Monthly Archives: January 2017

the week in swimbikerunning #2


  • Run 4 miles twice, 3 miles once
  • PR in 5K at the weekend
  • Cycle 16 mile bike ride planned for “GR2R” series
  • Swim 2000 m


  • Monday: Run 4 miles easy
  • Tuesday: Run 4 miles easy
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Run 3 miles easy
  • Friday: Run 3 miles easy
  • Saturday: Bike 15.3 miles
  • Sunday: 5K Race – Time 22:10 / 7:09 mpm

I basically met the schedule as planned, except that I ran on Friday instead of swimming.  I found out a friend of mine is leaving the company, so I decided to have lunch with him rather than swimming with my other co-worker.  It turns out my other co-worker couldn’t swim either, so it’s just as well.  (My goal is to try and swim at work once a month so I can get tips from this coworker, who is an excellent swimmer.)  Anyway, I’ll try and do 2000 m next week.

I blogged about my bike ride yesterday, and I’ll write up my race today as soon as I get my time.  As always, I was tempted to skip it, but as always, I’m glad I didn’t.

getting ready #1

I went on a 15 mile bike ride today.  That’s the longest ride I’ve been on by a significant margin.  My second largest ride was only 10 miles.  There are two major rides beginning in Sea.ttle every year: Seattle to Portland (STP) and Seattle to Vancouver.  The largest bicycle club in the area, Cas.cade Bicycle Club, offers a training course to prepare called the Cascade Training Series.  They offer four pace groups, from 12 to 14 mph on flats to 18 to 20 mph on flats.  In order to take the course, you must be able to go 12 to 14 mph for 25 miles.  Apparently, you work up to a “century” – a 100 mile ride.  I have no real interest in riding one of the two major rides this summer; they are both 200 mile rides, and I can’t really see being in that kind of shape.  I’m not sure I would enjoy riding that far.  However, I would really like to get better at bicycling, so I can see enrolling in the training series.  However, I’m honestly not sure I could ride 25 miles at any pace – I mean, I’ve never tried.  It seems like a long way.  Enter the GR.2R series – Getting ready to Ride.  They start at 10 mph over 16 miles, which seems very doable.  They have groups that go our around the area, and the series starts this weekend.  I am way overbooked tomorrow, so I am using that as an excuse not to join the group.  (Joining a group is more intimidating to me than cycling a long distance on my own.  It seems stressful for all kinds of reasons, but I’m sure it would be good for me.)  Anyway, they publish the rides they are planning to do, so I rode the planned ride today that the group will do tomorrow.

The cue sheet has about a gazillion turns, so although I’m familiar with the area from running, I kept having to stop and try and figure out which way to go.  I got slightly lost a couple times, and the route-finding aspect of the ride was highly annoying.  On the flip side, the course was dead flat, and it was so, so different that my rides around Newcastle have been.  On my Newcastle rides, my quads are usually screaming at me half the time (on all the uphill sections).  I’m also usually broiling hot and sweating on the uphills, and freezing cold and clammy on the downhills.  When I finish a ride, even the 6 mile ride I did last week, I feel like I’m going to keel over.  Today, on the other hand, when I wasn’t getting lost, I felt completely relaxed and not really tired at all.  According to Strava, I averaged about 12 mph, which is pretty slow.  (I’m in the bottom 10% on most Strava segments.)  I’m still encouraged, though, because I felt so comfortable.  I think I could definitely go faster if I was more confident in the route.  I thought it was interesting that I noticed small discomforts like my hands being sore and my butt being sore (maybe I should look into this chamois thing) that I’m normally completely oblivious to because my legs are so sore and tired.  I also didn’t have to change gears much.  On the hilly rides in Newcastle, I’m constantly changing gears.  On the flats, I could just cruise and not think about much.

I’m excited to try the next ride next week.  I may be able to go with the group, but we’ll see.  It’s L’s birthday on Saturday, so it’ll be a busy weekend.

the week in swimbikerunning

I’m still excited to try a tri this summer, and I’m still inspired to exercise.  While getting up in the morning hasn’t exactly been effortless, I’ve been determined.  Day by day, the winter is passing, and I know it’ll mostly get easier.  I also know it’s tremendously important for my mental health, and that inspires me as much as anything.


  • Do two 4 mile runs, one 3 mile run, and a 7 mile long run
  • Swim 1900 m


  • Monday: Run 3 miles easy
  • Tuesday: Run 4 miles easy
  • Wednesday: Run 4 miles easy
  • Thursday: Swim 1900 m
  • Friday: Run 3 miles easy
  • Saturday: Run 7 miles long
  • Sunday: Bike 5.7 miles

I’m loosely following the base-building schedule from Faster Road Racing, and this week it called for a 7 mile long run and two 4-milers – hence my goals for the week.  I am also trying to increase my swim endurance.  I’d like to get up to 3200 m, or maybe just 3000 m, and so I’m trying to increase 100 m every week.

Darkness, cold, and ice continue to be the biggest challenges for me.  This was the first week I was able to run in the morning since the days started getting shorter, and I can only do it when I have no 8 am meetings, since I couldn’t get to work before about 8:35.  Friday featured some particularly hazardous and annoying black ice on and off throughout my run.   Then, when I drove to work, my car slide across the road.  It was hair-raising.

My 7-miler actually went quite well.  The ice had melted over night, thank goodness, and I was able to just focus on running.  The warmer weather (low 40s) and good traction went a long way towards making the run tolerable, and I didn’t feel half bad when I got home.

I had been planning to rest Sunday, but I haven’t been able to bike in a month due to ice, rain and darkness, and I wanted to take advantage of the warmer weather – 44 F and cloudy.  I was a little worried about road conditions since I’ve been seeing – well feeling – black ice in the low 40s on occasion, but it turned out fine.   What didn’t turn out so fine was my physical condition.  I was completely exhausted.  I’m sure the long run the day before didn’t help, but I went more slowly than on my recent rides, and the hills just killed me.  Oh well.  It’ll motivate me to start biking more again.



saudi music video

I am simultaneously inspired and horrified by this music video out of Saudi Arabia creating a sensation.  I am inspired by the brave and obviously vibrant women who made it, and horrified that playing basketball while cloaked and covered from head to toe is considered controversial.


It’s well worth watching if you have a couple spare minutes.  There’s so much debate about feminism (and all the isms these days), but very little discussion about the widespread subjugation of women around the world, especially the Arab world.

One thing that struck me recently is that the US has resumed trading with Iran.  Great.  We’re all becoming friends.  However, US women who wish to do business with Iran will have to cover their hair and obey highly sexist Iranian attire rules when in Iran.  This is being dictated by Iran of course, but also by the American companies they’re trading with, such as Alaska Airlines.  What are a few hijabs when we’re talking about billions of dollars in airplanes, right?

The year in review: Sewing and knitting

I did comparatively less crafting in 2016 as compared to 2015.  About halfway through, the exercise bug bit me, and I’ve found I really only have time for one serious hobby.  I can do more than one hobby half-heartedly, and I can do some reading, but I can’t really engage with both crafting and exercising.  Perhaps as the kids get older, that will change.  Nevertheless, I did finish a few projects last year.

I started with a baby quilt for a friend’s little girl.  This project was based on a Red Pepper Quilts pattern, and I had to learn how to sew curves.  That was definitely challenging.




My next project was a throw quilt for my uncle who is battling a recurrence of stage IV colon cancer.  He mentioned that chemo made him cold, so I made him a quilt with wool batting but all cotton on the outside.  It was quite an undertaking as it was quite large, and each square had to be cut out and individually placed.  I bought fabric for the recurring diamonds but otherwise used exclusively scraps.


Next up, I made a couple of fully lined tote bags for L’s  preschool teachers.


I also made progress on my Farmer’s Wife quilt.  I have between 40 and 50 blocks pieced now; that probably means I’m somewhere between a quarter and a third done with the project.  Ah well – I’ll finish it sometime.



I ventured into the world of garment sewing last year as well.  I have mixed feelings on it.  I was quite pleased with the outcome of my first project, a dress for L:


My second project was a lot more work.  I learned a lot making a princess dress.  I was frustrated, and had to rip out lots of stitches, and the finished product was far from perfect.  Nevertheless, it was overall fun, and I’m sure I’ll do better the next time.  The hardest part by far was the gathering.  The skirt and the bustles were extremely full and required very tight gathering which was quite hard.  My solution in the end was to use 18 weight thread for the gathering.  I have heard others recommend yarn.  50 weight thread just broke and broke and broke.


I didn’t sew much else that I can recall, and I had no “finished objects” knit.  However, I did start a new knitting project that I’m quite excited about.  St. Brigid has been on my bucket list for many years, and I finally decided to take a crack at it.  I obviously have a long way to go, but I’m excited about this project.  Hopefully I’ll finish it in a year or so.


I’m not sure where sewing will take me in 2017.  I’m working on an Aerial Grove quilt from Carolyn Friendlander’s awesome quilt book, Savor Each Stitch.  I’d love to do another Friendlander quilt, or maybe another Red Pepper Quilts design.  Hopefully I’ll manage at least a couple of quilts this year.  I’d like to do some knitting as well.  We’ll see where the mood takes me.

I’d also like to try some new type of crafting this year – maybe embroidery, or cross-stitch (which I’ve done before, but not for many years) or perhaps weaving.  Weaving would require a loom, which runs around $300 for a decent one.  I love wool, and I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of weaving.  My inspiration comes from photos from Virtual Yarns.


The year in review: books

This was a good year for reading.  I had more time to read than any year since I got pregnant with L.  According to Goodreads, I read 69 books, though that number includes a few I read to L and probably doesn’t include a couple I re-read.

5 stars books for 2016:

Euphoria, by Lily King – This was my all-time favorite.  I listened to the Audiobook, and I recommend reading it that way if you have the time.  My Goodreads review:

Nell, her husband Fen, and Bankson and anthropologists in in New Guinea in the 1930s. Nell is passionate and talented and has recently authored a highly successful book. Fen is jealous of his wife and insecure. And Bankson is terribly lonely and struggling with his own demons. The three of them come together in the wilds of New Guinea.

For me, Euphoria is a beautiful love story. I can’t help but thoroughly enjoy the two narrators. They are highly likable. The setting of the story itself is fascinating. Not just New Guinea, but the 1930s, and hearing about these old-time anthropologists and what that life must have been like.

I listened to this on MP3, and the narrators were excellent.

A Kim Jong-Il Production – My interest in North Korea continues.  My Goodreads review:

I’m not surprised that I loved this book. I find North Korea generally fascinating, and one of my all-time favorite books is Nothing To Envy, also about the DPRK. A Kim Jong-Il Production describes the abduction of a South Korean producer and director and his ex-wife and former muse in the early 80s. Apparently kidnapping was all too common in the DPRK at this time. Literally thousands of people were kidnapped, and most were never heard from again.

Kim Jong-Il turns out to be a huge film buff. Who would have guessed? Of course, film is very useful to dictators as an instrument of propaganda. Jong-Il, however, is very frustrated by the quality of film in North Korea and contrasts his minions’ efforts negatively with the movies of Hollywood and South Korea. Enter Shin and Choi. North Korea’s filmmakers are severely hampered by never being allowed to view films made outside their nation. Shin can teach them how to make high quality films. Choi is bait and a sweetener.

My Year of Running Dangerously – This was a surprisingly good book on running.  Usually sports books feel a little simplistic.  I couldn’t put this one down.  My Goodreads review:

Tom Foreman is a long-time runner who’s let life and work slow him down. His daughter challenges him to run a marathon with her, and he takes her up on her offer. Later, he decides to take on a 50-mile trail run.

I’m a long-time runner on a running kick, and I just could not put this down. It’s hard to put my finger on why I enjoyed reading it so much. Foreman just has a very approachable writing style and manages not to be annoying or conceited, unlike many memoirists trumpeting their accomplishments. His self-deprecation actually comes of as rather genuine.

I’ve shunned longer runs lately due to the constraints of two small children. This book didn’t exactly tempt me to run an ultra, but I did think perhaps another half marathon is in order.

Four-star books included Taking Flight, This Road I Ride, It’s All About The Bike, The Secret Race, Quiet, The Summer Before the War, Brooklyn, Speak, Our Souls At Night, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, The Constant Gardener, The Nightingale, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  The books in bold are the ones that stick out for me reviewing the list now.

The worst books this year were A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, The Testament of Mary, and Satin Island.  There were plenty of other mediocre 2-star books mixed in as well.

According to Goodreads, I give books an average rating of 3.3.  I try to horde the 4 and 5 star ratings and to be brutal when I find books really poor, in order to make ratings more meaningful.

L and I got through a fair few chapter books this year.  My favorites were Little House In The Big Woods and Matilda.

I’m looking forward to another great year of books in 2017.