Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome, Shay

I can't believe it. My best friend is having a baby.... right now, as I type, she is in the hospital, in labor. All I can do is pace around and wring my hands.

See Amy's blog for updates....

And if you want to help, click here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I have not abandoned the blog; its just been a while since I took the time to write. Bad luck from breaking the mirror doesn’t seem to be following me: Rob got home safely after having a great trip to California, and I have continued marathon training and pursuing the PhD.

We’re currently knee-deep in family Thanksgiving fun time, which is taking us to 3 different states and lasting more than a week. We started out the odyssey last Saturday with a brunch at Rob’s parents’ house (actually for numerous family birthdays rather than Thanksgiving) and then on Sunday Rob and I went up to Chicago, where Rob did his first ever cyclo-cross race. Rob’s most recent bike purchase (that I know of) is a cyclo-cross bike—which is a bike that is pretty much a road bike with knobby tires. Its designed for use on rugged conditions, like trails, etc. The cyclo-cross race we went to on Sunday was on a trail that had various obstacles set up, including barriers to jump over (as in, get off the bike, pick it up, and run) and a sand pit. Cousin Scott (a cycling aficionado himself) drove down to meet us and watch the race. Despite the seemingly arctic temperatures (I had on about 10 layers of clothing and was still shivering), it was a lot of fun. Once the race started, Scott and I were running around the course to cheer on Rob and take pictures. Rob was doing really great until maybe his second or third loop when he had some trouble traversing the sand pit. I won’t get into the gory details here; let it suffice to say, he suffered a minor injury and ended up not finishing the race, but everything is a-ok now. After a bit of recovery, we went with Scott to the world’s only vegan fast-food restaurant to refuel. Then it was on to the Rockford-area, where we stayed with my sister!

Pre-race practice ride

And they're off!

The first barrier: check out that vertical leap.

The dreaded quick-sand

I was really happy to see my sister, her husband, and of course my little nephew—10 months old. Little Logan is so busy now. He is crawling around all over the place now and he also enjoys standing and wobbling bipedally. He grins and giggles at everything, and he just loves to play and play. I spent most of the day Monday playing with Logan, but I did get a little bit of work done while he was napping.

On Tuesday I became the Visiting Lecturer, and I went up to give a talk at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. At some point during the year that I was on Ometepe, I met a UWSP professor who was visiting the island, and he had asked if I would ever be interested in coming up to give a lecture in Wisconsin. Of course I said yes and then kind of forgot about it until he contacted me again this fall to work out a time that I could come up. Luckily, my sister lives about halfway between Urbana and Stevens Point, so I could combine the trip with some family fun time as well. The week of Thanksgiving was about the only time it worked out for me—the U of I students are on break, so I don’t have to be on campus, but the UWSP students still have class.

So I got up very early on Tuesday morning, put on my Lecture Pants (long story, former Anth 102 TA’s will know), and set off for Stevens Point. The lecture itself was not so worrisome to me: I could talk about howler monkeys in my sleep (and I probably do). The only thing I was a little bit worried about was driving up there. To let the truth be known, I absolutely hate driving and I always have. I especially hate driving because I have absolutely no sense of direction and it is very easy for me to get completely turned around and have no idea where I am. But it all ended up just fine. The only thing even remotely scary was driving through Madison during rush hour, and even that was a piece of cake. I arrived in Stevens Point with plenty of time and I gave my talk to a decently-packed lecture hall of about 50 people. It ended up being a great experience because it forced me to sit down and work with my data, coming up with something definitive to say about my year on Ometepe. And presenting it during a talk at Stevens Point was much more non-threatening than presenting these findings to my committee—which I’ll have to do anyway—but at least this gave me a practice run.

When I was done being the Visiting Lecturer, I headed back to my sister’s place. My parents had also come up to Michelle’s during the day on Tuesday so that we could have a bit of a family reunion there. It was really nice to have some time with the fam; in fact, Rob and I stayed around for most of the day on Wednesday too. Auntie M always gets a little bit weepy when it is time to leave little Logan, but this time wasn’t nearly as bad as last April when we were going back to Nicaragua and I knew it would be months and months before I saw him again.

Catch him if you can

The flamily

Now its on to the next phase of our Thanksgiving Odyssey: the actual Thanksgiving Dinner today at Nana and Grampy’s. I’d better get going; have got to run 5 miles this morning and then make some hors d’oeuvres to take over this afternoon. I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 9, 2007

As luck would have it

For years I refused to own a full-length mirror; in fact, I considered writing my memoirs and entitling them A House With No Mirrors. Well, after we moved into our new house, I broke down and bought a full-length mirror. It was nice to have, because the bathroom mirror only affords me a view from the neck up. Occasionally before going out in public, it is nice to know if my outfit matches.

This morning I noticed that the mirror looked a little filmy, so I decided to clean it. Now, I should point out that Rob and I never actually got around to finding a place to hang up the mirror: its just been sitting propped up against the wall. Anyway, I set about cleaning the mirror, and as I walked away, I heard a spectacular crash. Yes, it had fallen to the floor and shattered into a million pieces. I began the task of cleaning it up and thought grimly, well at least I’m not superstitious—otherwise I’d have 7 years of bad luck ahead of me.

As I reflected on the fact that I am not superstitious, I couldn’t help but recall Scooby’s death—which occurred on a Friday the Thirteenth. And then all of a sudden I remembered that while I was running last night, a black cat had darted out and crossed my path. Yikes. It looks like I’m in for it.

I’m now wondering if there is something I can do to possibly distill all this impending bad luck. Like throw salt over my shoulder? Or is that for something else? At any rate, I thought I’d write about it because if nothing else, maybe all this makes for a mildly amusing story.

In other news, I had an email from Leda today who filled me in on all the happenings on Ometepe. I hadn't heard from Eduardo in a while, so I'd asked her how he was doing. She assured me that he was fine and very busy studying English as always. No word on Wrinkle Belly though; I can only assume he's gearing up for the season of flowers.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Things NOT to do before (and during) a 17-mile run

--Do not go to a cocktail party the night before.
--Do not go to said cocktail party on bike*
--On the night before the training run, do not have a light dinner of cereal and soymilk.
--Do not go to bed at 11:30pm and then wake up at 4am to take your husband to the airport **
--After returning from the airport, do not try unsuccessfully to go back to sleep (being unsuccessful because you are too cold).
--Do not eat cereal and soymilk for breakfast, because that will only make you colder.
--Do not drink coffee to warm yourself up, because that will power you to attempt to analyze your data for 4 hours.
--Do not sit there analyzing your data until lunchtime and then decide to go run 17 miles instead of eating lunch.
--Do not attempt to make up for lack of lunch by eating a large quantity of dried mangos, and then heading out the door for the 17 mile run.
--Do not start out running 8:00 miles; it might feel great at the beginning, but by the end you will be shuffling along at 11 minute pace.
--Do not veer wildly off course and speed up maniacally at mile 5-ish because you saw your dissertation advisor out on his bike and you don’t want him to see you for two reasons:
1) You are wearing spandex running capris
2) He will think that you should be working on your dissertation instead of running.
--Do not run on Mattis, even if its only from John to University.
--Do not go without Gatorade and also decide that you do not need Clif Shots (carbohydrate/electrolyte replacement).
--Do not do the whole run on just 20 ounces of water.
--Do not mis-judge the distance and actually end up going 17.4.

*Only the Ragfields would show up at a black-tie event on their tandem bike.
** Note: The alarm clock didn’t go off until 4:45, but I woke up a full 45 minutes before.

In spite of doing all these things, I had a really great 17 mile training run today. For my first couple of marathons, I was really persnickety about preparing for the weekly long runs, but this time I have been nothing short of blasé. A few weeks ago I had a really tough 12-miler, but doing 17 miles today was totally a piece of cake. I couldn’t believe it, especially considering that I started out the run kind of hungry and already dehydrated. There was a little bit of gnawing around mile 4.5, but I thought, this is way too early to chug my Clif Shot. I wanted to wait until I was at least halfway into the run to slurp those precious carbs and electrolytes, but once the gnawing passed, I never felt the need for it again.

When I got home, I turned on the TV and found a channel that was showing some of the highlights from today’s New York City Marathon. Even though I had thought I was pretty tired, I somehow found the energy to jump up and down, screaming, “Go, Paula, go!” as Paula Radcliffe tore through the last couple of miles. When she crossed the finish line in first place, I was sobbing in hysteric joy; I had no idea I was such a Paula Radcliffe fan—maybe it was just the endorphins.

At any rate, it sounds like Rob had a much more eventful day than me, including: Cinnabon at O’Hare, a bike ride through Golden Gate Park, a visit to the ocean, and seeing the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge and bay. Though I never like it when he is gone, I am thrilled for him. From his email snippets, it sounds like he is having such a great time. I hope that somehow in the midst of all these bike rides he’s got planned, that he does actually find the time to go to the workshop he’s supposed to be attending this week. I will be lonely without him, but I’m keeping my spirits up with big plans to cook with things he doesn’t really like but I do, such as mushrooms and sweet potatoes.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading.