Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Running Stats for 2009

Yup, I know there is one full day left of 2009, but tomorrow is not a running day for me, and I didn't plan early on to have an exact number of miles to run before the clocked stopped ticking for 2009 and started for 2010. (Wow. 2010. That sounds futuristic, eh? Can you believe that it's here?) So, here are my running and walking stats nice and simple for the year of 2009:

Running: 552.2 miles
Walking: 66 miles

Grand total: 618.2 miles

Last year I made it a goal (at the beginning of December 2008) to run an even 600 miles. That meant I needed to run 46.2 miles in that last month, which equaled about 2 miles a day (I ran 4 every other day though). I accomplished my goal and ran just over 600 miles. I had high hopes of meeting and even exceeding that goal for 2009. Alas, it was not meant to be. I threw out my back. Twice. Once in February and again in June. I fainted for the first time in my life. (It's not glamorous like they tell it in the storybooks, folks.) But after a summer of physical therapy with a close friend and physical therapist, I was back on my feet with a safe new approach and trying my best to play catch up with the lost miles. I have a lot more walking miles than last year, that's for sure! I am today where I was at the beginning of December last year. About 50 running miles short. HOWEVER! I finished my masters degree! I am now an "official" librarian. I was before, but now I am + the degree. :) I would like to run a marathon next year, so long as my back, knee and body let me train for it. We'll see how it goes. I did all my homework at night and running in the morning, so I don't actually have that much more time to train, except for the weekends which won't be spent closeted in my office doing homework. Maybe that will be the time for longer runs and some more serious weight training.

Again, as I said at the end of last year, we'll see how it goes. I don't want to set an impossible (or very high reaching) goal for myself and then never get there. I'll try my best though! But as of now, I am happy with my mileage for 2009.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have been listening to a lot of audio books and podcasts lately. This is not one that I chose to listen to however- I needed the print copy to hold in my hands and carry with me everywhere I went. Not (only) because it is a terrific novel, but because of the nature of the story and the need to flip back and forth between years and dates. Henry is "time-challenged" just as some people are height or weight challenged, to put it in PC terms. Not everyone, just Henry, and he has no control over the when, where or for how long he stays. Because his life is so non-linear, the author follows his wife, Claire's life more closely as Henry pops in and out her life as she grows up. I don't want to give away what they experience, but instead reflect on time. Thinking about my own life and how time passes always makes me nostalgic. I don't know what it is that makes me sad at times- maybe that I can't go back? Watching (my) children grow and change does this to me too. To read about time passing forward and back, the tribulations, and the constant and unconditional love shared by Henry and Claire really made me ache. But most of all, it was Claire's waiting for Henry that did me in~ she is a much stronger woman than I...

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Moonlight Madness 5K

Team Library Dork gathered for a 5K run around Rancho San Rafel on Friday night last week, one of our favorite team training warm-up, jog, warm-down places. The Moonlight Madness 5K is sponsored by Castle Rock Multisports, and this particular race was put on in an effort to raise money and help local residents with eating disorders. I think it is a worthy cause- a healthy running event to help others take care of their bodies. There seemed to be a lot of people who showed up despite the cold temperatures for a stealthy dark run, so hopefully they were able to raise a healthy amount funds.

The race started at 7:00 p.m., so Chris and I met at Turi's house since he lives so close to Rancho. We jogged over for a warm-up, and met Dave at packet pick-up (he had to work until 6). Here I am picking up my packet. (Notice the sign? :)
We got there about a half hour early and our warm up mile quickly turned cold again as we waited for the start. We hopped around, picked up our sweatshirts, found Dave, stashed our sweatshirts, and then gathered for the start. It was a slow cautious start, and I stuck with Dave while Turi and Chris took off at the very front. I brought an LED headlamp that I strapped over my Nike skullcap hat (which I LOVE because it is warm, covers my ears, and has a slot in the back for my ponytail), and I am SOOO glad I had it! Some people were running out there in complete darkness with no light whatsoever. Dave and I ran nice and easy for the first half. He slowed at the half-way point, but I pushed ahead after a quick sip of water. I passed as many people in the second half as passed me in the first half, steadily climbing small hills that dropped many others to a walk. I raced faster on the downhill sections than I probably should have in the dark, and the guy who was keeping pace with me (with NO headlamp) totally ate it. I turned my head so he could see where he was falling, but I kept going. I hope he was okay... I had a nice strong finish, thanks to my easy start, and had a good sprint (on sidewalk) to the finish. They clocked me about a minute slower than I clocked myself, but my official time was 31:18. I could easily have dropped several minutes if it was daylight. Chris remarked that probably everyone could have dropped 10% of their time if the sun was shining (or the just-past full moon had graced us from behind the clouds). Chris, of course, won the 5k with a time of 19 minutes something, and Turi and I both placed 4th in our age groups. But since I have moved up into the most competitive age bracket (yes, I'm old now- it's the 30-39 group that is stinkin' fast!), the first 2 men in Turi's age group came in 1st and 2nd and received plaques, so Turi got a 2nd place medal. The 1st woman in my age group came in 3rd overall and also received a plaque, so I got the 3rd place medal! They are really nice ones- clean and heavy with a silky neck strap. Here is my bib, sweatshirt and medal:

And the team, together again!

After the race, we carpooled back to Turi's house for Chris's annual Winter Beer Tasting, and some fantastic pizza from Brugos Pizza Bistro. It had a nice thick crust and high quality toppings. (Thanks for hosting Turi and Mich!) It's almost as good as the pizza-from-scratch we make... But back to the beer- here is the line-up:

(Isn't it pretty how the lights are reflected off the table top?) I've turned into a little bit of a wine snob this past year (thank you Abby and Chris for my first wine tasting event!), but have never been a huge afficionado for beer. However, there were 4 beers I really enjoyed! Although don't ask me the names of any of them. :) My favorite was a peach and toasted pecan beer. And then there was that heavy-hitting chocolate stout that we saved for last...

A fun event. A wonderful evening with friends~ I feel like the holidays have officially started! Thanks everyone, runners and beer-tasters alike!

Baby Snow Leopard 1st Birthday in Melbourne!

Hey, check out this blog courtesy of Saving Snow Leopards~ the snow leopard kittens at the Melbourne Zoo in Australia just turned one! They are so sweet~

(Yes, I did copy this picture from Sibylle's blog, but I couldn't resist sharing these babies with you! [They are 3 months old in this photo.] This photo looks to be shared from just want to give proper credit here! See? I did learn something in school. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall Running

I love autumn! I enjoy the fall colors and the way the air turns crisp in a way that reminds me I am alive, and oh yeah, where is my hot chocolate? (I think we had a very mild and short summer in Reno this year which makes me think we may have a cold snowy winter.) And I love running in the cooler temperatures- it keeps me from over-heating going up the steeper hills. Last week on Sunday Gretchen invited me to come up and run with her by Donner Lake.

It was beautiful, and the sun was shining and the sky was clear. We ran at an easy pace, and hiked up the steepest hills, about 6 miles total. I wish I had run with my camera to capture some of the magnificent views. After a little break and a stretch at the car, Gretchen headed home for some breakfast, and I grabbed my phone and headed back up the trail to take just a few pictures. I ended up enjoying the loamy path so much I ran another 4 or so miles! Here are a few of the pictures I took (although they aren't as nice a quality as my regular camera would have taken):

The Bridge~

A lovely little stretch of trail next to the stream~

Glittering brilliance~

A little hidden path to Donner Lake~

The LAKE! Man this is a cold one!

On Friday I also was re-introduced to a trail I hadn't run in a couple years, plus some new pieces that I hadn't run before up Evan's Creek Trail. It was another beautiful morning, and just the perfect temperature for another easy run. Here is a photo of downtown Reno from the upper part of trail:

And another of me haulin' back down the hill~

Thanks Turi and Gretchen for introducing me to some of your favorite regular running trails!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Woodland Park Zoo Blog | Naturally Inspiring: Animals show Sounders spirit

Woodland Park Zoo Blog | Naturally Inspiring: Animals show Sounders spirit

Check out how these pictures of how much the snow leopard cubs have grown since their birth around Memorial Day! SO CUTE!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Run for Education

Today I ran a 10K in the Run for Education at Damonte Ranch High School. It didn't start until 9:00 which was nice, and as a double bonus, it was only a 5 minute drive from my house! Fellow Team Library Dork runner, Turi, ran with me today and played coach, but in the most motivational way possible without ever having to say a word to make me run faster. We chatted, and he was going just a tad faster than I wanted to go, and as a result I was well under my goal of an hour with a time of 55:45, according to my watch, which I feel is always more accurate than the chips we tie to our shoes. That's just me though. It was a beautiful day, and the run was very well organized, complete with shuttle buses from a near by shopping mall. And the cutest little kindergartner singing our national anthem! Turi had his Garmin strapped on to keep stats on our pace and the route. And the post race picture I took from my iPhone- I think my hand was moving when I took it...

After the 10K, they had a half mile fun run for all the Washoe County elementary schools (my parents shuttled them from home after my race, and then stayed for their race too- thanks Mom and Dad!). Sean and Ashton were SUPER excited to run today (but mostly because they wanted to get a medal). Here is a picture of us together with our race bibs, waiting for their race to start.

They were in the K-2nd grade heat, and I was able to run with them. We started back too far from the start line and got stuck behind a sardine crowd of kindergartners and first graders. (To give you some perspective of how many kids were there, I heard them announcing the top attending schools, and their school was second with nearly 200 kids! It was a very well-attended event, even for the 5 and 10K.) Once we managed to weave our way through the little'uns (I had to take the long way around the outside and sprint to catch up with them!), we settled into a sporadic pace, sometimes jogging, sometimes sprinting, but most importantly, never stopping. One lap around the school and it was over! They did great, Sean beating Ashton and me. I'm so pleased that I can share my love of running with them in this way- we take little hikes up on the trails every now and then, but running with lots of people with the same goal is inspiring and motivating for an entirely different reason. Great job today everyone! And thanks for supporting our schools, and our childrens' education~

Ashton (left) and Sean- always together! :) I'm the luckiest mom ever!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kokanee Salmon Trail Half Marathon

This is my 4th half marathon this year (+ one at the beginning of February, one at the end of April, and one last month), but only my second ever trail half (I ran a very slow Fall Colors half with Turi last October). As it turns out, the kokanee salmon this race is named for are actually landlocked and as many as 50,000 fish swim up Taylor Creek for spawning. There were debates in the car as to where the salmon were coming from. I didn't get to see them, however, because of the blizzard we were driving through after the race. Yes, there was snow. But the skies cleared up just for the race, which gave us a fairy wonderland to run through, with the breeze blowing a sparkling dusting of crystallized snow as we passed under the branches of the great pines and redwoods. And this was not just any race: the entire Team Library Dork (Chris, Turi, Dave and I) made it for a reunion run after training as a full group only once this season. AND we were joined by fellow runners (and honorary members) Sarah (who is trying to qualify for Boston in her Biz Johnson Marathon next weekend!), my co-worker at the Carson City Library Abbey (running her first race- a half marathon! Yay Abbey!), and the infamous Gretchen who won the women's Lake Tahoe Marathon just a week ago in 80 degree weather! Thanks SO much for joining us Gretchen, even though you're still getting over the flu! Wouldn't have been the same without'cha. :) And front and center, our leader Hannah Banana. We'd follow her anywhere. From left to right: Gretchen, Dave, Turi, me, Chris, Abbey and Sarah.

Here is pre-race warm up shot:

And some of the best lookin' runners out there! (Excepting that dorky hat on my head, of course).

And Turi and I just before they started us off:

The race started at 9:00, which was good because it gave everyone time to get there in the snow. We started out on a bit of an incline, and I used this as a good excuse to warm up and go slow. Abbey and I ran together chatting back and forth as (my) breath allowed, and soon we found ourselves in a pack thinning out according to pace surrounded by the glory of the morning (thanks Turi for this photo!).

The time and first few miles flew quickly by, and after 45 minutes Abbey reminded me that it was time for a PowerGel. I thought it would be a good idea to walk for a brief minute because they are so thick and need water to get down. That turned out probably not to be the best idea, because my legs decided that they wanted to walk after that, and I lost Abbey around mile 5 or 6. I walked up a really big hill, but jammed back down, and got into a steady pace for the next few miles. Between miles 9 and 11, I started to get really tired, and realized that all the short training sessions on my treadmill with an occasional 7-8 mile trail run on the weekend was not sufficient training for the (granted, not huge) hills or distance of this race. I had a bit of a down moment at mile 11 because I was upset at myself for walking so much- I even forgot to enjoy the scenery because I was watching the trail and my feet. However at mile 12 I told myself to snap out of it- only one mile left, and it turned out to be all downhill. I powered through and ran a good hard last mile, and even passed a few people I'd been playing leap-frog with (I passed them when I ran, they passed me back when I walked- does that say something about my pace or what?). You can see how tired I am at the finish:

I came in last in our group (Abbey kicked my rear by about 10-15 minutes, and again, it was her first race! You rock Abbey!) But a finish is a finish! Dave even tricked me into drinking a sip of his icky beer (I guess it's called Ten Fidy) because I thought it was a Rock Star and could have used the boost. (Thanks again Turi for the photo!)

Here we are sitting around stretching and shivering waiting for awards. Hannah was dancing for us, and her grandma and uncle and mama Abby joined in the fun.

Dave ran the 5k and placed 3rd in his age group! He was awarded a bottle of local wine, complete with a hand painted Kokanee salmon- very cool and unique prize.

While we waited another hour and a half for Chris and Sarah to collect their winnings, they popped open a few bottles for those of us still standing around, and we warmed up a bit with wine in a Gatorade cup. Classic!

Standing and waiting for the sun to come back out, I caught sight of this peak through the trees- make you feel cold just looking at it? Worth it to click on this photo to enlarge it~

Finally they compiled the results for the half, and of course Chris won! Here he is collecting his salmon. Too bad more people didn't stick around to collect their winnings- there were a LOT of bottles and salmon left over, and they weren't just giving them away, as Gretchen and I found out. :) You had to earn those babies!

After a quick consensus, we decided that we weren't ready to part company as a group yet (although Abbey had to head back to her camp to pack up) and headed to The Brewery in South Lake for some excellent pizza (and a $10 glass of wine for me- my thanks to Abby-Chris's wife Abby, not Abbey who works with me- I've turned into a bit of a wine snob, and the inexpensive stuff I used to enjoy doesn't satisfy anymore). The only picture I got was of Turi making laughing at something that cutie-pie Hannah said:

It was a wonderful day spent with friends, and I was glad to be able to run, and partake in food and drink with them! Isn't that part of it- enjoying what we earn? I most certainly did! Thanks everyone for sharing this day with me~ :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Letter to my son: Empathetic Sean

For a paper I recently wrote, I researched the importance of storytelling, and the history of universal human interaction through telling stories. This is what I included in my paper: Jeremy Hsu talks about empathy, and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. “We can attribute mental states- awareness, intent- to another entity. Theory of mind, as this trait is known, is crucial to social interaction and communal living- and to understanding of stories. Children develop theory of mind around age four or five.” (Hsu,"The Secrets of Storytelling: Why we love a good yarn," 2008) To make this point, I’d like to tell you a story about empathy. After reading it, think about how this story affects you on a personal level. Are you able to relate to it because you are familiar with the book involved? Or because you have children that were once small and learning about everything around them, and you are proud to be their parent?

Imagine the story, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (the book jacket is green with a darker green tree, and she is giving the boy a red apple). Do you know what happens in this classic picture book? It’s about a tree, and she loves a little boy. He plays in her branches and eats her apples, and the tree is happy. As the little boy grows, it becomes more and more difficult to make the boy happy. And every time the boy leaves, she is sad. She gives him her leaves, her apples, her branches, and finally her trunk so the boy will be happy. Until, at the end, the boy is a very old man, and all he wants to do is sit. And the tree sits up as straight as she can, and invites him to sit. And they are finally happy, together. I wrote the following letter to my son (I have identical twin boys), and I’d like to share it with you. Imagine me reading it to him. I invite you to read it aloud yourself since I cannot tell this story to you in person.

To my dearest Sean- (July 19, 2006- the twins were not quite 4 years old yet)

Tonight Ashton picked up a random book off the top of the dresser for you both to share, and for me to read to you before bed. It was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I took off the book jacket (as I always do when I read a book- to protect it, which is silly since the jacket is there to protect the book), and we all snuggled down together in Ashton’s bed. I told you the title and author, which you pronounced perfectly, twice. I know that Shel Silverstein is no longer living, but I didn’t think that it would make you very happy if I shared that information with you, so I didn’t. But I did wonder is Shel ever peeks in to listen to a reading or two of his books or poems, kind of watching over his readers. Just a thought I had. So I started reading and you both were very quiet and attentive- and still for once- you are both very wiggly while I read! Every now and then you or Ashe would say, “and the tree was happy,” or “the tree was sad,” (like after the boy cut down her trunk to made a boat and sailed away). After I turned that page, the boy came back after a really long time as a very old man. The tree said, “I’m sorry, Boy, but I have nothing left to give you- my apples are gone.” And I read in my best squeaky old man voice, “’My teeth are too weak for apples,’ said the boy.” And you repeated, “The apples are all gone.” I continued, “My branches are gone…” and this is when you burst out crying, so sad for the tree! It was an immediate and severe reaction, your mouth open as wide as it would go, as your heart overfilled with immense sadness, and released as your instincts told you to. You cried so hard and so loud, and this made my own tears start- not just because it is a very sad story and I cry every time I read it, but because I felt bad that it made you cry. But more so, I was also crying because I was happy, and so so proud of my little son, who is not yet four years old, because he is compassionate enough to cry for the tree and all that she has sacrificed for the one she loved- that he understands the moral and what is happing in the story. This shows how intelligent you are, and I felt so lucky to share this moment with you and cry together. Ashton had backed away at first because of the anguish emanating from you, but then he started crying because it upset him that we were both crying! So we all held on to each other for dear life until the sobs subsided. Then you told me you didn’t like the “green one,” and that the branches were gone and he made a boat with the trunk (“It’s broken!”), and you wouldn’t let me finish the story to show you that it had a good ending. So I promised I’d take the book downstairs and put it back on the shelf. I love you so much my sweet, compassionate, darling son! I read this book to you a few weeks ago, and while I was sniffling though the end, I guessed you weren’t at that this empathy level yet. I immediately went downstairs to write this letter to you so that I wouldn’t forget the emotions we experienced tonight, so that we could share them together later when you were older. By the time I finished writing, you had quietly crept downstairs, crawled into my lap, and asked me to finish the book.

Love, Mommy

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sean & Ashton's 7th Birthday!

My twins are now 7!?! When did that happen? I cannot believe how much they have grown this year- in second grade and firmly asserting their opinion on any and everything. Is this a precursor to their teen years? We celebrated their birthday on Sunday last weekend- a small party with close friends (with children) and family- not like the big ordeal we planned last year. I took too many crunched classes this summer to plan anything big. But as long as we had some other kids over and cake, Sean and Ashton were happy. I'll just let the pictures show you how the afternoon unfolded~

First, the cake! The boys requested this cake special- a chocolate picture cake! Raley's makes pretty tasty cakes too. :)

We had balloons- lots of helpers blowing them up: my mom

Kevin's Mom and Uncle George blowing up balloons:

And the balloon wars that followed

And they posed with their tattoos:

And then came the pinata! First comes the turning and dizzyness (Sean's up!):

And WHACK! Daddy was in control of the rise and fall of the pinata.

Here's Abby:

Next up is Julien,

and cutie-patooti Sofia:


and finally, the blindfold came off so they could actually hit the thing~GO Ellie:

Watch out, Ashton's up!

Dude Sean. Bat much?

Next is CAKE!


Julien being himself~ :)

Ashton, Ellie and Sean~

The boys got a special present from their Aunty Alice, who just started college at Williams in Massachusetts.

The boys went fishing with Grandpa George, and Grandma Crystal caught them on camera with their full load of fish! Talented boys~

Thank you everyone for sharing their special day! (And sorry I got this out so late!)