Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all the best in 2007!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saturday Taper Run

In spite of the dire warnings from my friends at, this morning turned out to be just fine for running. The sky was overcast, with streaks of darker gray, like a striped blanket, but no rain.

My foot was a little sore, and I don’t think a mostly-concrete run did me any favors. But it was so nice to get out there on my old routes again! And it was only for 12 miles. It’s taper time, after all.

I came upon an unusual sight on Memorial Drive. I was about a mile outside the loop, trotting along past the huge fancy houses, with traffic zipping along to my left, when I saw a flock of birds on the sidewalk up ahead of me. As I got nearer it became obvious that they weren’t pigeons, crows, or any other type of urban bird. They were too big for that. But what kind of birds would be flocking on a sidewalk in front of a ritzy mansion under construction, next to a busy four-lane road?

I got closer, and the dominant one in the flock took a few steps toward me, while a more timid one hopped off the curb into the street. Bad move. I didn’t want it getting hit by a car, so since the circular drive of the house was available, I walked around. The dominant bird and I exchanged suspicious looks while the rest of the flock clucked.


I’m still not sure what type of birds they were. Some houses around here have peacocks, but these clearly were not peahens. They looked a little like wild turkeys, but were the wrong color. I think they were guinea fowl, or something closely related. Just what they were doing on the sidewalk in a rich neighborhood alongside a busy road is anyone’s guess.

A little later I ran past the roadside garden I’ve mentioned here before. Cabbages were doing well, I noticed, and there were a few grapefruits still ripening in the highest branches of the grapefruit trees nearby. This reminded me of an odd sight from a few days ago. I was driving through a very poor area where I swear only hope and imagination were holding the houses together. And would you believe, there were orange trees full of ripe oranges, all rotting on the tree! Uh, yeah. While I don’t agree that everyone is capable of pulling themselves up with no one’s bootstraps but their own, still. . . Come on, people! Free healthy food! Right there in your own stupid yard!

What’s wrong with some people?

Anyway, my third cool sighting of the day was a geyser. Okay, it was a broken water main, but the water was spraying nearly two stories into the air like Old Faithful, or like something you’d expect to see in an over-the-top Las Vegas hotel lobby. All it needed was pretty colored lights around it. With so much water being lost, you’d think the city would be all over it, but apparently not. There wasn’t a repair vehicle anywhere in sight.

So that was today’s run. I saw Mary for a massage on Thursday, so my legs were still recovering and a little heavy. But I was just so glad not to have to do a gym workout. I need to save my mental stamina for the last few workouts of my taper, when I’ll be doing a lot of time on the elliptical machine.

This has been a good week off for me. I’ve taken care of some errands, done some running along the bayou, done some writing and blogging (still taking email addys for anyone wanting access to my new writing blog), and just generally catching up on things. I got the fabulous news tonight that the university will be closed on Tuesday due to the federal holiday honoring President Ford, so that makes me a happy camper. An extra free day, followed by just a 3-day work week! I’ll also be taking off the Friday before the marathon, and the day after the 'thon is MLK day, which we have off. So it looks like I won’t be fully back into the grim weekly grind until the fourth week of January, which suits me fine.

And to close this post on a worrisome note, Dan is sick. I’m trying not to completely freak out, but it’s a chest cold, and for the last two years in a row, I’ve gotten bronchitis at exactly this time of year. If I had someplace else to live right now, I'd go there. Really. I swear he better not get me sick before my Birthday Marathon. I’ll have to kill him or divorce him. Maybe both.

Recent Workouts
Tuesday: 5.5 mile run – bayou trails
Wednesday: 6 mile run – bayou trails
Thursday: 45 minute spin
Friday: 30 minute elliptical
Saturday: 12 mile run


I have created a new blog, where I have loaded the entire text of my novel, Tin Soldier. Other writings will be posted as time permits.

This is a restricted blog, to keep my work publishable should I decide to start querying again. If you are a friend and/or regular poster here and want an invitation, send me your email address and I’ll get you signed up!

If you don’t want to post your email address in the comments, send it to me at uhamp “at” yahoo “dot” com.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas and Beyond

We all had a great Christmas.

Dan and I opened our gifts on Christmas Eve because we had to be at my parents’ house early the next day. I got a lot of books I wanted, and a mouse that is revered by Photoshop users. And Dan displayed his psychic skills by buying me a photo printer. I almost bought one a few weeks ago, so I’m glad now that I didn’t! Dan loved the leather jacket I bought him, so I didn’t feel too bad that the other stuff I gave him was pretty basic—books, music, and a nifty little drink chiller than plugs into a computer’s USB port. (He saw it in a catalog and couldn't live without it.)

On Christmas morning, we found that Santa had dropped off gifts for the fuzzies. Pixel loved his catnip, and Tidbit got a lot of mileage out of her gift basket while Dan and I had our traditional Christmas morning panettone and watched a Buster Keaton short.

And then it was off to my parents’ house!

It was great to see my father. I hadn’t seen him since our trip to New Mexico last summer. I got so full on homemade salsa, cookies and fudge while we waited for dinner to be ready that it’s amazing I had any room for turkey and stuffing. But I managed, as I always do. Because I was still recovering from Saturday’s 23-miler, I decided to not worry about calories in vs calories out for once and just enjoy myself. It was nice.

Gifts were surprisingly good this year. Usually my parents give me any old thing, without appearing to give any consideration for my likes and dislikes. But this year all but one of the books was right up my alley, and I was happy to also get a fancy cross-cut paper shredder—another item I had been thinking of buying, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.

I gave Tidbit calendars to everyone this year, and they were a hit. My brother loved his guitar tuner, and mom gushed over her gifts, especially the Belleek teapot, but later seemed more interested in stealing my alpaca wrap. I told her if she wanted one, to just say so and I’d get her one. Jeez, she’s greedy!

Dad and I spent some time looking through the pictures in the rare book I bought him. It’s the only book (except for a 30-page pamphlet I bought several years ago) about his mother’s home town, which was destroyed by flood in 1929. Dad and I were excited to find that one of the book’s photos was of the roundhouse foreman who gave my grandfather his first railroad job. Dad is going to show the book to his older siblings when he gets back to New Mexico, and I’m looking forward to hearing what else they notice in the pictures that corresponds to old family stories. The really weird thing about looking at those old photos is how substantial it all seems-- houses, shops, main street, roundhouse, depot, etc. Go to the site today, less than a hundred years later and there's nothing at all. I've wandered all around the area, unable to find so much as a brick. Ozymandias, anyone?

We got home later than I would’ve liked—a little family goes a long way with me. There can be as many as five different conversations going at a table of seven, and it confuses me and leaves me wondering who they all think they’re talking to, since everyone is talking about something totally different. In other words, no one in my family listens to a damn thing.

So yeah, in spite of the good gifts, good food, and fun looking at the book with my father, I was glad to get home.

Today was a quiet day. I spent the morning doing some de-cluttering. I also got my fancy new mouse working, set up the photo printer and shredder, and installed a shelf by my desk to hold my CDs, mini-camera (a new item for long runs), etc. That took me until 1:00, and by then I was eager to go for a run. I did 5.5 miles and although my quads protested the entire time, they feel so much better tonight! And my injured foot is doing well, too. I was worried I would mess it up with the long run on Saturday, but oddly, the run seems to have helped. Either that or the tape. Probably it’s the tape. Tape cures everything.

Tomorrow is going to be for errands, I think. I’ve got several of them, and it’s already going to be Wednesday. Where does the time go?

Today’s Workout
5.5 mile run – bayou trails

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

If you were good...

Maybe you found a treat under the tree this morning...

Merry Christmas and Holiday Blessings to you all!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


I had to get in that last long run. I’ve spent the last few weeks in an involuntary taper (at least from the standpoint of running), and was anxious to get his final piece of my training finished.

It was an interesting dilemma, though. With tendonitis still making the top of my right foot too tender for shoes, going for a run seemed like insanity. If I ran barefoot like a Kenyan, it wouldn’t be a problem, but I needed my shoes!

To prepare for today’s run, I had to do the following:

• Kinesio-tape my lower back
• Kinesio-tape my right hip and IT band
• Kinesio-tape my right foot and ankle to prevent swelling
• Ace bandage my lower right leg, also to prevent swelling
• Creatively lace my right shoe and leave it loose
• Cho-pat strap left knee, to combat minor patellar tendonitis issues

Uh, yeah. Sounds crazy, now that I think about it. But somehow when you’re in the middle of all that, it doesn’t seem so completely nuts. It’s just what you do.

I had wanted to run to University of Houston as my last long run, but when I headed out the door I had no idea how long I would last, due to the issues with my foot. I told Dan I might be gone five minutes or five hours. One thing I did know, though, was that I didn’t want to be 10.5 miles from home in a questionable neighborhood and find I was having problems. So I went to Memorial Park instead, where I would never be more than two miles from home—easy limping distance, should things get ugly.

And as it turned out, all was well. The tape kept my foot from swelling, and the shoe was loose enough that it didn’t give me much trouble. I felt strong throughout the run, and the park was much less crowded than on a typical Saturday morning. Doing six loops was a bit of a mental stretch, but I reversed direction every other loop and had a nutrition schedule for each loop. That helped. It also helped that I hadn’t been to the park in awhile. I think if I had been up there once or twice a week, every week, like in the fall, I would’ve lost my mind. But instead, I just focused on getting the job done, and it wasn’t so bad.

I finished my six loops around the park, did a quick loop around the bayou (small loop), and headed home. I was pretty clear-headed, considering, and my pace was good throughout. I even had a little kick at the end!

So I’m definitely ready for the marathon, and now I just need to aggressively treat my tendonitis, get a couple of massages, and enjoy my taper.

Due to the challenges of the last two months (first my hip, then my foot), I don’t have a goal time for this race. I was quite capable of four hours before all this stuff started happening, but I hit the 18 mile mark today at 3 hours, so I’m guessing I’ll run the marathon in something between 4:15 and 4:30, depending on all the usual unknowables.

But really, I just want to get there healthy and finish. I’ve had something go wrong for this marathon every year, and haven’t made it to the starting line since 2001. I’ve got three weeks to heal my body and keep from getting sick. Three weeks of paranoia. It’s gonna be fun, kids!

Today’s Workout
23 mile run

Friday, December 22, 2006

Product Review: Spinervals Autumn Country Training Ride

I was pretty excited to find that Coach Troy has a new video series called Virtual Reality. The first (and so far only) video is Autumn Country Training Ride. I put it on my Christmas wish list, and my husband presented it to me yesterday (ahem- NOT Christmas) with that romantic phrase so dear to female hearts, “Here. I didn’t feel like wrapping it.”

Easygoing bunny that I am, I saw the forest for the trees and was thrilled to have a new spin video, no matter what the date or method of delivery. And today I tried it out.

Let me start by saying that riding through the Maryland countryside with Coach Troy is fun. Watching the scenery made the time go by fast. I was disappointed, though, that we didn’t do more climbing. Instead we spent a lot of time in small gears at a high cadence, which made it a tough workout for me. And unlike other Spinervals workouts, there were no rest breaks. Oh, Coach Troy would suggest slowing down at stop signs, but there weren’t a lot of those, and we only slowed enough to make the corner before Troy was off again, urging us poor fools at home to stay on his wheel.

So it was, for all intents and purposes, 50 minutes without a break. And also unlike other Spinervals videos, this one went right up to the 50 minute limit. The cool down was afterwards and not included in the stated workout time.

It was a good workout, and quite a departure from Coach Troy’s other stuff. If you like his other videos, you might enjoy mixing it up with this one. And if you don’t care for the other Spinverval workouts, where there’s nothing to see but a bunch of other cyclists suffering, this ride through the autumn countryside might just be the right one for you.

I’m looking forward to seeing more in the Spinervals Virtual Reality series!

Recent Workouts
Monday: 45 minute elliptical
Tuesday: 45 minute spin
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 30 minute elliptical, 15 minute stairmaster
Today: 50 minute spin (Spinervals 1.0 Autumn Country Training Ride)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bring Your Bunny To Work!

Tidbit had long wondered just what I did every day. So today was the unofficial Bring Your Bunny To Work Day.

First order of business was for Tidbit to find her office:

Where she immediately settled in with a cup of coffee and did some number-crunching.

Then she took a break for lunch:

And after lunch, was dismayed at the amount of work that had piled up in her in box:

Caught slacking!

A gentle reprimand later, and she got back to work:

And even won an award!

Now where's that paycheck???

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I'm buried in a last-minute avalanche of to-dos at the office, trying to get some things done ahead of the break. But Tidbit is getting in the spirit on my behalf!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tidbit's Feline Friend

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Non-Run

No long run today. I wanted to do my 21-miler, but I’m still dealing with tendonitis in my foot, so it’ll have to wait until next week.

I have to admit I’m starting to get nervous about the marathon. I know I’ve got an excellent base, but after backing off the running to accommodate my hip, and now backing off even more to let this tendonitis heal, I find myself worrying. If I meet with no further catastrophes (like bronchitis again), there’s no reason I won’t do the race and finish, but unless I can get back to near-daily running very soon, January 14 is going to be hell.

But what can one do?

I’ve made good progress with my foot this week. I finally got rid of the swelling, and I was moving at normal speed (fast!) instead of gimping along when I went to run errands today. So it’s just a matter of being patient for a few more days. I can do my 21-miler on the 22nd or any day after that because I’ll be on break from work.

Oh, and how am I speed-healing my tendonitis? You guessed it—tape! Maybe I should start a poll: How many body parts will Bunny have taped on marathon day?

So as not to feel like a complete slug today, I did a one-hour spin and had a salad for lunch. Okay, the salad was sort of breakfast + lunch because I was so busy this morning preparing gift baskets for co-workers and running around to different stores to get last-minute items that I entirely forgot to eat breakfast. And then it was 2:00 and I knew if I sat down with my big Greek salad from Café Express, I would never get on the bike. So I set up the bike, did a torture session with Coach Troy, then finally was able to eat at around 5:00. So I guess that means my salad was breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Oh well. I’m one of those people who can get too distracted to eat. I quite literally forget. There’s a term for this, but it eludes me at the moment. The flip side, though, is that when I’m bored I immediately turn to food as “entertainment.” Weird, I know. They say you should only eat when you’re hungry, but no one ever says what you’re supposed to do if your hunger pangs bear no relation to whether or not your body actually needs fuel.

But I’m rambling now.

This past week was nearly non-stop at the office, and I’m expecting Monday to be more of the same. Tuesday ought to be a little better, and it will likely be a ghost town by Wednesday and Thursday. Very nice. Maybe I can get caught up, or at least do something about the growing piles of paper on my desk.

I’ve got big plans for the break. My father will be in town, for one thing. And I want to re-vamp my Writings blog, add some things and switch some or all of my blogs to Beta. I also want to write a short story or two, do some editing, take some photos, clean my apartment, get my bike tuned up and the wheel issue resolved. . . Oh, yes, I’m going to be one busy bunny!

Recent Workouts
Thursday: 45 minute elliptical
Friday: rest day
Today: 60 minute spin

Thursday, December 14, 2006


It's all about having that one true friend.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Okay, my new blog pal Thomma at Tennessee Text Wrestling has tagged me, probably in polite retaliation for my laziness in not linking to her from my sidebar yet. LOL! Hey, what's the upcoming holiday* break for, if not for blog maintenance?

Four jobs I've had:

1. Bartender at a 5-star restaurant
2. Locksmith assistant
3. Computer tech support
4. Bookkeeper for a jazz club

Four places I've lived:

1. Muncie, IN
2. Fresno, CA
3. San Antonio, TX
4. Houston, TX

Four favorite foods:

1. Indian (any kind)
2. Cookies (any kind, but especially oatmeal-raisin)
3. Ice cream (cookies and cream or vanilla)
4. Flan

Four movies I could watch over and over:

1. This Is Spinal Tap
2. The Life of Brian
3. Pandora’s Box
4. (anything with Buster Keaton)

Four TV shows I enjoy:

N/A (I haven’t watched more than the occasional documentary or news report in years)

Four places I've traveled:

1. Maine
2. Vermont
3. New Mexico
4. Washington, DC

Four places I'd like to visit:

1. England
2. Spain
3. China
4. Argentina

Four websites I go to daily:

1. Bloglines
2. Evil Editor
3. BBC News
4. Arts and Letters Daily

Limiting the websites to only four was tough! And TV was quite a stumper, too. Even as a kid, I didn't watch much TV. And how come there's no books on this meme? I supposed I'd be hard pressed to name only four books in any context, though, so maybe it's just as well.

Speaking of books, I'm currently reading We by Yevgeny Zamyatin in the new Natasha Randall translation. It's sort of the Ur-dystopian novel, and I'm really enjoying it. It's occurred to me that a lot of the "classic" dystopian novels follow a theme of "male central character, content/resigned with his lot in a totalitarian state, meets female agent of chaos/rebellion." Isn't it interesting that in so many of these novels it's the woman who sees the totalitarian state for what it is and inspires the male central character to seek his own truth and meaning? It's actually a sort of reverse Adam and Eve, if you think about it-- the female tempting the male from the wilderness toward Heaven.

I bet someone could get a doctoral dissertation out of this, if no one has already.

* For anyone who gets their knickers in a twist over the use of the word "holiday," get over it. The context is Christmas + New Year's. More than one holiday in one break = "holiday" break. It's only a Christmas break if I have to go back to work before New Year's. Which I don't. Thank God, and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I don’t have much to say about today’s run. It was an easy 15, no new routes or anything. I have a little tightness in my hip tonight, but nothing like before, and I think some trigger point work will fix it. I’ve also been dealing with some pain on the top of my right foot, which is something I’m prone to. I think it’s tendonitis. I don’t know why I get it, but it happens so often that I know how to deal with it. More tape.

Anyone who has not yet bought stock in a kinesio and sport tape company should do so now!

My office move has still not happened. Our facilities guy keeps stringing me along, saying my furniture will get rearranged to my specs, and it will happen soon. But each time the date arrives, he’s got another reason why it can’t be done. I’m at the point where I want to just move in, anyway, but I know that as soon as I do that, one of two things will happen:

• The Great Missing Part will arrive and I’ll lose the better part of a workday while they rearrange my furniture and I have to put everything back in order again.


• The facilities guy will feel like the pressure is off, the rearrangement will never happen, and I’ll have to sit with my back to the door FOREVER.

It’s frustrating, and worst of all, some people are acting like I’m trying to avoid moving. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a lot of big plans for my new office and new role in our organization, and I can’t do what I want as long as I’m in my old workspace, where people keep calling me or coming by asking for help with things that are no longer my job. Basic customer service says I need to help, so I do. But it takes time from the things I’m supposed to be doing now, and so many things have changed that I’m really not able to be efficient in my old tasks, anyway. Every day I show up grumpy to still be in my old digs and I go home even grumpier.

So I’m rapidly being ground down by state university inefficiencies that make it take forever to do a very simple task, like rearrange some modular furniture. I’m trying to stick to my principles (I shouldn’t have to sit with my back to the door, and if they say they’ll fix it soon, they should fix it… soon), but I have a feeling I’ll be forced to cave on this issue soon.

If I do, I’ll just have my office door closed all the time. So there. We’ll see how much they like that!

In bunny news, Tidbit is becoming a mountaineer! Apparently she found a way onto the back of a rather large stuffed chair that’s tricky even for the cat. But she’s been in an adventurous mood lately, sneaking into the bedroom if the door is open for even a minute, and things like that. I guess she’s just feeling adventurous.

Recent Workouts
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 45 minute elliptical, with intervals
Wednesday: 30 minute elliptical, with intervals
Thursday: 40 minute spin
Friday: Rest
Today: 15 mile run

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Getting Carried Away

First cold run of the season!

Feeling lazy, I got up later than I really should have and it took forever to get ready to head out the door. All that winter gear! And having to tape up, too! There are only two reasons why cold-weather running is not completely evil: less sweat and more pockets. I love my fleece vests for their pockets!

My plan for today was to do about 13 miles to Rice University, around Hermann park and home. I skimped on nutrition, since I really don’t need much for runs up to about 15 miles. I know it’s heresy to admit it, but I’ve trained my body over these past seven years to not need a constant calorie intake. I experiment with what kinds of food and drink work for longer distances, but I’ve found that almost anything is fine. I think my stomach is made of cast iron. It tolerates damn near anything. And I’m so used to running on low fuel that when I do fuel up, I can really go!

But I digress.

So I set out this morning, late, with only two little packets of Amino Vital, thinking I was going to run 13 miles. And then like a fool, I ran about 18.

See, when I got to Hermann Park, I decided to take a little jaunt on that bridle trail along the bayou I discovered a few weeks ago. I had cut my previous exploration short and now I wanted to see just how far that particular trail went. But to my disappointment, the trail was blocked at just the spot where I had stopped the previous time. So I crossed the bridge and started running back toward the park. I stopped at a water fountain along the way and noticed another little trail. I followed it, but it wasn’t very interesting. It led me to a sidewalk along a busy street and around the corner, back toward the park. It was longer than if I had stuck to the trail along the bayou, but was leading me nowhere new.

This could not be allowed.

So when I got back to where I could see the Shell station at MacGregor and Highway 288, I decided to see if the trails I thought ran along MacGregor were where I remembered. And they were! I had walked them once, many years ago, in a March of Dimes walk, but I hadn’t been entirely certain where to pick them up, it was so long ago. And I tend to be very cautious about running off toward parts unknown when I’m by myself. But this was too good to pass up, right?

So I ran along the MacGregor trails, having a great time. There are a lot of stately old homes along this street, mysteriously fallen into disrepair with peeling paint on the columns and weeds in the yards. But the bayou and trail are well-maintained, and I watched a chocolate lab chase egrets on the bank, near the water. And I saw an unfamiliar water bird. It was big and gray with a long pale beak. It was on the other side of the bayou, so I couldn’t get close enough to see it clearly. I wonder what kind of bird it was?

I ran what felt like about two miles, but as near as I can tell on Gmaps, it was more like a mile and a half, because I stopped just short of Scott street. By now I had the sense it was late. (I don’t run with a watch when I’m injured because it only tempts me to push too hard.) So even though I wanted to see if I could run all the way to University of Houston, today was definitely not the day. And there were no water fountains. In spite of the cool weather, I was getting thirsty. And I needed a restroom, too.

So I headed back to Hermann Park and availed myself of the clean restrooms and water fountains, which greatly improved my quality of life.

By now I was more than ready to be finished with my run. Once you have the sense that it’s late and you should’ve been home by now, it’s over. Getting your brain to shut up and let you enjoy your run is next to impossible. So I ran the four miles home from Hermann Park with a steady pep talk running through my head, wishing Dan would show up looking for me and take me home. I’ve never wished that before, but I was undernourished for a run of this distance and was tired, too. I had only slept three hours the night before.

So I was really glad to get home, and even happier to have no hip pain. Kinesio tape rocks! I may look like The Mummy, but I can run, so who cares! It was after 11:00, but I was able to ice down, shower, do my foam roller/stretching/leg massage thing, and get dolled up for lunch by just after noon. Not bad!

And then I spent most of the rest of the day sleeping. I needed it!

Today’s Workout
Long Run: ~18 miles