Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This blog has been sadly lacking in bunny pics lately...


Want to hear something scary? I woke up feeling fine. Yeah. Twenty-one miles yesterday, and I was ready to go again today.

I’m freaking out.

What’s even scarier though, is that the San Antonio Marathon organizers finally posted their elevation chart and it looks like the last eight miles are uphill! OMG! Yes, I know San Antonio is hilly. I used to live there. But Austin is in the Hill Country, too, and their marathon course is flat. Vermont isn’t just hilly but mountainous, yet the Covered Bridges Half Marathon has a near-constant elevation drop throughout the course, with the exception of one rather nasty hill around Mile Eight.

So not even in my nightmares did I think San Antonio’s course would be all uphill for the last eight miles!!!

I’m going to check the route against a topographical info site sent to me by it’s only fuel, and see what I come up with. If it’s really a sadistic course, I might have to sit this one out and try for next year. I haven’t been training on hills because I feel like I’m still building myself back up after last year’s debacle with my hip. I can handle some hills in a course, especially if I’m not really racing. But eight straight miles uphill is just stupid.

And finally, not scary but just sad, Dan’s uncle passed away last night. We got the call this morning, while I was out running. Given Uncle Jerry’s advanced Alzheimer’s and diabetes, as well as the other health problems and organ failures he was experiencing, I think living (if you can even call it that) had become the really scary thing. Dan is handling it well, given that Jerry was his favorite uncle and a father figure to him. He’s out running now, and was practicing his guitar earlier. It’s a sad time for him and his extended family, and there’s probably a mid-week funeral in our future.

Today’s Workout
6 mile run


My 21-miler went well today, in most regards. It was a perfect day for it—cool at the outset and warming up just enough to be pleasant.

I started off in the dark so I wouldn’t finish up too late. It was my first time running in the dark in a long time, and I’d forgotten what a problem that can be for me. My right eye no longer corrects to 20/20 and I’ve always had an astigmatism, so judging the trails and curbs is tricky without good light. But it forced me go out nice and slow, which is a good thing.

I went up to Rice University, did the loop around campus and started back. This was when I first started having little twinges in my hip, and I think it was mainly due to the cambered surfaces I was running on. When I would hit a level patch, the annoyance would go away. With no real reason not to continue, I went to the second part of my run, which was a loop up Memorial to Chimney Rock, and back on Woodway. Luckily the construction at the 610 Loop is mostly finished and I didn’t have to make any detours.

Once I was back inside the loop with about three miles left to go, the hip started bothering me more often, but once again, only on questionable surfaces or when I stopped for water. My calves were pretty tight at this point, but I started my run with tight calves, so that wasn’t unexpected. Other than those two things, I felt really, really good. It was one of those “run forever” days when my mind and body were primed and ready, and if I had been running a marathon today, I would’ve done great. Even my mental state was good. I never got bored or started wishing the run was over. I even toyed with the notion of going longer, but I had to take my lunch date with my husband into consideration, so I finished up as planned.

Tonight I’m leaning strongly toward signing up for San Antonio, two weeks away. I think the hip problem is a tight hip flexor, which can be dealt with pretty easily. The pain doesn’t manifest itself in the hip flexor itself, but when I use my trigger point ball, that muscle is really tight, and loosening it seems to help. The pain I’m feeling is probably either referred pain (your body doesn’t always hurt at the point of injury) or it’s from other muscles tightening up to compensate for the hip flexor issue.

If I’m right with my self-diagnosis, I can resolve this problem without much trouble. And I’m usually right about soft-tissue matters. It’s only when I try to do the “right” thing and go to a doctor that I get sucked into months of treatments that never solve the problem or even result in a correct diagnosis. Let’s not even go there.

My biggest worry about doing San Antonio is hills. It’s a hilly town, no two ways about it. Not only have I not trained on hills, but they would likely pose the same problems to my hip as cambered surfaces. This is something to consider seriously. I’m wondering if scheduled walk breaks and walking any really big hills would be sufficient to ward off trouble. I’m going to try to find an elevation map of the course (no luck so far) and get an idea what I would be up against.

Tonight my hip is bothering me a little, but I’m going to see how it feels in the morning and try for my regular Sunday Six if it’s okay. That will probably tell me better than anything else just how I’m really doing.

Oh—my time for 21.3 miles today was approximately four hours, including warmup and cooldown, pit stops, buying water, and an extended snack break at Turtle Pond, which sadly, seems to no longer have turtles. I didn’t wear my watch, so I only know the time I left and the time I returned, with no precise minutes and seconds. I don’t like to wear my watch when I’m injured or recovering from injury. It messes with my head and makes me try to go faster than I should.

I'm spending a quiet night at home tonight, no Halloween parties or anything. I spent so many years in the restaurant business that I still call nights like this "Amateur Nights," and I avoid going out, if at all possible.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 4 mile run
Tuesday: 5.5 mile run
Wednesday: rest, not feeling well
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical
Friday: official rest day
Saturday: 21.3 mile run

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Vote for Tidbit!

Tidbit has entered a Halloween Pet Costume Contest at Shutterfly. Drop by and vote for her or tell your own furry pals to sign up and win prizes!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Saturday Miscellany

I admit it. I was a slug this week. My excuses are:

• flooding on Monday (why not go to the gym?)
• tired (go to bed earlier!)
• family issues with Dan—he wants to talk (but not all night)
• tendon in top of left foot kind of sore (might have a winner here!)

But all in all, I was lazy. I could’ve gotten on the bike. I could’ve gotten on the elliptical trainer. I could’ve (gasp!) gone for a swim. But I didn’t.

Today’s long run was a “short” one, since I pushed the distance last weekend. I hadn’t gone up to Rice University in awhile, so I did that, and did Hermann Park while I was in the vicinity. It was really nice, and I saw what might be some trails near the Hermann Park golf course. The sky was threatening rain, so I didn’t go investigate, but I’ll have to take a look next time I’m over there. I have lots of running routes, but I’m always looking for more. I get bored easily, and really long runs can be brutal on my mental state once I’m past the three hour point.

In other news, Dan’s mother is finally home from the hospital. Home, not in assisted living, like we recommended. She lives with Dan’s half-sister, who we've been told treats her like a servant and today we were informed she’s not feeding her or helping her with anything. Dan is beyond furious. His sister lives with her mother to save on rent and childcare, and you’d think the least she could do is heat a can of soup for her mother who is recovering from back surgery, right? And yet we’re having a nearly impossible time convincing Dan’s mother to move out. It makes one wonder just what the truth really is over there. Dan is getting really tired of making other arrangements, only for his mother to dig in her heels and refuse to leave a situation she complains about constantly. If there's something wrong, MIL should leave. If it's not as bad as she says, I wish she'd quit complaining and giving Dan fits.

And as if that weren’t enough, Dan’s favorite uncle is dying. He’s had Alzheimer’s and diabetes for a long time, and now organs seem to be failing left and right. It’s hard on Dan, since he grew up without a father. This uncle was the closest to a real father he ever had. Still, I believe there are things worse than death, and the condition his uncle is in now, is one of them. So I’m hoping the end comes soon and painlessly, since an improvement to his quality of life (pain, confusion, and lots of sleep) does not look possible.

Not much is going on with me, thank goodness. There’s talk about moving my office back on campus sometime before Thanksgiving, but until I actually see progress happening on that, I won’t be holding my breath.

And I find I’m spending a lot of late hours working on my fictional character blog. It’s fun, and I think it’s giving me some much-needed distance from my “real” writing. But when I took the project on, I think I had no idea how quickly it would consume me. Writing tends to do that, I guess.

Finally, I’m trying to decide what to make of iPod costumes. A sign of the impending apocalypse? Or merely bizarre? Kinda cute, any way you look at it.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 2 mile leisurely walk to take pictures of bayou
Tuesday: 4 mile run
Wednesday: 6 mile run
Thursday: total laziness
Friday: designated rest day
Saturday: 13+ mile run

Monday, October 16, 2006

Water, Water, Everywhere

True to forecast, it rained most of Sunday and Sunday night. Since my office becomes nearly inaccessible when there’s street flooding, and since there was a broken water main there on Friday, I sent email to my department’s early birds, asking what was up. The verdict:

• Water in building: In pipes (good) and in a few ceilings (not so good)
• Water outside building: underpasses filling up

The flooding underpasses were enough to make me decide to stay home until I could be sure I would be able to make it in, but then I got word that the university would be closed until noon. Yay!

I wiped off my lipstick, got back into my comfy bathrobe and settled in with the cat, the bunny and the husband, to watch a little of the traffic and flooding on TV. After a bit, Dan went to get us some coffee, and I settled in at the computer. Since I did have some important work to get done today, I set up the laptop with VPN and leisurely worked on office stuff while reading the news of the day on my other computer. Bliss!

As it got closer to time to make a decision about going in to work, I managed to catch a news report about two women who had died in their SUV in a flooded underpass—one of the two by my office! If one is flooded, the other one always is, too. If an SUV can't make it, neither of my little cars can do it, either. So it was a definite work-from-home day for me.

And boy, did I work! It was go, go, go, all day, while bands of storms boomed and crashed outside my window. But it was all pretty low-stress, even though three o’clock came around and I realized I had been so busy that I hadn't eaten since breakfast around 8:00. So I had some lunch, wrapped up a few last items, talked on the phone with one of my bosses, and since he and all the other senior management had gone home by this point, I decided to call it a day.

The rain was easing up by this point, so I got dressed and went outside to check the bayou. I’ve seen it a lot higher than it was today, but it still made for some good pics.

Here’s one of my running trails:

Here’s where the track meets were, weekend before last—ready for sculling races now:

Another trail to nowhere:

No, trees in Houston don’t typically grow in water:

I think I could’ve gotten even better pictures if I had followed the bayou toward downtown, where I understand it jumped the banks. But Dan would be coming home soon, it was getting dark, and since I was encumbered with umbrella, camera and phone, I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I might have to do anything acrobatic to get around flooded spots. So I headed home, but not before getting this shot of the tops of the trees near the Waugh Drive bridge, where the resident bats were chittering like mad. The bayou usually runs quite low, in a channel just beyond that first line of tree tops:

Yesterday a bayou, today a river.

As I said, I’ve seen worse. But this was still a pretty good size flood.

Back to the salt mines tomorrow!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Groovy Retro Rabbit

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Eighteen Miler

Today’s long run was a mixed success. I got in at least eighteen miles, probably a little more because I had to detour around construction. When I already know my route, I don’t wear my GPS. Gadgets tend to make me focus on numbers, instead of just enjoying being out in the world. A lot of times I don’t even wear my watch! But unexpected detours become problematic without the GPS. I think today’s detour added as much as half a mile to my route, but I’ll call the whole run eighteen, since that was the original plan, and I know I ran at least that much.

The detour was kind of fun, since it took me past the police department’s stables. Like most women, I went through a pre-teen “horsey” phase, and they still always make me smile. I think the police department stables are the old Pin Oak stables, but I could be wrong. There’s an annual Pin Oak charity horse show that I attended once or twice with my mom back in my horsey days. She’s an extrovert and would always end up making friends with someone when we toured the area where the horses were stabled during the show. Those spontaneous friendships would result in me getting to ride one of the show horses (at a slow walk) around a parking lot. And of course, the show itself was always a lot more interesting for having specific horses to cheer for.

Anyway, I got to see the police horses today, and that was fun. The only other thing notable I saw today was a lot of broken eggs on the footbridge that takes me from the park by my apartment across Memorial Drive. I initially thought maybe some kids had been dropping eggs onto cars passing by underneath, but I could see no evidence of eggshells on the street below. They seemed to all be on the bridge, as if someone had had an egg fight there.

I felt strong throughout my run, and the biggest problem was just psychological. 18+ miles is a long way to go and takes a long time. It’s plenty of time to ponder and sort things out in your mind, but it’s also long enough to start wondering when this stupid run will be OVER, already!

At my last stop for water, about a mile and a half from home, I felt a suspicious twinge in my hip. It didn’t keep me from running the rest of the way home, but in the past when I’ve had one of these twinges, it would invariably become a serious problem within about three miles. So I was expecting to have a lot of problems with my hip once I was home, but oddly, it hasn’t been bothering me a bit. I’m not sure what to make of this. Should I treat it as a fluke, or as a San Antonio deal-breaker? I’ll have to give the matter some thought. At least the San Antonio Marathon isn’t known for filling up, so I’ve got time for a 20-miler in a couple weeks, and that ought to answer all my questions.

The weather forecasts are predicting rain, rain, rain, all day and night tomorrow. We’ll see how correct they are. It might turn out to be a good day for elliptical or a spin session.

Recent Workouts
Monday: laziness
Tuesday: 45 minutes elliptical
Wednesday: 6 mile run
Thursday: 40 minute Spinerval
Friday: official rest day
Saturday: 18+ mile run

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Photoshop Tidbit

I've been playing around in Photoshop a lot lately, as anyone reading my other blog has noted. So I thought I'd play around a little with some bunny pics.

Like this one:

And this one:

"Short" Long Run

Just a “short” long run today—thirteen miles, give or take a few tenths. I’m going to try for 18 or 19 next weekend and if that goes well, I’m signing up for San Antonio. November 12, peeps! Anyone interested in joining me, let me know! It’s not an A race, or even a B race, for me. This is a tourist-class marathon, with all the emphasis on having fun and avoiding injury so as not to jeopardize my training Houston on January 14.

“Marathon Season” is in full swing around here, and I spent the first few miles of this morning’s run dodging thundering herds of training groups, and scooting around stragglers. There was also a track meet of some kind going on along the bayou. The main events were down by the water, but I still had to weave my way through packs of kids doing warm-ups, and crowds of parents and younger siblings coming to the event to watch. I stayed out of everyone’s way as best I could, and it helped that the organizers had marked off their area with little white flags, but it was still a bit of a mess.

But after I got to Memorial Park, things got easier. The park wasn’t stupidly crowded, and once I was back on Memorial Drive, heading toward Chimney Rock, I was blessedly alone. Just me and my thoughts. The construction at 610 and Memorial was about done and I had no problems there, so I was feeling pretty good about it all. But once I had gotten to Chimney Rock and turned onto Woodway to head back inside the loop, I started thinking it a bit odd that there were no other runners out. Usually I see at least a few in this area.

I got to the Loop and had my answer. The whole stupid underpass was blocked with construction. There was no way even a lone pedestrian could get through, because it was clearly a hard-hat area. Great. By this point I really needed a restroom, there was nothing close by, and the quickest route back to the park was blocked.

I think my detour back up to Memorial Drive added an extra quarter mile or more to my scheduled thirteen miles, but I haven’t bothered to do the calculations. It doesn’t much matter, anyway. I finally got back inside the Loop, got to the restroom on the picnic loop side of the park, and couldn’t immediately find toilet paper. This had the potential to be a very serious crisis. But then I found some toilet paper, and all was well.

The track meet was in full swing by the time I got back to the bayou, with tents down by the water and various kinds of carrying-on. Once again, most of the action at the trail level was kids warming up and families coming and going, so I and the other recreational runners didn’t get in the way of anything important. But it really is painful to have to weave and dodge late in a run like that. I wish non-runners had some appreciation of that fact. Maybe they’d be a little more considerate about staying off the smoothest part of the trail if they don’t need to be there, and maybe they’d keep a tighter leash on their dogs.

That was about it for today. Dan said he thought I’d be home sooner, since I told him I was doing only thirteen miles. He knows I can do a half marathon sub-2, especially under nice cool conditions like today. So I had to remind him that the 2.5 hours I was out there included warm-up and cool-down walks, detours, getting my own water, and a rather lengthy pit stop. Not to mention that I wasn’t racing the distance.

There’s just no pleasing some people.

Recent Workouts
Today: 13+ mile run (exact distance unknown)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mid-Week Check-In

Not much happening here. Work was a little dull on Monday and Tuesday, but I finally got to meet with one of my bosses Wednesday morning and now I have some clarity on how to move forward on some projects. And since my other boss is out the rest of this week, I think I'll have no distractions from actually working on these projects.

I did a short bayou run on Tuesday, the first time I’d run the bayou trails in awhile. I had been avoiding them because I think the hills and the uneven paths aggravate my hip. But I did 4.5 miles and the hip feels fine. I can’t say the same about my quads, though. It’s scary how quickly we lose certain types of fitness!

I came home from work Wednesday really dragging. It was hot outside, my quads hurt and I really just wanted to eat and take a nap. But I knew if I didn’t do something, I sure wouldn’t want to later. So I forced myself out the door and did a nice 5 mile to Memorial Park and back. The funny thing is that once I was actually running, I felt fine. Not tired at all!

There’s a lesson in that, somewhere.

Recent Workouts
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4.5 mile run (including hills)
Wednesday: 5 mile run

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I found this old picture of Tidbit this weekend. I took this around the time she first came to live with us. Although she was already full grown, note how skinny she is, and how her head seems too big for her body. When I got her from the shelter, she was malnourished and only weighed four pounds. She weighs almost ten, now.

Six Miles And A New Project

I really surprised myself today. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be doing any running, given how my hips and IT bands were stiffening up by the time I finally went to bed. But I set the alarm anyway and figured I’d see how I felt in the morning, and sure enough, I was good to go! Six miles!

When I went to Central Market to pick up some lunch, I got even luckier. My favorite massage therapist was there and I had been needing some work on my neck and shoulders for a long time. He beat up on me for 45 minutes and I feel so much better now! Too bad the little massage kiosk at CM is for chair massage only. I wouldn’t have minded some work on my legs, too. But being able to turn my head is a really nice feeling, and I’m not complaining.

Okay, as for my new project. Sorry, but I get a little shy about these sorts of things, and this project in particular is one that maybe only fellow writers understand. But one of my characters has given me a lot of trouble—so much so that I had to change the ending of my second book. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that it’s part of a trilogy. Now I can’t begin the third book because leaving the protagonist of the second book alive is problematic. So I’ve given my character a diary (also linked via my profile) and I’m hoping she’ll take good notes about what she gets up to, now that she’s exploring the no-man’s land between my second and third books.

Like I said, it’s the sort of thing that probably only another writer would understand. There are quite a lot of fictional character blogs out there, including ones written by novelists on behalf of their own characters. It always seemed a little strange to me, but I can see now how it might be a useful tool. We'll see how it turns out.

If you drop by, there’s a post that explains the blog’s background and purpose in a little more depth. It may be deadly dull, except to me, for all I know, so I’m not looking for a following. But if any of my friends are weird enough to want to play along, I’ve left the comments enabled. Until I get the graphics right, those might change from time to time. And the font style isn’t supported in Firefox. But there may be something I can do about that, once I have a chance to talk to a few people who know about these things.

And that’s about it for happenings around here. My MIL is still in the hospital, learning how to walk again after getting her broken lumbar vertebra fixed. Just thinking about it is enough to make me want to take three extra calcium tablets and go run another six miles!

Recent Workouts
Sunday: 6 miles