Sunday, July 31, 2005


My twenty-year high school reunion was this weekend.

I know a lot of people skip such functions for various reasons-- they say they didn't like the people they went to school with, they think nobody liked them, or they're just "too cool" to do reunions.


I've found that I learn a lot from these functions.

The ten-year showed me why I never quite fit in. I was on the fringes of half a dozen cliques without really being a member of any of them. At the time, I thought there was something wrong with me. But the ten-year reunion showed me that the problem wasn't me, it wasn't them, it was just the natural outcome of my personality. I'm not a joiner and my personality seems to be a random combination of intense focus followed by sudden abandonments and reversals of interest. I was flighty in high school and well into my twenties. If I stayed interested in a boyfriend for more than two weeks, it was noteworthy. I'm not good at being exclusionary. I had brainy friends, creative friends, slacker friends and every kind of friend in between. None of that made me good clique material, but it helped me move between cliques easily.

The ten-year reunion helped me come to terms with this and it set the stage for my acceptance a few years later, that I'm an introvert by nature and that's okay. Living in an extroverted society, an introvert like me gets so many messages that their instincts and needs are wrong. What a relief to realize that it really is all right that there are days when I can't bear to be around people, even the ones I love. What a revelation that there's nothing pathological about my need to hole up and recharge after spending time out in public, even if it's with the people I care about the most. So many things suddenly made sense, like the way college dorm life or working two jobs would drive me to a state of near-insanity. "Quit looking at me!" I would want to shout at random strangers, whether they were looking at me or not. "Just go away!"

Of course I never said such things, but my mind would scream them until I would truly wonder if I was losing my mind.

Once I learned to accept that I was an introvert and I didn't have to fight it, so many things fell into place. My confidence soared, the angst and squirreliness of trying to be what I wasn't dropped away, and I was finally able to organize my life in a way that would make me and the people around me happy. I have my ten-year reunion to thank for that because it provided benchmarks that set the stage for this deeper understanding of myself.

So what did I learn from my twentieth?

Well, I'm still taking stock and I think I'll still be parsing this a week or two from now. I'm just that kind of person. But my overwhelming impression was one of warmth and friendliness. People were less cliquish than before. People seemed happy just to see each other, and the stupidity of who was in which little status group seemed largely forgotten. People who never invited me to their parties were open and welcoming. People I had little to do with in school seemed glad to see me and I was glad to see them. There were people I would've loved to see, who weren't there. But there were people I hoped would be there who did show up, and it was wonderful. There was also a person I wanted to impress-- the tattered remnant of a twenty-one year old slight-- and once I saw this person, I realized I didn't give a damn what they thought because they so weren't worth the trouble. And the prettiest girl in our class paid me a compliment, although twenty years ago she wouldn't have deigned to speak to me unless she dropped her pencil and it rolled under my desk.

It was that sort of reunion.

I think we are starting to reach an age where we truly appreciate the people who knew us when we were young and stupid. There's something oddly comforting about that. We make so many friends as we go through life and of course many of our new friendships are intense, loving and long-lasting. But nothing can replace the person who "knew you when." It's a different quality of relationship and there is no substitute, no comparison. It's almost like family, only without so much baggage.

Reunions are a fascinating way of taking stock. It's like looking into a mirror at who you were and seeing how far you've come, what's changed and what has remained the same. The mirror is a little warped and dim, but the image that it reflects back is a valuable one. If you can't understand and come to terms with your past it will only be that much harder to move into the future.

In that song we sang in preschool, they never quite explained why we need to hang onto our old friends. Silver? Gold? What the heck is that supposed to mean? How can my friends be silver and gold? Should my friends be rich?

No, the only valuables you'll get from your old friends is insight. And a wise person realizes that this is more valuable than any riches that can be stored on earth.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Product Review - Carmichael Training Systems Video

Okay, so I bought a copy of Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) Climbing video about a year ago on ebay. My initial scan through it disappointed me. It didn't look like as much fun as Spinervals. And since I'm a creature of habit, I put the CTS video away.

Well, today I felt like doing something different, so I thought, "What the heck?" I popped in the video and here's my review:

It's technical. They want you to do a self-assessment so you can train within a certain heart rate range. Then throughout the video Chris goes around giving tips and explanations of various aspects of form, technique, even breathing! ("Concentrate on breathing out-- you'll breathe in naturally.") All of this is more involved that what Coach Troy takes you through on Spinervals.

On the down side, the tape is more boring than Spinervals. Chris doesn't joke around with the riders, doesn't urge them on or anything like that. He also doesn't give gearing advice-- he trusts you to choose your own gears based on where your heart rate needs to be. This is fine if you've been working out on a trainer for awhile and know what you need to do to get your heart rate up or bring it down, but if this had been my first bike training video, it would've been problematic and I don't know that I would've gotten as much out of it as I could've. The video quality is good, but unimaginitive. Unlike Spinervals, you get few closeups of the bikes or of the riders suffering. Sometimes the shots were in a sort of blue filter that made them look like something you'd see on a bad security video. I have no idea what's up with that. And finally, the CTS video doesn't have music during the hard sets, so be sure to play your own. Not that the Spinervals music is all that great (it rather sucks) but compared to the steady heartbeat-like thumping of the CTS video, Spinervals is Grammy material. Use your MP3. Or a CD. Or the radio. Something. Anything.

So how was the workout? Great! I sweated so much I felt like I was swimming. It was a deceptively simple workout, with relatively few sets, but they were all pretty long (5 minutes or more) and in big gears. Being more of an Ullrich than an Armstrong, this suited me fine. It suited me so well, in fact, that I... uh... did the video again when it was over. Seriously. I hope that doesn't make me some kind of hard-core triathlon freak.

Would I recommend this video? If you're an experienced rider with a good understanding of your heart rate numbers, VO2 max, etc, etc, yes. Similarly, if you've done a few Spinervals and feel like you know the drill, CTS will be a nice change and a good challenge. It's different, although I would hesitate to say it's better. It's like comparing speedwork to hill training-- they'll both make you faster, but you really can't say one is more effective than the other. They're just different.

Overall, I liked this video. I'll definitely do it again and I'm going to look into getting some of the other videos.

Ride fast, friends!

Today's Workout
Bike: 2 hours - CTS Climbing (60 min video, did it twice)

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I haven't been posting lately because not a lot has been going on. That's kinda good. With so much happening in the next few weeks it's nice to have some good down-time.

Last weekend's run was almost wholly uneventful. I did three loops on the bayou trail with some mandatory walk breaks where the trail was excessively mud-covered. I'm not talking about a little of the ordinary stuff. This was several inches thick and of the slippery-slimy variety that you can't run in and can barely walk through without having a foot slide out from beneath you. So I walked these parts. Carefully.

When Dan decided not to go to his cousin's vow renewal ceremony that afternoon, I shed no tears and gratefully settled in for a long Saturday post-run nap. We watched an old German movie later in the evening and stayed up late. We felt no need to hit the hay eary because we didn't like the look of the weather forecast for Sunday's Katy Flatlands ride and figured we'd just stay home instead. It turned out to be a good call because thunderstorms moved into the area around 11 the next day and my massage therapist (a Cat 3 cyclist) told me that they hit Katy around 10:30 as she was getting ready to head home. Since Mary is much, much faster than I am, I can safely assume that I would've been caught in the storm had I done the ride.

My workweek was meeting-rific, but low on boss interference. One boss was in meetings most of the time and the other was on vacation. We finished getting our current fiscal year records audit-ready and are starting on last year's records now. Ho-hum. How many more years of this before I can retire?

I got my hair cut, but I'm not sure if I like it. The guy cut it a lot shorter than I really wanted and about an inch shorter than I thought we had agreed on. He fixed the bangs though, which means when I brush them out of my face, they stay that way. That's pretty cool. And the hairstyle is really quite nice, modern and versatile. It's just shorter than I've had it since '98 and I still find it a bit weird. I don't freak out over these things like I would've when I was younger, though. Age, experience and a nice assortment of hair products really boost a gal's confidence. I can style almost any cut a hundred different ways, and at least a dozen of them are sure to make me happy.

Today's long run featured a baby bunny and... turtles!

I did my old Memorial Drive to Chimney Rock route after a loop around the bayou trail, which was where I saw the tiny cottontail learning where to find the best grass. Then I ran up Memorial Drive, past the bike and running loops. Just beyond the railroad tracks, I noticed they had leveled and laid down some gravel on the little unofficial trail that some of us have made between the official park trail and the turn off Memorial to the polo grounds. Having a finished trail was nice because with all the rain we've had I was expecting that portion of the run to be like soup. Instead it was nice, well-drained gravel with no sucking mud or branches to trip me up. When I got to the intersection of Memorial and the 610 Loop I found the streetlights out, which made crossing a bit of an adventure, but the run up to Chimney Rock was nicer than I'd remembered, not having done it for awhile.

One problem I kept having today involved my fuel belt. I've had it a few years and one of the elastic bottle holders has gotten loose and misshapen. Today it was at the point of no return and I kept losing one of my stupid bottles. On the third time, about half a mile from Chimney Rock, I decided enough was enough. I carried it in my hand until I reached a little office building with a pond and benches that I had passed many times before. I figured it would be a good place to stop in case I needed a bench to set things on while I devised a temporary fix for my fuel belt. As it turned out, the bench was too wet to be of any use and I didn't need to set anything down after all. I had a baggie in my fuel belt pocket that I always keep there in case I run across some nice looking clover or dandelions for the bunny. I made a few strategic tears, twisted it into a long cord and wove it through the faulty bottle holder in a way that I can't really describe except to say that it held the bottle nicely. There's a reason my husband calls me MacGyver.

As I was leaving the little park I noticed a turtle sunning itself on a rock in the pond. I had no idea there were any animals in the pond, so I stopped to look at it. And almost immediately dozens of little turtle snouts appeared at the surface from points all across the pond and started moving toward me. Moments later I was surrounded by turtles, all looking at me expectantly with their solemn, hooded eyes. I guess now we know what the office workers there do with their leftovers from lunch, don't we? "I don't have anything for you," I informed them. I felt a little bad disappointing them, but life can be tough in a small pond.

And that's about all I have to say about anything tonight. I'm not feeling particularly philosophical, I have no words of wisdom for anyone, including myself. I'm still pondering and parsing a dream I had last weekend, but that's a matter for another time-- a time when I am feeling philosophical. Right now I'm just glad it's the weekend, glad Lance has won his last Tour and we can watch some real competition next year, and glad the random violence of the world has yet to happen here in my city. It's really not such a terrible thing to have a dull week.

Recent Workouts
Last Saturday: 15 mile run
Last Sunday: 1.5 hour bike, Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy (skipped last 30 min of 2 hour video)
Monday: 45 minute core and strength training, 4 mile run (speedwork)
Tuesday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run (brick), 45 minute bike - Spinervals 3.0 Suffer-O-Rama
Wednesday: 15 minute core workout, 45 minute elliptical
Thursday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run (brick)
Friday: 45 minute core and strength training
Saturday: 15 mile run

Friday, July 15, 2005

Celebrating one year! Posted by Picasa
Look who came to celebrate! Posted by Picasa
Dig in! Posted by Picasa
Great party! Posted by Picasa
Nice present! Posted by Picasa
My friends are so cool! Posted by Picasa

Rescue Day

Today marks one year since Tidbit came home from the shelter. Her friends threw her a little party to celebrate.

Enjoy, Tid! Thanks for being my little buddy.

In other news, the reports of rain and flooding in Houston are not exaggerated! For two days in a row I couldn't get to the campus building I needed to go to in order to drop off some important documents for signatures. Twice I needed to take alternate routes home and once none of my favorite alternates were available and I had to rely on the old "drive toward the big buildings and figure it out from there" standby from when I was eighteen and didn't know the city very well.

But there are advantages to living almost in the shadow of the downtown skyscrapers-- all roads eventually lead home.

They're predicting rain for the rest of the weekend, so we'll have to see how that impacts my plans, if at all. There's my usual Saturday morning long run, then there's the Katy Flatlands bike ride on Sunday. Saturday afternoon is Dan's cousin's vow renewal, which I'm not too hip on attending, so maybe it will be raining and Dan won't want to go. If he goes though, I'll go. It's the least I can do, since he's going to subject himself to a night of suburb-bred strangers and 80s pop music at my high school reunion later this month. My dear inner-city punk rocker is very brave!

And finally, we have a date for the burial of my grandmother's ashes. I will be going up to New England on August 5, returning on the 8th or 9th. I'm still trying to work out the return details but I hope to have that all figured out by the end of the weekend. My aunt and uncle have some mementos for me to sort through and I'll also be picking up a very lovely picture of my mother-- a picture my grandmother tried to give me years ago but that I refused to take while she was alive even though I wanted it very badly. Now it's mine and I need to figure out where I will put it.

And that's about all the excitement around here, other than a lot of office stuff that's of no interest to anyone besides me and my co-workers. And it's not all that interesting even to us.

Happy Rescue Day, Tidbit!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run, 35 minute bike - Spinervals 1.0 No Slackers Allowed
Wednesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 5 mile run
Thursday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run, 35 minute bike - Cyclerobx
Friday: 45 minutes core and strength training

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Y

I've always liked our downtown YMCA. It's an older building, tall and made of brown brick, carved up on the inside into lots of floors, hallways, stairwells and funny little rooms, some with colorful old mosaics, murals and interesting exposed piping. You never quite forget you're in an old building and you can get turned around in there pretty easily.

But what I like best is that it reminds me of the YWCA in Muncie, which is architecturally similar. One summer when I was a kid, my mother enrolled me in a day camp at the Muncie Y. We did a lot of fun things there. We played games and did sports during the morning, ate our lunches (brought from home) in a dark, funky room in the basement, then spent the afternoon doing crafts. Some of those crafts would be considered too dangerous for kids today because they involved wires and hot plastic. But I guess we had better sense than modern kids because no one got hurt and we all had a great time.

Our summer program also included swimming lessons. Unfortunately for me, I was prone to ear and throat infections and could not participate. In the '70s they didn't put tubes in a kid's ears, they just said to stay out of the water. So I and about a half dozen other kids who also couldn't get in the water for one reason or another would sit in the bleachers and watch the other kids swim. (The pool area was huge, with multiple pools and stadium seating.) During the swim lessons we non-swimmers were under the guardianship of a wonderful young man whose name I no longer remember. He was the first black man I had ever met and although I had been told by my father that black people were no different from anyone else, I felt pretty sure Daddy was wrong-- this guy was better! He told us jokes and stories. He taught us rhymes, tongue-twisters and games involving pieces of string. He taught us songs, too:

Jeremiah was a bullfrog,
He was a good friend of mine…

I don't know who this guy was and I have no idea what ever happened to him, but I wish there were a way I could pick up the phone and call him. I would tell him that he was the most fun ever and he kept a lot of four and five year olds from feeling sad while our friends got to splash in the water. He made us feel like we were the lucky ones. I would tell him that it took thirty years, but I finally learned how to swim and I do triathlons now. I would tell him I've never forgotten him and that he has a special place in my heart.

Joy to the world,
All the boys and girls.
Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea,
Joy to you and me.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 90 minutes bike, Spinervals 5.0 Mental Toughness
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 5 mile run

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Weekend Musings

This morning I had a nice solid run. My legs felt a little heavy from having increased my mileage since coming back from vacation, but other than that it was a good run. The threat of rain kept things cool, so there was no repeat of last weekend's heat and humidity troubles. It was a pretty boring run, actually. I spent my time thinking about things, but didn't see anything interesting or unusual out there, except for the crowd of runners who gathered in the Shell station to have a group photo taken. I was in there filling my fuel belt bottles with cold water and couldn't figure out what the commotion was about. Why would you want your picture taken inside a gas station?

My parents took off for California today. They'll be there for two weeks, then in New Mexico for a week before returning to Texas at the end of the month. I haven't heard of their safe arrival, but I haven't heard of any plane crashes either, so I'm guessing they're having a good time. Let's hope those Southern California fault lines stay quiet!

And while natural disasters are on my mind, good luck to my friend Mark in Mobile! It looks like Dennis is heading for the Florida panhandle, but that's close enough to bring a lot of rain to southern 'Bamy, and hurricanes being the unpredictable things that they are, I'd hesitate to say Mobile is out of the woods quite yet. At the very least they look like they're in for a lot of rain and maybe some tornados.

And in the category of unnatural disasters, what's with the London bombings? Why do some people think blowing up ordinary citizens ever solves anything? Governments tend to respond to that sort of thing with a "kill anyone we think is a terrorist" campaign and things just go from bad to worse. I worry that we're living on the leading edge of a much more brutal and chaotic world and I don't like it.

This whole week was sort of unsettled, both in the macro and the micro.

At the micro (personal) level, I had to deal with car issues, an assistant on vacation and lots of nuisance-quality things at work. And meetings. Lots of those. If one can guage one's importance by the number of meetings they're required to attend, I'm very important, indeed! Unfortunately, meetings seem to rarely be more than a whole lotta talk while the real work goes undone. If everyone could stay on topic and get to the point, we could reduce the time we spend in meetings by at least half, if not a whole lot more.

Here's how a typical meeting might go in my perfect world:

Organizer: Did everyone read the list of things to do ahead of the audit?
Attendees: Yes.
Organizer: Have you started working on these items?
Attendees: Yes.
Organizer: Any problems or questions?
Attendees: No.
Organizer: Great! Here's a deadline for having FY05 items audit-ready, and here's a deadline for FY04. Call if you have questions or if I can help in any way. Meeting adjourned!

Now why is that so hard?

Okay, since I was tagged earlier this week by Wil to reveal my addictions, I guess I had better 'fess up. The odd truth of the matter is that I'm in a highly unusual addiction-free spell right now. It's cool but weird at the same time. So I'll answer by listing some of my past addictions:

  • Animal Cookies

  • Baker's Breakfast Cookies

  • Chocolate-covered coffee beans

  • Peanut Butter Puffins cereal

  • Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chip Puffins cereal bars

  • Cinnamon graham crackers

  • Peanut butter-oatmeal no-bake cookies (homemade)

  • Whole Foods "oreos"

  • Ginger snaps

Uh... anyone notice a pattern here?

Hopeless sugar addict? Me? You don't say!

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run, 45 minute bike - Spinervals 3.0 Suffer-O-Rama
Wednesday: 45 minute core and strength training, 5 mile run
Thursday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run, 35 minute bike - Cyclerobx
Friday: 45 minute core and strength training
Saturday: 15 mile run

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day! Posted by Picasa

Fourth of July

My holiday started at 4:30 am so we could get our bikes and gear together, drive 50 miles to the ride start and be there with enough time to register and get ready to ride. I half-expected Dan to bail out on me, but he didn't and we were off to points north!

We found the ride start-- a small private school for mentally challenged children -- with only minor difficulties, hidden as it was in the woods and on the opposite side of the road from where my internet driving instructions had told me to look. No matter, we arrived in good time, parked under a tree and got our ride packets which included red, white and blue tie-dye looking t-shirts and a little artsy-craftsy pin of red white and blue stars. I didn't know what to do with the pin, so I attached it to my dashboard cover, along with the flourescent bicycle pin I got at a ride last year. If this keeps up, I'll have an entire collection!

We leisurely put our bikes together and selected the bottles, gels and supplements we wanted to take while listening to other riders talk about Lance Armstrong. Then I wandered off to find a restroom (running water-- hooray!) and annoy the cats that were slinking around watching all the activity. The school seemed nice, but obviously in need of more funding, which made me feel better about the rather steep $40 fee. It's one thing to do a charity ride, another thing entirely to actually see the operation your money is helping, especially when it's a small local place.

And how appropriate is it that a school for the mentally challenged was putting on a bike ride during a heat wave? Should they or we be signing up as clients?

After the head of the Woodlands cycling club gave a long-winded point-by-point description of the route map we all had in our pockets, we set off just a bit after 7:30. It was a very pleasant route with plenty of shade and smooth pavement. Constables cleared the intersections for us when we rode through the little town of Willis and again when we had to cross the freeway. Nice.

It was a 31 mile route, so if you wanted to do a metric, you had to ride it twice. That was my plan, as I set out. We started off with a tailwind and a lot of downhills, but soon had to settle in to the real work of some long inclines. A guy in a red jersey and I kept passing each other on the way up to the turnaround. He would get me on the technical things like railroad tracks and steep downhills with a tight turn at the bottom, then I would catch him on the uphills. I may not be fast, but I'm a steady hill climber and always have been. After we made our little turnaround and headed back toward the school, I passed him again. "I'll see you in a few!" he shouted.

"Sure!" I called back in a friendly way. But mentally I added, "Like hell you will." I hammered the next few hills with my hamstrings protesting that it was only our first run at hills this season, but it worked. I didn't see Mr. Redjersey again until the finish.

Heading back to the school, the wind was starting to pick up. I had been able to stay above 18 mph on the way out, but now the gusts of hot wind put me down to 15 and 16 on the flats, 12 and even 9 on the steeper hills. I'm embarrassed to say I had to use my small chainring, something that never happens when I'm in good hill form. I was less than a mile from finishing the 31 mile route when I saw a girl stopped on the side of the road. I slowed down and asked if she needed any help, but she said she was resting. Wow. She must've been pretty tired to need to rest with the finish just over the next hill!

And then I was done. I turned in on the gravel driveway, rested the bike against a fence and joined a few other riders around the water coolers. The water was so cold and so good! And now with no more self-generated breeze, I realized that it was pretty hot out. I was completely drenched, which I hadn't noticed before. Other riders came in and no one seemed interested in doing another loop. They were standing around talking about their plans for later in the day, laughing, discussing how they would enjoy the holiday.

Holiday? Hm. Yes, it was a holiday, wasn't it? I had thoroughly enjoyed this little bike ride, but would I enjoy doing it again as the temperature climbed and the wind increased? Would I enjoy working my hamstrings to exhaustion instead of leaving myself fresh for the week's training? Would I enjoy feeling like I had to push myself every mile of the way because Dan was waiting while I rode another 31 miles?

Somehow, I just didn't think doing a second loop would be nearly as much fun as the first, so I decided to call it a day. I felt like a total wimp, but as the cheerful voices all around me kept remindng me, it was a holiday and I was supposed to be having fun. A hard training ride could wait for another day.

Dan and I went for lunch at our Indian restaurant, then spent the afternoon napping, making up for the previous night's 1:30 am bedtime and 4:30 am wakeup call. Then we spent a lazy evening at home, periodically asking each other if we should go out to our usual fireworks-watching spot at Rice University. Somehow, we just didn't feel like we had to keep that nine year old tradition. And as it turns out, we were rewarded! We were able to watch the Galleria fireworks from our kitchen window and the downtown fireworks from the balcony outside our door. All these years of driving to see fireworks and there were two great shows right here at home!

I guess it's true what the say, that sometimes what you're looking for is right in your own back yard.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 3 mile run, 2 mile walk
Monday: 31 mile bike ride - hills

Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's Not The Heat...

It started out to be a good run.

I got a massage yesterday because I was so stiff and sore from recently increasing my mileage that I knew I'd be miserable today if I didn't get Mary to fix me up. And she did, miracle worker that she is.

It helped, but other forces were at work.

So like I said, it started out to be a good run. Even though they've been putting up tents and fences around parts of the bayou trail in preparation for the July 4 festivities, I decided to start with the bayou loop, figuring the trails were probably not blocked off yet. I saw my cottontail in his usual spot and noticed he had acquired a few friends. Yay, bunnies! I was a little concerned for them because of all the dry brown grass from a month of no rain, but rabbits have evolved to live on dry grass, so I'm sure they're fine. If I remember though, maybe I'll take them some greens next weekend.

As I got closer to Sabine, the annual fencing was up and I saw where the fireworks had been staged. Coming up the Allen Parkway side of the trails, I had to weave through some tents, but nothing was blocked off to us. I don't know if they leave the trails open to be nice or what, but I'm always glad of it. Even on festival days, they let the runners through until almost the last minute. We're a pretty harmless lot, I suppose.

I had an urge to run through River Oaks today, which turned out to be a good idea because of all the shade afforded by the big trees and fancy landscaping that rich people can so easily afford. Just as I turned into the neighborhood, I noticed a Team In Training water/Gatorade setup and two volunteers. Aha, that explains all the crowds of runners out on the trails, although it doesn't explain what they're training for. It's too early to be doing long mileage in preparation for the Houston Marathon. New York, maybe? San Antonio?

I also noticed that the volunteers had two tiny kittens at their feet, so of course I stopped to check them out. They were tiny, damp and dirty. The volunteers said they were keeping them for one of the runners, who had found them abandoned. Poor things. We runners and cyclists seem to always be finding abandoned animals. My massage therapist (a Cat 3 cyclist) and her training buddies find puppies and kittens all the time. I can't think how often I've been out on a ride and noticed some guy pedaling along with a kitten poking out of his jersey pocket, a little souvenir of his ride. And my first bunny was one Dan and I found abandoned at the park after an evening run.

Good thing for America's abandoned pets that so many of us like animals, I guess.

So after I checked out the kittens, I went into River Oaks and ran a few of my usual loops. When I ran low on water, I ran up to St John Episcopal on a hunch that I could refuel there. I guessed right, but I don't think I'll make the church a regular stop because I felt very out of place, damp and dirty in such a quiet and clean place. Not that Jesus would've cared, of course, but just the same I think I'll put St John's on my "Emergency Use Only" list.

As I was nearing the last of my River Oaks loops and had gone about ten miles I started to notice my thoughts turning often to thoughts of ice-cold water, canteloupe, popsicles and chilly hikes on Monhegan Island. I was disappointed that the sprinklers, which had seemed to be running at every house on my first pass through, were now off. My legs weren't particularly tired, but my body was starting to get kind of fussy, suggesting that it was time to either head home or find a cold water fountain.

Ah, a cold water fountain. I knew of two within a two-mile radius, but both posed problems for my scheduled route and mileage. I had time to think though, so I trotted along, increasingly thirsty for cold water, not the warm stuff in my bottles, unable to come up with any sort of decision as to how to finish my run. Going back around the bayou sounded like the most fun, but there was no cold water, just the lukewarm stuff. Kroger had cold water, but didn't work into my route very well. The Shell station on Memorial had cold water, but I didn't want to run on treeless Memorial on such a warm day.

Decisions, decisions. Why could I not make up my mind?

I finally decided to go up to the Shell station and maybe to the picnic loop to see the cyclists afterwards. But once I'd had some cold water and filled my fuel belt bottles with the same, I just couldn't stomach the notion of going anywhere but home. Well, it was pretty warm out and I didn't feel as coordinated as I usually am. Not scary-stumbly or anything, just a little sluggish and more prone to trip than usual.

So I headed home.

Just as I got near the footbridge that would put me in the park by my apartment, I noticed an ambulance and fire truck up ahead. Curious and worried that a runner I knew might be hurt, I picked up my pace. (Odd. My legs still had plenty of spunk, so why the general sluggishness?) When I got to the ambulance, I saw a young female runner sitting inside, sweaty and exhausted, talking with the medics. I guess she collapsed and someone called 911. Not surprising on a day like this. Good thing they sent a fire truck. Maybe they could hose her down.

Suddenly it occurred to me that even though it was only ten o'clock, it was pretty darn warm out and the trails had nearly emptied of runners and cyclists.

I went home and found Dan on the computer. "Heat index is going to get up to 110 today," he remarked as I drank some cold water and stirred some dried cranberries into a jar of yogurt.

"Hm." I wasn't too impressed. It's been like that all week. "What is it right now?" I took some bags of frozen corn out of the fridge so I could ice down my legs.


88? That's it? I shouldn't have died on a long run at only 88. Wow, am I a wuss or what?

"Heat index, 98."

Oh. Well that explains everything, doesn't it? All of a sudden I didn't feel so bad that I had shorted my run by about 2-3 miles.

After I iced down and showered, I got ready to go have Indian food while watching the Tour prologue. I guess Lance showed Jan, didn't he? Poor Jan. If Lance hadn't survived cancer, Jan would've been the greatest cyclist of his generation.

It's always something, isn't it? No matter what your gifts and blessings in life, you still can't take anything for granted. Jan did, Lance didn't and the rest is history.

In other news, Dan got some German silent films for us to watch this weekend, and he also found a July 4 organized ride for us in Conroe. I suspect it will be over some of the route from last fall's half ironman, so that ought to be fun!

Recent Workouts
Wednesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 4 mile run
Thursday: 1000 meter swim, 1 mile run (brick), 35 minute spin (Cyclerobx)
Friday: 45 minutes core and strength training
Saturday: 13 mile run