Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And still the painting continues....

It will be a *LONG TIME* before Jim and I decide to paint any other rooms in our home. We are enjoying the outcome of our work in the "basement/game room" but it has taken a long time to get this far. Of course we could have painted the room *ONE COLOR* and been done with it on Sunday but we really wanted to try this 3-color scheme and with just one coat of the final color and trim left to do, we are satisfied with the results so far.

There is something to be said for saving up the money to have somebody else paint while your at work, though. And I have already started putting money in the jar for painting the master bedroom (with it's cathedral ceiling).

Now Wallace and Grommette have not been nearly as much trouble as we anticipated. They love to come down and watch up paint but so far there has been no paint tracked onto any of the carpets and we have only had to clean paint off of the tip of one tail. For that we are *very thankfull*!

So what does the room look like? Well the ceiling is "Melted Butter" (light yellow) and the walls are "Jonquil" (another slightly darker yellow) with an "Ice Storm" (grey) 10" stripe about 2/3 of the way down with the final 1/3 of the wall painted "Coat of Arms" purple. Having a graphic design degree and some knowledge of the color wheel, I can assure you that not only are these colors the same tone but they are complimentary colors meaning that they do go together.

The theory behind the lighter yellow on the ceiling? Well we read that if you are going to paint your ceiling a color - which is supposed to make a room appear bigger - then you should go with a shade that is very slightly a shade lighter than the wall. Thus creating the illusion of light and making the ceiling seem higher. Hey , sounded good to us so we figured we would give it a try. The great thing about painting is that if you don't like it, you can go buy a can of primer and start all over again.

Of course once we have finished painting we still have to put everything back in the room and decide where it is going to go and what else we are going to do to the room. The ultimate goal is to put a flat-screen tv over the fireplace (yep we have a fireplace in the basement) and set up the bikes on the trainer and *TAADAA* we have our own private spinning studio for the remainder of the winter. Where the cold winds of winter never reach us and where it is always bright and sunny (thanks to the "Jonquil" colored walls.

Good or bad, (well honestly maybe not if it ends up bad...) I will post pictures of "before and after" later this weekend when we finish.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wallace and Grommette - 9 months old!

Wallace now weighs in at a wopping 13 pounds and and when standing upright is as tall as the kitchen table. He can put his paws on the edge of the kitchen counter (36 inches from the floor) to see what kind of cat food can Jim is opening. Grommette weighs in at just shy of 11 pounds and is not nearly as tall but what she lacks in length, she makes up for in aerobatic prowress.

It is hard to beleive that they still have about 6-8 months before they reach their full adult weight and length! They are both serious laps cats and Wallace talks to us constantly .. in cat speak of course. They are thriving and happy and have us wrapped around their tails. (Hey what more can I say... they don't have "little fingers..."!!)

We *love* new toys...

I'm *too sexy* for this rug ...

I can't *quite* reach...

"Do a little dance ... Get down tonight!"


"Clean and Sparkle-eee"

What are *YOU* looking at?

So Sleepy...

Happiness is my owners lap
(editor's note: this picture was altered to maintain Grommette's modesty)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Synchronized Swimming in Triathlon?

PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Rickman Photography

One of my Blogger friends, Dianne, was sharing her youngest son's adventures in swim class and it brought back a flood of memories for me and made me question my seeming adversion to going to the pool to do the work necessary for the swimming portion of triathlons.

I was thinking about how much I have always LOVED water... I was constantly in and out of the ocean at the beach in the summer. I know I caused my Mom at least a dozen tiny heart attacks everytime I would venture far beyond the "no higher than your waist" limit when I was barely seven.

I took swim lessons at every girl scout camp that I went to and I went to ALOT of camps. (My parents were in their late 20s and camp is a great place to send your little girl when you both have to work full time jobs to make ends meet!) My parents were very good about making sure that I knew how to swim, float, tread water and I even learned some water rescue techniques thanks to summer camp.

Then as a teenager, I was very lucky to get to spend a few weeks every summer at my grandparent's place in Deland, Florida (just out side of Orlando/Daytona) and the only places I was ever found were:

1. The Pool
2. On my grandma's 3-speed bike tooling around the neighborhood
3. In front of the TV
4. At the table eating a snack or a meal

**the only exception were the trips to Disney, Sea World, Cypress Gardens and other places that we'd visit.

My daily routine most summer days was: "Breakfast - Bike - Pool - Lunch - TV (must wait 1/2 hour after eating) - Pool - Snack - Pool - Dinner - TV - Shower - Sleep."

In all that time in the pool, I don't think I ever "swam laps"....EVER!

I LOVED diving and pretending I was an olympic synchonized swimmer and swimming underwater for as far as I could but whenever my uncle (only 5 years older than me) or my Grandpa would challenge me to a "race" to the other side of the pool, I would race them but I was never really very interested because I always lost the race...

Funny how much I could love the water but I had very little interest in swimming beyond it's ability to get me back to the diving board, out to the raft, or to wherever my friends were....

So I have been trying to find my inner child to motivate me to do my swim workouts because the truth is, whenever I finally get in the pool, my first thought is always... "Why do I avoid this ??? I love being in the water!!"

But then the laps least now, thanks in large part to my friend Keri, I can spend some time practicing flip turns which are fun!

So I was thinking ...Why can't I "synchronize swim" my way to the out bouys and back at Eagleman Ironman 70.3? How is it different from "drafting" in the swim, which is legal in the swim portion of a triathlon.

Anybody ever synchronize swim" the Choptank, Nancy?

Something to consider while I drag my feet to the pool after work twice a week (when it really should be 3 times...)


Monday, January 22, 2007

First Snow of the Winter

So around 1pm yesterday afternoon, the first snow of the winter season here in the North VA Metro area began to fall. We ended up with about two inches of the white stuff in my neighborhood before the sleet began to fall and covered everything with a nice layer of ice. ICE - it's Mother Nature's version of laminent.

I know the reason the snow is simply because Jim and I took some Christmas Gift cash and went to Home Depot and bought ourselves a beautful shiny new grill, that is now living in the dining room because we didn't finish assembling it until *after* the snow had already started.

Did you know that stainless steel reflects kitten paw prints perfectly?
Oh yes it does!!

And why did the kittens walk all over the new grill? Well of course in protest of all the havock we are creating in the basement/family room. After over a year, we have finally gotten to the *basement part* of combining the household. The Salvation Army came and took the old sofa couch and we have actually decided on some paint colors for the walls and work is moving forward on our "game room/workout room" project. We have some pretty grand painting ambitions which include accent colors and some stripes which will require a laser level, lots of blue painters tape and a weekend's worth of dedicated painting time.

Jim is very open-minded when it comes to some of my more creative "interior painting schemes" and we tend to like the same colors and architectual styles so it's fun when we finally have the time to focus on house stuff. Right now we are doing just one section of the wall to verify that the colors and pattern work as we imagined. Next weekend is going to be the "Weekend of Paint" and I am very excited!

My only real concern is the kittens. Yesterday afternoon I painted the base layer of our "test" area. Wallace and Grommette, being the very social kittens that they are, tend to hang out where ever the human's are. They were having a ball racing throught the basement (linolium floors) knocking their plastic curly-cue toys all over the room. Only once did they come near the paint tray and seemed unimpressed. However, I know better...I am imagining little "jonquil" (light yellow with a touch of gold) colored paw prints all over my carpeted stairs next weekend. Anybody interested in an "in-house" kitten sitting gig next weekend? If we lock the kittens into a room upstairs, our neighbors are sure to call the ASPCA because Wallace (my talker) will be howelling so pathetically that they will be convinced we are beating him to death.

Heck, Wallace *talks* to himself even when he has the full run of the house. Last night for example, Jim and I were sitting in the living room, reading and Grommette came pouncing up the stairs to the kitchen, probably to get a snack from the food bowl. In only a minute from the time we saw Grommette come up the stairs, we began to hear the most pitiful series of meows, mews, "waa-ooohs" and chirps. Jim and I just sat quietly listening, not saying anything and watched as Grommette bounded down the stairs back to the basement - We imagine Wallace must have finally seen her when we heard a strange high pitched- "Me-Yurp!!" that made us both laugh out loud. We are sure that was Grommette saying "WHAT!!!!!!"

:) Wallace and Grommette make life a little brighter!

Have a good week! Live STRONG!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

One of a kind BABY!

While both names you entered were found in our database, neither was common enough to make it likely that someone in the U.S. has that name.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

One of a kind and Living STRONG!

(and my butt has not hurt ONCE today!! Whoohooo!!!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Always ready to support a good cause ...

Saving Babies, Together....

Every year, half a million babies in the U.S. are born prematurely. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death and many life long disabilities. The funds raised in WalkAmerica support research that saves babies' lives.

In April, my younger sister Heather and my darling nephew Rowen are walking (well truth be told, Rowen will be in a jog stroller) and raising money for the March of Dimes Foundation. Their fundraising goal is $250.00. Why not consider a donation, if you have an extra $10.00 available?

You can make a donation on their personal webpage HERE. Thanks for your support!


The "BUTT" pain continues ... but has been identified as Piriformis Syndrome (AKA - A Pain in the Butt) so I have cut way back on my cycling and swimming and have not run in over 8 days. I am also stretching gently ALOT, specific stretches for this injury.

So far, so good ... in the last 24 hours since I started the specific stretches my pain has been cut in HALF! No kidding! I am hoping that this weekend I can go out and try an EASY ONE MILE run once I get a new pair of my running shoes of choice (Brooks Adrenaline GTS 6), which are NOW on the "Endangered Shoe" List!!

UGH! Couldn't they leave a shoe design alone for more than a year??? I guess I will have to go buy a few more pair before they are all gone.

Life is never dull fact it is pretty good!! Live STRONG!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Because I was asked ...

You may laugh but these are the top 5 songs that get played the most on my iPod Nano which is used exclusively for running. This list might bring back some high school memories for some of you (Flatman, my brotha!!, Ms. Melanie!)

In descending order for how much the song can motivate me to run faster...

5. London Bridge by Fergie
4. Push It by Salt-n-Peppa
3. Add it Up by Violent Femmes
2. It Takes Two by Rob Base & DJ E-z Rock
1. Right Now by Van Halen
(w/ Sammy Hagar)

:) oh and Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot when the skinny chicks on the trail are making me feel fat ....

I have yet to try to run to my classic "Doing the Butt" (SEXY SEXY!!). It's not on my iPod, yet...


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

If I had a million dollors....

I'd be rich and I would buy myself one of these .....

Flatman my Blogger Brother and fellow "late 80-early 90s HIP-HOP loving" partner in musical crime is the reason I was found this bit o' bling.

But alas, I am but a humble graphic designer working for the Federal Goverment. But you know if I won the lottery .... I would have an 18K gold LiveSTRONG 10/2/96 band on my left wrist!

In other news ... my left butt muscle is still sore and mad at me. I am giving it a rest today. Funny ... it doesn't hurt at all when I ride my bike at an EASY pace... (like I did in the gym last night) only when I walk. Must be a "run-related" injury. All hail IBUPROPHIN ...

It's okay to take a rest day to recover, I have plenty to do. I am BUSY trying to get my LiveSTRONG Summit idea up and *running* ... a little hint of things to come is on the side bar over there .... but the website won't be up until this weekend.


Monday, January 08, 2007

D'OH!!! Don't wait until the last minute....

So I have known that I was planning to do the Myrtle Beach Half Marathon *SINCE LAST YEAR* when the 2006 race ended. You think I would have found time to register?

So today I go to register only to find out the the Half Marathon is already SOLD OUT! ARG!!!

So what is a girl to do? Well spend another $10.00 and register for the Marathon, of course. Now I don't know if I will run the whole distance but I wouldn't rule it out ... I guess I will see how I feel at the half marathon mark when my Sisters are getting ready to head to the finish line.

Heather and I are also going to do the Myrtle Beach 5K that happens the Friday evening *before* the Half Marathon because we thought it might be fun to do both this year. I wonder how much *fun* we will think it is at Mile 10 on Saturday?

So, after I found that I almost completely missed out on getting into Myrtle Beach, I rushed right over to the Cooper River Bridge 10K site and registered. While I was there I bought this great race souvenir t-shirt. I LOVE IT! It says:


Did I mention that my left gluteous maximous is still a little sore? Hopefully all will be better in time for tomorrow nights Spin class....

Life is GOOD !! Live STRONG!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Great Way to Start 2007!!

Ooooh ... I am on a roll! First of all .... I got in the pool on Thursday and logged 1200 yards in the 30 minutes I had available to me before I ventured into traffic for my hair appointment. And I didn't feel like I was going to fall asleep at the wheel afterwords. Hehehehe.... Happy, Happy, Happy Holly.

This weekend Jim and I took advantage of the BEAUTIFUL 70 degree weather to get to the local bike club's regular Saturday Winter Ride that starts just 2 miles from our house. I ended up doing 37.5 mile on the bike at a very modest (a.k.a. slow) pace of 12 MPH. I had company the entire ride from an older woman named Cathy. We had a good time together. The course was rolling with two big climbs and it was the nice weather that fooled me into doing the 34 mile option when my initial plan was to do the 28 mile option. Hey at least I didn't try for the 38 mile option which had 2 additional hills. I do still recognize that you have to ease back into the big miles. Even so, I payed for that decision to ride an extra 6 miles on the bike today.

Today's workout called for a long run of 6 miles and I knew it was going to hurt a little after such a long ride yesterday but I didn't expect to be *whining* about my butt after the run. All was good right up until the final mile when I started to feel my left butt/hip muscle tighten and cramp a bit. So I did the smart thing (I thought) and walked most of the last mile. Even with a long bit a stretching and some Ibuprofen, I still find myself hobbling up and down my stairs. Looks like tonight will be spent in the tub for a long soak with a good book followed by a generous dose of BenGay. Good think tomorrow is a scheduled "REST DAY" cause I need it.

My biggest drama for today was the seeming *failure* of my newest running TOY. Jim gave me a (Product)RED iPod Nano to replace my dying iPod Mini and a Nike+ kit for Christmas. Along with a cool little shoe adapter from my sister Cathy, I thought I was good to go with the Nano and the Nike+ receiver for my workout today. I almost cried when my Nano told me that it could not *find* my sensor.

I must have looked like a total doofus hopping around on the trail, muttering "Come on, Come on Nano ... It is right on my shoe..." Eventually I gave up and simply put my Nano on SHUFFLE and did the workout as I would pre-Nike+. Later when I came home, some investigating on my part revealed that I had successfully put my Nike+ receiver to *sleep* as I was instructed by the book - *so that it would not interfere with Flight instruments while traveling*, D'OH!!! So with the push of a little button, I awoke my Nike+ sensor and my iPOD Nano found it and I wandered around my house, testing out my new TOY. Now it will be ready for my next run!!

It's a good think I was able to wake it up, otherwise, I might loose the little contest that my sister Heather and I have going on. We both got iPod Nano's (hers is blue) and the Nike+ kits for the holidays and we are in a race to see who get their "Congratulations on a new PR" message from Lance Armstrong. I guess that means I am going to have to get some "speed work" training runs in if I want to get that message first, huh? But not until my gluteous maximus stops aching.

New toys make running fun!! Live STRONG!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Genetics ....Kinda Creepy....

If ever there were a doubt about who my newphew resembles as a baby ....doubt no more. He is the "spitting" image of his Mommy! The only difference I can see is in his eyes ... looks like he has his Daddy's eyes and forehead....


Now this picture is just DAMN FUNNY!! So I am sharing without permission but I know my Sister's will forgive me. Rowen looks like he just realize how crazy his Mom can be around his Aunt Cathy ... just wait until I am there too ....the poor boy is doomed! (hehehe)


The *NEW* Me ??

I have updated my header for 2007 but don't let that fool you too much. It is just a little face lift, afterall even I need to look at something new every once in a while.

I read this phrase all over the place right now ... "New Year, New You!!"

What about all the people who are happy with who they are? Do you know how much energy it takes to make a "NEW YOU" every year? Personally, I think I have gotten to the point where I like "ME".. sure I want to improve some of the packaging (loose a few pounds) and I have aspirations to upgrade the engine (find some speed in my swimming, biking and running) but overall, I am pretty happy with the current me. I figure I just need an Holly 36.0.1.

There is something very satifying to being in my mid-30s and happy. Life is Good!

So along the lines of life is good ... the winter weather here in Northern VA has been *unseasonable* and I am taking full advantage of it to get as many bike and run miles done outdoors while I can. So yesterday I took advantage of an unexpected day off and logged 17.5 miles on my bike *Sunshine*. I dedicated some of those miles to former President Gerald Ford. It seemed appropriate since his passing was the reason that I was able to enjoy the beautiful weather instead of sitting in my cubicle at work. I thought perhaps that might seem crass but I imagine that President Ford would rather that I be out enjoying life on my bike * in his memory* rather than sitting on the couch doing nothing. I know that is what I would prefer if folks get the day off when my day comes (a good 35-50 years from now, I hope!)

So Sunshine and I went for a local ride and as a result this evenings run felt more like a *slow plod* than a quick 3.5 miles. But the timer on the treadmill said that this run was no slower than last weeks runs so all is going well.

Looks like Holly 36.0.1 upgrade is doing well so far!

Have a good week and LiveSTRONG!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Annual "SPRINT to the FINISH Triathlon" 2006

About a week before the holiday, I asked my friend Keri if she wanted to run the MADD Red Ribbon 5k Run with me on New Year's Eve. I thought it would be a great way to round out the end of the year.

Keri, had other ideas, and as a big fan of the TRI-Kahuna's podcast "Get Your Geek On", suggested that we turn our 5K run into one last triathlon - just something simple - a sprint or a supersprint distance.

I'll be honest, I hesitated, I wasn't sure that I wanted to do that much in a day. Heck, I wasn't sure I even *could* do that much in a day right now at my current weight and fitness level. Then I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that I had no right trying to do a half-ironman triathlon in 6 months if I didn't think I could handle the "sprint-distance" elements with breaks inbetween workouts. So I said "Yes, let's do it..."

Now here are some realities that I am sharing that I hope will perhaps offer ** YES YOU CAN DO THIS!! inspiration** to those of you who think "I could never do that" ... and might earn me some lattitude from my fellow respected triathletes when they look at my slower times. I now have some concrete beginning of season numbers that I use to determine progress as I head towards Eagleman.

Holly's JANUARY 31, 2006 REALITY:

1. I am 35 pounds heavier than I was when I raced a similar distance in April 2005 (albeit a longer bike leg) 2005 Kinetic Sprint Triathlon: 2:18:00
750m Swim: 27:00
18 mile Bike: 1:12:37
5K Run: 38:24

2. The last time I was in the pool for a swim workout was August 2006.
3. The last time I was physically on my bike was October 2006...
4. I have been doing 45 minutes of spin classes 2x a week since October 2006
5. Running is the only TRI discipline that I have consistently trained in this fall.

First Annual "SPRINT to the FINISH Triathlon" 2006: 1:54:46

SWIM: 750 yards - 18:48

Keri and I drove to the REC Center and hopped in the pool at just past Noon on Sunday. It was pretty full but we were able to share a lane. We spend about 10 minutes warming up. I practiced flip-turns (badly) while Keri tried our her *new* wetsuit (from her personal santa/husband) and then we gave each other high-fives and started the chronos on our watches for 750 yards of swimming. After about 400 yards, I found that my initial fatigue was replaced by a steady pace that I could maintain, leading me to believe that all is not lost in the water - as long as I continue to get in the pool consistently for the next 6 months.

BIKE: 12 miles - 58:37

After a cool down lap in the pool, we took about 20 minutes to shower, dry our hair and change into bike gear. Then we hopped in the car and drove 10 minutes down the road to the W&OD bike trail in Vienna. We did a quick out and back and both remarked on how lucky we were that 1) the weather was beautiful and 2) that we still felt pretty good! Of course we learned at the 6 mile turn around that it was a strong tailwind that helped us feel strong and powerful. The 6 mile return trip in the head wind was lightened by the group of cyclists in tuxedo jerseys. That made us smile even while we admitted to one another that perhaps the 5k run might hurt a little but at that point we were pretty *high* on ourselves and our accomplishments for the day thus far. We even made created a new "team" name - Team TCW: Acronym translated on a "need to know" basis....

RUN: MADD Red Ribbon 5K - 37:20

We had about a 1-hour rest between the bike and the run, during which time we changed clothes, ate powerbars and drove to the race start. Obviously that transition time did not go into the overall race time!

The course for the MADD Red Ribbon 5k Run is a hilly loop through the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. It is usually a larger local race full of runners and walkers of all ages. Right from the start, Keri and I had to thread our way through a bunch of walkers to get moving.

Our plan was simple, run until we had to take a break. Our first walk break happened just before the water stop at the midpoint of the race, about 16 minutes in. Our second break was a 2 minute walk just after the 2 mile marker. Then we ran it into the finish line. We kept the pace solid and strong the entire time. We had enough energy to chatter and laugh about the pack of 12-year-old girls that we couldn't seem to shake. We even had enough *umph* at the end to put in a little sprint to the uphill finish line - Keri just barely missed running a woman over who had slowed **way** down just before the line.

So in terms of final results - Keri is the winner of the First Annual "SPRINT to the FINISH Triathlon" 2006 with a time of 1:52:02. She was two minutes faster than me AND she won the race in the SWIM! And *they* say a tri can't be won in the swim?? Maybe Keri should go pro! HeHeHe....

Seriously though, when I sat down to write this race report, I thought that my times were pedestrian compared to past seasons. I though for sure that my extra weight and the year of cancer treatments and interferon side effects had really done me in and slowed me down until I realized that with the exception of the bike (which was a longer course). I have improved my pace in two of my tri-disciplines with very little effort. What if I actually did some hard work?

750 yd SWIM: 27:00 (2005) - 18:49 (2006)

5k RUN: 38:24 (2005) - 37:20 (2006)

This just goes to show me yet again .... that most of my "excuses" are in my head and not anywhere near by swim, bike and run realities. Looks like it is time to get serious about training for 2007 and get out of this particular head space....