don't run with needles

if it's good enough for Everest...

Came across an article this morning as I was reading the "Weekend Link Love" from Mark's Daily Apple (a great source for information on all things Paleo and Primal, if you're not familiar with it yet). 

Boyhood has an interest in stories about folks who are crazy enough to climb Everest (like my friend Eileen who recently made it up to Base Camp!), so of course I clicked through to this article from Men's Journal about alpinist Adrian Ballinger and his success summiting Everest without additional oxygen (summiting is one thing; summiting without O2 is quite another - only a few hundred people have managed it).

Surprise! The key to his success on his second attempt without O2? KETO.

“Adrian was heavily reliant on eating some kind of high-energy bar, gel, or similar product at once-an-hour intervals. ...” Basically Ballinger constantly fed his body carbs, so that's the fuel it preferred. And like a lot of elite climbers, he didn’t see anything wrong with that.

“I’ve been completely dependent on carbohydrate for all of my climbing,” he says. “I was always hungry, morning to night, but I also had this line I would tell everyone, you know, ‘I never gain weight, my metabolism must be so high, I can eat a loaf of bread a day.'”

When you’re a carb-burner, you have about 45 minutes of fuel storage in your body — glycogen — at any one time, and after that your body runs out; you have to feed yourself constantly to keep it up. But while that system works fine on most peaks, in the punishing altitudes of Everest — above 25,000 feet is dubbed “the death zone” because of the lack of oxygen — suddenly your digestive system shuts down, you feel nauseous, and you can’t put food in your mouth, Ballinger says. When his hands went icy, it’s because he was depleted of glycogen; his body went into protective mode, and sent more blood flow to his gut and away from his extremities. “All of a sudden I didn’t have those carbs stored — I needed my body to burn fat for fuel.” But his body wasn’t primed to do it, Johnston guessed.

 With the help of his training team and a team from UCDavis, he goes keto and re-does his training regime to become a better fat-burner. There are two great takeaways from this article: one, that the nutrition sets you up for hours of bonk-free endurance; and two, that by slowing down your training sessions, you can raise your aerobic threshold (where you're still in an aerobic state at a higher BPM).

Great news for those of us venturing into keto training - and reassuring to me that my 13:00/mile pace will be just the right way to train for my next race! 

And as Ballinger says, this great slow burn rubs off on all areas of your life:

“A few weeks into training, I started to feel entirely different — I could go for long workouts and not bonk, wake up in the morning and go for hours without eating,” he says. “I used to be the kind of person who would wake up and couldn’t send a text until I’d eaten some food. I was that short of energy.”

Ballinger’s fat-burning metabolism and revamped training approach proved that the hunger cravings he’d had on mountains before, the highs and lows based on constantly needing to eat or feeling fatigued, wasn’t the most efficient way to do what he wanted to do: climb 8,000-meter peaks, trail run, and ski. “This past ski season was the best I’ve ever had, and not only because the snow’s been amazing — I directly credit this,” he says.

Inspiring!

keto half-marathon training

[Apologies to my fibery friends - this post contains precisely 0% knitting content. Whole30 and health nuts, read on!]

As part of My Clean Year (#mycleanyear), going hand in hand with taking a break from alcohol, I've wanted to break my sugar habit. Doing several rounds of Whole30 (and non-strict, Whole30-inspired 'resets' afterwards) went a long way, but I kept finding myself sliding quickly back into a near-daily relationship with chocolate, sugar, baked goods...

And then our friend Dr. B was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and has been fighting the wee beasties with a ketogenic diet: super-low carbohydrates (around 50g/day), moderate protein, and lots of healthy fats. He's feeling so much better, and wow has he leaned up! As someone who's hovered at the Overweight/Obese line of body fat percentages, that leaning up sure caught my attention.

Then come to find out my stepdaughter and her husband have been going keto as well, and feeling and looking great too. That non-scientific cohort of 3 was enough to convince me to try it. (I had already committed to the month of June sans sugar altogether, so keto was a logical extension.)

But wait - what about that half-marathon goal coming up? (I'm doing the Pie High Trail Run in July.) Can I switch to running in ketosis while keeping up my training runs? Googling the question got me some anecdotal information from a few (über-geeky) (male) ultrarunners, but not a lot of real-life, I-did-this feedback from my fellow women half runners. So I thought I'd put myself into the mix! [Note: I'm not affiliated with Leanne (yet!) - all opinions are my own, and I don't make any $ from any links here.]

I'm working from the plan outlined by Leanne Vogel in her book, The Keto Diet. I've appreciated her focus on whole foods, especially the open door to vegetables! Old-school ketogenic diets (like Atkins) have eschewed all carbohydrates, even those from plants -- and as a big fan of Michael Pollan and his reasoned approach ("Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not Too Much."), I like that we need fear no veg.

Step One: wholesale dive into 'keto-izing' my kitchen: a spiralizer (I like this one from OXO); bone broth, hemp milk, coconut creamer, various oils and nut butters, sea salt and mineral drops. (Many of which were based on Leanne's shopping list from the Healthful Pursuit website.)

Step Two: purge the kitchen. This wasn't a huge effort, considering that we were already pretty Paleo/Whole30 to begin with. Mostly, it was ditching the partial, opened and older boxes of mysterious pasta (pasta?!) on the upper shelves. But I did rearrange some things to put the oils close-by, and shift the less-used items (almond flour, etc.) to higher shelves. Oh, and putting my new food processor out on the counter, ready for action!

Step Three: Devour the book and plan for implementation. The first half of Leanne's book is background, information about how the eating plan works, and how to set yourself up (particularly appreciated is the 'roadblocks to keto' section, which includes some mindset resets that I found very reassuring during this first week of adjustment.)

As a planner geek (didja guess?), I knew I'd want to track my 'macros' - how many grams of the macronutrients fat, protein, and carbohydrate I was eating in a day - so I could know I was on-plan. I've loved using PaleoTrack so far; Marc, the creator of PaleoTrack, has done an amazing job to keep the UI streamlined yet supremely functional. It's rare for me to stick with a tracker so thoroughly, even ones I love initially, without losing focus or spacing out entering info. Marc's made it so intuitive and easy - I bit the bullet and subscribed for a full year. Since Boyhood & I aren't jumping on buying a ketone monitor (yet), I'm going to rely on how I feel and where my macros are to gauge when/whether I'm in ketosis.

Now for the interesting part: I'm in my second week of training for my half, so how is the shift to keto going to work with that? Shifting to burning mostly fats has a rough transition period, not unlike the first week to 10 days of Whole30. You may get the 'carb flu' in the first days, feeling grouchy and hungry and lower energy as your body shifts from its reliance on carbohydrates to burning fats. (I liken this to trying to start a fire with logs and no kindling - the carbohydrates were the fast-burn kindling in your system.)

I've found I can do quite well on 3 runs a week - that seems to give me the time on my legs that I need without risk of injury to my nearly-50-year-old joints. The past month, I've been cruising on 3-, 4-, and 5-mile runs, but this next week I up the ante to 4-, 5- and 7-. The ramp-up is beginning - right when I'm likely to be low-energy.

The good news is, I built in a buffer week to my training - when I laid out my run schedule, I had 11 weeks instead of 10 on the calendar. (Always a good move, in my experience - it lets you account for the vagaries of life and the strange weeks you get when you can't get quality runs in no matter how you try.)

I plot out my runs on my monthly pages in my planner with little sticky flags, so I can move them around if necessary without a lot of erasing or white-out.

So I shifted a few things around - mostly moving the long run stickies down a week - and did three runs per my slower regimen of the last few weeks. I started eating Keto officially on Thursday (June 1), so I've done two runs so far on the new eating plan!

Happy to report that, at least in these first few days, runs haven't been noticeably harder or more sluggish than before. Could be that I'm still digging through some stored glucose, of course, but so far so good.

Next run is tomorrow (Monday), and I'll see if I can't take on that 5 miler I have planned. Knowing the reason why I might bonk is keeping me calm - that, and a tablespoon of almond butter before I hit the road, that is.

My aim is to post here once a week to keep track of how this transition to keto during half-marathon training is working for me. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Also, FYI: I'm on Day 4 and already down 2 pounds. Consistently eating around 2,000 calories, with carbohydrates at or under 50g. On the days I don't run, Boyhood and I tackle the stairs from Downtown to Uptown - 130 short steps in the full flight, and we do 7 sets. Good HIIT training, we think!

my latest Instagram posts...

run anyway

("Feel the fear, and run anyway." - Author unknown.)
(But they were probably a marathoner.)

Right now, as I type, thousands of intrepid runners are belting along the roadways of Bellingham, finishing their first, or second, or umpteenth marathon.

I'm not among them.

Sigh. The folks at the B'ham Marathon Association were kind enough to defer my registration for *last year's* marathon to this year, and I lived in weird hope that I would be able to train up for today. But alas, given recent events, the training was just not on the agenda.

I have a newfound humility for what people with full-time jobs must go through to make fitness happen: in the few months that I've been working almost-full-time, I've managed to put on ten pounds (thanks in no small part to the Caloric Bermuda Triangle anchored around Churchmouse. Pastries and coffee on the one side, wicked ice cream on the other, and now ... Bacon Sandwiches? Steps from our door? I mean, really).

If all those sweaters I've been knitting are going to keep fitting, something's gotta give.

So, in honor of all those running 26.2 today, I'll do my own personal marathon and run farther than I have been, sporadically, lately. Headed out the door for 4.

That's going to be my own personal little triumph today. And I'll take it.

and, in running news...

For those of you hankering for a running update (c'mon, I know you're out there)...

You may have noticed the mile-o-meter at right hadn't ticked up into the triple digits this season, and the Eugene Marathon is only a little over a month away. What gives?

Well, I chose the Eugene Marathon because it was early in the season (May, rather than September or October); what I remember most about last year is not having any summer weekend time to garden, because I was always either running four to five hours at a stretch, or laying on the couch recovering from running four to five hours at a stretch. So the spring marathon seemed like a good idea. Right?

But then came The Month That Wasn't (i.e. February), so we're back to square one.
I realized a few weeks ago that I needed to take something off my plate or I was just gonna pop from the stress, so the marathon training is shelved for a few months while I play catch-up from TNNA and all the goodies that February brought.

In the meantime, fear not, I'm still hitting the streets -- in fact, last week was my first three-running-day week, with mileage in the double digits, since January. The goal, for right now, is to hit three days a week running and three days a week weightlifting and cross-training, so that I'll be in peak form for B'ham come September.

And in knitting news, I'm working on not one, but *two* Top-Secret-Design-Thingys this week, so just imagine I'm doing something really cool that y'all will get to enjoy later this year in friends' fabulous books.

More on the UFOs tomorrow, when I will have two to report officially FO'd!

marathon #2: success!

Photos to come when I get home on the big computer,
but here's a quick post to say that the Chicago Marathon went well and was a blast.

That city sure knows how to throw a party!

Number of runners: 45,000

Number of spectators: 1,500,000 (!)

Number of runners in the 5:15 pacer bunny group: 20 or so

 

It was such a different race from last year's Seattle Marathon.
Okay, first off, it was flat flat flat, so I never really 'hit the wall'
like I did at mile 20 (where the hills began!) in Seattle.
I basically tucked in to the back right of the pack behind our pacer bunny
(Pacer Paul, wherever you are, I LOVE YOU) and just hit cruise.

A very nice feeling.

Steady and even the whole way, I finished strong with Ellie from Talahassee, Florida - 3 months pregnant and doing great. We even got a bit ahead of the pacers, to finish in 5:14:25.

So thanks to all of you for putting up with all the running-related posts.
Not that this will be the last of them. After a week or so of resting up,
I'm sure I'll be plotting where to run my next marathon!

endurance, meet speed

One more way knitting should be more like running: I wish I could be a personal trainer for knitters.

I mean, who couldn't use someone telling them exactly how long and how much to knit how fast to get them into shape to knit a Fair Isle sweater? or an Aran? or just their first sweater ever?

It reminds me of the Yarn Harlot's assertion that knitting should be respected as a sport, if for no other reason than there are more knitters in North America than there are golfers.

Today marked the official beginning of the second phase in my marathon training: Speedwork.
In the first 10 weeks, they had me running hills to build endurance. And let me tell you, I think I scouted out every hill in town for some of those long runs, doing switchbacks up and down streets in my neighborhood just to clock those extra miles. Think you're burly? Go run up and down every hill in your neighborhood – until you get to 8 miles – and then check back in here. Go ahead. I double-dog-dare ya.

And as much as I cursed in those early weeks, as many foul words as I found to spew at the publishers of Runner's World magazine for printing this training plan, I now can sit here (with an ice pack on my knees) and say: it worked. I no longer look at every hill with dread; in fact, there have been a few times when I only noticed that I had just run up a hill – while thinking of something else altogether.

So hills? No problem.
(Of course, it's especially no problem since the Chicago marathon is famously devoid of hills. Kinda makes you wonder, eh?)

But speed? That's another story.
Thinking about it now, I'm noticing that running is one of the few places where I don't pride myself on speed. I knit with a furious intensity that rivals Lily Chin; I love getting things done quickly; my handwriting is notoriously illegible because I won't take the time to make my 'a's and 'o's round … and I was practically born in the back of a stationwagon on the way to the hospital.

So why am I so stubbornly slow at running?
I do like the meditative and soothing quality of a long, slow distance run. I won't be about the sprinting, ever, I don't think – because I don't like to sprint. But something marginallly faster than 12-minute miles might be nice. Y'know, as a change.

So today I hit the middle-school track and ran some fast 800's.
And – psst – don't tell. They were fun.

Endurance, meet speed.
Just in time for me to match my running with my knitting. Again.
Spent the rest of the day working on two sleeves for a deadline.
Four sleeves and two necklines by Sept. 1?

No problem.
I'm speedy.

still running... and running... and running...

Today we enter a whole new phase in marathon training:
Where we get to the Big Dog Runs.

There's a funny mental hurdle after the half-marathon distance. Somehow, a run that takes longer than the average Hollywood movie has an intimidation factor all its own.

Which explains why it's 8:30 am and I have yet to take the dog for a warm-up walk before I head out for...

SIXTEEN MILES.

If I start by 9, I should be rolling into the home stretch in time for...
lunch.

It makes me yearn to be Deena Castor, or one of the other elite marathoners, who can whip out 6-minute miles for mile after mile. But at twice my speed, she'd still take AN HOUR AND A HALF to finish. That's a Disney kids' movie worth, and that whole time with your legs just crankin'!

I've said it before, and I'll say it many times again before this is over:
Damn, I wish I could knit while I run.

a plea

Interrupting our narrative with a confession, and a little whine for help.

You will have noticed the lack of knitterly content in this space during the trip...
Partly, it's due to all the great times and snaps I've wanted to share, but it's partly also due to the fact that I have made some of the most classically bonehead blunders when it comes to my projects for this trip.

I present to you the following evidence:

Exhibit A:
Four (4) projects, all of lace- or fingering-weight yarns. Could totally have gotten away with only two: the black Malabrigo sweater, which is going along swimmingly but as slowly as a sweater on size 2's with sock-weight yarn is likely to go; and the Linen-Stitch laceweight shawl that will be the project of the century at this rate.

Exhibit B:
The two other projects, both socks, seemed reasonable at the time. However, they have several strikes against them.

The first is the Argyle Sock out of the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock book… and for some reason I cannot explain, I thought it would be a good thing to take intarsia on the plane. Yeah. Right. Five wee balls of yarn to track in my lap, with tray table down and all. Yeah.

Oh, and have I mentioned that I swatched for gauge like a good little girl, got it perfectly before we left home, and then for some unknown reason, on the needles I took on the plane (the ONLY needles I took on the plane!), I was waaaaaaay off gauge? Grrr.

The second is the Bavarian Sock out of the same book. One skein; DPNs. I have my set of multiple sizes, so no prospect of getting stuck on the gauge thing...
Except I get 10 rounds into it and realize:

I've neglected to bring the explanation of the abbreviations with me. On an international trip.

Yeah. And I call myself a professional.

So if someone out there has the Vogue Ultimate Sock book to hand, and has a moment to spare for a suffering fellow knitter, would you mind looking up the 4 cable patterns and typing out the explanations for me? I would be eternally in your debt.

marathon day by the numbers

May to November, 2008 – Miles run in training:
the equivalent of Port Townsend to Portland … ROUND TRIP.

November 29, 2008:
Miles to drive to marathon hotel: 65
Knitting projects brought on weekend junket: 2
Stitches knit on one project: about 40
The project that engaged my hyperactive brain in just the right amounts?
This triple-stranded brioche-stitch scarf (with 3 fibers from Habu):

Number of pain-relieving unguents packed: 3

Number of anti-chafing agents applied: 2
(Here's the one for my feet.)
(I can't post photos of the other–
It'd get me waaay more hits on this site than I bargained for.)
(Suffice it to say: get a good jog bra. One without seams.)

Someone please tell me …
was there a yarn crawl I missed at the Seattle Center?
Was I supposed to follow the sheep?

(Had it only been that easy.) (They should have used sheep.) (I would have kicked ass.)

Number of cups of coffee before the start: 2
Number of porta-potty stops en route: 1
(But you didn't want to know that, did you?)

Girls at the starting gate, looking fresh-faced and positive:

We had the whole posse there!
Dad and Ro-Dog, our official race mascot:

Miles cycled by Eb, the Motivation Expert, to cheer 3 of us girls on: 18
(The paddle says "Go Baby Go!" on the one side, and "The Spankin' Machine is Here" on the other. It's a long story. Go rent "Run, FatBoy, Run," and you'll never look at a spatula the same way again.)

Number of folks starting the marathon run: more than 2100

Here we are at mile 9, going strong and looking pretty happy:

Pacing team we were following: 4:45 finish time (10:52min/mile)
Number of miles I kept up that pace: 16
Mile marker where I started to get kind of panicky: 8

I dropped back to run my own race after that, said a tearful goodbye to Nurse K, and told her I'd see her at the finish line… and good thing I did, because she proceeded to open up a giant can of WHOOP-ASS and finish in 4:45 as the last gal across the line with the pacer bunny: last gal standing in our pack of 12 or so.

Nurse K taking the first (brutish, nasty, and short) hill at Mile 20:

Me, half an hour later, taking a look at that same hill and deciding to walk up it:

Number of times I started to cry between miles 24 and 26.2: 3
(I eventually stopped myself from sobbing as I entered the stadium, solely to save my breath for RUNNING across the field to the finish line. A girl can't run and come apart at the same time.)

Number of pads they make you step on near the end of the race: 2
The one that really counts as the finish line?: The second one.
(That's the half-marathon clock on the left; they started 45 minutes before we did, and there were still half-marathon walkers out on the course.)

Happy girls at finish line: 2
Happy family at finish line: 7

Now someone please tell me what sadistic creep put a RAMP UP into the recovery area at Memorial Stadium?
I mean, really.

Calories burned in a 5:25 marathon: 2,000

Number of future marathons we're considering: .... ?

Jury's out, kids.
This was wicked hard.
And it still hasn't sunk in yet.

i did it!

Five hours, 27 minutes.

First half (13.1 miles): 2 hrs, 24 min. (exactly the same time as my half-marathon in Bellingham 2 months ago! Like, to the minute!)

Second half: well, you do the math.

Kept up with Nurse K* and the 4:45 pacer crew very well through mile 15, then had to drop back and run my own race. All in all, I'm very proud that I kept going, pushed through all the hard bits. It's a gorgeous marathon, even if there are some RUDE hills in there after mile 20.

The day was foggy and in the low 50s – perfect running weather.
And all my peeps were there at the finish line as I sprinted through the stadium!

Now pardon me while I go lay on the couch and rub my quads and ankles all day.
I have "John Adams" (the first 2 discs of the miniseries) from Netflix, and about 23 unfinished objects to knit on, so don't feel too sorry for me.

Thanks to all of you for the thoughts and comments and support – they really did help!

I'll post photos later – Boyhood and others got some great snaps, I'm sure.

* Nurse K ROCKED and stuck right with that pacer the whole way through, finishing in 4:45 or so. What an amazing gal. (This, despite a muscle tear in her calf that sent her to the hospital a week or so ago, worried that she had a stress fracture!)

twenty-five hours

Up flaps…
and awaaaay we go!

This time tomorrow, I'll be hopping up and down to keep warm, wondering if I have time for one more quick trip to the porta-potty, jacked up on the combined adrenaline of 14,000 other people crazy enough to want to get up and run 26 miles and 385 yards at a time when most ordinary folks are having their bagels with their Sunday New York Times.

And I am already amused: the packing O.C.D. that is possible for us knitters when we go somewhere?  Compounded in the context of a marathon.

Let me tell ya, the fear of chafing in mysterious places, the heinous blisters possible if one forgets one little thing … paralyzing.

Yesterday, there was the huge wave of gratitude for remembering that my running shoes were in my gym bag, and not yet in the suitcase. Forgetting my shoes? Like forgetting the set of DPNs for the top of a hat. Terminal. Drive-home-and-get-'em-worthy.

Giddy-up. I'm ready.

400

Perfect timing.
Just hit a milestone in the sidebar, in the last little run on our taper.
Last run before race day = more than 400 miles in training.

Wow.

Maybe this is why we don't count up the total number of stitches in a sweater.

What would be completely intimidating ahead of time has become inspiring in hindsight.

And as I pull out the suitcase for this weekend's junket to Seattle for the Big M,
it's time to acknowledge all the ways in which running is just like knitting.

1. The tools, especially your favorite ones, get a bit fried.
My current pair of shoes, which I cannot change out for new ones now lest disaster strike on Sunday,
are remarkably like that set of metal 2.5mm sock needles which have been through so many pairs of socks that they have scoliosis.

2. The packing is just as crazy.
For relatively low-impact, low-carbon-footprint activities, running and knitting produce the EXACT same packing anxiety.
Can't forget my favorite _______ (jog bra; rosewood needles)!
Should I take two or three ________ (sock projects; pairs of running socks)?
What if _________ (it's cold or rainy on race day; I finish that sock project)?

3. Both activities require hydration and nutrition plans.
(Though I confess I prefer the knitterly version:
red wine instead of Recharge;
coffee instead of salt tablets.)
Can't you just see it? Coffee stations at Madrona, to perk up those flagging spinners at their wheels. Red wine being handed out by cheering volunteers as we head around that last corner with the mattress stitch …

I know we all must have some goal this time of year: to finish that holiday gift in time to get it in the mail to aloved one far away; to finish up that sweater during NaKniSweMo*; to get that Starmore off the needles this year, dammit, if it kills me …

Whatever your goals are, friends,
run towards them with a happy heart this weekend.
Just don't forget the band-aids and Body Glide.

* National Knit A Sweater Month, in which many knitters and knitbloggers attempt to start and finish a sweater in a month. KarenJo – how's yours going?

getting close...

Eleven days.

The good news is, we love the taper. Shorter runs, more carbohydrates.

The bad news is, there's more free time (since we're no longer running for 4 hours straight) to contemplate what's coming.

Good thing I have something to distract me in the meantime...
[Thanks, KarenJo! You're the best!]
[Note to all knitters: if you have a friend who's kind enough to get you a signed copy of a great knitting book at a reading, it's a fine thing when you have the same name!]

Eleven days.

Just think: Eleven days, and y'all get this blog back! More knitting content, less yakking about this silly running thing.

aiiiiieee!

20 miles.

Wish us luck.

1:30 pm: Done. Done. Done.

Three hours and 55 minutes.
I never thought I could run for four hours straight (well, okay, there were drinking pit stops, and potty stops, but damn!) - FOUR HOURS STRAIGHT!

This might make a girl think that she can do just about anything...
Provided there is a turkey sandwich and pancakes at the end of it.

phew

I tell you what …

You don't know what you got in ya until you start running 35+ miles a week.

Nurse K and I just finished our second weekly 18-mile long run in the last uphill pull to the marathon, and boy howdy, it's starting to tell.

The legs? Ripped, and bruised. The knees? Not speaking to me. And there's a suspicious coloration under two of my toenails that speaks of nailbed trauma. You know when you've crossed over to the dark side of marathon mania where you consider losing toenails as a badge of burliness.

I swear, I never spent so much brain space on the concept of chafing as I do now. I've got lotion on the feet, Body Glide in unmentionable places, and even Neosporin on my - yes - bellybutton injury.
(It has to do with the hydration belt. Don't ask.)

Which leads me to reconsider the relative pros and cons of my current passions:

Running is in some ways better than knitting:
• After a wicked three-and-a-half-hour knitting session, I cannot snarf down a three-egg scramble with pancakes, followed by a dinner of Ben & Jerry's … and LOSE a pound.
• Seven hours a week of knitting does not improve my cardiovascular function, make my legs more trim and shapely, and let me eat twice what I normally could. (Sad. So sad.)

But then knitting is better than running:
• When was the last time you had a five-minute routine of applying unguents to safeguard from knitting chafing?
• The only way I'd get a bum knee from knitting or other fiberly arts would be too long of a stint on my single-treadle Louet wheel.
• No ice baths necessary!
• When I spend three hours knitting, I have a hat or a sock cuff or a sleeve cap to show for it.
• Knitting stints don't generate loads and loads and loads of laundry. (Dear lord, how can a girl sweat that much?)

Pardon this space if entries get sporadic and with fewer knit-a-licious photos.
I've got three weeks until we start to taper – for you non-runners, that's the glorious few weeks before a big event where you are required to (get this): run less, and eat more.

Chalk another one up for the running column.
During the taper, you may hear more from me here, as I get several hours a week of my life and brain back. For today, though, I'll leave you with the vision that gets me through miles 15-18:

(Rooftop garden outside the pool and spa area at the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City. A quiet moment after soaking in the hot tub, before fondling and swatching this skein of merino-cashmere-oh-my-god-scrumptiousness.)

Bliss.

proof?

Okay, okay, I hear ya...
Y'all want pictures!

Here's the proof that I did that thing, and didn't just hang out and eat pizza:

(psst: that center bit SPINS!)
(I am easily amused.)

There's nothing like burning 950 1400! calories to get a gal in the mood for chips and a refreshing libation:

Boy was holding out the flowers for me to grab and take across the finish line. What a trooper!

What – proud? Me?

Naah.

What – you expected shots of me running? All schvitzy? Are you serious? I have an image to maintain here!
(Besides, the only shot of me I could find on the photographer's website was taken just as I was wondering who the hell MOVED MILE TWELVE. It was supposed to come, oh, I dunno - maybe a mile or so after mile eleven (when I was feeling particularly buoyant and energized for some unknown reason... maybe the Hammer Gel). Instead, they moved it to somewhere just outside Spokane.

And lest you fear we're just resting on our laurels over here at Casa akabini, I'll have you know that Nurse K just e-mailed me with an adjustment to Saturday's running schedule. That easy 4-miler after both of our half marathons and vacations? She just upgraded to a fourTEEN miler. No prisoners. The gal's takin' no prisoners. (And who can resist a gal who delivers babies for a living?)

See you out there, sweetcakes.


the next level

It's happening…

I think we're headed for the next level, running and I.
Viz my recent aquisitions:
• a "hydration belt" (to stay hydrated during the SECOND HOUR of my runs!)
• several packets of "Hammer Gel" (ditto, for glycogen levels during same)
• the second pair of shoes (having put multiple-hundreds of miles on my last pair!)

All this, plus the package, containing running shoes and clothes and watch, which I am sending to myself at Casa Threadingwater so that I can train while I visit her next week. Sending gear ahead? Very next level.

All that, and multiple training books, speedwork workouts … my goodness, it's getting serious around here.

Which got me to thinking:
What does that "next level" look like for knitters?

When does the casual scarf knitter get the itch to go deeper? What kicks it off?

Is it the first time you buy a second set of needles in that size, so you can have multiple projects going?
Is it the first stash aquisition – getting yarn for a project you can't be starting in the immediate future?
Is it the first non-reference, glossy-page book?
Or is it the first retreat you go to, the first conference class you sign up for?

Gentle knitters – when did you go to the next level?
Discuss.