Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

And silly rabbits like me!

Yes, I went for a run around mid-day today. And yes, it was pretty darn warm out-- sunny and in the 80s. But I have a high heat tolerance and there was a cool breeze blowing, so it was all good. I had thought I didn't really want to run because my quads were tight, but when I couldn't get a free place to park near the Y this morning, I decided to just come home, go for a run and deal with it. So many other people were out, running and on bikes, that it seemed silly not to join them. And once I got moving I felt all right. It wasn't one of my better runs, but it was solid.

I might do something else tonight, but I still haven't made up my mind. I've spent several days in one of those moods where doing anything at all seems like too much of a hassle to bother. I'm not depressed or anything, just vaguely annoyed with everything and everyone.

Must be hormones. I'll get over it.

I'm thinking of taking the day off tomorrow, just to stay home and nurse my massive case of indifferenciosis and its attendant symptoms of surliness and general grumpiness. But as a half-Hispana, I would hate for anyone to think I'm not working because I'm out supporting illegal immigration. Damn. Over three hundred years of ancestry in what is today the United States, and a bunch of upstarts have me worried I'll make a bad impression by taking a day off from work! How fair is that?

Hey, did I ever mention here that I qualify for Daughters of the American Revolution on my Hispano side of the family? Yeppers! My Montoya ancestors gave money in support of the rebel colonists. And got the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo as payback less than a hundred years later. Oh well. So my Pilgrim-descended ancestors screwed over my Conquistador-descended ancestors. There are few real heroes in history.

Today's Workout
5 mile run

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Stormy Weather

This was a gym morning, if ever there was one. When I went to bed, Doppler was showing a line of storms around Austin, heading this way. When I woke up, it looked like it was somewhere around Katy-- not far at all. It was one of those serious storm lines, full of reds and yellows. When I looked outside, the sky was full of those gray, lumpy clouds that always carry the potential for tornadoes.

No outdoor running for me!

And since Dan decided to sleep in, setting up the trainer and popping in a Spinerval video was also out of the question.

Needing something to justify my Saturday Indian Food indulgence, I headed down to the gym for a few hours of what I call "fifteens." These are fifteen-minute cardio sessions, making a circuit of three or four "favorite" pieces of equipment. My reasoning is that I can tolerate anything short of massive arterial hemorrhaging for fifteen minutes.

So today I chose elliptical, stair stepper, treadmill and bike. It went very well, no horrible, screaming mental boredom. And the rain gushed down so hard that there were times when the windows of the gym were simply awash in water, as if someone had turned a huge garden hose on the building. Couldn't see a thing!

As I reached the 2.5 hour point, some women came in with their wild, undisciplined children and proceeded to let them run amuck through the gym, romping around on the equipment like it was some sort of playground. I really hate this! Are some people really that stupid, or are they hoping Lil' Pweshus will get hurt using a weight machine like monkey bars and then they can sue? I sure was glad to have earplugs and to be almost done with my workout!

In all, my three hours of "fifteens" turned out well. The only thing I would do differently is take an extra pair of workout clothes with me. I got really sweaty and was trapped by the rain, so I couldn't go home and change. Leaving a little trail everywhere you go may be par for the course and even a badge of honor on the running trails in summer, but at the gym, it's kind of nasty.

Oh, well. I earned my Indian food! And tomorrow promises to be a beautiful day!

Today's Workout
45 minute elliptical
45 minute stair stepper
45 minute treadmill
45 minute stationary bike

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Spring Sinuses

Well, I am definitely am suffering from allergies. There is a fine haze everywhere and the whole left side of my face hurts. It makes it hard to think and even harder to do my job, which does at times require that I think.

So I didn't feel too bad about leaving a little early today, since I was just getting slower and slower, grumpier and grumpier, accomplishing less and less as the day wore on. But when I stepped outside, it was sunny out, with a soft cool breeze like fresh sheets on a summer day. No matter how my body felt, it was obvious that running was not optional.

I went to Memorial Park and did four miles. It was one of those runs where you never really feel strong or fast, but since the temps were so nice, it really didn't matter too much. And since I'd taken a Singulair in the morning, my lungs stayed clear, sort of. Or rather, my lungs kept clearing themselves, meaning every quarter mile or so, I would find myself hacking and gagging as the medication made me bring up the nasty fluids that tried to collect in my lungs. Very attractive. Not to mention that it totally messed up the rhythm of my breathing.

Not one of my better runs, by a long shot.

But hey, it was a pretty day. And as I said, it was not a "running-optional" sort of afternoon.

They're predicting rain this weekend and if it will clear the air of pollens and pollutants, it can't come soon enough for me. I'm tired of my face hurting, and I hate having to take pills so I can breathe.

I'll quit whining about it now.

Did I mention the air was soft today, the flowers were blooming and the butterflies were out?

Not such a bad day, at all!

Today's Workout
4 mile run

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

One Flower

A guy from another department in our building was going around handing out flowers from his garden yesterday. The one he gave me was a bit windblown and a few of its petals were tinged with brown, but the smell! OMG! I put it in a vase and set it in the window, and that one tiny little flower made my whole office smell good! Hard to believe so much wonderful scent can come out of something so small and nondescript.

I came home a little early today. I just wasn't feeling very good, and since I'd put in a productive morning/early afternoon already, I figured it was better to come home and take a long nap. I can't tell if I've got an allergic sinus thing going on or if I'm trying to get sick, but with all the things I have going on at the office I didn't want to take a chance on feeling worse Thursday or Friday.

I was very tempted to go for an afternoon run because the weather was so much cooler than it had been recently-- probably the last little cool front of the season. It was perfect running weather, but I just wasn't feeling it. So I ended up doing housework instead, of all things. What's up with that? I don't know why it is, but I feel so guilty if I'm home during work hours on a weekday that I always find myself compulsively cleaning things.

So I hope I feel a little better tomorrow. I'm deep in ProjectLand right now. But it beats the heck out of MeetingLandia, so I'm not complaining. Not much, at any rate.

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 4 mile run, 30 minute elliptical, 30 minute weights/core
Monday: rest - hip was hurting
Tuesday: 45 minute elliptical

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tidbit and her favorite (ugly) towel Posted by Picasa


As you can see, I've been a bit lazy about blogging lately. Mostly it's been due to a lack of things to say. Things have been quiet, but I'm not complaining.

I've been given some more projects at work-- fun, interesting projects that I'm excited about. Too bad people are keeping me in meetings all the time and I can't actually work on any of said projects. I'm still trying to understand the business mindset that increases your number of meetings each week as they add projects and other responsibilities to your plate. Many years ago I used to joke to one of my bosses that you can gauge your importance to the organization by the number of meetings you're required to attend. Sadly, I have yet to see evidence that this observation is in any way incorrect.

In tri-related endeavors, my hip is bothering me again, although I'm trying some new things that I think will have good long-term results if I can just be patient. In the meantime, it's putting a damper on my runs. And I'm trying to deal with a seemingly intractable problem with the rear wheel of my bike. It keeps flatting on me. I finally took it to the LBS out of frustration, thinking maybe I was missing something. I had checked the rim for evidence of something that might be puncturing my tube, but turned up nothing. The LBS found nothing either, but the new tube they put on is slowly leaking, just like all the others. I'm going to take the wheel to a different LBS and see what they say. I'm scared to take this bike on the road as it is. The trainer is fine, since I can always stop and add a little more air, but I'd like to get out and see some scenery.

In other news and observations, the Indian restaurant Dan and I go to on Saturdays has hired some more waitstaff-- more Latinos. They appear to be Central Americans, perhaps Guatemalans or Hondurans. They have a bit of a Mayan look about them. They're nice, polite young people, but it feels a little strange to be waited on by Latinos in a place where the staff used to be entirely Asian. Now the Indians and Nepalese are outnumbered and I've noticed they've added Spanish to the fifty-something languages they seem to know. Years ago when I was working on my undergraduate degree in Spanish, I read about a community in California where Indian immigrants had intermarried with local Californios (or was it Mexicans?). Anyway, they ended up with their own new cuisine and their Catholic religion developed some Hindu overtones. It was quite interesting. And to think I get to watch a similar cultural meld take place in my very own local Indian restaurant every Saturday!

And that's about it. I'm doing a lot of writing and my blogging is suffering by comparison. There are only so many hours in a day. But for those of you who are keeping up, I added another chapter to my novel, linkable through my profile. It's one of my favorite chapters because it contains a bar scene. Yeah, ten years in the restaurant business does leave you with a certain affection for things like that.

Today's Workouts
1 hour elliptical, 2 hour bike - Spinervals 9.0 Have Mercy

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Look who came to visit! Posted by Picasa
It's the Easter Bunny! Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 10, 2006

Much Ado About Nothing

Well, unbelievably, three of my four meetings today got cancelled! A key player was home with a sore throat, so that ended that.

And it was a good thing, because just as I predicted, all heck broke loose. I arrived at 7 am to find the emails already flying about a visa crisis with one of our foreign nationals. And things just got wackier as the day wore on. So it was a good thing I wasn't in meetings all day!

As it was, I got some important things done and the day just flew by. Only four more days, eight months and fifteen years to go!

I haven't decided on a workout tonight, but after Iron Benny's Ironman finish yesterday, I guess I've got no cause for whining about a little 30-45 minute cardio after my nap. Darn that Iron Benny! Please drop by and congratulate him if you've got a minute!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Night Blues

How am I not looking forward to Monday? Let me count the ways:

  • Meeting at 9:00

  • Meeting at 10:30

  • Meeting at 1:00

  • Meeting at 3:00 where I've been asked to present

Well. Am I just the most popular girl in the class, or what?

When am I supposed to actually do my job tomorrow? When am I supposed to reconcile March accounts? When am I supposed to eat? And more importantly, when am I supposed to goof off? With a meeting schedule like this, you just know there will be at least one major crisis that will throw everything else into tizzy. Guaranteed.

So what are the chances I can develop the Bird Flu in the next 12 hours? Just the 24 hour variety, of course. Nothing too serious.

I know, you're probably wondering why I don't just cancel a meeting or two. I've thought about it. But they're all meetings that I want to see happen. Each one of them, except the mandatory 3:00, is one I've been trying to schedule for over a week now so I can get information I need in order to move forward on stalled projects. So in a way, this suits my purpose. If I survive tomorrow, I should be able to have a hugely productive week and make a lot of progress on all three of my major projects. I might even bring a couple of them to a conclusion by Friday.

But… a whole day spent in meetings? There's something very sick and twisted about that. Isn't this why the Roman Empire fell? Oh, wait-- that was noun declensions. Equally abhorrent, but quite different.

I guess tomorrow calls for a suit, don’t you think?

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 30 minute elliptical, 45 minute core and strength training


Aha. You see, I'm burying this quietly underneath another post in the hope you don't pay this one much mind.

I don't know how long I'll keep this stuff posted, when or if I'll post more, etc, etc. I feel very vulnerable and exposed putting it up in the first place. But…

I've put the first three chapters of my completed novel draft onto a separate blog. No, I'm not going to link it here. It's a draft and I feel shy enough about it already. Follow the link in my profile, if this sort of thing interests you.

It is currently my intention to add chapters as I edit them until or unless I get bored with the project. While I still intend to pursue publication for this novel, I am so caught up in editing this first manuscript and working on the second novel in what has become a trilogy (how'd that happen?) that I'm running out of hours in the day.

So blog posting is it for the very immediate future. If I slack on posting additional chapters and anyone gets antsy about it, let me know. It's a finished manuscript. There's plenty more where this came from.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Blustery Day

What odd weather for April! This morning was all sunny and sparkly, seemingly a perfect day to be outside, except for a very strong, cold wind. So in spite of the fact that I was running in lightweight shorts and shimmel just the other day, it was long compression shorts and a long-sleeved wicking shirt today. But at least with cooler weather, I didn't have to take water with me. My fuel belt sometimes aggravates my hip, so I try not to wear it unless I have to.

Today I wore my GPS and did some more scouting on the new bayou trails. This time I made sure to stay on the trail that looked like it went to the downtown University of Houston campus. I was correct that this was where it would end up, and I got to see some ducks along the way, too. There weren't many of them, but I hope they're busy making baby ducks so that one day there will be whole flocks of them along the way. That would be fun to see.

I'm not sure how accurate my mileage read was through the new section of trail because the trail meanders under a lot of the elevated freeways, blocking my signal. But that was cool too-- bayou below, trails going down to the water, alternate trails going up to just below the street, stairs going all the way up to the street, freeway overhead… I don't know why I find such multi-layered activity interesting, but I do.

I just can't get over how clean, attractive and pleasant these new trails are. There were other runners on them this morning, as well as a few walkers and mountain bikers. I hope enough of us use them and advocate for their upkeep that they stay nice. I think they're part of some larger plan by the city to do something similar to San Antonio's Riverwalk with our bayou. Crazy idea, that. It's one thing to walk or run along the bayou, but honestly I can't imagine wanting to sit next to it (especially in one of our summers!) and eat a meal. But we'll see what happens.

One of the trails put me almost directly behind the place I worked twenty years ago. What memories that brought back! It was my first time out from under the restrictions of school and parents, and everything was new and shiny and begging to be explored. I hardly knew what to do or grab at first, but I was determined to experience everything all at once or die trying. I must have been terribly obnoxious. But it was so much fun! I think everyone has a summer like that.

And then we get a little older, gain a few experiences, and not every little thing is infused with the magic of being new and full of strange and exciting possibilities. We seek out long-term satisfactions instead of the intoxicating whim of the moment. But we can all still take a childlike delight in the things that matter. Things like glorious spring days full of sunshine, flowers and yes, maybe a brisk, cold wind, just to keep us from getting complacent.

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 60 minute elliptical, 10.5 mile run
Friday: scheduled rest day
Thursday: 20 minute spin, 30 minute elliptical

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Happy Trails

When I got home today I decided to go for a quick run before I had a chance to start thinking of excuses not to do it. So I headed down to the bayou trails and began running east toward downtown, expecting it to be much of the same old. But as I approached the Sabine Street bridge, I realized that the new stairs were finally open and free of yellow tape. And because all runners like to go exploring, I went to investigate.

The stairs led to a finally-reopened stretch of neatly paved trail that headed into downtown. It went past the Aquarium, past the Wortham Theater, dipping and rising and twisting back on itself as it gave seemingly endless options for running up stairs or inclines, at street level or below, past waterfalls and canoe launches, around benches, mulberry trees, and little nooks where one or two people could stand and look at the bayou, at daffodils or at other sections of meandering trail.

Most junctures were marked by signs, vaguely art deco, with a buffalo on them and discreet arrows pointing the way to parks, theaters, parking lots, business district and even University of Houston's downtown campus. To the best of my knowledge the university had never been accessible via these trails before, so I'll have to investigate more thoroughly and check if it's really possible now. That would make for a very nice run, and one where I would almost certainly be able to find easy access to water fountains and restrooms. Because you see, that was my only complaint whatsoever with the new (and newly reopened) sections of trail-- no water fountains. But I did see a lot of shiny capped-off pipes in places that looked perfect for water fountains, so maybe those will come later. I hope so. Because for now, these sections of trail are strictly BYOB. Although I suppose if we really want to get picky about it, you're never far from a restroom and water fountain at 5:00 on a weekday afternoon if you're in the shadow of an office tower. You just have to find dehydration more embarrassing than walking into an office building in sweaty running clothes, which I do.

But that wasn't necessary today. I made a few wrong turns and found I couldn't get to the trail that led toward the university without having to retrace a lot of distance. And since I had left a note for Dan saying I would only be gone an hour, I figured I had better head back. So I wandered my way up stairs, down walkways and around new sections that when some of these trails were first created a few years ago had been only scarred and muddy lots, treacherous with trash and deep pointless gashes from a backhoe. Now they were clean and well-tended with trails, lights and flower beds. Everything wound around and dipped under the Sabine Street bridge, eventually connecting back into the original bayou trail so seamlessly that I found myself laughing. Sometimes a design is done that well.

I'm not sure how far I went, but I got home within the hour, as I had promised. So with the little stops I made to check things out along new sections on the trail and to read lost dog notices stuck to the water fountains on the old sections of trail (Chewy, go home!), I figure I'll call it five miles. It was probably a little longer, but that seems fair enough. Perhaps I'll go down there Saturday with my GPS and some water and scout myself a new route.

Happy Trails!

Recent Workouts
Wednesday: ~5 mile run, including stairs
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 15 minute stair stepper
Monday: massage day
Sunday: 30 minute elliptical, 45 minute core and strength training

Saturday, April 01, 2006

What we're reading! Posted by Picasa

Checking In

Sorry I haven't been blogging this past week. Nothing of any particular importance was going on, so I simply didn't have anything to say. I think we all have times like that.

My week ended on an interesting note when some decisions were made about the future of my position and those of my counterparts where I work. We've been in a sort of holding pattern for awhile on a reorganization plan. I've been looking forward to the reorg because I know it will be an opportunity for me to finally do what I do best, which is come up with ideas and solutions in an environment in which I'll have the authority and support to carry them out. The long delays in seeing this come to pass have been a bit discouraging. But now it looks like things are picking up speed. I might even be in my new position by summer! It doesn't necessarily come with change to pay or title, but I'm really not too interested in that angle. I just want to be building and creating again. It's been tough these last five years, working for someone who thinks no idea is a good one unless he had it himself.

But enough of that!

Today's workout was an extended session on the elliptical trainer, followed by a couple loops at Memorial Park. My hip and ITB are starting to get up to their old tricks, so I figured the bayou loops wouldn't do me any favors because of the uneven surfaces of the trails. I needed something a little smoother, and it had been long enough since I had run to the park that it sounded like a fun thing to do.

It wasn't a very interesting run. It was a warm morning, overcast with periods when the sun broke through the clouds for a bit. The park wasn't overcrowded, and I saw my ex-landlord's ex-wife up there. She and I did the IronStar Tri a few years ago. She's quite an amazing person.

On the way home I stopped to use the restroom at the Picnic Loop and was pleasantly surprised to see that some improvements have been made to the facilities. The sinks have running water again and there is actually soap! I'm not sure how long this will continue, but it's very welcome.

Tonight I have a little stuffiness in my sinuses and some post-nasal drip. Yuck. I hope it's just the tree pollen and not the beginnings of a cold. I've had enough sinus pressure and breathing trouble lately from all the pollen that allergies seem by far the more likely culprit.

I'll try to be a little better about blogging. As much time as I spend in the evenings working on my novels, you'd think it would be no trouble to dash off a quickie blog entry about something, wouldn't you?

Recent Workouts
Saturday: 60 minute elliptical, 10 mile run
Friday: Rest Day
Thursday: 35 minute spin, Cyclerobx
Wednesday: 30 minute core and strength training
Tuesday: 30 minute elliptical, 15 minute stair stepper
Monday: Unscheduled rest day-- too lazy and grumpy