I need a new race

I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to run at least 50 miles’ worth of races this year. So far, due to the Mercedes Half Marathon, helping my sister run a ten-miler, and the Statue to Statue 15K on Saturday, I’m already 3/5 of the way there. The only problem? There isn’t another race on my schedule right now. I need to keep my motivation up. I’m thinking my next one will be something shorter-distance than these past three. I want to lower my 5K PR this year; maybe that’s next on the list.

I also want to find something long-term to work towards. The Birmingham Track Club’s focusing on the 7 Bridges Marathon and 4 Bridges Half-Marathon in Chattanooga this fall, almost exactly six months from now. That’d be good long-term motivation, right?

Dear Real-Life Ginny…

Dear Real-Life Ginny,

I am writing you today to inform you of a dream from which I literally just awoke. It featured your dream counterpart, and the details were such that when I awakened I couldn’t get it out of my head. I found that I needed to discuss this further with her, but as I was now awake, I had no way of passing this information on. I don’t see dream you often, but I figure you keep in touch. So please, the next time you see her, show her this, and please let her know that the following is said with the best of intentions.

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my once-a-year gardening binge

Around this time of year, I always get ideas in my mind for what I could do to make the yard look nicer. I already know that I will never have a magazine article written about my yard, or have one of those “neighborhood beautification” awards staked in my front lawn. But it’s nice to be able to be productive with my hands and make the yard look a little nicer at the same time, right?

This weekend, I had two goals in mind. Split my cast iron plants, and transplant some of the monkey grass growing out-of-control in places that I didn’t want it to line the the azalea bed.

The seven cast iron plants started from a single plant that lived in a front bed when we bought the house. It was getting too much sun, and it showed; it was overgrown, and the leaves were ugly, brown, and shredded. So I dug it up and split it into eight (yes, eight) plants. I put seven of them around a big tree in the back yard.  Fast-forward almost six years, and each of those plants had become slightly smaller versions of the original. It was time to do it again. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting eight plants from each, but I figured that three apiece wouldn’t be out of the question.

I was concerned that it might be difficult to extract them from the soil (my back yard is especially rocky), but this proved to be a non-issue, as their root system is pretty shallow. One by one, I dug up, divided, and replanted. In the end, I ended up with seventeen plants in the ground and another three in pots with potential new owners. It’s always nice to have something that grows prodigiously enough that you can give it away.

On to the monkey grass. For whatever reason, my back yard is a haven for the stuff. It has almost taken over one corner, and there are several other sections of the yard where it has popped up and clumped together. Even taking twelve clumps or so from around the yard, I didn’t even scratch the surface. Now it has a more desired home; hopefully it can take root in the azalea bed and stop the pine straw from going all over the sidewalk.

In total, about six hours of work for hopefully years of enjoyment. Not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

on bugs (the software kind)

This week at work, I’ve fixed quite a few bugs in the new application I’m working on.  I never know what to think when it comes to fixing bugs in an application. On the one hand, it’s good to make software work correctly, of course: it pays the bills, and there is a sense of satisfaction that comes from it as well.  On the other, there is always the possibility that I was responsible for the bug in the first place (as has been the case many times this week), so that’s never fun.

We have sometimes played a game at the office affectionately known as “who’s the blockhead” where we examine the history of code to see who’s responsible for the really insidious bugs. it’s all in good fun, really; no one’s job is at stake or anything. But even so, it’s always a little sad to see when it’s your fault.

I don’t tend to talk about my job much in this space: most people probably wouldn’t find it particularly interesting. But there is one thing that I think is pretty unique about software development: it’s one of a very few professions where workers are fully expected to have issues come up regarding their work that are a) unintended consequences of well-intentioned effort, and b) can occur some time (years, even) after the work has actually taken place.  I don’t think there’s a programmer out there that has written anything non-trivial that has never introduced a bug into their code.  In the end, you just hope that the ones that you’re responsible for aren’t too bad and that you can fix them quickly.

life will never be the same

I have graduated from the single-serve coffee pods to a 5-cup coffee maker. I also now have a canister just for coffee. I drank the equivalent of eight cups today. No, they were notallcaffeinatedwhywouldyouthinkthatwhatareyouimplyingIcannotbelieveyouthinkIhaveaproblem

Actually, all but two cups were decaf.

how to exercise with runner’s knee

I ran for the first time since Mercedes on Sunday. It was just 5K, but it was much needed. Some runners will tell you that they’ll start getting cranky if they can’t run after a few days. That hadn’t been an issue for me in the past, but this past Saturday I was just in a mood. I realized that runner’s knee or not, I was going to have to get out and run soon or things were going to get worse. 5K later, my knee didn’t seem any worse for wear, but I knew that I’d need to take it easy in the next few days. So I decided to try biking for my next cardio workout.

I determined that I would ride my stationary bike while watching a half-hour TV show. I found myself wanting that show to get over ASAP. But I managed to get through it. It’s interesting to me that I can run for almost two hours, but biking for 30 minutes is really hard. I know that you’re using different muscle groups, but come on, it’s still your legs, right?

I’m going to go back to running tomorrow. I’m running with my sister in a ten-miler on Saturday, and I need to log some more miles before then. I just hope that the by-now familiar numbness will stay away.

Three little letters

F. L. U. There may be no worse three-letter word in the English language; if there is, I admit to bias based on current circumstances.
Fortunately, this hasn’t been the worst case I’ve had. The fever, body aches, and coughing are there, but I’ve been able to work from home for some of the day. This is only day two, though, and I’ve heard that this strain gets worse as it goes along, so there’s that.

the dreaded runner’s knee

Now that my legs have stopped being sore, I’ve found that the runner’s knee that I first experienced a couple of years back has returned. Fortunately, my variant of runner’s knee isn’t painful.  The area around my kneecap just goes numb. It was strange enough the last time to cause me to go to a sports doctor, who diagnosed it and sent me to a physical therapist who helped me through it.

I haven’t run since Mercedes; I had intended to take a week off from running after the race all along.  Every now and then I find that i need to take a week off; it just lets my body recuperate from the accumulated wear and tear. My knee just seals the deal. I guess that it’s time to find the exercise diagrams the physical therapist gave me back then so that I can start doing them again while chiding myself about how I shouldn’t have stopped doing them in the first place. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll be getting more familiar with stationary bikes and elliptical machines in the near future.

The joy of telecommuting

I haven’t telecommuted often. It’s not really necessary when one lives so close to one’s workplace. But the threat of imminent snow/freezing rain/sleet/whatever necessitated it today, so this morning I threw on jeans and a sweatshirt and headed downstairs to work. “Highlights” of the workday included:

  • Getting to reconfigure my VPN connection because my computer forgot the one I had previously set up, which necessitated a call to my boss to get the security credentials again
  • Replacing a DLL file on my laptop that wasn’t working with a completely identical one from my laptop, which magically fixed the problem
  • Windows shutting down my computer mid-keystroke to restart after installing updates
  • My dog London doing his best Snoopy impression, demanding his dinner starting about four in the afternoon
  • There being absolutely no reason weather-wise why I couldn’t have gone in to work today, because all it did until 7:45 this evening was rain

I did actually get some work done, And it was nice to have the whole lunch hour here, with my trip back to work consisting of four steps. So it wasn’t all bad. And with the snow now serenely falling outside, it looks like I’ll get to try it again for at least part of tomorrow.