Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Orleans...

Arrived last night just as the sun was setting -- it's one of those places where it gets really dark, really fast after the sun goes down...

Checked in to our home for the next four nights -- the St. Louis Hotel, in the French Quarter. They're renovating the main lobby, and the temporary reservations desk felt a Very Temporary, but the staff was friendly and we were taken up to our room on the back side of the hotel, away from the gorgeous, candle-lit atrium (hosting noisy events Friday and Saturday night), so that we would have a quieter room.

Room 222 was nice enough -- though I wasn't too thrilled about the "smoking area" immediately outside our window... Until we noticed "it". You know how those big HVAC units in hotel rooms are always noisy? Our room had this percussive rattle -- one I could feel in my chest more than hear, if that makes sense. Well, I thought the rattle was coming from it. Until Wil tried to turn it off. And I realized that the noise was coming from the ceiling... that the light fixture was rattling. As was the picture on the wall. And the lamp on the table.

We walked around and into the courtyard outside our window... and noticed that lucky room 222 was located immediately underneath a massive ventilator -- probably the one for the entire hotel. Wow. We just looked at each other and Wil started packing up. I called the front desk, said that "gosh, we seem to be under a really noisy ventilation system and the whole room is vibrating."

Somehow, I think I'm not the first person to complain about 222... they asked if we minded stairs (nope), and told us that someone would meet us outside room 327 -- "Go out into the courtyard, up the stairs, and along the landing." Five minutes later we were in 327 -- and were amazed at the difference in noise levels. Sure, we could hear the occasional horn from the street (though we were still facing inward), but this room is otherwise nearly silent. What a relief.

(I should quickly point out that the staff was friendly and gracious and didn't push back at all -- and the location is great. And did I mention the gorgeous atrium? Amazing...)

We unpacked, got settled, and then headed out to wander the French Quarter. We drank hurricanes (umm, is it just Kool-Aid and rum?), ate catfish po' boys (don't judge), listened to some jazz, and generally meandered.

This morning we're heading out to the expo and then for some low-key sightseeing. (Natchez steamboat, here we come!) I managed to hyper-extend my left knee on the uneven cobbles last night (BEFORE drinking the hurricane, I should point out!) so work up with a swollen knee... hoping that will feel better by tomorrow :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful Part (One, Two,) Three

A freakishly productive Friday launched me into a dizzying good mood... and reminded me that I have THREE reasons to be cheerful and excited about running.


Bloomsday Run, May 1, Spokane, Washington.
The Bloomsday Run is a northwest classic -- the largest run in the region with 50,000+ runners every year. And we've never run it... in previous years we've been out of town, running a different event, or just not fully aware. So this year, the 35th anniversary, I am determined to run it. One of the coolest things about the race is that they have finisher shirts. Not shirts you pick up when you register, or at the start line... but FINISHER shirts. If you see someone wearing a Bloomsday shirt, it means they've finished it. Respect.


Bay to Breakers, May 15, San Francisco, California.
Bay to Breakers is a historic 12K race that runs from San Francisco Bay, up and over the hills, and down to the Pacific Ocean. This year is the 100th running of the race, so the perfect time to run. Historically it's a rollicking party, with costumed runners (including a large contingent of runners in, em, birthday suits...), people pushing elaborate floats, 50,000+ official runners, and general, good-natured mayhem. The organizers are trying very hard to "clean things up this year" -- so we'll see how that goes for them. I still think it will be a very, very fun time.


Great Alaska Maritime Marathon, July 23-30, ms Westerdam
Heard about this running cruise last year, but chose to go to Beck and Steve's wedding instead. So as soon as registration opened for 2011, we signed up. Over the course of the week-long cruise, participants run 26.2 miles, running several different sorts of races over different distances. There's a 2-mile deck run while we're at sea to establish our paces. Then in each port, we run a different distance. I'm absurdly excited about this -- hope I can stay healthy for the whole event!

So, there. Lots of fun things to look forward to. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Preparing for a Potential PW

I don't mean to sound negative... or to angle for pity... but I realized a few hours ago that I've got a half marathon in a week and a half and I'm totally not prepared.

Well, okay, I'm mentally prepared for it... by which I mean that I know that I will be able to finish, that there will be laughs along the way, that we'll take some funny pictures, that I'll get bored around mile 12, that we'll get a sparkly medal, and that the vacation will start in earnest 5 minutes after we cross the finish line. There will be points along the course where I struggle -- but in the end it will be fine.

I'm just not physically prepared for it. With only a handful of exceptions, I haven't run since the back-to-back races in November. NOVEMBER! This is my longest "running drought" since I started running. And I don't know why.

I feel as if I've lost my groove, a bit. Again, I don't know why. I just haven't felt like running very much. And -- like a lot of things I feel anxiety about at various times -- the "problem" gets bigger and bigger. I can't just lace up and go for a run around the block -- I must go for a proper run -- but that seems overwhelming. Actually firing up the treadmill downstairs feels like a huge task... and a huge victory when I do it. No, I don't know why.

I've felt underprepared for races before... but looking back over my running logs this is the most unprepared I have ever been.

So... on this first day of the Chinese New Year, this year of the rabbit, I'm going to try and get back on track... a little. No, I'm not going to try to "cram" some preparation in before the race. That's completely counter-productive. A half marathon isn't that sort of test. But I'm going to try and resolve to cut myself some slack, to focus on the fun of running a race again, and to pick things up afterwards. If I get a PW -- that's Potential Worst, btw -- I'll chalk it up to experience. If I run within my usual 5-minute range, I'll be ecstatic. And when we get back from our road trip, I'll start running again. No big deal... just neighborhood runs for a while. It will be fine.

Kung hei fat choy!