Sunday, February 26, 2023

Jekyll Island Half Marathon race report


When I plan trips to races, I often look at holiday weekends -- even for a long trip, getting an extra day off helps. So I had originally heard about the Jekyll Island Marathon in late 2021 and considered it for 2022 as it's always on MLK weekend. But I didn't get my act together in time... which turned out to be a good thing, because the race had to be cancelled at the last minute because a storm damaged a lot of trees on the course. 

When I started planning this trip, I proposed a long weekend in Georgia and then home. Wil said, "If we're going that far, why wouldn't we spend time at Disney World?" He gets me, you see. 

We flew to Jacksonville, Florida, stayed one night near the airport, and then picked up a rental car and drove up to Jekyll Island. 

We checked in to our hotel, then walked over to pick up our race packets. There were a couple of Maniacs there, and a 50 Stater or two, which is always nice. The next morning we were up with the sun, literally:

We walked the short distance to the race start, and joined the shivering throng. See, it was really cold -- AGAIN. We listened to the course talk -- a LOT of directions and we just hoped the course would be well marked. Happy to say that it was!

We would be running out along the main road to the northern end of the island and a little ways back, then turning on to one of the many bike paths and making our way back to the finish.

The course -- well, the entire island, really -- was flat as a pancake. But it was also very, very pretty. We knew that we wouldn't run much -- I think we ran the first mile before setting in to a brisk walk. It was a really pretty, mellow morning. 

Though the roads weren't fully closed, there was very little traffic that early on a Sunday morning. 

Not knowing the island -- and not really knowing the map, it came as something of a surprise when we turned off the road and onto the bike path.  This is when this race got really, really pretty. 

At the 7 mile mark we turned left toward the Clam Creek Picnic Area, heading to the northern edge of the island. You can just see the fishing pier to the left as we turned to head to the northernmost point. 

Along the way we hit an area where dunes were encroaching on the trail -- so as always we laughed that it was a trail run. 

Eventually we turned south, getting back on the road -- well, this time, the sidewalk -- for a few miles. We were really just walking steadily at this point, and had that weird experience of passing people who were run/walking. We'd catch up with someone walking, they would start running for a few yards, and then we would catch up to them again when they started walking. After 3 or 4 times, they would often just "give up" and fall behind us. 

After a while we reached the bike path along the shore line. I was happy to be almost done because my knee was bothering me a little. 

The finish line was in a grassy area by the shops "downtown" -- with a nice finish chute and arch. As usual, we held hands and took off running. Always nice to finish strong, eh?

The announcer even gave us a shout out for coming from so far away. 

We milled around a bit, snacking on crisps, chugging water, and cheering for other finishers. We thought about getting a drink at the nearby pub, but they didn't open when the sign said they would so we went to the market, picked up a couple of drinks, and headed back to our lovely hotel. 

It wasn't a great performance -- we strolled most of it -- but it was a really nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning, and, of course, to pick up state number 43!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Revolution Run Half Marathon race report

I started my 50 states half marathon project a long time ago. I used to make lists of races I wanted to run in my remaining states, and plot out ways to maximize my travel -- especially if I could tie it to a work event and get the airfare paid for. 

One of my long-time dream races was the Revolution Run, which was usually run on New Year's Day. Why this race? Well, it's in Utah... but more importantly, it's an INDOOR half marathon. The race is held on the running track at the Utah Olympic Oval, a 4-lane, 442-meter track around the speedskating track and open skate ice sheets. Best of all, it's always 63-65 degrees in there. Perfect running conditions. Insane, right?

In 2022, because January 1 was a Sunday, the race was held on December 31 -- which just happens to be my birthday. So it seemed ideal to spend a weekend in Salt Lake City, run my first (and last?) indoor half marathon, and celebrate my birthday by picking up a new state. 

We flew from Seattle on the afternoon of December 30, arriving in SLC after dark. Overnight we got a lot of snow, which made us happy that I'd decided to use Lyft for all of our travel, but worried we wouldn't be able to get to the Oval. Silly me -- SLC gets snow all the time, so they are prepared for it, and we had no trouble getting to the Oval in plenty of time for the race. 

We walked in and -- though I guess I knew how big the space was -- I was AMAZED at how big the space was. I'm not sure these pictures do it justice. Here's the widest part of the track, along the "main straightaway". 

Here's one of the short sides of the oval, and you can see one of the two "ice sheets" -- the one that hockey games are played on. Just out of sight on the left edge are grandstands, which were occupied during much of our race by families cheering on hockey games. 

We picked up our shirts and bibs and timing chips, and were also given hand-held clickers so we could keep track of our own laps. The timing chips would also register each time we crossed the line, but this way we could always know how far we had gone. Well, sortof -- I kept forgetting to click my laps at first, and later on Wil forgot to click his, so we were often off by a lap or two. Because of the length of the course, we ran 49 laps to get our 13.1(+) miles.

The event hosts multiple distances -- a 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and a "as far as you can go in the 4 hours" event. So there was a good-sized crowd when we started. 

This sign, on the back stretch, made me laugh every time. Runners must yield to Zamboni! Note that the Zamboni stayed on the infield during our event, so we never had to wait for it to pass. 

It wasn't too long before the 5K and 10K runners all finished their events. And we just kept going around and around. There were some entertainments to distract us -- a group of very fast short-track speedskaters were working out on one of the inner ice sheets; it was amazing to see them work together and just get faster and faster. And on the other ice sheet we could glimpse hockey games. 

At the 2 hour mark we were turned around so that we could run in the other direction -- better on our hips, you see. And that's about when the speedskaters showed up to practice on the big oval. Watching them whoosh past at incredible speeds was so cool. We weren't the only people who stopped to watch them!

I'm not going to lie, this race was boring and I was SO HAPPY when the race director called out that we were on our last lap. (I hadn't dared hope!) So we hustled around and crossed the finish line for the final time. 

I should point out that the race was nicely organized -- the timing was fine, the medals were nice, and the snack food at the one water stop was plentiful. Nothing to complain about at all! And it was fun, and weird, to run around and around and around indoors while the snow fell steadily outside. 

After the race we went to the Vertical Diner, a vegan restaurant, where we had incredibly good food and beer. A perfect way to celebrate my birthday and a job well done!

Revolution Run Half Marathon (really 13.23 miles)

3:29:45 (ouch!)

Friday, February 24, 2023

February OMG: Tablet Weaving Success!

In February my OMG was to warp my loom for my first tablet weaving project. The first step was easy: selecting a pattern and counting the number of lengths of each color of yarn. This pattern used 12 tablets and three colors, so I needed 30 strands of color A, 10 of color B, and 8 of color C, for a total of 48 strands (12 tablets x 4 strands each = 48 strands).

There are a lot of steps in warping -- marking your tablets the first time, cutting all the yarns, threading the tablets, and then getting them onto the loom, all while not tangling the yarns into knots. 

Of course I got my thread tangled up, but I was able to straighten everything out and get the yarn on the loom. (Eventually.)

Of course, I didn't take any pictures of what the warped loom looks like, so here's a screenshot from the course video:

Everything I had heard had said that the warping process was the hardest part of tablet weaving. Sure, there are complex patterns which required turning some tablets one way and some another, but this pattern was simple: turn the tablets 4 times forward, then turn them 4 times backward.  So I decided to give it a go. 

For the first 4 turns, you insert a toothpick each time to "lock" the weaving. After that, you pass the weft thread through after each turn.  And, suddenly, after only a few minutes, I had this: 

When I wove most of the available warp, I loosened up the loom and slid my completed band out of the way so I could keep making a longer band. 

I also realized, along the way, that I needed to keep track of which direction I was turning -- here's a point when I messed up the pattern my reversing it in the wrong spot. Still pretty cool to see what happens: 

One of the things I like most about this craft is that it has been done for centuries. There are loads of medieval illustrations of women tablet weaving. I note this in case you think this is an actual photo of me 😉

I kept working at it for a couple of hours, and eventually wove the entire band. Not bad when my OMG was simply to get the thread on the loom!

I plan to work on a more complicated pattern next, perhaps one with pieces that turn in opposite directions. Whatever I choose, I'm really thrilled with the result. It's definitely a first attempt -- my edges are uneven, as is my tension, but it's beautiful and I can't wait to make more. Thanks to OMG, I just might!

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts and Stories from the Sewing Room with the idea that we can just focus on one task and make progress. You can see how everyone did in their February projects on the Finish Party page! Or choose an OMG project of your own and join us in March. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

13x13 February Edition

February 13 is my friend Suzanne's birthday, so I let her choose which project to make this month!

In January I made Persian Pumpkin, another of the Mill Hill "Painted Pumpkins" ornament series. However, I've just realized that, in a fit of tidying, I put away the completed piece in with the other Halloween decorations in storage, WITHOUT PHOTOGRAPHING IT. Oops. But here's a picture of from the kit:

For this month I’m going to make the final pumpkin* from the Painted Pumpkins series: Glowing Pumpkin.

I love that this one is traditional orange and black, so a nice counterpoint to the vibrant Persian Pumpkin from last month. 

I'll check back in on March 13 to share my finished piece, as well as my next project. 

* I think there are more designs, but this is the last one I have chosen to stitch. :) 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Stitch-a-Long Switcheroo

Hi everyone! Apologies for the slightly late post, but in my defense it's still just after 9am in my time zone. 

Last time I had made good progress on a Valentine's Day cross stitch pattern:

I was headed out on vacation and didn't think I'd get much stitching done, but I forgot about the 8 hours of forced sitting -- the flights from Florida back to Seattle! So I actually finished stitching the piece in time for Valentine's Day!

It makes me smile to see it -- even though I still wonder just what made me want to stitch it, as it is so dissimilar to "things I think I like". 

Since I had the stitching done, I figured I should go ahead and make it into a pillow cover. I had an old wool cardigan that I had inadvertently felted in the washing machine (oops!) but figured, well, it already had a zipper sewn in, so why not? I cut up the sweater into pieces, added some rickrack from some old pieces inherited from my mom's sewing room, and made the simplest of covers. 

So satisfying to recycle a much-loved cardigan and to actually finish a project in one go. 

But finishing Valentine's Day meant starting another project -- another "this doesn't look like things I think I like" piece. 

In the late summer of 2021 my husband and I went on our first little getaway since the pandemic started. We had rented a small cottage by a small lake on the other side of the state. On the way there we drove through a tiny town called Harrington, where we took a break to stretch our legs and discovered a tiny shop/cafe/mailbox. We picked up some amazing homemade treats, and I poked around the shop. That's where I discovered this kit, Delphian Cornflower by Avlea Folk Embroidery:

I walked away from it a few times, but kept getting pulled back. The price was excellent and something about it compelled me, so I bought it. Of course then it just got pulled into the black hole of "projects to work on someday". 

I unearthed it a little while back and had that same pull. So I decided that, since it felt "springlike" I would work on it after I finished the Valentine's Day piece. I opened it up and have been so impressed by the materials inside: 

(Okay, the roller-skating unicorn floss holder is mine...)

But the absolutely gorgeous "traditional ground cloth" comes serged around the edges so it doesn't fray, the thread amounts are generous, and the charts are crisp and clear. I have just started a few stitches and it's been a pleasure to stitch -- even my bad eyes don't struggle with the counted thread. She specializes in Mediterranean folk embroidery and I find her patterns amazing. Check them out for yourself on her site, Avlea Folk Embroidery.  

I also looked into the designer, Krista West, a tiny bit -- turns out she also makes custom embroidered vestments that are stunningly beautiful. You can see them on her site Krista West Vestments. (Note: I don't know Ms. West or have any affiliation with her -- just full-on admiration!)

I'm looking forward to stitching this piece... though my time for tons of stitching is coming to an end. I accepted a new job offer on Friday and start my new role on the 20th. I'm excited, relieved, happy, and wishing I had let myself enjoy the time between jobs a little more. But I'm mainly really, really excited!

Don't forget to check out the amazing projects my fellow stitchers are working on -- they're always fascinating and inspiring. Avis, Claire, Gun, Constanze, Christina, KathyMargaret, Heidi, JackieMegan, Deborah, Sharon, Daisy, AJCathie, LindaHelenConnieCindy, and Mary Margaret.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

February OMG: Warp Speed!


Last month's OMG was to just "break the seal" on a Tablet Weaving course -- to watch the how-to class video. After watching it, I feel pretty okay about it. I mean, I haven't actually started doing it, but I feel more interested and ready to start. 

My OMG for February is, again, small and simple. (At least I hope it's simple!). I want to warp the loom -- cut the yarn, thread the cards, and attempt to start the weave. 

My hope is that I can figure out how work the pattern, and maybe it will even make sense. I did a little research into tablet weaving -- turns out it's a medieval craft, and that it was also done by the Vikings. All those woven bands... it's made by tablet weaving. So I'm hoping that I'll enjoy performing this craft from a historical perspective, too. 

My inspiration is a dear friend of mine who was laid off the same day as me. Ever since I met her I thought she was the sweetest, most positive person I have ever known. And she's struggling, like I am, to find her next path. So I asked her her favorite colors, and am going to make a band for her. At least try to. But the first step is to get the warp on the loom. 

The One Monthly Goal link-up is organized by Elm Street Quilts and Stories from the Sewing Room; you can see all the monthly projects on the February Link-up Page.