Sunday, December 30, 2007

Product Review:

Spinervals On the Road 2.0 - Lake Placid Training Ride

I had been coveting this spin video for awhile and was excited to find it under the tree this year! (Okay, we didn’t have a tree, but you know what I mean.)

This is a three hour spin workout and what makes it hard is what makes his other On the Road video hard—you don’t get a break. Most of Coach Troy’s videos are interval work. You spin hard, then you rest. But with the Virtual Reality videos, you’re pedaling the whole time, which is harder than a standard spin video and harder than an actual ride outdoors.

The beauty of the landscape in this video is what makes the time pass. The ride starts and ends at the site of the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid and for three hours you ride the roads of the Ironman USA course through the surrounding hills. I’ve never been to the Adirondacks before, but I found the landscape and architectural styles similar to Vermont, leading to moments when I caught myself looking for covered bridges!

I ignored Coach Troy’s gearing advice and simply focused on the road, switching to easier gears on the downhills and harder ones on the uphills to mimic what I would be feeling on a real bike ride. I got so into it that I caught myself waving to other cyclists, but the stuck-up jerks didn’t wave back. Their loss.

By the last hour, I was feeling this workout. Part of it was that I had done a long run yesterday and slept badly last night, but a lot of it was also just the effect of spinning my legs for three hours straight. Coach Troy likes to say that three hours on the trainer is the equivalent of four on the road, and given how many of these turns and downhills I would’ve coasted in a real road ride, I believe it.

Great spin video! Highly recommended! I understand Coach Troy has a Tuscon Training Ride video in the works and I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Odd Little Christmas

Christmas morning started according to plan. I got up at 6:00 and went to the studio for a three hour spin workout, which would put me in calorie deficit, free to eat whatever suited my fancy for the rest of the day.

The workout went well and I came back to the house at 9:30 with visions of coffee and panettone dancing in my head, to find Dan lying on the sofa. “I’ve got bad news,” he said. “I’ve got another kidney stone.”


“I just had one last week. I don’t know why I keep getting them.”

“Have you been drinking lots of water?” I asked.


“I don’t think we’re going to need to call Sherlock Holmes, then.” I told Dan that I would get cleaned up and we’d go fill the prescription he got last week for pain meds.

“I tore it up. I didn’t need it.”

“You know our emergency room co-pay is $100, right?”

Merry Christmas to us.

I took a shower, made coffee for myself and heated up some panettone. We opened our gifts, which I absolutely loved—some books from my Amazon wish list and a spin video I’ve been coveting. Dan was definitely not feeling good, and after we unwrapped our gifts, he decided to go to the minor emergency clinic. I offered to take him, but he swore he was okay to go alone and didn’t want to ruin my Christmas if he had to be there all day. So since he’s a grownup, I told him what I thought of his stupid plan to drive while he was in pain, and let him go.

It was actually a relief to have him gone. I washed some dishes, disposed of the wrapping paper, photographed the bunny enjoying her Christmas present, and got ready to go to my parents’ house. Just before I left, I called Dan, who said he was being discharged and to wait.

Well, okay. He came home (on non-narcotic painkillers) and we got to my parents’ house only half an hour late, where we found the following:

• my brother suffering from severe depression and doped up on new meds
• my sister recovering from bronchitis
• my father with some sort of pulled muscle in his hip
• my (step)mother with a bruised tailbone from a recent fall

This left only me and my sister’s boyfriend among the whole and hearty. What a way to buck the trend!

Food was iffy. It was all store-bought and from Boston Market, not homemade or absurdly expensive high-end deli stuff like what Dan and I are used to. But I was hungry and filled my plate twice, both for dinner and dessert. I ate lots of cookies, too.

We had all agreed ahead of time that gifts were to be minimal, so although we got some nice stuff, the bulk of our gifts was in gift cards and cash. I know it’s not in the correct spirit to say this, but I like it better this way. My family members, especially my parents, have proven to be very good at giving me stuff I don’t care for or don’t need, and since we’re all grownups, it’s less wasteful to just give each other the means to buy what we want.

We left my parents’ house early, since Dan’s pain was starting to return. We went to a 24-hour pharmacy and got his prescription for stronger pain meds filled, and I picked up my new asthma meds while I was there, since I had only one more day before I needed refills. This saved me a trip today or tomorrow, so I don’t need to go anywhere today unless I really want to.

We got home early enough for me to finish a writing project I was working on, and by then I was getting sleepy. The early morning workout and lack of a nap had finally caught up with me. I kissed my drugged-up hubby good night and went to bed.

Merry Odd Christmas to us!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

If you were good, Santa came last night!

Find the gift that belongs to you...

And dig in!

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating today, and a Joyous Holiday Season to all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Luminaria Night

They do luminarias in my neighborhood.

Everyone gets some. Even newcomers like us.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Hey, Pixel! I'll tell you what the humans got you for Christmas, if you 'fess up what they got for me!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Last Long Run!

I needed one more run over 20 miles to get ready for my January marathon and as of last night I was still undecided whether it should be today or Christmas morning. Even though it had been less than a week since last Sunday’s 19-miler, I went with today, based on the following:

• Rain predicted for both days, but Christmas would be colder.
• Fewer people around on Christmas, which isn’t a good thing when you’re female and running alone for 4-5 hours.
• I might feel pressured to hurry on Christmas and cut my run short.

My plan was to circle the campus 3-4 times while waiting for the sun to come up and then make a decision whether or not to head toward Rice University and Montrose. predicted scattered thunderstorms, so when I saw the dark clouds to the west after sunrise, I assessed how I was feeling and decided that my brain was up for the tedium of staying close to home and doing campus loops, so I would be close to shelter at all times if a really bad storm blew in.

I’m happy to report that the reports of rain were greatly exaggerated. Although I did get rained on for the last nine miles, it was mostly gentle showers and drizzling. What made this a hard run was that many of the university walkways are of that pebble-encrusted concrete that becomes slick when wet. It messed with my stride and made me have to concentrate on my footing a lot. The other hard part was resisting four decades of being told to get in out of the rain! I’d be trotting along in the rain, feeling fine, but my brain would be screaming at me, “It’s raining! Go home!” But I couldn’t go home. Once I hit the halfway point, I was committed to finishing the run. I couldn’t go eleven, fifteen, or eighteen miles and then call it off and try to do twenty in three days. So no matter what the weather did, I had to keep on unless it became dangerous.

By the time I finished my run, the rain had passed and the sun was starting to come out. And thanks to the wind and the miracle of wicking running gear, my clothes dried super-fast and I never felt soggy. I had run 22.5 miles and felt pretty good about it.

From here forward, it’s taper time. Look for me to start getting grumpy as I have to cut back on yummy food to accommodate a reduced exercise schedule!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Announcement: Flash Fiction Carnival!

I've got a holiday-themed flash fiction carnival posted on one of my other blogs, so if you're looking for something to read, be sure to stop by! Each story is under 1,500 words and many are under 1,000.

Short reads and with an appropriate seasonal theme! What could be better?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Grumpy and Paranoid

Dan is sick and I'm a nervous wreck. I cringe every time he coughs, I run around after him sterilizing light switches and doorknobs over and over. He kept rearranging things in the grocery cart tonight until I felt like screaming, "Quit TOUCHING everything!!!"

I'm four weeks from the marathon and if I get a chest cold now, it's a good possibility that it'll turn into bronchitis and I won't be over it on marathon day. It'll be $100 down the drain if I can't make the race.

This is the main reason why every year I say I'll never sign up for the Houston Marathon again. December and early January are inevitably a time when I'm surrounded by sick people at work and at home and I can't enjoy the season because I'm so busy avoiding people and trying not to touch anything.

Maybe I'll go be a hermit in my studio apartment for the next month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

(Bunny) Life Imitates Art

On my trips to Vermont I fell in love with local folk artist Warren Kimble's rabbit paintings, since those fat white bunnies look so much like my own little fatso here at home!

The above print is in Tidbit's feeding corner, so she can be reminded of her overfed condition and reflect on how much better she has things here than when I found her at the shelter a few years ago, a bony little thing weighing only four pounds!

And here's the perp today:

Looking well-fed and innocent, as usual.

See the resemblance?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Mileage Miscalculation

I know how weird this is going to sound to my non-running friends, but I ran twenty-three miles today by mistake.


I plotted my route very carefully last night, but for whatever reason this morning I thought I was supposed to start with three loops around campus instead of two. I suspected something wasn’t quite right when I got home and it was after 11:00. I had expected to be home between 10:00 and 10:30, and while I had a couple delays due to water procurement problems and the siren song of a yard sale, those things shouldn’t have added close to an hour to my run time.

But an additional three miles on top of those delays sure did it.

It was a pretty good run, though. I was out before dark and got to watch the sunrise. When I got to the zoo, I heard the monkeys whooping it up somewhere and felt like I was in the rain forest. I stopped to read the inscription on a monument in the park. I did battle with a high-spouting water fountain in windy weather. I browsed a yard sale. I watched ospreys soar overhead and cormorants dive for fish in the bayou.

And I had a very hearty lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant. Now that I realize I ran three miles more than I thought, I believe this entitles me to another cookie. Or to some of the rice pudding I’m making tonight.

As crazy as it sounds, I think I’ll do this route a couple more times this month, body willing. I don’t usually do more than a single twenty-miler before the marathon, but if I can handle two or three in the 20+ range, I should have a really fantastic marathon in January!

Gonna go have that extra cookie now. I earned it!