A Tidal Wave of Motivation

to Make. All. The. Things.

Yes, we are approaching December, so that gives me 25 days to make all the presents for everyone. Everywhere I look, I am suckered into thinking “Yes! I can MAKE that! Add it to the list!” Added to that is the feeling of invincibility coming off my new 8k PR. Clearly I suffer from that most demoralizing of holiday illnesses: SPS (Shiny Penny Syndrome). Demoralizing, because when coupled with my LML (Last Minute Lucy) condition, it means I’m often up way too late on Dec. 24th, writing “coupons” for gifts that haven’t quite gotten done.

Anyway, I’m plowing ahead. Here’s what’s in stock for this December:

First off, I’m knitting a sweater for each Thing. Thing 2’s is done. I’ve got only about 6″ left on the 2nd sleeve for Thing 1 (and I’ve already sewn the sides and shoulders together, so once I’m done with the 2nd arm, I can stick a fork in it. Thing 3 asked for a hoodie. I’ve made a swatch with some pretty fab yarn. (One day, I will start with Thing 3’s project first, because children understand gift IOUs so well.)

For the first time in over 5 years, my entire family will be together for Christmas, but everyone’s traveling quite a distance, so I thought for my 6 nieces I’d make some fun pillowcases. Today I got the fabric for that:


Of course, the holidays aren’t complete without a treat for myself.  Last week, I was gifted a fabulous sewing book by the students in my first ever sewing class, and this is the project I chose for myself:


Under the book is my sherpa fabric. Since the wrong side of the fabric isn’t so pretty, I’m going to line the vest with the blue knit (and use the same blue knit for the neck and sleeve bindings).

The aforementioned runner’s new PR high also caused me to sign up for a new race. I’ll be in San Diego in early January (yes, life is tough), and lucky for me, there’s a 5k/15k in the city at the same time! I opted for the 15k, and to get ready for it (I’m only 5 weeks out), I’m jumping into a Hal Higdon 15k/10 mile plan. I know I’ve got the aerobic capacity, but I’m eager for some speed work and hills to get a bit faster for this totally flat out and back along the water.

1 sweater, 9 pillowcases, a vest, and 5 weeks of a new running plan. No sweat! I totally got this!

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There is something particularly satisfying about the day after Thanksgiving. The house is clean. There’s pie for breakfast. Since we’ve never been a “black friday” family, there’s no fear of getting trampled in the wee hours of the morning trying to get the latest gadget.

This year is particularly more so as I actually ran a valid PR in the local 8k turkey trot!  This was my 3rd Ashenfelter, and my first two had me finishing in 45:45 and change.  This year, I really didn’t have a time goal in mind, but in the back of my head I wanted a good run.  Since I was meeting up with my speedy friend Kim, I thought I’d try to hang with her for as long as possible.


That was harder than expected.  There were about 600 more runners in the field this year (bringing the total to over 3,000), so while we all started at the same time, I quickly lost both the Mister and Kim within the first mile. Instead of worrying, I just plowed on ahead.

I love this race. I know the course really well, and the weather was perfect (high 30s). And, as is always the case with local races, it’s great to hear your name called out from friends and neighbors spectating. However, given the crowding at the start (and losing Kim early on), I wasn’t quite sure of my pace. The mile 1 clock read 11 minutes and change, and by the time I got to mile 3, it read 29 minutes, so I knew I had made up some time. I crossed the finish line at 46:28, and then had to play the waiting game to see what my chip time would be. I knew I was most likely beat my PR, as my watch had me at 45:37.

44:18! Slightly under a minute and a half faster! An entire race at sub 9 pace! Negative splits!


After a year of default PRs (first time races at new distances) but mediocre performances, this was particularly satisfying. I felt strong the entire race, and I managed to avoid the nausea that had been plaguing me since summer. Although I haven’t been doing any race-specific training, for the past month I’ve been religiously completing my running club’s daily strength exercises posted every morning on our club FB page. Daily doses of some combination of squats, wall sits, push ups, planks, sit ups, and lunges have apparently done some good. Moreover, I met with a sports dietician last week to get to the bottom of the nausea and after our initial consult, have already incorporated a few of her recommendations (the most important being, in my case, to not run on an empty stomach).

It’s incredible how a scant 1:28 can be so satisfying.






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“Sure, it sounds like fun!”

she said.

Ah, the problems of the eternal optimist. All. The. Things. Sound. Like. Fun.

Last week, I may have learned my lesson. A friend from my running club asked if I wanted to accompany her on a trail half marathon on Sunday. (YES! I thought to myself–this is why I’m plugging away at 25 miles per week, just to jump into races at the last minute.)

My friend is on a mission to get to 50 halfs before she turns 50 next fall. This was race 36 for her. So, although I haven’t trained specifically, I knew I can finish, and, the icing on the cake? Bringing my medal to the fancy donut shop in town afterwards and scoring a free donut. So there we were, Sunday morning at 9am, in Sussex county, NJ, toeing the line with maybe 100 or so other people.

The race started in a field and consisted of an 8 mile loop in one direction, and then a 5 mile loop in the opposite. The trail was single-track and technical, lots of roots or rocks, and lots of ups and downs. I only took one spill, although I did lose footing a few times, but caught myself before it got ugly.

It was a beautiful day to run in the woods. The foliage was just slightly past its peak, but the air was fresh (especially after the seasonably warm spell we had), and it was just a lovely, lovely day. The first loop passed quickly–lots of narrow switchbacks and ups and downs, but nothing unbearable.  When I glanced at my watch upon reentering the field at mile 8, I think it was 1:50 or so–not bad for a technical trail run.

The next five miles, though? Well, the wheels completely fell off.

Since summer I’ve been dealing with nausea, cramping and (sometimes) chills on my long runs.  The cramping and chills come and go, but the nausea is a constant. I thought it would dissipate as the weather cooled, but it hasn’t, and neither has the salty sweat.  Clearly, it points to an electrolyte imbalance and/or dehydration, and boy, all this came to a head on those last five miles. An intense headache, foot cramping, nausea, chills, dizziness, blah, blah, blah. I did a lot of walking (and thankfully the loop had about 2 miles of climbing, so the walking actually worked to my advantage).

I have to give a huge shout-out to my running club friend; she is a jack-rabbit and could have finished the course so much more quickly (and perhaps captured an age-group award), but she waited patiently for me and got me through the end of that race with a smile on my face.  This is the kind of running friend I want to be.

We ran across the finish line together: 2:53 and change. Totally finishing in the bottom of the pack. I have never been so thankful to see a finish line. And typical of a trail race–the finish line swag consisted of homemade chicken soup, cookies, cider, apples, and tons of other delicious real food.


Which meant: NO FANCY DONUT!

(yes, this is immediately what came to mind, despite my ugly finish and condition).

This was my slowest of all races, ever. I felt every bit my age. But (as is always the case), it’s full of lessons–most importantly, I need to figure out this nutrition stuff. The last five miles was uncomfortable. The aftermath at home was worse–feverish, intense headache, etc.  I slept for four hours, but couldn’t eat until much later.  One positive, though? I am in freakin’ good shape. I only took one fall. I didn’t sprain an ankle. The next morning, I could have gone out to run–my legs and hips and calves felt absolutely fine. My body is strong, and once I get the nutrition bit figured out, I just might be unstoppable.

Oh, and guess what?

I learned on Monday that the donut shop accepts race bibs, too! Not just medals. (and I’ll start working on that nutrition bit AFTER I get my donut)


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Toto, we’re not in New Jersey any longer…

That, my friends, sums up my impression of Houston. I was there last week for two events. And the entire trip felt, well, just slightly surreal.

First, it’s still hot there. I always forget how far south Houston is. It was summertime weather. At the end of October.

Second, on three separate occasions, when asking a local for a restaurant recommendation, we were told “McDonalds.”  (an aside–both Thing 1 and Thing 2, when I relayed that anecdote, then asked, “well, how was the McDonalds?” defending their question with the statement–“If that’s what was recommended, then you really shouldn’t have tried anything else.”)

Third? Too. Many. Roads. (yes, coming from NJ, I am potentially that kettle calling the pot black, but really, too. many. roads.)

I took a run around the neighborhood behind my hotel, and spotted two odd things:

First, this:


A tread. No shoe attached. Only one and in the middle of the road. I felt like I had come across Houston’s version of the Spinal Tap drummer. Do runners self combust in Houston (because it’s so scary flat)?

Then this:


Only in Texas are golf courses considered green spaces.

With glee, I returned home after only 3 days. I was lucky, too, because my original ticket had a return date of 1/28/16 (instead of 10/29/15). So I spent three hours in the Cleveland airport counting my lucky stars.

Once home, it was time to prepare for Halloween. Thing 3 was the Disney version of the Cheshire Cat, because it would have been too easy to have gone with the Tim Burton version that her sister was (and that we have the costume for) a few years back. Thing 3 and her posse had a fun little party and then did some trick or treating.


Thing 2 did Thing 3’s face paint (which won her the “best costume” prize). She looks good, but I actually think this mom totally one-upped everyone in the neighborhood.


The next morning was the NYC marathon, and I was “bus captain” (yes, I made that title up) for my running club’s buses for our runners. That meant a 4:30am wake up, 5:30am bus boarding, 7:00am runner drop off and 9:00am park the bus in NYC.  I took advantage of the wait time (I had until 1:30pm before spending the next 5 hours standing on a corner holding a sign to direct our runners back to the bus), so I took a 6.5 mile run down CPW, across 72nd st and into Riverside Park and the Greenway–a running/biking path that circumnavigates most of Manhattan.  A lovely run. At 1pm, I took my post at 86th and Central Park West with my ginormous ERC (essex running club) sign for the duration. It was great greeting my club’s runners after their races. It was even greater trying to explain to every single Italian runner that ERC does not mean “Info.” Eventually I gave up and became the de facto info person on the upper west side. Most perplexing was the number of runners trying to get to the Museum of Natural History after their race.  Finally at 6pm, our final runner got through the chute, walked the obligatory mile or so to get her swag, and onto the bus and we returned, happily, to New Jersey.

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There and back

and there again

For someone who doesn’t like doing the same thing twice (such as knitting two socks, or two sleeves), I’ve spent the past two weekends repeating myself.

Two weekends ago on Saturday, Thing 2 and I were off on a college visit to Bard–it was about a 2 hour drive north for us. The school didn’t ring any bells for Thing 2 so we headed home.  Then on Sunday, my friend Kris and I headed up the same exact road to the NY Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck.  About 7 miles south of Bard. The biggest differences between the two days? First, Kris is not as surly as a 17 year old being dragged off to look at colleges.  Second, it snowed on day 2.  Oh, and amazingly neither of us bought any yarn.  I did get some cheese though.

Then fast forward to this past weekend–I was registered for a 10 mile race in the Mercer County park which is in central Jersey (the new one, that is). Packet pick up was Saturday; the race was Sunday. Another friend, also Kris, offered to get my bib, but since I was unsure of the exact location of the event, I used the opportunity for reconnaissance. Which was good.  It was an easy 45 minute drive–Parkway to Turnpike and then a right onto the road to park. It was even easier on Sunday, at 5am, in the dark.

I went into the race without any solid goals. I knew I could handle the 10 miles, but didn’t want to put a time goal out there. I did, however, want to run the whole thing, and not do any walking (aside from slowing to take water). Kris (the running friend, not the yarn friend) was aiming for a training run in the 9:30 to 10:00 range, which worked.

The course was very loopy with tons of twists and turns and outs and backs, but most was in the park and around the community college. It was flat and great running weather–overcast (and misty) and cool–in the 50s. Kris and I held a steady pace between 9:30 and 9:45, and we were thinking we could finish around 1:36-1:37ish. Around mile 5-6, I took a gu, and then took another one at mile 7.  That was a mistake, as it went right through me and caused me to detour into the woods.  Kris went on ahead, and I followed–finishing at 1:41.  I’m a little disappointed–this was a good race, and having company really kept me focused and consistent. On the bright side, aside from the GI stop, I did no walking.

But my day did not end there. Once home, I helped the Mister unearth the buried drains around our garage.  And then, I went for the triple play–back on to the Parkway to the turnpike but this time a left into Mercer county and a work event.  Same road–3 round trips–one weekend. I think that takes the cake!

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out with the old

It’s time for new running shoes. I know this because of two things. First, my knees are starting to ache. Which leads to the 2nd: when I checked my mileage on the shoes I’ve been alternating, I’m saw this:

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 5.34.51 PM

Captain Obvious indicates that my go-tos have been the Cliftons and the Adidas boost (azul).

But I know before I bring a new pair into the house, I’ve got to cull the herd.

Luckily for me, a fellow running club member is collecting gently used shoes for a charity. I think all of these qualify.

But it’s hard to let go. I don’t know why I keep them all. When I’m dressed casually and want to wear sneakers, I pull out my Chuck Taylors, not old running shoes. When I want to do yard work, I wear wellies, not old running shoes. Because, let’s be honest. Old running shoes just look stupid without running clothes. (I will not be that old lady dressed in a nylon track suit about to board a plane. No I will not).

To get these kicks out the door, though, I decided to channel my inner Marie Kondo. I put all my shoes in one place. And I’m going to thank each and every pair for the service and joy they brought me, and then I’m going to let go.

So, Saucony Ride 4s–thank you for the joy of my first half marathon, the PF Chang Rock N Roll in Phoenix in 2012.

And thank you, Adidas Boost for an oh-so-cushy ride for so many miles after my 3rd stress fracture. You got me going again!

And thank you orange Scott shoes for teaching me not to buy online!

And you, Saucony Ride 5s for teaching me that fit is more important than color.

And you K-Swiss, for just being oh-s0-orange, when I needed some orange in my life.

And you, Brooks Pure, for being that good rebound shoe–when you need a break from the same old, same old.

And thanks Adidas Boost Brussels for squelching the anxiety when I though my luggage was gone forever in Europe and I’d never see my running gear again, even though you are too small, you calmed my heart.

But most of all, thank you Mizuno wave sayonaras–finding you was like was like finding that perfect wedding dress. I put you on and instantly knew–you were mine. You would not let me down. Thanks for carrying me to my half marathon PR, and thanks for understanding when I had to take out your insoles to use in the Cliftons (yes, it felt too much like Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree to do that to you, but…the Clifton insoles just sucked, so #sorry,not sorry).

Ok, I think it actually worked. Into the box and off they go!

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so many things, so little time:

  • it is such a pleasure to have your soon to be 20 year old offer to take your 11 1/2 year old to the Met on a Saturday afternoon. It’s an even bigger pleasure to see them hop off the train, 7 hours later, laughing and teasing each other.
  • could the weather be any more perfect for running? I don’t think so.  I’m lucky enough to have this group of turkeys (literally) cheer me on daily
  • it’s also great for apple picking. I totally get why Eve succumbed. And while I had such a great time with a friend and her daughter (Thing 3’s good friend), it’s not quite the same without Things 1, 2 and the Mister. We’ve been visiting this orchard for 17 years–this is the first year of declining participation.
  • i get the best omiyage. If you ever, EVER, get the chance to try a Yoku Moku cookie, don’t even THINK of passing it up.  Or the tin they come in, if you collect tins like I do. You’re welcome.
  • 3 samples done–can’t wait to start teaching:

    Isn’t fall fabulous?

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Slow fashion week 2

Funny how during a month when making should be mindful and deliberate, I am cruising through some projects.

Case in point: last Sunday, after my 10 mile run (which went really really well), I came home and whipped out this (and by whipped out, I mean whipped out. I ran from 7am to about 9, got home and had so much energy, I started sewing. I finished it up just before noon):


This is the City Stroll Skirt, done in a Robert Kaufman cotton flannel. The sweater is a few years old, but one of my faves. You’ve seen the skirt before, and the only reason I’ve made it again is that it’s the sample for the sewing class I’m teaching later this month. Yes, you read right–the sewing class I’m teaching. I’m no expert by any means, but this is a fairly basic make (although I did line this one, and will be teaching that skill, too). Oh, and yes you can pat me on the back for matching the plaid.

Anyway, this skirt could fit nicely into SFO theme of “small.” First (and literally), it’s a mini skirt and even mini-er on my tall body. But second, my foray into sewing (to compliment my knitting) and recent move have really brought home the idea that I need to be more considered about what I’m adding to my wardrobe.

You see, after finishing up the skirt, I moved onto switching out the summer clothing for winter clothing. (apparently the gels I took during my run have a long half life). Our new house actually has ample closets, so I thought it might be nice to have all clothing out, and fewer tubs languishing in the basement. When all was said and done and I had all my clothing in one place, I then realized that I have nearly A DOZEN pair of jeans! Some are even the same brand/style which means I forgot I had them in the first place. Now, I’ve been known to do this with books (buying the same one twice), but jeans?!

Another big realization: more than 2/3 of the many, many sweaters I’ve made haven’t seen the light of day in at least two winters.  Some were easy to let go of–they were samples I knit for my store back in the day, and either the yarn or style wasn’t my first choice. So I cut off the pretty buttons (if there were any) and put them in the recycle pile. Others are harder to let go of–and they’re still sitting in my closet, but I firmly intend to let go if they are not worn this winter.

It’s one thing, though, to recycle old clothing; it’s another to apply this same practice to making. And frankly, there are a few sewing projects that will join the misfit knits pile. For me it’s constantly a battle with my inner SPS (shiny penny syndrome). I want to make ALL. THE. DRESSES. And ALL. THE. SWEATERS. (even though I’m clearly a dozen jeans and sweater type of girl). Going forward, now that I can see what I own every day in a shared and small contained space, I can be more measured in how I approach future projects.

And have fewer jeans.


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Apparently hell froze over

Because look at this:


Yep, that’s my name right there in the middle (23rd) and, get this…2nd in my age group that had actually more than 2 people!!!!

The race was an inaugural 5k, and the course was really nice–about 1.25 miles out on a rolling hill road, then back about .75 miles and then a loop around a lake that is part of a newly developed park adjacent to the zoo. I went with my super fly friend Kim (she got 1st in our age group) and was able to keep up with her for at least the first mile and a half.

This race has the potential to be really great–it’s local, there’s easy parking (very important in NJ), the course is fast, and the event festivities take place in the zoo, which has gone from being rather lame (about 15 years ago) to really cool now. With your race bib, your family got free entry into the zoo for the day. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate: high 40s and drizzle!  Kim and I didn’t stick around too long after collecting our bling–it was chilly!


My age group winning time was just under 27 minutes (26:55, I think). A full minute better than last month’s 5k, but still a minute and change off my PR. That’s ok, I’ll take it!

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Slow Fashion October

Fall is my favorite season, but it tends to have a ‘spiraling out of control’ effect on me. The nature of my job (Christmas at Sea) ensures there’s plenty on my work plate. A Christmas baby (Thing 1) ensures ample holiday coupled with birthday craze. And the enormous societal pressure To. Make. It. All. Perfect. ensures a yearly implosion of this enormous pressure cooker.

So it was with relief that I found Karen’s Slow Fashioned October. I love this idea, and then when I saw this 31 Day Mindfulness Challenge (is that an oxymoron? Should ‘mindfulness’ be in the same sentence as ‘challenge’? I digress), I thought SFO might better suit my ‘less meditative yet striving for awareness’ goals. So I’m in.

Week 1’s theme is “You” but I’m a little bit boring, so instead I’m going to use this week to be mindful of my time, the number of projects I’d like to accomplish and realistically set some goals. I’ve got some projects in the works, some already cast on, and a few that are percolating in my head. This week I will map out a reasonable timeframe for getting this all done. Better yet, and in the interest of mindfulness, I will not swear while I’m doing this.

In other slow news, I continue to run. Last week I was in Maine for a week-long special event for work, and I got in three hilly 4 mile runs, and a 3 hour (rt) hike up and down Puzzle Mountain. The weather in Maine was just perfect–days in the mid 60s and sunny, and nights in the high 40s.

21629382328_3604d79f2a_z(this is me, schlepping event gear down the mountain)

The runs were lovely. Especially compared to the 95% humidity reluctant to unleash its sticky grasp on New Jersey until the last possible moment.  Thankfully we’ve got a hurricane coming in from the south while a cold front moves in from the north, meaning tons of rain and finally lower temps.

On my docket this fall are four races: a new 5k this coming weekend (in the local ZOO!), a 10 miler at the end of October, a 10K (or half, I haven’t decided which yet) in early November and my regular Thanksgiving 8k at the end of that month. I haven’t been following any real training plan, so my overall goal is to just run for fun and give a solid performance.

Or maybe Slow Fashion October could be renamed Slow Finish October (and November)?


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