Monthly Archives: February 2011

Powder poodle

You know those little wussy dogs that bark and growl and carry on like they’re big tough dogs?  That’s me on the ski slopes.

In other words, in spite of the fact that I’m an entirely mediocre skier, I seem to be unable to resist the temptation of slopes that are beyond my current abilities.  Illustrative anecdote: one time, when I was in high school, I ended up dangling from the branches of a tree on some double-black death-bowl.  My (far more talented) ski buddies had to ride the lift back up and traverse over to get me down.  No one, including me, could quite figure out how it happened.

But that doesn’t stop me from spotting a steep mogul-pocked slope from the chair and saying: “Hey, that looks like fun!”  Yap, yap, yap.  A poodle who thinks she’s a pit bull.

Do dogs have nine lives, too?  I hope so.

Knock on wood, I’ve never been physically unable to get down one of these runs.  But it’s usually pretty ugly.

I’m fortunate to have patient companions.

And I usually forget about the terror and humiliation just long enough to stop me from doing something stupid again.  Today.

Whatever.  Groomers are for pussies, anyway.

Hope you’re having a wonderful Monday!  See you all later on with some regularly scheduled running and wine chatter.  But right now, I have an important appointment with the hot tub.

It’s a rough life out here.

Payin’ the hills

I rolled up to the packet pick-up table of this morning’s 5K with exactly one piece of information about the course:

“Wow, the second mile is really going to suck,” one of my friends had mused, reflecting on the route.  “And the first mile too.”

He didn’t say anything about the third mile, which lead me to vaguely hope that perhaps golf cart would be coming to pick us up after the second mile marker and escort us to the finish.

(Spoiler: no such luck, of course.)

But even without the pre-race chatter, I could have guessed that this course would be a doozy.  I had skirted around the neighborhood on occasional training runs and knew that it was notorious for long climbers.  I was prepared to face a race where there would be zero flat terrain.

Just for funsies, I left my Garmin at home and tossed my watch in the car at the last minute, too.  Because I kind of wanted to actually race this.  Not that I was going to set any PRs today; but I wanted to force myself to engage and compete with the runners around me, rather than focusing on my shitty splits.

I mean…that’s what you pay the twenty bucks for, right?  Because it’s not for the ugly t-shirt.

Anyway.  It was a rather frigid morning for Raleigh when, after a 25-minute warm-up, I forced myself to peel off my jacket and line up at the start.  The starters jabbered and stalled.  I shivered and did a few strides.  The front of the corral was packed with teenage boys.  (Side note: this Justin Bieber hair is a trend gone completely out of control.)  There were very few women near the front.  Odd.

Finally, we were off.  A half mile or so of rolling descent.  As the lead pack thinned and spread out I scanned the vicinity for ponytails.  There were three in front of me.  We turned and headed straight uphill.  One ponytail faded quickly and I cruised past her easily.

The steep hill flattened for about thirty feet before another turn, which dumped us on to a main road and a slightly more gentle incline.  It was a road I’d run on before.  I knew we were going to be climbing for several minutes.  I set my jaw and passed the first mile marker.

Two chicks still in front of me: third place isn’t a bad place to be!  I’m trying to give myself a pep talk.  I’m sure I’ve probably gone out a little too fast (I always do) but I really have no idea what pace I’m running.  That’s kind of refreshing, actually.  Climb, climb, climb.  Finally, in the distance, I see the lead pack turn off on a side street.  Thank freaking jeebus, we’re not taking this thing to its crest.

Just as I’m feeling slightly optimistic about my situation, two ponytails pass me.  One is wearing yoga pants.  I scowl.  Number five. I speed up a bit and fall in to step with them, determined to keep their pace.  We run for a couple of minutes in a little triangle.  We pick off one of the chicks who started in front of me.  Number four.

I start wondering when the second mile marker will pop up.  Because it feels like it should be soon.

We exit the long hill and I see that there’s a turnaround a few blocks away.  I see the lead guys coming back.  I immediately jump to a depressing conclusion: this must be an out-and-back course.  That means as we hit this turnaround, we are halfway done.  That means I’ve run approximately 1.55 miles instead of two.  F.  M.  L.

And that’s when I feel myself go flat.  My shoulders slump a bit; my feet stay a little closer to the ground.  I can feel that I’m giving up, but the indignant part of my psyche justifies it: this is ridiculous, that we’ve only gone a mile and a freaking half.  What a stupid race.  What a horrible course.

I swing around the turn and realize: the next turn is not back on to the main road.  We’re heading somewhere else.  It’s not out and back.  Just as I’m processing this, I spot the two mile marker.  I feel a little revived.

And then I get passed by an older woman with a gym-teacher haircut.  I’ve seen her before: I know she’s a good runner – consistently better than me, anyway.  Honestly, I’m surprised she was behind me.  I let it go and try to focus on coaxing my flat legs and noodle arms back in to a decent cadence.

I’m in position number five and we are going downhill – dropping all of that elevation we gained in the last mile and a half.  Gym teacher is quickly picking folks off; I let her go.  I can see yoga pants in the pack ahead of me and try to focus on bringing her closer.  Chug, chug, chug.

A few minutes elapse and I start a finish line vigil.  It has to be close.  The course is turning all over the place, which makes it difficult to gauge.  I note to myself that no one has passed me – male or female – since we started our descent.  Finally, we hang a right and I see the balloon arch about 200M away.  I have no idea what kind of time I’m looking at, and unfortunately yoga pants and the other ponytails are far off targets, but I pick it up and give it as much of a kick as I can.  I take a couple of guys, which is fun.

When I can finally decipher the clock, I determine that I’m definitely coming in at 21:XX, which feels about right.  I’m not elated, but I’m not depressed either.

Official finish time: 21:48.

I won my age group.  Which is kind of funny.  Weak field?  Definitely, but…eh, whatever.  A win is a win.

At the end of the day, I feel neither good nor bad about this one.  The time isn’t anything spectacular, but it was a tough course, and I’d like to think that if I’d done my homework a bit I would have played it a bit differently.  Oh well.

I will say that I am very much looking forward to a FLAT course at the Shamrock Half next month.  Hills are obnoxious.

After a 40-minute cool-down, I collected my swag and headed home for some coffee and a warm shower.  I came home to an unimpressed crowd:

Someone forgot to feed them breakfast before leaving for her race.

And now, for something completely different, I’m packing for a little trip out west.  I leave tomorrow morning.  Here’s a hint…

I’m spoiled, I know.  Feel free to leave hateful comments.  It would amuse me.

See y’all from Mountain Standard Time…

Alphabeticals

Hey, are y’all sick of that alphabet meme yet?

Oh, you are?  Well too bad.  It’s Friday afternoon.  I’ve done zero cooking this week.  And I’ve run like six miles.  (Okay, a few more than that, but not by much.)  And I’ll take any excuse to draw pictures.

So here are twenty-six utterly pointless facts about me.

Age: 305.  Er, 30.5.  Kind of feels like the former sometimes though.

Bed size: Queen.

Chore you hate:  I hate most chores.  But especially laundry.

Dogs: I like dogs but I’ve never owned one.  I’m more of a cat person.  Cats are much easier to deal with.  Dogs are needy little bitches.

Essential start to your day: Snooze button.

Favorite color: PAAAAAANK!  Just kidding.  Blue or green I guess.

Gold or silver: I like gold cuz it matches my grill.

Uh…actually I don’t care.  Both are fine.

Height: 5’3″.  I’m a peanut.

Instruments you play: I PLAY INSTRUMENTS OF DESTRUCTION!  It’s a big step up from Second Chair Clarinet in middle school band.

Job title: Uh…um…I write things sometimes.  Other times, I sell things.  Mostly I sit around and plot ways to become a zillionaire without having to get back on the corporate ladder.  (I haven’t figured it out yet, but if you do and want to go halvsies, let me know.)

Kids: Scare me.  See: previous statement about dogs being too needy and high-maintenance for my extremely self-centered lifestyle.

Live: Or…die?  Sure, I’ll take a few more years.

Mom’s name: She can tell you that if she wants.  She comments here sometimes.  Hi, mom!

Nicknames: “Shelb.”  “SVP.”  “Hey you.”

Overnight hospital stays: None that I can recall.

Pet peeve: People telling me that I “need” to do something.  As in: “Oh, you hate pickles?  Well you need to try this recipe for extra-chunky relish with tangy formaldehyde! You’ll love it!”

Quote from a movie: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”  I feel this way often.

Righty or lefty: Righty.

Siblings: I grew up an only child.  I now have step-siblings as a result of parental re-marrying in the last few years.  They make great drinking buddies when I go home for the holidays.  Win – win.

Time you wake up: Usually around 8 or 8:30 AM.  I hate mornings.

Underwear: What about them?  Seriously…they’re clean today, and that’s all you need to know.

Vegetables you dislike: Honestly, I dislike most vegetables.  I love salad greens and raw carrots, and green beans if they’re roasted in butter, but pretty much everything else I eat because it’s good for me, not because I enjoy it.

What makes you run late: Teh interwebz.

X-Rays: Aside from teeth and the new TSA porn scanners, none that I can recall.

Yummy food that you make: All food I make is yummy.  ALL!

Zoo animal favorite: I’m kind of obsessed with otters.  Once upon a time, I had a stuffed otter to match the stuffed walrus that I sleep with every night.  Apparently I have a thing for jovial aqua-mammals.

And with that I am off to run a little run, drink a little beer, and get my hair cut.  My ends are splitting faster than a Real Housewife of Whereverville from her rich husband.

Happy weekend!

Patience

I lack it.

And stupid little status bars like this one?  They are pointless.

Hey, iTunes.  Your little green bar loses all credibility when I must sit there and watch it fill and re-fill itself repeatedly.

Let’s be honest: that thing is just for show. It has nothing to do with the progress of the little installation gnomes inside my computer.  And yet…every time it gets full, I get a little surge of hope.  Only to be crushed when it starts all over again.

Setting up my new iPhone yesterday very nearly killed me.  The stress!

Somehow it took all afternoon to get  iTunes upgraded and re-installed.  I rebooted my computer.  I plugged the smug little gadget in, and:

YGBFKM.

Although I have to say that the process appears to have been worthwhile.  I cannot tear myself away from that shiny little block of wonder.  So that’s why I am keeping this brief tonight.  Because I have really important things to do.  Like flinging cartoon birds at cartoon pigs.

Stress?  What stress??

Timely tofu failure

On three separate occasions over the last couple of weeks, I’ve extolled the virtues of tofu to skeptical friends, claiming that: “It’s really good, you just have to cook it right.  Which isn’t that hard, really!”

Which explains why my dinner last night looked like this:

What the hell, tofu?  The moment I finish singing your praises, you decide to go all lumpy-dog-food on me?

My neat little tofu cubes broke down faster than an old Yugo when they hit the marinade.  I pressed it as usual (paper towel wrap with a book on top) and the marinade was nothing strange (soy sauce, ginger and sriracha and a splash each of sesame and canola oils).

I don’t get it.

At least it tasted pretty good.  Smothered with chili garlic sauce.

So if you happen to be one of the people I’ve recently tried to sell on this stuff?  I recant.  It’s not super easy to prepare.  That little block of fermented soy is a fickle bastard indeed.

In unrelated news, to the four people who found my blog this morning by searching “Hot and Mean”: thank you, I am flattered.  One step closer to my dream of being a smarter version of Regina George.

Sweet demise

For nearly two years, I’d been making subtle attempts on its life.  A not-so-gentle toss on to the coffee table.  A pointed look in the other direction as it tumbled out of my purse.

Unsuccessful, I’d begun to sadly accept its invincibility.

Visions flashed through my head: it’s 2021, and I’m still using this Blackberry from 2006 Because it refuses to die.  And I can’t justify the expense of replacing it when it’s perfectly functional.

It was like watching The Land Before Time. (Except I didn’t go around responding to everything with “Yep, yep, yep!” for weeks afterward.)

This weekend, it finally happened.  A critical injury.  A mortal prognosis for the faithful Blackberry I’ve been toting around for the last five years:

FINALLY.

The piece that holds the trackball unit in place is irreparably broken.  Actually, the wretched thing still works just fine, as long as it sits flat on its back.  But obviously, that is not a terribly helpful feature in a mobile phone.

Dinosaur Blackberry, you have served me well.  We were together far longer than I ever thought would be possible.  You put up a good fight.  Rest in piece.

But forgive me if I cut my mourning short.  I have an early date with the Apple store tomorrow.

Today’s EAT: There are far worse conundrums in life than having a half-pint of heavy cream that needs to be used up.

This morning, I chipped away at the problem by making homemade whipped cream for our french toast.  The entire household was in awe.  Well, okay: I was in awe.  And I’m pretty sure the cats were too, although they are easily impressed.  Did you know that whipped cream is simply cream that has been whipped?  With a hand mixer?  You learn something new every day.

Anyway.  The day’s second cream usage came with dinner, in the form of pasta with vodka sauce:

And the carton is still mostly full.  A little cream goes a long way!  What should I make next?

Today’s DRINK: I’ve been working my way through this bottle of Epicuro Sicilia Nero D’Avola all weekend.

I don’t know what most of those words mean, but this was an excellent $5 bottle of wine.  Just an easy-drinking, pleasant, medium-bodied red.

Today’s RUN: Here’s a tip: don’t procrastinate your weekly long run until 6PM on Sunday.  I had to drag myself out the door for a rather poky and abbreviated version of my planner 15-miler.  I ended up cutting it short at 10.  I felt like rotten ass.

Here’s how the week ended up:

M (am) – 3.3 easy (29:04, 8:48 pace)
M (pm) – 5 easy (44:19, 8:51 pace)
Tu – track, 12X400M @ 5K pace, 8.6 total (1:12:26, 8:27 pace)
W – OFF
Th – tempo, 1X2M and 2X1M, 8 total (1:05:06, 8:08 pace)
F – 6.5 easy (57:13, 8:46 pace)
Sa – 5.1 easy (45:01, 8:49 pace)
su – 10.2 easy (1:29:27, 8:46 pace)

Total 46.7 miles.

Today’s QUESTION: What do I need to know as I enter the world of the iPhone? Any tips or must-have apps? The hubs has an iPhone but he is no help because has he has like ZERO fun things on his phone.  I want to play with the Angry Birds or whatever they are!

Drivers ed

Please select the answer that best describes the following situation:

(A) A zebra has been flattened on this road.  You should stop your vehicle in a safe place and call animal control.

(B) This road doesn’t realize the horizontal stripes are unflattering.  You should proceed with caution and later file a report with the fashion police.

(C) Pedestrians may be trying to cross this road.  Avoid eye contact with them and drive across those stripes as quickly as possible.

(D) NONE OF THE ABOVE.  STOP YOUR CAR, DAMMIT.  I NEED TO CROSS THIS STREET AND YOU ARE RUINING MY TEMPO RUN.

Drivers of Raleigh: you FAIL.

Sincerely,

An exasperated  runner

Today’s EAT: Heyo, here’s something we haven’t done in a while:

A BIG-ASS SALAD. I knew I was overdue for one because my search traffic from pervos looking to do bizarre things involving le derriere had dropped off a bit recently.  So here ya go  – come and get it, you nasty freaks!


Ahem.  Anyway.  I’m calling this a Steak Frites Salad.  Noted the hubs: “So basically you made yourself a steak and fries and put it on top of lettuce.”  Well…uh, yeah.

All of the necessary BAS components were there:

  • Salty: Garlic oven fries
  • Sweet: Chopped red pear
  • Meat: Grass-fed skirt steak
  • Treat: A sprinkle of Gruyere cheese

Arranged on a bed of red leaf lettuce with a red wine vinaigrette.  Delicious.

Today’s DRINK: Glory, hallelujah.

I loved this Victory Yakima Glory Ale.  Damn, I have really developed a crush on beers that are sort of like IPAs but darker.  (This is described as a “Dark IPA” or “American Dark Ale,” depending on who you ask.)  Lots of fresh, piney hops and rich chocolate malt.  Even at 8.6% ABV, it was a smooth sip, and it’s a good thing I only had one on hand because I totally would have gone back for secondsies.

Today’s RUN: Tempo Thursday!  I borrowed this workout from MM, who apparently originally got it from Lacey.   (Who needs a coach when you’ve got a Google reader full of running blogs, eh?)

The assignment: 1 X 2 mile (continuous), 2 X (1 mile easy + 1 mile hard).

The results: Not bad!  14:33 for the two-miler, 7:03 and 6:50 for the singles.  I enjoyed the workout and it was a nice compromise between shorter repeats and the continuous tempos and pace runs I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.

Poor route planning on my part, though.  I got stuck at TWO traffic circles filled with stupid motorists who ignored the crosswalks.  Of course, both times, it happened just as I was hitting my stride in one of the tempo portions.  Gah.

All in all, 8 miles for today.

Today’s QUESTION: How old were you when you got your driver’s license?  Did you pass the test the first time around? I went on the morning of my sixteenth birthday.  I passed by the skin of my neck.  (Apparently you are not supposed to flatten the orange cones while performing the parallel parking portion of the test.  I’m actually shocked that I walked away with a passing score, given that technically hitting the cones counts as a “collision with another vehicle.”  I did have my hands arranged perfectly at 10 and 2, though!)

That Boston drama

Are y’all sick of discussing the Boston Marathon qualification changes yet?  Yep?  Me too.

There are 244 other marathons in the United States every year.  (Wiki says this is true, so clearly it is true.)  The vast majority of them would be thrilled to have you.

Yes…it’s going to be okay, everyone.  Let’s take a deep breath and have a Sam Adams and a lobster roll while watching Good Will Hunting.  (I’m sure it’s on TBS at some point soon…)

Obviously, the changes were coming.  And now the changes are here.  Whether or not this affects your chances of earning the privilege of paying lots of money to run this famous race – it’s really not going to alter your life’s course, one way or the other.

Just run.  Do your best. Going forward, there is no reason not to be happy with a 3:10 or 3:40 – if that is your goal – just because the BAA has changed their (arbitrary) standards .  Those are still awesome times!  If you really want to race on a random Monday in April (that you will almost certainly have to take off of work, because Boston is the only city in the universe that celebrates Patriots Day) – then step up your game.  If not – then don’t.  In either case, I think the phrase “shut your trap and run” applies beautifully here.

And I say this as someone who has come within minutes of the old Boston mark several times.  Do the changes make it more difficult for someone like me to qualify?  Yes, of course.  But that’s okay.  There has been an obviously increasing discrepancy between supply and demand when it comes to Boston entries over the last few years; something had to give.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Today’s EAT: Overly “healthified” recipes tend to turn me off.  This mac and cheese – made with lots of squash and shockingly little cheese – is an exception.

I’ve blogged it before and I’m blogging it again.

Recipe: Mac and Cheese with Squash and Peas (via Branny Boils Over)

I skipped the peas and added a couple of links of chicken sausage.  (Actually, except for the squash, I tend to skip the veggies altogether in recipes like this – they tend to leech water into the dish and make it soggy.  Better to just have the veggies on the side.)  Seriously though, I’m a pretty big fan of gooey cheese, and the squash is a delightful substitute in this dish.  Give it a shot!

Today’s DRINK: Nada!  Although I did pick up a couple of fun single beer bottles at the store today that I’m excited to crack open later this week!  Have I mentioned that I am kind of over six-packs?  Even if I spend a bit more per sip, I love buying singles and being able to taste different beers.

Today’s RUN: Nada!  Planned rest day!  Glorious.

Today’s QUESTION: What race – other than Boston – is on your lifetime to-do list? I’ve love to do a pretty marathon in Northern Cali – Napa or Big Sur, perhaps?  And run in a real, legit track meet (again) at some point!

Questionable parenting

It’s 8 AM.  I’m sipping coffee and staring blankly at my laptop.  The usual.

There’s a knock on the door.

I heave myself out of my chair with a dramatic sigh, as if the door-knocker is interrupting something terribly important and urgent.  (As if!)  It’s probably the maintenance guy, calling on some minor chore.  Or the UPS guy, pulling a knock-and-run.

Or not.  It’s my neighbor.  (Who happens to be tall, hot, and British. Facts which I note here simply to help paint an accurate portrait of the scene for you, dear readers, because of course I am married and would never notice such details otherwise.)

“Hi!  You have a white cat, yes?” 

Excusemewhat? I strain to process the actual words, because – hello, accent.  White.  Cat.  Yes.  Shit.  I mumble something awkward and affirmative.

“Brilliant!  I’ve been trying to find its home.  It’s been wandering around in the hall for a little bit now.”

Three things happen simultaneously: (1) My panicked mind races to recall the last time I saw Emmy in the apartment, and comes up blank; (2) I mumble more awkward things, this time apologetic in nature and laced with mild profanity; and (3) I squint toward the end of the hallway and spot a jiggly white blob in the distance, trotting toward me.

“Hey, it’s all right, it’s quite a nice cat,” neighbor guy reassures me.  It suddenly occurs to me that I’m an odd-looking mess: cropped yoga pants, pink compression socks, uncombed hair.

“It was sleeping in front of my door just now,” he continues. 

I can feel that my cheeks are turning the color of my socks.  What the hell kind of pet parent am I?  My poor cat, in all likelihood, spent the night in the HALLWAY?  And I didn’t even notice she was missing?  I feel awful.

Just when I think the humiliation level has peaked, Emmy breaks in to a full sprint and charges toward the door, belly swaying back and forth below her like some kind of bizarre pendulum.  Bless her heart, I love my kitty, but her gallop is very unflattering.

I thank neighbor guy repeatedly (says he: “Allright!  Cheers!”  OMG.)  I retreat back into my apartment, wherein I fill the food bowl to the brim and administer multiple kitty treats.  Oh, the guilt.

Thankfully, Emmy appears to be no worse for the wear.  She’s back to her favorite activity: tanning.

Perhaps she was just trying to foster friendly relations within the building.

Brilliant.

Today’s EAT: Dinner dilemma: I needed something to complement a lone piece of leftover pizza and salad.  Solution: stuffed mushrooms!

Recipe: Stuffed Mushrooms (via Pioneer Woman)

I used Italian chicken sausage and left out the cream cheese.  These are….pretty healthy, I think?  Especially with a lean sausage and reduced cheese load?  Could be worse.  And they were super quick to make, especially with the help of my little food chopper machine.

The hubs and I both stated for the record that they were just as excellent as the restaurant version.  I’ll definitely make these again!

Today’s DRINK: Because it had to be opened for the mushrooms.  Excuses…

This Tilia Chardonnay was fine.  Definitely a Chard of the clean, citrus-y sort – rather than super buttery or oak-y.

Today’s RUN: Track time!  I assigned myself a classic workout: 12X400M at 5K pace.  I thought it would be fitting, in light of Sunday’s 5K, to simulate goal race pace a bit.  (If the race were on a flat track and punctuated by 200M recovery jogs every 90 seconds.  Where do I sign up for that race?)

Anyway, it went pretty well!  I hadn’t run 400s in quite a while (since…September, maybe?) so I knew I’d be looking at comparatively slower splits.  Fine.  Gotta start somewhere.

I mentally broke the workout in to thirds to help visualize it as a 5K race.  Here’s how things came out:

97, 98, 98, 97 [mile 1 – 6:30]

97, 96, 98, 95 [mile 2 – 6:26]

97, 94, 94, 92 [mile 3 – 6:17]

Good enough – especially for a solo session.  It’s hard to run fast alone.  I’m sure I would have pushed it harder if I’d had someone to chase…but then again, maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t, as I stayed a lot closer to true 5K pace than I normally do with this workout.

I also had to really discipline myself to keep it continuous: interval goes right in to recovery shuffle and back in to interval.  It’s easy to get lazy and dawdle on the track.

Total with warm-up, cool-down, recovery, etc: 8.5 miles.

Today’s QUESTION: Do accents do it for you? I could listen to Brits or Aussies talk alllllll day long.

Sweet indifference

Nothing polarizes the female population quite like Valentine’s Day.

Yeah…I really could not care less.  Not one way or the other.

But I’m going to drink some bubbly anyway.  Because it’s Monday.

Cheers!