Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Exciting Knitting Announcement!

This blog has lately been filled with a lot of running.  Fairly enough since training for a marathon is an almost full time consuming passion.  HOWEVER, I do still find some time to fit in some stitches.

When my youngest daughter potty trained, I quickly changed her diaper basket into a knitting basket, and it sits nicely at the end of our couch.  One project started, another one joined it, (and another), and quickly it was near overflowing.  I've been working hard to empty the basket (mostly because I really want to cast on a pair of socks).

My eldest daughter turned 8 a week ago, and I ordered some special yarn from the US to make her a ballet shrug.  More often than not she would be cold at ballet class during the winter so this seemed like a great solution.  The pattern search however was not.  Knitting patterns are not cheap, and lately pattern price seems to have taken another leap.  Some costing anywhere from $6-$10.  I don't mind spending the money if I know I will use the pattern more than once, but likely for a kids pattern like a shrug, I won't.  A little daunted, I set about altering this adult pattern.  One I have knit for myself.  Calculations set, I cast on, and.... it worked!  It fits her like a charm, and I even had enough yarn to make the arms full length and with thumb holes (because who doesn't love thumb holes?)

One down in the basket.

Next in the basket was a capelet for my Mom.  I started this project for her 60th birthday.... two years ago.  Gosh wow seriously.  I was having knitting guilt everytime I passed out a finished project and it wasn't hers.  That included Christmas gifts, birthday gifts.  It was becoming a knitterly heavy burden.  Ballet shrug done, I picked that capelet back up, and cast it off this past weekend. It's beautiful, but I am glad to not see another p5tog for a while (that means purling 5 stitches together.  A feat that my needles are not very fond of).

Finally (and here comes the annoucement), is my icelandic sweater.  I finished up the arms this past weekend and have joined the arms to the body, so only have the yoke to go.  I'm excited to be entering it into the Western Showcase.  Every year at the Calgary Stampede,there is an art showcase tucked away in the corner of one of the buildings, wonderfully placed by the wine pavillion.  There are paintings, quilts, cakes, and oh yes, knitting and crochet.  Two (?) years ago I entered in two of my knits.  I loved seeing them on display and even won a ribbon.  The icelandic sweater is pretty unique in that the yarn is actually from iceland, as is the pattern, and I made a number of alterations on it to have a proper fit.  When I realized a couple of weeks ago I could have it completed to submit, I became determined to get it done.  I checked the brochure this morning and I have about a month left to get er done.

Once the sweater is complete, I will have a cowl left in my basket, and then SOCKS.  That should correspond nicely to the start of summer, where knitting socks is a wonderful light project.

What do you have in your basket right now?

Monday, May 11, 2015

BMO Vancouver Marathon Race Review

I've been home for a week now since running the BMO Marathon, and have already laced back up my shoes twice to run!
I was in the 4th corral.  They did a countdown for each corral to start.  I had batman in mine!
Vancouver was more than expected.  Both in scenery, and also on the course.  It was a TOUGH run.  I've been trying to think about what made the course so difficult - the rolling hills? The major climb at the 8K mark, or perhaps the heat?  A friend texted me an article where an elite runner was being interviewed and he described the course as "rough".  Two other BMO finishers I saw in Calgary on Saturday said that they run it every year but saw more "carnage" this year.  

My favorite section of the course
Putting the difficulty aside, I cut a whopping 21 minutes off my Calgary finish time from not quite a year ago.  I finished in 4:27 laying out EVERYTHING I had on the course.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It is the first time I hit a mental wall at only 19K and cried after crossing the finish line.  When I hit the mental wall, my calf was starting to seize up, and I could feel my hip flexor tensing.  Thankfully it came and went over the course and wasn't persistent.  Initially I was going to run without my phone but I was glad I did.  It came in very handy at 21K to start texting my girlfriend and my hubby to get some much needed mental support.  At 39K I was pretty sure the seawall would never end.  I was running without headphones (probably not a repeat at another 42K event), so I turned on the tunes on my phone.  I figured it would either also help the rest of the runners around me, or encourage them to run faster ha ha.  We rocked it out to Pat Benatars "Hit it with your best shot" to help get us to the end.

Hello ocean! 
So what brought down my time by 21 minutes?

Calgary:  Sometimes I only got in 2 runs a week
Vancouver: I ran a minimum of 3 times a week, usually 4 times a week

Calgary: All my runs were at the same pace
Vancouver: I incorporated both speed and hill training

Calgary: Some runs only saw 3.5K as a distance
Vancouver: My runs were a minimum of 5K

Calgary: No mid week long run
Vancouver: I had a mid week long run of at least 10K that I did steady, no walk breaks

Big difference heh?  This past January when I laced up my shoes to train for Van, it was the first time I actually trained for a race since 2006.  Training shows results!!!

I really went into Van wanting to see a 4:20, given my long run pace would have brought me in to that.  But race day played some different elements.  I was reading back through old posts, and saw in 2014 I wanted to run a 4:30 marathon again.  It gave me perspective (as well as LOTS of perspective graciously and lovingly given from friends and family).  A week post I'm owning my 4:27 and am looking at my training and thinking on what I can do to tick furthur minutes and seconds off.

My parents are awesome cheerleaders.  I saw them 4 times on the course!  This was marathon #6 they've cheered for me at!
Realistically I know I can't add any more runs or distance to my week, as I need to strike a balance with my family.  But what I can add in is on days I had previously taken off, add in a day of core or yoga.  Both would be good for me and might be fun for my kids to do with me.  My next Marathon is this coming fall and will also involve some rolling hills.  I'll be adding more hill repeats into rotation!

So true.
Thanks Vancouver.  It was a fun, hard, heart opening challenge.  I came away from it wanting to try it again, just to see if I can conquer some of the mental walls I faced.  One year I'll be back (and hopefully sooner than another 11 year jag!)


A great marathon finishes at a Starbucks ;)