Thursday, February 25, 2010

5K Race and PR That Cost Me $85

Last week I decided that I would, for the hell of it, run a 5K and see if my half-marathon training had done any good for short distance races. I expected that it would and was gunning for the sub-26 minutes that I had attempted and failed to do at last fall's Turkey Trot. Mind you, I'm well off my high school race times (6:15 mile, 13:30 two mile, 23:00 5K... I also now weigh 20+ pounds more, which doesn't help my plight). Anyway. I've been chasing this damn 26 minutes for years. Seven. YEARS. Since 2002, when I started training for the LA marathon. Even several weeks after my second marathon in 2003, 10 pounds lighter than now, I still only ran 26:04 on a flat course (flat as in, totally completely flat, hard-packed sand in Manhattan Beach). Always hovering in the 26's.

Saturday morning it was raining, but decided at 5:30am that it was light enough that I would just run the race, whatever. Just some rain. So I get out on the road with my Google directions and the first ridiculous thing is that 30 minutes from my destination, nature starts calling. Like pounding her fist on the door, not just a pleasant "Hi, How are you" phone call from your Aunt Sally. Seeing as I had a limited time to get there and register, it was 6am so what place is open with a bathroom except sketchy gas stations, I drive on hoping that I can hold it. The directions say to take a highway that is apparently a toll road. I didn't know it was a toll road until I got to it and saw that the sign said ("133 - Toll Road - Cash or FastTrak" -- it really should read "133 - Highway Robbery"). Now I could have probably figured out how not to take the toll road but I had to GO. BAD. Clenching was not a permanent solution. And, seriously, if I had to pay 3 or 4 bucks for the toll road, whatever. I get on the damn road and my exit is like one hot second after I get on. OK. Cool. Maybe there's no toll then.

Not only is there a toll booth for $1 at the end of my exit, but it's unmanned. And also - what century are we in - it only accepts coins or FastTrak (which, I have no need for). Coins. And, by the way, the other toll road I have used in the OC (the 73) has actual live people in the booths and they take flippin' paper money. I sit there for a few minutes hoping that someone will come up behind me with change, but I quickly realize that (a) I still have to go bad, and (b) I could be waiting for some time before someone comes up behind me since it's 6:45am, and (c) that person might only have enough change for him/herself. So I accept the ridiculousness, curse the Orange County Toll Road A-holes (seriously, no other county in So Cal has toll roads like the OC - one of the richest counties in the state), and go through the toll without paying, knowing I will likely get a $55 fine in the mail.

I FINALLY get there, and first thing I do is run to the porta potties. Sweet Relief, my friends. Sweet Relief. I go register for the race and I'm ready - even the rain has stopped.

The buzzer-gun-thing goes off and we are greeted with a mother of a hill. Right away. At this point I figure I'm done. $85 bucks for another 26-something finish. We get a nice long downhill and turn around for the second half. Garmin says my pace is all over the place since the elevation is all over the place. On the return to the finish, I had moments where I was in the 9:00's, but I kept thinking that I had paid 85 bucks for this "experience" so I had better just push through whatever this slow business was. Turns out that was a long hill (the price of the long downhill I just had) - I wasn't aware of how long it was until I looked at my Garmin data. With about a quarter mile left to go I realize that sub 26 is so happening. The finish was downhill - sweet! I crossed and demolished my last 5K time of 26:20. A time of 25:22. This course had total elevation change of more than 500 feet over only 3 miles so, flat, it was not.

I was all set to go home, happy with my adulthood PR. I walked to the car then decided to go back and see if I could trade my small t-shirt in for an XL so The Husband could have it (I have more t-shirts than Imelda Marcos has shoes). I see the results are up and say "Eh, let's see how far back I was in my age group." I actually got 3rd out of 21. Very unexpected in a race of 800 that I would get 3rd. Now I have another medal for the collection. I almost walked away without it (I've done that before, too).

All-in-all, I am still mad at the Evil Toll Road people. But I was very much happy that I finally beat that stupid 26 minutes. I think the 24's may be just around the corner!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tasty Rabbit Poo and Other Stuff

One of the lovely things you have to deal with when raising a puppy is the burning desire to put anything and everything into its mouth. You can imagine the fun we're having on walks, right? We have lots of rabbits (which is weird because we also have lots of coyotes - or rather, maybe that makes sense, more coyote food...), especially in the nearby neighborhood park and every morning, those rabbits must have their morning "constitutions" just before we arrive because there's always FRESH TREATS on our path. Woo. Hoo. It's challenging enough to walk a puppy who doesn't yet fully understand the concept of a leash, but to also then try to avoid the rabbit pellets scattered on the sidewalk while a sneaky puppy snout darts around to gobble them up, is like asking Heidi Montag to explain Schrodinger's Equation. The best I can do is try to limit the number of pellets he snags.

At least he isn't eating his own poo. It's the little things.

We've been watching lots of the Olympics and during the time is was raining and too warm in Vancouver, all I could think about was how much energy they were wasting to fight Mother Nature and keep snow on the ground. I know - I'm weird. I have an aversion to wasting anything (as a side note - I checked my gas bill and we are using 14% less per day with the new tankless water heater). The other thing I realized was that, while my height is useless in most Olympics sports other than gymnastics and figure skating, it appears that my height would be good for mogul skiing. Those chicks were short! I like it!

Monday afternoon, the new KitchenAid mixer arrived. I know. You are thinking, "Woman, you're husband is unemployed, why are you buying an 80 million dollar mixer?!" The answer is, had my in-laws written "tankless water heater" in the "for:" memo of our Christmas gift checks rather than "Kitchen Aid Mixer" then we would not have one sitting on the counter right now. Really, I mean, that money could have been used for that surprise $2000 hemorrhage last month, but it's hard to do that knowing someone gave you hard-earned money for something very specific. So there it is. This piece of equipment better last a flippin' long time, that's all I have to say. At least it matches my red and blue/turquoise kitchen color theme.

(yay, crumbs on the counter!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dudes. Domino's Kind of Rocks

In case you are wondering, I ran my race Sunday, and, no, I did not break 2 hours for the half. I was on pace through 9.5 miles - around 9:03/mi - and I crashed. I had zero energy left. I got a crazy Achilles tendon cramp that ran all the way down the side of my foot. Like swearing while running cramping. This kind of thing has never happened to me - and I've run two marathons, so, it's not like I haven't been around the long-distance running block. I battled during the last 3 miles to salvage the race to just get some kind of PR. Which I sort of did - I ran it 2 minutes faster than any other half-marathon I've done (2:04:51). The reason I say "sort of" is that I ran the first half of the San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon in 2:02 back in 2003, so it's hard to say that 2:04:51 is really a "PR" when I ran faster in a daggone marathon (though I crashed HARD in that race. I ran the first half too fast and ended up at 4:30 - slower than my first marathon). Anyway, so, yeah, enough about the race - I'm queued up for another in April to attempt again.

So.

Domino's is super cool. I used to HATE this pizza. Utter disdain. I'm Italian so I know from pizza. I also spent 4 years living in NYC so again, I know a good pie. And I'm not saying that Domino's is that good, because it isn't. But it's like 100% better than it used to be. And the website? Rocks. Freakin' sweet.

I got the whole $5.99 for two medium pizzas promo thing on my door recently, and I was intrigued by how they were owning up to their suckiness. I love that they are point-blank about the fact that they had freak-nasty 'za and telling us about how they changed it. So, because the half-marathon and the superbowl superceded our usual Sunday grocery shopping, the fridge and pantry are barren. Parsley and cilantro are not valid dinner options. So, we decided to give Domino's a try. We ordered the pizza online (I love it when I don't have to get on the damn phone and talk to a human). It is one of the slickest websites I've ever used. They have a Pizza Tracker. Like, "So-and-So is working on your orer, 7:12pm"; "So-and-So has put your order in the oven, 7:19pm", etc, etc. And it showed up like 10 minutes after they said it was out for delivery. It was like UPS package tracking on crack. And they built this software IN HOUSE! As a software developer, I was envious that I didn't get to work on a kick-ass project like that. I would be like "I built that, suckas!"

Alright, sorry to end so abruptly, but I gotta pay attention to DVR'd The Bachelor now. Yes, mindless drivel to follow cheap delivery pizza.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Heinz Tomato Ketchup Packet

What. I couldn't think of a title so I just wrote the name of something sitting on my desk.

Anyway.

I think I am the last person under 35 in America that is still using a check register. I know. It's 2010 and why all the writing? I have to say, I just like the feeling of tracking my checking and savings accounts on paper. No idea why. The wackier thing is that I also track it on a spreadsheet in Google Docs. But that is more for forecasting a month ahead (I clear old the old data) - to see how much surplus there should be at the end of the month and how much I will likely squirrel away into the emergency fund. Which at this point, most of what I save is earmarked for property taxes, and car/home insurance, since finding "surplus" is kinda hard given the current "still no job for husband" situation.

(In case you were wondering, yes, he is still unemployed. Our county has 10.3% unemployment, which is slightly less suck-tastic than 12.1% state-wide, but still means that one might have more success hitting a slot machine jackpot in Vegas than finding a decent job).

Anybody else stuck in 1985 with her check registers? Or am I the only lo-hoo-hooser?

Oh, and happy Ground Hog Day! Thank God it is totally irrelevant for me now. I can't say I miss the cold one iota. Zero nostalgia for the weather of my home state of Massachusetts. (Mr. Blutarsky. ZERO... POINT... ZERO.)

This week is "taper" week for my half marathon. Taper as in, start running easier days with less mileage to rest up the legs. This also means the flippity flappety race is Sunday. In 5 days. I'm kind of freaking out internally, just a wee bit. Not a whole lot, but still. The thing I keep telling myself though is that if I don't break the 2 hours I will attempt again in April. By then I'll have only three toenails left.

On the puppy watch, I weighed him yesterday and he was 14 pounds. Yeah - he has gained almost 2 pounds in less than 2 weeks. Growing like athlete's foot in a humid August. Ew. (What. "Growing like a weed" is a $3 dollar phrase so I made up my own).