Generic Title for Generic Update

Any time you finish something you’ve been looking forward to for months, the next question is, “…well, what’s next?”

After I finished the marathon, I wondered what I could possibly focus on next.  I had told one person my marathon time and the next thing I knew, someone I hadn’t even met before was emailing me and asking me to run a 10K in April.  He was positive I could run it in sub-50 minutes; me, not so much. I considered doing it, but decided to pass on the opportunity.  With all the field work I have coming up this month and next, I don’t feel like I’d have the opportunity to train properly for it, especially considering the expectations people have of me now to finish in a certain time.  Plus, I felt like training for something so soon after the marathon would just burn me out from running.

So, what is next?  Work.  Work has been keeping me very busy.  I have field work on and off for the rest of the month.  It’s different field work than I’ve been doing so I’m pretty excited about it.  But it’s also been a little challenging trying to wrap up office work in time for both field work and my little mini-vacation coming up in a couple of weeks.  People are stressed and tensions are running high.

I’m woefully behind on the craft updates.  I’ve been working slowly through some. I’m also way behind in my creativity course but I hope to catch up at some point.

I’m kind of in all the things mode right now. I want to finally finish my SER and apply for my P.E. license, damn it.  I want to start Code Academy.  I want to start going to DIY workshops and learn about tools after a completely frustrating experience I had with a Home Depot employee last week (I actually had to tell him, “I don’t want to be judged for being a woman,” so that should give you an idea of how that conversation was going).  But right now, I just have to get through March; or to my vacation, at least.

Also, I’ve been obsessed with song lately. I don’t know, it’s just a good song.

I should plan on going to sleep. I hate Daylight Savings Time. I just cannot be an adult during the first couple of days after Spring Forward.

I don’t feel like this was a comprehensive update, but whatever.

Marathon Day #2

GUYS!!

My marathon was today.

It was AWESOME.  I PR’d!!!

Jenny split times

I know it is super obnoxious to be like, “LOOK AT MEEEEE” but I just can’t help feeling happy and proud of my time.  I tried to be pretty quiet about it on Facebook but I feel less bad about talking about it on my blog.

I might have mentioned that I did one marathon, the San Antonio Rock N’ Roll, back in November 2011.  I finished that marathon in 4:33.  The temperature crept up into the 80s by mile 17, so it was a brutal race.  I really don’t remember the last 10 miles of that marathon at all, other than going into a survival shuffle and perking up near the end, since I always try to finish strong if I am able.  While that marathon was an amazing experience, I burned out really badly from it and didn’t run very often for the next year and a half.  In 2013, wanting to return to form, I decided to train for a half marathon. I’ve done two since then but felt thirsty for another marathon.

This training season went really well, with your normal moments of doubt like, “Am I training hard/fast/strongly enough?” followed by little injuries creeping here and there (my right shin hurt on and off for the last couple of weeks).  I was terrified to do the Austin marathon.  I live here so I know how hilly the city is, and the half marathon course, which I’ve done twice now, is very hilly (I’d say the half marathoners have the worst hill at the end of their run.  It is so steep that it’s difficult to run up without feeling like an asthmatic.  If that hill had been on the marathon route, I might have just crawled up it).  But it seemed like a challenge and as the weeks went by, I felt more and more ready to do it.  The past several weeks I listened to my running song, “Bridge Burning” by the Foo Fighters, and envisioning myself finishing strong by conquering the last (not-so-steep) hill.

I was incredibly nervous yesterday. I couldn’t sit still, cleaning my entire apartment, and talking with Boyfriend about all my random fears (“WHAT IF I GET FOOD POISONING TODAY?!”) I somehow managed to sleep a little and woke up at 5 am, nervous as hell but ready.  Boyfriend got up with me, drove me to the race area, and hung out with me until the start of the race. Boyfriend is not a morning person, but he always dutifully waits with me before every race, cheerily and without complaint.  Being there with him always makes me feel so much better. He gets about a bajillion boyfriend points for being so awesome.

About a minute before the starting line, I thought, “I can’t believe I’m crazy enough to do this again!” But once I crossed the starting line, I turned on my running song and started.  It’s always a bit emotional to see so many people running, with the crowds cheering you on so much.  I listened to the advice of my dad and my training coach and took the first three miles (which were a slow climb uphill) slowly.  Once we started going downhill, I started going faster and found my groove.

I had three goals for this race.  My baseline goal was beating my San Antonio time.  My “I really really want to PR” goal time was 4:10-4:15.  My “this is probably not even possible, but I can dream, can’t I?” goal time was a sub-four hour marathon.

I passed up the pace group for 4:10 around mile 6 or 7.  I thought, “Well, as long as I can keep it together, I got this.” My experience from San Antonio helped. I had been on track to running about a 4:15 then until the heat completely overwhelmed me.  Keeping this in mind (since the temperature was already creeping into the 60s and getting humid), I reminded myself not to get too carried away with the race and to focus on finding a pace I could sustain for another 20 miles.

Around mile 9 or 10, the course split and the half marathoners went one way, while the marathon runners ran the other.  This part always makes me a little emotional, regardless of which route I take.  I thought, “I’m really doing this! I’m RUNNING A MARATHON!”  I had the dumbest grin on my face.  The half marathoners wished us luck while we encouraged them.  The camaraderie of these races are awesome.

I was feeling pretty good until mile 14 or 15. I knew I would hit a wall then, just because I always hit a wall around that portion of the course during training. It’s in a neighborhood and there’s a very long stretch of just street and houses, so it’s easy to feel discouraged.  In training, I’ve found that I hit a wall in the middle when I still have around 10 miles left to go.  I found a pace that was comfortable and stuck with it.

Around mile 18, I saw my coach on the sidelines, which was awesome. I did a total girly scream when I saw her.  She had oranges, which was equally awesome.  “You guys have too much energy,” one tired runner said as he passed.  I thought, “I DO have energy.”  Seeing my coach and hearing that comment completely turned the race around for me.  From then on, everything turned into one of those extreme advertisements in my head. “Fuck this, I’m strong!  I got this shit!  I’m at Mile 19, I FUCKING GOT THIS.”

At mile 20, I cheered without shame as I passed the marker.  I felt so happy.  I was still feeling really tired but I felt a lot stronger than I had in San Antonio.  I looked at my watch and figured that even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile pace, I would be able to meet my goal.  I was so excited but wanted to stay focused for the rest of the run.

At mile 25, I saw the 4:00 pacer.  In my fantasies pre-race, I would catch up to the 4:00 group and then pass by them to finish a sub-four hour marathon. So when I saw her in real life, I was like, “No fucking way.”  I looked at the time and realized that the pacer was running a little slower and I probably wouldn’t beat 4 hours.  But not like I couldn’t try.  So I kicked it in for that last mile. I bolted up that last hill, listening to my song, feeling so tired and happy as I crossed the finish time, and elated at my time – 4:05!  It wasn’t quite sub-four hour, but it was close.  And it was 28 minutes faster than my San Antonio time.

Envisioning the finish line pre-race always makes me a little emotional, and I really wanted to SHED SOME TEARS, DAMN IT. But I am always way too relieved and happy at the finish to cry.  The closest I came to crying was when a volunteer put the marathon finisher’s medal around my neck.  That was a wonderful moment.

And then my legs really, really, really started hurting. I ran into some running friends and while it was wonderful to see them, it was painful even standing still.

I found Boyfriend near the gear pick-up station and I made the slow, slow, slow walk back to his car.

This afternoon has been pretty chill. I took about a two or three hour nap and my legs feel better. Boyfriend and I ate Thai food. I have been basking in the afterglow of love from my family and friends.

And now…will I do another marathon?
Pre-race, I was determined to take a break from marathon training for at least a year.  Training is so brutal on your body. I just wanted to relax and focus more on “shorter” half-marathons.

But now…I don’t know guys.  I was so close to a sub-four hour marathon. SO. CLOSE.

…I kind of want to train for another one.

I’m going to relax and see what happens. I won’t pressure myself because I don’t want to burn out from running again.  Even if I wait a year to decide to train again, I know I can do it.  For now, I’m going to be completely lazy without any expectations.

The First Update of 2015

HI GUYS.

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I MADE A POST! (You’re supposed to read that to the tune of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.”)

(Am I trying too hard?)

(Sorry).

The last time I blogged, it was…December?  December was a great month. It was, daresay, the best month of the entire year.  Let’s see.  Boyfriend and I went to a show in San Antonio where we were able to meet Devin Townsend and Tobin Abasi (guitarist from Animals as Leaders).  They were really nice.  Boyfriend is the mega fan but I still had fun.  Then several days after that, I had my half marathon.  I ran it maybe 45 seconds slower than the half I ran in February, but it was still a lot of fun.  Then the Friday following my half, Boyfriend and I went to see the Black Keys and St. Vincent.  Not going to lie, I was there for St. Vincent, who was AMAZING.

Then Christmas happened, where I was thoroughly spoiled by all my loved ones. I think my favorite gift was from my brother:

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This tape is Dave Grohl’s solo project that he completed before he joined Nirvana.  My brother was afraid I wouldn’t recognize it when I opened it, but my reaction was “OMG OMG WHAT!?” the minute I opened it.  I still can’t believe I own it.

Boyfriend and I took a wonderful trip to celebrate our third anniverary.  We went to museums in Houston, where we were able to pet sharks and see Monet, Picasso, and Dali paintings up close; to Galveston, where we were able to PET PENGUINS; and NASA.  NASA was so crowded that we weren’t able to do much.

But back to the penguins.  We took a behind the scenes tour of the penguin exhibit, so we were able to see how their food is prepared and where they live.  At the end, the penguin participated in an “enrichment activity” (I am so tickled by that phrase) that involved the penguin stepping in paint and walking over canvas.  Our penguin was named Mo and she was the cutest thing ever.  See for yourself:

I totally bought a Mo original for $10, and it is now hanging on my wall.

As you can imagine, I was not ready to return to work/being an adult.  January was a little bit stressful.  The Site That Will Not Die returned with a vengeance.  I think of that site as a noxious weed; just when you think you’ve exterminated it, it grows stronger with the strength of your tears. I wish I could tell you how awful that site is but I like having a job and not being fired.

Then field work has been postponed twice already.  I was so ready to go out and do it, but I’m glad that we didn’t go; it was so muddy that I would have missed my 21-mile training run, for sure.  Two coworkers are going out next week in my place so I can rest up for the marathon, and I feel SO GUILTY ABOUT IT.  It will be pretty muddy and they will be doing a lot of walking. I’ve been to this site over 20 times now and haven’t missed a groundwater sampling event since 2011.  So I feel like an overprotective mom with this site. My coworkers are awesome and I know the site is in good hands. I just feel so much ownership of the site, for better or for worse, that it feels almost wrong not going.  But it will be nice resting up for the marathon.  It will be even nicer not having to go out afterward, since I will be waddling for probably about a week.

I can’t believe the marathon is ten days away. I’m excited. I’m terrified.  I’m tired. I’ve been training since July and it’s easy for me to go into freak out mode (did I train hard enough? Am I going to do well?) I entered into my first marathon with a happy haze of naivete’.  I’ve obviously never given birth but I liken it to that…you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into until you actually do it.  So as excited as I am for the marathon, I’m also like, “Oh yeah. Miles 17-24 are probably really, really going to suck.”  I ordered a new Foo Fighters shirt and “Bridge Burning” is pretty much my soundtrack for my runs now since I’m getting myself hyped up for it, and just thinking about it now, honestly, is making my heart race with excitement.  I can’t wait.  But I’m so scared.

I think after this race, I’m going to rest with the marathons for a bit.  I find that I enjoy training for half marathons better.  I can still run the distance, which I genuinely enjoy, without killing my body.  Marathon training is tough, and I’m not even running as much as I should (I’m running three times a week). I’m doing well enough on the long runs so I think that the amount I’m running is perfectly okay, and my coach even said that she’s trained for several marathons with that schedule.  Muscles hurt more than they used to though, and my right shin just starts hurting on and off throughout the day now. I’m looking forward to taking a nice, long rest after this marathon, and maybe train for another half during the second half of the year.

We’ll see, we’ll see.

I’ve been keeping busy on the creative front and will have to dedicate an entire post to my efforts.  I’m pretty excited about the year. I have some neat personal projects in the works, and I have some travel opportunities to look forward to (one that may or may not involve watching Dave Grohl play music or two or three hours…) :)  I’ve been getting closer to a group of coworkers, which has been really cathartic, especially regarding the Site That Cannot Be Named.

I will be better about updating this blog. Yes.

It’s Already December WHY

Hello, blog.

To quote the deep poetry of Staind, it’s been awhile.

It’s weird to think that there’s only several more weeks until Christmas.  I’m not entirely sure where this year has gone, but to be honest, I’m not that upset that it’s about done.  (And like, I don’t even remember making a post in October, so there’s that).  It hasn’t been a terrible year, but it’s been a frustrating one in many, many ways.  It taught me a lot about the relationships that I have with people and I feel like I grew up a lot.  But I’m not sure if 2014 is a year that I will reflect upon fondly in years to come. That remains to be seen.

This fall hasn’t been too bad, I suppose, besides the awful report that consumed my soul at work.  I’m getting closer with my coworkers and it makes going to work way more enjoyable.  I’ve really been enjoying my training runs, even if I do not enjoy the slow, creeping signs that I’m not 20 anymore, and that I should stretch every once in awhile, goddamn it.  I’ve been trying to be crafty, too.  I went through a lull where I wasn’t being very productive, but I’ve been able to work on some things.  I’m trying to cross stitch little gifts for family and friends, and I’m probably being way overly ambitious thinking that I can complete them all by Christmas.  It’s actually hilarious how delusional I am about it.

Lately I’ve been working on crochet, slowly working through Marion Mandel’s The New Crochet.  Her book is excellent because it takes the reader step by step through new stitches, and you are able to work on a project afterward learning your new skill.  The projects are very pretty and stylish.

I still have a lot to learn.  I’m not doing any of the swatches before a project so I’ve found that my measurements are a little off.  My first attempts were hilariously awful.  I was supposed to make a hat using the simple slip stitch.  It was supposed to look like this:

Good hat

Le hat.

But I rushed through making it and I soon discovered the circumference of the hat was a little small:

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WOMP.

So after that, I tried making a cowl, but once I finished it, it would not go over my head.  It was too small.

I was sad.  Clearly I was destined to suck at crochet forever.

Finally, I whipped up this cowl during Thanksgiving based on another project in the book.  I had to elongate it a little bit (I really should learn how to do swatches), but behold! It fits! It does not look terrible!

Taking selfies in my mom's guest bathroom, what is UP

Taking selfies in my mom’s guest bathroom, what is UP

I think my South Texan parents, who are used to wearing scarves maybe twice a year, were a little confused by the purpose of a cowl.

I’m working on a scarf next.  I’m having a hard time figuring out where the end of the row is and keep increasing my work unintentionally.

ERGH. CROCHET IS HARD.

I’m still on that lovely Thanksgiving break schedule when I go to sleep at 3 am and wake up at 9:00, which is probably why I’m still awake now.  It’s terrible. I did not want to get back to work today but I kind of need to pay rent and not get fired, so there’s that.  But I’m looking forward to the holidays. And I’m looking forward to next year.  I am planning a really fun trip with Boyfriend and my brother next year, so I’m already super excited about that.

Well.

I guess I should go to sleep or something.

If I blog before the end of the year, I will tell you about my latest obsessions: Mount Everest and when will “Blank Space” and “All About That Bass” ever leave my head?

Night night!

Fall Update

Hello everyone!

It’s been nearly two months since I’ve blogged.  I’ve been busy, but had also been feeling uninspired.  September had been full of frustrations and I just didn’t have a lot of energy to devote to my creative passions.  But October has been kinder to me; I’ve been feeling better lately and working on my crafts again.

I’ve been trying to make the most of my surroundings to satisfy this enormous wanderlust I’ve been feeling lately.  Some trips are definitely planned for the future, but for now, why not enjoy what is in my backyard?  We’ve been taking some bike rides, and enjoyed the Oddball Comedy Fest and ACL.  Fall is my favorite time of year and I have been relishing the coziness and onset of boot weather, even though it’s still in the 80s here in Texas.

We went to the Renaissance Festival yesterday. It was my first time ever attending, and I really enjoyed it. I had to get used to everyone speaking in British accents and saying the price in “pounds” instead of “dollars” (my nerdy brain immediately thought, “Do I have to make the conversion?”)  Boyfriend and I walked around and bought lots of trinkets (I have a weakness for pretty rocks and bird-related items, and bought multitudes of both).  We went to a petting zoo, which I think may have been one of my favorite parts of the festival.  I am pretty sure we were the only adults in the petting zoo without small children.

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Is it weird that I really want a goat?  I heard that they are total jerks but I really want one anyway.

I just got back from a groundwater sampling trip Friday, so I have spent today being completely lazy – reading, crafting, napping, and eating Starburst candy corn.  I read through Lena Dunham’s new book this weekend and really enjoyed it.  I am really looking forward to Amy Poehler’s new book next.  Boyfriend and I also watched the first episode of Sonic Highways, which fills me with hope that the Foos will play a show in Austin whenever that episode premieres.  The Chicago show apparently sold out in minutes, though, so I’m a little worried.  I missed out on an opportunity to see Dave Grohl last year at SXSW, and if I miss out on another chance, I will be sad.  SAD, I TELL YOU.  I haven’t been to a Foos show since 2011 and I have dreams about going to one and it’s pretty embarrassing, but whatever.

I’ve been pretty unfocused with my projects, but have been working through Marion Mandel’s The New Crotchet, with hilariously disastrous results that I will describe in a future post.  I’m also trying to learn how to knit and that is enormously difficult for me.  I even bought one of those small children’s kits and I can’t follow the directions there.  THERE IS NO HOPE FOR ME.

Alright, I will bid you adieu.  Until next time! I promise sooner than two months from now.

Sewing Adventures

Hello everyone!  It’s been a busy month.  There’s a big report due next Friday that has been keeping me on my toes.  I also found out that I have to go out in the field to my site quarterly instead of semiannually.  YAYYYY!!!!!! Environmental sampling in rural south Texas is totally a blast.  This is what I tell myself, at least.

I’ve been trying to find the time to work on my craft projects to keep me sane and happy.  It’s been hard lately trying to focus my attention on one craft project. There’s a long-term cross-stitch project I’ve been working on since May (sigh), and I’m trying to learn how to crochet (crochet is HARD GUYS.  HARD.)

And I got a sewing machine!

I’ve been wanting to sew for a long time. My parents bought me a sewing machine when I was a kid, and I made a dress and sewed little things.  But it was difficult and I wasn’t very motivated to continue learning when threading the sewing machine seemed like an enormous undertaking.

But lately I’ve been regretting not learning to sew when I was younger, so when I received an Amazon gift card as a reward from work, I used it to purchase a Brother sewing machine.  I bought several sewing books and chose a simple pillow project from a Cath Kidston book.  I decided to make a pillow for Boyfriend since I’m more inclined to finish a project if it’s for someone else. I also figured it was the least I could do for him, since I was dragging him along on what must have been a very boring Joann’s trip.

It had been awhile since I’d purchased fabric, so I didn’t remember that fabric is only cut length-wise.  So when I gave the length and width dimensions to the Joann’s employee, she looked incredibly annoyed. In fact, she hardly acknowledged me at all throughout the interaction and when I asked her to cut one more swath of cloth, I thought she was going to murder me.  Thanks for hating your life, nameless Joann’s employee!

When I returned to Joann’s a second time to purchase fabric, a (much nicer) employee explained that she could only cut the fabric length-wise.  I was a little embarrassed at being such a noob, but grateful that she took the time to explain it to me.

After I compiled my materials with most of my dignity intact, it was time to begin!

Here’s how I made the first pillow. Since Boyfriend picked the fabric himself, I dubbed it the Man Pillow.

Cutting the fabric.

Cutting the fabric.

Any seamstress with maybe more than three weeks of sewing experience would have had a conniption fit with the haphazard way I was cutting the fabric.

Pinning the pieces together…

Viola!!

Viola!!

I was quite pleased with the final result and happy that the project was so easy.  Granted, the seams are horrifically crooked and it looks like my pillow is very close to getting a muffin top.  But I let out a laugh of glee when I finished it.   And Boyfriend likes it, so that’s all that matters.

The next pillow I made was for my brother, who challenged me to make him a girly pillow.

I hope this does not disappoint.

I hope this does not disappoint.

I decided I’d make one more pillow before attempting another project, but this one was doomed for the start. I should know better than try and complete projects while I’m tired.  I cut the materials incorrectly and even after an attempt to salvage it, I realized at the VERY END OF THE PROJECT that I had pinned the fabric the incorrect way, so that the wrong side of the fabric was showing.

SO MUCH GRRRRRRR.

SO MUCH GRRRRRRR.

The back looks nice, I guess.

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I decided to use it as a laptop cover.  I still have a pillow that needs a pillowcase, but I think I’m done with pillowcases for now.  Time to advance to the next project! :)

I’m Sorry!

So I spent some time crafting a post, and WordPress lost it.  And the draft wasn’t saved in my drafts folder.

THANKS WORDPRESS.

Anyway, I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since I have posted. I’ve been keeping pretty busy this summer.  Here’s a quick update on what I’ve been up to.

1.  Field Work – The field work in June went as well as could be expected.  It was very humid and since it rained on the first day, we worked long hours (12-14 hour plus).  I was so relieved and happy to be done at the end of the week. Also, I’m not going to give myself a hard time about dreading driving down that hill anymore.  There genuinely isn’t a lot of pivot room so I am kind of forced to drive down the hill more parallel to it than perpendicular; I genuinely felt like my truck was going to tip over.

2.  Work – Work has been keeping me very busy. It’s been stressful at times, but I like what I do and have learned a lot.  It could be a lot worse.

3.  Down Time – In my downtime, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and crafting.  Last month, Boyfriend and I took a day trip to see some friends. We spent all day relaxing near a swimming hole. I had never seen anything so pristine and beautiful!  I also faced a lifelong fear of deep water by swimming across it (it was about 40 – 60 feet deep).  I didn’t have the energy or gumption to swim back (I kept near the shore this time around), but it felt good to face my fears head-on.

Swimming hole

4.  (Briefly) Meeting Famous People – Last month, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton came to my city for a book signing.  My coworker and I very eagerly stood in line for two hours; the line outside the bookstore encompassed several blocks!

Once we made it inside the bookstore, we were frisked and led upstairs to the signing room. There were Secret Service EVERYWHERE in the signing room, which was very intimating.  We’d been told we were not going to be allowed to take pictures, but a bookstore employee allowed us to take a picture from the back of the signing room line, as long as we kept the line moving.

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Once we got to the front of the line, we were able to shake Mrs. Clinton’s hand and exchange a few words, and receive a copy of our signed book. Mrs. Clinton was very gracious and I told her it was an honor to meet her (she has a great handshake, of course).  It was a very surreal moment – it’s like when you eagerly anticipated graduating, and the walk across the stage was over in ten seconds.

5. Turning 30!  I turned 30 this month.  I was mostly ready for it, besides a couple of “Oh God, what have I done with my life?!” moments. It didn’t really hit until I blew out the candles on my cake.

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Overall, it was a great day spent with friends and family.  I look forward to this decade with optimism; age is just a number, right? I was ready to leave my 20s behind, anyway.  For my birthday, Boyfriend got me these really incredible personal gifts, and my parents got me birthday money that I promptly put into savings. Haha, just kidding, I put it towards the Wii U that I bought with Boyfriend.

6. Half Marathon Training – I started training this month.  I can’t say I’m excited to wake up early on Saturday mornings again, but it feels wonderful to be out there once I start running. I’m pretty excited about training season this year.

Well, that’s about it.  In terms of the blog, I am going to start focusing more on what inspires me creatively, which is crafting right now. I’ve tried to blog “old school,” where I just ramble about whatever happened in my day or vent, but it just doesn’t appeal to me anymore; I have a good network of people I can vent to now, whereas back then, I didn’t.  I’ll still update when there’s something “noteworthy” going on (take with a grain of salt, since I’m pretty settled into my grandma routine), but otherwise want to start focusing this blog on creative pursuits that I am passionate about. I hope you still stick around! I promise to try and make it fun.

I’ll talk to you all soon. Until then, have a great week!