Sunday, January 30, 2011

Race Report: Half marathon #2!

Sunday I did my second official half marathon, and it was thrilling!

Friday I picked up my race packet. This race is sponsored by 3M and is considered to be one of the best when it comes to all the free stuff they give you (mostly items made with 3M products.) I love free stuff! It sure makes my $75 race entrance fee feel like more of a bargain!


If you'll recall, I'd spent $5 on a disposable sweatshirt from Goodwill. But the weather ended up being a lot warmer than originally forecast. When I saw that it was humid and in the mid 60s at 5 a.m., I realized I'd be able to leave my sweatshirt at home. I wonder if I'll ever again do a January race populated primarily by runners in shorts and short-sleeved shirts?!

After a brief panic trying to find my race number, I got out the door later than expected, but with just a bit of time to spare. Once I got to the starting line, I only had to wait a few minutes before I started running.

From the beginning, I had good energy, and as I looked at my mile times, I realized I was going faster than I'd anticipated. But I felt good, and it was a mostly-downhill course (a course that results in Personal Records for many runners), so I decided just to keep it up and see what happened. I knew if I ran out of steam, I could slow down at the end.

I have started using a run/walk strategy. I ran the whole way for my first half marathon, but since then most of my training has been done using specific run/walk intervals. For a long run like a half marathon, I run for four minutes and walk for one. It helps my legs stay loose, and I'm actually faster overall! It was exciting on the steeper downhill portions; I was able to lean into it and let gravity take over, flying down. Because I knew I always had a walk break coming up, I didn't feel the need to "pace myself" on those fun hills.

During the first half of the race, I stopped twice to stretch my IT band, but overall my legs really felt fantastic. Even that little bit of IT band tightness worked itself out.

Around 7 1/2 miles into the race, I was still doing well but certainly starting to feel fatigued. I got an extra burst of energy when I saw a high school friend of mine, Bobbi, waiting along the side of the road to cheer me on. I got to give her a high five and give her awesome dog Chauncey a quick head rub before I kept going. Thanks, Bobbi & Chauncey!!

Eleven miles in, I had arrived at the portion of the race where my energy and strength were sapped, and I was having to just depend on determination to keep running between every much-needed walk break. I was keeping my speed up, but running was just not feeling good, and I was ready for the race to end. Then I got to see The Engineer, Chickie, and Zoodle cheering me on. Despite feeling tired, I was thrilled to see them and was able to smile big for the camera!


At 12 miles, I was just so tired. I thought about doing away with walk breaks for the last 1.1 miles of the race, but I honestly felt like I needed them. And I'm kind of glad--that means I'd really pushed myself for the whole race, not leaving myself extra energy. By continuing to take walk breaks of one minute in every five--even in the last half mile of the race--I was able to keep my running speed up, even though it didn't feel good! I did get a small burst of energy at the very end, and again put my hands up and cheered myself at the finish line. That really is such a fun way to end a race--more people should do it!

I was so thrilled with my time...2:19:17. That's 15 minutes, 4 seconds faster than my first half marathon, and a pace of 10:37 per mile! Because it was a one-way race that was mostly downhill (though some killer uphill portions were in there too), I was able to go faster than I could have on a different course. But I also give the walk breaks credit for my running speed. I've been overall faster in my training since I started using walk breaks, and I love being able to push my pace a bit without worrying so much about keeping enough energy to just run for 13.1 miles.

I was totally wiped out later in the day, but today I feel great, and my legs aren't very sore. I love half marathons--the sense of accomplishment is wonderful after all the hours of training!

P.S. For those of you interested in nerdy data, here are my mile split times:
Miles 1 & 2: 22:29 (avg. 11:15)
Mile 3: 10:48
Mile 4: 10:12
Mile 5: 9:40
Mile 6: 10:48
Mile 7: 10:49
Mile 8: 11:13
Miles 9 & 10: 21:10 (avg. 10:35)
Mile 11: 10:48
Mile 12: 9:59
Mile 13: 10:25
And the last 1/10 of a mile took 58 seconds.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Disposable sweatshirt

Often when runners are doing a winter race, they wear "disposable clothes." It's cold standing around waiting to run, so they wear a warm top layer that they don't care about, and throw it to the side of the road before the race or in the early miles. (The clothes then get cleaned up by awesome race volunteers, and I hope they're donated or something....)

Anyway, I went shopping for a disposable upper layer for the half marathon I'm planning to do Sunday. First I checked the clearance clothes at Wal-Mart. They actually did have some cute hoodies for $5, but they were too lightweight.

So we headed to Goodwill. I wanted a sweatshirt, one heavy enough to keep me warm. If it had pockets and a hood...even better.

First I found an oversized, heavy sweatshirt. No pockets or hood, but sleeves long enough to cover my hands. I grabbed it...hesitantly. My disposable clothing doesn't have to be fashionable, but this sweatshirt had characters from Winnie the Pooh on it.

Now, let me pause for a disclaimer. If you are an adult who likes to wear clothing that has cartoon characters on it, more power to you. I bet you're friendly and fun, and we'd probably be friends (or maybe already are.) But see, there are adults who wear character shirts, and adults who don't...and I'm in the second category. Firmly.

So I really didn't like the idea of wearing a faded, old Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt, but was willing to do so because as much as I disliked the shirt, I dislike shivering more.

But I decided to take a closer look at a row of shirts I'd already passed by, and there it was--just what I was looking for! A heavy-enough sweatshirt, with a hood and pockets. It didn't even have Winnie the Pooh on it. It did have "BAYLOR" on it, and while I'm not a Baylor University fan, I'm okay with being mistaken for one at a race.

I figured I'd better take some pictures...after all, this shirt won't be with me for long. And I also thought that all the times I've watched America's Next Top Model should have rubbed off on me. Surely I have some decent posing skills, to make a worn sweatshirt look chic, right?


Okay...okay. My posing is not yet Tyra Banks-worthy. And the clothing isn't quite couture. But it's a worthy disposable sweatshirt, and I'll wear it with pride...or at least with warmth!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let's hope this week is a little more boring

What a week!

Last Wednesday morning I experienced some weird vision symptoms (flashing lights in my peripheral vision and a blind spot.) The Engineer came home to take me to the ophthalmologist, who thankfully assured me that my retinas were just fine. (I knew that flashing lights could be a symptom of retinal detachment, and neither emergency eye surgery nor blindness were on my to-do list.) He gave me a few possibilities of what could have caused the symptoms, and based on the fact that I had the same issue a few days later, I'm pretty sure it was an ocular migraine (no headache involved, just that odd vision for a short time.)

Turns out, according to Dr. Google, ocular migraines aren't dangerous or harmful (except that whole FREAKING OUT BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE GOING BLIND thing.) I'm hoping they aren't a regular occurrence though.

I was fine afterward, but then it was Zoodle's turn to be less-than-healthy. He got a fever that afternoon, and had it for the next couple of days. And it wasn't one of those "Wow, I'd never know this cheerful kid was sick!" fevers; it was one of those "Oops, the WHINY MONSTER has returned; his temp must be up again" fevers.

By Saturday, Zoodle was fine, but I was starting to feel pretty run down. In the afternoon (after being outside for a long time running) my allergies attacked in full force, and the body aches and exhaustion I was feeling convinced me I'd caught some sort of bug.

I survived on Dayquil & Nyquil, but by Monday I was feeling well and truly rotten. I went to the doctor, and found out it was probably just bad allergies and a virus. "You probably got whatever your son had," she told me. I didn't ever have the fever, but I did have the miserable, whiny attitude (just ask anyone who follows me on Twitter!), so I think the doctor was probably right. It's so nice when our kids share, isn't it?!

Thankfully, I woke up today feeling like a new person...not perfect, but pretty great compared to the past few days. I celebrated by going to Costco, doing laundry, and being grateful to have the energy to get back to such an exciting life.

So here's hoping this week is more boring than last week was, and that the virus (which I'll name grumpymoodius whineius) leaves The Engineer and Chickie alone!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A new hat...for me!

I was so excited to design and make a hat for me! I finished it yesterday. I call it the Cleo hat.


I just love the pom pom!


To make it more fun...if it's cold, I can convert it into an earflap hat. The earflap piece uses buttons to attach to the hat, underneath the folded-up band.



Once the band is folded back up, the back of the hat looks normal.


Here's the extra-warm version!



Having a new hat definitely helps me be more excited about the cold temps out there!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The lure of the marathon

I've been feeling the lure of the marathon.

How amazing, I've thought, would it be to be able to say that I've run a marathon?!

I've done a half marathon race once, have gone just a bit further once as a training run, and am scheduled to run my second half marathon race in less than two weeks.

"How was your marathon?" more than one person asked me when I returned home last month.

"Oh," I'd respond, "It was just a half marathon. But it went great!"

Just a half marathon.


Maybe it's the terminology that has led me to believe that a half marathon isn't quite enough. When something is referred to as "half," it seems somehow incomplete.

But why should 13.1 miles...on foot...feel like it's less than enough? I've found myself wondering, if the term "half marathon" was replaced with a "stand-alone" title (like a 21K, since 13.1 miles is just over 21 kilometers), would I even feel the need to train for a marathon?

I admire those who do full marathons. I think it would be cool to be that fit. But honestly, training to run 13.1 miles has been hard on my body.
  • I've gone through expensive physical therapy for running-related issues.
  • I have to spend a lot of time keeping my muscles loose so I can continue running.
  • My long training runs are still very challenging. I'm happy that after last Saturday's 10.65 mile training run, I'm doing pretty well. But on the day of that run, my body was sore and exhausted.
If these 10-plus-mile distances are still so challenging for me, and if it's still hard to keep myself uninjured, I don't think it's time to try to work up to doubling my race distance. Instead it makes sense to me to try to "master" this distance, to get to the point that 10- or 13-mile runs don't completely wipe me out. When I'm at that level, I can decide whether or not I want to go further.

And even if I decide to never run a full marathon, that's okay. Because I've had a very important realization:

A half marathon is still a complete run, despite the "half" part of the name!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Micro: Brim bonanza

Apparently people like hat brims.

When I made my slouchy, faux-cable hat for a customer and added a brim at her request, I couldn't believe all the feedback I got at my C. Beth Crochet Facebook page. I'm thrilled to have designed something that so many people like! Here it is:


Next up? I'm making a hat for me...for me! I model all these hats that I love and them send them out to their owners. I've only kept one for me so far, and while I love the colors, it's not my favorite design. So I've got something in my head that I'm planning to try, and I'm psyched that I get to keep it this time!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Six Word Saturday

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's sixtacular blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

A baker's decade with The Engineer!

If a baker's dozen is a dozen plus one, then a baker's decade is...

...think about it for a minute...

11 years, right? Well, then, now that I've coined a new phrase.... The Engineer and I have been married for a baker's decade today!

What with Christmas and The Engineer's birthday and New Year's and Chickie's's easy for our anniversary to sneak up on us. Thursday I asked The Engineer, "Should we try to find a sitter for Saturday so we can go out?"

"I'm already working on it," he said.

And lemme tell you, that response earned him major points going into our 12th year of marriage!

Happy anniversary, The Engineer! I'm looking forward to spending many more baker's decades with you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Five years old

Age: Negative one week

Age: Zero

Age: One

Age: Two

Age: Three

Age: Four

Age: Five

Happy birthday to my beautiful, smart, creative, independent, affectionate girl. I love you, Chickie!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My best friend's successes

My friend Liz is hosting a giveaway on her blog for a graphic novel called Return of the Dapper Men. Now, I'll admit I've never even read a graphic novel, but the illustrations on this one have grabbed my attention--and I want to win it! (Check out the book's Facebook page here.)

Apparently the book is about best friends and their successes, so I'm writing about my best friend and his successes. Lucky me, my best friend also happens to be my husband, The Engineer!

I'd like to focus on The Engineer's athletic success. As a high school student, he was a fantastic runner. He ranked #23 in big ol' California in cross country, running a 3.2 mile race at an average pace of 5:00 per mile. (That's crazy fast!)

And sure, I'm proud of that--but honestly I'm more proud of him now. High school students have lots of time for extracurricular activities. The same can't be said for an engineer with a wife, two kids, and church volunteer responsibilities. So I think it's awesome that about a year and a half ago, he started training to be a triathlete.

He does sprint-distance triathlons. The distances vary, but a typical race involves a 750 meter swim (almost 1/2 mile), 20 km bike (about 12 1/2 miles), and 5 km run (3.1 miles). The Engineer has done plenty of cycling and swimming in the past, so those weren't too big of a deal for him.

But he grew up in an area without a lot of swimming, so he while he could stay up in the water, he couldn't swim far. He couldn't even exhale underwater. He took a Master's swim class and got wonderful training from a coach who competed in the Olympics for her home country of Lithuania. Now he regularly goes to the gym and swims over 2000 meters (1 1/4 miles). He's become a very good swimmer; and despite being pretty new at the sport, he's even pretty fast. Amazing!

He's also been running more often. Now, a 41-year-old man isn't ever going to match his 18-year-old run times, but he ran his last 5K in 22:36 (7:17 per mile.) For a guy who's training in three sports and spends most of his training time swimming, that's pretty awesome...a pace I don't expect to ever come near!

So I'm pretty proud of my best friend (and glad he's more than a friend.) He's fit and dedicated, even with all his other responsibilities. I love it when I get to see him come across that finish line!

Late party

Tomorrow is Chickie's fifth birthday!

We won't be having the party until later, though--probably February. I really think that having a late party is such a great way to spread out the festivities. That way Chickie doesn't just feel special on ONE day. She feels special on her birthday, then has a few weeks of fun anticipation before the party, then has one more super-special day to share with her friends.

It doesn't have anything to do with the busy holidays and my procrastination. No way. It's purely to a way to extend the celebration.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pendant and pottery

When we were in Albuquerque visiting my grandma last month, we went into Old Town. Albuquerque's Native American influence is evident all over the city, with adobe and faux-adobe buildings everywhere you turn. Old Town is a particularly great place to experience the city's rich cultural history.

We stopped in a great shop full of Native American pottery and jewelry. The owner was wonderful. "It's okay for your kids to come in!" he assured us, when he saw that we were trying to leave them outside with my relatives. "Would they like some chocolate milk? Don't worry, I have kids of my own, it's okay if they touch things. If they break anything, don't worry about it."

Well, I most certainly would have worried if they'd broken something, but his attitude definitely made us feel at home, and gave us the time we wanted to really look at the lovely wares! It also helped that they let Chickie play with packing materials....


They were having a big sale, so we ended up deciding to bring home a couple of pieces of Native American artwork. The first was this lovely piece of pottery. (It was a very cloudy day when I took the photos yesterday, so you get two pictures--one taken in drab natural light, and one with a camera flash reflection on it.)



I love this handmade, handpainted pot (about 8 inches tall), and I hope it'll be a special item in our family for a long time!

I also got a little piece of wearable artwork, this beautiful silver pendant with different colors of stones all around its cylindrical surface:


It matches most of the shirts in my closet, and I love it, so my biggest problem is going to be convincing myself not to wear it every day! I don't have much expensive jewelry--to me, handmade, unique pieces like this are more interesting than most mass-produced, pricey pieces...and this didn't cost an arm and a leg.

New Mexico's Native American heritage is rich and beautiful. We couldn't bring home an adobe house, but I think the items we chose were good substitutes!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Barefoot running (an update)

It's been over six months since I decided to start running barefoot.

And it's been almost three months since I have actually run without shoes on.

I got a stone bruise or something on the bottom of my foot in October, and it took a long time to heal, so I was wearing very thin shoes to protect the area. By the time I was healed, winter had hit. And honestly, I'm just enjoying my Vibram Five Fingers KSO shoes (VFFs) so much that I haven't had the desire to go out and run on bare feet, even on warm days.

So these days, I'm not a barefoot runner; I'm a minimalist shoe runner. Many runners who use VFFs say they're "running barefoot" since these and similar very-thin-soled shoes are meant to mimic being bare. But having done actual barefoot running, I can tell you that barefoot and minimalist running don't feel the same!

I enjoy not having to be quite as vigilant about where I put my feet when I'm wearing my VFFs. The thin rubber sole protects against small rocks, twigs, etc. I also like being able to run long distances without having sore soles afterward. That's possible with bare feet, but it takes a long time to build up to that point. I really appreciate having shoes on when it's chilly outside. And I think with light shoes like VFFs, I run faster than I did in my old running shoes.

Once summer comes around, I will probably once again do some barefoot running. To me, it really is fun, and it's a great way to remind one's body how a gentle running form feels. I also love how cool my bare feet feel on a warm, humid day!

But I'm guessing that even in warm weather, my longer runs will probably all be in minimalist shoes. My long runs usually include some "off-road" portions when sidewalks aren't available and there's too much traffic to run on the asphalt. I don't think I'm willing to put in the time it takes to accustom my feet to lots of rocks, twigs, and acorns, though I think the people who run technical trails barefoot are inspirational!

Despite my fondness for my VFFs, I'm glad that when I ditched my heavily-cushioned running shoes, I spent several weeks running exclusively barefoot before I started (occasionally) introducing minimalist shoes.

Being barefoot helped me to more-easily transition to a gentler running form. I have to think more about keeping my running form proper when I'm wearing VFFs, and it may have been harder to learn this form if I'd gone straight to the VFFs.

Also, bare soles naturally limit running distance, by making it uncomfortable to run too far. This allows muscles, bones, and ligaments that are being used in whole new ways to strengthen gradually, and that may help prevent "too much-too soon" injuries. I brought my mileage way down when I started running barefoot, and when I started using minimalist shoes, I continued to build my mileage gradually. I avoided injuries such as stress fractures that way.

Bare feet and minimalist shoes probably won't replace heavily-structured running shoes any time soon. But more and more companies (even the big ones) are coming out with minimalist shoes, and I don't think this is a trend that will go away any time soon. Whatever you like to wear (or not wear) on your feet, I'm just glad the options are growing!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Time to be a sister

One of the great things about our Christmas trip was that I got to be a sister. Of course, I'm always a sister, but I don't get to spend time with my siblings very often. Sean, my older brother, lives halfway across the country from me, and Becki, my twin sister, also lives halfway across the the other direction.

So It was a treat to get a lot of quality time with both of them when we all traveled to New Mexico for Christmas!

First I saw Sean in Albuquerque, where we were spending time with my dad's mom. A highlight of that time was when the two of us went to a karaoke bar.


We sang some "normal" songs but we each also sang a Christmas song as part of their "Carol-oke" contest. Neither of us won the $50 prize. We said it was because one of the bar's "regulars" got the votes of all her friends. That's our story, and we're sticking to it! Even though we didn't make money on the deal, we had a great time together.

We then went to Clovis, NM, where my mom's parents live. Becki and her family joined us there. Unfortunately Sean only got a little time with them before he had to head home, but The Engineer and I were able to extend our trip by a couple of days,. Becki and I got lots of time to play pinochle with other family members. It's a game we don't usually get to play except at family events, and we love it. Here are Becki and me:


Another great part of seeing Becki is getting to spend time with her family. Donal, her husband, played a lot of pinochle with us. He and The Engineer also drove to Roswell for a memorable visit to their museum (all about UFOs and aliens...oooooh. Let's just say they were glad the entrance fee was only $5.) Here are Becki & Donal:


And my kiddos love spending time with their cousin! (Thanks, Uncle Becki [yes, that's what my kids call her], for the personalized PJs!)



Having our whole family together--even for a short time--is such a treat. I'm glad that this Christmas I had time to be a sister!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just a little bit

Confession time--I've realized I don't spend a lot of quality time with my kids. Of course, being a stay-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time with them doing things that need to be done...but honestly the things they want me to do with them are boring. Toys made for toddlers and preschoolers aren't usually that interesting to a 33-year-old. Same goes for games. And books.

But what hit me the other day is that just a little bit of time spent doing something fun with them means a lot. In the long run, they'll remember those little bits of time more than all the "have to" stuff I do (feeding them, bathing them, breaking up their arguments.)

One game of Candy Land takes about 10 minutes. Sure, Zoodle ends up moving the game pieces when he's not supposed to, but the kids both still have fun, and they appreciate the time with me. And I know if I play simple games with them now, when they get older they'll be better able to learn the complex games. (You know, the ones that are actually fun!)

A few days ago Chickie asked me to play with Play-Doh with her. I'll admit, I actually enjoyed making an elephant, a cat, and a lion out of Play-Doh. After a little while I was ready to do something else, but I was glad I'd invested that time with her.

I've always read to them, but I'm trying to do so more consistently. Books for kids their age are short, and when they get into longer chapter books we can read a little at a time.

I shy away from anything boring. I tend to enjoy teenagers a whole lot more than preschoolers. So it's been very freeing to me to realize that my kids' boring-to-me, fun-to-them activities can be short activities. I don't have to spend my whole day in "their world."

I want my kids to spend lots of time entertaining themselves and each other. I think that's very important as they develop independence and creativity. But by letting go of my adult self...and my adult selfishness...for a quick game or book, I can enrich their lives immeasurably through the years. Ten minutes at a time.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Seasonal stitching

I did a lot of crocheting on vacation and have continued since coming home! Here are photos of come of the hats I made. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph two of them before I gave them away...sigh.

First, a hat I made months ago.... I've even posted photos here before. It's from the free Pretty in Pink pattern from Valerie Whitten. Here is my adorable niece, 4-year-old Molly, modeling her new hat:

The rest of the hats are my original designs.

Mamma and Papa (my mom's parents) got hats.
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I made this fun black and navy hat as a special order for a Twitter friend. Most yarns these days have at least some acrylic in them, but this hat doesn't. It's 93% wool/7% polyamide (whatever that is!), and I like the soft texture.
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My mom was given some really cool yarn called SoySilk, which she passed on to me. It's a pricey yarn, and it was cool to get it for free! I had just enough of the purple/pink variety to make this little hat for Chickie. It's hard to tell, but it has little raised polka dots on it.
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This last hat is the one I'm the most excited about...but it comes with a disclaimer! My brother is the voice of the Winterhawks, Portland's minor league hockey team. He announces all their games. Not only does he love his job; he's also a huge fan of the team. I wanted to make him a hat based on the Winterhawks logo. Here's the disclaimer--this is not licensed, and I only made it because it's a gift. I don't sell hats based on trademarked team logos; I don't want to end up in court! But I figured one hat as a gift would probably be okay. Here's Sean, modeling his hat. And he just happened to be wearing his jersey when we opened presents, so you can compare the hat to the logo!
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I was more excited about this than I was about any of the other presents...including the ones I was opening! I love my big bro so much and thought this would be the perfect gift for him. My anticipation paid off! Sean reacted just like I'd hoped he would--with utter enthusiasm. I was so thrilled and gratified to see how excited he was!

I continue to love the creative aspect of making hats, and I love sharing them with you! I am still taking custom orders; just email me to talk about design, prices, and production time. Most hats are $10 to $35 depending on complexity and materials. And there are still a few pre-made hats over at my Etsy shop, C. Beth Crochet.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking forward

It's 2011 and here's what I'm looking forward to this year:
  • Watching Chickie's art skills develop. I have loved seeing what she's been coming up with lately. She's showing so much interest and creativity. We have artists on my mom's side of the family, and I think she's inherited that gene. I really can't wait to see where it goes!
    (This is Chickie with her cousin Molly, doing swimming lessons together. They live halfway across the country from each other, so this will probably never actually happen--but what a great idea!
  • Learning to care less about what other people think, and be more content with not having the same strengths that others have. (This isn't exactly a resolution...more like a prayer.)
  • Becoming a better runner. That includes being a healthier runner--I'm looking forward to getting past my recurring tightness issue in my right leg, hopefully once and for all.
    (About to cross the finish line at today's 5K Resolution Run.)
  • Watching Zoodle continue to develop his fantastic, friendly personality...and watching him learn to control his toddler emotions a little better. (He was, shall we say, very two years old during the last 2/3 of our trip!)
  • Seeing my husband continue to become a stronger triathlete. He is so talented, and it's really fun to see how he continues to improve. I think he could run on one foot and still be faster than me. Well, almost, anyway.
  • Getting to know online friends better, and making new ones. Thanks for being there for me!
Happy 2011!