Ramblings · Running · Travel

Getting Lucky in Chicago

This past Christmas, Jeremy had come up with a clever and awesome gift for me: race entry to a 14k and a weekend trip in Chicago with our friends! He plotted with some of our friends from Albany and DC, and our recently transplanted friends in Chicago, and found a good race weekend.

It’s funny, with all the weird winter weather, we just happened to pick the weekend where Chicago decided to act normally for winter. I think the week before we arrived the weather had been in the 60s. Unfortunately we got a good taste of the wind and cold. But we made the best of it, as you do with good friends, beer, and a really really really cold race.

Before racing we made a very important venture to the Lagunitas brewery. WOW. Talk about an adventure. We had so much fun. Plus, the food and beer was great.

The Get Lucky race was an experience. We all hit up Macy’s the night before to buy any additional warm things our bodies could bear. It was FREEZING. We huddled around waiting for the race to start being goofy and staying in the best spirits we could.

When we started, Jeremy and Eric were running half marathon and took off. Corey was running as well but wanted to pace with me for his first half (my 14k turn around point was about 4.2 miles). It was nice to push myself, and we found ourselves warming up as we ran out on the lake. THIS WAS A MISTAKE.

As I said goodbye to Corey and turned around to head back, I was met with a strong and angry head wind off the water. It was so powerful at times I wasn’t sure I could keep pushing forward. Near the finish line I was certain I couldn’t feel my fingers. All that warming up on the first half unfortunately lent itself to providing a ton of sweat to freeze on the way back.

Once I finished I waited around and looked for everyone else. Jeremy finished and was dying since there were no Gu packets at the aid stations as promised. We went on a pretzel hunt and once everyone finished we very much made a quick escape back to our Airbnb.

I took a warm shower and then put on my winter coat and got into bed. I’m not sure when I really truly felt warm again, but it took a while. It was a really fun race, but I seem to have trouble finding races that aren’t extremes on the weather front. (See: 10 mile race in 80 degree heat and 90 degree humidity)

We did end on a very high note: visiting Goose Island brewery! Plus, it happened to be March 12, or 312 Day in Goose Island land. We got free t-shirts and tasty beer before heading to the airport (and snagging seats on an earlier flight home at the last second!).

Cat Lady · Ramblings

Cookie of Death

I saw it.

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I mean, first I saw the box. The human came home with several boxes. They all displayed some kind of shape, mostly round, but there seemed to be different colors. I guess they have distinct importance, but I can’t tell.

This human, well, I should say my human, she really cares about these boxes. But I think they stress her out. She keeps opening and closing them. I’m hanging out on the couch or whatever, being like, “hello, I could totally play with a string right now, you know, if someone was motivated to move it,” but of course my concerns aren’t heard.

I went down the hall to the front door. Just decided to yell for a bit. Of course my human then yells back, but what’s the point, you know? She’s just thinking she can out-yell me or something. I want more than yelling. I want to play! But at some point I cave and come back around to the living room.

That’s when I see it.

The mostly colorless round circle on the coffee table. (Sure, I know what a coffee table is. Fuck you guys!) Anyway. This round circle is the giving me the eye. Like, it really is not cool.

So I go for it. I scout around it, and then I dive in, one paw at a time. I tag it, to get it moving. Then I try to drag it closer. Once I get a solid hold I tip it off the table. SUCCESS!

I win! I win! I win!

Wait… what the fuck is this? It’s like cardboard. Or… sawdust?

Anyway. Lame.

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But I still win.

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And I will wait for my next moment.

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Running

10 mile achievement: unlocked

Pre-race excitement

This weekend I ran my first 10-mile race! In many ways, it was a huge success (I finished! We supported furry friends! Jeremy won beer!).

The Jest Run was put on by Weyerbacher Brewing and the proceeds supported local animal rescues and organizations.

Feeling good early on

My training for this race had been pretty great overall, even with the heat and humidity. I had hoped a race in late September would be forgivi

ng, but I did not get so lucky with this one. Even though there was a little bit of a rain shower in the beginning, the humidity was killer. I also think nutrition-wise I should have had a Gu on me instead of just ShotBlocks.

Free beer! (I’m dying inside)

Jeremy ran the 5-mile race and placed for his age group (woo!). He even found me at about 0.7 from the finish and ran in with me. He was very supportive as I struggled to finish (but I wasn’t last!). The 10-mile course had one INSANE hill right after mile 5 that did me in. It was hard to recover but I tried to keep up my momentum when I could.

After the race we bused back to the brewery and celebrated… briefly. Then, it’s fair to say now, that I must have had a bit of heat stroke. I really did my best to enjoy the people, puppies, and music, but I also spent some time throwing up in the porta potties. #racelife

Looking forward to a race with more temperate conditions! But I’m still glad I finished this one.

Ramblings · Sewing Misadventures

Onesie Life

My major sewing project so far this year, outside the occasional hemming or fixing of current clothing items, is the onesie. Fashion magazines and clothing stores are probably more apt to call them “jumpsuits” or “rompers” but lets be real. They’re onesies. Adult onesies! I like the concept for loungewear rather than for going out, which may be why I prefer the name onesie. I do have a fancier shorts-onesies that I love (similar) – but when I wore to my office’s holiday party last year it just seemed more trouble than it was worth when it came to trying to use a bathroom. It definitely reminded me of leotards and dance class a kid. But I digress.

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My onesie project goal was to create a comfy, 100% cotton, outfit to wear around the house and to bed. It turns out that it’s hard to find cute and soft 100% cotton fabric at Joann Fabric. In the end I was very happy with the soft blue tie-dye fabric I settled on, however silly it felt to be buying tie-dye fabric. (And check out the stores if you’re out shopping, because tie-dye is apparently back in style! Go me!) I cut a few corners as I always do when making things for myself, and I didn’t include a tie for the waist since comfort was the goal. The onesie/jumpsuit turned out great, but in allowing for extra comfort I definitely felt it was a tad too big. That inspired round 2.

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I decided for my next attempt at the romper that I would make a shorts version of the same onesie, and I do some fabric mixing. I even tried to follow the instructions more closely and used interfacing on this one, but I don’t know that it improved the final product. It may have simply added frustration. But oh well. Additionally, the red fabric I chose also was thicker than I realized, so it’s not as light and flowy as my first jumpsuit. And since I wasn’t thinking about the waistline, the patterned red/grey divide definitely has an unintentional clown vibe (but Jeremy says that might just be me). The blue tie-dye onesie is my clear favorite, but I really enjoyed experimenting.

 

Cat Lady · Sewing Misadventures

Be our guest (or get crafty)

Jeremy and I have a guest bedroom in our apartment. It’s a great asset when we having friends coming through that want to stay over. But it also holds great value as a creative outlet room.

For Christmas I scored an awesome easel on sale and decided to create an art studio spot for Jeremy. You can’t read the sign on the side, but it says “The Art Doctor Is In” in the Peanuts font. Jeremy is so creative and I love what he paints and how his brain works… so obviously I wanted him to have a space to hang out and craft.
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And you could say great minds think alike, because Jeremy got me a new sewing machine for Christmas. My old Walmart machine shockingly died early in the fall. And look at the diesel machine! I previously had a Brother machine when I sewed a lot in high school and they make great sewing machines. With my sewing machine corner and Jeremy’s art studio corner, we had the perfect set up for a crafty room!IMG_5515

My first goal was to ‘liven up’ a skirt my mom sent me for my birthday. It was a cute pattern but the length did not do someone my height any favors. Jeremy’s initial response was pure laughter and telling me I looked rather homely. It was a bit frumptastic.

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Look at that creeper

I took probably 6 inches off the skirt and voila! Much more versatile outcome. In hindsight, however, I wish I hadn’t shortened it as much because the ‘poof’ of the skirt probably would have rested better had I kept it closer to right above the knee. I’m not sure if that explains it, but I will likely only wear this skirt with tights and not bare legs. But hey, live and learn. And keep sewing.

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Always someone photobombing

I can’t wait to tackle more design projects and I plan to focus more time on hemming, fixing, or adapting current clothing items in my closet.

Ramblings · Running

Beat the Blerch East, or My First Trail Race

If you’re familiar with The Oatmeal, you may know the Blerch. It almost seemed that in quick succession it became known that Matt Inman was a serious athlete, not a lazy slob like his comic characters indicated, that he ran ultra marathons, and that he wrote a comic-turn-book about his motivations for said running.

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via http://shop.theoatmeal.com/

Fast forward to a race series all about “beating the Blerch.” 2014 was the first race event launched in Seattle, but this year the event expanded to multiple locations, including the east coast. Jeremy and I signed up quickly, along with several of my coworkers and friends. While I though a half marathon would be a nice goal, I chose the 10k instead since I wasn’t sure I’d have time to train with my busy summer of weddings.

A few weeks before race day, the course was released and many people started rumblings about it being a serious trail race. If I’d been paying attention to sign up page, it does mention running on trails, but I didn’t think too hard about it. It became a bit of controversy, the reality of a legit trail race competing with the idea of a fun Blerch race with cake.

Two days before the race I was working on cleaning my apartment in Troy and driving a grumpy cat down to Princeton, so my attentions were elsewhere. Our friends drove down Friday night before the race, and kindly ignored all the boxes and very unfinished feel of our apartment. Once we got to the race early Saturday morning, we were ready to get our Blerch on. We spotted Matt Inman milling about (and Jeremy ended up running with him briefly during the half), got our swag, and took advantage of early bathroom stops. Once everyone left for the half I was lucky to run into my friend Tamra, and I had some lovely people to hang out with while waiting for the 10k to start.

The face of someone who knows how to crush trail races
The face of someone who knows how to crush trail races

The race itself: yep, that was a trail race. I definitely wish I had trail running shoes, because I have wobbly ankles on flat surfaces, and the more tired I got brought more slips. I managed to get almost to mile 6 before falling in great spectacular fashion. Luckily I didn’t hit my head but I scraped up my right leg and arm, left knee, and hands. Runners right behind me were so sweet, checking if I was okay and getting my handheld water bottle back to me. I think everyone knew it was a rough course and people were very helpful. Some people were trying to race seriously – and the people wearing headphones that couldn’t hear someone trying to pass definitely created a hazard. Trails are not the place to tune out! Of course I was probably too aware and maybe wobbled too much trying to stay out of the way of people I could hear coming up behind me. First trail race lessons!

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Trail wounds

I was embarrassed that I fell and I was so close to the finish that I resisted the urge to cry/give up and pushed through to the finish line. I was only able to mildly high-five one of the Blerches at the finish as I was trying not to get blood on anyone. I did love getting heckled by a Blerch at the water stop at mile 3. Really the best volunteers at this event! I finished, got my medal, and waited for Jeremy to finish. Then we found the rest of our crew, took a picture on the official couch, and booked it right to some delicious food downtown.

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Blerch = Beaten

Beat the Blerch was quite the adventure. My time wasn’t too bad but the course was definitely short. I’ll take it, though! And now I’ve done a trail race. I don’t know if I’ll do one again any time soon, and I’m hoping the swelling in my knee goes down and my scraped up arm heals soon. But I did it! Suck it, Blerch.

Travel

The Run-venture

Jeremy and I finally went to Montreal for the first time. We’ve been talking about going forever, and we finally made the proper last minute plans, along with a properly hastily-arranged AirBnB for the night.

Selfie-skill = mediocre
My selfie skills need work

Montreal lends itself to walking, and we spent our first day just wandering through the neighborhoods while we made our way to the Old Montreal downtown. We posted up at a great bar called BreWskey and had prime seats to people watch as a wedding reception passed by.

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The next day brought the run-venture. What is a run-venture, you ask? A run-venture is a run with the sole purpose of exploring and traversing a large area of the city or town you’re in. Jeremy and I suit up in running clothes as usual, tuck away our IDs and some cash, strap on our watches (distance tracking isn’t mandatory, but fun), and head out on the town. There are no speed or distance goals, just a chance to explore the area.

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We went up a huge hill and discovered a seemingly abandoned hospital area, then headed down into other parts of town. We popped into stores to browse, get coffee, eat some breakfast, and then head on to the next spot. We didn’t bring phones so we not only didn’t take pictures, but we had to trust our brains for navigation. We made it back alive so I think we did a pretty decent job.

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Montreal was a great city, and I’m so glad we got to check it out! Being only 3 hours from Albany, it’s really silly we don’t go there more. Plus I should really take the opportunity to practice my non-existent high school French whenever I can.

Sewing Misadventures · Upstate life

A Stalled Work In Progress

I am a big fan of sewing projects. Fabric and patterns all over the place.

'die flimsy paper, die!'
Die flimsy paper, die!

When I get rolling on an idea and have time to feed the momentum, things tend to go well. I was able to pin up all the parts of my bathrobe in one night, and cut out all the necessary pieces.

STOP SEWING LOOK AT ME
STOP SEWING LOOK AT ME

A few day passed but I will still able to make progress sewing the major pieces together. Side seams, back seams, sleeves, etc.

I have wings!
I have wings!

But now I have to add the collar. Lapel? Whatever it is, I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ll need to have some extra care for the corner I’m cutting by not using interfacing. (And I, uh, don’t own an iron so that takes extra flattening work.)

Based on the pictures you see here, I also may take in the sizing once I’m all done. I know bathrobes are supposed to be bigger than usual, but I think this robe could stand to be more fitted to me.

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I’ll check back in soon…

Foodie Times · Upstate life

Upping My Coffee Game

I’ve written about my pretty solid coffee habit before, and last summer I explored using a cold brew maker last summer. (Will it ever be warm enough again to bring it out again? Probably not.)

My dad has been getting into roasting his own coffee beans since retiring, and he’s long been someone who used a coffee grinder. He even went so far as to order me coffee specially ground for my french press. It really did taste much better. I know ultimately grinding your own beans tastes the best. But I’m just lazy/late/tired, etc. in the morning.

So what do I decide to do? I buy a hand grinder of course.

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I read about “the best” burr coffee grinders on Lifehacker recently. This hand grinder was both cheap ($30) and reportedly better than others because it uses a ceramic burr, so there’s no metal taste to the coffee. I actually think it’s the same brand as my cold brew maker.

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The results have been rather tasty. I still have to stick to my 4 scoops to one 12oz coffee recipe (the rules are LIES), but the flavor is great and it’s a little less silty than my normal coffee.

I read a review that states it takes “about 30 seconds” per cup to grind. Yea… about that. It takes me several minutes. I think I pulled a muscle in my back the second day using it.

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But still! 10 seconds at a time, right? (Hashbrown, no filter. Yes I’m obsessed with Kimmy Schmidt.) Eventually this coffee grinding thing should lead to some serious guns. It’s easy strength training! Next step is trying out some fancier beans. I bought the only beans I could find at Price Chopper to start, but now I’ll have to see what else is out there.