Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chilly Weather

I ran this morning in long sleeves for the first time of the season.


It was a crisp morning. I couldn't see my breath, but it definitely took a while to warm up. My legs were bright red when I got back (had shorts on).

I've always enjoyed running in the morning more than in the evening. I usually find too many excuses/obligations/fatigue to divert my plans of a nice, unwind-from-the-day run after work. However, I've noticed in the past few years it's been more difficult to get up and get moving. It is hard for me to believe I used to get up and out the door around 6 a.m. so I could be to work by 8 or 8:30. Over the summer I tried the evening approach, but it really just isn't my best time.

I think my new fall/winter schedule will be getting up and running after Greg leaves for work, which is sometime around 8. Thanks to self-employment, I can start a grumbling, zombie-walk from the bedroom while he is getting ready and be ready to go out the door when it's light outside. That puts me to work around 10 a.m. This plan works as long as I don't have a pressing a.m. deadline.

Though it will be cold to start out running before the earth warms up a little, it's a great start to the day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rubber Stamp Man

Tuesday I was visited at my studio by Barry, a rubber stamp salesman. Yes you heard correct, folks. Rubber Stamp Salesman.

He was probably in his 50s-60s, dressed in a nice suit, and had a hard briefcase full of stamps to demo, each in their own custom shaped foam cut-out block. He asked me if he could have 5 minutes of my time to demo his stamps.

Uh, sure. WTF? A stamp demo? Don't you just slam it on the ink pad and then slam it on the paper?

Turns out, professional stamps of the 21st century have evolved...if only a bit. (How much evolution can they really accomplish?) You no longer need an inking pad. Somehow through the amazing technology of Self-Inking™®, now the stamp has ink already built in. So you don't have to hit the ink before you hit the paper. And you can adjust the ink flow simply by turning the handle.


I didn't need a stamp. Or a brass nameplate, which he also sold. (Though I considered for a moment ordering one that says No Solicitors.) But he did offer me a quote on business cards, before I realized they were just the black raised puffy ink kind with 4 not-so-designed styles to choose from. Oh well.

He wasn't pushy. The only suggestion he made was for me to get a signature stamp, in complete olde-timey sales language all but missing "step right up!":
[stamp man]: Signature Stamp! George Washington's the example. [boom! stamp is stamped revealing G.W.'s signature] Who doesn't sign their name? A stamp of your signature saves you time and money! And it prevents carpal tunnel syndrome.
[steph]: giggles and turns to look at her computer

[stamp man]: It does! It's been proven.

awkward pause...

[steph]: do you have opaque inks?
Paul (studio two doors down) also got the demo. We discussed later. Death of a Salesman, how many stamps do you have to sell to pay for a nice suit, and who still uses stamps were some of our comments/perplexed questions.

I'm glad random people walk in to my studio to keep my days here interesting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Akron Half Marathon Race Report

Saturday Sept. 27th I ran the Akron Half Marathon. I was sick, but it was OK. It was the tail end of the cold and I had been sleeping well thanks to cold medicine. I knew I was going to be slow anyway, so now I had an excuse ;)

Friday around lunch time we dropped the puppies off at the vet and drove up to Akron. It was a long boring drive. I have lost my tolerance of car rides over 2 hours. Maybe I need to reinstate Mad Libs and coloring books for travels above the 120 minute mark.

We stayed with Daryl and Paula in Massilon, which is only about a half hour from the marathon site. Daryl was also doing the half and Paula, sick with bronchitis was doing the full marathon! Paula and I drove down to the Expo while Greg helped Daryl with a photography gig. Then Daryl made us some yummy chicken alfredo and after some digestion and talking we went to bed.

I woke up at 2:30, not being able to sleep. Kind of laid there until 4:15 when the offical alarm went off. Greg was going to go to the race later with David, whose wife was running the marathon as a 3:50 pacer. I was glad he was able to have a spectating buddy and didn't have to get up quite as early.

Paula, Daryl and I headed out the door around 5:00 I think. We got there in plenty of time to find parking, pee, poo, be nervous, and wish each other good luck...all in the dark. Poo-ing in a port-o-john in the dark is not fun. Especially when 5 minutes later you realize the stadium you finish in was open the entire time. Oh well, I suppose the experience counts.

The race started at 7:00. Daryl and I lined up mid-back. Paula was trying for the 4:15/4:30 pace so she went off to find a pacer. The gun went off and we shuffled to the start line. I was actually running by the time we reached the start line, which surprised me for such a large race.

I lost Daryl pretty quickly but was happy to just settle in to my own pace. My first couple of miles were a bit too fast. I took a Hammer Gel at mile 2 and downed some water. I was drinking a lot of water since I was sick. I saw Greg, David and Paula's sister at mile 3. Yay! I was so happy to see them. Then after I passed them I was really disappointed because it would be so long before I saw them again!

Yay they saw me! Awww... it's gonna be a few more hours...

Mile 4...no water. They had ran out. Hmmm... Mile 6 no water... Panic! Mile 8...barely any water. The race volunteers were running into a building filling jugs and then coming out and pouring while runners who waited with cups passed them under the flowing water. I had another Hammer Gel to take, so I grabbed 2 cups. I downed the one and part of the other. Then I rolled the cup top down a little, folding it, so I could carry it and run without spilling it. I was very nervous they wouldn't have any water for the rest of the race! There was no way I could finish without water.

Where's the water?!

We were running through a nice neighborhood at this point and some of the residents were standing at the ends of their driveways with hoses. I thanked each one and took some water from one since my belly was revolting from the Hammer Gel. At mile 9, there was water again, and Powerade. I decided I would just take Powerade the rest of the race (if they had it) instead of my last gel because my belly wasn't happy and I didn't know what the aide station liquid status would be anyway.

Around mile 9.5 - 10 we ran though the University of Akron's campus which was kinda neat. I was starting to fall apart here though. After the freakout of possibly no water and mile 8's extra long water stop, I lost the people I was running with. There were some run-walkers who would pass me, then stop to walk and I'd pass them, then they'd pass me, stop to walk, etc etc. I was enjoying this!! After I lost my "group", I kinda tried to make up time (MISTAKE) and ran fast for a while. Never quite got my heart rate back to normal and started suffering.

On campus (I think).

Around mile 10, my left knee started throwing a fit. A big twinge and it slightly gave out, so I had to baby it for a while. I was really starting to hurt at this point. I saw Greg and the crew again around mile 10. That really helped! I tried to make a funny face, but it really turned out bad in the photos. I said something like "I"m in pain" and kept trudging on. Next time I'd see them would be in the stadium.

Hi guys! Ow!!

At mile 11, the half and full marathons split. The full marathon went on to tour Akron, while the half marathon went on a closed down highway. A mile and half of concrete, no spectators (just construction barrels) and a crystal clear view of where you had to run to before you turned around to go back into downtown for the finish. Oh, and did I mention it was all uphill? AWFUL. The only really bad part of the entire race (aside from the water shortage).

There were some volunteers around 12.5 - one lady told me I was looking good.
I told her she was a liar and she laughed but insisted I was doing well. It was funny and I appreciated a little interaction to take my mind off the pain.

Running into the stadium was a lot better than I thought. This was just Akron's AA baseball team's stadium, so it was tiny and not nearly as intimidating as the old Riverfront statdium. I found a wee bit of energy and tried to run a little faster and like I wasn't in pain. It was a very nice finish. And soooo easy to find everyone again!

Daryl and his cool headband. And he felt good enough to be drinking the free beer they give you.

I grabbed some food and Greg found me at the end of the ramp into the stands. My feet were very swollen so I loosened my shoes and we sat and watched some more of the race. I had Greg bring a soda, as this is my new race recovery drink. I think it helps my sugar/energy levels get back to normal. I've been drinking sunkist or dr. pepper after long runs and feel GREAT right after it!

Mmmmm RC Cola...

Daryl finished his first half in 2:17 which was great. Paula finished around 4:37! Amazing. She had only ran 13.5 miles in training. Crazy girl! My time was somewhere around 2:43, a 12:30 pace which considering all the circumstances, I'm fine with.

Amazingly, all my runs since the race have been sub-11 pace with minimal effort. Finally. I am doing the Mason Mini Marathon in November, which is only 9.3 miles (so funny to say that). I'm hoping to run it around 11:15 pace.