Marathon Update

I can't believe it's been more than a MONTH since I ran the marathon. Ok, so I'm catching up on everything but I did managed to run a PR - 3:50:28.

My running/training partner was having a fabulous day and put me to shame - she turned a 3:45:49 and managed to qualify for Boston! Absolutely terrific! I was one big cramp starting at mile 19 but still finished strong. Tired, sure. Stiff, yes. Sore - not so much. I'm back and running and my knees are almost in working order.

Time to get back to refereeing and yard work.

Oatmeal Cookies - v3.0

Experimentation continues - as always.

Version 2.0 was NOT great. It doesn't even merit posting. That being said, I marched on to version 3.0 (taking my co-workers' excellent feedback) and have settled on this recipe:

Cream together:

1/2 c shortening
1/2 c butter (softened)
1 c brown sugar, packed
3/8 c white sugar


1 t pure vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature

and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

Now add:

1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 t ground cardamom
1/2 t ground cinnamon

Mix at low speed until incorporated. Add

1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/2 c shelled, unsalted pistachios (you can roast these for a stronger flavor)

Finally, add:

2 c quick-cooking oats
1 c mixed grain quick-cooking breakfast (mix of barley, oat and wheat)

Now here's where it gets interesting. The size of the cookie matters - big surprise! The last few batches yielded <30 cookies and baking time was approaching 20 minutes. This time, I was closer to the 1" ball size and the yield was ~3 dozen (37 to be exact). Baking time was 15 minutes - and *perhaps* could have gone a bit longer - but not much.

Stick with aluminum 1/4 sheet pans - you can get about 14 cookies on them. One sheet at a time, middle rack - oven temp 350 degF.

These were awesome. I should take some pictures!

Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies

The cook in me likes to experiment with recipes. Right now, I've been working on a recipe for oatmeal cookies - and, of course, foisting them on my coworkers to garner feedback and (hopefully) helpful criticism.

My initial variations were simple - change the "extras" that go in. I'm not a fan of raisins in my oatmeal cookies, but I like the chewy-ness of dried fruit. So, I've opted for dried cranberries. Also, instead of walnuts, I go with pistachios. Finally - white chocolate.

On the spice side, I like a combination of cinnamon and cardamom - because the "warmth" and "spiciness" of the cardamom goes so well with the earthiness of the oatmeal. Then again, that's what I think.

Last batch was definitely too sweet - which means I need to back off the white sugar.

Recipe as it stands today:

1/2 c shortening
1/2 c butter (softened)

cream together with

1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c white sugar


1 t pure vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature

and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. This is your last chance to get air in the mix!

Now add

2 c quick-cooking oats
1 c mixed grain quick-cooking breakfast (mix of barley, oat and wheat)
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
pinch of salt

Mix at low speed until incorporated. Add

1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c white chocolate chips
1/2 c shelled, unsalted pistachios (you can roast these for a stronger flavor)

Mix well.

Roll mix in to ~1" balls and place on an ungreased, heavy aluminum sheet pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until the cookies have spread and the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

These cookies are very moist and chewy - because of the brown sugar and the shortening. They don't spread too far (again, because of the shortening) but get some loft out of the baking soda.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Marathon Training - Week 13

Monday - Cross

Felt icky and stayed home. This cross-training isn't working out as well as I'd like. Hrm.

Tuesday - Run 5 miles

5 miles, check. Pouring down rain - and I mean POURING down rain! Went out just as it started and came in just as it was tapering off. Sheesh.

Wednesday - Run 10 miles

Rest day. Rain, cold, ick. When did we move to Seattle?

Thursday - Run 5 miles

Did ~6.5 over lunch and then a soccer game in the evening. Total miles probably 8 or 9 - though the game is less of a "run" and more of a "saunter". Ah well.

Friday - rest

Rest day (for sure) and took my sweetie to the airport. It's gonna be a tough weekend.

Saturday - run 10 miles

6 miles (or so) around town - felt HORRIBLE. I think I'm still sick ...

Sunday - run 20 miles

I *think* we ran 22+. We were out for abour 4:15 and climbed all the way to Skyline and then did an out and back from Wunderlich to Huddart. What a beautiful trail - but holy cow, IT'S MUDDY! Lots of slipping, sliding and even a face plant. I went out with shoes that were on their last legs (so to speak) and they didn't come home. Straight in to the bucket after I rinsed them off. Also blew out a Gu packet in my Camelbak - which meant I only had 1 Gu rather than 2. Man, I was feeling that one! Regardless, it was a good run. I think we're totally ready for the marathon.

Kittens and Mittens - finished!

Success! Splendid, wonderful, success! The mittens felted up BEAUTIFULLY in the washer. I'm amazed at the difference in size before and after. I resisted the temptation to do them one at a time, but I do have a picture with my hand as a gauge. Anyway, pix of the finished mittens when I get them. I'll almost certainly make a hat to go with it - but whether or not I follow the accompanying pattern remains to be seen. I'm so thrilled!

I may well have caught the felting bug as I'm already dreaming of interesting fair isle pattens to do with these yarns that could then be felted into beautiful beanies and toques and other wonderful stuff. Geez. Another way to spend my time ...

Marathon Training - Week 12

Monday - Cross

No yoga for me this week, feeling cruddy. :-(

Tuesday - Run 5 miles

Run 5 miles, check. Back to sleep ...

Wednesday - Run 6 miles

Run 6 miles, no check. Mowed the lawn and did serious yard work for an hour - I'll call that "cross training" :-) Referee a slowwwwwwwww game tomorrow night, which means I'll need to go for a run before the game.

Thursday - Run 5 miles

Ran a HORRIBLE 5 miles at the reservior (think I'm still sick) but got another 2.5 refereeing. I hesitate to call that running, but there it is. With the weather being as warm as it is, I'll definitely be running tomorrow ...

Friday - rest

definitely took this one seriously. Rested, I did.

Saturday - run 6 miles

Snowshow for 4 miles, and a total time of ~2h. Certainly a good workout!

Sunday - run 12 miles

Went the 7 extra miles and did another loop in Woodside. Same as last weekend and this tops me off for the week!

Circular Knitting and Jogging ...

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? How on earth does one "jog" and "knit"?

Basically, this is a age-old problem for those of us who use either circular or double-pointed kneedles to knit. It's a real treat on things like hats and mittens to be able to knit in one piece from the get-go. Also, on sweaters, you can knit the front and back all in one piece and then use a technique called "steeking" to essentially cut open and knit-in the sleeves. Makes those go fast fast fast.

All this sounds wonderful. But, there's a problem. Knitting in the round is essentially knitting in one, big, long spiral. There's a lean to the left as one row gets placed on top of the other. This, dear friends, is the "jog". Crochetting doesn't have this problem as there's always a "lift" at the end of a row to account for this. I've been really frustrated at how noticeable this problem becomes - particularly when colors change. It's annoyed me enough that I'm still planning to knit sweaters as separate front and back pieces so that I have a shot at getting things straight!

Well, it's time to conquer my fear and dive in to solving this problem. Funny, tho - a person as in to running as I wanting to give up jogging! :-)

I found a few links that talk about the problem:

At this point, I can't guarantee that any of these work. I won't be incorporating them in to the mittens I'll be finishing this weekend, but I may try to do something with the sweater I'm hoping to finish. I need to do some deconstruction on the shoulders before I head for the dreaded "three kneedle bind-off" to fix that seam.

Yeah, I never liked jogging anyway.

Kittens and Mittens

Yup, that darned sweater is still sitting in my project box just waiting for me to unknit the whole thing. To help assist my procrastination, I started a pair of mittens from Knitty (link in the sidebar). These mittens are knitted up extra large before being felted. The gauntlet style and ribbing has really tested my patience, but the upside is that I've discovered a BEAUTIFUL new yarn from Cascade. A wonderful peruvian wool that knits up wonderfully.

The first mitten is done - and it currently looks like, and is the size of, an oven mitt! Check out the picture on the right. The guys gave me all kinds of crap about it (not much to do but knit when it's snowing so durned hard) and I kept assuring them that "it'll shrink - honest!" Man, I sure hope so. Picture is pre-felting. I'm trying to decide if I felt them separately so that I can do a "before" and "after" version of this. Hrm. That would imply time to actually knit this one up!

The jury's out on the hat - it's likely when I see how well the mittens felt up. Plus, they're so darned cute.

Marathon Training - Week 11

Ok, so maybe last week wasn't my best. Winter running and other fun things are definitely a distraction. That being said, it's time to get back to the business of running. Starting this week, I'm also including the Intermediate I training mileage since it looks like I'm tracking closer to that set anyway ...

Monday - Cross

Aaaah, yoga. This is one of those activities where I forget how wonderful it is until I start doing it again. Yep, week 2 of this and I can feel flexibility, balance and range of motion changing. I'm also getting some muscle tone back in my arms! No setting up too close to the heater this time, either. Mmmmmmm. Nice.

Tuesday - Run 5 miles

Settin' the hash tonight to get my 5 miles in. Not sure yet where it'll go, but I've at least got the start and the OnOnOn figured out. A nice 5 mile jaunt through the Stanford campus is easy for a pick-up run. Now, if only the cold, wet, dark weather would get over with!

Wednesday - Run 10 (8) miles

Gurgh ... work late ... :-( This became a rest day ...

Thursday - Run 5 miles

6.5 glorious miles in Woodside. Now, if I can manage to keep my afternoon calendar open, then it's a makeup 10 miles on Friday!

Friday - rest

Woodside again - but this time I extended it by going in to the Phleger Estate. Total distance is probably somewhere between 8 and 8.5, but it's hard to know. Something was making noise in the bushes and I started to get a bit squicked. Also, it's muddy. Very muddy. Regardless, I felt GREAT by the time it was all done. I'm totally ready for the weekend!

Saturday - run 10 (8) miles

I think I ran something like 7, but can't be sure. I've not mapped the Belmont route yet. That, combined with a day of pulling weeds (one yard waste can, one garbage can, two recycle bins full) and I'm pooped!

Sunday - run 20 (18) miles

Huzzah for me! 19 miles all by my lonesome. Combination of my standard Woodside loop (~6.5) and the Huddart 1/2 Maraton (13.1) and that makes 19. I'm deducting ~.5 from the Huddart loop since I headed back to the car prior to completing the FULL out and back, but it's close enough for engineering work. Given the ~1000' of climbing I'm certainly happy with a <3h total time. Gotta say, tho - I'm STARVING! *boing* *boing* Awesome day. AWESOME!

Marathon Training - Week 10

I've found that my running motivation is somewhat "intermittent". I attributed it mostly to the fact that I didn't have a goal in mind - a race, an event, whatever. So, my running parner and I finally sucked it up and picked the The Avenue of the Giants in May. Inevitably, a Training Spreadsheet gets created. More musings on that as the weeks go by, but suffice to say, it certainly helped get us moving! So, to that end, I'll hopefully be updating my progress against that spreadsheet and whining about when I don't.

Monday - Cross Training

I've decided that Bikram yoga is my cross training event this time around. Overall, I love this activity, but yesterday was tough. I made the mistake of setting up too close to the heater. I had to stop during two poses and just "recover". While that's always disappointing, when it was over, I was glad to have gone to class.

Tuesday - Run 4 miles

Ok, I'll admit it. I can't run 4 miles anymore. It just doesn't seem worth it. Anything less than 40 - 45 minutes doesn't burn off the frustration or give me any satisfaction. Then again, if there had been a hash tonight, it might be a different story. Regardless - mission accomplished. Woodside loop, ~6.5 miles.

Wednesday - Run 9 miles

Gurgh, not today. Tax appointment and meetings through lunch made that die a horrible death. Assuming it's not pouring tomorrow, I'll likely do it then. Likely. Maybe. Gurgh.

Thursday - Run 4 miles

Feh! Took advantage of the sunshine (but lots of wind) and got those pesky 9 miles in. Nice trip along the Crystal Springs Reservior. Out and back in just about 1:13, ~8 min/mi pace. That's good! No more running until Sunday tho ... it's a snowshoe weekend!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday - shoulda been alot ...

Fer-get-it! The weather up in the mountains was ridiculous. We got 2 1/2' (yes, FEET) of snow overnight between Friday and Saturday; and that was on top of the ~6" we got on Friday during the day. The snow guy didn't come by before about 10:00a on Saturday, and the roads weren't plowed until 6p that night. Rather than the amazing snowshoe we had planned, we went straight from the cabin. 3.5 miles, but it took 1:45. Snow was about mid-thigh in the worst spots, even with snow shoes, and I was the poor sucker out front breaking trail. It was good exercise, but a little help would have been appreciated! Apparently, back here in the Bay Area, Hwy 280 was closed for 4h between San Mateo and Millbrae due to ice and snow. Even in the north bay, just past the Golden Gate, there was a 31 car pile up that resulted in 101 being closed for almost 11 hours. Man - what a little snow will do!

Total Mileage: 19 (including snowshoe)

My First Pattern!

Finally, after agonizing and drawing and erasing and Excel-ing, I finally created my very own fair-isle hat pattern. Was it complicated? Yes! Ok, maybe not. But, knitting is so far away from engineering that the challenge is almost overwhelming.

(time for an anecdote, more about the hat in a minute)

As I was wrangling with two-handed knitting, trying to keep the floats from bunching and firing off the occasional "unspeakable", I kept thinking of my dad. He spent more than 20 years designing intricate machinery ala Rube Goldberg and Willie Wonka. Everthing required precise measurements - down to the third decimal place. Then, as he got closer to retirement, he took up woodworking. What a nightmare! Wood just couldn't do what metal did! If you so much as BREATHED on it the measurement changed. He had his table saw top lapped to within thousandths of true flatness. He used calipers on his dovetail joints. He was fighting the wood every step of the way - though everything he did make was beautiful. So, there I was. Worrying about needle gauge, stitches per inch, yarn tension and going slowly insane. Then, I gave in to the yarn. What a relief.

So, back to the pattern.

It's a simple cap - knitted in the round using stockinette with a row of purl to stop the curl of the hat. Traditional nordic design using non-traditional colors. Background is black, pattern in bright blue. Yarn is Plymouth Encore worsted-weight acrylic so that it will stand up to use, washing and general mayhem. Picture when I get one. The best part about the cap, it fits! (note to self - pattern repeat is 14 stitches and I cast on 70 using size 9 needles)

At some point I'll go back to my sweater ... though I think I'll be starting over. I hate it when sizing isn't right ...