Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Mishmash

I have some knitting things to show you today!  Big surprise, I'm sure.  Let's begin...

I made some felted bowls, but they didn't turn out as nice as my previous ones.  Since I used the exact same yarn and pattern, I can pretty much pinpoint the issue as the felting method:  I used my front-loader washing machine for these instead of my friend's top-loader.  The bowls came out creased, not nearly as thick as my other ones, and the edges were uneven.  Now, it doesn't take me too long to knit these up, but considering they were intended as a birthday gift for my mom (Yesterday she turned...older.  Happy Birthday, Mom!), I was pretty disappointed.  I ended up including the smaller one with her box 'o gifts, but I'll be making another one as a replacement soon.
Too bad - they probably would have been pretty.  Oh well...now I know what works and what doesn't when it comes to felting.

I also gave my mom the Barley hat I made with the beautiful Malabrigo Mecha yarn.  I love how the colors are shown so well with this pattern, but I'm still on the fence of being thrilled with how the hat turned out.  It's supposed to be a bit slouchy, and it is, but I wasn't sure if it was slouchy enough.  I didn't block it, because that would definitely make the hat "grow" and I didn't want it to become super slouchy:
If the picture looks slightly photoshopped, it is.  And you're welcome - no one should be subjected to what I look like with 4:30 am eyebags.  This should teach me to remember to put on make up before taking close up pictures...

I almost finished my Zuzu's Petals cowl, made with the beautiful Twisted Fiber Arts yarn that I bought specifically for that pattern.  Only one problem - I was down to the last couple of rows and was nowhere near the last color on the skein:
Barely got into the golden color, as a matter of fact.

So, I unraveled it and started over, this time with the next bigger-sized needles.  You know what?  I wasn't even mad.  The pattern was so easy to knit, and I got to this spot fairly quickly, so I figured redoing it to get what I envisioned as finished product would be worth it.  I should be finished in another couple of days, provided I don't have too many unintentional naps!

********************

We have new babies in the family - tiny rat babies!  A few months ago little Civi died, leaving her sister Louise lonely.  Our youngest was home for a visit last weekend and after a trip to Petco, came home with these cuties:
They are so sweet!  And teeny-tiny...I don't think any of our rats have ever been this small.  Louise warmed up to them instantly, and when we were up super early for running club the next morning, I found all three of them hanging out together in their bed.  I hated to see them leave, but they went back to north Texas with our youngest on Monday.

********************

Top five attempts at healing chapped lips; bottom tube is the Rx poison.

I've been dealing with chapped lips for several months now...I'd have a few days where they were fairly normal, and then they'd get painfully red, dry, chapped and slightly swollen .  I tried a bunch of different lip balms, but nothing made much of a difference, so I finally made an appointment with my doctor about this problem (you can make appointments online, and yes, I did feel like an idiot typing in "chapped lips" as the reason for my visit).  He prescribed a steroid ointment, but strongly cautioned me about using it too often, which made me wonder what was this poison I'd be putting on my lips??  It seems to help, but if I go a few days without using it, the symptoms come back.  Weird, eh?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

I'm a little tired.  I suspect the combination of waking up really early most days, exercising a lot, and not eating as much is wearing me out a bit.  I do OK until the early afternoon...then it's like my whole body just says NOPE and an unintentional nap happens.  Hopefully I'll adjust to this soon, or else maybe I should up my caffeine intake at lunch...mmm, a nonfat latte sounds pretty good, actually!

********************

Running has mostly been going well - I've enjoyed getting to know some of our new running club members on Saturdays as we do our "long" run (only 3 miles, which isn't very long), and I've been getting in my additional runs during the week.  I am so used to our hot and humid weather that I forget how much it impacts a run, and I get down on myself for feeling slow and sluggish.  Then I upload my Garmin and look at the stats, which include the weather, and I'm brought back to the reality that this IS harder right now because it's so warm.  Yesterday Julia and I ran for 40 minutes.  The temperature was 77 degrees, with 83% humidity...at 6:30 am!  I'm going to work on cutting myself some slack with the less-than-positive feelings about my performance right now.

********************

Speaking of running club, we had a much-needed hydration seminar on Saturday, followed by our first ever Sip and Sample of various electrolyte drink flavors, which ended up being a big hit:
 Nuun, Gu Brew, and Camelbak Elixer - everyone had a different preference!

 ********************

Finally, THIS HAPPENED on Saturday:
 
 photo swiped from Facebook via Guillory Photography.

That's Coach Phillip proposing to Sarah at the finish line of her triathlon!!!  He told me he was planning on doing this a few days prior (and he even showed me a picture of the ring) so I kept checking Facebook all morning as we were at Blue Baker, waiting for the news.  They recently moved to Dallas and we've missed them so much; our Blue Baker breakfasts aren't quite the same without them.  Big congratulations to the happy couple on their engagement!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Diet Motivation

I think it's a fair thing to say that most of us have some sort of motivation in mind when we decide to diet - better health, looking good for a special occasion, or wanting to fit back into a smaller wardrobe that you already own.  Right now, my motivation for losing weight is to make running easier for my upcoming half marathons.  To help me remember this, I've been looking at the route map for the Houston race quite often:
Last year's route - the one for 2015 hasn't been certified yet, but it will look very similar to this one.

Having something specific to focus on is really helping me stay on track.  I'm exercising a lot, I'm eating less (and have had a couple of VERY HUNGRY DAYS to show for it), and I'm visualizing myself on the course...in my mind, I'm having an excellent race, I'm feeling great, and I'm loving the entire event.  That's what I want - please note I'm not saying that I want to finish in a specific time, nor am I saying that I'm looking super skinny.  I just want to run well and have a great race.  And right now, having a strong visualization of that goal seems to be helping me put in the work to get there.

I don't remember being this focused on a goal when I was losing weight back in 2008.  Maybe because I had so much to lose, I couldn't be very specific?  Or, maybe the combination of having lost that weight and gained such a different life as a result has opened me up to being able to see myself having success.  I'm not entirely sure why this feels different, but it is - and it feels right.

Friday, July 25, 2014

FMM Interrupted - Mike Rouse Was In The House!

I met a famous runner Tuesday evening!  OK, I'd never heard of him, but honestly, in the running world, there's a few big names and then, unless you're really involved with a certain distance, there's others who are known, but not known known, you know?  Anyway, as it turns out, one of the owners of our running store goes way back with this guy, and he happened to be in Texas for a couple of days, so little meet and greet event was set up at the store.
 
 Andi, Amy, Mike Rouse, me, Julia

So who was this famous runner?  His name is Mike Rouse, and he was entertaining, engaging, witty, and passionate - about running, about how his life had a dramatic turnaround when he spent some time in prison nearly 30 years ago, and about the program he started to help other prisoners have success in life when they are released from jail; Mike also got involved with helping Kurdish refugees in the Dallas area...let's just say his willingness to help has led to a lot of life adventures!

Mike is an endurance athlete who runs marathons, 50 milers, 100 milers, 24-hour races, triathlons, Ironmans, and Ultramans (which is a double Ironman).  He's won many of these events and told us some great stories about participating in them.  We could ask questions, so naturally, I asked him what he ate during these super long runs.  His answer surprised me...hot dogs.  Yes, HOT DOGS.  This came from a grueling 100 miler where he felt really terrible for most of the race, but once he had a hot dog (around mile 70, I think)(that number blows my mind), he felt better.  He had another...and ended up passing nearly 150 people before the finish.  So hot dogs became his go-to fuel for these long distance runs!

Mike runs a lot.  I mean, A LOT (like 80-90 miles weekly).  I believe he said he's had one injury in his nearly 30 year running career, and he does attribute that to genetics, yes - and I agree with him on that, because some people seem to be really lucky in that arena, while others (moi, for example) end up with the dumbest random running injuries - but he also said he listens to his body (and not an iPod).  For example, if his hamstring starts to act funny, he immediately takes a couple of days off.  No question, no worries about keeping up with a schedule - just BAM.  Take care of it right away.  He likes to recover after a long run by resting with his legs raised up against a wall, which produces a similar effect as wearing compression leg sleeves -  it helps to push blood flow out of the legs and stop it from pooling there.

He recommends having several pairs of running shoes, and for them to not be all the same.  For example, if you use a neutral shoe in the Brooks line, get a comparable shoe in some other lines as well, because the subtle differences in them will work different muscles each time you run - and yes, wear a different pair of shoes every time you run.  Now, of course, that is a little challenging to those of us with shoe budgets, but I can understand his reasoning, and speaking as someone who falls into a shoe rut and ends up wearing the same pair for each run, I'm willing to try this - I have enough shoes with different mileage on them that I can make this work.  While I'm not ever going to be a long-distance runner like Mike Rouse, I'd love to stave off any more running injuries.

Guess what Mike is doing today?  He's running for 24 hours, in honor of a Navy Seal friend and 30 others who died in a 2011 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, while serving our country.  Toward the end of his 24 hour run, the Joggin' for Frogman 5K race will begin, and Mike will run the last 3.1 miles with all of the participants.  I'd not heard of Mike Rouse until a few days ago, but I'm so glad to know he's out there, making such a positive impact on so many lives...by running!
Mike recently wrote a book:  Zero to 60...At the Speed of Life.  I bought a copy and started reading it that night, and had a hard time putting it down.  Not only does he have a very interesting life story, but he's also a good writer.  If you're interested, you can get a copy here - it's not available on Amazon.  Of course we all had to have him sign our books:
This will be going right next to my signed copy of Bart Yasso's book!

Here's Amy waiting for her copy:
Gleeful anticipation!  Love it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

It feels like I'm immersed in all things exercise, between running, Planet Fitness, and having our running club start up again.  If I'm not actually doing a workout, I'm making arrangements for one - check out my phone alarms:

I usually workout at Planet Fitness five times a week; off days are always Saturday, and usually one other day during the week.  I know I've said it before, but I'm really loving the 30-minute circuit they have.  In my mind, that's all I have to do on any given day.  Of course, Julia and I always get some planks done when we go together, and often we'll go use other machines on the main floor, but it's a mental thing for me to know that the circuit is enough.  And as long as I'm willing to wake up early, I have people to run with, which makes it that much more enjoyable.  My schedule looks like this:

Monday - Run, then PF
Tuesday - Run, then PF
Wednesday - PF (we took out the long walk since we're running more now)
Thursday - Run, then PF
Friday - PF (or rest day, depends on how I'm feeling)
Saturday - Run
Sunday - PF

********************

Running club has been going for two weeks now - we had a great first day kickoff!  What a relief, especially from a bit of chaos last season, when the other running club in town decided to move up their start date by two weeks to compete with us (ridiculous, since they are a highly competitive group of runners and we are not, so we attract different members), plus they met at the same location as us!  This season, we started at "our" park instead of in front of the running store, and it was really, really nice.  I had registration helpers, in the form of Joni (who was co-organizer when I joined back in 2010), Pam (who is recovering from knee surgery caused by a snow skiing injury, not running), and Sadie, of course:
Poor Sadie - she didn't understand why she wasn't running with the group!

Our official team picture:
Julia, Jeff, me, Damien (also from our 2010 season, back to coach our marathon group) and Amy.

And it wouldn't be a running club post without a picture from Blue Baker:
After our second week of running club.  Jeff and I had boring multigrain bagels (there was a splurge with a side of strawberry cream cheese that we split), while Amy had that tempting blueberry scone (and bacon).  Another fun morning with my running club peeps!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Time to Diet? Well, Sort Of...

I'm not unhappy with how I look - well, the exception being my stomach, but even at my lowest weight, I wasn't thrilled with it (it is obnoxiously big compared to the rest of me - and yes, I am calling a body part obnoxious because it didn't used to behave this way 20 years ago).  I have no idea what I weigh since I gave up weighing myself about three years ago, but I'm pretty pleased that I settled into a stable size; having success at weight maintenance was something that always, ALWAYS, eluded me, so I feel like a victor, truly.

But.  There's the matter of two half marathons in my not-so-distant future.  Two...and the second one is a really big deal.  It will most likely be the only time I'll run the Houston half marathon, and I'm running it with a group of really good friends.  I want to get to that start line healthy, injury-free, and ready to run a good race. 

I began thinking about how things went during the training season for my first half marathon back in 2010, and what's been different since.  Two big things came to mind:  One, I was coming off of training with Brad, so my body was much stronger, more muscular and more toned than it was during later training seasons.  The other thing was that I weighed less.  I was a faster runner, and it didn't seem quite as hard back then.  So of course I wonder if being lighter on my feet translates to having an easier time with running...and after my struggles with running during seasons past, I'm ready and willing to find out.

I've been working out with the weight machines at Planet Fitness for a couple of months now, and I can see a difference in my muscle tone.  I'm hoping that the legwork I'm doing will also show up in the form of better endurance when it comes to my longer runs.  So there's that.  Now, I need to see if I can get a little smaller via dieting...sort of.  I said I was done with dieting nearly three years ago, and I meant it.  There will be no weigh-ins, no self-flagellation, no massive restricting of food - in fact, I'm going to try for the most positive experience possible.  I'm sure you're thinking that this sounds all well and good, but will I actually lose weight?  I mean, look how hard it was for me back in 2008 and 2009...I was no speed demon when it came to getting the pounds off.  I don't have a huge plan other than to make some substitutions for some meals (like a little more protein at lunch instead of almonds and fruit), drink more water to fill me up (plus the extra hydration will be helpful with all the sweaty running I'm doing), limit my sweet treats to one per week (sigh...BIG sigh), and eat more salads.

Who knows if this is enough to see any changes.  Quite frankly, while I'm willing to do something to see if I can get a little lighter on my feet, I'm not willing to go on a diet diet.  Time will tell...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Mishmash - All Things Yarn

On the corner near Downtown Knits in Apex - a yarn-bombed tree, a little free library, a cool mural - so charming!

I like to check out yarn shops when I travel, and managed to make it to four of them in the Raleigh area - Downtown Knits in Apex, Warm 'n Fuzzy in Cary, Great Yarns, and Yarn Tree Studio, both in Raleigh.  I was surprised that when I walked into Great Yarns, they remembered me from my visit in March!  I had some birthday money earmarked for yarn, and some ideas of what I was wanting to knit, so I shopped with projects in mind, instead of what I normally do (which is go crazy with all the colors and buy random skeins because they are so soft and pretty). 

Here's what I ended up with:
To make a Woven Ladder hat - I've been intrigued by this hat/yarn combo even since Susan Anderson designed the hat, so when I came across the exact yarn during my travels, I had to buy it.
To make my first colorwork project - Little Scallops hat, which will have a (you guessed it) scalloped brim.
Probably another Sugarpine Rasta hat, although who knows.  Any case, I have a hard time resisting the lure of a beautifully dyed skein of Malabrigo Rasta...
I had so much fun seeing the yarn self-stripe and pattern when I made my Hipster Baby Flappy Hat that I had to get yarn in more colors.  Hipster Baby Flappy Hats for EVERYONE (say that in Oprah's voice)!
Malabrigo Mecha, in Azules colorway.  This picture isn't doing the yarn justice, but I'm making a Barley hat with it.  I had the yarn wound when I bought it and started knitting it while I was in NC.
The purchase of this yarn evolved from being intrigued with a different gradient yarn called Crazy Zauberball, which I've looked at for a couple of years now.  One store in NC carried it, and instead of buying it with no plan in mind, I went on Ravelry at the store (they have a computer available for customers to do just this, which I really appreciated) to look at the patterns I'd saved, with that yarn in mind.  As it turned out, I wasn't crazy (ha!) about how the Zauberball knitted up in those patterns.  I WAS crazy about how beautiful this yarn looked when it was knitted up into Zuzu's Petals, which is a really pretty cowl.  So I ended up ordering a skein (you could even specify how you wanted it wound, so you'd start out with a specific color, which was pretty neat).  I think I'll be happier with this yarn, and it feels like I'm maturing a tiny bit in terms of getting a little more selective with choosing yarn.

********************

I finally finished my pink shawl!  I seriously thought it would take me pretty much this entire year to knit, because it was complicated enough that I could only work on the lace pattern for a little bit at a time...anything more than about one hour and I tended to make mistakes.  Um, yeah.  Speaking of mistakes...I was weaving in the ends and discovered that I had live, loose stitches in the middle of the lace border!  This was a very bad situation, as there was no way to easily rip back (other than undoing more than half of that lace border)(and that WASN'T going to happen).  Luckily for me, my knitter/runner friend Cary was able to work some magic and fixed it - I swear, she's a true detective when it comes to figuring out mistakes and correcting them. 

Finished shawl after blocking:
Top two were shot outside, the others were inside...funny how the yarn color looks so different!

Finished shawl before and during blocking:
Top two pictures shows how you HAVE to block lace - it's hard to distinguish the pattern otherwise.  Bottom two pictures are after I soaked it in special wool wash, and then pinned it out to dry.  Huge difference!

Traditional shot of Paco modeling the shawl:
Pink iz not my color, Mom!  So embarrass.

When it's not stupid hot, I'll take some pictures of me wearing it - I've got a couple ideas on styling it and I think the shawl will look pretty sharp over a black longsleeved t-shirt.  But that will have to wait for a cool front to blow in...so maybe October?