Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thanksgiving and Since

I thought I'd share a few snapshots that touch upon what I've been up to in the last few weeks. Lots of eating, knitting, running, and, though not shown in pics, reading. It's been a nice few weeks.

As you can see by the plate of food, I have photographic evidence of my ever first Thanksgiving dinner. Since my mother-in-law was sick, I fixed the noonday meal with just a 24-hour notice. Instead of cooking a big bird, I got some turkey breasts and slow cooked them on the stove to use in a turkey cranberry Pampered Chef wreath. I'd never made that particular wreath recipe, so I was pleased to discover just how good it is. Since the crust was crescent rolls and eggwash, it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This recipe is a keeper! For the sides, I made cornbread casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked mac-n-cheese (at Marie's request), and rolls. It sure was nice to have leftovers to enjoy for the following three days!
The next picture was taken tonight right after returning from my run. I had to show what I've been wearing lately on my runs! Check out my newly knitted running gaiter and hat, as well as my new headlamp. If it weren't for these items, and also my fleece headband and weatherproof jacket, I wouldn't be running in this crazy weather we've been having. Besides what you see, I'm also wearing a fleece jacket and longsleeve tech shirt under my weatherproof jacket. Crazy cold! Luckily, my Land's End running pants have kept my legs warm enough. If it gets down closer to zero degrees though, I'll probably have to wear warmup pants over the running pants.

Since the gaiter turned out to be a success on my frigid runs, I cast on another one, this time in 100% merino and in warm, squishy brioche stitch. I think this second gaiter will be even warmer than the first. I've gotten almost seven inches done and am considering continuing on into a balaclava by binding off about one-third the stitches for the eyes opening. Gotta measure my face first, though! As for knitting any other winter running accessories goes, I might knit some warm, closely knit mittens for single-digit temps.
The mess of yarn and stripes you see in the last picture are from when I was knitting the plaid intarsia hem of my Laura's Cardigan. It took patience and effort, but I believe it will be worth it in the end to have that nice little detail which balances out the rest of the sweater design. Currently, I've finished one short sleeve and have cast on the other. The only knitting left after that will be the neckband, button bands, and collar. I'll have to record how long it takes me to weave in all those ends!

A few weeks ago, I finished my first audiobook, Water For Elephants. Now I'll be ready for the movie when it comes out next year. After seeing Christopher Waltz in the movie Inglourious Basterds [sic], I'm looking forward to him playing August. He's perfect for that role.

After finishing Water For Elephants, I decided to finally listen to all the Harry Potter books. So far I've been loving it, sometimes even listening while I'm running. I've been lucky that my library has been so speedy on my requests for them to date.

That's it for now!
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maze Jumper and Toque FO Pic

Marie finally wore her maze jumper and toque to school, so I snapped a few pics, this one being the best of the lot. Doesn't she look cute?!! For more project info, here's a link ;-)

Around Halloween I cast on for a long-awaited cardigan pattern, Laura's Cardigan. Lots of progress on that, so I'm hoping to have a new cardigan in the near future. I love the fall colors I chose for it!

As for reading and running, I'm getting more of the former done due to a cold. But, I hope to get some running in when the weather warms up this weekend. I just finished the audiobook version of Water For Elephants and am now thinking of revisiting HP7 since the movie is coming out this week.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Columbus Half Marathon 2010 Race Report

What a difference seven weeks made! Seven weeks ago, I was happy just to finish my first half marathon and happy that I did it in just over 2:30:00. Since then, I altered my training, lost a little more weight, and had the confidence to set a race goal. I turned out to have an amazing race!!!

It didn't start out so amazing... The night before the race, I had to put my kids to bed when I really should've been in bed myself. I got to bed an hour late, and then it took me forever to fall asleep. Just as I was finally drifting off, my daughter crawled into bed with me because she'd had a bad dream. After trying to endure her constant tossing and turning and providing heat like a furnace from Hades, I finally got out of bed to carry her back to her room. Not ten minutes later, my son began crying really hard and wouldn't stop. Poopy diaper? Since I was the only once who heard him, I had to go get him and change his diaper. By the time I took care of him and crawled back into bed, I only had one and a half hours to sleep before my alarm went off at 5:30. Yep, you read that right: 1.5 hours of sleep before the race! I wasn't very pleased about that. I cried a little.

When my alarm went off, I was so tired that I hit snooze. Bad idea. Luckily, getting ready and eating my pre-race breakfast went without a hitch. I had instant oatmeal, half a banana with peanut butter, a small glass of milk, and some coffee. Later as I sat waiting in line to get into my pre-paid parking garage, I was really regretting hitting that snooze button! Since I was behind schedule, I had to rush to the porta potties and then try to push my way through the non-moving crowd to Corral 3. It was so crowded that I didn't notice that there was a small opening in the fence by one of the Corral 3 flags. Luckily, a race official directed us to the opening just before the singing of the national anthem. Since it was shoulder to shoulder like cattle, I didn't have room to stretch. Not being able to stretch was icing on the cake considering that it meant my lower legs might be in jeopardy for the race. With all the hindrances I'd endured leading up to the race, I was a little mad. Then... something good happened.

The starting gun went off for the elite runners. The crowd cheered, music was playing, and fireworks went off. What a big to-do this was! It was exciting! All the sudden I got fired up. I could feel the energy of all the runners around me. Sometimes being pissed off can be a positive because I turned all my pre-race frustration into excitement and motivation. I had the desire to get out there and run like mad! It was amazing to be among so many fellow runners all going a long distance, half or full. As we scooted toward the start, I was ready to go! My watch said 7:40.

Just like my first HM, the first three miles were crowded with not too many opportunities to easily pass people without exerting some effort. But once I felt warmed up at Mile 3 in Bexley, I began my quest to run my pace. My legs felt great and the racewalkers were annoying me. I wanted to get around them. My goal was to visit all the water stations but make them extremely brief and not walk between them for as long as I could. My time goal was 2:24:00, or at least better than 2:31:43 (my previous time). So, I needed to aim for 11:00-min miles. I'd made it through 10 miles at that pace in my previous HM before "the wheels came off."

At Mile 4, my watch said 43:xx. Then at Mile 5, my watch said 53:xx. At Mile 6, it said 1:04:xx. Wow, two minutes ahead of pace?! That was unexpected. I wasn't pushing hard yet. I was just going at a pace that felt good. Since I had the time and truly thought I had to pee, I stopped at the next set of porta potties. It was a short line, but I got in there and surprisingly discovered that I didn't need to go. At all. Huh?! Two minutes wasted! Once back on the course, I panicked and sped up my pace to put this mistake behind me. At Mile 7, my watch said 1:17:xx. Whew, back on target for pace! Not good enough, though; I wanted to get back under 11:00 again, darn it! Around Mile 7, I'd taken a strawberry CLIF Shot and some water. The gel kicked in somewhere between Miles 8 and 9. I pushed the pace the next few miles and got it under 11:00 again. The only things that challenged me at this point were the blinding sun on Third Street and the upcoming large groups of marathoners.

It was running down Third Street that I first encountered several teams of marathon runners. For the first time since the beginning of the race, it was difficult to pass without effort, especially around Schiller Park. This was a blessing and a curse: a blessing because these groups literally kept me from walking since I was surrounded at times. It also helped me keep a steady, mindless pace. While I was still pushing the pace, somehow I also felt like I was drafting these groups which gave me the break I needed to endure the final stretch up High Street.

I passed Mile 10 and saw that my watch said 1:49:xx. In my previous HM, this was where the wheels fell off. Fortunately in this race, I still felt okay enough to squeeze out 3.1 more miles and was determined to not let things fall apart again! Since it became a total mind game at this point and I got panicky, I suddenly "felt tired." This pissed me off since I knew I had the training to finish this thing right this time. So I began passing people to take my mind off the final miles. At Mile 11, my time was 2:00:06. That meant I had nearly 30 minutes to run 2.1 miles. Booyah! I smiled and felt like I got a second wind! That's just what I needed as motivation to get up the one major hill we had in the race. Many runners didn't make it up the hill. It was the first time I noticed people who weren't racewalkers walking during the race. Thank goodness I hadn't walked yet and had run 11 miles in training because I got up that hill running, even if it was at a slower pace.

I don't remember my time at Mile 12 because I was trying to pass people and ignore how far away Nationwide Boulevard seemed. But, I do remember rounding the final corner and seeing my family and the awesome downhill finish. I got so excited that I totally gunned it at the end! It was so nice to finish sprinting down that hill, knowing that I'd done my best and surpassed my expectations. Not counting the 15-sec water station breaks, I'd run the entire 13.1! Holy crap!!! My training runs always included walking breaks, so this was quite a feat for me. Two other things astounded me: 1) My legs felt fine the entire race; and 2) I had the energy to sprint at the finish.

After the race, I enjoyed the food, drink, and music. After my family left, I lingered a bit, listening to the band while sitting on the sunny lawn. It was gorgeous out!

As I said earlier, I did a few things differently this time around for my second HM. First of all, I didn't even plan on running this race. I thought I was done when I did the Spirit of Columbus Half in August. I actually laughed when my friend Ronnelle suggested I also run the Columbus Half. But, while I reduced my weekday training schedule, I found myself continuing to do long runs in September, steadily upping the mileage until I finally broke down and registered at the end of the month. Not having the mental stress of training for a race for many weeks, reducing my weekday training a little, and being more aggressive (less walking breaks and higher mileage) in my long runs helped tremendously. By allowing my legs to recover more during the week, I had more productive long runs. I also lost some more weight which helped reduce my pace some and seemed to make my long runs a bit easier to endure. I felt so much stronger and faster in this race :-)

For the knitters: I bought some girls over-the-knee striped socks in pink, charcoal, purple, magenta, and silver metallic to convert into some excellent arm warmers to wear at the race. All I did was cut off the toes and make a small thumbhole in each heel. Voila, $2.00 arm warmers! Sure beats the boring $20 ones ;-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's Nice When Hard Work Pays Off

All in all, today was a very good day! Lost some more weight, made it outdoors to do 8.2 miles despite the sketchy weather forecast, and fit into a pair of jeans shorts that I haven't been able to wear since B.I. (Before Ian: Fall 2006). Yep, I'm feeling mighty fine! Btw, these are the first pics I've taken of myself (below the chest) since March 2009 - that was the last time I, a "sweater knitter," knitted myself a top since I'd gained too much weight to satisfactorily knit any of the patterns I had queued. (Usually, I choose close-fitting styles. Those have been out of the question until now.)

The week before my half marathon (8/29), I dipped down to 149.4 out of sheer nervous energy. It was the first time I'd gone below 150 since December 2007. I knew it wouldn't last long: soon after that weigh-in, I carb and water loaded for the race, making a special trip to Hometown Buffet to aid in my endeavor ;-) So I didn't see that number again until last week when I hit 149 on the dot. I got excited until it jumped back up to the 151 range for the rest of the week. Bah! I'd seen enough of that number. This morning when I stepped on the scale, I wasn't expecting anything different. Imagine my surprise when I saw 148.8! Knowing that I had a long run (i.e., major calorie burner) later today, I was stoked.

It took me forever to get around to doing my long run this weekend. I got up early to my alarm on Saturday and realized that I didn't have the energy or hydration level to do a long run: 6 hours of sleep and not enough pre-hydration. Oops. Instead, I slept in on my one day to do so, and then watched the Buckeyes beat the Wildcats. Since I'd skipped my run, I decided to at least go for a short 2-miler before dinner to warm-up for the next day and to add more to my weekly mileage. My easy 2 miles turned out to be very slow because I walked the first 11 minutes. My tendonitis was flaring up again. Not fun! I crossed my fingers that the 2-miler would ultimately loosen up my right anterior tibial tendon (in English: near the inside shin, below the calf muscle). It helped: I cranked out 8.2 miles tonight! I did my 7-mile out-and-back, Antrim to Worthington Hills, and then I finished with one lap (1.2 mi) around Antrim Lake. I won't lie - that last 1.2 miles were challenging; I was D-O-N-E at 7. But, I had some good tunes to motivate me, and I kept telling myself it was only another 12-14 minutes. I stopped my watch timer for 3 minutes to pause and gather myself at the deck on the lake before completing my run. Somehow the legs kept moving, and I only walked 30 seconds of it. 892 calories burned - yeah!

After showering, I noticed a pair of old shorts that had fallen off a stack of clothes - clothes that are too small for me. I checked the size: 10. I already wear a few 10's, but not many that are non-stretchy fabric. I thought I'd try them and see how close I was to fitting into them. Turns out, I fit into them perfectly. Non-stretchy jeans shorts. Woohoo! Payoff for all my hard work and determination! I guess I'll have to see what else fits again...

I also have knitting news for today: only 2 more chart repeats on Marie's maze jumper. After that, I only have the bibs in front and back plus the straps. Can't wait to start some new projects soon!
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Race Report: Spirit of Columbus Half Marathon 2010

Wow, am I a procrastinator or what?! It's been two weeks since I ran my first half marathon, and I'm just now getting around to posting my race report... so glad I already posted the pictures and video!

Race Week:
The week before the race, it was taper time. So, less running, rest, and lots of water and carbs :-) Since my right leg was bothering me (more on that later), I only ran twice that week and less miles than scheduled. Carb loading was pretty fun! To be cautious, I did my pre-race pigout two nights before the race at Hometown Buffet. Oh my, did I ever enjoy eating what I wanted and in whatever amount desired! I even drank regular Barq's rootbeer -- a favorite! Turns out that I only managed two plates rather than my usual three. But, I hadn't been to a buffet like that in ages. I guess I get full faster now, which is fine by me! The night before the race, I dined in and made a Macaroni Grill Basil Pesto Chicken meal with garlic bread but no salad (following the "no roughage or fiber before the race" rule). After laying out and preparing my race day outfit and gear, I sipped on water until bedtime. Surprisingly, I feel asleep faster than I expected considering: 1) I was nervous, and 2) it normally takes me a while to wind down. However, I seemed to stay in a light dream state the entire night, waking up every hour or so, which is not my typical sleep pattern since I normally sleep like a bear.

Race Day Morning:
It's amazing how fast I got up out of bed to turn my alarm off on race day. Nerves. I got dressed and had oatmeal, peanut butter on a banana, milk, and some coffee while nervously pacing the kitchen. Once I realized that I was pacing, I sat down to drink my coffee. It was the last moment of quiet I'd have before the race since I knew my mind would really start to race while driving there. Just before walking out the door I suddenly remembered to spray sweatproof sunscreen on my shoulders and arms (Good thing because I would've gotten burned those last 5 miles!).

The drive there followed part of the race course, so I passed a few water stations and mile markers. Despite the distraction and excitement of seeing the race setup, I couldn't help but notice how long the drive felt. Was I really going to be running this? 13.1 miles?! The most I'd run in training was 10 miles the week before, and that seemed like forever! I was really hoping that adrenaline would be my friend and get me through to the end. When I started to think too much about the miles, the drive there turned out to be my mental pep talk. I told myself the following: 1) I trained 3 months for this and was ready, darn it; and 2) I was going to walk through every water station and drink water, even if I didn't feel like having water or walking.

The race starting point was at a shopping mall. Luckily, since the race was small, there was ample parking close to the start. When I say close, I mean that I could've gotten out of my car when the gun went off and not lost any time ;-) It was 7:00 a.m. and I had a half hour till race time. After putting on my hat and grabbing my Shot Bloks and mp3 player, I headed to the porta potties on the opposite side of the road to stretch. Soon after I finished stretching, I noticed the porta potty lines getting longer, so I got in one. Relieved I got to pee, I headed over to the start and waited, occasionally chatting but mainly staying quiet and taking in my surroundings. There were no corrals since it was a small race. While shaking out my legs and loosening up my ankles in anticipation, I realized I hadn't put BodyGlide on my thighs. Oh freaking crap! This was 5 minutes before the start. I immediately hurried over to my car, got in, and furiously coated my thighs. There was NO way I was going to run 13.1 miles without anti-chafing balm on my thighs, unless I wanted to start a fire. Whew, that was close! When I got back to the start, the anthem had started, and then we were off!!!

Mile 1:
My little clip-on mp3 player was set to play all songs alphabetically. That way I could count the total number of songs after the race was over (35!). First song? "4 Minutes," the Glee version of Madonna and Justin Timberlake's song. Good way to start! I kept the volume low so that I could still hear nearby people talking. Even though we were under 1000, it was closely packed that first mile. The pace felt slightly faster than I intended and turned out to be 10:51. Oops, too fast!

Mile 2:
I didn't want to tire out too early, so by the second mile I managed to slow down and get behind a pair of younger women who held a steady, comfortable warm-up pace. We turned onto a quiet road that went downhill with houses on one side and a mist-covered field on the other. I made sure to enjoy the shade and cool temps, knowing that later, the last 5 miles of the race were out in the open sun -- this on a forecasted 90-degree day. (The sun is my kryptonite, so I cherished the shade I got in those first 8 miles!) I didn't look at my watch at Mile 2 because we had our first water station. Since I didn't turn down my music, I accidentally grabbed Gatorade. Oops! I took a sip and tossed my cup, then grabbed some water. After a few small sips, I started running again. Small sips and very brief walking were the norm at these earlier stations. I wanted to follow my water station rule, but I also didn't want to waste time either while I still had lots of energy.

Mile 3:
After that first water station, the course took us another easy mile to the bridge that crosses the Scioto. There were a few residents standing at the end of their drives watching us pass by while they enjoyed their morning coffee. Most politely smiled, but there were also a few who cheered us on. That felt nice because I knew there wouldn't be many spectators until the finish due to the race course logistics. After all, this was a scenic race course that didn't have many safe places for pedestrians. After turning to head toward the bridge, I walked and sipped some more water and took off. This is where the pack dispersed!

Mile 4:
Oh, yeah! Downhill time! It turned out to be the biggest downhill we had. Many runners, including myself, took advantage and flew down to the river. When I got to the bridge, I normalized my pace and looked ahead to the hill taking us back up. No problem! It wasn't as steep or as long as the downhill. We turned right onto Riverside Drive, which would take us the remaining 10 miles into downtown. No more turns - this was it: Now we were following the Scioto the rest of the way. I was looking forward to this stretch between the bridge and Griggs Reservoir at Mile 5. There were going to be some really pretty views of the river and a small inlet. When I got to the stone-bordered inlet, I saw some great blue herons and ducks. A few of the early morning sun's golden rays pierced through the dense mantle of trees surrounding the inlet. As I stared at the mist-covered scene, I took in a deep breath and closed my eyes for a second. I think that's when the first race photographer, unseen by me, took my picture. Instead of looking peaceful and content, as I knew I was, I looked like I was asleep! I don't remember where the Mile 4 water station was, but I do remember realizing that I was going to make it 5 miles without walking (between water stations, that is). Woohoo! I felt pretty good! Near the end of this mile, I caught up to and followed an older man who looked to be well over 70. I stayed behind him until the next water station and never saw him again since he skipped it and I did my usual walk-and-drink routine. Beat by a 70+-year-old man! Oh well, good for him!

Mile 5:
As the older man passed by the water station, I decided to take both water and Gatorade. I still only sipped, but I made sure to drink both. I could tell it was getting warmer. We were now in Griggs Reservoir: a 2-mile park along the Scioto River. This is where I began mentally breaking up the course into segments. I'd just done 3 miles to the bridge and 2 miles to Griggs. Now I had 2 miles through Griggs. My time was 55:something, approximately an 11:00-min mile. Well, all right then!

Mile 6:
I was still feeling good, although I could tell that I needed to get my Shot Bloks ready soon. There was GU at the last water station, but I declined it since I'd brought my own energy chews. My family would be near Mile 6. So just before going under a bridge before the water station, I stopped to walk and chew a couple of Shot Bloks. When I'd finished chewing, I reached the water station. There was another race photographer taking pics at about 5.5 miles. I wasn't expecting him and stepped in a rut right before he snapped my photos, so you can toatlly see my reaction. Oh my, my race photo prospects weren't looking too promising at this point!

Mile 7:
After running about a half mile past the water station, I saw my husband with our 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. They were near the relay exchange point at Mile 6.55. I waved hi and grabbed a quick sip of water (an extra station!), this time while running. Only a half mile more of Griggs! There was a water station at the top of a short but steep little hill when exiting the park. I didn't let myself stop running until I got up to the station.

Mile 8:
Now came the one hilly portion of the course. It was gently rolling hills for exactly one mile. Believe it or not, this felt pretty good on my legs. As I mentioned earlier, I'd been having issues with my right leg: medial tibial stress syndrome, otherwise known as shin splints. Going uphill stretched out all the right muscles, so I didn't mind breathing harder to enjoy a good stretch. The biggest and last uphill of the race, right before the Mile 8 marker, turned out to be not scary at all. I quite enjoyed it! Why? Besides getting a good stretch, there was a water station at the base, and my family passed me by in their car just as I started to ascend (while running!).

Mile 9:
With my spirits buoyed, I experienced a second wind. I hadn't noticed I'd lost any pizzazz until this happened.  8 miles was the last distance I'd run solidly in training (10 being my longest long run). So from here on out, I didn't know what to expect of my performance. Since I felt great at this point, I decided to go with it and pick up my pace for the next mile. When I got to the end of this mile, I planned to eat some more chews and follow it up with an easy mile. Mile 9 felt awesome! The best and fastest mile of the race! And then I noticed the sun...

Mile 10:
This is when I started to slow down a bit. I'd already planned to, but I also felt like I needed to due to the rising temps and sun. I don't even remember which stations had sponges, but I took them all when I came to them! This mile was slow and, for the first time, I walked once between water stations for one minute. Time to reserve some energy. When I neared the Mile 10 marker, I wondered if I could pick up my pace again. As I thought about this, I realized I had a possible blister developing on my left foot. Really?! After all the BodyGlide I slathered on my feet? My mp3 player, which was still on songs beginning with B's, started to play "Blister In The Sun." Now that was funny! Oh, the irony! I got a mini third wind from the hilarity and picked up my pace as I crossed over Mile 10. Blister schmister!

Mile 11:
Energy renewed, I decided to do this mile at a faster pace, but with a few 1-min walking intervals. Luckily, I was running when the third race photographer snapped pics. I didn't even see him/her. As I approached the water station at Mile 11, my family were all shouting at me across the busy road, but I didn't see or hear them. Fortunately, I was running when my husband was taking video with our camera, unbeknownst to me. A lady at the water station shouted, "Just 2 miles to go!" I got excited, but I also realized that this would be a trying 2 miles. I didn't have much energy left. I would be running in spurts.

Mile 12:
The mile that lasted an eternity! I walked a lot more than I wanted to and dearly hoped that adrenaline would kick in when I got near downtown. I could see the skyline at this point and was nearing the big highway loops. This is where I looked at my watch and knew that, if I pushed it, I could make it under 2:30:00. I had 25:00 to go 2.1 miles. So doable, if only I hadn't just run 11 miles. If only there were shade! It was getting hot, and at this point I was double fisting the water and Gatorade - chugging, not sipping. This was the hardest mile. Make it end, I thought! When I reached the last water station, I strolled while finishing off my Shot Bloks and drank every last drop of water and Gatorade. There were sponges! I took my sponge, lifted my hat, and squeezed water on my face. Then I squeezed the rest down my back, holding the cold sponge at my neck. Stupid sun, I'll show you!

Mile 13:
This was it! The last mile (and a 10th)! Finally, I got some shade by going under the big highway loops. This helped a great deal. I was able to run in spurts of about 2 or 3 minutes. When I finally saw the last landmark, a train underpass, I decided that I wouldn't be walking after that point. There was a slight uphill, but I knew the finish line would be visible at and not far after the top.

Finish Line:
As I neared the finish line, I could hear The Blackeyed Peas' "I Got A Feeling" playing. The MC was calling out the names of finishers. Oh, cool! I didn't know that they did that at half marathons. Once more, my family was there to cheer me on and take video. After passing them, I had about 100 yards to go. I sped up just a little, sticking to my habit of finishing every run strong. I didn't feel the elation or sense of accomplishment until 10 yards before the finish line. It hit me all at once, and I did a little fist pump before I crossed over! I also remember saying, "Woohoo!" I got my finisher's medal and put it on immediately before grabbing some Myoplex and water. Before my family caught up to me again, I remember thinking to myself, "I did it!" Just then, I recognized the next song that had started playing as my family walked toward me. It was "My Hero" by Foo Fighters, which happens to be one of my favorite Foo Fighters songs! It was so fitting because my daughter's first words to me were, "You won, mommy!" You know what, I felt like I had won: I'd completed my first half marathon!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Half Marathon Pics and Videos

Mile 5, Griggs Reservoir, Upper Arlington

Mile 11 Water Station, just west of Grandview Avenue

Crossing the Finish Line

Finish Line Photos

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Reviews and More: Knit Picks Fall Yarn, Twist Collective, and Knitty

It's that time of year when cooler weather knitting looms not too far in the future. All the fall yarns and patterns stir up my excitement and imagination as to what I'd like to knit. Meanwhile, it's the perfect time to get late summer and early fall projects out of the way. More on those later.

Right now I want to list all the new colorways of Knit Picks yarns that struck my fancy. And here we go...
WOTA Bulky: Anchors Away, Vacation, Garden Party
WOTA: Bramble Hth, Black Cherry Hth (not new, but I've never noticed it before!)
Palette: Opal Hth, Bouquet Hth
Swish DK: Pampas Hth, Squirrel Hth
Swish Worsted: Lotus, Twilight, Lost Lake Hth, Marble Hth
Gloss DK: Guava, Gulfstream
Capra: NONE
Andean Treasure: Grove Hth
City Tweed DK: Tanrantella, Toad
Stroll Sport: Rouge, Baltic Hth, Jack Rabbit Hth (not that I'll ever buy sportweight)
Stroll: Agate Hth
Stroll Hand Painted: Watermelon
Imagination: Wild West, Ruby Slippers, Mermaid Lagoon (not actually new, but new to me)

From the new Twist Collective, I like two patterns: Coventry and Hawthorne. Coventry almost looks capelike. It's cute, swingy, sophisticated, and the cables are interesting! Hawthorne looks to be a good combination of garter stitch and lace, and I like the heavier weight. From the new Interweave Knits, I really like Leyfi Pullover! Normally, I despise the look of yoke-style patterns and have always been super picky as to fit and shaping since IMO they don't flatter most body types except those who are lean. But this one is truly awesome. I like the see-through yet modest leafy lace at the neckline, shoulders, and long sleeves; the lines that the lace creates are appealing to the eye and draw the eye away from the waist (a plus for most of us). And lastly, from Knitty: Coquille. I can see using Knit Picks Imagination or Stroll HP. I like the vertical lines, colorway changes, and near ruffles at the base edge. It looks like a fun knit!

Now back to my knitting plans. Currently, I'm working on a pair of Butterfly Garden socks for Marie with leftover Crazyfoot yarn. Lucky girl, huh?! On a sidenote: the yarn, a single ball, got tangled between these two socks a few nights ago, and it took about 6 hours over 2 nights and watching the latest Rambo twice in a row (WTH?!!) to untangle the mess. Anyway, I'm sure I'll cast on yet another pair of socks after that. But, I plan to re-focus my attention on finishing Marie's cotton mosaic tunic and my purple drapeneck top. Then, I want to begin my Laura's Cardigan, and following that, Opulent Raglan. I still have some light green yarn I intended as pajama pants for Ian. Also, I have a little bit of Christmas sock yarn left.

Lately, I've been searching for patterns specific to running: handheld water bottle cozies and hands-free music player holders. There aren't any knitting patterns for what I have planned with the water bottle cozy. Time to be creative! I'd like for it to be a full-bottle cozy (I just got a 17oz/500mL BPA-free plastic bottle) with the following unique additions: 1) a knitted-on "knucks grip" (i.e., holes for each finger) and a snug hand strap for added support; and 2) an optional afterthought pocket for ID, money, cell phone, and energy chews/gel that sits lengthwise on the far side of the bottle. It would be nice to drink water any time I want on long runs without having to tense/grip my hand around the bottle the entire time. Yes, they already sell things like this at stores and online. But, I thought it might be fun to come up with something myself via knitting ;-) For the music player holder, I want it to fit snugly on my upper arm, have cord management, and possibly have an adjacent pocket wallet (to hold the same items as the bottle cozy). Another running accessory that I've read about lately is arm warmers. There are female runners, elite and novice, who wear short-sleeve or sleeveless technical shirts with full-length handknitted armwarmers so that they can adjust to the varying temperatures during a race. It would be nice to roll them down from the top and have a convertible mitt (newborn style) to expose your hands if you get warm. Sometimes jackets are too warm for me once I'm warmed up, and then I have to suffer through wearing them heavily tied around my waist. Adjustable armwarmers might be the answer to this problem!

Monday, June 28, 2010


Once I began running back in 9th grade, I knew I wouldn't quite be happy with myself if I weren't running. Being an on-again off-again runner for decades, I can tell you this: not running is like being on the sidelines of life. I feel like I'm missing out and don't feel quite alive when I'm not running.

I love the challenge, the scenery, the strength, the confidence, and the fitness that come from running. The challenge of running really represents me as a person. You have to have considerable tenacity to run: no wishy-washy wimpy resolve allowed. As for enjoying the scenery, that's because I love the aesthetics and the experience of running. The beauty of the outdoors, feeling one with it, and using the senses are important to me. I'm totally an outdoors person. The strength and confidence running gives is priceless. I feel like I can tackle many things in life thanks to running since running and life are such parallels. Last, but not least: fitness. Over the years I've discovered that I'm a vain person who can't feel good about myself unless I look and feel good. When I'm not running, I feel like I've essentially given up on myself. I can't be proud of or confident in myself when I've let myself go. Some people who lose weight still aren't happy when they reach their fitness goals. Me? I've always been happy when fit.

I'm not completely fit and fabulous yet, but I'm getting there. Change feels really good, and there is so much to appreciate already. So far I've lost more weight than I ever have before, which is quite a feat. I can run 2 miles at a 9:30 pace, which for me is pretty fast. I can run as far as 5 miles, and this week I'll be running 6 for my long run which is totally uncharted territory for me. More and more clothes are beginning to fit again (major yay!). I'm starting to get back what resembles a waist again. The appreciation list goes on and on...

Knitting News: I've finished the legs of my Kai-Mei socks and started the heels. Can't wait to get to the lace that begins at the gusset and wraps around the instep. Marie's maze jumper and my purple drape neck top have been long neglected, so I hope to get those out again. However, I'm trying to re-read the Twilight books through Eclipse prior to opening night this week. So, I've only been working on the socks.

I finished the Butterfly Garden socks. See here if you haven't checked them out :-)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Finally Got That Sock Project Bag!

Here are lots of pics of my new dellaQ Rosemary bag in use. The socks in progress are my Butterfly Garden socks using KP Stroll Tonal. I can fit one 100g cake of yarn, my 2aat socks, my folded pattern, and in the front pocket, my cable needle and cell phone. Check it out :-D The color is called seafoam; it's an iridescent green. In some of the pics the bag actually looks more purple than green, but it's not. This bag is going to come in really handy when I want to take my sock knitting to the playground with the kids. The straps are just the right length to sit on my left wrist if I need to stand or move around (i.e., chasing kids). Yay, no more Ziplocs!

I believe it was Della Quimby herself who convinced me to get this bag! Cool, huh?! She was at Yarnmarket Thursday night for the Ravelry party. Jess, Casey, Mary-Heather, and Sarah were on hand to mingle with Ravelers who had the privilege of enjoying catered Panera meals and perusing the entire Yarnmarket warehouse. Before the evening ended, I purchased my dellaQ bag, and most of my fellow knitting group members from GK2 (Gahanna Knit Knite) got to chat with the Ravelry peeps. They are just as sweet and humble as they've always been. To cap off the night, my knitting friends and I went to Max & Erma's where we stayed way past our usual knit knite time. Good times!

In non-knitting news, I bought the Eclipse soundtrack. It's already on the LG phone that I use as an mp3 player while running ;-) My absolute favorite track is My Love by Sia. Haunting, beautiful, and hypnotic. I think I like it as much as Breathe Me! Other favs include Let's Get Lost (Beck and Bat For Lashes) and Ours (The Bravery). The soundtrack really fits the mood of Eclipse. Really, I think each soundtrack has fit each respective movie perfectly.

I've been listening to the Eclipse soundtrack a lot while sitting at the computer or while running, getting excited about the movie. Can't wait to go see all three movies June 29th! Yes, that's right: I'm going to see Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse at Movie Tavern where they serve food and drink to your seat. So, the only thing to worry about is getting up to go to the bathroom, ha!

BTW, the last pic is of the hybrid heel I made for these socks. If you've heard of a mini gusset/flap with short rows, toe-up or cuff-down, that's what I did. For my toe-ups, I did 6 pairs of gusset increases followed by a Sherman short row heel and faux flap on the original 32 stitches. (In addition to the link I just gave, here's a handy chart with numbers.)

Specs: I began my Sherman heel with a pair of wrapped stitches just outside the middle 32. Also, I slipped the first stitch of each row after the pivot row, as suggested by others. While working the 2nd half of the short rows, I did an Eye of Partridge pattern keeping a pair of knit stitches just inside the encroachments as a buffer (So for RS rows, I began each row with "s1, k1," and ended each row with "k1, k enc."). After the short rows, I continued around the instep and began the mini heel flap (picking up the two wraps). I continued the Eye of Partridge pattern while decreasing the gusset stitches to make the flap, reducing my heel stitch count to 33. To get rid of the last gusset stitch on the right, I continued around the instep and did a k2tog on the first 2 sts of the heel, completing the flap.

Happy knitting!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Butterfly Garden Socks CO

These are my Butterfly Garden socks (a free Knit Picks pattern). The yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Tonal Sock in Summer Blooms. The only mods I've made so far: change the toe increases from m1 to kfb, and increase to 64 sts rather than 60. The pattern on the instep runs up to the ankle after which there will be a butterfly. Can't wait to see how these turn out!

Since the colorway is called Summer Blooms, I thought I'd include a pic of the roses I cut today from my rosebush :-)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

An Afternoon in the Garden

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Who needs a fancy-schmancy mud bath when you can have one of your own in your own garden?! I do believe that Ian likes mud. As soon as I finished digging, preparing, and planting a flower garden, Ian went to town like the boy that he is :-)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Little Ampersands

Marie's Ampersand socks are finished! Here are the pics. For info on sizing it down to fit her 5yo feet: Rav link.
Pattern: Ampersand (upside down) by Bobbi Kraft; original Ampersand pattern by Kirstin Kapur.
Yarn: Kni Picks Felici, Marsh colorway, <1 skein
Needles: US1 KP fixed circulars, 2aat magic loop
Notes: Fun knit! See above Rav link for technical details. Basically, I followed the pattern directions for the toe and stitch pattern. Then I did my own thing from then on, never printing out the pattern.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pictures of the Day

Ampersand socks progress, Marie catching a butterfly, and Ian in his "feed me" monster shirt. In case you're wondering, Marie has some grape jelly on her mouth from just eating lunch. She had her kindergarten screening today!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Shrimp and Grits

Dinner Tonight: Spicy Shrimp and Grits

We moved back to Ohio from North Carolina July 2006, and this is the first time I've tried to make shrimp and grits. I put together ideas from several recipes and came up with this. Since Jared doesn't like seafood, I gave the rest to my parents.

Ingredients: grits, milk, half-n-half, butter, cheddar cheese, pepper, tabasco, salt, shrimp, scallions, red bell pepper, garlic, oil, lemon juice, real bacon bits, flour, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.

In other news, I've CO for Ampersand socks using KP Felici in the Marsh colorway. I'm about halfway done with both legs. Marie's Purple Maze jumper is going well. I'm about halfway done with the pattern repeats for the lower section.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Since I'm On A Roll...

Tonight I ripped out the bind off to Ian's Trellis pullover and re-did it using a looser bind off. Now the collar doesn't stand straight up; it's floppy enough to turn outward. Here's a pic.
The bind off I used is called Sarah's Favorite Cast Off (SFCO). Between each knit or purl stitch on the bind off row, you make either a forward (M1F) or backward (M1B) loop. Forward loops precede knits, while backward loops precede purls. If you forget which direction to make the loop, just remember that the working yarn from the M1 loop has to come out the back before a knit and vice versa for a purl. For example, let's say your first two bind off stitches are both knits. You would K1, M1F, K1. There are now 3 stitches on your right needle. You pass the M1 and rightmost stitch over the leftmost stitch. If your next stitch is a purl, you'd make an M1B followed by that purl. Again, you'd pass the M1 and rightmost stitch over the purl stitch you just made. This bind off is similar to JSSBO (my favorite toe-up sock bind off!), but you employ forward and backward loops (M1s) rather than forward and backward yarnovers.

Now for some fun! Here's an edited photo of me using a feature called "Coloring Book" effect (Kodak EasyShare). It looks like a sketch, and my hair looks like something you'd see under a microscope. Weird, huh?! I've been playing around with my new camera and picture software :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stolen Moments Wrap

Pattern: Stolen Moments Wrap
Yarn: KP WOTA Bulky, 2 skeins Wine and 1 skein Cherry Cordial Hand Dyed
Needles: Harmony US 10 straights
Notes: Used a twisted loop CO using my right thumb. To get the extra twist, you mimic what's done in German Twisted CO: Holding needle in left hand, go under right thumb loop and then down into it from the top (Confused? Look up any German Twisted CO video.). For the BO, I used JSSBO. Using the loose CO and BO helped when it came time to block. This wrap grows a bit upon blocking.
Comments: This is a comfy wrap to have around your shoulders. Actually, it's my first wrap ever! I enjoyed the fairly mindless pattern and trying out the Harmony needles. (Sorry in advance for the crappy cell phone pics.)

Finished Cherry Edwardians

Pattern: Edwardian Boating Socks
Yarn: KP Stroll Tonal, Queen Anne 1 skein
Needles: 2.5mm (US 1.5)
Notes: 2aat, substituted slip stitch heel, decreased toe to 11 sts
Comments: Fun at first and loved working with this colorway, but I'm really looking forward to making socks with my Christmas sock yarn! The linen stitch wasn't hard, especially if you switch to Continental. However, a whole pair of socks with it made the process slower. They're pretty, but I'm glad to be done!