March 1, 2015

Who Owns Your Stories?

There is a difference, for people my age and older, at least, between the pseudo-private and the public.

The pseudo-private are the things you say behind closed doors, the stories you haven’t agreed to publish fully.  You know you are making yourself vulnerable when you tell your close friends, and they may (if they are indiscreet) share with their close friends (but even they should understand that they receive the information under an NDA). Everyone knows it’s not something that should be shared publicly, without your consent.

Historically, I suffered from the idea that people understood this. 

I am, of course, probably na├»ve.  On the other hand, I am the chosen trusted recipient of many stories I've never shared of sexual and physical abuse, exploration, cheating, abortion, parental horrors, and other secrets that, frankly, I believe are part of what make us human, so perhaps I am the opposite of naive vis-a-vis content, but very naive and willingly in disbelief on the disclosure front. 

For the generations younger than mine (and also my cohort, if I'm honest), I've observed that this distinction between the treatment that should be accorded private shared secrets and the treatment accorded those that are made public is much less real, if it even exists at all.  And technically, they are correct.  Of *COURSE* everything you share can end up on the front page of the New York Times.  This has always been true.  But most of us were not entertaining enough, historically, to have this be an actual risk.  It's a point of pride for my down-to-earth extended family that the New York Times has never actually cared about what a particular member of my family has ever done.  Period.

Essentially, I (wrongly) thought I owned, or at least could control, my own stories.  

Tonight, at a social event, I found myself the butt of a series of jokes, grounded in reality.  Fine.  Terrible, but fine.  We’ve all been there.  Unfortunately, the jokes started with things I'd said and done in a limited set of close friends and veered into sexual comments about my own life I've shared in a few small intimate settings.   Mind you, this was at a nice restaurant for a public birthday dinner including several folks who would never have been part of the initial audience I selected.  When I realized the joke direction, I tried to slightly move the conversation away from the topic.  This did not work.  The speaker kept returning, intent on making the joke at my expense on fairly personal sexually-related themes, in front of people I did not know well, at all.  

This speaker clearly felt entitled to my stories.  It was as if by telling them, I'd given up my ownership.

Now, to be fair, I can understand the speaker’s confusion.  On a few occasions, I’d spoken openly, drunkenly, without care, in front of close friends in our home on this topic.  Regularly, I speak and write openly about gender and sexual themes (generally).  I can see how the speaker may have assumed that I have no concern for my own dignity or privacy when it comes to these issues, because I've highlighted, linked to, attended and celebrated women who were much more open than I am on similar themes.


And the kids today, they aren't.  Really.  I’m pretty sure they don’t think dignity and privacy are actually things (even if you try to trick them into an answer regarding sexuality).  Certainly the famous do not have the privilege of believing that private disclosures between friends is actually a thing to be respected.
The difference is, up until tonight I thought privacy and owning my own stories was still a thing for me. 

So, I am sad. 

My take home tonight is that to live my life the way I want to, I need to develop a very different set of filters.  Either that, or I need to get comfortable living my life with much more of myself on full-on public display than I’ve traditionally been comfortable with.  And, honestly, the latter is probably on the winning side of history…

Choosing Your Life

This week, I spent 3/7 of my evenings in hotels.  But both hotels (2 different trips) have become homes away from home for E & me.  We had a delicious date night at Pabu one night, attended an industry event another night, and a Shabbat for the third. 

At the moment, we have no real geographically fixed projects, so multiple trips to the city is easy to pull off. (Soon, we'll have more home-bound obligations -- the remodel killed us, but once we're recovered the garage is next in line, the garden is just starting to ramp up, and the carpets are desperate be redone, which will involve quite a bit of furniture moving and hopefully purging of unnecessary stuff).

Instead of feeling annoyed at the multiple drives/train trips/etc. this week, I felt grateful.  The last few years, I've often been able to live a fun cosmopolitan city life, even if I actually live in the suburbs.

Tonight, however?  I bailed on all invitations (we'd done a Friday night party and Saturday AM brunch) and E went out to a social event without me.  I was fried and I just wanted some me time, at home.  

It was raining - Yay California rain.  I drove.  Neighbors are from the east coast.  They walked!
So, before settling in to watch a French movie alone on the couch, I drove myself out to dinner at our local Mexican sit-down joint (they were adorably concerned that it was just me, without E, on a Saturday night).  I had a margarita and a gigantic order of veggie fajitas.  They let me read my book, and actually, in one of the cutest moves ever, when the next large group came in, they took all the tables and chairs from near me to make up the big mega-table slightly further away.  Some people might be uncomfortable, but I was all about being "that kid in the corner."  They created a big space cocoon,  insulating me, and making it even easier to read in peace.

I started reading my book pretty much immediately after being seated (very early, like 6 PM), happily chomping chips with 3 kinds of delicious salsa until my next-door neighbors walked in through the back door.  This was amusing because just as I'd pulled out of the driveway, they'd stepped out to "go on a walk" (or so it appeared to me, when I observed the dad with his tactical-baby-vest and two large umbrellas under the rain).  We'd waived, the way you do with neighbors, and I'd headed out with visions of guacamole.

When I saw them from the back, I loudly proclaimed, "Hi." They turned and we laughed about coincidentally ending up in the same location.  I explained that E was at a party but that I had too many social and work obligations for the weekend, so I'd just needed to schedule something for me tonight.  The wife waived her hands over my book, my margarita, my chips and the general setting (minus all the chairs and tables near me) and said, "This.  This looks Amazing! I"m so jealous."  And, I knew, from other friends with young children who work, that she was telling the truth.  I felt so great at that moment -- knowing that I've chosen a life that makes sense for me.  It may look weird to others (taking yourself out to dinner with a book on a Saturday night is likely to get you sympathetic clucks from some), but I was happy.  There's all sorts of benefits to a conscious gratitude in life, so I'm making an effort to be present for and enjoy the special moments that are uniquely mine due to the life I've been given and chosen.

On the running/mileage front, this week was excellent.  Total mileage?  37.32.  I put in 2 solid interval workouts on hotel treadmills, totalling somewhere near 30 minutes at 8 minute pace, with lots of incline walking for heart-rate recovery.  That many fast minutes is likely a weekly high for at least the last year, probably longer.  All the rest of this week's running was very easy and slow, with at least 15 of those miles walking, but I'll take 'em all because I'm focused on distance, not pace right now.  Today's long run?  8.1 miles, with something near a mile of walking.  Not quite the 13 I'd put on the calendar, but when I realized how much my mileage for the week had gone up compared to my 6-week average of 20 miles/week, I realized I had good reason to consider cutting it short.  Here's to hoping next week gets me in the same mileage territory or more. 

February 23, 2015

Very Busy Week

Last Monday was a holiday in the United States *and* Canada. This meant a few things:

1. It was "family day" at the mall attached to our Ottawa hotel and the crowds were crazy.  Later, after researching the issue, I learned that this is actually the name of the Canadian holiday:  family day.

2. Most of my clients do not take all of the US Federal holidays.  A typical startup has anywhere from 8-10 officially observed non-work holidays, and many companies include non-federally observed time off for things like New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve, etc in this total.  This means that MLK day, Indigenous Peoples' day (or as the Feds call it, Columbus day), Presidents' day (or as the Feds call it Washington's birthday), etc. often don't make the startup cut.  So, it was safe to assume that most of my clients would have offices that were open and could need legal support.

3. Despite #2, many of my clients employ adults that have children who attend schools that do take the Federal holidays, so I can usually count on a *slower* day, and if I want to try to truly take the day off, Federal holidays are always a good option.

For the Canada trip, I'd taken a "holiday wish" approach.  I'd set my "out of office" auto-responder on our departure and hoped that nothing big would come up, but I was prepared to work if I needed to, since we didn't really have much scheduled that would prohibit me from working.

On Saturday (Valentine's day), I ended up taking a 2 hour conference call and doing mark-ups afterwards, but thankfully, E needed to work as well, so he didn't mind.

This put me in a frame of mind on Monday, for Presidents' day, where I was sincerely hoping I could take some portion or all of the day off.  And life agreed.

So, I woke, worked a few hours 'til my inbox was clear, worked out in the hotel gym, and took myself out to a 2 hour French Brasserie lunch (mmmm... Croque Monsieur, wine, salad, and coffee!) while reading my book.  Then, I worked a couple more hours and headed back to the gym for a second work out.  Now that's my idea of a pseudo-holiday.  E and I returned to the same restaurant for dinner and we were thrilled with the rich delicious French food and service.

Tuesday, after half a normal day, we headed to the airport for the long trek of working while traveling back to California.  On the drive to the airport, we followed the canal, which at this time of year is frozen, and people skate to work and to do their errands -- is this the most Canadian thing you've ever heard of, or what?

Zoom in, there are people skating on that frozen canal!

Upon landing in SF (after 8-9 hours of travel), we hopped in the car and drove to Santa Rosa, because E had to speak at a conference there on Wednesday.

Night time Golden Gate Bridge Crossing
Thursday was onsite at a client, and Friday, I finally fit in a decent mid-week medium run (7 miles) before taking the train to SF and speaking on two panels at an IP law event.

Look Mom, I'm actually dressed professionally!
Saturday, I spent 3+ hours driving to and working on bookkeeping issues with my bookkeeper (and added in another couple of hours of social fun including a 6 mile easy run, which was so great).

Sunday was the first true off day of work in a couple of weeks and I spent it driving 1.5 hours up to a law school colleague's baby shower, attending the shower and driving home.  I'd planned to do my long run after I got home, but yeah... that totally didn't happen.  Read my book and drank wine on the couch like a boss.  That's what actually happened.

So, total mileage for the week? 19.54.  Considering there was no long run, Monday's workout was a pure gym no run workout, and I'd hoped for 10 or more on my long run, this is actually not bad at all.  See what I did there?  I'm like the opposite of the running bloggers who get down on themselves.  When it comes to my running, I'm like pollyanna (which is also hilarious, because NO ONE who knows me would EVER accuse me of being pollyanna).     

February 17, 2015


E had a conference in Ottawa, so we headed out to Montreal for a romantic Valentine's day get away the weekend before.  I was very happy to speak French and enjoy the food and sights in Montreal (my first visit).

Montreal-style poutine, not just cheese curds and gravy, but meat, too!
It was COLD!  We could only walk outside for about 15 minutes at a time, max.
The view of the symphony and arts center from our hotel.
Montreal Musee de l'Art Contemporain.

First Exhibit?  Straight back to the hometown.

On Sunday it stopped snowing (which, oddly, meant it was *colder*) so we walked down to the old city, visiting the Basilique de Notre Dame and Rue St. Paul before having a 2 hour lunch at a brasserie.  We had a wonderful time just relaxing in the heat behind the windows and watching all the people walk by in their practical footwear and warm clothing.  Neither our clothing nor our footwear was up to par, although my zip-up full calf-length leather boots coupled with full calf wool toe-socks were much better for the task than E's go-to Simples.

After lunch, we headed out to the centre de sciences pier and stared down at the snow-covered river and harbor.  It just looked like a field of snow except for buoys that barely poked up to mark the covered slips (we presumed).  We took a few photos and briskly walked back to the hotel.  By the time we got there, the outer layer of skin on my upper thighs was numb!  I had multiple layers on just about every other part of my body, but my jacket had slits to allow me to walk, and the single layer of corduroy was *not* sufficient.  Seriously.  Numb thighs!  That was a first.

We'd reserved tickets on a train from Montreal to Ottawa, and we hoped to avoid the madness we experienced on our last French-language train debacle.  So, we arrived at the train station with plenty of time, and confirmed that the Canadian Via Rail system is sane.  Our printed reservations were all we needed, they had the scan code for the conductors on them.  Unfortunately, as we waited to board, I realized my purse was a bit light.  I'd never put the camera back into the travel bag in my purse.  I must have removed it from my shoulder in the cab on the way to the train station.  Bummer.  The pics of us in old Montreal and the snow and the river are lost to the ages.  Thankfully, I'd downloaded everything else to my computer the night before, so the big loss was the camera itself.  It was a gift from E for Christmas 2010.

Given how bad I am with losing things in my hands, it's actually fairly impressive that I hadn't lost it before.  I posted a claim with the cab company, but I haven't heard back, so we're fairly certain it's just gone.  Oh, well, it had a good life: Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Canada, Spain, France, England, Cambodia, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Bermuda, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Swizterland, Belgium, Costa Rica and several US family gatherings and other destinations including 5 US national parks: Denali, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and Rocky Mountain.

Phone camera photo of the train journey.

Our timing was impeccable, as we arrived in Ottawa to celebrate that it was the coldest national capital on the planet this weekend.  (A bit arbitrary, since the distinction is limited to capital cities, but seriously, it was *noticeably* colder than Montreal upon arriving.)

On the running front, despite the travel, I hit a weekly mileage high for the year at 25.45.  I managed to drag myself out for 9 slow (and surprisingly warm) miles on Thursday before flying out on Friday, but as you might imagine, mileage in Canada was not exactly impressive.  I'm hopeful that this week will be yet another weekly high for the year in my just-increase-the-volume, no-pace-goal pseudo-training program for Oakland -- if nothing else, I'm going to enjoy the bay area weather on my runs this week!

February 8, 2015

A Typical Week In My Life

The beginning of my week was spent closing a big deal for one of my clients -- it feels like they've been negotiating against this very large company for at least 4 or 5 months.  It was such a relief to approve the final version for execution.  I am FREE!!! (of this deal at least).

The deal was worldwide, so it involved many international folks, meaning conference calls were late, early, and whenever everyone could attend (sleep is not an acceptable excuse in my line of work).  This, amped up to close the deal, and coupled with recovery from Kaiser, ensured that M/T were free of any workout, and the week, in general, was light on exercise.  So much for being inspired to jump into training for Oakland.  C'est la vie.

I did make it back to track day on Wednesday (only 2 weeks off), and was shocked to see sub 7/mile paces on my Garmin for a couple of the segments.  It's been a long time since I ran in the 6's, even if just for 200s.

Due to The Deal plus general end of the month work nonsense that comes from running my own law firm, Th/Fri were similar to M/T on the workout front although I did manage to fit in 3.5 miles walking and 30 minutes of elliptical.  Sometimes, I just have to take what I can get.

One weeknight, we finally defrosted the ranch-raised steak that had been gifted to us from a Texan friend.  We invited another Texan and his wife to enjoy the spoils.  It was delicious.

Happy Guests

Fun With Dry Ice (upon delivery)

E perfectly grilled both the rib-eye and the flatiron.  I made mushrooms and squash.

Saturday, E wanted to run, which is always fun.  So I headed out in the 100% humidity break from the rain for 1.5 with him (~10/mile), and then tacked on a bit on my own to total just above 4.

Saturday evening, we hosted a young couple from the middle of Amercia who just moved to the bay area for dinner.  It's always refreshing to spend time with folks who aren't in your cohort.  They are in their early 20s and still adjusting to the changes from their locality to ours. Their observations were eye-opening.  

In preparation for their arrival, I made bolognese for the first time in years.  Friday, after discussing our potential meal options, E bought half a pound of ground beef, half a pound of ground turkey, and I re-purposed some prosciutto and spicy coppa (how amazing are cured meats?) leftover from the book exchange.  The final sauce was a 3-animal, 4-meat concoction, worthy of the bolognese name.  Mid-afternoon, I found myself smiling broadly, slowly making the sauce over the stove hours before our guests arrived.  It had been so long since I'd taken the time to make such time-heavy effort of food-love.  We served it over orechiette, with a salad.  It was delicious home-made comfort food, and I was so happy to serve it.  Bonus, E and the guests appeared to be happy to enjoy it as well.

Sunday, I woke to rain.  I gamely went out, hoping I could do 10 miles before buckling down to get some work done (as I'm still in the hole from the big deal).  Nope.

I turned around and arrived home at mile 1.15, not quite drenched, but unwilling to commit to the full 10 in the intermittent rainstorm.  So, I took the audiobook and headed to the gym.  I made a simple deal with myself.  I would do an hour of aerobic work on the treadmill at 1% incline.  I managed 5.23 miles, primarily running at 10:56, with the occasional walk break, and the last 8 minutes being a ladder that finished with a minute at 9:31/mile.

Total mileage for the week: 19.78.  Week -6 for Oakland?  Not great.  But, then again, I did some soul-searching and decided that I'd rather focus on getting my mass down for Oakland than speed.  So, I'm not going to worry about pace.  For the next 5 weeks I'm going to focus on mileage, total aerobic load, getting in as many track days as I can, and opting for lighter, healthier food.  I plan to do this despite 2 trips -- one to Montreal and Ottawa and another to Hawaii.  It's a tall order.  

In keeping with the healthier food theme, E and I had a very light brunch after my run today, and I exercised supreme discipline by ignoring my growling stomach and avoiding the popcorn station before watching Breakfast At Tiffany's on the big screen with Cat (interesting to watch a movie where the cat is named Cat while sitting next to your friend Cat), Jen, and several other cool ladies.  Of course, upon arriving home I demanded that we split the last remaining pizza slice in half and have it as a pizza snack before dinner.  So, there's that...

February 2, 2015

Kaiser -- How Not To Race (AKA a nice relaxing training run with a serious positive split)

Thanks to F's watch, and the time stats from Kaiser (plus my recollection of the time at mile 2), I can share the oh-so-awesome result from my brilliant plan of no-watch-race run-by-feel:

Miles 1 & 2 -- Average pace of 9:56.  (Definitely too ambitious, even with the lovely downhill.  I thought 10:30 was the fastest pace I could possibly maintain.  This average pace also includes 2 phone calls where I necessarily slowed down.)

0.20 miles retracing my steps through the panhandle -- no idea, but probably fairly slow due to the grass.

Miles 3 - 12 (thanks to F's watch):


Mile 13 & 13.1 -- not totally clear, but likely low 11's.

My chip time was 2:35:09. 

So, my average pace for 13.1 including the bathroom stop and all walk breaks for time, but not counting the 0.2 mile detour and likely failed tangents for distance?  11:51.

Given that I'd decided to treat it like a long training run, I'm actually very happy with the result.  Sub 12, baby!

Looking forward to training for my next half and actually racing it (even if more slowly than I have in the past).

February 1, 2015

Kaiser -- Complacent Completion

I'd lost the desire to run hard for long distances after the New York Marathon.  I was burnt out. 

But, I was already registered for Kaiser before I came to terms with this reality.  So, I mostly didn't train and figured I'd deal with it on the day of.

I'd lost a few pounds from the winter holidays and did enough physical activity over the holidays and throughout January to be somewhat in-shape, but a half-marathon training program of any respectable sort, I did not do.

Fast-forward to this morning, with my longest few long runs in the last 8 weeks being 8ish miles (although, in fairness, some in the hills).  I jogged from my cab drop-off near the start to the awesomely efficient self-serve clothes bag drop (0.4ish miles from the start) and then walked back (probably 0.75 w/u total -- ideal, actual).  Despite the crowds and chaos, my trajectory easily intersected with Jen, Jess, Cat, et. al., and we all said hi before separating for our target start times.

On the sideline of the start, where I found my friends.

Finally, after dropping into the crowd from the side and crossing the start line, I started jogging in the tightly packed crowd (sans watch) at what I perceived to be a "don't get stampeded or fall into the zig-zag death" aka "comfortable" pace.  I'd determined that 10:30/mile was the fastest possible outcome I could sustain throughout the whole race, but since I had no watch, I just tried to do what felt right.  I figured that once I was joined by my pacer, I should ask her to weigh in and let me know if I went below 11 min/mile.

I hit the 2 mile marker while the announcer called out 22:12 (they call out mile times via megaphones at all mile markers at Kaiser, it's seriously one of the most efficiently runner-oriented races in Northern California).  Since I had no watch, I had no idea when I'd started, but I felt I'd had at least a minute or so delay, so I figured I was in a reasonably decent spot given my goals.

Unfortunately, I'd missed my pacer (F).  She'd called around mile 1.6 or so and I answered (much to the annoyance of several runners around me).  We'd had a location mis-hap, she was at 1.5 miles, but I didn't realize it and had assured her I'd get to her soon.  I'd realized it too late (around 1.8) and called her back.  She hadn't answered.  So, I smiled after crossing the 2 mile mark feeling good and ran back across the panhandle, assuming I'd have to find her in person where she'd told me she was since her phone wasn't working.  Ahhh... there she was, actually, she was calling me, her phone did sort of work, just not when I called.  Also, we got cat-called by homeless folks -- they knew we weren't running the normal path, but I had a number.  Who knew that the 8:20 AM panhandle homeless had such strong feelings about race rule compliance???  Despite the yells, we ran back across the pan-handle, over the wet grass, and dropped back into the pack.

This experience finalized my laissez-faire attitude about my race time for the day.

In short, at this point, I knew I was just going to finish, and treat it as a good training run.  I'd already left my watch at home and had opted to run by feel.  F asked me a couple of times what my goal was and commented that I was, "easily beating it," but I kept on.  I felt good, but I was conservative and walked through water stations.  At one point, I stopped for a real bathroom with flush toilets (no line when I stopped, but when I exited, there were 5 ladies!! I got lucky!).  Essentially, I ran with a solid effort but enjoyed all the benefits of not being pressured by a time goal.

And then, around mile 8 or so, I hit a serious wall.  I needed to slow to take walk breaks.  F was a trooper and gently tried to speed up to keep me going and sub 11/mile as requested, but I told her I'd decided I didn't care.  We had some heartfelt chats about why we run and whether pushing ourselves is actually important.  And, truthfully, while I may have been waxing poetic about maybe never racing hard again, I will be forever grateful to F for joining me from 2ish to 12ish on this race, as without her I would have made a much less intense effort.

In the course of discussing why we run, we agreed that views and exposure to the location where we are (particularly if traveling) are a couple of the reasons.  Also, it was a beautiful day on the great highway.   So, I stopped to take a photo.  (So many surfers -- I always forget how many surfers actually surf on Ocean Beach!).

A beautiful beach day on Ocean Beach (from a water station)
The last few miles were tough. Having F there to pull me through was key.  As we discussed, once I know I'm nowhere near a respectable (to me) time goal, I tend to lose much of the incentive to push through the pain.  I'd rather be happy, healthy, and not struggling... finishing a slow half marathon on a beautiful day in a gorgeous city. 

Finally, after a very slow finish, but pleased with the overall result of 14+ miles of reasonable effort in a beautiful environment, I walked through the finish vendor chute and saw the discount for the Oakland Running Festival.  $15 off the half marathon?  Yeah, I'm registered.

So, I guess, Kaiser gets the credit for returning me to the place where I'm actually inspired to train. 7 weeks 'til Oakland and for the first time in a long time, I want to make a big effort over the next 7 weeks.  So, while it may appear that today was not a big deal, Kaiser (and F who stewarded me along) does get credit for this.

Also, brunch afterwards with running friends was so wonderful.  I feel so lucky to have found and bonded with all of the awesome local running blogger/twitter folks I've met over the last few years.  One of the ladies is moving to Oklahoma for family reasons in the coming year, and I am so sad to lose her -- she's not gone yet and I already feel the loss.

Running is a fascinating thing.  Today it allowed me to have almost 2 hours to catch up with a good friend who filled me in on many things in her life while she paced me (and slowed down when I hit the wall).  We know more about each other and we are closer than we would have been if today hadn't happened.  Today also allowed me to have a delicious high-end fancy-schmancy Richmond brunch with several folks including a couple I never would have otherwise met.

And, of course, today's running adventures allowed me to revisit my life, to remind myself that I am someone who loves to move and despite pushing 40 is healthy enough to finish 13.1 miles without significant debilitating pain, which is, of course, the ultimate privilege.

I am thankful.     

January 28, 2015

Kaiser is Coming

I'll be able to finish the upcoming Kaiser half marathon (this certainty comes from the knowledge that F is gonna come join me as a pacer from mile 2ish on).  But it's not going to be fast, or pretty.

Last weekend, for my last long run before the race, I headed out from my mom's house in the Sierra Nevada foothills and attempted to run to my dad's cemetery plot.

Except, I'd forgotten just how *hilly* the foot-*hills* can be.

This picture doesn't do it justice, but this is the top of a long gradual hill.
This is what passes for road-running in Penryn, California.
The goal had been 10 miles, but I got on the road a little later than planned and after the first few very difficult climbing miles, I realized I'd severely underestimated the difficulty (and slowness) of the task.  It was beautiful, though. 

Unfortunately, I had a hard time deadline, regardless of the distance I'd completed.

I needed to get cleaned up and attend my niece's honor choir concert (the entire Sacramento area has one California Music Educators Association honor choir and, Niece had earned a spot -- she was the only one who made it through the auditions and rigorous practice schedule from her school).  So, running be damned, I wasn't *about* to be late to her concert.

Thankfully, Mom and step-dad had been planning to pick me up at the cemetery, so I just called them and asked them to pick me up about 2 miles short, calling it at 1h55 of running (and a non-trivial amount of uphill hiking) for 8.26 miles including 922 feet of ascent and 628 feet of descent.  It was wonderful to reacquaint myself with and enjoy the beautiful rural landscapes of my childhood.  Also, I felt that the effort and time on my feet were just about perfect for the last run before a half marathon, so I didn't really mind that it was short on distance.

Bonus, the roses I'd bought to leave at dad's headstone that my mom and step-dad were supposed to bring ended up going to the performer.  I couldn't help but think that papabear was very pleased with the outcome, because truly, he was the reason his granddaughter received roses at her performance.  It was his gift to her.  And she was very happy to receive them.  Apparently, receiving roses at choir performances is cool.   

On the workout front, the week was actually reasonably decent: 24+ miles on my feet including about 6 miles pure walking, the hilly 8 miler, a decent 3 mile progression run that averaged 10:27 and finished with the last mile at 9:54, and a few easier efforts plus a short 35 minute recumbant bike effort.

Since then, I've fit in 15 minutes pre-massage on the treadmill with my mom at her gym in the retirement village (I've never felt so conspicuously fit!), and a short 4ish miles today.  If nothing else, I'll definitely be nice and relaxed (can we call it tapered?) on Sunday.

January 26, 2015

Annual Book Exchange

5 years ago, a good friend of mine (CD) moved from the bay area.  With her, she took her annual ladies book exchange brunch.

Last year, after several people lamented the loss of the book exchange, she and I agreed to resurrect it in my new kitchen.

It was a great success.  Here, are the recommendations (all attendees were invited to present one of their favorite reads):

(Also, I feel like I may have forgotten to take notes from a few, so apologies in advance if I missed you)

Jen -- Me Before You

Cat -- Jeanette Winterson: The Passion  and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

HG -- Game of Thrones (general series recommendation), This is Where I Leave You, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

KT -- Invisible Cities

AR -- As the Crow Flies (general series recommendation)

MS -- The Bastard of Istanbul

BT -- The Magicians (general trilogy recommendation)

E2 -- Hornet Flight;  and Defending Jacob

FL- Empress Wu; and Notting Hell (Good clean brain candy fun!  referenced by several other folks as a baseline of why and what we choose to read.  Sometimes we just want simply good fun.) 

CT -- Midnight in Sicily; and The Neverending Story (classic, and great to read with kids).

JT -- General endorsement for Tom Robbins (followed by general discussion of what a cool dude he is, super compassionate and "an old guy on twitter, how cool!"  Specific recommendations include:  Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas; and Jitterbug Perfume)

JG -- (didn't speak openly, but later, in close company endorsed a book I also sincerely enjoyed last year, which controversially won the Pulitzer):  The Goldfinch

Thanks to all who came.  I can't wait to see what next year brings. And if I missed any of your recommendations, please don't hesitate to let me know.

January 20, 2015

One Of Those Days

Go grab a cup of tea or a beer or a glass of wine.  Because my day was ridiculous enough that I want to share it and I want you to *truly* enjoy it.

It started out with a night of bad sleep due to city noise and a very tight bed in the hotel (E was also sleeping poorly so with each toss and turn of one of us, we'd wake the other all night, neither of us getting more than 30 minutes straight after 2 AM or so).  Now, yes, I realize this is nothing compared to the sleep interruptions one experiences from an infant or even a toddler, but I'm spoiled.  Unless work is horrid, I've reached a point in my life where I usually get 8 hours of good sleep.  And I didn't last night.

Groggy, I woke at my normal time and cleared my inbox and went about my day, doing my preferred routine of post-early AM work late AM run and shower before lunch.  My first hard work deadline was a 1:30 call.  I left the hotel room at 12:20 PM in the optimistic hope that I had enough time get to my car, load my luggage, drive to the San Francisco Center Nordstrom and buy my niece her birthday present before taking the call as I drove down the peninsula.  Teenage Birthday Present Aside:  the number of calls and texts and emails to friends with kids her age has been like a completely separate high billable work project this last week.

*Before* I left the hotel room, I made sure to locate my car key because my hands were going to be very full.  Then I loaded up -- the rolling bag that doubles as my virtual office, the back-pack, the giant purse, and the large shopping bag from the Nespresso store containing enough caffeinated capsules to cover my needs for at least the rest of Q1 (oh, I'm officially an addict).

I rolled and carried all of these items to the parking garage, but when I got to my car, my key was not in the normal pocket where I *always* put it in my purse.  It also wasn't in my back pockets, or any other obvious place I could think of.

I took a few deep breaths.  I decided to take the systematic approach.  I unloaded every single thing from my purse into the Nespresso bag, assuming I'd eventually find the key.  Instead, I found:

 -Business cards from every professional introduction I've made since the purse was purchased in fall of 2013 (thanks, Sis!  you always make me buy the best stuff)
-Approximately 30 pens and pencils
-Large wallet
-Small wallet/phone case
-Smallest wallet attached to janitor-like key set
-Receipts.  So many receipts.
-Eyeliners, moisturizers, sunblock, lipliners, gloss, chapstick, eyeshadows, powders, foundation and brushes (A majority of which had only been used once.  Probably while attending a wedding.)
-Approximately 5 bags of nuts/trail mix from plane flights and a couple of packets of random food handed out at races
-Lots of binder clips
-Hairbands and a comb
-Deodorant (I actually stand by this one, I keep deodorant in my purse at all times.  What?)
-Sunglasses, tissues, sewing kit
-Mittens (because, you know, mittens are very important in Northern California)

Well, crap.  As the remaining items in my purse decreased, I was slowly coming to the conclusion that I had likely left my key up in the hotel room when I'd gone to the trouble of taking it out to be sure that I had it ready.

See, I have a bit of a disorder.  I'm not very aware of what's in my hands.  When I get mentally distracted, I regularly pick things up and put them down wherever.  Phones in freezers. Laundry in pantries.  Random items lost to the ages found several years later in completely odd places.

Once, when I lent my car to a friend, he had it detailed and when he returned it, he handed me not one, but *2* gallon ziplock bags full of pens and pencils.  In case you were wondering who stole your pen?  It was me.  But it wasn't on purpose, I swear.

First, I email my client and ask to reschedule the 1:30 call to another time.  It was very clear to me that I wasn't going to get through this ordeal in any time to be calm and together enough to host a conference call.

Then, I checked all the other pockets and compartments of all of the other bags.  Finally, I loaded up all the bags and trudged back to the hotel where I asked for a new key and, of course, found my room in the course of being cleaned by housekeeping.  Gesticulating wildly (no Cantonese), I finally convinced her that I'd lost something.  She emphatically assured me that she hadn't found anything.  But that didn't surprise me.  Because I often end up putting things in my hands in very unexpected places.  She cocked her head to the side as I lied down on the floor and started searching under the desk, the couch, the bed and the bedstand.

Eventually, I asked if I could see the trash.  It took a while, but she finally understood what I wanted.  I started picking through the refuse from the outside of the see-through trash bag and she came over with gloves.  She made a motion to put them on and help me, but had a look of serious relief when I motioned that I would take the gloves and paw through the trash myself.  "You.  Be careful.  Glass."  Yes, Ma'am.

After a few minutes, I became convinced that the key was not in the trash, so I stopped looking and resumed my search of the room, frantically picking up towels, looking under sheets, and going through all the zippered pockets in all of my various bags before re-starting the search of the contents of my purse.


She seemed to sense my frustration and actually removed the trash bag from her cart, put it on the ground, ripped it open so that it was just a plastic sheet on the floor and gave me back the gloves.

That's some serious customer service!

After pawing through the trash of approximately 5 or so other hotel patron's rooms, I confirmed that my key was, in fact, *not* in the trash.

Finally, I opened my phone and called AAA.  I haven't had to use AAA in a long time, but I love them.  They have great travel contracts with many brands that result in better rates that you can get through any other loyalty program, *and* free roadside assistance (even if I did end up sitting on hold for 20 minutes before the final arrangements were done).  They gave me an hour window, *and* they gave me the bad news that to have the locksmith make me a new key would not be free, unfortunately.  It's one thing to slim-jim into a vehicle for free.  But apparently making a key is much more difficult, and close to $200.  Between the lost billable hours and the fee, this unknown placement disorder incident was not going to be cheap.

Resigned, I walked back to the garage and warned the garage attendant that a locksmith would be coming sometime in the next hour.  "Did you call *our* locksmith?"  Ummm.... what?

Apparently, the parking garage has its own locksmith and it's free.  Cool!  I call AAA back and sit on hold for another 20ish minutes to cancel my apt.  Then, I called the building's locksmith.  As I did so, I realize they are probably only free for lockouts much like AAA is free for lockouts and they are probably going to charge me for the key... Sigh.

While I'm waiting on hold I decide to search the detritus of my purse (now mainly in the Nespresso bag) one last time.  Lo and behold -- there was the key.  I have no idea how I missed it when I did a piece by piece transfer from one bag to the next and a second piece by piece search, but I'm not complaining.  I hang up on the building locksmith and drive to the exit station.

But you know what they want at the exit station?  Oh, yeah.  A ticket.  Somewhere in the mess of removing and putting my purse back together I appear to have misplaced that one.  So, I fill out the lost ticket form and pay the penalty.

Finally, I drive to Nordstrom and buy my niece's present.  I am very careful to ensure my car key is in my hand and that the car door/trunk is locked by the remote locking mechanism in my hand.  I go in and the helpful saleswoman who is only 7 years older than my niece guides me on what is cool.  I take my purchases back to my car and I'm not kidding you...


Back into Nordstrom I go, and of course, it's on the purchase counter, just waiting for whomever to pick it up.

Finally home, several hours later than expected, I log into a client-issued computer to start a large project (sometimes I need access to client's corporate networks and they want me on hardware they control).  The computer immediately crashes.  I try to reboot.  It fails.  Thankfully, my key is back in its normal pocket of my purse, so I drive to the client and spend 45 minutes working with their IT department.  They inform me that it looks like either the hard drive or the motherboard failed, so I'll have to come back tomorrow AM.

I did make it home in time to do my last client call of the day at 5:15.  But I was kind of shocked that the conference call server didn't go down or something else didn't go wrong. 

So now, I'm calling the day officially done.  I'm not even going to chance it.

January 19, 2015

Just Lazy

After all the running around we did in the end of 2014, I've very much been enjoying these last couple weeks at home.  We spent 14 of the last 15 nights at home and the one night away was just a quick overnight pleasure trip to San Francisco with friends.  For the first time in several years, I don't have a flight on the calendar.  None.  I have *no* idea when I'll next need to get on a plane.

This week I do have an overnight work trip to SF, but we do those so often and we almost always stay at the same hotel, so those trips don't feel like travel, they sort of feel like home, too.

Work is busy.  But not crazy.

On the running/fitness front, I'm very much finding it difficult to motivate.  I don't mind putting in the time to work out (did it every day last week except for one).  It's just the effort level where I'm struggling.  For example, yesterday, instead of racing the Foster City 10-miler with a bunch of other awesome running bloggers, I opted to sleep in (seriously, how great is sleeping in?) and promised myself I'd do 12 miles.  I slept in like a champ.  Glorious. 

Instead of the sought-for 12, I only managed 8 miles, with 5.25 constant slow jogging in the high 11s to low 12s and the remainder run-walk intervals (although the intervals averaged in the high 8 min/mile range).

Total mileage for the week: 21.61 which includes a 3 mile walk.  One day, I opted for 35 minutes of recumbant bike reading.  I also decided to bust out 15 pushups, 50 crunches and another 15 pushups while waiting for my Garmin to locate the satellites one day.  HAHAHA -- I woke up with sore arms in the middle of the night and it took my sleep-addled brain a few seconds to figure out why. 

In short, I'm not focused on smart training.  I'm not anywhere near the effort level I like to be at when I've got a half marathon 2 weeks away.  And, I can't seem to make myself care.

The sleeping in.  The puttering around the house chores while it's gloomy outside.  The cooking in the new kitchen.  All of these things are so wonderful (and rare) and the scheduled workouts are so nonenticing in comparison.

So, more often than not, I replace what was scheduled with a shorter, slower run with my audiobook.

Combined, this leads me to the conclusion that Kaiser SF Half will be very slow, and possibly, not very fun for me.  You might think that this would be enough to motivate me to make some changes.  But I can't seem to care.

In other news, I did manage to lose a couple of pounds in the last 2 weeks, which is one of my other goals.  So at least I can point to that as some sort of focus and discipline.  


January 12, 2015


This past week was just going through the motions and all of a sudden it's the weekend.  Thank goodness, because by the time I got there, I was tired.

Getting back into the swing of work was harder than I thought it would be.  Add to this that all of my clients are *also* waking up from the holiday slumber and I had a very busy work week.  Plus there was laundry, bills, estimated taxes, 2 scheduled repairman visits in the ongoing fight with the new range.  You know, life. 

And, typically, life pushed on my running and sleep.  Total mileage of 19.  3 days completely off my feet.  3 weeks 'til the Kaiser Half Marathon -- I definitely need to get some longer runs in!  Longest run this week wasn't even 7 miles. 

I've been on the fence about the Foster City 10 Miler (next weekend), but I think I need to just sign up and do it.  Probably relatively slowly as all of this week's runs averaged slower than 10 minutes/mile.

In other news, Santa got me a fondue set and we've been putting it to much delicious use.
Mmmm.... Moitie Moitie.

And we had a fun overnight trip to SF to celebrate E2's birthday.  We all joined up with J and (and C who took A's place) and went to the SF Symphony to enjoy a movie night for the second year in a row.
Movie Night at the Symphony
This week should be relatively similar to last week, except I'm hoping to get in more runs, and at least one trip to the gym (most likely several as I haven't even started the book club book that's scheduled for Thursday).

January 4, 2015

(Very Overdue Post) 2013: The Year in Books

After posting the 2014 year in books post I realized that somehow, I never posted my summary for 2013.  The end of last year was a bit of a whirlwind, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. But, for the sake of sharing with my fellow book lovers, here's the final summary (just a year late).

22 books.  Book club started late in the year.

Mary Karr
The memoires of a recovering alcoholic about her young adulthood and later child-rearing years told in a brutally honest and wonderfully lighthearted way.  Mary finds her way to the Catholic Church as part of her journey, which is difficult for her, as she self-identifies as a rational academic.  This is a story of redemption and love and forgiveness.  And yet, the voice is so compellingly human that you feel the drama and the pain enough to almost miss the continual positive slope of the storyline.
The Liar's Club
Mary Karr
The first memoire by Mary Karr, whose writing knocked my socks off in Lit.  This one is engaging, but it's jumpier, and the voice is not as mature as the voice in Lit.  Many of the stories in this memoire weren't even alluded to in Lit -- she left some of the biggest topics in the Liar's Club unexplored in Lit, which made for some good surprises.  A very engaging tale of a crazy childhood full of love  
Mary Karr
Mary Karr's second memoire.  Adolescence and sexual awakening and drugs.  Darker and more sullen than the other two memoires, just like a teenager would be.
China Road
Rob Gifford
A narrative of driving west on the Old Silk Road from Shanghai to Korgaz in Kazakhstan.  This book did more than anything I've encountered so far to help me understand the enormity and complexity of China.  There is no 1 Chinese perspective, except, perhaps, a shared commitment or resignation to "economic progress" and globalization.  Definitely the most informative book on China I've encountered in my studies thus far.
Running the Hanson's Way
Luke Humphrey
Simple, straightforward.  Very similar to the information in Running for the Hansons, but with more regular mid-pack runner info. 
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
John Perkins
Facts you probably knew existed all strung together in a persuasively written indictment of American culture, consumerism, and the corporatocracy that rules the world.  Educational.  A bit unbalanced and biased.  But a good read, nonetheless.
The Lazrus Project
Aleksandar Hemon
Descriptive and vague interwoven tale of a Basnian-American immigrant and his struggle with the conflict of his past and present told through his research into a 1908 murder of a Jewish Immigrant.  Etheral and dark but fascinating and beautiful, nonetheless.
The Weight of All Things
Sandra Benitez
Yet another in the pile of "depressingly beautiful stories of human struggle" from Arvay.  Glorious language tells the sad and desperate story of a young boy whose mother is killed at the funeral of an El Salvadorean Archibishop.  He returns to his grandfather to find their homestead co-opted by the rebels.  Briefly free, he is conscripted by the army and put to work for them.  Eventually, after witnessing much carnage and base humanity, he returns home to his grandfather.
White Rose (Una Rosa Bianca)
Amy Ephron
Short, well-written chapters telling a fictional account of the true story of William Randoff Hearst's journalist's rescue of Evangelina Cisneros from a cuban prison.
The Redfoot Manual
Mike Pingleton
The most detailed resource I've encountered so far re: care, husbandry, and general info about Redfoot and Yellowfoot tortoies.  Funny Note:  Flying home from my sister's baby shower, a nearby flight seat occupant asked, "are you a doctor?"  "No."  I said, "I'm a lawyer."  Huh.... "Why would a lawyer be looking at anatomy diagrams and diseases...?"  The *obvious* answer is because she has a new tortoise and needs to learn basic veterninary and husbandry skills for her new baby... Duh...
You (Only Faster)
Greg McMillan
One of the more advanced running books I've ready.  Discusses types of training, feedback and how to structure a personalized training plan for yourself that actually works.  I suspect I'll be returning regularly to this one in the years to come.
Silver Linings Playbook
Matthew Quick
I'd seen the movie before this book was selected for our newly formed book club.  I don't usually like reading a book after I've seen the movie, but in this case, it was actually quite interesting.  The movie was such a different story, that comparing and contrasting the two was a fun exercise.  Different timelines, character development, plot and more made for the book actually containing many surprises.  Overall, my book club agreed that this book was simplistic and had some flaws that were eliminated by the changes to the movie script.  Some things were lost, of course, but overall, this seems like a rare case where the movie did a better job on most fronts than the book.
My Name is Asher Lev
Chaim Potok
Powerful vivid tale of a gifted artist who is born a Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn.  Conflicts between the art world and the world of conservative Judaism make for a complicated life for the young genius.
The Fault In Our Stars
John Green
I cried.  I've lived cancer, but it was my dad.  This is a book of love and life and the horrid realities of cancer, but from a teenager's perspective.  We are all aware of our own mortality, but not as much as those who live on the edge, and this book made the stark contrast of teenagery and the edge of cancer-death very clear with its descriptions.  Gorgeous.  But so sad. 
The Gift of Asher Lev
Chaim Potok
So complex and beautiful -- human realities on the conflict of life, art, religion, principle, and commitment to self.  I wish I could send this book back to the friend who sent it to me as a gift as if she'd never read it.
Self Made Man
Norah Vincent
Fascinating tale of a lesbian woman's experience passing as a man for one year.  Full of all sorts of stereotypes as observed from a true outsider, I found much of what she said to be insightful, and the bits I disagreed with forced me to think hard about why.  Overall, this book probably forced me to think more critically about gender, culture, and sex more than any book I've read in years.  In particular, after reading this book, I found myself much more sympathetic to and understanding of some stereotypically common male behavior traits that I used to find frustrating.
Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami
Symbolism, magic, and lonely japanese protagonists living in dreamlike worlds told only the way the Murakami can tell it.  Supremely enjoyable.
The Bette Davis Club
Jane Lotter
Breezy easy brain candy rom com fun.
Dandelion Growing Wild
Kim Jones
Honest and real tales from one of America's best female marathoners.  Inspirational and poignant.
14 Minutes
Alberto Salazar
Fine.  Not great.  Not terrible.
The Gods of Guilt
Michael Connelly
Fast, suspenseful, and just overall enjoyable.  Michael Connely has become my favorite law thriller writer, easily.
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great American Novel.  An excellent book to do with book club.  Even better after listening to the audiobook.