Monday, April 20, 2015

It doesn't look like much

But it's a LONG way from St. John's Wood to Battersea Park and back. The rest of the running club ran 10 to Greenford via the Canal, but since I didn't have that "I know where the public toilets are" peace of mind, and this was an important run for me, I elected a route I've done before. The first time I did it, though, I only went 9 miles, then bussed the remainder back home. This time...I did the whole enchilada and I'm completely thrilled beyond words. And my calves ARE SO SORE.

Two days after this run, on March 11, I massacred something in my hip (it was my glute medius tendon at my hip joint) after only 3 miles and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was devastated! The first two weeks I couldn't walk without a cane. The next two weeks-ish that followed was an enjoyable and relaxing tour through Denmark and Norway with my brother and his family. There was a lot of relaxing, self-massage, and kinesiology tape involved. Fortunately for me, The Nieces walk slowly so I was saved the embarrassment of being THE slowest one. I was only the slowest some of the time. That trip is a whole post on it's own to come. At any rate, then I came back and started a tiny bit of running and met with a doc and had an MRI done to make sure there wasn't a stress fracture. He injected the tendons with corticosteroid last Friday and I tried to take it easy over the weekend. That stuff stings.

I'm absolutely terrified of going too far too soon, which is probably the thing that got me in trouble in the first place. I had doubled my weekly mileage, quickly, instead of going with a slow steady increase. The urge to "keep up with the gang" is strong. I also didn't allow myself enough rest.

This is now a running reboot, and today I did 3 miles without pain using Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run approach. So far, so good. Will I be able to do the Hackney half-marathon next month, which I paid for the day of my wonderful 10-miler? To be completely honest, probably not. Right now, ten more miles of this morning's run - without pain - doesn't seem possible. There's always the Royal Parks Half this autumn, for which I will shortly be begging for donations. It's a lot further off, and offers enough time to do the slow steady increase I need.

In other news, I made that ivory warp my bitch.

I know that sentence only makes sense to a weaver, but I stand by it. I measured out 12 yards of warp using miscellaneous natural-colored natural fibers from stash, then tied it on to the previous honeycomb-threaded warp, got the little knots through the heddles with less breakage than anticipated, and started winding the little bugger onto the warp beam. I got several yards on before I gave up on that insanity. Kerry's first warp was 12 yds. It, too, was insanity. I was there for it and I don't know how she did it. Also, I ran out of packing sticks.

This warp turned out to be fiddly in a way that I loathe. I did the weaving in this image before my hip went wonky. After the wonky, I had to reduce my weaving to more plain weave so I could use one leg (right) on the two plain weave treadles. The first section is approximately 20 inches. The next section is also about 20 inches, but I included some weft inlay for fun. But that's not the fiddly part. The fiddly part is having my warp threads break so regularly!! The warp beam is so decorated with cones it looks like a Christmas tree. If I only have fifteen minutes to weave, I don't want to spend five of it messing with broken warp threads. I've decided on the use for this warp, though, and it's to be a gift so I can't show anymore of it. 

I also used some mill ends that are lovely in a weft but complete rubbish as warp. Very breaky-breaky. I also used a bit of Lopi which would be beautiful in a weft but it's just not strong enough for warp, and it frays like crazy. My plan all along had been for a rustic monochrome weave and to use up odds and ends that have been in the stash for some time, and I've succeeded. It's rustic. It's monochrome. I used odds and ends. It will make lovely whatchamacallits (I'm not saying). I think I'm the "get it on the loom and go" type of weaver, though. The inlays are fun and pretty, just little random blocks of colors, but they slow things down a great deal. 

I know what is going onto the loom next and I think I'll start measuring it out this week. Mwahaha. Another secret!

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Can We Be Frank?

(Yes, and don't call me Frank.)
(Yes, it's not perfect but I had to do it.)
(Also, fair warning: topic is about gross and disgusting things today, like poop)

There is something that I never hear other runners talk about in polite company, but many of us (and especially those of us with digestive disorders) have experienced: running-induced gastrointestinal distress. Diarrhoea, as it is spelled here in Sunny England. By the way, this is where you should either stop reading or carry on at your own risk. 

Some of my running pals have probably dealt with it at one time or another. We don't really discuss it. I carry a small pack of anti-diarrhoeal on every run, especially runs greater than 6 miles. Just in case. Primarily for myself but I'm happy to share if anyone else should find themselves in a pickle, because I know what it's like. If I get hit, however, I'm sidelined until the anti-diarrhoeal du jour kicks in. For me that's about 90 - 120 minutes. Most recently this happened on a hill run and I camped out at the O2 "mall" on Finchley Road for almost two hours before I was able to finish the run. 

IBS-related diarrhoea is another story altogether. I can usually tell shortly after my first sip of coffee in the morning if I'm going to have an issue during the first few miles of my run - or before. Once or twice I've been surprised, but most of the time my gut lets me know. No two IBS sufferers are alike: coffee doesn't bother my gut. 

For me, running-induced diarrhoea is compounded by IBS, and it's more likely to occur if I've eaten something questionable within 24 hrs of the run. There is generally a small window of opportunity if I'm going to be nutritionally naughty - by which I mean, for example, eating anything with yeast, grains, or chocolate. On the other hand, I'm not bothered by my gels which contain a small amount of cocoa. There are certain combinations of foods that I've just discovered my gut doesn't prefer. Eggs + Xylitol are a problem. 

These days I do have the luxury of waiting it out. No job to get to (yet), and today no appointments. It's a game of trial and error. I've landed on a nutritional approach that seems to work for me 90% of the time although I think I need to tweak it again. I know where most of the clean public bathrooms are on my run routes. Today was supposed to be a track run and fartleks in Regent's Park. It still can be and I'll tackle it on my own because my gut just wasn't ready when the club run was scheduled this morning.

Maybe now it's safe to leave the flat...


UPDATE on the presentation for Company Not Named: they elected to go with someone else. There were eight (!!!) people in that presentation, not including myself, and the feedback I received from the recruiter was that the majority felt my perspective was too "big business." I just shake my head. Fine. There were two red flags that popped up that day in the prep meeting with COO and HR.

  • Red Flag 1:  The focus of the role would not in fact be the integration of the three software platforms they'd been talking about throughout the interview processes, but basic management software and platforms internally. Wait, whaaaaat? I had prepped myself for a month on the former! 
  • Red Flag 2: The COO had not briefed the folks in the room about the scope of the role, which kept getting bigger and bigger. Tieing up eight high level people to be on a panel interview for an hour without briefing them IN ADVANCE on the scope of the role, and giving them a chance to ask questions of the COO themselves, is a huge miss and a waste of everyone's time, including mine.  
I have mixed feelings about not getting this job but it was probably a good thing they thought I didn't have enough small business perspective. But dammit. Lessons learned. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

What does pork smell like?

Well, not much, turns out. Not ground pork, anyhow. No wonder there are mass quantities of seasonings in the meatloaf cooking away in the oven. Pork mince (in Brit parlance). Onions. Shrooms. With bacon on top.

Ah. Bacon. Bacon. A perfect food. Everything is better with bacon. I get Homer Simpson-drool going on when bacon is cooking. Today I put "lashings" of bacon on top of ground pork meatloaf or, as Nom Nom Paleo calls it, Super Porktastic Bacon-topped Spinach & Mushroom Meatloaf. Fun blog, awesome recipes, and oh damn I forgot the nutmeg. 

Crap, I forgot to add the nutmeg! I can't even blame my martini for that miss because that happened waaaay back before noon. And it's now waaaay past noon. Shoot. Well, probably it'll be okay without it. 

"Lashings." I don't really even know what that is but it is also a decidedly Brit word which seems to indicate some kind of schmear of something, or stripes or strips of something. On my meatloaf I have strips of bacon across the top, which I think qualifies as "lashings of bacon." Meh. 

I might forever associate this meatloaf with writing a presentation on what I can do for Company Not Named. Next week I am to do a panel interview (as in, the subject is ME and the panel is several of the company execs) in presentation (PowerPoint) mode. I'm not particularly thrilled and I'm totally anxious and the presentation isn't done and I'm pretty sure I've completely overthought this and I have one day to rework it before we go out of town. I want it DONE by the time we get on the train. So. Ugh. I keep asking myself "how badly do I want THIS specific job?" It happens that I'm a pretty good fit. But if, after all this, I don't actually GET the job, "do I want to bother continuing to look?" The first interview as January 14. Start date is April 1. 

So, pork smells like my presentation to Company Not Named. 

As Kerry says: le sigh. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Mo' Running

Yes, it has been some time since I posted, and I'm not going to make excuses. I'm just gonna jump right in to it. Can I keep it up? Maybe, maybe not, we'll see.

Mo' running, mo' running, mo' running. I'm up to about 20 miles per week. It's an astonishing milestone for me and one of which I'm incredibly proud. It feels good. Feels right. Feels like I could tack on a few more miles on a 4th day, especially if I'm mindful about massaging my achy calves after the Friday hill run with the running club

Speaking of the running club, I owe all my miles to them. I don't have words for how grateful I am for their support and encouragement. Many of the women are training for a half-marathon in April, in Italy. Groovy! I'm going to a half-marathon a few weeks later, closer to home, and decided to train alongside because, hey, it's a PLAN. I like a plan. Plus, I'm six months overdue for a half-marathon because of the move across the pond and not getting to run in the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach Half. 

I'm anxious that once I'm working again I won't be able to allocate as much time to running as I have been for the past two months. I'd like to say "I'll deal with that when the time comes" but those who know me know that I just can't let it go at that. I have to have a PLAN! At least the outline of a plan, at any rate. 

Yesterday morning on the aforementioned Friday hill run, the lovely woman I was running alongside wondered aloud how it was that some people ran so much faster. Mentally, I dug deep into the all the reading I'd done but I couldn't come up with a ready answer. Mostly because we're all built differently, we all have different levels of cardio fitness. One thing I remember reading from Matt Fitzgerald's writing is that, among other things, distance can improve a runner's speed over time. I'm certainly proof of that! I ran my first 10k, last May 2014, at a 14:00 min pace. With no effort at increasing my speed but just increasing my distance over the last year, I ran a recent 10k this month at a 12:00 min pace. However, I was reminded this morning during some bathroom reading that aerobic fitness is another key component, and I think the two are intrinsically linked. As I am running I'm building aerobic strength. Yay! 

from "The Little Red Book of Running" by Scott Adams

So, this is one answer from one author to that question. I can accept that. I think this is the same guy who wrote that some runs aren't perfect. Accept it and move on to the next run.

Cheers, y'all!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Little Things. For example, laundry.

Wake up. Walk five feet to the toilet. Backtrack two feet to the kitchen doorway and take three steps in. Stand in one place and pivot back and forth between the sink, counter, and electric kettle to make hot water for the coffee. Step sideways two feet to the washing machine and remove the load of whites. Do a left face and walk ten paces to the first radiator in the flat and begin hanging clothes on every vertical surface available. The size of the laundry load is in direct proportion to how much space you have to lay out damp laundry. Forget about washing machine capacity. 

And so begins life in a 560 square foot London flat. It’s slightly larger than the apartment we had in NYC two summers ago. We had a washer and a dryer in NYC. We have a washer in London. No dryer. What is up with that? Something about nowhere to vent, but…I think it’s just weird.

We’re fortunate to have arrived before most other new teaching staff, as we got early picks on items donated by families and staff returning to America. So things like mixer, blender, juicer, mini-stereo, electric tea kettle, microwave…all obtained. Part two of being fortunate is that we found a flat just a seven minute walk away from the school so carrying all those things to the flat, over four trips, wasn’t so terrible. Not even in 85 degree sunshine. Sunny London!

The weather, by the way, has been lovely. It'll be a shock when the days go short (they are soooo long right now, still perfectly light almost until 9:30pm) and grey. I'm hoping it'll happen gradually. I'm told that the lovely cooling breeze will turn into a cold howling wind. I have just the running gear for that. 

Everyone who drives does so like a maniac. Mario cart. They honk at you before they attempt to run you down, though, so there’s that. 

The public transportation is both outstanding and frustrating. Everything is handled by the Oyster card, incredibly convenient. This is your "get everywhere tap in/tap out" card that you load. Like a Starbucks card but more confusing. A bus trip or a tube ride isn’t just £2.20. There’s some kind of daily-cap-logic-depending-on-where-you-start-and-end-at-the-end-of-a-24-hr-period algorithm that I think I won’t ever understand. We have an extra Oyster card for guests because you really can’t get anywhere meaningful without one - those days where you’ve walked your shoes off and just want to sit. It’s not difficult to spend £20 a week on this. 

In our effort to minimise expenses, we walk. We walk a great deal. Five or more miles a day. And we check our Oyster balance daily.  
Kent, at the Tate Modern

Tomorrow, our high speed internet connection is activated. Weeeeee! In the meantime, there are a ton of BT wifi hotspots that we’ve been able to attach to (because we signed up with BT) and conveniently a few near the flat. Not consistently, mind you - it doesn’t take the place of a good reliable router - but it gets us by. In four days our personal belongings will descend upon the flat and we’ll spend the next year figuring out Where To Put Stuff, and all those articles on Apartment Therapy will make more sense. This is good, too, because I need a drying rack or four, and two of them are in that shipment. See above issue with the lack of dryer.

We are five hours ahead of the US East Coast, eight hours ahead of the US West Coast, you can do the math for everything in between. And yes, they move the clock ahead for British Summer Time (BST). Oh the things we're learning. 

p.s. - the visa was finally approved and finally made it into my hands. yay! I can make money in the UK! If only I had a job... 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A New Chapter, Part 2: Departure

The last post was in February. It's June now, the house has been fixed up, put on the market, and there is lots of activity but no offer yet. We remain hopeful that we'll get an offer before the next mortgage payment. I really do not want to make that mortgage payment. 
Today the movers come. 

I write that sentence then find I have to take a big breath. It's been an incredibly busy and stressful four months. We have said goodbye to so many THINGS. Yes. Americans in particular are very attached to their Things,  but I think non-Americans experience that attachment too. I'm not a sociologist or anything but my guess is that it's strongly related to the commercialism that comes with being a first world country. Throughout our lives we're fed a steady stream of images equating objects, and the acquisition of objects, with self-worth, who we are, and how we exist. Two big yard sales put that into pinpoint perspective. It's hard to shed that and the objects that we've accumulated. At one point I complained that I didn't like putting a price on my life. And we've continued to get rid of things in the house because it becomes a problem compounded (and calculated) by shipping by weight. Thank goodness fiber doesn't weigh that much.

Our mantra has been that of Charlie Crews: "I am not my car." 

We've also sent our dogs, Tasha and Maggie, to live in Maine with our eldest son and his girlfriend. I know they'll like the cooler weather. Maggie will, anyway. These two dogs have lived with us for 14 years and it has been so difficult to watch them leave. I wasn't sure I could do it. We could have taken them with us, and were in the process of doing so (there's no longer an automatic quarantine rule). But as time ticked by we realized that there was travel we wanted to do and allowing the dogs to live in a steady stable environment was better for them than our need to have them with us. Our lives will be less complicated for it, and in some years when the urge to spontaneously run off to France or Scotland or Wales or Germany or the English countryside for the weekend abates we'll look at getting new dogs again. In the meantime, we need to find an outlet for our need to communicate with dogs. Dog sit for friends. Run with a neighbor's dog. I'll try not to let it feel like a betrayal!

It's been Christmas in June for a few friends - fancy vinegars and furniture to Linnea & Matt, small appliances to Nick & Heather, MANY workshop tools to the robotics team at Norview High School, furniture for Kerry, bartering deals with Cheryl. Kent has become the CL Whisperer. Whatever he puts on there sells fast. It's amazing. Neighbors scored well at our two yard sales. I'm happy all these things made it to good homes, and a few thrift stores have benefited from our remaining cast-offs. 

Tonight we'll drive up to DC and spend a couple days there, then it's on to Baltimore for another few days before we fly out. The Baltimore leg was an unexpected addition but it's been a long time since we've seen the Inner Harbor, so we'll enjoy it because we can. 

I'm feeling quiet and a little sad, but today is another day when I cannot let myself feel too emotional because: movers. Therefore, I must see to the business at hand and keep my head. Stiff upper lip, etc. Keep calm and carry on...after I have my coffee! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A New Chapter

After 20 years in Norfolk, it is time for us to move on.

If not for recent events, we'd probably just stay put.

It really wasn't intentional. We're lazy, we hate moving. Loathe it, frankly. That's why we've been in Norfolk for twenty years. Well, one reason anyway. The boys have fled the nest and are happily living on their own, creating their own adult lives. That doesn't mean we don't love them like crazy. We do!! And with any luck and planning we'll be able to help them come visit us in our new adventure.


Over a mere three week period our lives were dramatically changed. One morning shortly after New Years Day, as he was heading out the door to work, he said  "there's this opening at the American School in London and it had my name all over it. I'm going to apply for it. Okay?" And I kissed him and said "Sure!" Because why not? Life can get a little boring if you always keep the door closed.

Three weeks and three interviews later we're staring down the barrel of an overseas move and ogling properties online in London. It's a little more expensive than Norfolk. After a few estimates we've contracted with an international moving company. I have the PETS Scheme list of bringing pets into the UK and the dogs have started their treatment procedures so they won't have to sit in quarantine in the UK. DH has renewed his passport, his new employer is arranging our work visas, and I have to find a new position with the bank or another company. Our first BIG porch/yard/estate sale is scheduled for the weekend of March 1 & 2. Nearly all the furniture and a great deal of our small appliances will be up for sale. A ton of books, some china, DVDs, a spinning wheel, looms (Bam Bam, the Tools of the Trade loom, and the table loom). I've arranged a trade for the Macomber loom for a smaller loom that I can ship with us. It's a good arrangement that me and the other party are very happy with. We'll be talking with a real estate agent tomorrow.

Saying we're excited, anxious, and slightly overwhelmed is an understatement. The paring down process is especially hard. Letting go of things we've collected that we think, rightly or wrongly, define us. They don't, really, but represent moments in life, and we have to look at our things, our stuff, and pick the moments that are REALLY moments, and not just...stuff. That, and The Stash :)

A new chapter begins in London in late June. Yehaw!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Dental work meets Greek yogurt

Bone grafts. 

The words make me shiver for that is what I had done in my mouth a week ago yesterday. I am a big pain wimp, Dr K., so thank you for the vicodin. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it through the weekend without it. I only had enough for four days, but made a difference. 

Cold food was wonderful. Cold SOFT food even better because I don't have to chew it and drive my gums into pain. After all the protective clay came out, though, cold food is now evil unless I very carefully guide it away from the most sensitive spots. Hot liquids=good. Cold liquids=bad. This entire week has revolved around what I can and cannot eat and the progress between the two. It's still mostly soft foods, though.

Because my diet had to be so limited (e.g., boring) I decided that I would include some of Kent's Greek yogurt (we buy plain Fage Total) with the amazing unsweetened applesauce I found at one of our local grocers. It was risky because dairy is not my friend and I always steer clear of it. 

Guess what? No problems with the dairy! None!! No intestinal upset. know...runs. If I'm really sensitive to something it'll get right past the Imodium. This did not. Therefore, I have resolved to include strained yogurt back into my diet.

YAY! I love yogurt. I hated not having it. And this is a really lovely thing to have discovered in the midst of this pain in my face. For which I'm still taking massive quantities of Motrin because I'm a great big pain wimp. The dull thudding ache is as bad as the other post surgery pain.