Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Mario

Hopefully it won't go to his head.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boyfriend Apparently Communes With God

On Christmas Eve I planned what I would wear to the Christmas Couples Relay.  I figured it would be fun to be festive so I set out my carbon/red running skirt and a green top.  Boyfriend has a carbon/red running top so I asked him if he'd wear it so we could match and be Christmasy together.  In other words, I was excited about the race.

I woke up at 8 am Christmas morning.  I had figured if we left the apartment by 8:30 we'd make it up to Golden Gate Park in time for the couple's relay race.  Let me just say that the entire night the wind was howling, the apartment was shaking, and rain would be falling in spurts.  I secretly didn't have very high hopes of going to the race as Boyfriend had only very begrudgingly agreed and he said any really foul weather would cancel the plan.  

When I got up the wind was silent!  There was no rain falling!  I was very excited and got totally dressed and ready to go before getting Boyfriend out of bed.  About 2 minutes after I woke him up the wind started to pick up and rain started to fall.  As I peered out the window I realized that what was falling was a HAIL-rain mix attached to some wicked wind.  Even I wasn't so keen on going out for a 2 mile run (that also involved standing around waiting for your other relay half to complete their leg) in this weather.  Boyfriend gave me a look.  

And then as I stood there wavering about whether to let us off the hook, there was a flash of light.  And then THUNDER.  And with that any hope of attending the Christmas Blind Date Relays were dashed.

The ironic thing was within half an hour the weather was very much improved.  Within two hours it was blue skies and sunshine (which has lasted ever since).

Boyfriend must have been really good this year because I think his Christmas wish came true.

Side-Note:  This was a free, non-timed fun run so we hadn't paid anything and wouldn't have had any finish time.  So that part of it made it easy to let go.  I'll run in just about anything but I draw the line at lightening.  Of course, there was only one acutely timed thunder clap.  This makes me think that in the future I should ask Boyfriend to put in any other-worldly requests that I might have.

A couple of picture highlights from the morning:

When we first started opening presents, Mario did a full-on flop.  I think he was trying to act disinterested since there was no gift under the tree for him :(

We have a running joke that Mario has $10.00 to his name.  When we left NYC for San Francisco my aunt sent me a good-luck present.  In the attached card was a $20 bill and the note, "A little something for treats for Boyfriend and Mario."  We had a good laugh that Mario's share was $10.00.  We've probably spent his $10.00 twenty times over by now.  I'll make jokes like, "Mario said he'd pitch in his ten bucks for rent," or "Mario said he'll pay for his share of the vegetables," etc.  Well this year I spent Mario's money on a gift for us.  Bunnies poop.  A lot.

As I mentioned before it's pretty chilly in our apartment.  Boyfriend got me these snuggly socks to wear.  They even have little grippies on the bottoms.  I call them my frog feet.

After we were done opening presents Mario was in a virtual playground.  After weeks of pining over presents he was able to rip and shred and chew to his heart's content.  

In lieu of his ordered gift I prepared a Christmas breakfast feast for him.  Basil, carrot pieces, craisins, pellets, grape stems (with one grape still attached!), and a leftover butt of a broccoli.  Mario loves him some broccoli.  The broccoli log was the biggest hit!

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas!  I decided to lounge around watching old Christmas shows the rest of the morning/early afternoon before heading out to dinner.  But I did go out for my first bona fide 7 mile run today!  I felt great and could have kept going a few miles more.  Time to start penciling out a marathon training plan!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Mario's pruning himself for Santa

As I was eating breakfast this morning the intercom rang.  The postman said I had a package on the steps.  My heart flew!  It must be Mario's box!  I was so happy.  As I was leaving for work I picked it up.  It didn't look like a package from Bunny Bytes.  It was from my cousin.  For me.  Sigh.  So I'm happy my cousin can rest easy tonight in the fact her gift got here in time, but I'd honestly rather have had Mario's.  So I had Boyfriend pick up some basil for Mario and I'll give him a breakfast feast.  In the end, that's really the way to Mario's heart.  And we'll just have to take pictures with him, his present, and the tree when it finally gets here.  

Tomorrow morning I'm hoping that Boyfriend and I can participate in the Christmas Blind Date Relays put on by the Dolphin South End Runners.  It's going to force a slightly earlier than normal Christmas wake-up.  And it's probably going to be rainy.  So we'll see how it goes.  One of us is not a rain runner.  I'm not naming names but if you've read the last few entries you can probably figure it out.

I just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  Have a great day with your family and friends.  Travel safe!

Monday, December 22, 2008

3 Days 'Til Christmas!

Running has been very soggy but going very well.  Sunday I had a rainy 6.25 mile run and today I went out for a damp 3 miler.  It wasn't windy so they were very fun drippy miles.  My paces have been quickening which I think is a function of the colder temps.  Depending on how I feel I'm thinking of stretching the "long run" out to 7 miles this week.  I finally feel like I've gotten my running mojo back!

January 1 marks a rise in race fees for a couple of races I'm looking at.  Big Sur is one of them (I'll probably register Christmas day).  The other is the SF Marathon and the attached two half marathons.  I was definitely planning on doing the first half marathon but am now tinkering with the idea of doing the full marathon.  Hmm...

My aunt sent me an email today that started off with, "You do know that you have managed to live in the top three most expensive cities in the USA?  NYC, SF and Honolulu?"  I'm not sure where she got the stats from but it sounds about right.  Yay (sarcasm)!

The other day I discovered that Amazon is offering a free holiday song every day in December until Christmas.  Go here to download all (soon-to-be) 25 of them.  I'm more of a Christmas Classics type of listener, but a few of them are pretty good.  There's always room for a new holiday song!

Yes, I do realize if Mario's out and the presents are out there is going to be some inevitable meeting of tooth and wrapping paper.  Last night in addition to eating up some corners he also chewed off the curly ribbon on one of the presents.  I had to grab the end that was hanging out of his mouth and for a second we had a tug-of-war ala-puppy dog mode.  It melted my heart a little.  

I bought Mario's main gift from Bunny Bytes this year.  It hadn't arrived yet so I gave them a call today.  They said the snowstorms have put them behind schedule and it was going to be express mailed out to me today.  I really hope it gets here by Christmas.  Not that Mario cares, but I want to be able to give him a gift he can actually be excited about on Christmas morning.

Monday Mario

I got Mario a couple of gifts this year.  Some of them are definitely all for him and some of them are more indulgences for me.  The above is a Christmas ornament I found which I thought was perfect for him.  I let him see his present so we could put it on the tree and enjoy it the next week or so.  The picture I put in the ornament frame is this one:

Mario had been chewing on some gifts and I yelled, "Hey!" He spun around and gave me the above look which clearly says, "What!  I wasn't doing anything!  It wasn't me!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Random Ramblings

Today I did a 6 mi loop of Golden Gate Park.  I'm not sure why, but 6 miles is a very round-number type of run for me.  I'm not sure if it is because Central Park was 6 miles around or if because given my pace it takes about 1 hr to complete a run of that length.  But I feel like I've accomplished something that I don't get if I do a 5 mile or 7 mile run.  This was also the first 6 miler I haven't had to take a walk break during since I've started rebuilding my base mileage.  Slowly but steady getting it back.

I recently discovered  Well, I had heard of them before but only recently really looked at their shirts.  I fell in love with this one:

Sadly it's not available in the size I want.  Endless Sniffles.

I also recently heard about the Brooks promotion, "Dream."  Click on the link and play the video.  For every view it gets by December 21 Brooks is donating 5 cents to cancer research. It's got some cute snippets that runners will appreciate.

In addition to my regular job, I've recently designated myself Chief Temperature Engineer of our apartment.  During the winter, the back of our apartment (aka The Master Bedroom) gets hit with full sunshine the whole day.  This is wonderful because it becomes the warmest room in the apartment.  Conversely in the summer months the living room gets more light keeping the sleeping area a nice cooler temperature.  Anyhow, every morning I open up the shades in the bedroom, close the closet and bathroom door to minimize the amount of air that needs to be warmed up, and close the bedroom door to prevent the warm air from futilely migrating down the hallway towards the frigid living room.  We try to minimize using our heaters because they're electric and suck up money.  Just so you know, the temperature in the bedroom is currently over 70 degrees and the temperature in the living room is less than 60 degrees!  This Chief Temperature Engineer deserves a pay raise today!

The first book I borrowed from the library is "Bee Season."  It's not one I've been wanting to read in particular but it caught my eye.  When I was in NYC I went through a mad non-fiction reading frenzy.  So I decided to grab a fictional piece this time.

Since someone had difficulty with my link, the top I talked about in my last post that Boyfriend got me for Christmas last year is this one:

It's got hidden mittens, a hood with a pony tale port (it looks really stupid but if you've got long hair quite necessary).  I didn't use the hood during our run the other day though I did start off with the mittens on.  It's totally warm and snuggly!

I spent an academic year in Edinburgh, Scotland studying at the University of Edinburgh.  It was an awesome, wonderful year and I miss it so much.  I don't think I really appreciated it for everything it was while I was there.  The Edinburgh Marathon as well as the Loch Ness Marathon are on my lists of ones I want to do in my lifetime.

Edinburgh Castle

I actually started my journey to becoming a runner in Edinburgh.  I joined a gym close to my flat that year.  The gym had treadmills.  I used to go to the gym with friends during the summer during college (more to sit around in the jacuzzi and play in the pool) and one of my goals had been to run 10 consecutive minutes on the treadmill (mainly because I couldn't run a minute straight to save my life).  One summer it took me almost three months but I ended up doing a 10 minute run.  I was so proud and figured I could stop running forever.

Well, I had all sorts of time on my hands in Scotland so I decided to train to run 20 consecutive minutes!  Not because I enjoyed running, but because it seemed like something seemingly impossible.  I found a plan and stuck to it.  Then something funny happened.  One day I ran 20 minutes on the treadmill and I decided to keep going.  I kept adding on more time and more time.  Off the top of my head I don't remember what I was up to when I left Scotland but I think it was somewhere in the 40 minute range.  I realized I could do a 5K.  Then later I wanted to do a 10K.  Then a half marathon.  And as they say, the rest is history.

A sad fact:  I started off life as a treadmill runner.  I barely ran outside at all until I started training for my first half marathon (2.5 years after I started running).  So as it is, I never ran outdoors at all in Scotland!  Looking back (and now that I've been solidly converted to calling the hamster wheel a "dreadmill") I cannot believe I didn't run all over that beautiful city!  I have to go back one day and rectify that.

An interesting fact:  When I returned home from Scotland I watched "Braveheart."  I was horrified at how terrible the Scottish accents were.  I could totally tell who was genuine and who was faking it.  I've since lost that ability.  They all sound like awesome Scottish accents to me now!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just When I Thought I was Tough...

Yesterday I got up and the sun was shining and the skies were blue!  There were some predicted "scattered showers" that moved through the area but shortly after lunch I figured it was safe to venture out for a run.  The weather at the time looked nice enough that I even threw on my sunglasses.  When I got out there was an ominous gray cloud of death hanging out which I guess I hadn't noticed from my apartment.  I decided to do a nice 3 mi out-and-back run.  The first 1.5 mi of the run was windy and chilly, but nothing terrible compared to the day before.

As I neared my turn-around point it started to drizzle a little bit.  After the more steady downpour of the day before I wasn't too perturbed.  A little later it started to rain harder.  And then, the rain started to hurt.  That's right, the rain had turned to HAIL.  We get hail in San Francisco!?  Remember, I'm from Hawaii so hail is sort of a very rare and odd concept for me.  It wasn't too large (maybe rice grain sized) but with the wind it really hurt!  Talk about motivation to pick up the pace.  This lasted about half a mile, then it turned into a hail/rain slushy mess.  I wasn't wearing quite as many layers as the day before so was pretty much an icicle by the time I got home.

So for two days in a row, my running clothes ended up hanging over the bathtub to dry.  I also treated myself to another mug of hot chocolate.

Today Boyfriend and I went on a 4.5 mi run.  He talked me into wearing something he bought me for Christmas last year.  I have to admit that today was the first time I ever ran in it!  It's a fairly heavy-weight top and before I went full cold-weather weenie on myself it was something I didn't really see myself wearing unless it was 40 degrees out.  There were a few moments during the run it was a little much for me.  I tend to like to under dress for the weather because I hate heating up mid-run (as a comparison, today I wore that top and a skirt versus Boyfriend who wore tights, base shirt, pull-over similar to mine, hat, and gloves).  But I have to admit I wasn't nearly as overheated in it as I thought I'd be!

I remember the days when 45 degrees sounded positively heavenly and balmy.  When I was in college one of my friends who had gone to school in Colorado called to say that it was 65 degrees out and he was so happy he could wear shorts.  "You're wearing shorts in 65 degree weather?!"  In Hawaii, 65 degrees is a darn chilly day.  When I moved to Scotland and NYC I finally understood where he was coming from.  I guess being in California is sliding me back to the Hawaii end of my temperature rating.

In semi-exciting news I finally got a San Francisco Public Library card today.  I've been meaning to go for almost a year.  I mean, how many times in your life do you sign up for a public library card (this is my third)?  I used to get tons of books in NYC to read from the library and am looking forward to doing that again.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Mario

Last week Erin at "The Zoo" called her bunnies organic garbage disposals.  Mario also does his part to keep the landfills clear.  Here he is nomming down on some grape stems:

I ravage you grape stem!

Other examples of "table scraps" Mario also gets are peels, lettuce butts, and the outer layers of the cabbage.  He seems to like the grape stem almost as much as the actual grapes.  Almost.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

San Francisco "Winters"

I grappled with a strange thought this morning.  Have I become a cold weather weenie?  I am a self-admitted warm-weather weenie.  I hate to run when it's hot.  I always thought I was part snowman because I just melt in heat.  I used to say that my ideal running temperature was 44-47 degrees Fahrenheit.  I've always thought that's the perfect temperature where you can wear shorts (or a skirt!), a light long sleeve shirt and never feel like you want to push up the sleeves.

Well today in San Francisco it was about 50 degrees.  With the wind chill factor and the rain it was probably hovering somewhere in my "ideal running temperature" range.  And you know I had the darnedest time trying to get myself out the door.  It doesn't help that our apartment is always freezing.  We've got terribly insulated windows, skylights that let in the cold, and a horrible heating system.  When you feel cold inside it's always hard to imagine how cold it must be outside.

I also usually quite enjoy running in the rain.  It's terribly hard to step out the door when it's pouring, but I never mind it if I'm already running and it starts to rain.  But today something about the cold and the rain just made me drag my feet to get going.  

I finally got out and did 4 miles in cold, windy, rainy conditions.  Ironically I was listening to a Runners Loungecast episode entitled "Winter Running" (guest starring Miss Leana!).  The people were chatting about 20 degree and -10 degree runs and here I was dragging my feet in the high 40's!  I thought fondly of my running days in Syracuse, New York.  I once did a 14 mile run in -15 degree wind chill driving snow and the Gatorade Endurance in my handheld bottle F.R.O.Z.E.  Whatever happened to my tough cold weather exterior?!  I guess everything is relative.

Leana reminded me of a favorite quote on the podcast today.  "There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.  -- Ben Zander"

In the end I remembered how much I love running in the rain.  Granted a nice warm rain is so much more fun than cold, driving rain.  I got home fairly soaked and freezing.  But I had some warm noodley soup for lunch and then had this for dessert:  

So I've been officially welcomed into wintry weather here in California today.  Now that I've gotten my feet wet hopefully the next one won't be quite so hard.  

My sincerest apologies for the above post to all of you who are presently dealing with frozen Gatorade.  But I figure since I did my own bit of bitter cold running, I'm going to enjoy the occasional gripe about above-freezing winter runs.  I spent 3 mos in running shoes that looked like this:

I will admit that they were some of the happiest running months of my life.  I did most of my runs after work so it was always dark and usually snowing.  I strung together two video clips of running at Green Lakes in the Syracuse area.

I only did one run by the lakes while I was there (I didn't have a car so drove there the one day I had a rented car when I got back from a road trip).  The majority of my runs were done on sidewalks in the Syracuse University area, in the dark, in the snow.  It was amazingly peaceful and I miss it a lot.  In fact, I will take a Gatorade-freezing cold snowy run any day over a sorta-cold rainy one!  I miss the sound of crunchy snow as I run.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Garmin Revived + Zoo Bunnies

Since Sunday I've managed 3 mi on Monday, 2.1 mi Thursday, and 6 mi today.  It's sort of nice not having any plans when I set out to run and just do whatever feels nice for that day.  I haven't really been upping the mileage too much so will hopefully slowly start to do that next week.  There's supposed to be a nasty weather system moving into the area this weekend so I'm crossing my fingers it won't be too terrible.

On the Garmin front, today at mile 3.77 Garmin beeped to tell me it was running low on battery power.  It happily lasted for the remainder of my run.  I just calculated that I was able to run 50.5 miles on the last full charge (plus three hours of non-GPS watch mode at the Turkey Trot).  That is roughly 8.8 hours of running time which puts it back in an acceptable range.  So I guess the firmware update did it's thing!

Boyfriend and I took our first trip to the San Francisco Zoo this week.  It's a cute little zoo and was amazingly devoid of people.  It was almost eerie at times.  But the lack of people made it quite enjoyable (just take a friend so you don't find yourself all alone in the maze-like configuration at a zoo where a guy got mauled by a tiger last year).  I spied these wild little beasts and had to take their pictures:

The "Rabbits and Guinea Pigs" habitat was huge!  And really, I saw a pretty sad spectacled bear who was sitting in a concrete enclosure not quite double this size who would probably appreciate a little real turf to sit on.  Mario explained to me that clearly rabbits rank higher than exotic bears.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday Mario

Continuing with "Favorite Mario Moments" today.  These are pretty short and have no great accompanying photos:

Once when I was washing the dishes Mario was lounging on the carpet in the middle of the apartment.  Suddenly I heard Boyfriend yell, "Look!"  I turned around in time to see Mario 1/4 of the way into a dog-trick "roll over."  His little front paws were up in the air and 'round they went.  His head just sort of followed along.  I guess there are probably rabbits that do this all the time and lounge around on their backs, but Mario isn't one of them so it was pretty cute.

Another great Mario moment happened when Boyfriend asked Mario to binky for him.  Actually Boyfriend started pumping his arms up and down in the air and shouted, "Show me your hydraulics!"  Mario, as if on cue, popped one foot straight into the air.  Chloe used to do straight-up-in-the-air-binkies but these are a lot rarer for Mario.

I finally remembered to get Mario's Christmas decorations up in his cage.  I bought these for him and Chloe a few years ago.  They are chew-safe.  Of course neither of them were interested in chewing them so I took them down when the season was over.  Last year Mario finally decided to mutilate the snowman a little (far left).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Speed(ier) Run

This morning I went to join the running club for their Sunday run.  I was sort of on the fence about it because the person who has been leading my pace group is out of town.  But I decided to show up and if everyone was a speedy hare I would just do a solo run.  

I latched on to the group that seemed to think they were the slowest (still faster than my usual pace choice).  I'm glad I gave it a go because we ran 5.3 miles at a sub 10:00 min/mile pace.  I have not done a run that averaged less than 10:00 min/miles since the end of July!  We even had a few mile splits that were 9:30 min/miles.  I guess I have a little bit of "speed" in the legs after all.  So my running is making steps in the right direction.  Besides the nice pace we had some good conversation which is the whole point of group runs.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I have a bunch of random things floating around in my head so will do the handy bullet list today.
  • This Sunday I once again joined the running club and we covered about 5 miles.  I'm excited because I found a great hill which I'm going to train on when I get into the thick of things for Big Sur.  It's pretty steep and I think about a mile long (exact measurement to be determined later).  The nice thing is there's a dirt path along the road so I don't have to pound the pavement going down.  And of course, running up it will be the real goal.
  • I joined Netflix for a trial period.  Two movies I recently watched were "Running on the Sun" and "Run for Your Life."  Both were good and I recommend them.  "Running on the Sun" was really fascinating.  These people run Badwater which is something like 135 miles in scorching heat.  If you've ever wanted to see people truly pushed to their physical limits, this is it.  I will never complain in a marathon ever again.
  • This deserves it's own bullet point because "Run for Your Life" made me really want to run the NYC marathon again one day.  I participated in 2005.  It was the NYC Marathon carrot which turned me into a runner.  I set the goal of running the NYC Marathon when I could just barely eek out a 5K.  It took me two years, but I got there.  I will say with 100% certainty that my experience in the NYC Marathon was the crappiest run of my life.  I hit the wall very, very hard.  To say I enjoyed myself the last 1/3 of the race would be a flat out lie.  I like to say I no longer fear death because of the NYC Marathon.  I felt SO incredibly bad, there was a point if I had dropped dead on the spot I really would not have cared.  I was uncharacteristically angry when I finished (even though I set about a 30 minute PR that day).   I was angry at the crowds.  Angry at the other runners.  I was angry at everyone (this personality change was by far the worse thing about my experience...I've had some painful runs that left me feeling elated at the end)!
  • I swore I would never run the race again.  This was not a fair statement because really, the race itself was great.  The crowds at NYC are incredible!  The race was well organized!  After 2005 I had guaranteed entry into 2006.  I entered mainly because it was my backyard marathon.  I developed horrible shin splints prior to the Safaricom Marathon in 2006 and this ended my NYC 2006 dreams.  I deferred entry to 2007.  But when the time came to register for 2007, I don't remember why but I didn't do it.  And I really regret it now.  For one, I lived 4 blocks away from the shuttle bus pick-up and a little over a mile from the finish line.  Do you know what it would cost me now to stay in midtown Manhattan around marathon time?  Also, I had guaranteed entry.  Now I'll have to enter the lottery and stand less than a 50% chance of getting in.  But I think enough time has passed that the horrible memories from that day have started to subside and I'm beginning to see the race for what it really was.  I'm not sure when but sometime down the road I'll throw my name in the lottery.  It probably won't happen for years and by then it will be a great ode to the city that made me a runner.
  • There's a present I want to buy for someone on Amazon and the total is $24.99.  I need one more cent to qualify for free shipping.  I have spent the better part of the day trying to decide what other thing I can buy to get the free shipping.  So far nothing comes to mind.  If you know of anything on Amazon that is $1 and qualifies, please let me know.
  • I usually get Mario some sort of chew toy, treat or bunny toy for his Christmas present.  This year in addition to something he can actually appreciate I have found the perfect present for Mario (which is really a present for me in disguise since Mario could care less about it).  Stay tuned.
  • Have you guys heard of the Plus3Network?  You sign up for free, log miles/activities and big corporate sponsors donate money to charity.  Pretty neat.
  • I had a nice 5 mile run today.  I only got out there three times this week so decided not to try for six today.  I figure I have another month of base building before I start some sort of structured plan for Big Sur.  So far so good.  I'm slow as sludge but getting my endurance back.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Mario

Here are some images from the de-woodchucking of Mario.  One question that was asked was whether there were any rabbit chewing toys.  The answer is an emphatic, YES, and Mario's got them.  He can chew to his heart's content on his snazzy willow tent and various other things.   He sometimes chews appropriate things, but I think he prefers the walls (or the idea of breaking rules).

The first night Mario got put in his carrier four times.  I try to only keep him in for a couple of minutes, though if he acts like this he has to wait to be calm before he's released (don't want him associating bar chewing with release):

I'm not sure if Mario will learn not to bite the walls. At the very least putting him in the carrier seems to distract his brain long enough so that when he's released he goes on to do other things.

Let me out!!

Okay, tantrum over.  Look how cute I am!  Please let me out?

Fine, kiss my bunny butt

And once he's out, Mario likes to show the carrier who is really the boss around here.

By sitting on it.