Apparently, I can’t knit either

 

 

Welcome to the saga of my #fringeandfriendsKAL2016. Once felled by the dreaded PF, I realized I needed to keep my head clear somehow, so I quickly jumped into this KAL, hosted by The Fringe Association.  My goal–a lopi-esque sweater like this:

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Row 1: Woot! My yarn arrived! Time to do some charting! But crap, the red doesn’t have the right amount of body.

Row 2: Let’s go with green. MORE charts! Ok, even if the numbers are off (slightly) it seems to be working.

Row 3: Hmmms. Something’s not quite right. Especially now.

Row 4: froggin’ and more froggin’.  And more math, charts and a re-boot.

BUT, just to be difficult, I want a taller neck and a 1/4 zip placket so that it’s more of an outerwear piece. I also want to line it with goretex windstopper fabric, if I can both find some and then actually create a sewing pattern as well. Here’s what I’ve learned so far, through 10 days of solid research and staring at pinterest.

  1. most yoke sweaters have a yoke pattern that ends when you divide for the arms. Very few continue the pattern into the body and sleeves. Thought it’s hard to tell from this pic if my inspo sweater just has an uber-deep yoke.
  2. To figure out the calculations for the top down version, there are a few schools of thought. One is the Elizabeth Zimmerman EPS system with 3 decreases (though I’m doing increases because I’m knitting topdown) or 4 more regularly spaced increases (although at varying percentages). I opted for 4, to make the transition less severe, and to account for the change in stitch count at varying points along my pattern.
  3. Making charts are hard. Well, the coloring part is easy. But the negative space part is hard.
  4. Charts are even harder when you have to accommodate 7″ or so of a steek placket and then somehow incorporate those steek stitches back into the pattern. My head is spinning.

I am not knitting newbie. I’ve been at it for over 30 years. And I have never UN-knit so much in my entire life. That being said, if I can pull this off, it will be the best freakin’ sweater in the world. And the only one like it, because I’ll never be able to replicate it again.

Stay tuned for more KAL chronicles.

 

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Well, at least I can knit

Because my running mojo’s just about disappeared, thanks to some good ole fashioned PF. And because clearly I have yet to learn from past injuries, I am 2 for 2 when it comes to moving past this, as I prematurely jumped the gun and ran two races before being completely healed.  Adding to the fun, I am also 2 for 2 when it comes to placing last (or very close to LAST) when competing (wait, that’s too strong a word; hobbling is a more apt description) in my first two races in my new age group.😦

Satan’s Tar was a 9 mile, 2000 ft incline (over 4.7 miles) then 2,000 ft decline (over 4.3) on a wicked hot, early August Saturday. This was still early in my injury, and I just sucked it up, knowing I’d pay the price of a slower recovery, but the swag included a mason jar. For beer. Need I say more?

The 2nd race was three weeks after that. One mile. Prior to the onset of the PF, I had visions of this being a goal race, just to see how fast I could go. I’ve never run a flat out mile, and this course was perfect–a straightaway, freshly paved, and hosted by my local running store. As it was a USATF race, there were separate starts for different age groups. I was in the Masters 50 and up. This was a speedy group of women, and my lack of running over the past five weeks (aside from Satan’s Tar) meant that I had absolutely no turnover in my legs. However, my foot had been feeling better, so I was looking forward to the challenge. My foot didn’t get the message though, and started to raise a stink by the first quarter mile. I think my finish time was 8:55-ish. Meh. I think the pain after this lousy mile was even more intense than after the 9 miler. Go figure.

This could be depressing, but both races were fabulous. So aside from the intense pain, I enjoyed them both, and look forward to a mulligan for both next year.

 

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Yes

I’m still alive.

You would think that I’ve run out of fodder, given my absence from the blogging world. And no, it’s not even because I’m that busy.

Since I’ve last written, I’ve firmly crossed the threshold into middle-age (yep, AARP came knockin’ and I answered); I’ve gone on a sewing kick, ran a half marathon, and thoroughly enjoying our backyard deck. Oh yeah, and I’m tending to an early onset case of PF, which has derailed my running for a bit.

First things first. I celebrated a milestone birthday.  My birthday is always mixed in with the hullabaloo of the 4th, which bothered me as a kid, but less so now. We had some friends over for a backyard bbq.

Soon after, a friend and I loaded up our girls to head off to Maine to drop them off at camp. Coincidentally, there was the Old Port Half Marathon and 5K that same weekend. I had a 10 mile training run on my docket, so I dropped into the half, while my friend entered the 5k.

I’ve run this half twice before. It’s always kicked my butt (atypically hot and steamy and the horrid, horrid and tedious 3+ mile loop around the back cove), so I really had no time goals in mind.  I figured since it was a 10 mile training run, my main goal was to run a consistent pace for 10 miles without any walk breaks. My second goal was to get around the back cove (miles 7.5-11) without cursing it out. My third goal, since there are two good hills (and a few smaller ones) was to run all the hills in preparation for my hilly fall 50k.

No spoilers here–all three goals reached! First, although the entire week in NJ had been hot and humid, Maine was not. In fact, race day was high 50s and rain. Downright chilly. The first half of the race was good–I started out at an LSR pace, and just kept going. I ran up the hill to the Western Promenade, no problem. When the skies opened up and mile 6, I almost considered DNF’ing (I couldn’t feel my hands at this point), but for some reason, I just kept going. I climbed the killer Munjoy Hill. I made it to the back cove and mentally steeled myself for the tedium of that darn 3+ mile cinder loop that twice before has been my downfall.  I’m not sure why this loop kills me–I think it’s because from every angle, it looks like you’ve covered exactly zero ground. And then there were two miles to the finish, and after a brief stop to stretch my aching right hammie, I kicked it in the the finish and collected my medal. My time–not a PR, but not a PW, either.

I have a love/hate relationship with this race. I know I could do better, but I never quite get there. However, the organizers offer some great perks. Free race photos. And this year? A race video!  No, not just a video of the race in general–a video featuring EACH RUNNER. Boy, that’s humbling to watch. (note to self: work on form).

After the race (and finally getting my fleece from the bag check), I stood in line for some PT work on my right hammie. Which doesn’t explain at all why my left arch/heel is now acting up. But it is, so I’m taking it easy, even though it’s killing me to take time off at the beginning of this training cycle.  The lack of running, though, has led to more sewing productivity, and I promise some pics, as soon as my photographer returns from camp.

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Liberty-worthy

Or not.

Thing 3 is off to camp next week. This isn’t new for us; it’s her fifth year of camp, but for some reason* she has no clothes this year. (*actually the reason is that she grew 4″ over the past 12 months, and therefore nothing fits). Faced the with option of buying cute camp clothing that more likely than not will not make it back home, I fell through the internets wormhole of links until I found these:

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Cute, right? And not so difficult to make. Except those pictured shorts are in a chambray paired with a Liberty Tana Lawn.

Now, I truly heart Thing 3, but at 12 years old (and still growing) she’s not quite $40/yard-Liberty-worthy. She is worthy, however, of the 30 minutes it takes to whip up a single pair of these amazing shorts. 90 minutes and some odd half yards of stash fabric and random bias tape later, Thing 3 is ready for camp!

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So, shorts making took up about 9o minutes of my June–what, pray tell, have I been doing the rest of the month to account for this absence in blogging?

A work trip to DC for 4 days! The trade show was same-old, same-old, but in DC instead of Columbus, which made for some nice (albeit very warm) running. I stayed at an AirBNB about 1.3 miles from the National Mall. My 2nd morning I squished in 8 miles (apt to the Capitol, along the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, and back to the Capitol and then home).

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Missing Phil! DC was my first trip since adopting Phil. Boy, I missed him so much!  I missed him so much that my first thought upon seeing this display of knitted sheep was “Gosh, those look like Phil!”

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So I begged for one to bring home.

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The resemblance is there, amirite?

Plenty of social events! Thing 3 also “graduated” from 6th Grade. After nearly a month of field trips, parties, and other exhausting special events.

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After the ceremony, there was one more sleep-over party (for a birthday), and then Thing 3 returned home and slept for an entire weekend.

Running! I, however, did not. I’m at that point in my training plan where the long back-to-back runs are coming into play, just as the temperatures are beginning to climb. It’s in my best interest to get out of the house and done with my run before the sun gets too high.  I’m beginning to question the sanity of embarking upon a training plan that will take me through the yuck of the summer heat and humidity.  Eyes on the prize, Sato, eyes on the prize.

Looks like there’s no Liberty for Thing 3, nor for me, either.

 

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Things I suck at

Apparently, blogging in June.

Things I don’t suck at:

Signing up for more races.

This week kicks off a new 16 (well, 17, because I’m giving myself actually 2 weeks to get the first week’s workouts done) week training plan for yet another race…The Blues Cruise 50k.

Of course, I’m not going it alone–my partner in crime Helene will be with me again. I’m looking forward to this training cycle. My only 50k so far was the NJ Ultra which we used as a training run, and which was far too difficult for my preferences. This one seems a bit more do-able, even though there is an 8 hour time limit, which I think (read: hoping) will push me along.

I’m glad the plan starts off slowly, as June, not April, is the cruelest month. Especially with two graduations one graduation and one promotion ceremony. Thankfully (or maybe not, maybe it’s just one way to spread the busy-ness) graduation and 6th grade promotion bookend this month. First up was Thing 2 this past weekend. Thing 2 went to a very small girl’s high school; there were only 18 girls in her entire graduating class. That made the ceremony absolutely wonderful with both the Head of School and graduation speaker able to speak specifically about each and every student.

So while we’ve been in the throes of getting the house ready for visitors and a post-graduation lunch, Thing 3 has spent the past several weeks (and the upcoming two) on various field trips, field days, expeditions and the like building to her promotion ceremony at the end of the month.  Squished in between is a one-day trip to Chicago and my annual sojourn to my yarn trade show.

I wish June could be more like an ultra–both the training and race itself–yes, a challenge, but with ample time for aid stations and snacks, deliberate walking when necessary, camaraderie among participants, and beautiful views. We’re getting there…maybe.

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Little things and rebound races

Now that ultra is over (more on that later), I’ve got a whole lot of time to spend working on my other hobbies. I’ve got tons of projects all queued up, all of which were recently derailed for some little things.

Phil’s sweater:

Knitting this took all of a few hours (Phil’s only 13 lbs.) which is good because it’s been chilly so far this May for a recently shorn Phil.

Coworker’s (soon to be) Baby Boy

The kimono top is made from a double gauze and the pants are an organic knit. They’re the 3 month size, and the baby’s expected in late June, so I think they’ll work out fine. Baby clothing is a very quick and rewarding project. Sadly, I cut the double gauze with the print upside down (if you look closely, you’ll see the blobs are little lions), but that works as they face the baby.

All these little things are basically palate-cleaners…rebound projects if you will.  I’m a firm believer in rebounds. Just as you need that rebound boyfriend as sort of a ‘reboot’ after a good, long relationship ends, so do you need a rebounds in other facets of your life. Just finished an epic book, one with prose that just sang, characters you loved, and a captivating story? Well, whatever you read next will not fill any shoes, so pick something light and delightful, something that keeps your interest, but one that you know is transitory.

With this in mind, the past two weekends I ran some rebound races–the Japan Run (a 4 miler) on May 8 and the Newport 10,000 (10k, duh) on May 14. Both races were repeats for me. Both were light and delightful and kept my interest. I had no expectations for either, but both served the purpose of prepping my legs and mind for another round of training. I was curious to see after months and months of slow, long mileage if I actually had any turnover left .

I was pleased with my performance in each. Neither were PRs, but I finished both feeling much stronger than I had previously. I ran the Japan run in 37:52 (my previous effort was 37:38) and the Newport 10,000 in 59:44 (chip time; my 10k PR is in the 57 minute range). Usually for me, no matter the distance, the last little push is when I tend to peter out. But for both these races, I hung in there and held steady ’til the end. This is especially important for the Newport race, as it was quite sunny and the last two miles of the course is along the (completely exposed and eastward facing) waterfront.

These rebound races set me up nicely for a new training cycle with my goal race race being (drum roll please….) The Midland Mile! Yep, that would be a 180 change in distance. There is no method to my madness, and long distances are still in my future, but I really, really, really want to see if I can run a short distance fast (read: fast for me).  My two-year old 5k PR is at an 8:15 pace; so I’d like to see if I can break 8 minutes for that mile.

It’s the little things…

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Best cure for the tapers?

My taper for Rock the Ridge was a self-imposed week longer than my plan had called for, and as I’m sure you all know, it’s hard to not second-guess yourself in advance of a goal race when you’re not running.

Here’s what got me through it:

Our new dog, Phil.

Phil is about 4, and is thought to be a bichon mix. We think he’s as cute as a button, but best yet, Phil is chill. He (sometimes) goes to work. He also goes to Starbucks, physical therapy and school.  He likes eggs, muenster cheese, and spaghetti. He ran the last 300 yards of Rock the Ridge with me, which completely exhausted him. But he does like a good walk.

Phil came to us through our local shelter where Thing 3 and I volunteer. He was brought in as a stray, and was terrified and wouldn’t come out of his cage, but somehow Thing 3 was able to coax him out. With the Mister’s ok, we went back the next day to put in an application.  And then we sat on pins and needles for about 5 days.  This was much more stress-inducing than any taper!

Funny story–I gave the name of my friend (and former business partner) as a reference. When the shelter called her, they asked “Is she the type of pet owner who would visit a vet instead of ignore an injury or illness.”  My friend replied “Well, have I got a story for you,” and proceeded to tell them about how 7 years ago, Thing 2 was caring for her daughter’s gerbil Dude while they went on vacation. I came home from work, and Thing 2 was in tears by Dude’s cage, as Dude was clearly sick.  What a conundrum. Because on the one hand it’s only a small rodent. But it’s my friend’s daughter’s pet. So I looked up the address for the emergency vet clinic, and started calling my friend to see how much money they would be willing to drop at the vet. Of course, I’m not reaching my friend, so I load Dude into a shoebox and Things 2 and 3 and shoeboxed Dude into the car, and off we speed away to the vet, with Thing 2 auto-dialing my friend to try to reach her before we get there.

We weren’t able to get ahold of my friend, but the point was mute, as when we got to the clinic, the vet had us put Dude on the gurney, and the shock of the cold metal killed the gerbil upon contact.  She kindly packed him up in medical paper and a plastic bag and sent us on our way.

As we were leaving the clinic parking lot, my friend got through to us. Everyone was on speakerphone. “I’m so sorry, but I needed to know…” I started.  “NO VET,” yelled her husband, while simultaneously, my friend said “$8 bucks, that’s as high as we’ll go.” “No worries,” I finished. “Dude’s dead.” There was an audible sigh of relief from everyone.

Phil, thank goodness, is not a rodent. Although he is in need of a good grooming (which will happen on Saturday), but no vet, yet.

 

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And just like that…

 

It’s over.

Well, I guess not “just like that,” but rather 14 hours and 9 minutes later, it’s over.

Participating (competing?) in a 50 mile challenge was everything I expected, and a lot of “whodda thunk.”  I expected the hills but thought there’d be a more severe grade to the ascents; instead the climbs just stretched on for what seemed like miles. I expected great views (I mean, c’mon, views from mountain tops are usually pretty good), but I had no idea how simply beautiful this entire region is.  I was expecting the typical trail runner camaraderie, but was blown away when the RD congratulated my running partner and I by name when giving us our medals.

In a nutshell? I loved this race. I loved that the terrain was “run-able” and not frustrating. I loved that for each incredibly long long climb, there was some amazing payoff at the end–either an awe-inspiring view, or fantastic volunteer-staffed aid station. I loved that the preserve was open to the public, and other day trippers, hikers, rock climbers, and cyclists were so enthusiastic and supportive.

That’s not to say there weren’t some very, very difficult patches. I knew my right shin was my achilles heel, and sure enough, it started bothering me about mile 15. By mile 16, I knew I needed some ibuprofen and took an 800mg pill.  About mile 35, it was still bothersome, so I doubled up with 1600mg. That was a mistake. By mile 39 I was so nauseated, and at mile 40, our support crew had us both sit down for some ginger ale (for my partner) and gatorade and pretzels (for me).  We still had one big hill to climb (at mile 45-46) before a 3+ mile coast to the end. I caught a second wind just before the hill and plowed through that, but the last three miles were agony. Lucky for us, all our support crew met us with under a mile left, and coached us in, just before darkness fell.

Finishing was surreal. You are exhausted, yet elated. And in my case, sick to your stomach. We cleaned up, gathered our drop bags, and left. My Mister and Thing 3 came to cheer for me, so we headed off to a local pub. I thought my stomach had settled a bit, so I ordered chocolate milk for myself while we were waiting for our food. My second big mistake of the day. Two sips later, I was frantically looking for the bathroom, judged the front door to be closer and bolted outside. I threw my medal over my shoulder and basically lost every single sweet potato and PB&J sandwich I’ve eaten since December.  A young and heavily tattooed young man was right behind me and said (clearly having seen the medal on my bent over back), “Hey, did you just do that crazy 50 mile race?” I nodded. “Whoa, badass!” he acknowledged while my stomach heaved again. Badass, indeed.

So maybe that’s not the finish I envisioned. But overall the entire experience was close to 100% positive. What I loved most? Proving to myself I had the strength to not only commit to five months of training, but to get to the finish line. Becoming good friends with the wonderful woman who first encouraged me to join her. How she had the foresight to figure out that we would compliment each other so nicely, I’ll never know, but I’m so glad she did.  I’m also so incredibly appreciative of the many, many folks who helped me with my training, offered words of encouragement throughout my training, during the challenge, and then afterwards. It’s so meaningful when people go out of their way to send good vibes, and it just makes you realize how lucky you are to have such sincere friends, colleagues, and even general acquaintances.

Will there be more? Who knows. Fifty miles was tough–not just the training, but the time it takes from family and other obligations; 50ks are a bit more plausible.  But, as I’m sure we all know, never say never.

 

 

 

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U (for ultra) minus 4 days

and counting.

I guess that’s the thing about goals–eventually you get there. And “there” for me is Saturday, April 30th.  And that’s when the 804 miles of training, the kajillion calories of food, the hours of stretching and yoga will all come into play, and determine whether or not I actually make it to the finish line.

Going into this, I knew that running tons of mileage would be involved. You know what surprised me? The amount of thinking involved. Thinking about running (how many miles? when could i fit them in?  what routes? and the weather?), and thinking about food (what should I eat? when? is that enough carbs, fiber, protein? why am I so hungry ALL. THE. TIME?)

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that flexibility, both of body AND spirit, matters most. Especially today, when I learned the 50 mile route (which I’ve been staring at intently whenever I get a chance for the past five months) will most likely change because of wild fires in one of the parks.  This bothers me a bit. I like knowing what’s ahead. I’m that kid who used to read the last chapter of the book first (yes. really.)

So, I don’t know exactly where I’ll be running. But I do know that I’ve trained my legs, fueled my body and prepped my head for the distance, so I’m ready. The change in route? Well, it’s all part of the journey.

 

 

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No, I’m not freaking out

It’s April 12, and my goal race is in 17 days, and I’m taking a forced early taper.  Because after that 50K, I wanted to stay true to the letter of my training plan, and I hopped right back into the thick of things without thinking that perhaps the training plan was written for 20 and 30 somethings, not an about-to-be 50 something, and now have a bit of a tendinitis flair up. I had to cut my last long run short (only 10 miles of the prescribed 25), and I DNS’ed my 10k race the next morning.

BUT IT’S OK, I keep telling myself.  Missing that last long back-t0-back is not going to upend 5 months of training.

To keep my mind off the missed training, I’m heading to Aquatopia with Thing 3 and four of her friends to celebrate birthday number 12!  Honestly, I find nothing amusing about amusement parks, and I find indoor waterparks to be the Sodom and Gomorrah of American culture. I’m still not quite recovered from my last visit to Great Wolf Lodge in 2011. I’m hoping this visit will be better, as Thing 3 and her friends are all old enough to be in the water without me. And I was clever enough to reserve a pool side cabana that has its own waitress AND tv. So I’m bringing my knitting and maybe I’ll catch a nap or two.

Also on the home front–helping Thing 2 with her college decision. She’s been accepted at four schools, and starting this weekend, we begin the rounds of “accepted students days.” First up is Pratt, which is also her first choice. I have a feeling I should bring my checkbook to this one.  Ah, to be 18 and have the world as your oyster.

Which leads to some of the most unexpected news yet.  With Thing 1 out of the house, and Thing 2 about to launch, Thing 3 has been feeling slightly lonely.  After some discussions with the Mister, we decided to let Thing 3 bring a shelter dog into Chez Sato.   We’re now on the hunt for a non-puppy, medium-sized, cat-friendly cut dog.

And I’m lobbying for one that likes to run. Because I’ve still got 17 days of training left!

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