Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I have been wanting to read this book from the moment I first saw the cover. Do I have to say why?

I decided to finally tackle it and after seeing that I placed 900-and-something on the Wake County library waiting list, I decided to purchase it for myself. I couldn't read it right away due to other book-reading obligations, so Tim gave it a try but gave up after about 100 pages. I heard from a couple of other friends that they had a hard time getting into it, so I was concerned, since the novel is over 600 pages.

Fortunately for me, I had no problem getting into it. After reading The Secret History, nothing seemed that long-winded. I enjoyed every bit of the article and found it pertinent in learning about all the personalities involved.

Lisbeth Salander is, in fact, the girl with the dragon tattoo. In the novel, she has several tattoos (and piercings), one being a dragon over her shoulder. Coincidentally, this was my first dragon, before covering the rest of my torso with a bigger dragon. In the movie, which I watched after I finished the novel, Lisbeth has a much bigger, gray-washed (like mine) tattoo covering her back...not quite as nice as mine, but pretty damn cool, nonetheless.

Okay, back to the book...

Lisbeth is a 24 year old anti-social ward of the government of Sweden. This means she has a guardian that watches over her financial situation, to assess whether she is capable of taking care of herself on her own. She has been a problem "child" from years before, and while she strikes a kinship with her guardian, she soon finds herself in the hands of a new guardian, after the previous one becomes an invalid due to a stroke.

This is a very cruel and obscene relationship. And this is what the gist of this novel is about: not only Lisbeth's horrific encounters with her new guardian, but how women, in general, are abused in Sweden. Each section of parts of the novel includes a quote regarding the statistics of abuse that happens to women in Sweden.

In fact, the novel's title in Sweden is translated to: Men Who Hate Women.

Ironic as Stieg Larsson does an amazing job writing about strong women, despite the center being vicious crimes against women.

Lisbeth is strong woman #1. A tough cookie who can hack any computer anywhere and has a photogenic memory. She works for a security firm and can find everything and anything on any person.

The main female victim is Harriet Vanger, a 16 year old girl who disappeared in 1966. Her rich, industrialist uncle Henrik hires Mikael Blomkvist, a financial reporter recently convicted of libel, to investigate her disappearance...under the guise of writing a biography of the famous (or infamous) Vanger family. Mikael is chosen by Henrik because Henrik knew of Mikael's father and because he had read previous work from Mikael and found him to be a good researcher. No one, in over 40 years, has been able to solve the mystery of Harriet's disappearance and assumed murder.

Mikael moves to the small 'rural' town of Hedestat, where most of the Vanger family reside and soon discovers how messed up the Vanger family really is, as Henrik had already told of. Lisbeth joins the force and eventually, a series of sexual abuse, rape, torture and murder of several women come into play, relating to the disappearance of Harriet.

It's a great mystery with a lot of insight to different characters. For me, it was like a really great movie as I tried to figure out who the killer was. Of course, one of my predictions ends up being the right one but certainly, I had no idea how the novel would end.

I loved it and had Tim buy me the next one, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I am debating on whether I attempt to finish HP's Chamber of Secrets or just start on this one.

As I mentioned earlier, I watched the movie last night with Tim. The movie was really good but definitely a lot of departures from the novel. And despite a lengthy novel, there is so much more to attain within the book than what the movie presented, which was a bit disappointing. None of the actors in the roles matched my image of the characters from the novel. I think that's OK. I don't think I will lose those images, as Robert Pattinson did to my beautiful image of Edward Cullen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inside-Out Sports Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 8K Race Report

What better way than to start Thanksgiving Day than running an 8K?

I haven't done this often but when I do, it feels damn good.

As a person who prefers to get out of bed when I feel like it (which anytime after 7:30 works best for me...which is a dilemma during the work week), waking up early for a thanksgiving race is not all that hard. Years ago, Tim and I and a bunch of pals got up early for this race when it was held at Ridgewood (note: that race is still there but no longer with the "Inside-Out Sports" sponsor).

Last year, I ran this race as part of the grand prix series. This year, I ran it as part of the series but with CJ, who I am helping to compete and hopefully place in the top three of her age group.

An 8K is a hair under five miles. That is a lot of miles, especially for a 12 year old who hasn't run more than a 5K. I can't tell you how many people gaped at me when I mentioned that CJ and I were running an 8K: "how can she handle that?", "that's a lot of miles for her", "really?" It was astounding, to be honest, the skepticism that folks had about her doing this race. LOTS of kids run these races younger than her. And you know what happens when they get tired of running? They *walk*.

It was a chilly morning, far from the 60s that the never-spot-on-weather reports first predicted. I dressed in my running skirt and long sleeve shirt with a jacket. I had overdressed the previous Saturday for my long run and was burning up at the end...I decided not to make the same mistake. But I probably would have functioned just fine with a little bit more clothing. Nonetheless, I survived as the new warm-blooded me and did not complain one iota about being cold. My BFF Frank even commented about my lack of overdressing for the weather.

Frank was the only BFF I saw before the race. Did not see $Bill anywhere and Frank stated he looked all over for him before we met up with him. Finally, we were off to run.

The route is actually really nice, for a person like me who is anti-Cary. To be frank, I would rather run Ridgewood and support that neighborhood but this one happens to be part of the grand prix series so technically, I have no choice.

But it is actually nice, even though the route takes us through the neighborhood that espouses elitism. Mansions, or "little castles", as CJ described some of them, in awe, as we ran past them. I guess one way for me to be less judgmental is to say 'this would be the only way to see this side of Cary; to run through it in a race'. But the holiday spirit is in me on Thanksgiving, and I can pass some judgment aside and actually feel warmth towards the people that live in the neighborhood...who come out and cheer the runners on.

CJ did great. She was jovial awhile, as we find a pattern of laughing at the runner antics around us. But despite me enjoying the route (it is much easier to run these races at pace that isn't me competing with myself), it is still a not-so-easy race route. At one point, it is a long mile or so of roadway that is not in the neighborhood, so it can be classified boring to someone like CJ. To me, it's a long, nice downhill-like path in which I can increase my speed and feel easy about it.

I could hear her breathing and, unlike me, her cheeks become noticeably red when she exerts herself. This comes from the howlie side of the family... So I tell her "You know you can run 3.1 miles, so let's run that much before we take a walk break."

The first mile went fast; the second felt long. I am sure, if you are counting the miles, the third mile would feel long too. We finally reached mile marker three and CJ and I had our first walk break.

It was bad timing, IMO, because we were going downhill. I explained this to her, that the best walk breaks occur at the worst parts of a route but she ignored me and continued walking. My problem is curtailing my competitiveness for her. People are now passing us. People *I* think she should be ahead of. We walk. And I am thinking "how long before she starts running????" So I say to her "whenever you are ready" and she sighs with frustration. I try to emphasize that I am not pushing her but that I would not be the one starting to run, that I would let her determine it.

More walking. I am getting antsy. And then, regrettably, after two young girls pass, I say "there goes your competition".

I wish I could take that back.

So she sighs and starts back to running. We pass everyone that passed us easily. She is going faster and now I think, uh-oh, I've pissed her off and she is getting irrational and is running faster...and we still have almost two miles to go. I feel so bad and slower my tempo in hopes that she will match me, but she's a step ahead of me. I run no faster and let her do her thing. The one advantage I have is that I know what it's like to be frustrated with a run. :)

I start analyzing the route ahead of us and point out milestones, based on what I think are good spots to walk vs. run. So we run to a point that goes up, stop and walk until I see flat or a slope.

Coincidentally, as we approach the four mile mark, we are walking, and I say "at that mile marker, we start running"...to which a fellow runner looks at me and says "no, there's only a half mile left"...mistaken my "mile marker" as saying there is a mile left. I look at her with puzzlement and her friend whispers something to her and she moans "oh...another mile???!!" I said to her "I did that same thing last year!" referring to the fact that, in my unsorted brain, I had thought I was finishing the race in four miles, only to see, upon HITTING four miles, the error of my way. It was one of the most disheartening things to happen during a race and I thought about, how one year later, how very different I was running the same race.

After we passed the four mile mark, we took a nice long walk break. I told her "we have less than a mile left now...it's not much...so take as long as you need to walk but once we start running, we should continue to the end. Run a comfortable pace first and then when we get to the half mile mark, pick it up. Once you see the finish, sprint to the end"

Towards the end, which took forever, CJ was really struggling. I knew it was hard. She had never ran this many miles and I know she was just looking for this to end. But she did as I recommended and I purposely made the pace up until the 1/2 mile mark much slower than comfortable. I doubt that it felt that way for CJ.

At the 1/2 mile mark, I picked it up a little, but once I knew we were close to the end, I picked it up more. There was no real sprint from CJ at the end; we went faster but not sprinting and I made sure that CJ crossed the finish first.

She refused a hug from me at the end. :) That was OK. I told her earlier in the race that it was OK to be mad at me. I do that too. :)

She walked off, back towards the car and I thought it was probably best if we left instead of my usual banter with my BFFs after the race. I figured they would understand later.

She was still emanating irritation at me and I left her alone. Congratulations and words from her cheesy mom about how proud of her I am could wait. But I wondered what I could treat her too, for a job well done? What else? She's a sucker for Starbucks, of course! She nodded with a less irritable attitude when I mentioned this.

And who do I see at the evil empire of Starbucks but $Bill! He asked how we did and I told him the clock had 56 minutes. Great job CJ! he says, which made me very happy. He is such an enthusiastic supporter for all and to target CJ with it, was a wonderful thing for her to hear.

We find out that we were probably feet apart at the starting line, but with so many people, and apparently me being so short, he couldn't see us. Bill said he did it in about 41 minutes, which is pretty amazing since it was just two weeks ago that he did an Ironman (~13 hours of swimming, biking and running...incredible).

Anyway, the coffee perked her up and all was well again. When we got home, Tim was enthusiastic "How did you do?!" "I did horrible!" she said, which surprised me. I told her she did awesome.

Later that night, when it was just me and her, I asked her what she thought of the race. She said she felt like she did so bad. I told her she shouldn't, that five miles is a lot for anyone and that for her first long distance race, she did incredible. I also told her that I tended to have this very bad habit of analyzing how badly I do at races, even if I made a PR or a decent time. She should not follow in her mother's footsteps and focus on the positives.

Then one of the many animals we had got involved somehow and broke the tender moment, as CJ said to them. And like that, we were done with the race report.

I am proud of her. One day, she will be the person running the other way, on her way to a fast finish, as I wave proudly at her yelling "Go CJ Go! Run for your donuts!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Headstrong

Yesterday, CJ and I picked MiMi up from school and this is the story she told us:
There was this boy who came up to me and sang "ABCDEFG! MIMI IS MY ENEMY. STICK A PISTOL UP HER NOSE, PULL THE TRIGGER, SEE IT BLOW! ABCDEFG! MIMI IS MY ENEMY!
Huh, I thought...and before I could say anything she said,
"So I pinned him against the wall and sang the same thing back to him."

Florence...

We watched this past weekend's SNL last night and I fell in love. Well, I've already been in love with Anne Hathaway. She is an adorable, gifted actress, IMO.

But the special guest artist was Florence and the Machine and I was like: who the heck is that?

But once she sang, I remembered.

I first heard/saw Florence on the MTV Awards and I thought: seriously? The youth of America digs this? It's *so* not what I consider popular music. And I loved it.

The SNL performance of Dog Days are Over is so amazing. Her backup dancers are 'dressed' so that they contrast to her colorful red hair. It is quite artistic, as in a beautiful moving painting. They look like they are in a different film type (sepia) than her...and of course, she sounds incredible. And those legs of hers? I want them...



Her second performance is just as beautiful, if not more subdued:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clubbin' It

Yesterday was "Club" day at CJ's volleyball club. That entails: uniform fitting and giving out practice shirts. This was the most exciting aspects for CJ, with regard to Club Day.

The other parts of Club Day, that Tim and I were fascinated by were jump 'testing' and core & strength training. These people mean business!

CJ got there with her statuesque BFF "R" (who is actually 5' 10 *1/2*"; I'd been telling folks she is 5'10" and started thinking 'that can't be right!' but R's mom confirmed it for me yesterday). R had her birthday the night before and had the Harry-Potter-movie@midnight sleepover. We got there a bit later, in tow with laptops, crayons, books, coloring book...and that was just my stash.

We got there in time to see CJ and R to see how high their reach is, how high they can jump straight up, and then how to run and jump. I couldn't see the actual number of far up CJ could jump (they use a vertex device to measure this) but it looked impressive for my 'little' girl.

The vertex is a pole like thing that has a bunch of metal flags that rotate. The idea is to jump as high as possible to push the flags out of the way. Once you can no longer reach a flag, you have the maximum height that you can jump (thus far).

I would later find out it was 8'11".

But R was next, and remember, she is 5'10 1/2". The vertex 'measurer' moved most of the flags aside. I mean, I thought "seriously"? You expect her to jump higher than that? And she did - whole lot higher. In the end, she had maybe six flags left standing. I don't know what that measured up to but it is *a lot*.

The teams then ended up in a core/strength session with an outfit from Greensboro. For those of us who have done Interval Training at work, this is almost exactly what they did yesterday...all the variations of it. I was so psyched to think that I have endured such painful-but-satisfying workouts, and now my daughter was going through it.

They did awesome - the girls and the trainers. I am just so fricking amazed at the entire program: the amount of cross-training and nutritional counseling that comes with this. They mean to win. :)

And CJ has improved ten fold from day one of tryouts. She has gone back to the gym for another tryout date for the girls that missed the original tryouts as a representative of the team.

Then last weekend we were there for "open" gym time for her team. I was just amazed at her playing ability. She has one of the most picture perfect run-n-jump forms ever. And yes, I am biased but I am also one of the most critical. :)

Last night, CJ was busy reviewing the 'cheat sheet' that the trainers gave her and wrote out her game plan. She told Tim and I "i have to drink more water". Um, duh. We have been telling her that for ages but, as usual, it has to come from a source that is not her parent.

She asked me how long it was to walk to the bridge (a landmark in our hood) and back. I measured it out and it ended up a 1/4 mile to, which ends up being a 1/2 mile. She was outlining her cross-training plan at home.

Wow. This volleyball thing was my thing: pushing her to play. Doing the grunt work in getting her in clinics and eventually, the club. She did so very robotic-ally. There were very few times that I thought "am i being pushy about this?" I emphasize "few times" as I as okay with being a pushy mom about this as Tim and I believe it is a vital to young people to be involved in sports; girls more so, IMHO.

But I can give up the reigns and hand over this to CJ. She earned it and she now owns it. Volleyball is her thing and I am just there to support her.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good Times, Good Times

Today I made it to a run with $bill and Frank. It's been a loong time since I've run with $bill and Frank dumped me from calling him my "running buddy"...even though are entire friendship has been based and formed from the years we ran together.

Last week, my workplace (and Frank and $Bill's) sent out a notice about registering for the American Tobacco Marathon and Half Marathon. What a coincidence, I thought, because I had just had a conversation with a co-worker (and fast runner) about marathons. I told him I wasn't ready and he said that when I am, I should consider the American Tobacco Marathon. I considered it for a second. :) But I did find it eerily coincidental...

$Bill then emailed me and said something to the effect of 'you are doing this and you are going to beat two hours. i will pace you.' Well how could I turn that down? So I am signed up for the half marathon, along with $Bill and two, possibly three, new training mates: Laura, Nancy and Jan.

Sidenote: Jan ran with us today, which was a very pleasant surprise as I had no idea she was informed of our meeting. We started off and Laura said 'jan, you should do the half in march' and we were like 'yeah, you should do it' to which she shrugged nonchalantly 'okay...you twisted my arm'. How easy was that?

Frank has to be different and instead, will go with the full marathon. This is always good for me, as it continues to remind me of how much harder training is for 26.2 miles. The talk of 2 mile repeats today spun in my head and a relief that I would not have to endure such training.

Anyway, we ran four miles in Umstead. The first two were a bear and only Bill would know how hard it would be for me...he said afterward 'i didn't hear you talking.' It's a two mile out and back and the back is my runner's high route. I wouldn't say I had the runner's high this round but I felt pretty good.

When we were done, Frank and the girls headed for more miles on Black Creek while Bill and I took to a bike trail at Lake Crabtree. We did two more miles and it was just really nice. The lake on one side and nothing but trees on the other, with leaves all over the place.

It didn't feel like it had been that long since I ran with them but it has been. I look forward to getting back into that similar routine we've had in the past, this time with new running pals.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Thank you, me. I finally finished this tome. It really doesn't look so daunting - I've read many books with as many pages (this particular copy: 524), if not more. But the font is teeny-tiny and because of that, it can fit a lot of words on a single page.

I wasn't too sure about this one. The beginning was s-l-o-w. I learned more Greek than I ever cared to know. This isn't like Greek mythology. It is literal Greek, the language. Yes, there is Greek mythology, as well as Latin (the language) and other references to the "Classics" but it never was educational to me, more presumptuous.

It picked up at the halfway point and became pretty interesting to me. I couldn't wait to get to it and see what was going on. But after finishing it? I don't know what to make of it. Did I like it? I don't know yet. I can't stop thinking about it, revisiting the story time and time again in my head. However, I am quite relieved that I am done with it.

The Secret History is about a group of students at a small town college in Vermont. Richard is the 'voice' heard, recounting this story. The opener is about a friend who has been murdered, and the story then goes back in time, to when Richard first meets the group of students: twins Camilla and Charles, Henry, Francis, and Edmund, aka Bunny. All of the students come from some kind of wealth, except for Richard, although he covers his blue collar roots with lies of grandeur.

These group of students are studying Greek under the mysterious and eccentric professor, Julian. Julian seems to be too good to be true. His background has him connected with nearly every major figure in real life history, and he comes across as the most collected, genuine human being ever in the world. A real life Socrates, of sorts. At the end, however, Richard explains that this may have been his own lie, his own fantasy to make Julian out to be better than he was. Course, this comes at nearly page 515...and it wasn't like "surprise!" but more like "Bobby Ewing never died; it was just a dream".

There is *a lot* of describing everything: the actual studies of Greek; how much time is spent sleeping, drinking, walking to another office. It is just filled to the hilt with nonsensical "stuff". The meat of the novel is supposed to center on an 'accidental' murder that all but Bunny and Richard being involved in...then the eventual discovery by Bunny as to who was responsible. It doesn't come right out but implies that the 'who-did-its' are being blackmailed by Bunny. It is not clear if this is really true or just a naive thought from the group that Bunny would talk unless they lavished him with clothes, food, drink and expensive trips.

In fact, once the plan to murder Bunny starts being discussed, me, the reader, is wondering why they just stop paying for everything and having a sit-down with him to find out if he would really tell. The group, except for Richard, have been a tightly-knit group for some time. It seemed overly dramatic for the idea of murder to take place...but it's a novel...and I let reality go.

In the (looooong) end, Bunny indeed is murdered and the rest of the novel focuses on the breakdown of the group and what becomes of each of them. It isn't a happy ending. It isn't even actually sad, per se. This quote at the end, but the dreamy ghost of Henry sums up, in a way, how the book felt to me. Richard speaks to Henry (who is dead) in his dream:
"Are you happy here?" I said at last.
He considered this for a moment. "Not particularly," he said. "But you're not very happy where you are, either."

Despite all of this, it is well-written, IMO. I am amazed at her writing style. It would not prevent me from picking up another one of her novels. Her style is poetic and again, to my naive eye, "classic" in the sense of Jane Eyre. Beautiful words. Just way to many of them.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Lost Goodbye

This past Friday, a friend of mine, David Ostiguy, passed away. I love how his wife informed friends and family, through CaringBridge:
It is with deep sadness and grief to inform you of the passing of David Ostiguy around 5pm last night. It was as he wanted - away from home with me by his side.
It is beautiful and poetic.

David had a rare form of cancer called sarcoma. When I knew of David, I had just moved into an area of work that he also worked in. He had sent an email out explaining that he was about to undergo a second amputation surgery on his right arm. His cancer had apparently had not been entirely removed and the next step was to amputate at the elbow. He explained the process and asked that no one would focus on it upon his return; to treat him as we would have any other time.

Over the next several months, I would see Dave in my running circles. He was faster than me so it was usually a "hey" in passing. In 2008, we were both training for the City of Oaks Half Marathon.

I remember one run I had in Umstead. It was a sluggish one for me and as I passed through the gate into Umstead (from Old Reedy Creek), I saw Dave tying his shoes. We gave each other a nod and hello and I went on my 'merry' way. As I approached Airport Overlook, I heard gravel kicking up behind me and I turned to see David, running up to me. He asked if he could run with me for a bit because he was having a hard time with the heat. I thought "you have no idea how bad I am doing too" but instead I said "sure!" Because the fact was, I was privileged to have him run along with me.

That's as far as our social interaction went: our shared love of running. But we worked in similar circles, so we ended up attending the same meetings. He was intelligent and always forthcoming with his take on things. I respected him for that and it had nothing to do with him being sick.

And he never, ever looked sick. It is incredible that he suffered as much as he did, especially in the past year when his cancer spread to his spine, then to his lungs and liver.

It was actually looking like he had it beat. Last year, he had a new prosthetic created for his mountain bike. He posted those pictures proudly on Facebook and he looked amazing.

It would be soon after that I got word that he had to have his entire arm amputated. And then the news would get worse.

Leilani, David's wife, would write many of the entries on their CaringBridge site. I have never met her but I feel she is a wonderful person through her beautiful and loving entries. She shared their life with "us", their determination of living life to the fullest. It was inspirational. And the last sentence or two would bring the grim news: tests were not improving. It was one entry she posted in August that caught me off-guard, along with news of a cancer death from a distant acquaintance that I wrote this.

I had just learned on Thursday that David was no longer at work; that this was it. He was going to continue to go to work until he couldn't and 'couldn't' had finally arrived. It seemed impossible, since it felt like I had just seen him in a meeting...but my days have been unbelievably jammed that it never occurred to me that I hadn't actually seen him in awhile. And I felt awful. I wrote him an email via Facebook Thursday to tell him my memory of the run at Umstead. I cried as I wrote it, thinking that, not only would I never see him alive again, I was writing what could be the last thing ever to him. Ever. It's a sad and scary thing to realize.

And then...Friday, an announcement from David's manager that he had passed away.

Cancer sucks.

Rick Evans, a good friend and co-worker of David's, has helped set up a research fund in David's honor. David's cancer is a rare form that preys primarily on children. The research fund will go through Duke's pediatric area, where the experts happen to work. Donations can be made to "Duke University Pediatric Sarcoma Research Fund" at:

Daniel S. Wechsler, MD, PhD
Chief, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Duke University Medical Center
397 Hanes House
DUMC Box 102382
Durham, NC 27710

Monday, November 08, 2010

If I Am Not Running It...

...I might as well volunteer for it. This year I volunteered a second time for the same spot I monitored last year, for the City of Oaks Marathon and Half Marathon.

It's the best spot: about three miles into the race, right in front of the State Capitol. Two cops block other ends of my area, so I can at least feel pretty secure. And my spot is not a busy area but one of the best spots to see all the runners in the race. Being so early in the race, there will be no runners dropping out at this time and their spirits are still high.

I didn't have to stop anyone from entering the intersection. A couple of folks passed by with their dogs, wondering or watching and at least two other folks were there to cheer the runners on.

I felt pretty good in the cold and wind of a Sunday early morning, after getting a little too much alcohol in my system the very night before. Well. At least I wasn't running it...

This year I took some pictures:
This is what it looks like when you are in the front of the pack - you have police cars blazing the trail for you.

And a bicyclist too! What treatment!

And here they are, up close:

It is eerily quiet when they pass by. You can hear their footsteps and their breathing. It's as mesmerizing to see them, as they look effortless but in full concentration mode of their run. I cheer for them but it's as if they can't see me. What is fascinating is that they are all competitors of each other - each is a threat to the other for first place - yet they run together, pacing each other. It truly is a beautiful thing. BTW, this pack is running at an approximately 5 minute per mile pace. That is INCREDIBLE.

And then a solo runner.

This is what I would see in the first few minutes: a small group of six or less, then one solo runner.

The first person I recognize is Derek Fenton. He's not hard to miss with all his tattoos *and* he happens to be a co-worker.

I then see my friend Ryan, who seems to be well in an early pack and he looks at ease. I see Rich shortly after Ryan. I am ecstatic at seeing people I recognize.

It is cold and windy. I am not wearing gloves, nor am I wearing a jacket. Not that I am freezing either (my blood has warmed in the past year) but my hands start getting numb from clapping so much in the cold. At some point, a runner gives me her packets of hand warmers and I feel relief. The irony being that they are probably starting to burn up now.

The middle of the pack comes in and they are a happy bunch.

They are thanking *me* for coming out there. And while I am an 'all about me' kind of gal, it was wrong to thank me. I would respond with "no, thank YOU for running today!" I told groups often that THEY were inspiring me. Or 'what a way to start the day!' Every smile, every nod my way, or thank you was such a privilege to receive.

I got a hug from my buddy Charles. That really brightened up my morning. And then I saw my (ex) running buddy Frank - he looked amazing:

Here's a shot of a couple of runners who had to get a picture in front of the State Capitol. Love the tights:

And then the end of the pack...they also get a couple of cars to follow them:

One of the cars has the Lieutenant who is just as inspiring about having our city host this race...she releases me from duty and I take a parting shot of my intersection:

I'll be here again next year...that's if I am not running it.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Free to Breath 5K Race Report

I did this race last year and liked the course. The second mile is entirely downhill, so one can make an amazing mile with that leg.

I remember doing that race all by my lonesome. No running buddies, no family members. Just me, myself and I. This year, I had CJ. Let me tell you: it is a lot of fun running with her, as there is no pressure that I put on myself *and* I have someone (family) running with me.

Earlier in the morning, I had walked Dumb and Dumber (aka Ricky and Lucy) and it felt really nice outside. I told CJ that it wasn't that bad outside. Well, it was when we got to Centennial Park. The wind was whipping us around and just chilling us to the bone.

We had to get there by 9 to register. I hadn't pre-registered so I had until 9 to register for the race. One of my pet peeves about race organizations? The micro-managing.

There's a big sign that says "Race Day Registration". I get in that line only to have someone say 'if you are registering, you have to got to _that_ table and fill out a form, then get in this line'.

Fine.

We go to the table and fill out the little registration form, then get back in the line.

"Are you recreational or competitive?"
Competitive.
"You have to go into _that_ line."
Sigh.
They hand out the shirts and our bib numbers and then? "Go to _that_ line for your chip."

Seriously. That is a little much and not the least bit annoying.

CJ is freezing. I'm not as cold as her but I used to be. This year, my blood has warmed up a bit and I can handle the cold better than I ever had before. Too bad I don't run with $Bill and Frank as much, or they would be running agog at the sight of me in cold weather. :)

Anyhoo. We line up but I notice no one is lining up. WTF? Then I overhear someone say the race starts at 9:30. Duh. I knew that. Just forgot since I was rushing to get there to register.

So we walked back to the car and sat in the heat for a bit. I took a picture of CJ just soaking in the heat from a vent only to have her DEMAND that I not send it to facebook. Geez.

Next, we make it to the start line and I see Frank and we chat a bit. And then we are off. The first mile we hit around 9:52. It is entirely uphill so I thought that wasn't too bad but CJ was breathing pretty hard. I told her that we would soon be going down.

I really felt like I didn't push her very hard during the Autism run; maybe even went a little too easy. So I wanted to push a bit more but man, it is difficult to assess how far to go.

When we made it to the downhill part, I told her that this would be a good spot to really push the pace and make up a lot of time. But I couldn't get her to go very much faster and I could see in her face that we were hitting her max. I felt like it was a trot, though and I tried really hard to balance the trot to a pace.

Passing the second mile mark I heard the time called out at 16:50-something. I knew that it was a short mile because there was no way we had increased our pace that much. It wasn't until we turned back into Centennial Campus that my watch even dinged for the second mile and then, at that point, there was a sign that said we had a 1/2 mile to go.

No one was turning left at the spot that I remembered running last year...we were all directed straight to the finish. At the three mile mark, the guy yelled out 26-something so I just told CJ to book it to the finish, even though she was dying. But she booked FAST so she had a lot in the tank as I booked to keep up with her. We finished in the 26s but we were a good 1/2 mile from 3.1 miles.

I didn't care as it worked out well for CJ. :)

Afterward, I treated her to two Krispy Kreme donuts and I stopped at Oakwood Cafe for eggs, grits and bacon. It was there that I found out, after much questioning, that CJ was not happy with me and felt that I was running too fast.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Insanity

I truly enjoyed President Barack Obama's appearance on the Jon Stewart show this past week. I have to say I was extremely impressed and inspired by this particular interview. If you haven't seen it, you should. You can see it here.

Unfortunately, it didn't help this "balance of power" that was on the plate for this past election. It truly felt like today was like the day after dubya was elected for the second time. I remember that day clearly, listening to WKNC 88.1 play "Imagine", A Perfect Circle's version of John Lennon's beautiful ballad. It was 100% appropriate for one of the worst political events to occur in my lifetime.

I certainly wouldn't consider today, the day after the elections, one of the worst days...just disheartening. Just when I am led to believe that our country actually has some intelligence, an allegiance to making this nation *not* divided by rich, white, homophobic-but-god-fearing men (with their stereotypical women and children who choose to follow rather than think for themselves) who judge people of any class below their own, I am dealt a slap in the face by the overall votes across the country.

But Alas! Technology. On top of finding out the nation sucks, there is the awful recognition of which of your facebook friends actually think wrongly too.

Belated Halloween Post

This year was our second year joining the neighborhood Halloween Parade. Last year, I was surprised at how nice it really was.

There is a city police escort for the parade, which covers just a few blocks of the neighborhood and ends in a cul-de-sac with hot dogs and chips galore. Based on the location this year, it appears that it covers various areas of our neighborhood.

After the Halloween parade and picnic, it's time to go trick-or-treating.

At one of the first few houses, CJ comes running down to me laughing:
The lady who just gave me candy...she's really old. These two kids were dressed as Jesse and Woody [from Toy Story] and the old lady said 'Oh look! Two little mexicans!'

Which I had already started laughing that the old lady was so out of touch with contemporary fictional characters...but that was not it:
But those two kids *are* Mexican and their mom did not look very happy about her comment!