Excuse me, while I crawl out from under this rock

Yes, I’m still here. Just going to bed insanely early and getting up even insanely earlier. Just when you think you’re about to die from ALL. THE. MILEAGE, you get an “easy” week, and subsequently catch a cold.

I’m on week 13 of my 24 week plan (I actually jumped in at week 4, so I’m not quite halfway through yet. The growing mileage is tough, but even tougher is scheduling! Once a week I work in the city, and because I catch what I lovingly refer to as the over-achievers’ train (the 7:04), I can’t run on that day. And because some of the workouts seem to require an unending 7% grade hill with miraculous flats every 8 minutes or so, some workouts I’m stuck with a treadmill.  It’s all part of the journey.

I have no idea how this race will pan out. But I’m thoroughly enjoying the process, so I’m counting this (so far) as a win.  Who knows where my head will be in 10 more weeks, but right now, I. Love. It.

Next week will be a big test. I’m out in Santa Clara for work, and it’s an insane training week:

  • Wed (flying day): 8-10 miles with 6 reps of 5′ on/1′ recovery repeats. I plan on doing this before I get on the plane.
  • Thurs (booth set up day): 10 steady pace
  • Fri (first day of show): 5 easy
  • Sat (2nd show day): 18
  • Sun (3rd show day): 10-12
  • Mon (fly home) rest

And as my “hey look, there’s a race I can do nearby” luck would have it, there’s this: the Lake Chabot Trail run with a convenient 30k option. And wouldn’t you know it, 30k=18 miles! How ’bout them beans? I think this will be a good reality check. I’ll have to figure out my gear and nutrition (especially while traveling), and deal with some elevation. Twice now in training I’ve run 18 miles or more, so the distance isn’t that intimidating. The climbing, though, I expect to be tough.

Worrying, though, isn’t on the plan. So I’ll be there with enthusiasm! (and a hydration pack, extra socks, sweet potatoes, pretzels, tons of water, and a good attitude…)





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Goodbye January

While my posts have not been up to past Janathon standards, I have been quite productive.

This past weekend I had my first significant back to back long run mileage; Saturday called for 18-20 and then Sunday was 14-16. Last week’s snow impacted my route somewhat (closing two trails) causing a few detours and my getting lost twice, but I ended up with 19.6 miles. And then I turned around again this morning for another 14.

Each run is an opportunity to learn–this weekend I worked on fueling, trying to figure out which real foods I can carry along AND tolerate, because the thought of eating gels or chomps for 50 miles is a bit nauseating.  Both Saturday and Sunday I ate every 5 miles–half a sweet potato at mile 5, and a handful of pretzels at mile 10. On Saturday, I tried a granola bar at mile 15, but the water in the hose of my hydration pack froze and I couldn’t get it down, so I had a gu instead.  Which isn’t so tasty without water either.

So to recap the month:

  • 24 runs over 31 days, totaling 197.4 miles. The non-running days included yoga and core/body weight work.  This is my highest mileage month ever.
  • Two sweaters knit
  • One quilt started
  • Two shirts, one jacket and 3 cowls sewn.

My Janathon blogging efforts may have been lacking, but I’ve enjoyed keeping up with everyone’s posts, and have a feeling that I’ll be needing some motivation come Juneathon, especially given that it will be after the ultra.


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Flat Stanley

was my favorite book in 2nd grade.* It’s about a boy who is flattened by a bulletin board while sleeping, so when he awakes he’s only about 1″ thick.  He has considerable adventures, like being slipped through a sewer grate to get his mother’s ring, and being stuffed inside an envelope to travel to California to visit a friend, because postage was cheaper than airfare.

There are many lessons to be learned from Flat Stanley (although the comparison between airfare and postage is not one. That, my friends, is obvious). The lesson is that sometimes things are better flat than with dimension.

Like my most recent sweater, the top-down, roll neck cardigan designed by Purl Soho. It looks amazing flat.


(that’s mighty fine knitting if I do say so myself)

However, it looks just not so amazing with a body inside.

It’s the neck. It’s too floppy. And the length needs to be a smidge longer. But I won’t complain. The sleeves are plenty long (I added too much length, actually). And the buttons are cute. But clearly a sweater for Stanley.

One thing I’m particularly pleased with is how I jerry-rigged the sleeves.  I knit the sleeves for a different project, but got fed up with the tediousness of the stockinette body, so I abandoned it for this sweater, figuring I could make the sleeves work without realizing that the abandoned project (and its sleeves) was bottom up and this cardi (and sleeves) was top down. I grafted them together. It’s not that noticeable.  Really.


Oh, and forgive all the unwoven ends.  They’re all woven in now.

The most satisfying thing about this sweater? The freakin’ yarn. I subbed in Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, and I think I may never use another yarn again in my life. It was a joy to knit, and it blocked so well, and now this sweater is just about the softest thing I own.

Oh, and Janathon? Yep, I’m still going strong, although clearly my posting hasn’t.  This past week was most interesting as I needed to juggle my ultra training and its long runs with the impending blizzard.  I’m still reeling.  Not from the snow, but rather the switcheroo of days.

This is how it was supposed to go down:

  • wed: hill ladder (8-10 miles–I did almost 9)
  • thurs: rest
  • fri: easy 6-8
  • sat: long run 12-14
  • sun: long run 10-12
  • mon: rest (good, because I’m supposed to work in NY that day)
  • tues: easy 5


Going into that week, I was registered for a trail half marathon on Saturday to satisfy the 12-14 requirement. I decided to switch Thurs and Fri so I’d have fresh-ish legs on Saturday for the race on a technical trail.  Ah, but the snow. By mid-day Friday, I learned the Saturday race was postponed, so when I got home Friday night, I knew I needed to get some mileage in.

Here’s how it panned out:

  • wed: hill ladder
  • thurs: Friday’s easy 6
  • friday night (8pm): 12/so much for rest.
  • sat: snow/ah, the rest.
  • sun: (after shoveling): 14 (wet, wet, slushy feet)
  • mon: (no work, so I can’t go into NY, so i moved Tuesday’s workout to monday afternoon) easy 6
  • tues: rest.

The snow was delightful.  Sometimes you just need some time to not do anything important and just breathe. It was a welcome break. Clearing the snow on Sunday was another story.

The ferns are two steps down from our front porch. We got about 30″. Thank goodness for snowblowers.

Lastly, did you know that turkeys can fly?  While we were out snowblowing and shoveling, I kept hearing the “gobble, gobble, gobble” of our feathered neighbors, but of course, they were nowhere to be seen.  But then on my Tuesday run done on Monday, I spotted them–flying up to the trees!

(*Flat Stanley was written in the early 60’s–there have been subsequent Flat Stanley books since 2000, but they’re not nearly as endearing.  Another important lesson: stick with the original).

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Now where did I put that bandwagon

also known as Janathon?

Ultra training this week was hard, especially after a step down week, a transcontinental flight, and some pretty cold temps here in NJ. Tuesday I took an unscheduled rest day (losing three hours in the winter means you leave the west coast in the dark and arrive on the east coast in the dark, and grumpier and colder).

When I reviewed my plan, it called for a hill workout on Tuesday, an easy run on Wednesday, a rest day on Thursday, and then easy runs on Friday (5-7), Saturday (10-12) and Sunday (9-11).

I figured the hill workout was more important than the Wed easy run, so on Wednesday I did my hills, which was harder than expected, mostly because I don’t have any hill longer than .3 miles within 1.5 miles of my house (the warmup to the hill is 1.5 miles). I ended up resting on Thursday (I really am a rule follower), and doing the easy run on Friday.

Today I tagged along with a running club friend Rob on his first long run (10 miles) for his upcoming 50k.  This was tough. There were lots of steep uphills–lots of power hiking and walking. I’m trying not to get down on myself for not being nimbler and faster, and am instead focusing on the lessons learned.

  • First, today I wore a borrowed hydration pack–a Nathan.  OMG! Life-changing! This particular trail was so technical, I really was relieved to have my hands to catch myself should the need arise (spoiler: it didn’t).  It had a bladder, and the water didn’t slosh, and it also had front pockets for my phone and gels. I am going to look into a women’s specific fit as this one sagged a bit as the straps loosened, but I’m a fan!
  • Second (and forgive the TMI), but I struggle with gi issues while running. My last three runs I’ve eaten Chobani before heading out (on the advice of my dietitian). It’s got 11g of protein and zero fiber, and boy, is it working for me, today especially.  Now I’m on the hunt for some other high protein, zero fiber foods. I also took one gel at about mile 6, which was a little too long to wait.  My next task:to weigh myself prior to a run and then when I get back so we (my dietitian and I) can calculate more concretely my nutritional needs, because when I got back from this morning’s romp, I ate everything in the refrigerator. I kid you not.
  • Third, doing training runs on the trails, however sloggish and painful, is most likely the best way for me to train. Today’s 10 miler took over 3 hours (YIKES). Do the math–that’s 15 hours for the 50 miler. I definitely want to do better than that, so with back to back long runs each weekend, I’m going to make certain at least one of those runs is on a trail, and the other on the road (just so I can pretend I actually can do this).

After my run, I ran (pun intended) into NYC for Vogue Knitting Live. Unfortunately, my poor planning caused me to miss lunch with a friend, but I did get to see some of the knitted wonder that makes its way to NYC every January.


Who ever said pompoms are only good for hats?


I can’t even imagine having enough free time to sculpt/make a dragon out of felt.


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Yep, that’s me. Janathon has become Slackathon.

After a tremendous 5 day start, my trip to San Diego derailed all my blogging efforts. I did, however, keep up with the running.

A recap of the past week:

Wed, Jan 6: flight to Anaheim, landing in torrential rain and then waiting for my luggage as there was a blackout in the airport, for quite awhile. 18,510 steps

Thurs, Jan 7: Anaheim run, 6.1 boring miles. One big square.  Nighttime train to San Diego for work. 22,433 steps

Fri, Jan 8: rest day, but did my running club’s Jan workout; booth set up and then a presentation to a local knitting group.Only 4,252 steps.

Sat, Jan 9: 15k San Diego Resolution Run. I treated this as a training run–the plan was to figure out some pre-run nutrition and fueling during the race, all while running a steady pace.  Results:

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.24.31 PM

According to my Strava app, my pace ranged from 9:45 to 9:20/mile, except for the potty break and the gu break. I’m really happy with how this race panned out. I felt really good throughout–no nausea, no overly salty sweat.

The race started (and ended) before my work obligation: 7 hours of booth standing.  Total steps: 29,477

Sun, Jan 10: an easy 5 miles, plus another booth day. Total steps: 24,418

Mon, Jan 11: yet another run (4.5 miles), 5 hours of trade show, booth breakdown, a return train to Anaheim, and 22,548 steps.

Tues, Jan 12: I was supposed to get in a hill ladder workout, but my 7am flight back to NJ didn’t quite leave me enough room for that. Traveling steps: 11,405

Today: finally completed the hill ladder workout (6.1 miles) and back in the office! 15,206 steps.

The best part of the week, though, was when Strava synced my location:

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.58.27 PM

and the comments that followed.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.58.40 PM

That kept me smiling for the past week.

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Wednesday I’m off to San Diego, which has decided it prefers to offer Scotland’s weather instead of its usual sunny and warm temps. To prepare, I made these:

In ultra news, today starts my first “off week,” and the plan called for rest from running. I did some body weight strengthening exercises and 40 minutes of yoga for my janathon obligation. 


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LSR, with an emphasis on slow

Today my training plan gave a range of 12-15 miles, and since I’d been at the lower end of all the ranges this week, I shot for the moon and mapped out a route that would also involve a bit of trail.  3 hours and 14.5 miles later…(yes, THREE hours!)

Every run is a learning opportunity, especially as I ramp up training for this ultra. Most of my runs so far have been an experiment in fueling. I haven’t settled on anything yet–it’s still a work in progress.

Today’s lesson emphasized reading trail blazes. I suck at that. I’m lucky enough to live close to a variety of trail surfaces and elevations, and with the exception of Saturday’s trail run (when I was following three others), I get completely turned around. This does not bode well for the 50 miler.

After running, Things 2 and 3 and I hopped over to the city for a 25th anniversary release of a Studio Ghibli movie: Only Yesterday.  I never tire of Studio Ghibli, and I just love that the bulk of the studio’s films feature young girls and women as leading characters.  I also love the facial expressions–this movie in particular had a wonderful scene in which the family discovers how to open and eat a pineapple for the first time (it takes place in 1966, and apparently, pineapple was new to Japan then).

Janathon Day 3 is in the books, and Day 4 is a rest day on my plan, but with back to work, back to school, and preparing for my San Diego trip on my agenda, I’m sure to be busy.


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A long story, but not so long run

Today’s Janathon activity consisted of a 5.8 mile trail run, where the deer outnumbered runners.

I returned home, took Things 1 and 3 to a local museum to see the Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame) exhibit, and then once home again, headed to my sewing machine to start what I suspect will be a year-long project. But there’s no better time to start something that long than on the 2nd day of a new year.

Here’s the project:


It’s called Zig Zag, and it’s a Denyse Schmidt quilt pattern. Today I got started cutting the fabric and laying out and sewing the zig zags.


The main fabric is the light colored one with mustard-y and navy circles, then the zig zags are the navy and more of that great mustard color.


This is my first quilt in a long long time.  My first quilt has seen far better days. And it’s a bit ugly and due for replacement. But it brings back such funny memories, and it makes me chuckle every time I go to bed (which is every night, and it’s not such a bad way to end your day–chuckling).

Here’s the soon to be replaced funnybone tickler:


While the top is not so much in vogue, that’s not the ugly/funny part.

This quilt was my first foray into quilting, and I started it a loong time ago, in a galaxy far away Japan. In the late 80’s and early 90s, “patchwork” was all the rage in Japan, and a Japanese coworker and I decided to take a class. She researched the options, and we found a class that met monthly after our workday was over that wasn’t too far from either of our apartments.

The minute we walked into the instructor’s apartment, I knew we were in for a treat. The genkan (the 3’x4′ entry way where you take off your shoes) had a large quilted “welcome” mat. The shoe rack was lined with quilted shoe holders. There was a quilted wall hanging, and in the bathroom, the toilet seat, toilet paper holder, and plunger were all covered in quilted cozies. In the classroom, each of the zabuton (seating cushions) was some quilted masterpiece, and the table runner, of course, was quilted.

The instructor introduced herself as Kyoko, but asked us to call her by her “American” name, Jane. Then one at a time, the ten of us introduced ourselves, and after we said our names, Kyoko/Jane asked us to pick an American name, to be used during class time.  I picked Paige. Kyoko/Jane told me it wasn’t American enough.

Kyoko/Jane gave us a syllabus–the class was 12 months long, and every few months we’d work on a different project, starting with a toilet paper cozy and ending with tote bag. When it was my turn to pick the style of toilet paper cozy, I asked instead if I could make a queen size bed quilt. (you can see, my penchant for biting off more than I can chew started early)  All of a sudden the room got really really quiet. Kyoko/Jane ascertained that I had no sewing experience and tried her hardest to talk me into the toilet paper cozy. But this newly minted Lulu held strong (and yes, I picked that name on purpose).

Kyoko/Jane gave in, so while my classmates were toiling away at their cozies, I started on different blocks. Every month a new one, each teaching a different technique.  Each and every one hand-pieced. As we were nearing the end of the class year, I was also nearing the end of my time in Japan. I had 17 blocks, and with Kyoko/Jane’s help, we put together this design and picked the filler fabric. My  3rd to last class, I hand-pieced the entire top together. My 2nd to last class I missed (I was taking a last minute trip to Korea), and when I returned for the last class, the entire group of students and Kyoko/Jane were sitting around the patchwork-clad table grinning like Cheshire cats.

“Lulu, we made your quilt sandwich,” Kyoko/Jane said.

“How?” I asked. “I didn’t make the back yet.”

“Oh, we did it for you, as a going-away gift.”

Since I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I’m going to assume that they really thought this fabric was pretty and was in line with the rest of the quilt. Otherwise, Kyoko/Jane totally got the last laugh. I packed up this quilt (and actually put it in my carryon luggage, and then spent the next six months handquilting it. It has been on my bed since 1993, and every time I flip it over, my heart cries a little, but laughs a little harder.


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Wouldn’t it be nice

if there was a week of undated days between Dec 31 and Jan 1–just to get ready for the rush of the new year?

Because each year I have such grand plans, and each year I feel like the referee shouted “go!” while I was still working on “on your mark, get set!”

Maybe if I’d only been paying more attention, but I’ve been wrapped up in my New Year’s projects.  First–my NYE sweater. Started at 3pm Thursday afternoon. Finished (with a break for dinner) around 10pm.


This is supposed to resemble this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 6.45.50 PM

hmmmm. I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything that’s made me look so busty. I’m not counting this as a complete fail–I’m blocking the sweater now; that should even out the stitches and give it more shape (taking away its emphasis on mine).

This afternoon, I got started on a new top:

This should definitely be filed under “you get what you paid for.” The lack of finished garment measurements should have been a warning. I added 2″ to the length and it’s still a bit shorter than I would like.  The nice thing–look at the placket on right hand photo–see how the sheep under the bottom button just coincidentally lined up!  Woot! Love when that happens.

I think my seemingly endless energy stems from my training; I’m still in the early phase and not yet completely exhausted. Today, for example, I did the requisite 1,2,3 ladder workout on my way to my running club’s Resolution Run (1 min fast, 1 min slow, 2 min fast, 2 slow, 3 fast, 3 slow, then reverse).  I then opted for the 4.5 mile group run (there was also an 8.5 route).

So, Janathon Day 1 stats:

  • 7.2 miles running
  • 1 shirt sewn
  • 1 sweater blocking
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Just in the (St.) Nick of time

With Christmas looming, I spent the week prior frantically knitting on Thing 3’s sweater. I figured as a last resort, Thing 1 could drive the 6 hours to Williamsburg, VA (our holiday trip to my parents’ home), allowing me 6 uninterrupted knitting hours. That, plus the entire day on the 24th, should have been just enough.

Thanks to Mother Nature and her torrential rains, I couldn’t put Thing 1 in the driver’s seat (the rain was so heavy at one point, I couldn’t even see our car’s windshield). Even better, the 6 hour drive took 11 hours, severely curtailing my Christmas Adam knitting time.

I gave Thing 3 a choice: a shawl collar and finished gift under the tree, or a hoodie that won’t be under the tree. Thing 3 wisely chose to forego the hood. And at 6pm on Christmas Eve, I bound off for her sweater and quickly wrapped it.


Here are all three Things sporting their new sweaters. Perfect timing, too, as temps in Williamsburg dipped to 75F (and 100% humidity).

I’m especially grateful that Christmas was on a Friday this year, as my ultra training plan has both Mondays and Fridays as rest days. That being said, weekends are back-to-back long and sorta long runs, so even though it was Christmas, my schedule did call for an 18 mile long run on the 26th.

Thank goodness for Strava; I plugged in my hotel address, and lo and behold, I was able to map out an 18 mile route that included two different trail sections that were a bit more technical than I expected.  I did an out and back, running each trail section 2 times–totaling about 10 miles on the road and 8 miles of tough-ish trail. Given the humidity and my poor nutrition habits the few days prior, it wasn’t pretty, but I got it done. I have a feeling I’ll be echoing that phrase a lot in the months to come.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always one of my favorites; I love plotting and planning, and I’ve got plenty of grand plans for 2016, although knitting three sweaters between Halloween and Christmas will not be on that agenda.

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