Friday, March 30, 2012

Strassburg Sock

This has been doing the rounds on Pinterest Fitness boards. Though I agree with the idea behind it, I haven't met too many who've consciously decided to give up on a exercise or fitness regime and then wanted to pick it up again.

Those who have given up - like I have with martial arts - often have  a reason for it and have no intention of starting over.

What's more common is not-todayitis turning into not this week, not this month. Sometimes it starts with a cold or a sprain. Maybe a few too busy days at work.

Right now I'm spending quality time with the Strassburg sock thanks to some plantar fasciitis and foot pain. I'm familiar with this pain. I get it whenever I'm starting over with running.
Torture device

I don't like starting over. I'd rather continue building, improving, getting faster, and stronger. High mileage weeks are my favorite weeks. I like the feel of the wind in my hair and the road under my feet. I like the easy feel of my body in motion running at a cruising pace along the Bay Shore Parkway as I run the long way to Coney Island.

But sometimes things happen and the mileage dips below a certain level. When I crank it up again the foot pain starts and the Strassburg sock comes out. I love the Strassburg.

I'd rather keep starting over than giving up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A weekend, a cold, and a skirt

Forever 21 skirt circa 2006.
A cold sunk its teeth in my chest and forced me to change my plans. I ended up needing plenty of tissues and rest this weekend. By Sunday afternoon it was clear I wouldn't be able to to make all three skirts. But I really wanted a new skirt for today, so I started starting.

I find the first step to any project is staring. Staring hard until you figure out what you need to do. Sometimes there's thinking going on with this staring. Other times, it's sipping. Coffee, of course.

In this case, it was about staring and finding geometric shapes in the skirt. This skirt is made of four rectangular panels, joined at the bottom by three triangles. Add a waistband and it's a skirt. I'll post a full tutorial with the pattern later.

Of the three skirts I wanted to make, two were meant to be more professional skirts - work appropriate. That's really what inspired this project: building a wardrobe for client meetings.

The third skirt was more for my own pleasure. It was not the kind of fabric I was looking for, but I liked the colors, the pattern, the texture. And that's the one I started with. The rationalization behind it was that it would be a good one to practice with. But really, it was just because I wanted to wear this today. It seemed like a good way to start the week.

It's good to liven up Mondays.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

One Weekend, Three Skirts: The Challenge

Floral, geometric, solid.

One old skirt, three new cuts of fabrics, one weekend. By the end of the weekend I should have three new skirts. There will be drawing! There will be cutting! There will be sewing! It's the multiplying of the skirts!

Stay tuned for all the exciting details and how to info on how to turn one skirt into four.

Friday, March 23, 2012

As Colombian as coffee

Sometimes when I start speaking passionately about coffee, I invoke the Colombian defense. Every once in a while someone will point out that Colombians don't drink coffee, or that Colombians don't drink good coffee.

Yesterday I attended a social media event (my very first industry conference!) and during the break I talked to someone who mentioned that. According to him, and he knew this because of a friend who had been to Colombia, Colombia has no coffee culture.

It's true. At least if you're going by American standards. You're not going to find a coffee shop per corner with long lines. You're not going to see people heading to work, travel mug in hand.

When I first came to New York, a friend from Brazil was showing me around. It was a snowy winter (remember those?) We were freezing in Times Square. He wanted to show me something weird, so we walked over to a street cart and bought coffee. It came in a cup, and it had a lid.

It was one of those tabbed lids that you fold back to open. The warmth in my hands my welcome, but I couldn't figure out the lid. Was it to keep the coffee warm while to you went with it somewhere?

No. More often than not the lid is just so you can drink coffee while walking. That's the part that doesn't make sense.

Handmade cup by Ming. This is what I use everyday for my morning coffee.
Coffee is more than a jolt of caffeine. Coffee is to be savored. Coffee is to be had fresh and in ceramic cups. It's best with family or friends. A close second is to have it in the morning, at home, while listening to chirping birds. That's how I have it most days.

You stop what you are doing, and you enjoy your coffee. 

Who needs coffee shops or fancy equipment when you've got Arabica beans and a pot of boiling water?

If your lifestyle doesn't allow that, then you wait for the coffee man. He'll come around at some point. He walks with a set of coffee thermoses on his shoulder. He'll be calling out his song. When you hear the song, you flag him down and he'll come to you. He'll pour you a cup and sit with you until you're done. You'll have your coffee. He'll pack up his things and go his way after having enjoyed coffee together.

Coffee man rounding up my parent's block. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

NYC Half 2012

It would be like hopping out the van on the third leg of Ragnar is what I told myself. Running a half-marathon on zero training and pretty much no running. My last run had been Coogan's, two weeks before. That was a 5k and though I did pretty well, it felt like a tremendous effort for such a short distance and no personal record to show for it. Just to give you a sense of things, a 5k is 3.1 miles, a half-marathon is 13.1 miles.

I did it because I had a spot and had paid for it. It's an expensive race and it's difficult to get in. Plus I'd worked hard to get a spot this year. I got in through guaranteed entry: run four out of five half-marathons in the five borough series. I ran three and had one cancelled on me, so I got my spot. The no training was a combination of plantar fascia issues and winter funk.

Going into it I knew it would be hard, but the route was sweet and I wanted to give it a try. It's not everyday you get to run through Times Square with 7th Ave closed to traffic and fans lined-up to cheer for you.

Plus: I had a a plan. I knew I could run 6-7 miles before things started getting rough. I'd start with a friend from PPTC and hang on to her for as long as possible, that would take me to Times Square. Then there was a fast downhill heading towards the West Side Highway which I'd use to recover. That would take me up to mile 8. Then I'd just have to promise myself I could do two more miles. By then I'd be so close to Canal Street I'd be in awe of what I'd already done and refuse to quit. Plus, once you've done 10 miles, what's 3 more?

It sort of went like that. I held on to my fellow PPTCer for almost five miles. We went out kind of fast and  she went on to finish in 2:09. I was glad I didn't stick by her since that would have been a record for me and yesterday was not a day for records for me.

Shortly after we said goodbye, I connected with a woman who was wearing a Colombian shirt. Turns out she lives near Prospect Park. I found a new running buddy (my first Spanish speaking one!) and a work connection. On 7th Ave I got to see some PPTC teammates cheering. Go team!

Times Square was even more surreal than usual. It's no Verrazano, but the thrill of running through it made me forget my aches for a moment. But it was just a moment. The boost I hoped to get from the downhill recovery didn't come.

Cars on the left, cool people on the right.
I said good-bye to my new friend at the entrance to the West Side Highway, slowed down even more, and cranked up the music. Mile 8 was mostly The Grates telling me that Science is Golden, which I took to mean that I could force my mind to get me to the finish line, and that I was on The Biggest And Largest Adventure Ever. Then by mile 9 Justin Timberlake was whispering all kinds of delicious things in my ear and telling me that I was bringing sexy back. By mile 10 Adele was running in the deep. And it was deep. So deep I had to take a moment to take a picture just for you.

Not sure how I got through the next mile and a half. There was some shuffling, some walking. There might have been some quiet inner whimpering. And then I felt a hand on my back. I didn't know her but she was wearing the same shirt I was.

"Come on, PPTC, you can do it!"she said as she passed me. So I turned my music off and I caught up with her. She is a new member, and her company kept me going all the way until we were within view of the last 800meters sign. By then my quads were cramping and all sorts of things felt like they were going to fall off.

It told her to go. She still had enough juice for a strong finish, while I felt I needed to walk if I didn't want to get hurt. I crossed the finish line shuffling, got my medal, and continued on. I felt like I was just going to topple over while walking on the cobbled streets of the South Street Seaport in the post-finish line area. I wasn't meeting anyone after the race. Everyone else I had knew had finished earlier and I had no close friends who had come just to cheer for me. I was starting to feel a little lost and lonely when I saw the PPTC banners and headed towards them.

Belonging to a club as warm and friendly as PPTC has had a big impact in my running. Speed training with Coach Tony has made me faster and stronger. On days like yesterday when I was struggling so much, being part of PPTC made all the difference. In a sea of thousands of nameless faces, I was part of something, and they were there for me. Couldn't have done it without you, PTTC. Thank you!