24 May 2012

busy, busy

Somehow (it's all TWBrit's fault) I managed to get into the Google Big Tent UK 2012 conference at The Grove.  Very, very, very cool and interesting, it's one of those things you read about afterwards and think how in the world do I get an invite so I am very appreciative of this opportunity.  There were a couple of things that fell flat and there a few that it just seemed like they liked the sound of their own voices a bit too much but overall it was a nice mixture of speakers and debate.  My favorite session was Aleks Krotoski's very enthusiastic presentation on her Serendipity Engine although the talk in between sessions was every bit as intriguing as what was going on inside the tent.  Quite an eclectic mix of people were attending although as is to be expected it was heavy on journalists.  There is quite a bit already written and published about the talks so please feel free to google (wink, wink) and read up on what other people had to say about the talks.

Unfortunately, Aleks was so animated I had trouble getting a good image of her

The Serendipity Engine

During a break

Sorry, forgot to take a pic before I chowed down on half my lunch

Eric Schmidt (most people left after his session, so excellent planning on having it after lunch)

Taking a breather

The Good or Evil session

Books! signed by the authors no less :-)

The Grove entrance

Like last year I seem to have brought my area's hot weather to the UK with me and if I was to have any complaint about the day's events it was that it was sweltering inside the Tent, however unseasonably warm temps are not the planners's faults so not grumbling at them in the least, they did the best they could with the conditions.  This opportunity has given me a lot to think on and I loved being able to attend.  

Back in the UK

Yes, I am back in the UK for a little bit.......after getting home from Joplin Saturday I had a marathon packing and house cleaning session to get ready for my flights Monday. Yes, flights. There is not much that flies direct out of Little Rock but at least LIT has free wifi! Oh and I had to get Elsie all packed up and ready to spend the time I'm away at Brice and Patti's house (I miss my dog *sad face*).  A bit weird clearing TSA security this time around, they had to re-calibrate the scanning machine then the bottom of my left rib cage got some extra attention from an agent.  Not my bra underwire, my rib cage!  She even asked what it was, lol.  I was so tempted to just pull my shirt up in line so she could see, either I have a deformed skeletal structure or they don't get many through with not much fat on their upper abdomen.

overlooking the wing at Little Rock

The flight from Little Rock to Chicago was delayed--apparently it's normally late, not sure why they don't adjust the flight schedule if it is so much--so the 45 minutes I thought I had turned into 20 and O'Hare does shuttle buses rather than a tram and those buses were running very slowly.  Not much time to gather my carry-on, figure out where I had to be, make a quick stop to grab a bottle of water then do a very swift walk to my next terminal and board the flight to Heathrow.  Wasn't too pleased once I boarded because they made me stow my carry-on in business class (they don't like you making forays into business class from cattle class to get stuff out of your bag) and I find my seat in a very packed plane already occupied.  The flight attendants were awesome while they sorted it out but it was a hassle getting to stand there waiting and trying to stay out of everyone's way until it was.

Couldn't get comfortable at all on the flight from Chicago to London and it was frustrating not having easy access to my toothbrush and contact lens fluid. The food also didn't seem quite as edible on this flight as my previous ones so didn't eat much. I did get to see the Olympic site while up in the air though, quite impressive but I couldn't get a pic because it was during the portion when we have to turn off all our electronics.

The UK! Finally!

After arriving and clearing all the Immigration stuff and trying to figure out where to meet my ride, my first stop was for FOOD! and a stop at Boots to stock up on personal items while here (darn luggage weight restrictions).  Oh, by the way, powder scent here is called cotton, just a hint if you find yourself in the deodorant department trying to find it.  

pretty :-)

I did eat at a pub that I'd tried on my last trip for dinner that night, again service was slow initially but the waitress was brilliant, it was just a little busy and I think she was still kind of new at it.  This time I opted for the liver, bacon, and onions with peas and mash with my usual drink while I'm here, a Kronenbourg shandy--half a pint of Kronenbourg and half a pint of lemonade (or 7up for us from the states).

View from my table, yes I did wonder if my lamb liver was one of the relatives of those out in the field

I don't think the jet lag is hitting me near as bad this time but I have gotten up and ran both days--3.37 miles yesterday and 4.7 today so I think that's helping although both days were tougher feeling than what they should have been compared to what I've been running :-(.  

Joplin Memorial Run

In the previous 5 days I've actually done a fair bit of moving about.  On Saturday I ran the Joplin Memorial Run Half Marathon that my friend Julie talked me into registering for a couple of months ago.  While the race wasn't what I was hoping for (sub 2 hour) at least I got the mileage done and that was my 3rd race in 7 days so I don't suppose I should grumble about a 2:03:39 chip time but I would've like to have skipped the porta potty stop during the race.  Oh and don't get a pedicure 2  days before a half marathon!!! My feet were feeling some pain, I'm still surprised I didn't end up with blisters.

First race in my half-fanatics shirt :-)

Part of our running club crew that ran Joplin

There is still a fair bit of  damage in the Joplin area, quite sobering to hear some of the stories and see the leveled areas from the tornado that hit just over a year ago.  I'm not going to get into the details since this is all available with a simple search but it will definitely make you tear up.

Memorial Tree, terrible pic but my phone started messing up.

So, the race itself........The good:  lots of porta-potties both at the start/finish line and all along the course.  Fantastic volunteers at the water stops and even the residents all along the course were sitting outside cheering us on.  They had 2 troughs set up with ice water to soak your legs and feet in afterwards.  The shirts are technical and offered a choice of tee or singlet style and they had male/female cuts available (most races only offer unisex and no smaller sizes than a small).   There was lots of water available on the course and after the race and if you were of legal age you could get two free beers afterward.  Gorgeous course for the first few miles and the medal is absolutely beautiful.


lots and lots of water

cold but felt so good on my aching feet

Beer, Blue Moon or Miller Lite

ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Blue Moon of course (and my cute Brooks Launch trainers!)

Isabel and Julie waiting on me to finish my beverage

Isabel and me before the race

The bad:  Quite a few of the porta-potties were not lockable.  I know that's not the fault of the race director but of the supplier but it is something they need to insist on next year from whatever company they hire.  Lots of people getting walked in on including me at one point.  Didn't help that the runner was over-aggressive in pulling the door open, lol.  Also it would be nice if there was hand sanitizer available either inside or at the tables.  While the first part of the course was gorgeous, there was a section that had to be run on sidewalks and it was covered with loose gravel, I'm kind of surprised no one fell during this section.  This race is a hilly one and the latter part had no shade whatsoever so be prepared for that when you run it.  Pre-race banquet was the usual: 2 kinds of pasta, salad, green beans and cold apple or cherry pie and despite asking for coffee, no one bothered coming to our section with the carafe.  Unless there's a speaker you really want to hear, this is a skip.

another "chime" for my door :-)

If you're in the Joplin area I do highly recommend eating at the Red Onion Espressoria.  I had the best BLT and A sandwich there, gotta love a place that offers fresh sliced avocado rather than mashed up guacamole.  The Banana Foster latte was also a huge win.  

Isabel, me and Julie at the expo.

15 May 2012

A Tale of 3 Races

Occasionally I race. And occasionally I do ok at it but that wasn't the case in the 2012 Toad Suck 10k.  I can speak from experience that going to a rock show the night before and getting approximately 4 hours of sleep after being on your feet for about the same amount of time is NOT good race prep.  Makes me wonder if the girl who showed up in uggs (to the Lacuna Coil gig, not the race!) might have had the right idea after all, lol.

Since my legs were DEAD from the night before my plan was just to show up and get the mileage done especially since it turned out to be such a muggy day--it was incredibly hard to breathe.  If I hadn't already paid for this race I would have just skipped it, grand prix or not......So with my "race strategy" settled, I lined up in the back, started out easy and just kept getting slower with each mile.  I chatted with people, stopped at every water stop, took the time to find the trash bins to throw my cups away and just generally lolly-gagged about. Oh yeah, this was not a brag-worthy 10k on my part, it ended up being my second slowest one to date and my slowest was just after recovering from a bout of bronchitis.

Over a thousand women lining up 

Second race of my 3-race blog post was the Women Can Run 5k, the race that marks the end or "graduation" of the Women Run Arkansas 10 week clinic.  Oh my gosh, it was so amazing to get to participate in the program this year!!! While I managed to do quite well this time around, the real successes are all the women who never believed they could run or walk half a mile much less 3.1 miles.  Truly amazing getting to see the joy--and sometimes disbelief--on so many faces at the end of the race.  I could go on and on about how fabulous the WCR program is and never come close to doing it justice.  

As far as my race, it's one of the few where I'm happy with how I performed and it's rare that I can say that. Mile splits were almost dead on with each other (7:43, 7:40, 7:44 per garmin) and while this wasn't a 5k pr, I'm within spitting distance of setting another if my training continues to go as well as it has.  

The final race was the Jesse is Awesome Half Marathon the day after the WCR 5k.  Again this wasn't a "race" race for me, more of a chance to participate and support an event that some great friends put on.  Hey, who can pass up getting up early on a Sunday morning to run 13.1 miles in gorgeous weather???? Add in cheering sections, water stops, friends who are equally crazy to hang out with and it makes for a perfect start to the day.  Even better was getting to run with Tala and meeting someone whose name I recognized from the grand prix roster (she's in my age group) although I'm sure they were ready to stuff a gag in my mouth  by the end because of my talking so much., lol.  

Running and smiling :-)


08 May 2012

Music to soothe the soul

If it's not obvious from my earworm posts, I am a huge music lover and I do love going to see live shows when I get a chance but I don't like attending them by myself.  Well, lo and behold it turns out that another friend also shares quite a few of the same musical tastes that I do AND goes to concerts as much as possible!!!  There also happens to be something of a surge of great bands playing in some of our smaller venues, for example, last week Awolnation, Hank III, Toadies, Cavo, and Lacuna Coil all performed in Little Rock.  Wow, what a tough choice to choose which ones to attend, eh?

Initially we settled on the Wednesday night Toadies show at Juanita's because I had a race on Saturday morning, unfortunately Awolnation played the same night at the same time in a different place so that ended up being a no-go (boooooo).  Absolutely no regrets about seeing the Toadies however, what a great band to see live and the opening act, Bobgoblin was amazing as well.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of a live show, the crowds milling about, vibration of the floors and walls, the music so alive that it shakes and moves through and off your body, mind, and soul--so incredibly primal.  I NEED that, can't believe it's been so long so since I've been able to slake that particular craving.  Yes, I crave music, I think I can live without most other things but music is not of one.  Although if I attend any more shows without ear plugs I may have to, lol.

It definitely helped the ambience that both bands acted like they were having a great time playing for us as much as we were enjoying being there.  Nothing worse than a group hitting the stage and acting like they are bored to distraction.  The crowds were smaller than I expected but it was a Wednesday night, aka a work night so I think a lot of people stayed home because of having to get up early.

Remember when I said initially earlier in the post about only attending the Toadies gig?  My friend and I were talking about Lacuna Coil not only appearing in Little Rock but HEADLINING the show and he said that he was going to attend after all because who knew when they would be here ever again and that if I wanted to ride along then he would pick up the tickets early in case it sold out.  A half a day of deliberation and I decided he made a very good point and we certainly have no shortage of 10k races in the area, lol.  

So yeah, at 9pm on Friday night I was again standing up near the stage waiting on the opening act Candlelight Red to start and making snarky tweets about the "fashion".  Again another stellar group that I hadn't heard of but I liked what they played  (even if 2 of 'em had faux hawks).  Their cover of Roxette's "The Look" killed! Unfortunately the only vid I could find to share has crap sound.  

Lacuna Coil was well worth the 0145 bedtime, hey I'm old, that time is a killer, lol.  Such amazing voices and energy........much, much, much, better live than on the studio albums and their albums are gorgeous.  They played a solid 2 hours with an acoustic set in the middle which was the only "low" point in the show.  It went on for 2-3 songs too long, most everyone was getting restless.  Probably would have been ok if there had been more seating in order to kick back and just chill but with most people standing it was a bit much.  It was also definitely nice not to have the ubiquitous groupie standing at the side of the stage who was alternately texting then throwing up her arm while making the duck face like there was at the Toadies show (did I mention I was feeling snarky, lol).  

After over 3 hours of headbanging (in heels, no less) and going to bed in the wee hours of the morning only to get up at 0545 for the Toad Suck 10k, let's just say that my time was less than stellar but I will save that for another blogpost--oh the anticipation! or not ;-).  

A pic for the obsessive Marshall fan TWBrit, personally I think the Texas flag is the best bit

02 May 2012

Pictorial Play

I seem to have fallen behind on the blog updates again but I've not been taking many pictures and I've been advised that there needs to be more "visual aids" in order to keep it interesting.  While I hate to admit it, that advice is probably correct, I've noticed more hits on the posts with pics. And let's face it, most of the time my prose isn't exactly scintillating stuff ;-).

So what's happened since April 15th?

approaching the Hogeye finish line, see the raindrops on the pavement?

Tessa was adopted by a wonderful older couple in Connecticut

Tessa and me before she boarded the transport to her new home

I've enjoyed far too many cups of coffee from the Keurig (thanks again Patti!!)

Battled fire ants

Volunteered at a health fair where I cheered on kids racing and made my hands sore from clapping so much

My sister placed first in her age group at a 5k!!!!!

Scored a Razorback jog bra from Ebay, WPS!!!!!!

Placed first in our clinic's Women Can Run Mock 5k

Ran 197 miles in April