Friday, March 27, 2015

Mars Rover Marathon

Mars Rover tracks
Opportunity leaves the other rovers in the dust. Image by NASA.
Amused to learn that the Mars rover, Opportunity, completed a marathon this week. Sure, it took Opportunity 11 years and 2 months to complete 26.2 miles, but it's still a new course record. Heck, it's a new planetary record. And it's probably a record which will stand for some time...

I don't have an elevation chart, but here's the course map:

At Marathon Valley

 I mean, there's probably not much course support out there... looks pretty desolate... and we know there aren't any water stations anymore.

I conclude these random thoughts with the video that always pops into my mind when I think of the Mars Rover... "Girl look at that Rover....."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cupcake Fun Run Half Marathon race report

Let's start with the important stuff. We raised enough money to buy Mani a racing wheelchair. That's awesome. Of course, when I say "we", I mean Tory, who organized these races. I just signed up and ran.

Wil and I also ran this race a couple of years ago. It's a super cute event run by a woman named Tory. In six years it has grown from a dozen or so runners gathering donations for the local food bank to 200+ runners raising serious cash for a local beneficiary. This year the funds went to Mani, a local athlete, to buy a proper racing wheelchair. I love this race because it's not a "raising money for a cause" -- it's raising money for a person, a person you get to meet at the event. (Not that there's anything wrong with raising money for causes! It's just super cool to meet the person you're there to help out.)

The course runs along the Centennial Trail -- a converted rails-to-trail line accessed near Arlington. So while there's an elevation gain on the way out, it's pretty gradual. We thought that perhaps the timing was off by about 2 minutes last time -- since we were credited with a 2:12 finish (not very likely...).

This time wasn't going to be like the first time. Since I was so sick in February, I really haven't run. As in, I ran/walked 3.14 miles last weekend, but other than that hadn't run a step since February 12. But I knew I would finish, and that that would be enough. Besides, the goal was to a) donate and b) show up. 

(I'm having a little crisis of confidence since I skipped out on the St. Pat's Dash -- AGAIN -- this year ... so I really needed to make myself come out to this race, even if I ended up walking most of it. )

But in the end, it went surprisingly well: 2:21:51. I had set <2:30 as="" goals.="" nbsp="" of="" p="" stretch="" stretchiest="" the="">

out and back, up and down...

I started off feeling like I just didn't have it in me... my usual first-mile feeling. But I made myself stick with it. When I passed one mile, I decided that running intervals was the way to get through the day. Of course, I didn't have any useful timers with me... so I decided to just count breaths. 100 inhales run, then 50 inhales walk. Yeah, pretty short intervals .... but even with the full stops to cross the busy road and to pick up some Red Vines and pretzels at the fuel stop, I still averaged 10'39" per mile overall. 

I really did just plod along, alone for the most part, but feeling okay. Climbing gently the first half, then descending gently the second half -- really the perfect course for me. Had it been the other way round I'm pretty sure I would have just walked the second half.

But as it was, I didn't really get tired until around mile 12, when I let myself give in a little. I had the same "oh god, where's the turn to the finish?" thought, then the same, "oh, it's RIGHT HERE!!!" thought -- which made me pick up my heels and run as fast as my feet would carry me. I heard someone shout "RUNNER!" and then saw a little flurry of activity. The timekeeper said, "C'mon -- let's go Sunny!" which made me smile... The photographer said, "Wow, finishing with a smile!" which made me smile even wider... and another person at the finish said, "Look at that smile!" and I started laughing. Such lavish attention at the finish!

I collected my very handsome medal:
hello cupcake!

had a cupcake:
chocolate mint ... it's wafer thin...

and chatted with a cheered for a few other runners... but I was getting cold and tired and just wanted to go home.

After the race Tory posted a note on Facebook, passing along an anecdote from the race. She and Mani were on the course and a cyclist went by, saying "Great job runners!" Mani said, "That was so cool! He called me a runner!" Awesome.

2015 Cupcake Fun Run medal back
Interested in running the Cupcake Fun Run in the future? Races are held in March (in honor of Tory's birthday!) every year, and there's a different local beneficiary each year. Plus it's a nice, low-key event, with races in distances from 5K to 50K! Learn more about the sweetest race around on the Cupcake Fun Run website:

Cupcake Fun Run logo

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi Day 5K Race Report

Saturday was Pi Day. Not just any Pi Day -- this year was PERFECT Pi Day: 3.14.15. So we celebrated in style. Several weeks back, Meredith sent out a note to the team, encouraging us to help test a new system by signing up for a virtual race. She even offered to cover the event fee. Well okay then! So I signed up for the Pi Day 5K virtual race and then essentially put it our of my mind.

Then a couple of weeks ago I received a Priority Mail envelope stamped "Pi Day 5K" that contained a very handsome medal, a very good-looking shirt, a really nice bib, a "pi" sticker, a Luna bar, and even 4 safety pins. Quality swag!

I kenw we needed to run not just a 5K, but a bit longer -- 3.14 miles. I mapped out a route, but knew it would be totally dependent on the vagaries of the GPS.

On Saturday morning we laced up and then milled about... Why? So we could start at precisely 9:26a.m.  (I really couldn't tell you the seconds...) 

We ran out towards the lookout, but turned back early so as not to go too far. Amusing to run an old route -- like revisitng an old friend.

But getting the distance juuuuuuuust riiiiiiight was delicate work. So, yeah, that was us trotting down the sidewalk, staring at my phone, so we didn't overshoot the mark.

The pace was slow, but not bad for our first run in forever. I'll still call it a result. 

And then, for Pi Day, of course we ate pie -- I had picked up two broccoli and cheese pies as well as a salted caramel apple and a rhubarb pie from, well, Pie in Fremont. 

To quote Andie McDowell in "Michael", "My oh my, I love pie."

Friday, March 6, 2015

Long time, no blog

Figured I should actually write up some of my thoughts from the past few weeks...

I had decided to attempt my first ever "run streak" by running every day in February. Sure, running every day on the cruise was almost too easy, but I did run when we got home. But I noticed on the Tuesday that I was really struggling to breathe... which I just put down to the cold temperatures. But on Wednesday I couldn't breathe deeply at all, and had to walk most of the way. Not good!

I spent a few days with a weird, raspy cough that just got worse. Eventually I added a bit of sneezing, a blocked nose, and my ears were blocked, but my lungs just felt weird. Finally, two weeks after coming home I broke down and went to see a doctor. 

His diagnosis? Bronchitis progressing to pneumonia. Hoorah. I left there with nose spray, antibiotics, ear drops, and high-power decongestants. 

It's been a week and a half now and I am finally not winded when I walk up the stairs, but sadly I still haven't run another step. Sigh. 

I did drag myself to hot yoga, which felt pretty good, but more on that another time. 

Today I am at the eye doctor to have something called a YAG procedure. Apparently, a lot of folks lucky enough to have cataract surgeries as "young" people will need this bonus procedure a year or two later. Basically, a membrane of cells has grown across where my new lens is, which makes everything foggy. So the doc will is a LASER to cut a hole in the membrane, and it will pop out and float to the bottom of my eye, and eventually disintegrate. 

I imagine it looking like this:

Or, you know, that image of someone cutting a hole in a window with a diamond ring and then just popping it out?

Of course, it won't be that exciting. This is what the laser actually looks like:

Still... LASERS!!!