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!).

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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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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.

 

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.

Ramblings · Upstate life

Laborious Labor Day Weekend

I think we may have done Labor Day both wrong and right.

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Saturday: We climbed a tall mountain (what up Algonquin!)

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While considered one of the harder peaks we did it in about 5 hours.

So cold at the top!

IMG_2671Champion scramblers!! We wouldn’t feel the true pain until the next day.

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What up Lake Placid Beer! Delicious hiking reward.

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Sunday: We discovered mystical forest creatures. Herro friend!

Monday: And we ran long run kinds of miles in 8000% humidity, followed by chicken nuggets followed by moaning and hobbling. (not pictured)

Pretty successful weekend! Other life news has involved lots of exciting new challenges at work (really liking it!), being very busy with all this energy I have not commuting, and being silly all over the place. My handsome gentleman is off gallivanting in Europe now though so I’ll be tackling some books, new TV shows, personal writing projects and new running feats.

Ramblings

Cold Brew

This summer I decided to get on the cold brew coffee train. I don’t have an A/C and in the hottest days of the summer mornings can be sweaty even without turning on the stove. I looked up ideas online, but everything sounded rather involved. Instead I just put my usual grounds and water in my french press and let it sit overnight. The results were pretty good! The coffee really does come out less acidic and makes for a great cold beverage in the mornings. But! I was discussing this with my dad and he told me about a neat relatively inexpensive cold brew maker.  It’s still a work in progress but I’ve been enjoying some new coffee styles outside my typical dark roast. A medium roast blend turned out really great with this little machine.

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Grinds are in the interior container, slowly pour water to fill
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It was kind of a slow process
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Look at how nice it turned out! And in my fancy mug

The end!

Less the Stress · Ramblings

Lessons to Less the Stress

It’s new series time! Feel free to roll your eyes at me, as I know I tend to pick up new hobbies or trends and then let them fall to the wayside. Here’s the breakdown: throughout the month of July I’ll be posting about something that have been recommended for stress-relief. Topics will range from common ideas that have stuck with me, tips from curated lists online, and offbeat ideas crowd-sourced from friends. (And yes, I originally tried to plan this out for EVERY day of July… but plans, man. So the posting may be sporadic but I have a list of at least 15 ideas!)

I’m a stressed out, anxious person a lot of the time, and I’m also a hyper aware, empathetic introvert. Life can feel way too much sometimes. Add in the fact that I commute about an hour each way to work on a two-lane road (i.e. getting stuck behind trucks or slow drivers and plotting Frogger-style passes) and sometimes my stress levels become absurd. I HAVE STRONG FEELINGS ABOUT ROAD ETIQUETTE, OK?! There have been more reports lately that stress-related health problems are on the rise because our stress response as humans is the same whether someone is holding a gun to our face, or if some asshole just cut us off in traffic. That’s a problem, obviously. Another report states that some people’s brains are more wired to be stressed vs. stress resistant. Hooooray!

I may never fully relax on my commute, but if I can make my life more relaxing outside of that I see that as a bit of progress. Like my month of giving thanks for Thanksgiving series, hopefully this month of testing will produce a tactic or two I’ll stick with long term for stress release.

Because clearly I am #tooblesstobestressed. Hashtag I’m sorry. Hashtag no I’m not.

Cat Lady · Ramblings

Graffiti Tagging

Maybe I’m late to the party on this one, but spray paint is fun. I have a white bathroom trash can that I’d been planning to replace because it’s boring, but then I decided I could spray paint the inside of it for some contrast. I need to buy some paints and brushes too… I think there’s potential for more elaborate designs on the sides.

Anyway. I haven’t gotten to my bathroom just yet. After several months of having a dilapidated kitchen trash can where the lid latch broke, I finally bought a new one that uses a foot pedal. It was beautiful, pristine white plastic. And then I looked at the smooth white top of it and immediately thought to myself, “yep, I’m painting the shit out of that.” I grabbed masking tape and created a very original design, and then spray painted away. It takes some getting used to for the paint flow. I probably should have held the can farther away but I was in my bathroom and didn’t properly cover any of the floor so I tried to keep the spray close. After several bursts of paint and evaluating just how saturated I wanted it to look, I waited for the paint to dry. (But I didn’t watch it) Then I peeled off the tape and voila! Awesome new trash can. Except now I kind of wish I wrote out “rubbish” instead. Plenty of white space to play with still, though.

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In other news, if I don’t come home with a second cat any time soon it’ll be a miracle. It’s kitten season and there’s been a constant flow of adorable kittens coming through. They don’t last long though — people adopt them very quickly. I feel worse for the “adult” cats no one wants who hang around longer even though they’re only around 2 years old. I’ve never had a kitten but my personal take is that if you get an adult cat you get to skip the hard stuff. Kittens require a lot of work! Also: incredibly adorable.

Squee!
Squee!
Ramblings · Upstate life

Everything’s Coming Up… Blahp.

This picture just makes me laugh. It was pre-Snow Hole hike two weekends ago. The snow hole is a small cave you discover after trekking 3 miles and melting your face off. There was still ice in there and it was probably a good 20 degree cooler, which was a nice reprieve. It has all kinds of cool engravings and what not, and we met an adorable couple trying to find the oldest possible dates.

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This weekend Jeremy and I went to check out Albany’s first renaissance faire. Mary took me to the NY Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo last year – my first time, but I was hooked almost immediately! We spent all day wandering around and eating great food and enjoying the huzzah-ness of it all.

Well, Albany’s first go at the faire was a very solid first effort. Obviously it was a lot smaller than the big timers. We hung around for a bit though and got to see a few good shows. Mainly, the Vixens En Garde doing a retelling of Hamlet (that’s where my headline comes from… the part where every body dies!). We also got stopped by a man dressed up as a dragon selling ice cream, who felt compelled to give us some “dragon wisdom” and he gave me beads. Shiny things!

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Ousting: the newest ren faire sport. You just go around yelling at people to get out.

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Monkey on fire?!?

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Hilarious ladies making puns and doing Hamlet.

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The faire was at Indian Ladder Farms so we of course had to hang out with the goats and other animals.

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Ramblings · TV and Movies

Short Term 12

GRACE: He ran away again, and then two days later someone found him dead in the bushes.

NATE: What?

GRACE: That is the real ending to the story.

MASON: I don’t like that part.

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Short Term 12 is a great movie, and it does not tread lightly whatsoever on the tough topics. The story is from the viewpoint of Grace, who runs the floor at a group home for troubled teenagers. It’s safe to say I was in tears for at least 70% of the movie. I’d heard about it a while back since John Gallagher Jr. is in it and I’ve followed him via theater stuff for a while. I’d more or less forgotten about it, and I don’t even know if it got released in Albany, but then it popped up on Netflix. It was idly sitting there in my queue when I read this piece about Brie Larson and Shailene Woodley. Granted it’s supposed to be a glowing profile, but I definitely came away from it finding them both a tad insufferable. But every comment still reiterated Brie Larson’s solid acting chops, especially in Short Term 12. I really enjoyed her on Community briefly as Abed’s love interest and now I needed to see if she did disappear into her roles like everyone said.

The quote above comes only 10 minutes into the movie, almost as an afterthought. A postscript to Mason’s long, hilarious story of shitting his pants while following a kid outside the home. It’s clear that there’s only so much these leaders can do to protect and watch the kids. I almost don’t even want to write too much about all of the story lines and thoughts and feelings because they’re still ruminating in my head. It makes sense that we learn Mason and Grace were both damaged foster kids – making them probably the best qualified people to handle and reach those kids. I’ve always been drawn to these kinds of movies, I think because growing up I had the kind of angst that connects with those emotions even if I wasn’t coming from the same kind of situation. I did a huge film analysis including the movie Thirteen (and apparently Larson was up for Evan Rachel Wood’s part) and some other teen angst film in high school.  Those emotions are so real and facing them is how you grow as a person, which I think I had trouble doing = hence the movie watching as a guide. Maybe I just like dark things.

Marcus’s story might be my favorite because the turns keep coming that you don’t necessarily expect. It sounds trite to say the movie subverts expectations, but they handle the balance of telling this story without making any of the kids seem like cliches. Marcus is angry, he’s hot headed, and he’s about to be forced into the real world now that he’s 18. That scene above (see the full gif moment here) is absolutely heartbreaking. It makes the ending drama and sort of in-story epilogue that much more triumphant. Same with Brie Larson’s Grace… as a viewer you basically earn the discovery of what’s going on with her. It’s not obvious, but as time goes on you realize whatever it is is a big big thing. As with a lot of indie films, I feel like sometimes the dialogue is lacking, but at the same time this does a great job at showing versus telling. When the emotion is so charged it’s almost better. Even in my own life I sometimes feel like I overcompensate by being more verbose than taking in a moment or feeling through an emotion. It’s so easy to deflect. Watching movies like this remind me to do that more. To just lay down on the floor and think. Calm down. Figure shit out. Because like always, it’ll start all over again, and you have to be prepared to tackle what life throws at you.