin its head appeared too big for its body. It was peeking out of a cardboard box as if it was afraid of what it might find in the larger world.

It was no beauty, but this bunny moved me in a way that none of the fat, sleek and happy rabbits on other sites had done. I checked the admission date. The little runt had been in gaol for more than two weeks. Oh dear. No one was going to rescue such an ugly, skinny thing in time. Surely its days were numbered.

I tried to put the depressing thought out of my mind, but I couldn't. My thoughts kept returning to that scared little face peeking out of the box.

Oh, hell.

So I drove to the county shelter. I asked about the rabbit. The girl at the counter consulted her computer in some surprise. "It's still here?" she said. "We usually don't keep animals that long."

A man came and led me through throught a labyrinth of noisy, smelly dogs to a tiny kennel at the very end of a long row of cages. The barking and whining of dogs was omnipresent, and this was the only rabbit in the joint.

Poor thing.

And there it was. A little white rabbit, peeking out at me from a beat-up, dirty box inside a concrete and iron kennel in the dog wing. I was beyond appalled. The bunny ran up to the bars of the cage as if it had been waiting for me. I had some grapes in my purse and passed one through the bars. It took the offering as delicately as a princess accepting an hors d'ouvre from a silver tray.

"What do you think?" my guide asked me.

"I don't know."

That wasn't entirely true. I knew a few things. I knew this rabbit couldn't stay here. I knew it deserved better. I knew I could provide for it. But what I didn't know was if I was ready. My heart still hurt for my recently deceased bunny pal. I wasn't ready for a new friend.

But this bunny didn't have time for me to be ready. I returned to the lobby feeling sick. Ready or not, I was committed. I couldn't just walk away now.

"How much for the rabbit?" I asked the receptionist.

She didn't know. They didn't usually have rabbits. (I'd figured that much from the inappropriate food in the kennel. No wonder the bunny was so thin.)

"How about fifteen?" the receptionist finally said, after consulting her boss.

I paid. No paperwork. No questions. I could've been buying this rabbit to feed to my sister's python for all they knew. They just wanted it off their hands. So after what seemed an eternity, they brought me that skinny, ugly little rabbit in a cardboard carrier.

I hurried across town to my exotics vet and dropped it off, since the vet was in surgery and couldn't see it for a few hours. They called me at home just as they were closing to say it was a girl, she was healthy except for ear mites, and I could pick her up tomorrow.

It would seem I now had a new rabbit, and I had no idea how I felt about that.

So I picked her up after work the next day. They had shaved some of the fur on butt, since it was dirty and matted. They had cleaned her up a bit and said she loved timothy hay. No problem there. I still had a big box of it from my last bunny.

I took the new bunny home and let her out of the carrier. She exited cautiously and began investigating the living room. First slowly, then faster and faster as she grew confident that she was in a safe place. By her third pass around the room, she was almost leaping off the furniture. I couldn't help but be amused.

After that, she settled down to eat. And barely came up for three days. Seriously. She weighed only four pounds when I brought her home, and her fur was thin and rough. Two weeks later when I took her back to the vet for a follow-up on her ear mites, she weighed 6.5. Six months later she was beautiful, sleek and fat, weighing in at a correct and proper 7.5.

Which one of us could lose half their appropriate body weight and live? She should've been in a bunny graveyard.

I admit it took me a few weeks to warm up to Tidbit. (I named her when she was still quite small.) But once she got a little meat on her bones and came to understand that there would always be plenty to eat, she could relax a bit. Her personality started to come out and she proved to be a real snugglebunny. She loves laps, pockets, and being held close. She comes when called and dances in circles around my legs. She wags her tail when she's excited and stomps one of her big back feet when she's scared, annoyed or just wants us to notice her. She naps on her side or on her back, belly up, trusting us completely. She even likes the cat, although he's way too cool to admit he likes her, too.

We're not sure how old Tidbit is. Rabbits' teeth grow througout their lives, so you can't get a read on their age that way. But we think she's about two. Obviously I hope she's around for a very long time. She's nothing but pure fun. Every day she lets me know how happy she is to be here with us. And when she goes to wherever sweet bunnies go when their short lives are over, I know I'll take comfort in having worked a little miracle in her life.

You just never know when your lucky day might come!