Friday, August 26, 2016

Summer Reruns - Part III

(My first half marathon.  I was the most prepared for this half out of all that I've done (nine, now!), and in looking back, I'm sad that the weather was so stinking hot that day - I think I probably could have finished in 2:30 had I not been baking in the sun (I actually got a sunburn during that race).  Still, it was such a huge accomplishment for this former couch potato, and I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge once again all of the support I received, from my running club, my family and friends, and from the blogging community.)

Monday, November 22, 2010


Seawall Half Marathon Recap!

This post is going to be long and, of course, picture heavy, so in case you don't have a lot of time to read it, I'll start with this:

I did it!!! I ran my first half marathon and have the medal, the pretty, pretty medal, to prove it! Want to see a close up? I love it! Kelly was right when she picked this race out for us - she said that their website was really pretty and the medals were bound to be nice...it's perfect!

OK, onto the recap. If you recall, I declared my intention to run this race back in May. I started formally training for it the end of August, when I joined my running club. I was prepared, thanks to both the running club and the guidance from my running guru, Helen...but one thing that I had no control over was the weather - and boy, was it a hot one on Saturday. Late November in south Texas - it was 67 degrees and the humidity was running high. The race started about 20 minutes late - we were far enough back from the starting line to not know what was going on, but Jeff was up front and later said it looked like they were having trouble with the timing electronics. All I know is that it was getting hotter and the mosquitoes were biting and I wanted to start running, hopefully away from them! Finally about 7:50 am we started - woohoo, my first half marathon!!!

I love this picture of the runners snaking along the course...and the really cool thing? Both Jenny and I noticed it - as soon as we started running, you could hear the quiet pounding of hundreds and hundreds of footsteps - it was breathtaking, listening to all of us run.

The course had us doing a loop through "Beach Town" - it was about 3.5 miles, I think. You'll have to forgive me - I have runner's brain bad right now (couple that with C.R.S. and there isn't much hope for accuracy at this point, lol) so I may not be remembering things exactly. Anyway, I was running pretty steady for that part. Just after mile 3 I tried to eat my first Shot Blok, but my stomach wasn't doing well and I couldn't bring myself to chew it...I ended up spitting it out. I was carrying my handheld water bottle and did drink often, but it was hot, my stomach was nervous, and I couldn't bear the thought of ingesting anything more than water and a couple sips of Gatorade at the aid stations for quite a while. Still, the running was going pretty good at that point.

We made the turn onto the Seawall, and began the long, long run down it. I think it was about 7.5 or 8 miles. It was hot and humid, and the sun was beating down on us. Although our times were staying steady with a 12 minute mile pace, I figured that wasn't going to last. I began to need to walk a bit - maybe for 20 seconds at a time? Anyway, even with that walking, we kept up the 12:00 mile pace until mile 9, which I think is a miracle considering how hot it was. Have I mentioned the heat? ;)

So. We ran and ran. It was nice that there were always a lot of runners around us - I love that about big races! There is a huge sense of "we're all in this together" and I've never experienced it so much as I did in this race...something about knowing that we all are trying to run 13.1 miles really brings everyone together. The aid stations all had themes and everyone was really friendly and encouraging as they gave us our hydration (and offered PowerBar Gels - I didn't take any, though). A couple of things were bugging me - one, the zipper on the pocket of my hand held bottle (that I had my lip balm and my fuel in) was giving me trouble and I pretty much needed both hands to zip it back up, which was a pain considering it was slipped over one hand. I kept getting into it to get my lip balm. Wish my shorts had a pocket for that. The other thing? I wore a pair of compression liner shorts under my regular running shorts - figured that might help with the comfort/possible chafing issue on this long sweaty run. I wore them the previous week for the 6 mile run and they felt fine, but on this run, they bugged me and every time I approached a porta-potty, I debated running in and stripping them off. Although the lines weren't long for the porta-potties, I never wanted to take the time to change, so I just suffered through them for the entire race. You try and test out every possibility during training to avoid something like this happening, but it did. Oh well.

Still running. Lots of spectators on the course. I was looking for both Jeff, and Kelly and her husband, Chuck - and found Kelly first, around mile 6, I think. I was so so so happy to see her! Chuck got it on camera:

This is when I spotted Kelly, holding a bright pink sign with MY NAME ON IT!!! And she was ringing a cowbell - love it!
And this is the beeline we made for her...
KELLY!!! I was never so happy to see her smiling face!

Poor Kelly - I ran up and gave her a big sweaty hug. I think I even hugged Chuck, too - seeing them really invigorated me and gave me a second wind. I can't tell you how GREAT it was to have personal support along the race course!
I like this picture because I look happy, and I want to remember that, not how hard it was. Which is what I believe I said to Kelly as I hugged her - "this is so hard!"
Love that she had the water station crew pose with my sign!
And then we were off again...A few minutes later Kelly drove past us, honking and waving - so awesome! Coming up to mile 8, there she was again! Looking a bit less invigorated at that point, I was.
Quick pose for posterity, and we were off AGAIN (say that in a Forrest Gump voice).

A little bit later, we came upon Jeff, and he had even made a sign! OK, not quite as fancy as Kelly's, but I appreciated his effort:
Can't miss a photo op!

So. Still running...with some walking thrown in. We would run, then walk, then pick a trash can along the route to start running again. Toward the end, it came down to either Jenny or I saying "trash can" and we knew we were going to either start running or walking...I think we need to have that printed on a running shirt - "trash can" - no body will understand it, but it has meaning. Deep, deep meaning, lol. Have I mentioned we are still running? My gosh, 13.1 miles is a long freaking way to run!!! Around the 10 mile mark, Jenny got the look in her eyes that I've seen many times during our workouts - the one that says "let's just get this over with as quickly as possible" - and she decided to try and keep running when I took another walking break. No problem - we all have to get through things in the way that works best for us. We were getting close to 83rd St., where we would finally turn off of the Seawall and start making our way toward Moody Gardens. At that point, I could hear an ambulance in the distance, coming our direction. The traffic was backed up, thanks to us runners and the nice policemen stopping the cars so we could cross the street, and it took a few minutes for the ambulance to get up to us. Just as it was approaching, the woman running behind me called dibs on it! I had to laugh - it was good to know that everyone was suffering through the heat! And apparently that's why the ambulance was called - the heat really got to a couple of runners. Hope they were ok.

It became a matter of survival at this point - on the one hand, I only had about 2.5 miles left to run, but on the on the other hand, I still had 2.5 miles left to run! I ran for a while with a woman named Carol who was doing 50:40 intervals, and then I ran with a man who was (jokingly) mad at his wife for talking him into running a half marathon. When I asked where she was, he said "in the car" - ha! Smart woman. Then came the last, oh, half mile? We ran down the center of Moody Gardens, where Kelly and Chuck were, once again...I sure wished that was the finish line, but nooooooo...still had to run around the back of the joint. Chuck got a picture of me:
And I knew it was almost over. As I ran around the back, I could hear the announcer calling out names as they crossed the finish line, and I was so happy to hear Jenny's name called - I had about a quarter mile to go at that point. I rounded the bend and saw almost everyone from my running club, clapping and cheering me on - woohoo! And then I heard my name called over the loudspeaker - I was FINISHING MY FIRST HALF MARATHON!!!!!


You can see Kelly in the picture, still holding my pink sign! Ricky Bobby says I finished the race in 2:47 - not too far off my anticipated time, and not bad considering the heat.
Happy, happy, happy!
Just past the finish line - Boy Scouts handed out Otter Pops, and then I was handed a bottle of water, but where was the medal?!? Finally another Boy Scout handed it to me...but didn't put it around my neck, and my hands were full of the other stuff! Luckily Kelly appeared and put it on me, which I think was most appropriate considering she was the one who talked me into doing this race in the first place!
I like this picture because you can see Jeff and Kelly reflected in my sunglasses.

Jenny found me and we posed for our traditional post-race picture:
First time with bling!

Then I found the grass and sucked down an Otter Pop - great post-race treat!
Jeff kept trying to get me to drink water, but I was all about the frozen treat!

Then Kelly surprised me with a present:
Love the wrapping!

And that's when the tears came:
She had a necklace made for me that says "13.1" on the copper disc and "Seawall" on the silver disc - such a thoughtful, sweet thing to do, and everything just hit me at that point. I was a blubbering mess for a bit after that!

More pictures - my running club and our medals:
l. to r.: Coach Joni, Tracy, Brian, A.J., Darrell, Doug, Coach Dale, me. The weather conditions in this race were so similar to our 12 mile "death march" run that we dubbed this the "Galveston Death March" - affectionately, of course!

And of course, the post-race food:
BBQ sliders!

I could only eat a bite - my appetite always takes a while to come back after a long run. But that's ok, I really got the food for my awesome pit crew:
My husband, Jeff

From driving me to Galveston, to getting me to the starting line, from all of the photography and making sure I had everything I needed, thank you - I couldn't have done it without you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer Reruns - Part Deux

(This one is cool - I never though I'd have the courage to workout with a trainer, but that's exactly what I ended up doing, and this post marks the one year anniversary of that.  I ended up leaving the group workouts after about 18 months, because I was training for my first half marathon, and I'd also quit my job, so the money wasn't around to pay for the training.  While my body isn't the same now and I couldn't do some of the things that I used to, like box jumps (or anything that has me landing hard, thanks to my ankle injury), I sometimes think about going back to BCS Fitness.  It was a good place for me.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Wednesday Workout Update - One Year Later!

I really can't believe I'm writing this, because if you knew the old me, you'd know how NOT ME this is - but this week marks my one year Exerversary - yes, I have worked out with my trainers for an entire year now! I have to give props to my trainers for pushing me along, because I would not be where I am, physically, without them. So thank you from the bottom of my heart, Brad, Linda, Kara, Andreas and Will. You guys are the best!

In this year, I went from barely walking on the treadmill to running my first mile; yesterday I ran a mile on the treadmill in 11:10. There were tears of frustration shed over box jumps, and finally victory at doing the 12" box jump (still love my medal, Tina!). Along the way I lost nearly 20 inches from my neck, bust, waist and hips, and 43 pounds. I went from wearing size 16 pants to size 8; from XL shirts to medium; my workout capris were size XL and are now size small. I am running every week outside of my workouts - so far this week I've run more than six miles! Amazing - I still shake my head in wonder at all that I am doing. We did skills testing this week - Brad likes to do this every few months to assess our progress. I did a 4:02 plank hold - looking back, I lasted for all of 30 seconds on my first plank hold. I can do a maximum bench press of 105 (one rep), and I did the T-bar row (gotta work those shoulders) with 45 pounds (10 reps). I did 100 curls with 15 pound dumbbells in 3:59, and easily did a 5 minute wall sit.

There are days when it's easy to get up and go to my workout - usually it's nice and sunny outside, and the temperature is warm. Then there are days like today, when I have to drag myself from my nice warm bed, put on cold workout clothes (I should stow my sports bra in bed so at least that would be warm), brush my teeth and hair and run outside to my equally cold car where the outdoor temperature reads 34 degrees, drive through school traffic, doing 20 MPH so the motorcycle cop won't pull me over, and finally arrive at Brad's, where I work my tail off for an hour. The beginnings might be easy and they might be hard, but either way, I'm always glad I went. And that has a lot to do with the people there - my trainers, and the ladies in my group, who are so supportive and just a lot of fun to suffer with workout with! Here is a picture of us today - taken at the end of our workout, so please excuse the sweaty messes that we all are:
L to R: Brad, his wife Kara, Kathleen, me, Linda, Jenny, Nancy

Here's a few pictures of Jenny doing some AMAZING box jumps - for comparison, I did mine yesterday...I managed to hit the 14" jump (after not making it on the first try - surprisingly I didn't hurt myself).
Flying through the air with ease!
This one cracks me up - check out the look on Jenny's face as Brad measures how high she was going to jump (he kept adding weight plates for more height). I believe this was 22" high.And she jumps it with no problem!Moving on to even higher levels, Jenny peaked at 32" - I bet next time she will clear it no problem...she was getting tired at this point.

And just for fun, here's Kara at the start of our five-minute wall sit - she's quite pregnant but doesn't use that as an excuse to not work out.
Arnold is watching her...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer Reruns - Part One

(I'm on vacation in California, which means that you get reruns...but the good news is that I should have some blog fodder ready when I return!  This post still makes me smile, and for the record I still see Melissa every six months for my teeth cleaning.  Oh and also - HAPPY 27th BIRTHDAY Allie!!!)

 

Monday, September 13, 2010


Awk-ward...

I had my six-month cleaning at the dentist the other day. I've been going there for years - it's a real friendly place, the hygienists are all very sweet and my dentist is a good ol' country boy - lots of fun to chat with. I checked in and settled down with a magazine. The hygienist opened the door to the back and called my name - darn, I barely got started with the magazine (the ultra highbrow Entertainment Weekly, in case you're wondering) - I stood up and followed her to the exam room.

"Uh...Shelley Last Name?" she asked?
"Yes" I answered, figuring it was a new HIPAA thing, confirming who I was.

She looked at me for a few moments as I was putting my purse down and then blurted out "Did you have surgery?" and you know, it took me a second to figure out what she was talking about!

"Oh - uh, no" I said, as she tried to backtrack and apologize. Here's the thing - she didn't recognize me. The last couple of times I've had my teeth cleaned I've had a different hygienist, but this was Melissa, who I started with way back when.

Let me say this again: She.didn't.recognize.me.

She really thought she had the wrong person. Wow. I know I've changed, but I'm still the blonde-haired, glasses-wearing person I've always been...yes, the hair is longer and the glasses are different, but still. This is such a strange feeling - it happens pretty infrequently, and only (obviously) with people that I go a long time without seeing. But it throws me every time. And I'm sorry that people feel so awkward when they realize that they didn't know me...it's a strange thing to try and make them feel better about it.

For the record, she really was horrified that she'd asked the "surgery" question - she said she tries and can't even lose five pounds, so how on earth could anyone lose *that* much weight on their own?

People who discover I've lost over 100 pounds always ask me how I did it. When I say diet and exercise, I can see their eyes glaze over and literally watch them shut down. They don't want to hear that. My success cannot possibly be because I did what we all should be doing, whether we need to lose weight or simply live - eat healthy foods most of the time, and move your body, be it by riding a bike or walking or whatever. It's the whole "magic pill" thing - and yes, I was guilty of wanting that, too. No one wants to hear that it takes work, and time. Where is the fun in that? Where is the quick fix? Where is the instant gratification? (And I realize that even with weight-loss surgery, it's still not a quick fix - losing weight takes time, no matter how you do it.)

After we were done with the hows of my weight loss, she asked the next question - one that I can predict with certainty that will follow: "You're done, right? You're not planning on losing any more weight?" I don't know why, but that cracks me up. I mean, look at me...I'm not a stick by any means. What do people mean when they ask this? And really, why should they care? I don't go into any detailed explanations other than to say "no" or "maybe a little more" depending on who I'm talking with. After all, I'm not looking for an argument or feel the need to defend myself.

I am very willing to talk about weight-loss and exercise...obviously, as I've been blogging about it for over two years now. But when it comes up in real life, it's still a bit strange and yes, awkward, to talk about it - I just hope that am able to convey the fact that if I can lose the weight, than anybody can.

Friday, August 19, 2016

FMM...Printers, Bears (haha), and Socks - Oh My!

I got a new printer, woohoo!  I think my old one was going on 10 years old, and hasn't printed very nicely for a quite a while, so when the ink ran out, I did a little shopping around and bought this one:
HP 3755

I love how little real estate this uses on my desk - for reference, this is what my old printer looked like:
Luckily I had a couple of nearly-empty drawers so I had a place for all the stuff formerly stacked on/piled near the old printer.

I like the new printer, but it was a bear to install.  I followed the directions and couldn't get it to find my wireless network, so I tried using the (included) USB cable instead.  No go.  The entire process was way more difficult than it should have been - even getting registered on the HP site was hard; I mean, I registered successfully, but then it wouldn't let me log on...and of course when I tried to reregister, I got a "this username has already been taken" popup - I KNOW, BECAUSE I REGISTERED IT!  I was very frustrated, so Jeff tried to get the printer installed, and he had the same trouble.  Hours later, I decided to pack it up and return it, but before I did that, we went out for a late dinner and stopped at Best Buy to look at other printers - I wasn't happy about that, because they all were so big and I really only needed the little one.  I ended up buying one, but when we got home Jeff tried one last thing and finally, FINALLY, the printer started working.  This should not have been so difficult, but in reading reviews, I can see that we weren't alone in having these problems.  My computer is an HP as well, so really, the compatibility should have been super simple.

All that aside, I like that this printer is Instant Ink enabled, which means that I can pay a small fee each month for ink and when the cartridges run low, HP will send me the ink before I run out.  This works for me because, as with stamps, I get irrationally irritated at the price of ink cartridges.  But hey, having a few bucks automatically debited from my bank account?  No big deal...and the ink cartridges will just magically appear.  Win-win for my mental state.

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I finished a pair of socks!  These were a little different to knit in that the yarn was mostly cotton - it felt really nice to knit with but I noticed that my thumb joints were a little sore whenever I worked on these socks, which is usually the case when I knit with cotton yarn.  I guess it doesn't have as much give as wool, maybe?  The socks are really soft and feel good to wear in our heat - I have to wear socks once a week, when I volunteer at the hospital, so it's nice to have these now.
Yarn is Schachenmayr Regia Pairfect Cotton, colorway is Beach, pattern is my own, with the Fish Lips Kiss heel.

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I didn't have a good place for this picture on Wednesday's post, but I wanted to show you the face of a happy dog:
Andi's water bottle has a mister on the top, and Koda LOVED being sprayed with it - he kept trying to bite the spray and wouldn't leave until the bottle was empty - so cute!

Also, we finished our run and came back to a rainbow:
It wasn't raining, but we got the rainbow anyway.

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I'm on vacation now - I arrived in California yesterday to visit Barbara, Theresa, and of course other special friends.  I'm already reveling in the cooler temps and enjoying running where it's not 80 degrees and 100% humidity - ahhh.  I even signed up to do a race on the last Sunday that I'm here...it's 7.5 miles, which will be interesting seeing as I haven't run that distance in, oh, six months?  But it's on the coastline, the weather will be wonderful, and I'm just going to enjoy myself, regardless of how much running I actually accomplish.

Beginning on Monday, it's summer rerun season here on the blog - I've chosen some old posts to highlight, and I'll be back with new posts on August 31st.  Jeff and Paco are holding down the fort at home, which in reality means Paco will spend most of his days hiding in my closet, moping that I'm gone.  Of course y'all know where Jeff will be - in his hammock!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Renegade Run Club

You may have noticed that last year I stopped writing about USAFit, which was the running club I first joined in 2010, and became the organizer of for two years in 2013 and 2014.  I'm not running with USAFit anymore - there's a time and a season for everything, and my time with that particular group came to an end last year.  As a whole, you can't go wrong with joining your local USAFit running group - it's great to have a group of people to run with for your long runs on any given Saturday, plus, if you're lucky, you will become friends with some of that group - and that's what ended up happening with me.

Over the last few years, there has been a core group of us who've gravitated together, not only for running, but for breakfast afterward.  And then we started doing races together, with our first really big race being the Houston half marathon in January of 2015.  We traveled well together, which is not always the easiest thing with a group, but we made it work and had a great time.  So we kept doing more and more races and racecations together, and although we joined USAFit last summer, we still mostly ran with our core group.

Our name came about during that time; the routes would be posted for the Saturday runs, and one or more of our group would ask me to come up with an alternate route, so I did, and I started naming them "renegade" 6 miler (or whatever the distance).  Cristy picked up on that name and started calling us the renegades, and that stuck, so when we made shirts for the 2016 Houston half marathon, that was the name we chose to go along with the design.

USAFit stops meeting after their goal race, which is in December, but our group runs year-round, which continued to strengthen our bond.  So this year, it made sense for us to not join them because at this point, we've all been running long enough that we could come up with a training schedule on our own, which we did.  We also didn't feel the need to pay quite so much to belong to a running group - USAFit is a great organization and I give it a lot of credit for getting me to my first half marathon and beyond, but I think that as our core group grew together, we didn't need the support of our former running group.

While we could have continued to meet at the park where we've been starting our runs from for years, we didn't want to interfere with our former running group.  As luck would have it, Cary and Brian live really close to that park, so they offered up their garage as our new clubhouse, I redid our running routes to reflect starting from that point, and we were set.  We collected a nominal fee from everyone to cover water and Gatorade, along with some other essentials, and it's been working out great.  We set out water along our route, and usually Loretta is also out there taking care of us via her bicycle.  And afterward, we hang out at the clubhouse; we store our folding chairs and yoga mats there, so it's very comfortable to sit and stretch and cool down.

Because we mesh so well together, we aren't really open to letting anyone else in, which has been interesting, because while we've been out doing our long runs, people have asked about joining us, more than once.  It's weird to say "no, you can't run with us" so instead we're saying that we're just a group of friends who are running together...which we are - just pay no attention when you see us wearing shirts that say Renegade Run Club.  We've got a good thing going, and I think we all want to protect it.

Here's a collage I threw together, showing some of the races we've done together:
Renegade Run Club.  My peeps.  Good times, fun times, and much more of that to come!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Coconut Water Comparision

This is a very unscientific comparison of three different brands of coconut water, with only two subjects weighing in on the taste test - namely, Jeff and I.  Additionally, because we both dislike plain coconut water, we chose coconut/pineapple flavor for our test.

Years ago (OK, like six), I loved to rehydrate after my runs with VitaCoco Coconut Water with Pineapple.  I used coconut water because it has a lot of potassium, and I sweat so much while running that I get leg cramps if I'm not careful about replacing the potassium - if you've ever woken up with a massive Charley horse in your calf in the middle of the night, you know what I'm talking about.  I loved this drink, and even got Jeff hooked on it, but a couple of years ago it disappeared from the grocery store shelves in our town.  Honestly, I wondered if VitaCoco had gone out of business, but nope - apparently the powers that be in our area decided we weren't worthy of such a delicious drink.  We tried some other brands of coconut water but didn't like them, so eventually I switched over to either Gatorade or Nuun (and we know how Nuun has ruined THAT now, ptooey).

Cut to a couple of months ago, when we were at a grocery store in Dallas - I couldn't believe it when I saw my beloved VitaCoco pineapple on the shelves!  I bought a couple of cartons and proceeded to hoard them, telling Jeff we had to save them for a particularly sweaty post-run reward.  Then he wondered if, since it had been so long since we'd had the VitaCoco, if we'd really notice that much of a difference between that brand and other brands, so we bought a couple other cartons of coconut water proceeded to have a taste-test throwdown.

The contenders:
 
 Naked, Vita Coco, Yaco - all coconut water with pineapple puree added.

The throwdown scene - about 6:30 am, after a steamy 2.5 mile run:
Interestingly, the Naked brand looked the most colorful...but how would it taste?

Jeff stood with his back to the table, so he didn't know which brand I was handing him.  He guessed the VitaCoco correctly right away. The one he liked the least was the Naked, which I thought was interesting considering it looked the most flavorful, in terms of color vibrancy.  He said the Yaco could do, but still, the VitaCoco was far and above the best-tasting of the three.

As for me, I started with the Naked brand and hated it.  I thought it had a bit of a dirt taste - it was not good.  Then I tried the Yaco brand.  The flavors were faint, like there just wasn't much to it at all.  I saved the VitaCoco for last, and of course I loved it, but I did feel like it was pretty heavy, and I'm not sure if that was because A) it is; B) I had it after two lighter-tasting drinks; or C) I'm not used to drinking it anymore.

So, the VitaCoco pineapple flavor is still our favorite, but even if I could easily purchase it, I'm not sure I'd drink it after a run now, just because it seemed so heavy to me.  Now, for a fun drink on a hot afternoon, over some crushed ice?  Sure thing!

Friday, August 12, 2016

FMM - Socks, and Lessons Learned

Sometimes, when I've finished knitting a project with a yarn that I particularly love, and I have enough leftover, I'll try to figure out a way to incorporate it into another project.  Such was the case with the yarn I used for these socks:
Fierce Fiber's Stalwart Sock yarn, colorway is Pastry Bandit (pattern is Slip Stitch Lines)

I had enough remaining that I thought I could safely use it for the toes and heels of another pair of socks, and maybe even squeak out the cuffs, so I ordered my favorite colorway, Baltic, from Madelinetosh in an oh-so-luxurious sock base that had a little cashmere mixed in with the standard wool and nylon, weighed the Pastry Bandit yarn for a starting point of reference, taking detailed notes on my Ravelry project page, and I began knitting.  The end result was a super cute pair of socks for my mom's birthday gift - but it didn't come without a major mistake and subsequent learning experience for me...but first, let's get to the fun part and see the finished product:
Blue yarn is Madelinetosh 80/10/10 fingering in Baltic colorway; multicolored is Pastry Bandit.  

I loved how the socks came out - it was fun to see the pops of color on the toes and heels, and yes, I even managed to do the cuffs with the multicolored yarn, although I capped them off with blue just because I liked that look (never mind how many ends I had to weave in as a result - totally worth it).  I blocked the socks, which involves soaking them in a wool wash, and then drying them on the sock blockers for shaping, and then I took pictures - they look great, right?
A matching pair...?

Wait a minute.  Something looks different about the toes.  One is more rounded than the other - did I put it on the sock blocker wrong?  Let's take a closer look:
That definitely isn't right.  What the what???

It took me several minutes of staring at the two socks to comprehend that no, I didn't twist them when I put them on the blockers - I'd actually made the toe of the second sock twist 180 degrees!  Because I knit toe-up, I made the mistake when I started the heel and didn't have the sock orientated correctly.  However, I was knitting these for my mom, who has a smaller foot than I do, and I hadn't done my usual "try on and admire at every step along the way" thing that I usually do when I knit socks because I didn't want to stretch them out...which means I didn't catch the mistake earlier.

Now, I didn't panic, because I knew this was fixable.  I've read about knitters replacing worn out heels and toes in handknit socks, so all I had to do was to unravel the toe and start over, knitting from where the colorful yarn meets the blue, toward the front of the toe, and close it up with the kitchner stitch.  Totally doable.  So, I started unraveling the yarn, which wasn't easy because A) I'd already blocked the socks, so the yarn was softer than when I knitted with it; and B) I'd cast on 12 stitches per needle, and increased to 30, so I was having to undo those increases, which meant a lot of pulling an increasingly long length of yarn through.  I finished and ended up with a nice mound of very kinky yarn:
There was more, but I used most of it to tie a bow onto the socks when I wrapped them.

I could have reused that kinky yarn for the toe, but I had enough leftover from to start fresh, which I did.  I started knitting, and then I did my usual for the toes, which is to start increasing the number of stitches to shape it.  Did you catch that?  I started increasing, when I should have been decreasing the stitches, to taper toward the tip of the toe.  My brain went on autopilot but luckily I'd only gone about four rows when I realized that mistake.  Undo, start again...and finally, I worked my way down to being able to close up the toe with the kitchner stitch, which isn't hard, but you do have to concentrate while doing it, otherwise it's really easy to lose your place and it's quite hard to fix, so I set the sock aside for the next day, when my mind was ready to focus.  I got that part done, wove in the ends (again), blocked the sock (again), took pictures (again), and just like that, this pair of socks was truly finished.  Easy as pie - ha!

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After all of that, I also have another pair of socks to show you - hey, turning 75 means you get spoiled with two pairs of handknitted socks.  This pair was actually a trio - yes, I knitted three socks to make one pair.  What happened was that I knit the first sock on size one needles, like I do for most of my socks.  But, it didn't show the stripes very well, and also, the fabric felt really dense and stiff - which isn't necessarily a bad thing for socks, because that can help them be sturdier and have a longer wear life.  However, I wasn't 100% sold on how the sock came out, so when I started the second sock, I used size 1.5 needles, and I liked it much better.  Here's the comparison - the look is fairly subtle, but the fabric is quite different:
I felt like the purple stripes in the teal were lost in the sock on the left.

I didn't get frustrated while knitting these - I do enjoy the process of knitting, and it was fun to see the socks develop.  Having said that, I think I need to learn to go with my gut and be prepared to make a change, even if that means restarting a project, earlier in the game.  Live and learn, obviously.  Here's the finished project collage:
Yarn is KnitCircus Greatest of Ease, colorway is As You Wish.

Shall I go on with my sock, well, not drama...but, er...production?  So the other issue I had with these socks came with the yarn.  I chose this yarn a while back specifically to make these special socks for my mom's significant birthday.  It's a hand-dyed, gradient self-striping that looked really pretty on the website.  When the yarn arrived in my mailbox, I thought "hmmm...there doesn't look like a lot of color difference in the blue" - but it was wound in cakes, so I couldn't really get a good look at it:
I began knitting with the blue, and sure enough, it was pretty solid.  So I emailed KnitCircus, and was advised that the color change would appear pretty soon (I'd only knitted a couple of inches).  I decided to restart with the purple, figuring that the most vibrant part of the blue color striping would appear first and if the sock ended with the cuff being more solid, that would be OK.  Now, I like how the socks turned out, but the gradient striping just wasn't much to write home about, especially compared to what was advertised.  I emailed KnitCircus again, and I have to say, their customer service was excellent, because they agreed with me and gave me a refund.  And because of that, I'll order yarn from them again in the future, for sure.

It was a process to get these two pairs of socks knitted to my satisfaction.  I've come to accept that I have a bit of a perfectionist streak when it comes to knitting, and that's OK.  I'm good with making things right, even if it takes me several tries.  I'd like to think I won't ever make such a crazy mistake like getting a toe twisted, but hey - I'm human, and humans make mistakes.  It's all good in my little knitting world, and for me, the most important thing was that I could give my mom some really nice handknit socks for her 75th birthday.

Have a great weekend!