09 November 2011

The long-promised Avebury Henge post

A few posts back I mentioned skipping Stonehenge (except for taking pics outside the fence) and visiting the Avebury henges (check out the wiki) and then promised photos.  I'm betting y'all are thinking I forgot, eh?  Nope, just have to be in the mood for blogging pics because it is so time intensive.

A few miles outside Avebury you start noticing stones.......surrounded by cows!!!

Yes, I was totally geeking out when I started spying them, totally amazed me how extensive this is and can't imagine the scope of work it took to re-create after people and nature took their toll.

Since there's no entry fee, I highly recommend a stop at The Henge Shop for souvenirs, I ended up spending far more because I didn't feel extorted, lol.  Oh, apparently there's a National Trust official shop there too. 

There's my gate thing again 

 Doesn't look too terribly steep

Might wanna reconsider that previous thought

 Stones, near and far

Is that not just gorgeous?  


Sheep grazing=sheep piles, yep I stepped in one

Yes, there are people who come here to worship with whatever their particular beliefs may be

Didn't realize it at the time but there was another path that you could follow around this section of stones, I missed out on quite a few more

Again my photography "skills" in no way captured the scope and "feel" here but if you visit the UK I do urge you to make this one of your stops.  I love the ability to get out and move amongst the stones, even being able to touch them without someone glaring at you and saying "No, that is not allowed!".  Just be prepared to do some walking to fully experience it :-)

05 November 2011

Plaster a smile on

I seem to find myself in a position where I'm not only frustrated with my job, I absolutely detest it.  And that's not a good place to be in if you drive a truck. All the issues that have been going on all year are not getting any better, they're worsening......there's going to be yet another dispatcher change next week and a slight swap in the loads I'm hauling, mostly the same places but parts for one of the other big 3 auto companies.  Shouldn't be a big issue, right?  Yet each change in dispatcher drives home the fact that they don't want the drivers to have a life outside of work and yes, even resent it if you seem to be doing something in that life that's more than what they bother to do with theirs.

This week has been extremely frustrating in that I was sent out to relay a load on Tuesday that involved having to spend the night on a company drop yard in Memphis that's a pain in the ass to get to and has absolutely no facilities.......why did I have to spend the night there? Because of our Big Brotheresque, intrusive EOBR's (electronic on-board recorder). If I drive somewhere to get food or shower it's no longer my personal time, it's considered work time.  I also discovered last night that the eobr is not including on duty-not driving time in the countdown for how many hours you have available to work.......that's an incredibly fucked-up issue and I'm going to have at least 2 days where I've gone over my hours because I didn't realize that.  Yes, it's partially (mostly) user error on my part for not catching it sooner but then again that's extremely flawed.  So now within the next month I'm going to get my ass chewed on by our safety/log department and just have to plaster a smile on and take it.  That load by the way never materialized and I had to bobtail to the Nashville area to find an empty and wait to reload the NEXT day, which then canceled also so had to drive another 1.5 hours south to load that afternoon.

Oh yeah, while I'm on roll with the bitching here, my climate control system in this truck is still screwing up.  The bunk now only blows HOT air no matter what setting you have it on.  The cab is still intermittent on what system is gonna work in what way but I've given up on trying to get this thing repaired properly.......speaking of repairs, last several trailers I've picked up in Tennessee have had major work required which means I can only make it to our Little Rock yard then be there until the next morning because the repairs are running past my 14 hours.  Not a huge deal because I can spend the night at home but it does mean that I can't deliver in Laredo until 10-12 hours later than normal but it pisses the dispatchers off to no end.  Sorry, but I'm pushing it with driving the trailer that far for repairs and we're not talking minor issues here.

I also seem to be suffering some major post-marathon endorphin drop blues.......quite a bit actually.  Yesterday was so bad that I spent the good part of the day crying while bemoaning how much I despise what I'm doing at the moment.  Yes, it's up to me to change things and yes, it's time to adopt the stiff upper lip attitude and get on with it but this is my little part of the web to vent and talk about what's going on with me so I'm taking full advantage of it.  Ok, I think I'm done ranting, lol.  Wait, one more thing, it looks like I'm stuck in Laredo for the weekend as of right now.  Now I'm finished!

02 November 2011

I did it, I really did finish the MCM!!!!!!!!!!!

So, the Marine Corps Marathon.  My second marathon and really the only one I've got on my list for that distance of must do races.  Not only did I manage to make it to the start line--well after the gun sounded by the way due to the long porta-potty lines, lol--I even managed to finish. Very happy here considering that both were in quite some doubt.  Now that I've done two I think I can safely say that I really DON'T like that distance. This will more than likely be the last marathon I ever do. Yeah, almost sacrilegious to admit amongst my group of friends both virtual and real-life, but there it is.

Thoughts on the race.......crowded, awe-inspiring, crowded, tough, crowded, gorgeous, crowded.  A recurring theme, eh? And one that's repeated on nearly every blog and race report that I've read so far.  It was crazy crowded and packed for nearly the entire distance for me.  Constant side to side movement, trying to avoid throw-away gloves, sweats, and trash bags, not really being able to find a consistent pace for the first half of the race.  A guy tripped on some  debris left by other runners before we even got to the start line.  Can you imagine having to finish 26.2 miles with bloodied knees before you even got to the start mat?

I loved viewing all the monuments and sites, viewing the spectator signs, and reading some of the t-shirt backs of other runners had me tearing up.  For quite a few this was a very personal odyssey running in memory of friends and family. Quite simply, I can't come up with the words to express the upwelling of emotions from Sunday.

Ok, back to the "me" of this recap.  My only goal was to finish and be able to walk afterwards...the walking was a bit questionable though, lol. First 11 miles went without any undue pain and an unexpected  bump into one of my friends gave me and everyone else around us a much needed boost--that's Carol, she lights up everything and everyone around her!!  Started tiring around the 12 and decided to take a pee break figuring the lines would give me a chance to rest up and stretch my legs.  It did but almost took too long, don't recall any of the porta-potty lines throughout the course NOT having long lines.

A visit with a very good friend who came out to support and cheer me on around mile 17 or 19(???, can't really recall the exact mile) also gave me another boost but then came that endless bitch of a bridge........there was my wall, and everyone else's from what I was seeing around me.  Take the horrible surface, the inescapable wind, the constant incline and it was just soul-sucking.  Viewed the aftermath of another fall while on that bridge, not a pretty sight and I think the guy was kind of out of it. A couple of people next to me asked if he was ok and he snapped at them fairly hard.

Anyways, we finally get off that bridge and curve around to start meeting a sea of people coming back at you and it seems like the turnaround point is just some tease that's never ever going to happen.  It's here around mile 22-23 that I think I'm not going to make it because things start going blurry and dark on me.  Ooops.  Walk break till things crisp up, run on auto-pilot until it starts happening again, then walk again.  This went on until the finish line, very scary and I seriously thought I was gonna pass out more than once.  Fortunately I hadn't gone so far that I wasn't catching the warning signs in time to start walking before I fell out.  Damn blood sugar issues :-(.  My main thing I wanted to accomplish (other than finishing) was to not walk up the final push up the hill to the monument but I had one of the blurry/darkening episodes 1/2 way up, sigh........

But I finished!!!!!!!!!!!!! In under 5 hours chip time even (4:54:40, gun time was 5:12:38). Which is amazing considering my lack of training and the last minute foot issue. There was only one really long run of just under 20 miles and while it can be done on that little, I don't recommend it at all.

If you managed to slog through reading all this, I'm impressed.  There will be an update to the post later with pics but I'm writing on my netbook and the photos are on my other laptop.

Some excitement please? No mas, gracias

oh. my. word. What a couple of crazy weeks it has been.......looking back over it today while sitting in Memphis waiting on a (late!) relay it almost seems surreal.  I've already posted about my foot being hurt, as a result of a picture on facebook on Saturday, a recommendation from a friend to call another friend who just happens to be a foot surgeon (and an athlete) I was able to get it looked over first thing the next Monday morning. Diagnosis: Metatarsalgia, aka a bruised Tailor's bunion--much much MUCH better than the stress fracture that Dr. Bruce initially feared when he saw the swelling from the fb pic. So x-rayed, prodded, padded, and wrapped up I was sent out with a "listen to your body about running the marathon"--told ya he was an athlete :D.  The foam pad and 2nd skin gels had my foot feeling better almost immediately, hard to believe I was in tears 2 days before and couldn't put any pressure on that foot at all.

Swelling on Friday night

All wrapped up Monday

Next little hiccup came on Wednesday while I was making parking and rental car reservations, a phone call from a 1-800 number I didn't recognize. Normally I ignore them but since I was in the midst of travel plans actually decided to answer it. OMG........it was my credit card company telling me that there had been a charge of $948 originating out of Barcelona for someone trying to purchase jeans. Major heart palpitation time!!!!!!!!!! Quick review of my purchases, an explanation of I REALLY needed my cc for the weekend trip, and how I wouldn't be home to pick up the expedited one and they agreed to send it to my hotel in DC. Whew. I'm incredibly impressed with how quickly they acted and the amazing customer support I received.

Now comes Thursday, started with a visit to my amazing, non-scissor happy stylist Stacey to get my hair colored, trimmed, and straightened. Looked fantastic by the way, just the right pick-me-up I needed to get through my nerves about that afternoon's mammogram and whether or not I was going to be able to run on Sunday. She was also able to give me an outside perspective on my upcoming plans, as in my only responsibility is Elsie, I'm not getting any younger and what the hell is preventing me from doing something crazy-fun adventurous. Yeah, she rocks :-).

Blurry pic complete with cheesy grin :D

Oh, yeah. The MAMMOGRAM.  That word looms over most women in their 40s..........why does it strike fear in so many of us?  Mine turned out to be a little more exciting than most though.  Walked into the hospital (after a stop at the wrong building) only to be faced with a couple of calm but nervous looking people, who smile and say "Ma'am, we don't mean to alarm you but we're going to have to ask you to step into one of our offices back here for your own safety".  Ummm, ok?  On the way to the office, the woman gave me a quick explanation that there was a possible shooter in the hospital and they were escorting people to safe places until it was cleared up.  Not sure exactly how long we were sequestered in the office but we all just sat and chatted and texted to those who needed to know that we might be a little late, lol.  Very impressed with how the staff handled everything and the overall calmness although there was certainly some shakiness and nerves displayed after.  The guy who went took my information explained that they had just had training on this very scenario the week prior so everyone knew exactly what to do.  The mammogram? Turned out to be anti-climatic, no boob squishing required because a new digital machine had also been installed the previous week.