Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Renée!

A birthday dinner!

I met Renée the first week of college at Boston University, September 1975. We lived in the same dorm, Rich Hall, but she lived two floors above me, and I lived on the "experimental floor," called "Middle Earth." You had to write an essay to get accepted to Middle Earth. God, I'd give anything to see that essay now. I'm sure it's cringeworthy.

Rich Hall, scenic third building on the right

We met because we both volunteered to help put together a "coffeehouse" in the lobby of Rich Hall, which would meet on Saturday nights.

So quaint!

Anywho, Renée went on to become a famous photojournalist for the Boston Herald, and I ... learned to blog.


Renée is now starting her own business. Need a photographer? Stop looking NOW and click here.

The best thing about Renee is she laughs at all (most) of my jokes, (as do I), so when we're together we spend a lot of time laughing.

The worst thing about her is she looks EXACTLY the same as when she was 18.

So, Renée was in town and stopped by for girl's night and a birthday dinner. (Technically her birthday was December 2007, but let's not be sticklers.)

Though it may look like slop on a plate,(we're not on "Top Chef" here people), I can assure you it was wholly gourmet fare:
1. Swordfish marinated in some Thai seasonings, simmer on the stovetop for 10 minutes (all they have to do to get me to buy something at Whole Foods is to give me a sample. I'm the ultimate consumer),
2. the famous brussels sprouts,
3. baked potato, and
4. apple and manchego cheese salad (sort of this recipe).

All this after
On Sunday:
1. Bell-ringing in the a.m. (no one was hurt, always a plus),
2. another one-hour ride (12.5 miles) followed by a 10 min run (this is called a brick. A mini-brick) and
On Saturday:
3. Possibly the crappiest run of my life with my tri-group. There was a run clinic at Pacers, followed by a 45-min run up the Custis trail, another trail that seemingly defies the laws of nature by going up in both directions. It was hot on Saturday and I finished. That's all I'll say about that.
4. Also on Saturday, the famous personal shopper appointment. But that deserves its own post.

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Brain Games:
Here are two fabulous timewasters, that might just stave off the Alzheimers that is staring me in the face.

First, the FreeRice Game: For each word you get right (and these are HARD words!), the site donates 20 grains of rice through the U.N. World Food Program to end hunger. (Campestral, non? and toothsome!)

Second, the number game will give you your BRAIN AGE. Or so my Japanese friends tell me. You have to memorize the numbers in the order in which they appear, then click on the dots....well, you'll see. My first try? My brain age was 120. This is one game where the higher score is not the better score. Strangely addicting. My second try: 52! Now we're getting somewhere.

Speaking of games, I'm tired. Bone-weary tired. Long endless week at work, but here are the training numbers:

Sunday: Ran 2.8, biked 16 miles in the rain so that doubles the numbers right there
Monday: OFF!
Tuesday: Swam 1100 meters (then worked til 1 a.m.)
Wed: Ran 5 miles (first mile at 10 min pace, last mile at 14 min pace...sigh)
Thur: Spin class (Instructor played Pearl Jam, "Soldier of Love")
Friday: OFF!

To come: Saturday: Running clinic with tri club and then 45 min run
Sunday: Bike 1 hour/run 10 min (but am also ringing bells at church in the a.m. and still trying to decide on whether I can run a 10k that morning and get to church on time. Too much to do!)

I think I really need to pick it up. Two days off this week? Was one too many. I need more bike. In fact, my tri club plan says not to worry so much about the run because It's All About the Bike. Spin class kicks my ... quads ... and let's face it, I mainly go to ogle the instructor, plus he plays great tunes, but it's only a 45-minute class. I should probably actually get on the bike, and like, ride it, more than once a week.

Questions? Advice?

Endurance Games:
Someone's graduation is coming up, and I was having a nervous breakdown because of course I have nothing to wear, not that anyone will be looking at me, but there will be pictures, you know, and those tend to last.

My savior Runner Susan came to the rescue and hooked me up with...a PERSONAL SHOPPER. RS tried helping me herself but quickly realized she was way out of her depth. So I called the free personal shopping service at Nordstrom's, and they asked me all kinds of questions, starting with "What's your style?" Errr...yeah. It's possible that I might have mentioned that since I actually have decent leg I might actually like to show some leg (like that floozie on Housewives of New York. You know who I mean. Not that I waste time watching such mindless drivel.)

I have an appointment tomorrow at 3 p.m. Shopping should be its own sport. Some of us would medal in it.

Play-With-Food Games:
I'm still OFF the sugar wagon (Hi Danielle!) I don't think I've lost ONE ounce, though I can't really see the scale, not even with glasses, but I can see that I'm still on the wrong side on a certain number which shall remain annonymous.

I'm eating fruit and veggies til they are coming out of my ears. And I discovered this fantastic new food:

Yes, it has sugar added, but let's not go overboard here

Great source of protein! Very filling. And not sicky sweet like most yogurts. Get it at your local Whole Foods.

Good night, Gracie.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I got smacked! But I didn't go down.

Pouring rain when I awoke at 6:00 am this morning. But said "clouds" for the rest of the day. Liars.

The deal was: Haine's point, 3.0 mile run, 16 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.

It was warm (65-ish), and drizzling. About 20 people turned out; they waived the $5 fee cuz they said this was going to just be a training session, not so much a race.

There were only two other New Triathlete Program (NTP) members participating, but some other NTP-ers who were (smartly) volunteering.

Off we went on the run. I wore a light windbreaker over a long sleeved technical T, and was instantly hot. I had all kinds of crap in my pockets: keys, iPod, gu, energy bar. It was annoying.

Drizzling soon turned into pouring.

Finished the run in 29:17 (but later checked with my car and distance was actually 2.8 miles), which is 10:28 / mile. I felt OK. I was not DEAD last in run #1!

I changed into another jacket, hoping for some kinda DRY, and took care of some bizness behind a bush. Transition time: 5 min!

Off I went to do 5 loops of Haine's Point.

That's a lot of loops. In the rain. The pissing, pouring rain. While wearing glasses. Which get so wet and foggy, just so you know, that it's actually impossible to SEE.

Did I mention it started thundering? And lightning?

It took me 1:20 (12 mph). People were passing me like I was standing still. Somewhere in loop 3, a volunteer told me that run #2 had been canceled. I whooped. Even though I felt OK, I could NOT imagine another run.

As I started loop 4, people were already on the run. The CANCELED run. The poor, wet, cold volunteers asked me what loop I was on, desperately hoping I'd say "Five." Sorry to disappoint!

Finally started loop 5, totally soaked and unable to see, but other than that I felt OK (although I was tempted to call David and have him deliver my SAAB to me). I was the ONLY person still biking.

Finally finished loop five. As I pulled into the parking lot, the organizer said "no run #2", even though about half the folks there did finish run #2. But because I felt SO BAD for the volunteers, who were now waiting ONLY for me before they could leave, I cut them a break, and bagged run #2.

My first DNF!

You never saw so many people pack up and leave so fast.

I drove the course after I had wrangled the bike into the back seat of the car, and saw one valiant gal still out on the run. I toyed with the idea of waiting for her in the now-vacant transition area, but my head hurt and I was cold and wet, and I guess, let's face it, I'm just not that nice.

But you know who IS nice? Every single person who passed me (that would be everyone) either on foot or on bike and called out "Good job," every single time.

Now that's nice.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Du, or Du Not

What have I done?!?!?

I've done gone and registered for a duathlon:

When: Sunday, April 20, 7:30 a.m.
Where: Haine's Point, D.C.
Course: Run 3.0 miles (1 short loop)
Bike 16.8 miles (3 long loops)
Run 3.2 miles (1 short loop)
Cost: $5
Experience: Priceless

My stomach hurts.

I blame A.J.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Triathlon Here I Come

Well, I tried. Whoever you are, I hope you got the help you needed. The weird thing is that I know so few people in this area who ride ... well few people who ride who can't change a tire!

But enough about the mystery woman. Back to me.

The weekend started early with Number One Daughter making a quick trip home to do...what? Buy a dress of course! And she needed her mummy! So I took off from work early.

Both of us hate to shop. With a passion. We consider it a form a torture (did I raise her right, or what?!!)

She had another reason for coming home: She's doing some kind of photo project for school and needed a SUBJECT. Knowing how camera shy I am, she picked me. The topic sentence being something along the lines of "old lady mature woman attempts triathlon." So Friday night I hauled the bike up to the trail and rode back and forth while she took action shots; then tossed my helmet aside and ran back and forth.

I learned a few things.

One: I run like a zombie. See for yourself:

I noticed this same phenom last month in the National Half:

What the hell?

So by studying NOD's photos, I've learned that I apparently ... don't know diddly about how to run.

I decided to test the whole move-your-arms-while-you run theory on this morning's run ...and wouldn't you know? I WENT FASTER.

I really wish you people would tell me these things.

After a few thousand shots, we finally got one that show me running with BOTH FEET OFF THE GROUND:
(Now, that's how it's done, people. I think.)

If you want to view the whole ordeal, be my guest. I'm thinking I'll be milking these photos for quite a while.

(Someone please tell me why I look moronic in a bike helmet? Is my head too big? Am I wearing it backwards?? What?!!)

Lots of other cool stuff happened this weekend too, so don't touch that dial.

When You're Halfway Thru a 60-mile Ride ...

And you get a flat? And you call me for advice (gotta love it)? Please, please please! LEAVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER!

I got this call sometime on Saturday, but not til I switched my phone back on.

I couldn't understand your name (Hallie? are you riding now? Ollie? Holly? WHO CALLED ME??) and since my phone was turned off, I didn't get the callback number. I was helpless to help! I would have driven out to help you!

I HOPE you figured it out. I'd love to know who you are though!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How Am I Doing?


I'm doing just fine, thanks. Today is day SIX. SIX sugar-free days.

It's entirely possible I might be a bit on EDGE. Just a little. I haven't made anyone cry—yet, though I've come close to crying myself.

But I've been making up for it by loading up on fruits and trying new veg. Tonight as I was perusing the grocery store after my exhausting 2.5 mile run, uphill both ways, I spied: "Melissa's Peeled and Steamed Ready to Eat Baby Beets."

(Good GOD am I lazy!)

AWESOMENESS! The perfect side to barbequed tofu.

I also loaded up on brussels sprouts for later.

Now don't go saying "yuk, beets." When was the last time you tried them? I bet it was in grade school, where they practically taught us how to hate vegetables by serving those slippery pickled beets that made you gag. Try some grown-up beets! They're surprisingly good! And...wait for it...they're also GOOD FOR YOU!

they are high in folic acid (great for pregnant women) [err, whatever], potassium, calcium and antioxidants (betacyanin, which is what gives beets their rich red color.)
&mdash from Beet Nutrition

In other news, I missed out on running the Cherry Blossom 10 miler (held last weekend) that every single person I know ran because I managed to procrastinate just long enough (4 hours) until it was full. No problem, I thought, I'll run the GW Parkway 10 miler, or even the 5k, a race I've done twice, and love (can one love a race?) That's on April 27. And...that race is also full.

So THEN I found the Pike's Peek 10k (ALL DOWNHILL, and point-to-point!) also on April 27, which I manage to miss every year cuz I'm doing the GW Parkway thing. And Pike's Peek: Not Yet Full!

But THEN I found out that my lovely bell-ringing group is performing at church that very same day. At first I thought well...maybe I could run Pike's Peek, which starts at 8, and be at church ready to go by 10?? Well, someone could probably do that, but I'm pretty sure I'd crack under the pressure.

My bell-ringing group, under the lovely direction of D., was also supposed to play this coming Sunday, April 13, but that gig got postponed, so I started looking around for a nice little race for Sunday since I wasn't due at church 'til 11ish. It was like I got a hall pass!

So I found this: Stop the Silence 10k, a 2-loop 10k.

And just before I hit enter, I got an e-mail reminding me that this very Sunday was the ONE day every other month that I volunteer to usher at ... church.

Someone. Is. Trying. To. Tell. Me. Something.

Message. Received.

My ass will be at church on Sunday—along with the rest of me.

But on Saturday, I'll be at Catholic University, at my first swim clinic.

(For you with reading via RSS: Awesome photo of authentic baby-beet package added. Just so you don't miss anything.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

New! Improved! Now Sugar Free! Again!

I was minding my own business the other night, obsessing about weight, triathlons, my bike, and other stuff, when I got an e-mail from the lovely Danielle, asking if I was still off sugar.

I can understand; it's not like I expect people to read my naval-gazing musings every single day or my extensive food consumption reporting or anything. Or remember exactly when it was that I fell off the sugar-free wagon (that would be Feb. 8, 2007). Or when I got on it (Dec. 18, 2006).

ANYWAY, Danielle naively asked me if I was still sugar free. Err, no. After several more e-mails we hatched a plan. She's gained a few pounds over the winter; and I seem to have mysteriously gained 13 pounds by working out more than ever. Danielle wants to drop five pounds in a month (totally do-able). And I have a graduation coming up! May 18! Number One Daughter's! And it's entirely possible that I just might see some ex-in-laws who haven't seen or talked to me in 19 years.

So, obviously, I have no choice. I have SIX WEEKS to drop the pounds. No ifs, ands or butts...

So, the plan is this...

Give up sugar (so far I'm on day FOUR! How are you doing Danielle?) Eat more fruits, veggies, and protein. And, do a little tri-training. OK, a LOT of tri-trainng!

That's the plan! And I have Danielle to thank for it. (Back off, she's a scientist.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Suntrust National Half Marathon Photos

Well, they did take a lot of photos, I'll give 'em that. Even though not a single one of them would ever clue you in that I was running in Washington, D.C., where it's hard to take a photo WITHOUT a monument in it.

Though I might not be at my happy weight, I sure do look happy in these photos. So, I'm putting it all out there, no excuses, no berating myself. Enjoy!

(This is the face of a happy runner.)

(5544 dogged me for most of the race)

(Digging deep, probably mile 4.)

(Am I running? Or looking for a dance partner?

(Coming up from the underpass under Dupont Circle (I think); the start of the biggest hill.)

(Wait! Let me get into position first! Or into first position!)