Sunday, October 02, 2011

White Tail Trail Half Marathon 2011 Race Report

Yesterday morning I ran the White Tail Trail Half Marathon at Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville, Ohio! My 2nd trail race, my 1st trail half marathon, my 3rd half marathon overall, and the hardest race I've done yet (even harder than that crazy EcoThon 5K last spring that broke me!). Caesar Creek makes Darby Creek and Highbanks (the hilliest trails near my town where I trained) look like bunny hills. The only trails I've run that are harder are at Clear Creek in Hocking County. Although, at Clear Creek, at least there are opportunities to catch your breath atop ridges or at ravine bottoms. There were no opportunities to catch my breath at Caesar Creek. It was ravine after ravine after ravine interrupted midway by a windy run over the dam.

Before I get into a play-by-play report, let me quickly describe my training prep going into this race. Living in a flat city and accustomed to road races where you don't have to look down constantly while you're running, I ran some occasional trail runs with longer, hillier ones closer to my race. I also upped the frequency and mileage of my weekend long runs (lots of 10s and even above) and did more speedwork to be sure that I built up my strength and endurance. What I didn't do, which I discovered in hindsight is necessary, is strength training and more serious hill workouts. (That, or living in a place where I can regularly run killer hills.) This race turned out to be a difficult 13.1-mile hill workout. No breaks. For this Columbus girl who was better prepared for a swift, flat road race, it totally hammered my legs and made me have to rely solely on my mind to get through the last 7 miles. I'm very happy to have and wear my medal to say that I completed this race! To finish was definitely an accomplishment. Around 40 out of 240 didn't finish the race. I never thought of quitting while running yesterday, but I wondered when I was ever going to get to the end!

For dinner the night before the race, I went with my family to Golden Corral. With the increasingly cold temperatures and wind building, I noticed that my head was pounding! I ended up not eating a ton like I normally do before a race. Then, I suffered insomnia from my headache and pre-race nerves, only getting in maybe an hour of light sleep.

Getting There
I got up on time, ate my oatmeal, got dressed, and packed my gear. I kept vascillating between outfit choices, wondering whether to wear my running jacket due to the high wind. The wind was 20 mph and the windchill was 31 and would get up to 42 by the end of the race. I ended up wearing my favorite running pants, a longsleeve tech top, wool socks, thin headband, thin gloves, and brought my jacket just in case.Fortunately, my outfit turned out to be just right.

The drive there was a dark, rainy mist. Packet pickup and restrooms were at the finish, located at the park's swim beach. The goodie bag consisted of a small black nylon La Sportiva drawtring backpack with little samples: nuun, Aquaphor, CLIFbar, Gore-Tex lip balm, and a RoadID coupon. After taking the bag back to my warm car, I ate the mini CLIFbar sample and attached the little timing card to the top of my shoe. Like a lot of other people, I wasn't sure how many shuttle buses there would be to get to the starting point. So, I got on the first one, especially after seeing many people headed that way. Such a fool! I got there and had to stand in the cold wind for 50 minutes. On the upside, I had fun chatting, commiserating, and bobbing up and down with fellow racers.

Knowing that the trail would be narrow, I made sure to place myself somewhere in the middle to back of the pack of 240 people. I chose well because I only got passed in the woods about 7-8 times, and 40 people (mostly behind me I'm guessing?) got a DNF. My starting pace was too fast, but I figured that people would start to thin out on the road before entering the woods. I reassured myself that I'd slow down and run my pace after the first mile upon entering the woods.

Miles 1-6
Just before the woods at Mile 1, it thinned out and everybody went to single file. The terrain consisted of rolling hills and small ravine crossings. At the time I was thinking, "This isn't too bad -- as long as it doesn't get worse." Ha! I had no idea... For a few miles, I had people in front and behind, all going the same pace. There were aid stations at Mile 2 and 3.5, and I still felt strong and that things were moving along at a good pace -- my guess, maybe 11:30-12:00. Faster than in training (on trails, that is). The ankle-deep stream crossing not far after Mile 5 turned out to go really well. I only got my left shoe a little wet, and it didn't bother me the remainder of the race -- a relief since I was worried about that. At an open spot that included a short stretch of park road, I came upon a shirtless man in front of me. He looked like he had lost quite a bit of weight and wasn't cold. I wasn't cold either now that I was running, but I wondered how he could stand the wind! Soon after we were back in the woods, I heard a tinkling water sound atop the hill I was climbing and came upon the shirtless man peeing just off the trail. I was glad to pass him and never saw him again. At the end of the first 6 miles was the 3rd aid station where the woods opened up near the dam. I noticed they had Hammer Gel and eagerly took some with water. From there to the dam it was white, finely crushed rocks and dry grass with lots of squishy puddles.

The Dam - Halfway Point
Up until the dam, I still had energy and felt like everything was going well. Then I hit open road in the strong wind atop the dam. Holy moly, that was painful! I tilted my head down and took smaller steps, getting passed by a serene runner whom, in passing by me, I could barely hear say, "The journey of 1,000 steps..." Crossing the dam by car, the time passes by in a flash. While running? Not so much. I was very glad to cross some grass and get back to the trail and the protection of the woods.

Miles 7-9.25
Just before entering the woods after the dam, I saw an unmanned aid station with water coolers but no cups. If I'd known that the next aid station would seem far away, I would've put my open mouth under a spout and taken some water! ...and so began the two longest and most difficult stretches in the race. This is when the super serious hills began. Earlier in the race when the hills and ravines were challenging but easier, I ran up part way and then would finish by walking to the top. I could catch my breath on the downhill. On this section of the trail though, the uphills were steeper and lasted longer. The downhills were so short and steep that I never had a chance to recover. I even got a side stitch at one point! That never happens! I couldn't afford to stop, so I only allowed myself to slow down by walking all uphills. Even by walking the uphills, I was beginning to tire, and I noticed that constantly scanning the ground was taking a toll. I asked a passing runner how far we were. She checked her Garmin which wasn't working and guessed between 8 and 9. She was the last person I saw for a long time. Near the end of this section is when I finally bonked. Luckily, the next aid station came at this time. Instead of walking while hydrating, I stopped at the table and caught my breath. This station had Hammer HEED. I took that and some water and thanked the volunteers. Sidenote: the Hammer HEED was quite interesting -- it was flavorless and clear!

Miles 9.25-11.75
After the aid station, it got worse. My mantra was "keep moving." Really, I had no choice but to keep moving -- I had to get back to my car! There were lots of steep ravines to traverse, and I was getting much slower on the uphills. No one was around, and it was very quiet. My Achilles and calves were tired and aching, completely punished by the terrain. I started thinking weird thoughts, all silly and movie-related. From The Princess Bride, in Inigo Montoya's voice, I was thinking, "Hills and ravines galore!" Then I started hearing music from The Last of the Mohicans in my head, I guess to pretend that I was being "chased by a war party" to keep me moving. Like I said... weird! After a while my head went completely silent like my surroundings, and I just ran... Looking at my watch, I wondered where in the world the last aid station was! I hadn't seen any other runners since the lady with the non-functioning Garmin. Just when I thought I was close, I'd have yet another steep ravine to cross, many of these without footbridges and requiring some climbing to get out -- yes, climbing. Eventually, I came upon the lady who would finish just ahead of me. She was wearing a bright orange shirt (the official race shirt), and I tried to keep her in sight. When I finally heard sounds of a road approaching, I got excited and then sadly remembered that I had to go parallel to it for a while before crossing it. Crestfallen, this was the point in the race where I significantly slowed down and walked even though I wasn't going uphill. I was nearing the 3-hour mark and realized that I'd be going over it. Darn it... I knew I'd be slower, but really? If I could just get to the last aid station.

Last Aid Station to the Finish
Finally, I reached the 6th and final aid station, forgetting that it was at 11.75 mi, not 11. In my estimation and in assuming that I was only at Mile 11, I'd probably finish at about 3:20. Thankfully, the finish came sooner than expected! After the aid station, at which I was erroneously told I had 2 more miles to the finish, I went down a park road toward a boat ramp and re-entered the woods, soon coming upon the State Route 73 trail underpass. Inspired by finally nearing the finish, I was back to running again! Gotta finish strong and running no matter what! The terrain near the finish was mainly tall, grassy meadows and a kid's fishing pond. The trail took me between two final fields of tall grass and wildflowers, and I could hear voices and music ahead. The final stretch was on the swim beach parking lot leading to the shelter where I'd picked up my packet. The only people still there were the volunteers and family members of those still left on the trail (26 people). I was really happy to see my family waiting for me so that I could celebrate my finish. My kids ran along in the grass nearby yelling like crazy for me when I was approaching the finish. Very cute! A women volunteer congratulated me and handed me my medal and an envelope containing a $15 coupon toward a RoadID. I was absolutely starving and immediately downed several orange wedges, a yummy hunk of raspberry-flavored poundcake, and a mini CLIFbar. Looking down at my pants and shoes, I saw that I had mud splattered up to my knees and my shoes were covered and caked with mud. I hadn't even looked at my pants or shoes the entire race since I was too busy looking at the ground. Good thing I expected this and brought a change of clothes and shoes!

After the race, I met the rest of my family at a picnic shelter in another part of the park where we belatedly celebrated September birthdays and had a picnic lunch: brats, hot dogs, baked beans, fresh berries, Chex Mix, pasta salad, and yummy cupcakes -- chocolate chunk with peanut butter icing or chocolate with raspberry filling and chocolate icing! Next, we got a permit to park and look for fossils in the spillway, which the younger kids loved. They'd scream excitedly every time they found something. It was funny to see all of us wearing light winter coats and accessories in September. Everyone had on gloves, hats, mittens, etc. We even warmed our hands over the cooling grill! I couldn't believe I wasn't sitting down, but I felt that I had to keep moving to avoid stiffness. Later, I did have to site while driving the hour and 20 minutes home. I got sleepy and had to stop for coffee to finish the drive.

The day after wasn't too bad! I took an epsom salts bath last night which alleviated a lot of muscle achiness and exhaustion. My outer/upper quads and my Achilles are a touch sore today, and I'm a bit fatigued -- almost like coming down with a cold. At the moment though, I'm feeling improved. I might even be able to venture out for a short run tomorrow. More likely on Tuesday, though.

Will I ever do this race again? Not for a while, if at all! I plan on sticking to road races or much easier trail races where I can tune out and look at my environment and what's going on around me. Staring downward at my footing, torturing my legs, and not being able to look at my surroundings is not my cup of tea. Final time: 3:09:42 (goodness!), 174/200 overall, 19/24 AG, 14:29 pace (goodness!). I'm almost considering doing a 2nd half marathon this fall just to get a flat road race in to better gauge my level of running fitness. On the road, I'd expect a time around 2:15-2:20.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

It Finally Feels Like Fall!

I don't know about anyone else, but I love being able to pull out my cooler weather clothes and wear jeans again! I also love my comfy pajama pants! This weather is very welcome here after experiencing temperatures in the mid to upper 90s over the weekend. Being able to sit and knit with my friends without sweating is so nice.

Speaking of knitting with friends, that was yesterday, Labor Day. I was fortunate enough to be able to both go for a long run in the morning and then go knit in the afternoon. Since I knit so soon after my long run, I'm sure I looked like an older version of myself hobbling around! Luckily, that only lasted a few hours. I was back to normal by the evening and feel like new today, as if I never ran.

Yesterday's long run was the furthest I've done in training and is past my usual half marathon training goal of 10 miles. There are 2 more weekends in my training before my 2-week taper, and I need to figure out how to finish my long runs since I've already reached my goal. I'm thinking that since my half marathon will be a trail race I should go to Darby Creek or Highbanks next weekend to fit in another long trail run, then follow that with another regular long run of 10 or 11. I'm just playing it by ear and listening to how my body feels. It's so nice this year, after having a year of half marathon training experience, to feel normal and not exhausted while training. Seriously, the way I feel today, the day after a really long run, it's like it never happened. That makes me feel so good and in shape!

Last week I bought some new trail shoes at CRC Westerville since I'm doing a trail half. I first bought Mizuno Ascend 5 shoes, but they ended up not working out: too narrow/tight and too much shoe. Since the Saucony Peregrines are the trail version of the Kinvaras I currently wear, I went with those instead. They are slightly more shoe than the Kinvaras, but they have the same structure and 4mm heel-to-toe drop. Yesterday's long run (12.6 mi) was the second time wearing them. Here they are:

Here's a picture of my Kinvara 2's to compare:
Saucony Kinvara 2 PIC2

In knitting news, I'm working on a pullover sweater/hoodie for Ian since it's pretty cool on school mornings, even with the short trip from house to car. I've got the body and one sleeve finished and hope to finish the rest today. Other projects: Marie's Double Heelix socks, Opulent Raglan, Twisted Tulip socks, drapeneck pullover, and soon an earflap hat. Hopefully, I'll get in a blog post about my latest sock yarn stash :-)

Monday, August 08, 2011

It Was A Good Year Running!

Another year has come and gone. It's time to look back, and since there's been a lot of running, that's what I'll be discussing! Before rewinding the clock, first I'll begin with tonight's run.

It seems fitting that I ran 10 miles this evening, and shortly I'll explain why. Knowing it was the eve of my birthday, and after a personally aggravating week, I was bound and determined to go just a little beyond my normal range of 7-8 miles for a long run... and it felt great!!! After a storm passed through the area, I zoomed over to Olentangy Trail at Antrim. Still cloudy with heavily dripping trees, I headed north up to Worthington Hills, enjoying the fresh, rain-cooled air. My shoes stayed dry for a scant 27 minutes -- that's when I hit an ankle-deep puddle that covered the entire bike path. I figured, "If my shoes are getting wet, I might as well make this worth it," and then bounded through it like a little kid. Soggy shoe alert! When I got to the turnaround at Worthington Hills, I cracked open my Jelly Belly Sport Beans, drank a few swigs from my water bottle, and then headed back to Antrim making sure to keep my pace steady and slow so that 10 would be possible. My musical mantra, set to the beat of The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army was: "To last: please don't go fast." Dumb? Yeah, I know. LOL Whatever works, right? To avoid the lure of stopping my run at 7 miles by pausing at the lake deck, I ran by it. My lungs and energy level felt great, but I could tell that my legs were beginning to slowly lose power. Every subsequent time I took a walking break the last 3 miles, I had to make them brief so that my legs didn't stiffen up. Despite the legs beginning to faintly cry mutiny, I felt pretty darn good while doing this 10-mile run! My overall pace was 11:41. Not bad for a fat chick! This felt better and much more enjoyable than the last time I ran 10.

Last year at this time I can remember being in the final stages of training for my very first half marathon. It still makes me smile in wonder and pride that I ran from Tuttle Mall to downtown Columbus. That still seems far to me, one year later! The furthest I ran prior to the race was 10 miles, which is why I felt that doing 10 miles tonight seemed a bit magical. Last year's 10 in August was victorious, yet extremely grueling. When you go 10 miles for the first time, it's quite shocking, and I mean that both mentally (Yay!) and physically (Oh crap, my legs!). Here's a video near the finish line of the race. If you wait for me to cross, you can hear the announcer say my name :-)

After running The Spirit of Columbus Half Marathon at the end of last August, I decided to take September to decide whether I wanted to tackle the Columbus Half Marathon in October. Looking back, I'm so glad that I listened to my body and just ran however I felt. I modified my training by scaling back the frequency of weekday runs and focusing more on the long runs. After signing up for the Columbus HM, I made sure to get in some longer long runs, the last of which was 11 miles on an out-n-back from Antrim to Ohio State on Olentangy Trail. This ad libbed training style worked well for my 2nd race because I felt fantastic the entire race! My time was bettered by over 10 minutes, and I kept a steady 11:00-minute pace throughout.

Two days after my 2nd half marathon, I badly injured myself. While lifting my right leg, I snapped and/or pulled more than one thing in my hip and inner thigh area. It was excruciatingly painful to put weight on the right side of my body to crawl up the stairs to the phone. In hindsight, I should've gotten a second opinion and x-rays because I now believe that I had a stress fracture to go along with the "strained groin" that was diagnosed. My hamstring tendons and inner thigh tendons were pulling on a weak part of the bone which probably cracked a tiny bit. That was the end of my serious running schedule for a while. I ran through the winter, but managed only twice a week with very low mileage. My pace also got immediately slower. Despite those physical challenges and having to slowly recover over several months, I'm grateful that I was able to still exercise and get back to running fairly soon afterward. Running on the snow and ice proved to be funner than usual since I finally bought the proper attire to ward off excuses and the cold air. I even knit myself a neck gaiter for the coldest runs! My favorite gear were my jacket and Swedish winter running shoes. Wind? Ha! Ice? Ha!

Since late spring, I've been happily returning to a more regular running schedule. A few months ago, my knitting friend Ann and I completed a very difficult 5K on a hilly course at The Wilds (after which we got a really cool safari tour!). This 5K inspired me to try getting back into my busier summer running schedule. So far I've been injury free. I'd like to do a 10K or half marathon soon and just need to narrow down the races I've been considering. Scenery vs. large crowds of supporters, location, etc. So many choices!

Running has been such an important part of my life, especially over the last year, beginning again in March 2010. It's my therapy, my chance to get outdoors, my way of escaping, my way of challenging myself and pushing the boundaries, and, of course, my exercise. I wish everyone experienced the same joy I get from running! You know that iPhone commercial where the guy says, "If you don't have an iPhone, then... You don't have an iPhone." I feel the same way about running. If you're not running, you're missing out on something great. There are few other forms of exercise that compare, and it brings together so many people who love the challenge, the fitness, and the endorphins.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Interweave Knits Fall 2011: Thoughts

At first glance, I didn't think I'd like the latest issue of Interweave Knits, primarily due to the large amount of bulky patterns. As a general rule of thumb, I don't care for bulky weight sweaters. The only things I like bulky, and that's only if I really like the design, are accessories or coats. Luckily, there are some coats and shawls in this issue.

Last night, I sat down to skim over the articles which I like to dog-ear for future reading... This is when the magazine captured my attention! Two articles immediately jumped to the fore: "Knitting By The Book" (p. 144) and "Extreme Double-Knitting" (p.16). The former I finished reading on the spot since it was short, while the double knitting article will be saved to read when my kiddos aren't around to interrupt. The author Alisdair Post-Quinn, known as fallingblox on Ravelry, is a very intelligent, innovative double knitter on the Double Knitting forum on Ravelry. He not only knows everything there is to know about double knitting, but he also has discovered how to accomplish never-before-done double knitting methods. I'm so glad that there's someone who understands and can explain advanced topics, not that I've delved too much into actual double knitting projects -- I've just read a lot on the Double Knitting forum. The Interweave Knits article looks to be a good sampling of what he does. Here is his website: for further reference.

Favorite patterns from the Fall 2011 issue: Dahlia Cardigan, Honeycomb Jacket, True North Mittens, Canyon Cardigan, Varsity Stole, and Bryn Mawr Skirt. The Dahlia Cardigan is simply beautiful -- love the back! I'm surprised I like the Honeycomb Jacket; it's not typically something I would knit. It must be the collar and the textured pattern. The True North Mittens are a no-brainer as to why I like those: hello, Fair Isle. Plus the braided wrist adds to my liking. The Canyon Cardigan is yet another potential Eunny Jang steeking project to add to my queue. I've always wanted to do one of her steeked vests or sweaters. Annie Modesitt's Varsity Stole uses a very interesting and unique stitch technique that catches the eye. The Bryn Mawr skirt is probably not going on my queue unless I get skinny. But, one can still like the pattern, no?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Kinvara 2 Running Shoes: The Day After + Knitting News

Whoah, buddy! Ya know when you go walk all day at an amusement park or sightseeing, then the next day you wake up and feel every muscle in your legs? That's how I felt the day after first wearing my new Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 running shoes. Good thing I don't run again until Saturday/Sunday. I thought I'd show a collage of various angles of my cool new running kicks. Up close, can you see how minimalist they are? (Open in another tab to view, if desired!) There's not much to the upper other than a blue micromesh over top the shoe's inner skeleton (see the larger mesh innards?). The tongue is thin, yet comfortable, and sewn into the shoes. The heel is semi-firm at the base and soft and flexible around the collar with a ring of comfy inner padding. Just like the heel base, there is some protection at the very tip of the toe. Can't wait to see how my legs and feet respond/adapt to these shoes over more time :-)

The purple and blue-green yarn you see is what I plan to use on Double Heelix, an awesome new sock pattern by Jeny Staiman in the First Fall Knitty. I've been watching the video tutorial that Jeny graciously made for how to get started on the spiraling. Once I get Marie's Froot Loop socks completed (See the bright, girly purple-and-pink socks pictured. Yes, you can't see the froot loops -- I didn't have the informational yarn wrapper with me when I began knitting these... Oopsie!), Double Heelix are going on the needles!

Back in Spring 2008, there was a Chrissy Gardiner sock pattern in Interweave Knits that caught my eye, and I'm finally knitting it: Twisted Tulip. I only have one skein of the color I'm using, part of a set of 7 assorted single skeins. I thought that since I don't really want to do a full length sock of twisted cables, this pattern would do. The colorway is Granny Smith, and, as you can see, I haven't gotten too far yet -- maybe 12-13 rounds into the stitch pattern.

The last knitting picture you see is a baby hat knit in half brioche stitch that I just started. I'm using Dark Horse Yarns Fantasy in #63, a denim blue semi-variegated yarn. It's super soft and washable: great for lots of wear and wash :-) The person who asked me to knit it wants a few other hats as well, including a pageboy/conductor hat with brim and buttons and an earflap hat. I've got the yarn for these hats; I just need to knit them!

That's it for now! Have a great 4th of July weekend everyone!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Shoes!

Got these today from Running Warehouse! They're the new Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 running shoes. My Omni 9s are very worn on the soles, but the cushioning is still good. So they're not going anywhere. Anyway, back to the Kinvaras! They are a lot less shoe -- very minimalist. I'm going to try them out tonight before dinner to see how they ride. I'm hoping that by feeling less like waffle irons, these shoes are less of an impediment when I run.

The poem I posted below is from Pinterest via Ravelry. If you haven't seen Pinterest, it's a collage of pics of interest that members of the site post. Basically, it's eye candy and a way to share things that catch your eye that you love.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Spring Update: Socks, Reading, Running

Since I've been focusing so much on sock knitting lately, especially with my recent participation in a Knit. Sock. Love. KAL on Ravelry, I wondered how many socks I've made all together. My first pair were Jaywalker socks, my only pair made on DPNs, followed by my first 2AAT magic loop pair, Los Monos Locos (Monkey socks, no-purl, toe-up). Once Ravelry began adding to their sock yarns, I've been a sock knitting fool! Here, documented in a collage, are the 14 pairs of socks that I've made for myself (21 pairs total including the 7 pairs I've made for others). That's my knitting contribution for the day!

In non-knitting news, I've been reading more since February, thanks to my Kindle. It's been great adding classics and free/bargain books as well as games and knitting pdfs. I follow Books on the Knob and Pixel of Ink daily for the latest Kindle downloads and book reviews. Other sites I've checked out are manybooks, smashwords, gutenberg, and mobileread. Ravelry's Kindle Corner group has also been helpful for book, e-reader, and techie info. While I still love the feel of an aesthetically pleasing book in my hands, I can appreciate having multitudes of books, games and pdfs in a single device that can be held with one hand without cramping. Besides the Kindle, I've also been listening to the Harry Potter books. Soon I'll be finishing Book 4 and starting Book 5. Jim Dale, the narrator, is amazing!

This winter I managed to survive running thanks to a nice running jacket and carbide-studded shoes. Admittedly, it also helps to have a tiny bit of determination, but you can't ignore the power of preparation. Being well prepared (i.e., smartly dressed) leaves no excuse but a flimsy one not to run. It was amazing to me how comfortable I was while running in low temps. Of course there were times beforehand when I'd rather curl up on the couch and knit or read in the warmth of my house. Yet a mile into my outdoor runs, it felt so invigorating and empowering to conquer the cold. All it took was the right gear. On March 22nd, it was my one year anniversary of running again - yay! Coming up at the end of the month, I've signed up for my first race of 2011: the Ecothon at The Wilds. It's my first trail race. You can do a 10K, 5K, or 5K walk. I opted for the 5K since 1) I've never been to The Wilds and am not familiar with the area, and 2) my mileage has been low this winter and spring. I might consider the 10K option next time if the course is pretty and I'm better trained. The Wilds is about 83 miles from where I live - gah! I hope my right leg isn't sore from driving when I do the race!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 2011 Update

With two young kids, I never know when or if I am going to blog. So I take the opportunities when I have them! Since I'm probably not going to blog again in January, I thought I'd just give a general update.

I haven't gotten around to doing my end-of-year 2010 Knits collage, but I've definitely been knitting. Currently, I have 3 projects OTN: Herringbone Rib Socks, Laura's Cardigan, and Wright. The Herringbone Rib Socks pattern was a freebie book excerpt from the Handpainted Socks book via Knitting Daily. I'm beginning to dread the stitch pattern less, but that might be more due to the fact that I'm nearly done with one sock than due to me having become familiar with it. If you're in a hurry, these aren't the socks to make. Also, I should mention that I'm not exactly pleased with how my colorway is lending itself to the stitch pattern. I'm using Berroco Comfort Sock, and the colors are muted and therefore don't pop on the crosshatched sections. I would suggest a more variegated yarn than what I'm using.

My Laura's Cardigan is nearly done. Notice the lack of exclamation point: I'm crossing my fingers that it fits well enough to wear this spring. I lost 10 lbs to begin making it, but I think it will take another 10-15 lb before it fits how I'd imagined. All I have left are to sew in the sleeves, weave in the ends, and sew on some buttons. I have a lot of tails, so that part might take a while!

Wright has been sitting on the back burner... again. But, once Laura's Cardigan is finished, I'll be able to focus more attention on it, though I plan to cast on for Opulent Raglan next - yay! My Opulent Raglan by Wendy Bernard is going to be done in Knit Picks Merino Style in the Basset colorway (no longer available, but I can tell you it's a lovely brown with gray undertones).

Very recently, I finished an OSU Football double knit hat for Jared. Fallingblox (blog site), the moderator of the Double Knitting group on Ravelry who had a pattern (Four Winds) published in the 2009 Winter Twist Collective usually double knits by twisting all stitches. The twisted stitches create a totally different effect whether using just one color or more. I happen to really like the look of the twisted stitches, especially since they get tighter when stressed. Using twisted stitches, I made the following hat. I should mention that I knit each hat separately rather than double knitting them. Using Judy's Magic Cast On made it very easy to start the second layer.


As for running... I'm just about injury free! I've been running since 3 weeks after getting injured, but suffered lasting pain and difficulty in movement for a while. However, I can now stand up quickly without pain after sitting for long spells, and I can shave my legs in the shower without the fear of sudden pain. Hopping and jumping is possible again. It's nice not to hobble around anymore :-) All that's left is slight stiffness or faint stabs of minor pain (I call it phantom pain) that requires extra stretching attention. I've been running 1-2 weeknights (w/my headlamp) and either Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

I bought two things with my Christmas money: Icebug MR4 trail running shoes and Cookie A's Knit. Sock. Love book. I love them both so much! The Icebugs were designed for ice, snow, and slippery, wet surfaces. They're waterproof breathable and have little retractable carbide stud spikes on the sole which grip into the ice and hardpacked snow (i.e., NOT to be worn indoors!). I just ran in them at Highbanks this past weekend on 3-4% grade hills covered with hardpacked and loose snow -- easy peasy (the footing, not the hills)! As for Knit. Sock. Love., I can't wait to finish my current socks so that I can cast on a pattern from my new Cookie A book!

Over the last month or two, I've been checking out the Harry Potter audiobooks from the library. So far, I've finished the first two books and started the third. It's a slightly different experience listening rather than reading them. Jim Dale is an awesome narrator! How he does all those different voices with their detailed mannerisms, dialects, and pitches is incredible. Since Hagrid and Professor McGonagall sound almost exactly like the actors in the movie, I'm guessing that they (the actors) listened to the audiobooks before filming. Anyway, I plan on finishing the audiobooks before the next movie comes out :-)

Thanks to Kerin at Knit Picks: You Saved My CPH and Tubey!

Thanks to the video below, I saved both my Central Park Hoodie and my Tubey sweater. Kerin, from Knit Picks, explains how to fix holes in your knitting. She has other videos (Do a "darning" search on the tutorials page at Knit Picks to see all 6 videos) showing how to knit stockinette patches for socks, but I was particularly interested in how to replicate the stitch pattern and make it look unnoticeable. You need contrast waste thread or floss to act as an temporary anchor/skeleton for your new stitches. Kerin shows how to do the sideways version of using waste thread, but I know I've also seen somewhere (book? internet?) a vertical version, too, in which the waste thread skeleton looks like very tall stockinette. Either method is valuable to know. I should mention that, while it might seem intuitively easily, it's a little bit tricky to actually do! Here's Kerin's horizontal version in two parts: