May 25, 2014


I am aware that *technically* Summer in the Northern Hemisphere does not arrive until the Summer Solstice (this year on June 21st).

However, for me, spiritually, Summer always begins on Memorial Day weekend.  By now, the lettuce have bolted, and the broccoli and cauliflower have all been harvested (all brassicas, really), and the summer garden is in full swing.  It is hot.  The days are long.  My Summer is here.

What's left of the "Spring Garden" -- bolted lettuce and broccolli leaves with no heads.

For the first time in a long time, we are home, with no pre-scheduled plans for Memorial Day, and we both plan to take the majority of the Monday holiday off of work.  3 days!  No work!  Home!

Today, after my first trip to our local farmers' market in well over a year (California produce is *so* glorious at this time of year), a short run, and a long laid-back lunch while people watching with E, I decided I'd just like to take the day to read a book straight through. It had been so long since I'd indulged like this.  Typically, this is something I am only able to do on vacation, by a pool, on a chaise lounge (and I have to agree that the oh-so-precious vacation day that could be spent sight-seeing or hiking or whatever will be spent there, by the pool, doing nothing other than reading, swimming to cool off, and, ideally, drinking drinks with umbrellas in them).  According to my calendar, the last time we took a trip where this was even possible (and I'm not sure I dedicated the necessary time to make it happen) was October of 2012.

Today, when I turned the last page of my book, the pleasure reminded me of something from my childhood:  on Summer vacations, I often competed in the local library reading contests, and easily put away a book a day.

Today's cover-to-cover indulgence.

(This book was classic Murakami: cats, nighttime, darkness, duality of worlds, loneliness, Japanese culture, outsiders, Jazz, and some of the best writing and symbolism available from a modern author today.) 

I told E I was going to lay on the couch until the book was done.  I had a *goal*.  I cheated, about halfway through, and moved to the guest room carpet floor, substituting the mild couch yoga hip twists I'd been doing for real stretching and rolling while reading.  My legs were so thankful!  I may be able to justify the 1-day book more often now that I know how loose and wonderful I feel.

In other news, on the running front, this was a good week.

33.4 miles total.  25% sub 10 minutes/mile.  Quite a bit of walking and easy run-walking.

Track workout was great (I cut off the 200s on the back end and substituted 2X800 since I've got the half marathon coming up and I thought I'd fare better from some longer efforts): (5X200/30; 3X800/400 jog: 46, 47, 55, 54, 49; 8:13/mile; 8:46/mile; 8:41/mile).

Long workout hit a bit of a snag,  I did 4.3ish to a local 5K, only to learn that it was on grass and consisted of 10 oddly shaped laps in a single direction.  My inside foot also happened to be the foot I rolled, *and* a foot that has a mild bunion that has never seriously bothered me until this week, while recovering from the 4th/5th metatarsal sprain.  By the end of the first mile, I could tell I'd need to modify my plan, so I did.  I opted for mile intervals with walking recovery instead of a constant 5K, and I let the paces slide as much as I needed to when it became clear that my bunion was *not* happy with the setup.  I finished, but slowly.  And then I called E and asked him to come pick me up rather than running the way back home.  So, my last long run before my half marathon with my sis was shy of 8 miles instead of 11ish.  I'm not too concerned about the decrease in mileage.  I was able to do 2 miles with E today (1 @ 9:34 in the heat, followed by an easy mile) with no pain, so I think I made the right call.

And, now, I'm so excited to enjoy Monday as a true holiday!  It's been a long time since I've decided to take a holiday that many in the start-up world don't take.  But, you know what?  I'm slowly getting better at drawing the boundaries I need (and, it doesn't hurt that this memorial day is still 6 days before the end of the month (before the final month of the financial quarter rush) so there's not as much pressure to close deals as normal).

I hope you all have a great holiday!  Happy Summer! (Enjoy gratuitous turtle/tortoise preserve photos!)

Beautiful Burmese Star Tortoises

Grown-up Yellowfoot tortoise (what Guito will look like when he's 30)

A very small subset of the 100+ acquatic turtles

The Russian Tortoise breeding program has been *very* successful.

Beh-Beh Tortoises!  Hatchlings, less than one-week old, note the hand for size)

Ginormous Aldabra Tortoises hiding from the wind behind their house.

May 22, 2014

Atlanta: Food Town

Look closely... yes, that is a donut bacon cheeseburger
The first time I went to Atlanta, way back in the Fall of 2000, when all of the world had comforted ourselves with the fact that we'd survived the Y2K fall-out, and it was apparent that the 2000 tech bubble was going to result in some alternate fall-out, I attended the Atlanta Linux Showcase for work.

Memorably, I was told by a potential customer/prospect, "You're too attractive to be in tech" -- Oh, great, a fully-voiced version of the classic demeaning compliment-insult that many women experience when trying to break into technology.

For me, frankly, it was the first time I'd really encountered this perspective and I was a bit confused.  At the time, I had a purple streak in my hair and I wore doc martins.  I certainly wasn't going for "attractive" as a visual goal.  In the bay area, my apparel and hair choices made this clear and I didn't have to deal with sexist bullshit.  But in Atlanta, apparently, my boobs and butt meant that I was still obviously female and people were going to try to schmooze me along standard gender norms (BLECH!).

At the time, the frothy tech-bubble was big enough that the conference was full of all sorts of ridiculousness like booth-babes who were scantily clad by professional standards but strippers in their other lives, so super comfortable in what seemed like not enough clothes to me, and many folks who had paid full price to attend the conference and yet were just there to see the booth babes and talk with whomever with no command of technology at all (in case you've forgotten, this was the year of the epic puppet commercial at the Superbowl).

For some reason, at the end of my trip, my flights got messed up and I ended up staying the last night of the trip at the parents of one of my co-workers.  Full disclosure:  that co-worker was E.  And E's dad basically decided we were dating and said, "Us L men need strong women, I'm happy E has obviously found himself one."  You might think this would be awkward, and truly, it should have been, but it just sort of helped me feel comfortable with the reality that E was my soulmate and I did want to be dating him, even though we hadn't really discussed dating or anything else along those lines.

My memories of this first trip regarding food are that outside of E's mom's awesome cooking, there wasn't much other than Waffle House, Chick Fil A, and Cracker Barrel, plus other less memorable options at the conference food court.  Certainly no-one tried to make the case that Atlanta was a food destination at the time.

After E and I admitted we were dating, I started coming to Atlanta on a regular basis.  Initially, foodwise, it felt very stereotypically American and Southern.  I was treated to great barbeque (Georgian and South Carolinan Style).  I was introduced to the awesome options of fried okra, fried green tomatoes, and fried pickles.  And I had *many* great home-cooked meals including bacon and grits, greens and black-eyed peas, succatoush, brunswick stew and more.

Back then, it felt like a big cultural trip -- there was a huge disparity between California and Georgia. But, over the years, that's changed when it comes to food.
Salad course at Tomo

This visit, I had the best Japanese meal I've had this year (omakase at Tomo), despite having spent a week in Japan in February.  And, I joined E's mom, dad, and sister for an amazing high-end Mother's day lunch present (it's good to be the plus-one!) at a fancy seafood restaurant.

Atlanta has emerged as a serious food city, which means it's become more international and experimental.    Watch any reality-tv chef competition and there's guaranteed to be a contender from ATL

This trip, we were there while E's sister was the managing director of a food-based benefit for the local children's hospital.  Local restaurants all set up booths and competed with food and drink entries so the attendees could vote (the donut bacon cheeseburger won).  There were too many delicious options of all types of cuisine and I couldn't even eat a bite of everything.

It's only been 14 years, but Atlanta's food scene has changed dramatically in that time.  You can still get great barbeque and southern food, but if you tire of that, you can also get just about anything else your heart desires.        

May 19, 2014

Last Week

We spent last week in ATL, for work, and also visiting family.

It was a great time.  At one of the tech parties, we had our caricatures done, which was fun:

The downside was that I rolled my ankle on my run on Wednesday.  After the caricature party, we arrived home and I found myself the owner of a stiff, painful foot that hurt to walk.  I iced.  And I was scared.

I woke the next AM to similar stiffness and inability to walk.  I iced again.

By Thursday PM (after E's mom bought me an elastic ace bandage which ended up being way more helpful than expected), it was clear that I would make it through, and quickly.  E's father took advantage of my convalescence to get me to commit to driving his 1985 Porsche 911 to the detailer's (no one else in the family is comfortable driving a mechanical stick shift).  I have to admit, Friday's diversion of detailing, plus coffee at the nearby cafe and reading CAFC's Oracle v. Google Ruling, followed by post-lunch high speed road driving and donuts in local parking lots?  Well, it was a fabulous way to spend half of Friday not working.

Overall, the running was not as impressive as it otherwise would have been, thanks to the concerns about the rolled ankle:  19.33 miles total with only 5% at high intensity.  In fairness, I can only blame Thursday and Friday on the ankle.  The big failure was Sunday -- ridiculous weather with torrential rain kept me off my feet.  But, overall, I'm just happy to be healthy.

I celebrated the new week with book club.  The meeting to discuss A Study in Scarlet was educational and enjoyable.  If nothing else, we were all in agreement that Book 2 was a crazy surprise, and not necessarily a welcome one.

Looking forward to a good run tomorrow!

May 11, 2014


Today, I found myself alone, carrying my portable office (always heavy full of books, laptop, papers, etc), my purse (always heavy because I'm one of those stereotypical ladies with a purse that has everything but the kitchen sink), and a huge rolling garment bag (46 lbs, according to the airline) down a staircase.

I did it.

But it wasn't pretty.

The garment bag hit the stairs with every step because I am too short to hold it high enough to avoid the scrape when I drop to the lower stair.  The purse and the portable office bag weren't close to 46 lbs on my opposite arm, so I was off-kilter.  In the interests of safety, I took the stairs with baby steps, putting both feet on each step.

Once at the curb, I couldn't help but feel like the picture I'd created on the staircase was such a visual metaphor for my life these days.  (Let's not even examine the extension of the metaphor whereby there is actually a different way down with a fully functional escalator that I didn't take...)

Lately, I've been trying to cut myself more slack.  When I feel overwhelmed, I've been trying to tell myself that it's okay not to work 15 hours in a day just because my clients have needs.

In short, I've been trying to prioritize my own needs, and I suck at it.  I take all the bags and load myself up and make it down to where I need to be in one trip without aid from many of the people I'm traveling with.  Why?  Well, because I can and they are doing other things.  I just max myself out.  That's what I typically do.

As I've evolved as a blogger, more and more of the blog has been focused on running.  I think this is due to two things:

1) It's an area where I don't owe anyone anything.  It's me, doing stuff for me, and for some reason, unlike the rest of my life where I make an effort, I'm perfectly comfortable being average.  The posts may read as boring and technical and fact-filled, but make no mistake, they are *highly personal* and even though I almost always let my professional obligations run my life, I do know that doing stuff for myself is important.  Even though I don't do as good of a job about it as I could do, I'm proud that I do make time to regularly run and try to stay relatively fit.

2) As I've aged and opted not to have children, I've reconciled myself to the reality that I have less and less in common with the majority of my cohort.  Running is this great social binder that doesn't care about the differences between people and only cares if you care about running.

The last few weeks, I've been suffering from some major professional burnout.  This is normal in my line of work.  What's not normal for me is that I've actually been scaling back work commitments and scheduling more me time in response (which translates to more gardening, Internet piddling, running, walking, and reading).  In doing so, I've read more about running, run more, and watched more running videos than normal.  Finally, headed into next week, I'm feeling a bit recovered and I'm amused that running has become such a large part of my life that it's the place I turn when feeling overwhelmed.

Did i say amused?  Oh, I meant that, but really, I'm grateful.  I'm so grateful.

**Weekly Running Recap?  27.97 miles, 3 rest days (2 garden, 1 travel, but a 12 mile long run and 15% high effort miles sub-10.  Best workout of the week?  18X200 100 R/I w/track club averaging  54-55s -- felt so great and strong after this workout and very much enjoyed the camaraderie of the group.) 

May 4, 2014

And we're walking, walking, walking...

This week, to recover from SLO, I cut myself all kinds of slack.

And yet, much to my surprise, I still hit 25.24 total miles, including 12% of that volume at sub-10 min/mile.  This % of miles at sub 10 is a new metric you'll see me touting going forward this year.

I read this post on the application of the so-called 80/20 rule to running and it resonated with me.  (It also tightly correlated with the pace goals for the Hansons running plans I've followed in the past and had great success with.)

I definitely feel like I benefit when I increase my overall volume and don't focus too much on quality over quantity in terms of mileage.  I know I am lucky in that I don't tend to get injured (knock on wood) when I increase my volume, but, frankly, I also tend to increase it at paces that many folks would consider to be ridiculously slow.  I count walking miles.  I count super slow jogging miles.  I count run/walking miles.  I just want to increase the total mileage, which, truly, is just a proxy for increasing my overall aerobic load.  In fact, I could probably substitute cross-training for most of my running volume, and just run the minimal hard stuff I do and end up roughly in the same spot.  But, I digress -- I won't be doing that (unless injury requires it). 

Anyways, this year is a big running year for me.  I've got a half marathon coming up in 4 weeks where I hope to show some serious fitness gains.  Then, I've got the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta, where all I can do is make a strong effort to show that I did my best to handle the hills, heat, and humidity.  After that, it's a long high volume slog as I'm signed up for and hoping to do well at the Chicago Marathon and then, I'm looking forward to joining my college roommate for a fun and photo-heavy New York Marathon.

All along the way, I'm hoping to increase mileage with very little focus on pace.  I assume it will just naturally come down, like it always has when I've been honest about increasing volume.  I am not a high pressure runner (other than on race days, when, occasionally, I can put myself under a bit of pressure) and I have no plans to become one.

I was gratified to read the 80/20 rule post because it gave me a high-quality goal that I can focus on, but that I think I can actually hit quite easily.  And I look forward to doing so over the rest of the year.

Run happy friends!


May 3, 2014

Sub-5 Minute Beer Mile

Go California Runners!