Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Texadega Nights Relay Race Recap!

Top - back of the race shirt;
Center left - the medal; center right - Ricky Bobby himself;
Bottom left - our team shirt; bottom right - front of race shirt.

On Saturday, most of my fellow Renegades and I embarked on an epic adventure.  We went to Ft. Worth to run an overnight relay race at Texas Motor Speedway.  When I first heard of this race, called Texadega Nights (and yes, it was modeled after the movie Talladega Nights starring my future second husband Will Ferrell), I was IN...and it didn't take long for the rest of our group to hop on board - we are a group who likes to have fun, and this certainly fit the bill!  Plus, there has been talk among our group about possibly doing a bigger relay race someday (like the 200 mile Texas Independence Relay) so this was a good way to see how well we did with running all night and traveling together in close quarters.

We rented a 15 passenger van, and except for CC and Loretta, who had to be home earlier than the rest of us and therefore drove their own car, we all rode together.  Everyone came to our house to load up:
It is nice to have a driveway long enough that everyone could park their vehicles on it while we were gone.

And off we went!  We immediately realized that we hadn't taken a group shot, so we made Jeff pause before leaving our subdivision to get the first picture of the trip:
Cristy and Cary, Julia and me, Karen and Jimmymeow, Jeff and Brian.  Jimmy got a new name when he downloaded some sort of road app and registered for it - his suggested log-in was "Jimmymeow 4" and of course we couldn't let go of that all night!

We hit the halfway point in Waco, so we decided to eat dinner there.  After a couple of false starts, we ended up at Dave's Burger Barn:
Burgers were good but the fries were heavily seasoned with sugar, which was weird.

As soon as we finished eating, we realized that we weren't too far from the little town of West, which is famous for their Czech Bakery right off of the interstate.  Funny, all the times Jeff and I drove this way to visit our kids when they were in college, we never stopped there.  Not sure if that was a blessing or a curse, as now I know just how tasty their treats are:
Julia got a mini pecan pie and what I love about her is that she makes no bones about enjoying her food!  I got kolaches - peach on the left, and mixed berry with cream cheese on the right.  They were ridiculously good.

Back on the road, we had another hour and a half until we arrived at Texas Motor Speedway, where we drove in through a narrow tunnel that went under the track (which was a little unnerving in such a large vehicle), and parked on the infield.  How crazy is that??  I have never been to a racing event, but I imagine that it's fairly unusual to be able to park there:
Here's a picture of the race area - we were parked in the red area.  

There wasn't a lot of signage for the race, but we were there about an hour earlier than packet pickup was to begin, so we just went about figuring out where to set up our tent camp.  We also found the restrooms in a garage, but the lights weren't on, so that was a little creepy.  Thankfully our smart phones all have a flashlight on them, which really comes in handy on occasions like that.  The gates to the pit area on the parking lot side weren't open, so rather than haul all of our stuff around to where there was an opening (near the green area on the map), we just squeezed everything through the small opening in the gate and/or lifted it over the fence.  We were supposed to set up in the pit area, and by golly, we were actually IN the pit area, right where the cars drive in!  We took up one space, which was plenty big for us, but it was hard to fathom how a race car manages to zip in during a race when there are other cars around it.  I have to say, we were pretty proud of our little set up:
I bought the checkered flag pennant banner, and Jimmy brought his vintage Marlboro sign, a retro Evel Kinevel helmet, and Karen's old license plate that says FST ENF (fast enough).  CC brought her helmet, and everything came together so nicely!
Jimmy wore a retro jacket that originally belonged to Karen's brother.  It was so fun to have such cool race items for our camp!

We brought all kinds of healthy food, like strawberries, grapes, watermelon, bananas, pineapple, and Cuties, water, and some less-healthy snacks.  Turns out, despite our good intentions, when it comes to staying up all night, we wanted junk food and hardly any of the fruit was consumed.  Hey, we tried to be healthy, but it wasn't happening.  The weather was perfect for running - in the high 50s, with very little humidity, but it was windy and when we weren't running, we got cold.  Even though we had sweatshirts and blankets and beach towels, that wasn't enough;  lesson learned...pack more warm clothes.   Although who knows, if it had been warmer, we might have been more inclined to eat the refreshing fruit.

We wandered over to the packet pickup, which was in a garage where a lot of race cars were stored.  I had to snap a picture of the pure Texas Whataburger car:
We got our shirts, bibs, and since we were all doing the relay, ankle timing chips, and posed for a group shot:
Aren't our team shirts cool?!  Cary put these together - you can see a close up of the design in the collage at the top of this post.  Not trying to brag (much), but our shirts and our tent set up were the best at the race, by far.  In fact, just after we'd finished with the set up, a race official drove by us, then whipped a U-turn and came back.  We all thought we'd done something wrong, but he just wanted to take a picture - said our tent was very cool.  Yeah, we know.
Julia and I - poor thing was suffering from allergies that got worse as the night went on, so I was especially glad that we were only running 3 laps each.  Once we were finished, she sacked out on a portable hammock and got some rest.
Renegade Run Club - Team Shake & Bake, ready to RUN!

I can't stress enough how interesting it was to be right on the race track.  It felt surreal to be allowed somewhere that I've only seen on TV.  And yet there we were, climbing over the pit wall just like the real pit crew does!  Here's a few more pictures:
Cary and I, with the leaderboard pole behind us, as well as the grandstands, where normally we'd be (if we actually went to a NASCAR race), instead of on the track!
The garage with the creepy dark restrooms is in the background to the right.

There were four distances you could register for - 30, 21, 9, or 6 miles, and you could run as an individual or as part of a relay team.  We all decided to do teams, with Jeff, Brian, and Cristy doing the 30 mile relay, CC, Cary, and Karen doing the 21 mile relay, and Julia and I doing the 9 mile relay.  Each team had to run a certain number of laps around the racetrack; the 30 milers ran 7 laps each, 21 milers ran 5 laps each, and the 9 milers ran 3 laps each.  The runner for each team wore an ankle bracelet that housed a timing chip, and whenever we switched out, we just unvelcroed the bracelet and handed it off to the next runner.

They staggered the race starts according to distance, with the 30 miler group beginning first, at 11:20 am.  We all walked out to the track to cheer on each of our runners as they began - Cristy was the first to start:
I was particularly happy to realize that I'd gotten a shot with "jumpy guy" mid-jump when I took Cristy's picture...this guy was not only bouncing around like crazy before the race, but also when he wasn't running his laps, he was running circles on the part of the track where we weren't racing.  That was way too much energy to have, especially after midnight!
CC getting ready to start.
Julia lining up with the other 9 milers...as the distances got shorter, more and more people were at the start line.
This was the 6 mile group start, which was the biggest group by far.  We'd gone back to our tent in the pit area by then, so you can see a different perspective with this shot. 

How this worked is that the race started and finished on the track that was across from the pit row area; once the runners were past the grass/end of pit row, the rest of it was on the mostly level part of the track, except for one section that was banked, and that was hard to run on.  We all felt aches and pains in our legs from that section, but when the track was level, it was really quite pleasant.  They routed the runners into pit row (and over a timing mat) after the start, which was fun because you were running right by all of the teams.  If you were going to change runners, this was when you'd stop and switch out the ankle bracelet; otherwise, you'd just wave to your team and keep going.  I will say that pit row, from start to finish, is pretty long, and although I did my 2:1 intervals on the rest of the track, when I was in the pit area I kept running - no way was I going to walk in front of everyone!  Our tent was positioned at the very end, and we'd keep a watch out for our runners, but you couldn't even see them until they got pretty close, unless you were standing up and out on the track, just to give you an idea of how long that section was.

Julia started out and ran two laps; then she came in and we switched the ankle bracelet and I was off and running!  There were signs placed on the track throughout the race with pictures of Ricky Bobby and some of his more famous quotes, along with a few cheer squads, a couple of DJ's playing music, and a live band in the pit area.  Because of the staggered start and the relay runners, I never felt like I was in a crowd of runners, but I will admit that I kept getting startled because I'd see a shadow coming up on my left and I'd turn to give that runner room, only to realize it was MY shadow.  One lap was just under 1.5 miles, and like I said, except for the one section that was banked (I think it was about half of one of the turns), it was an easy run.

There was one water station when you first entered the pit row section, which was all you needed since we passed it each lap.  This was the first time this race was held, and while I think the race organizers had good intentions about it being an all-night party, it wasn't all that.  They did have a pancake booth, but no one from our group partook.  I think if they have more participants next year, it might have much more of a party atmosphere.  I suspect just doing an overnight race is challenging in that aspect, but I'd come back and do this race again.

I wondered how it would feel to do laps on a track for a race, but I think that because it was such a big track, and maybe also because it was a little dark, it didn't seem endless.  Of course, had I been doing one of longer distances by myself, that might have been a different story!  At one point while I was running, I heard the DJ say something like "did you ever think you'd be running a race at 1:00 in the morning?" and it struck me that I wasn't really tired, even though we'd been up all day and into the night.

Julia met me when I crossed the finish line and we got our medals.
All bundled up and still freezing!

Before Brian, our last runner, got on the track for his last three laps, we asked him if he would mind if we started breaking down the camp while he was out there, and he was fine with that, so we pretty much had everything down by the time he was done.  Honestly, we were so cold that we wanted to be able to hop into the warm van as soon as we could!  By then so many runners/teams had left that we were able to drive the van around to the back of pit row, so loading it was much easier than unloading.

Hot coffee never tasted so good.

It was about 4:30 am when we left the race.  Cary found a place on Yelp that was open 24 hours, so we stopped at the Ol' South Pancake House, arriving just before 5:00 am.  Let me just say, you see an interesting cross-section of society at that time of the morning.  My breakfast was good - I had what must have been their specialty,  a Dutch-baby pancake (the waitress sat it on the edge of the table and walked away without saying a word - Julia was just handing it over to me when she returned with a dish holding a fresh lemon, cut in half, that had been microwaved...she proceeded to squeeze out the juice onto the pancake, which was liberally covered with powdered sugar and butter, mixed it all together, and then flipped and folded the pancake together and THEN handed me the plate - oh, so that's how it works!  It tasted really good - fresh, sweet, and tart).  Pretty much everyone else was not impressed with their breakfasts, but hey - you never know, and although we could have found an IHOP, it's more interesting to try some place new.

Jeff nodded off during breakfast, so Brian wisely offered to drive for a while.  We made it home at 8:30 am, unloaded the van, and just like that, our epic running adventure was over!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Two Kinds of Perfection

I tend toward being a perfectionist, and it's very noticeable when I'm knitting.  A lot of knitters, upon making a small mistake in their project, will simply fudge a correction (maybe they accidentally added an extra stitch along the way and will just knit two together when they discover it) and move on, saying that most people don't get close enough to your work to see the mistakes, and they are absolutely right.  But much as I've tried to let things go in my knitting, I can't, and I end up tinking back (unknitting) to the mistake and making the correction.
Red X marks the spot where I had to fix mistakes...and this is just a small portion of what I had to redo (so far - the sweater isn't finished)

A mistake in my knitting bothers me.  I know the error is there.  I see it.  The sweater that I'm currently knitting?  If you added up all of the rows I've knitted, unknitted, and then reknitted, I probably could have made a baby sweater as well as this adult-sized one.  Some of this was due to confusion from the way the pattern was written, some of it was due to me not counting my rows correctly, and some was me not noticing that I needed to switch to a smaller needle size.  Long and short of it is, I have spent a lot of extra time on this sweater to make it perfect, because that's what I want.  I am a perfectionist with my knitting, and I make no apologies about it; when I'm finished with a project, that's it - there's no going back to correct a mistake later on, so I need to get it right.  This is permanent perfection.

In other things, though, I'm not so rigid when it comes to perfectionism, and the most obvious one is my eating.  I wasn't always like this - I used to be an "all or nothing" person, which is why I was such a diet failure for so long...one mishap and I would throw in the towel, give up the diet, and stay overweight.  However, the last time I started dieting, I was really good about tracking my food, and I made myself track everything, every day - good and bad.  Doing that helped me to see that even when I thought I went off the rails, it really wasn't that awful, and certainly not worth giving up on my diet.

Keeping this in mind, I've adopted a temporary perfectionism ideal when it comes to dieting and/or maintenance.  For example, last week I'd been on a roll with three on-point eating days, when I came  home after having dinner out with a friend (we had salads).  Jeff met me as I walked in the house and said "ice cream?" which I knew meant Dairy Queen.  Now, a small cone wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world, but I wanted to finish up that day without going off track, so I said I'd rather have it the next day, and that's what we did.

Finally realizing that there are two kinds of perfection, and that both are working for me, has brought me a sense of peace - being able to let go of permanent perfection with all things has meant that I could concentrate on the stuff that I have a better chance of succeeding with, while allowing myself the temporary perfection of not always getting it right with eating, and still being OK enough with it that I no longer give up. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Mishmash

Without going into too much detail, let's just say that I became aware that it was time to replace my sports bras - beyond time, in fact.  I really need to employ the date system like my dad used to do (and for all I know, he might still do this) with his work pants...he'd write the date he bought them on the waistband.  We would crack up because they would "expire" and he'd pass them onto Jeff, who'd wear them for another few years.  Anyway, I ordered several sports bras and the first one came in time for me to wear it on Saturday's run.  I liked it (and especially liked the instant weight loss that comes with a new bra - I always forget about that until it happens, and then I'm all happy), and I ran with it again on Tuesday, and then I washed it with all of my other running gear - I like to wash everything together because none of that goes in the dryer, so it's an easy load to remove and hang dry.  Well, I was doing just that, hanging everything to dry, when I pulled out my new bra and saw this:
It looks like it was run over by a car! 
It was shredded on both sides, but way worse on one.

I have a front loader, so there's no agitator, and as you can see in the picture, I even hooked the band together before I washed it (full disclosure, I don't always do that, but I made sure to since this was a new bra).  I called Nordstrom right away and their customer service was wonderful (which is why I ordered from them in the first place) and a new one is on the way before I've even sent it back.  I'm stumped as to why this happened and I sure hope it was just a fluke.  I don't need to have this kind of heart attack while doing laundry!

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Last Saturday morning, we were at the park, waiting for everyone to arrive for our usual run.  We heard the most awesome car engine approaching, and it instantly brought me back to my childhood.  An older car came around the bend, and as we all stared in awe, it pulled into the driveway of the park - turns out, it was Karen and her husband Jimmy, in their 1963 Buick Riviera!  They were going to the car show after we ran, so they drove into town in that beauty.  It was fun to check out the car, but what impressed me most was the sweet sounding engine - you don't hear that kind of rumble anymore.  
 
After we ran, ate breakfast, and showered, Jeff and I headed over to the car show.  We found my friend Rosalie and she let me sit inside of her car:
 I would have loved to cruise the El Camino Real in this baby back in my high school days!
Rosalie with "Miss Molly" - a 1969 Camaro SS.
Jeff found his birth year car - a restored 1957 Chevy 210.
I had to pose with my birth year car, the 1963 Riviera!

It was really warm, and I only lasted about an hour before having to leave because I was just frying in the sun.  I might think about entering the Duchess next year - this show accepts all year vehicles, not just classics...and the Duchess is so pretty, she might even win a prize (not that I'm biased or anything, haha).

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I finally forced myself to set aside knitting on my sweater to finish a pair of socks - I think it only took me about 30 minutes, but I've been on such a roll with the sweater that it was hard to make time for anything else.  I cast on this pair just after midnight on January 1st of this year - in that time, I knitted a whole other pair of socks, plus two separate socks, a hat, and of course a good portion of a cardigan.  
Yarn is Knit Picks Felici, colorway is Surf's Up, pattern is my own.  I made these a little longer than I usually do, just to see if I could use up all of the yarn.  Nope - still had quite a bit leftover!

We are just about finished with sock-wearing weather for oh, six months at least, but hey, at least I'll be prepared when the weather turns cool again:
All of the socks I've knitted, minus the two pair I gave to my mom.

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Tomorrow, my fellow renegades and I are going on an epic running adventure.  I'll have a recap on Wednesday; for now, here's a hint:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday Workout Update

We had some excitement on our Saturday run!  What started out as a normal little run turned into an epic rescue.  OK, I might be exaggerating just a bit - read for yourself and decide...

Our Renegade group set out for a shortish run - just 4 miles for most of us.  The weather was cooler than last week by about 10 degrees, but the humidity was still high, so it was sweat city pretty early on.  Loretta bought a sweet basket for her bike and once again, I have failed to take a picture of Lolo and her new ride, but she texted me a picture of the basket the night before:
It's a milk crate basket - capable of holding many water bottles!

I put my water bottle in the basket, as did CC, and we all set off for our run/ride.  We ran through the fancy neighborhood just to mix things up a bit.  I was running with Julia and Diane, and had two personal water stops, thanks to LorettaShe'd ridden ahead of us and we were just trucking right along, chatting about all kinds of things, when I saw in the distance Loretta, sitting up on the grassy area near a sidewalk, her bike on the ground, water bottles flung out, and do you know, I actually said out loud "did Loretta fall?" - that is the very essence of runner's brain, y'all.

It took a second to hit us and without a word, we all took off sprinting toward her.  We caught up to her and were relieved to see that she was OK, although she'd scraped up her knee and hand a bit.  Of course, she was more worried about how her new bike had fared, which I totally understood - I remember having a light crash on my pink bike shortly after I'd gotten it (Paco got in my way) and I was more upset that I'd scratched up the handlebars than if my body was banged up.  Her chain was off and her handlebars were twisted, but we helped get everything straightened out and she was good to ride back to the park - we were about 3/4 of a mile away when this happened.  Turns out, she'd come to a three-way stop intersection, tried to let a car go ahead of her, but the car waited for her, so she nicely gave a courtesy wave to the driver and crashed into a pole.  See, this is why you shouldn't be polite.  Gets you every time.

Old school angels - Farrah, Jaclyn and Kate.

When we started running again, I said that it felt like we were Charlie's Angels, running to the rescue.  The age difference between Diane and I, and Julia, became immediately apparent, as we started saying Farrah and Kate and Jaclyn, while Julia was saying Lucy Liu - ha!  Oh and by the way, apparently we CAN run fast when we need to!  When we were at breakfast I checked my Garmin and we were at an 8:00 pace during our sprint, which is fast for us.

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Yesterday Cary and I ran a 5K in my neighborhood, just for kicks.  It was ridiculously warm - 73 degrees, with humidity coming in at a lovely 89% but at least there was a breeze.  Still, it was nice to run more than our standard 2.5 miles for a change.  And then a couple of hours later, I met Jenny at a park and we walked a 5K!  I'm glad I get to do this extra bit at least once a week - I know it's not all running, but putting more miles on my legs must help for building up stamina, right?  Any case, hitting 6.2 miles in one day made me feel happy that my body is cooperating with getting some exercise; my legs were a little tired as the day went on, but nothing hurt, and for that I'm very grateful.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Paco Takes Over

Dat's rite, I'm in charge today.  I lub my mom but she hasn't been putting me on her blog enuf lately.  Why not?  Who cares about her eyez?  What 'bout mine?  Look.  I no need surgery to look gud:
I so bootiful.
 SO bootiful.
Dat's rite, I look gud.
Wait one minute.  When did my noze get so big??  Is dere noze surgery for dogs?!

Neber mind.  I still bootiful.  Just have a good noze for smelling when mom comes home after she pets odder dogs.  I no mind.  Not dat much.  I lub her too much to stay mad.  Besides, she got me a button so I can order my own dog fud wheneber I want:
She not know it, but I hab five bags coming next week.

I spend most of my days protecting mom from da mailman and da garbage man but she not 'preciate dat.  "Stop barking, stop barking" - dat ALL I hear some dayz.  Geez mom.  I hab one job, just let me do it.

Speaking of mom, she not too gud wif sharing her delicious fud.  She take picture, I sneak lick:
I bet I wud like candalop...cantylope...howeber you spell it, I know I wud enjoy it.

Sometimez I go outside to lay in de sun, but I get no peace:
One minute I be working on my tan...
And de next minute, JAWS is sneaking up on me...GRRRRRR.
HE'S TOUCHING MY FOOT!!!  GRRR GRRRR GRRRRRRR

Dis guy bodder me too:
I don't like to share mom, but dat odder cat always has to lay down wif her too.  GRRRR

Mostly I just like to sleep and keep an eye on mom:
 
I always on watch eben when I look like I might be falling asleep.

OK.  Mom iz going to knit so I have to leave da 'puter and go watch her.  I neber know when she might need my help.  Tanks for reading my post.  Lub, Paco.
 I can neber be too close to mom when she's knitting.  (editor's note:  that's what YOU think, Paco)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Mishmash

On Wednesday's post, I showed a picture of a man who'd rescued an armadillo from rising flood waters and said only in Texas - well, I have another Texasism to show you:
I spied this as we were leaving Sam's Club - it's a bike with a SADDLE on the back.  Now, I'm guessing that the trailer is for groceries and the saddle is for another person, while there's a child carrier on the handlebars...but a saddle - now that is making good use of what you have, I guess!

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I've been needing to clean out my closet for a while now; along with needing to move my winter running gear to the back, there was a bunch of clothes that I haven't worn and were just taking up space.  I couldn't get motivated to do that until I heard about a free clothing closet that will be opening soon in our local school district, which will be available to students and their family members.  Keeping this in mind, it was easy to take some clothes that were still in very good condition but I never seemed to choose to wear, off the hangers and into a donation bag.  I cleared out some dresses, nice tops, pants, and running gear that just never made the cut after the first time or two of wearing.  It felt much more satisfying to do this, knowing that the clothing was going somewhere specific - we usually donate to Goodwill, but this feels more personal.  Now my closet looks like this:
I can breathe in there again - ahhhh!

I also moved my make up into the closet - the light is actually very bright in there because several years ago my Dad installed a huge daylight fluorescent light - and I have an antique mirror hanging above the necklaces that I can get really close to when putting on my eye make up, so this feels like a good set up.  Amazing how new this feels to me, when it's the same closet I've been using for nearly 16 years!

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I have really surprised myself at how much progress I've made on my sweater - I guess because the last time I attempted a sweater, I gave up midway through the body.  Looking back, I can see that the stitch was a pain (seed stitch, which is knit one, purl one, repeat forever) and I wasn't thrilled with the yarn color.  But I'm really loving how this sweater is turning out.  I was knitting on it a few days ago, watching something on TV, Paco under my footstool and Kippers on my legs, and all was right with the world:
Good kitty, not trying to mess with my yarn.

And then, DUN DUN DUUUNNNNN:
I looked down and the dang cable had broken off the needle!!!  !@#$%
This picture was taken AFTER I'd carefully put the stitches onto a couple of dpns that were handy; I think I had about 30 loose stitches, which was enough to put me in a bit of a controlled panic mode until I had them back on a needle.

So I have to say, I love the needles I use; they are the Chiaogoo brand, and I love how the yarn slides off the needles, I love how the cables are relaxed when you take them out of the package (some brands are super curly and you end up "fighting" the cable), and I love how smooth the join is where the cable meets the needle - I have other brands where you can feel a bump and the yarn tends to catch at the join.  BUT.  This not the first time I've had a cable break on me during a project.  They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results; I must be crazy because I keep using these needles.  They are guaranteed, so next time I'm near my not-so local yarn store (a mere 21 miles away), I can switch out the broken pair for a new one.   And luckily, I had another pair in the same size but a different length on hand, so I could continue with my knitting once I got my stitches situated (and picked up the one dropped stitch).  Still, the frustration and trepidation that comes with using this brand of knitting needles gives me pause; I'm not alone in dealing with this breakage, as I've read other knitters lamenting the very same thing on the Ravelry forums.  I've tried a couple of other brands and just don't like them nearly as much...I sure wish Chiaogoo could fix this issue.

OK, complaining time is over.  I started on one of the sleeves, and after a perfectionist moment where I discovered that I'd made the blue stripe one row too wide (of course I ripped it out and made the correction, luckily I only had four rows to undo), I'm carefully making progress, keeping track of each round so the other sleeve will match in length.  Soon I'll be onto the neckband - I still have a way to go but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

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It's not supposed to be raining tomorrow morning, so we are ON for a run!  And I will go visit my co-volunteer, Rosalie, at a car show - she and her husband are really into cars and have both new and classics, and their car club is having a two-day show.  She tried to get me to enter my Mini into it, but I couldn't envision myself having to hang around for two days at a car show.  Maybe next year, after I check it out this weekend.  Any case, it'll be interesting.

Have a great weekend!