Monthly Archives: August 2017


I’m not sure what to write about Houston, except that I’m really in shock.  I really can’t remember when there’s been a natural disaster in a place I knew, where I had friends and family.  What’s happening to Houston is really mind-boggling.  The graphic on the front of the New York Times sums it up well – unbelievable rainfall right dead center over Houston.  So many natural disasters, even New Orleans, seem avoidable or preventable or fixable in some way.  All I can think in terms of Houston is mandating that all future homes be built at least 3 feet above the ground.

The worst affected person I know is Jonathan’s sister.  She and her family have evacuated – been rescued by boat – and are staying in a hotel with their pets, as of today.  Prior to that, they were staying with a neighbor, as their single-story house in central Houston is under several feet of water.  Their neighbor’s house is built three feet up and has multiple stories.  Right now, Leslie doesn’t think they will ever return.  Perhaps they will move into an apartment.  While this will be financially devastating for them, he is a well-employed lawyer, and they will likely figure it out without having to resort to FEMA trailers like some others may need to do.

The worst story I heard was Sarah and Jose sheltering in closets with their family during a night of repeated tornado warnings.  I’m so glad they were only warnings, but wow, that sounded truly awful.

It’s odd being here in sunny Seattle, completely unaffected, living life as normal.  One day ‘the big one” (earthquake) may hit us, and the rest of the country will look through their internet windows in horror while continuing with their lives.  Hopefully not any time soon.  I was struck at one point that it was lucky it was my SIL Leslie and not my SIL Elizabeth going through this as E is expecting a baby any day now.  (She lives in Virginia.)  But of course, there must be hundreds of mothers on baby watch and hundreds more with tiny babies in Houston.

Cosmo 7K Seattle 2017

I ran the Cosmo 7K this morning.  It appealed to me for two reasons.  First, it’s a women’s race.  Second, it’s an odd distance . . . guaranteed PR!  From the start, the day went well.  The race didn’t start until 9:30 am, so I had a leisurely morning at home before heading to the race and arriving at maybe 8:45.  I picked up my shirt and free “Tito’s Vodka Cosmo 7K” glass – yes, the race was sponsored by a liquor company – lined up for the potty, and then warmed up.  I ran maybe 3/4 of a mile warm-up, nice and easy, and a few strides.

We all lined up for the race, and then they announced the race would be starting in the other direct.  I figured I’d be one of the faster runners and had been near the front but now found myself before a large contingent of people who obviously did not plan to run quickly.  I carefully elbowed my way closer to the front, at which point a women informed me that she and her friends had been lined up for some time and would be starting at the front.  I was polite and friendly, but mostly mystified as to why these obviously slow runners wanted to start at the front.



Anyway, finally, the race was off, maybe 10 minutes later than projected gun time, not bad.  I quickly found myself in third place, and then a young girl passed me, putting me in fourth.  I had glanced at my watch and noted  pace in the low 6s, so I was worried I was going to fast, but I didn’t want to lose any more places.  The first mile went by in 6:53.  I was feeling OK, but not great.  Half a mile later, we passed the 5K turnaround, and two of the three people in front of me peeled off, leaving me in 2nd place in the 7K.  This was pretty cool.  They’d closed the street, and ahead of me I could see the bike escort and the leader.  She was pretty far ahead, so I didn’t think I could catch her, but I really wanted to keep 2nd place.


I passed two miles in 7:06, and then it was time for the turnaround.  At the turnaround, I could see that I wasn’t that far ahead of 3rd place, less than a minute, certainly, so I really focused on keeping my pace.  It was cool when we started passing the main pack and people started cheering for me – you know the way people do for race leaders?  I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced that before.  Usually there are so many men ahead of me, I’m pretty far back even if I’m doing well relative to the other women.  I was definitely hurting, though, and it was getting hotter.  I passed the 3-mile marker, and it seemed like the race was going on forever, and THEN my watched beeped 3 miles.  Ack!  The marker was in the wrong place.  Mile 3 was in 7:23.  At this point, I could see the finish area.  I started glancing at my watch periodically, and the tenths of miles were just ticking by excruciatingly slowly.  Mile 4 was in 7:22, so I was doing a good job of maintaining my pace.  Finally, I crossed the finish line – in 2nd place!


(No smiles at this point.  The runners around me are 5K runners.)

Except at the awards, they called me out in 3rd.  Was I passed and didn’t notice?  I think this is unlikely.  I met the woman who had won – we both though she had won, and she had a bicycle escort, so it seems very unlikely she was passed.  I think most likely the woman called out as the winner had signed up for the 7K and run the 5K.  I just wish I knew!  Oh well.  One way or another, it was a great race for me.

Update: The results came out, and I looked up the women who won on Athlinks.  Given that her fastest 5k ever was 27:xx, I think it’s pretty certain she didn’t run a 7K in 28 minutes.  Therefore, I’d say she ran the 5K, and consider myself 2nd.

4.2 miles, 30:14, 7:11 mpm

I’ve never run a 7K before, but my fastest post-college 5K was at 7:09 pace, so I’m pretty frikking happy with the time.   On to the next!


year over year

A couple weeks ago, H headed off on his annual backpacking trip.  He’s been doing the trip for years, and before kids, it was NBD, but this all changed when L showed up.  Actually, before.  The night before his planned 6-day backpacking trip in 2011 when I was pregnant with L, I was puking so much I thought we were going to have to go to the ER for dehydration.  (Unisom saved the day in the end.  It really helps morning sickness for some reason.)  Anyway, that yera, I started to mind him leaving.  Fast-forward to 2015, and I had my first panic attack when he was on a short backpacking trip.  Being unable to call him somehow made everything seem harder.  It’s not something that can be explained easily, but it happened.  Anyway, he’s continued to go on trips, because he feels they’re important for his happiness – and I agree – and we both want him to be happy.  Last year, he went while my parents were visiting, and that was the first trip of any kind that he’d been on in some time that didn’t precipitate a panic attack.  I took Clonazepam for the duration of his trip, and needed a run and a major pep talk from my brother and SIL who happened to be visiting at the time.  After that, things started to get better.  Still, at times, I feel like I’ll never leave this anxiety behind, that it’ll always be an issue in my life.  When i feel nervous or anxious, I’m constantly asking myself what’s normal and what’s not.  I can’t really understand what caused the panic attacks to start, and so, I can’t be sure it won’t happen again.  Anyway, this year, the hiking trip was a non-event.  I didn’t medicate.  I wasn’t stressed.  It just wasn’t a big deal – as it shouldn’t be.  (I mean really!)  So it’s good to look back year over year and realize that even if life isn’t perfect, it’s better.  And it’s good.

The Lake Meri.dian Triathlon

I completed my first triathlon last weekend, and hence I can finally say, I am a triathlete.  It gives me great satisfaction, honestly.  Triathlons are not easy.  I picked the shortest, easiest tri locally, and it featured a 400 m open water swim, 16 mile bike, and 3 mile run.

I had to get up at 4:45 the morning of, way earlier than I prefer, and even still, I was hustling to get to transition.  I set up my bike and put out my stuff on a towel.  I was happy to see many of my co-workers had snagged spots nearby in transition.  There were no less than seven of us from my company doing the race, including five from my group – awesome!  Naturally, I was extremely nervous.  I was resigned to my fate but also swore I would never. ever. do this again.

We had unusually high temperatures in Seattle the two weeks before the race, leaving the water in the high 70s, so I decided not to wear my wetsuit, given that I was only swimming 400 m.  I’d practiced once sans wetsuit, so I felt it should be fine.  About ten minutes before the race, I joined some of my friends in the water, and stood there absolutely freezing waiting for the race to start.  The water was in the high 70s, but it was 60 degrees, and I was shivering.  The 400 m swim was clockwise square, beginning by swimming along the shoreline before turning right out into the lake.  It was a “deep water” start, but you could stay in shallow water until a minute or two before it was time to go, so I didn’t have to tread water for a long time.

I competed in the super sprint, and I was immensely glad I didn’t have to swim 1500 m like the Olympic competitors or even 800 m like the “sprinters.”  They let everyone else go first, and then we Super Sprinters started.  The only difference between the sprint and the super sprint was the swim being 800 m rather than 400 m, so I think the Super Sprint was mainly composed of people like myself not wild about open water swimming.

When the race finally started, I found myself quite uncomfortable in the water.  I had a hard time getting into a rhythm and getting my breath, and I was freaking out a little.  However, I just told myself that 400 m isn’t very far and kept going.  I started breathing every other stroke rather than my usual every third stroke and tried not to zig-zag too much.  By about halfway through, I finally caught my breath and started feeling better, but I was still extremely happy when the swim was over.  According to my watch, I swam 425 yards at something like 2:12 per hundred yards.  That’s a bit slower than usual, but I’m happy with it, given that it was my first open water race.


At this point I should note that I had to lay out a lot of money to get ready for this tri, between race fees and bike gear and swim practice sessions and a wetsuit (required for the open water practices).  So, I decided to save money on the tri suit and bought it for $15 or so on eBay.  Note to self: don’t buy white for anything you plan to swim in!  OMG it looks horrid in the photos.

I got through transition relatively quickly.  I decided to put on a long-sleeve jersey as it was still in the low 60s, and I was cold and wet.  I hurried out and got onto my bike, and I was off.  I did really well on the bike, completing the 16 miles at 17.7 mph.  I just tried to keep my effort even and my cadence high.  I actually think I overdid it, as my average heart rate was 155 (max 171) which is quite high for me considering I still had to run 3 miles afterwards.  I really pushed hard, and my bike time was good as a result, but I paid the price on the run.


When I got off the bike and put on my running shoes, and start off, I felt LOUSY.  The run was not exactly flat.  I mean, it wasn’t what you’d call hilly, but it had small rolling hills, about 250 ft of total elevation gain.  My run splits were 8:46 / 8:29 / 8:18, so I did start to feel better as I went along, but I was suffering.  I was highly motivated to stay in front of my co-workers, which I did manage to do.  (My two fastest co-workers did other races, but I managed to beat the others – all men – in the super sprint.  Yippee.)


I was happy to find out I won my age group, though it turns out there were only two of us!  I also got 4th overall and was happy with that, though I actually had faster times in the combined sports and lost out to third on the second transition.  I guess I should work on that!  Though it’s brutal enough switching from bike to run as it is.

Now that the memory of the pain is starting to fade, I’m enthused about doing it again next year and improving my swim, bike and run times.  Relative to everyone else, my best sport is run (surprise surprise), second best is swim, and worst is bike.  This is striking given that I killed myself on the bike, leaving myself totally exhausted for the run, and still ran faster relative to others than I biked.  I just kind of suck at biking for some reason, though I am getting better.

handmaid’s tale

I have to say I am very over the popular and media obsession with The Handmaid’s Tale.  It’s a good book. In my opinion, it’s not Atwood’s best; for me, that honor goes to The Blind Assassin.   Whether it’s her second best is probably more debatable, but for me, that honor is also ambiguous (Cat’s Eye wins).  Handmaid’s Tale is original, horrifying and thought-provoking.  I thought it lacked a little in execution and the ending is unsatisfying.  I haven’t seen the TV show because it’s not on Amazon Prime or Netflix.  I expect I’ll watch it eventually.  Or maybe I won’t.  I had my own vision of the protagonist in Handmaid’s Tale, and she has already been replaced in my mind by the actress I’ve seen in trailers.  If I watch the show, the rest of the world I imagined will evaporate, never to be seen again.  Kudos to whoever decided to pick an Atwood for television production, but at the same time, I’m not sure I want to watch it.  (My all-time favorite book is possibly Cloud Atlas –  though Blind Assassin is definitely in the running – and now I can’t think of the former without seeing Halle Berry. Argh!)

I’m continuing to enjoy cycling.  When I don’t have anything else going on, I’ve been going for a long cycle (30+ miles) every weekend.  I’ve moved on from the Cas.cade Preparing for series to CH.EW – climbing hi.lls every winter.  The idea is exactly what you might guess, to get better at climbing hills.  I have a love-hate relationship with hills.  Getting to the top gives me great satisfaction, but wow, it makes things so much harder.  RentonRide

This ride was fairly hilly overall, 2200 ft of elevation gain over 30 miles, but the hardest part by far was one particular hill, 250 feet of elevation gain at average 9% elevation gain with peaks above 10%.  Brutal, in other words.  I’ve found I can handle hills at 5 or 6% without much trouble; I just go slow and pace myself.  But it is really hard to pace yourself on a 10% incline.  I did this route for the second time this weekend (first time last weekend), and I really focused on going slowly and pulling up (rather than just pushing down) on my pedals, and that one hill went much better.  It was still hard, but I knew I wasn’t going to have to get off my bike and walk.

Lovely scenery in any event.  Below is the Cedar River.  The color is odd in part because we have been having crazy smoke and haze for days now due to forest fires in BC with no end in sight.