Monthly Archives: November 2009

Luck of the Draw

Happy Thanksgiving all!!! (a day late…)

This was my first Thanksgiving celebration in years as I’ve been abroad for so long. It was nice. My mom cooked the turkey and then we headed over to my aunt’s house. We had tons of food as per custom though our meal was very non-traditional. Being Caribbean folk, we add some homecooking. We had the requisite turkey but also oxtails, ribs, and fish. Then we had mac n cheese, veggie lasagna, rice and peas and mashed potatoes – all a bit strange. We are so non-traditional that we didn’t even have cranberry sauce or gravy. There was dressing however. We stuffed our faces then sat and chatted, watched some TV.

Then dessert – lemon meringue pie, apple pie plus some Caribbean style fruit cake. Plus ice cream. There’s this place in NY called Taste the Tropics and the ice cream is amazing – you have to show ID to get the rum raisin. The rum raisin was perfect alongside my fruit cake. Then a lovely game of scrabble. My aunt and I are scrabble obsessed so that was fun!

So my crazy mother is a shopaholic and at 10pm had packed bedding in the car and was off to the Black Friday sales. Her plan was to park outside Walmart and then sleep until the sales began to get in first. However, due to last year’s tragedy, they had everyone go inside immediately and then stand in lines for the ticket for the items they want (so she stood in line from around 10:30 until 5am when they could actually get the sale). Luckily my mother had a sidekick. Her excuse for shopping was that I needed a TV for my room (though I’ve told her it’s unnecessary). She accidentally ended up in a laptop line and so her sidekick had to go in the TV line. So now I have a new 32″ LCD TV and I’m hoping to talk her into giving me the laptop as mine is 5 years old and on the fritz.

Today I wanted to partake in the Black Friday mania and Eat Sleep Knit had the following sale (info provided for any knitters reading this before the end of today):

How it works: Starting at 10 AM ET, visit the store and fill up your cart. You’ll go through the checkout process as usual, enter your billing information, and click on “Complete Order.” Your order confirmation page will then display your personal surprise discount and your order total will be adjusted accordingly! All orders will receive a discount of at least 10%, all the way up to 100% (that means your order could be free!). You could win half off, 30% off, 75% off, but no matter what, you will receive at least 10% off, and the odds of getting more are quite good! The sale ends at 5 PM (Eastern US time), and all orders transmitted after that time will be charged at regular prices. Gift certificates and club memberships are excluded from the sale and will not be available for purchase on the website during this time frame.

I only got 10% off, so my luck wasn’t strong. However, the other people I chat with on rav got 15% or 25% off so I was just unlucky; not necessarily that it’s a hoax sale.

Anyhow, Happy Thanksgiving all!

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Goodbye 20s!

Today is my last day as a twenty-something. Tomorrow I officially join another decade. I’m actually excited. I feel like it’s a new beginning. My 20s were long and I faced many challenges. I had lots of fun but at the same time my stress levels were always very high. I feel more in control of my life now. And while I’m in a strange place at this moment: just moved countries, living with my mother, unemployed and single – I know in about 6 months things will be different and better. This is my blank slate for the moment and I can determine the next steps.

In January I made a huge list of things I wanted to get done by 30 and I didn’t get most of them done. But I’m completely ok with that because I got some of the most important things done.

– I got out of a job that made me really unhappy
– I got out of a somewhat unhappy relationship
– I ran a marathon
– I raised a goodly amount of money for charity
– I designed my first knit pattern
– I taught myself a new craft (beading) and hope to start selling stitch markers on my etsy shop soon

And now I still have lots of other things to do but I’m hopeful and I look forward to my 30s.

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My Marathon Experience

It’s weird to think that this time last week, I was still running. Well I’ll go back to the beginning…

It took me a while to fall asleep Saturday night but after about an hour I fell asleep. I woke up promptly at 5am though my alarm was set for 5:30 (it was nice and convenient that the clocks changed that night as we all got an extra hour’s sleep). The night before I had readied everything I needed for the morning and put it in a corner. Check me out in my gear. I loved those arm warmers. Even when I no longer needed them to keep warm, it was great having them on. There was something cozy and comfy about having them on. It felt like a hug the whole time.

My mother nicely drove me to the Staten Island Ferry which I would take over to the start line; ferry left at 7:30. Once we arrived in Staten Island, there were these buses waiting for us to take us to the village until the race where we would hang out until the race start. I was in the 3rd wave which didn’t start until 10:20 so there was a lot of waiting around to do.

Luckily, I was meeting up with a friend there. I actually ran my first half-marathon with her on the Isle of Wight in 2004, we were housemates back then (living in London). She’s an American who was living in London and now lives in Geneva. At the marathon expo, we were both asked where we were from as I guess we have a British overtone to our American accents. It’s a bit funny.

That’s the two of us. I wore a million layers and my Arsenal FC scarf. All clothes that you leave behind is picked up and given to charity so I went through my mother’s pile of clothes to give away and found some things to wear. Susan wasn’t as well prepared but luckily she had a big garbage bag which was the uber fashion of the day and Dunkin Donuts was giving out free hats to the runners so she was set.

Also check out suitman in his Dunkin Donuts hat. He goes around running marathons wearing his powder blue polyester suit. I hope he never runs wearing that in summer. Ouch!

Finally around 10 or so, we went to our corral. Though, just prior to that, this guy had missed getting into the corral for his wave so decided to jump the fence. Anyhow, some NYPD SWAT guy goes running after him and yelling at him. The guy explained that his race was about to start and the SWAT guy was having none of it. He tore off the guy’s number and we all gasped as we thought he wasn’t going to be able to run. It was so OTT and sad because the guy had on his vest showing that he was running for autism and all he did was jump over the fence to try to get to the race. He wasn’t a threat to security or anything. It also freaked everyone out as by this time around 4 other SWAT members had shown up. I mean, really?!? I guess they were desperate for some action but it was too much. They finally let the guy go to the race, he was visibly shaken though, and they didn’t let him have his number back. When you think of how far and wide people travel for the race and the training necessary, it was pretty sad behavior on the part of the SWAT guys.

Blurry photo of the incident (runner in trouble is in blue):

We managed to put the incident behind us and get ready to start. The start was amazing! They had Frank Sinatra on the speakers blaring New York, New York and it was just a blast. I was so excited!!! Susan was pretty stoked too. Best start to a race I’ve ever had. Then slow jog to start line and then off we went. As you can see, we didn’t start until around 43 minutes after the first wave had gone.

Crossing the Verazano Bridge was not fun. One of my many quirks is that I love walking across bridges. But with London bridges, a quick skip and hop and you’re on the other side. Not so with NYC bridges. They are long! And also, the designers were concerned with function and function only. No pretty bridges here. And finally, the wind. Oh the wind was terrible. It was freezing across that and every other bridge we had to cross.

Once over the bridge, we were in Brooklyn and the spectators and support were amazing. I wasn’t out to break any time records so I high-fived every young child, I even hugged this guy who had a sign saying he was giving hugs to the runners. It was great, and I thought, this is going to be easy. I was lovin’ it.

Then mile 8 hit. Every single race I’ve ever done has been hilly. But big steep hills. You see it ahead, you run up and you run down and it’s over. Not so in NYC. Here it’s the gradual incline that goes on for over a mile. I was halfway through mile 8 and I was just like, this is going slowly. Then I realized that I was running up a gradual incline the whole way. But with every incline comes a decline? dis-incline? Usually with steep hills you have to be really careful not to do in your knees going down but here with such a gradual decline(?) I could run happily.

And so the race progressed well. I reached the halfway point and things were still OK.

Here I have to make a confession. I trained quite poorly for this marathon and so reaching the halfway point for me was huge as I’d never run longer than that before. During the summer with Ghana, moving around, planning to move back to NYC (lots of excuses I know), etc, my training suffered and during training my longest run was 12 miles. I’d done a couple of half-marathons in the past so I knew I could run 13.1 miles but could I run 26.2? One thing I knew with running is that it is 90% mental and I knew I was strong enough mentally, but physically?

I kept going. At this point I had to run/walk. Running to the water stations, then walking to the next mile marker. Running again until next water station and so on. I was doing fine until mile 15-16. The whole time we were on the Queensboro bridge. No spectators and it’s one of those bridges where the cars are below and the trains run above. We were below and it felt cramped and dark, horrible and never-ending with trains going overhead every once in a while. It was probably my worst mile.

But after that I was OK again. I had this thing about getting to mile 18. I felt that if I made it to mile 18, everything would be OK. Mile 18 to 19 was fairly jubilant. The only bad thing about mile 18 is that they hand out the energy gels there. OMG how horrible are those!!! Taking it down wasn’t horrible but the aftertaste! I’d brought Clif Shot Bloks with me and those were yummy. Very tasty stuff and I’d recommend it for all future long runs. Gels – yuck!

Then I got to mile 20 and I thought, now this will be cake. I’m nearly there. And I was WRONG! The last 6 miles were horrible! At one point I thought I was nearly to mile 24 only to see it was mile 23. That really took the stuffing out of me and I could no longer run. I just kept thinking that I had nothing left. I kept walking though. By this time, my legs were killing me. Around mile 10 the toes on my right foot had started hurting. I think my shoes were a tad small on the right foot and with the swelling that occurs from all the running, there wasn’t enough toe space and two of my toes seemed to be falling asleep/becoming paralyzed or some such (not fun!). Then around mile 15 my knees started to ache a bit. Luckily that went away. At no time was I out of breath but I could feel my body abandoning me a bit.

I made it through mile 23 and then mile 24. At this point, there weren’t too many spectators but there were still people cheering us on; telling us we’re nearly there. At mile 25, I got about my 5th wind and started running again. Then I saw the sign saying 1/2 mile and mentally I just told myself, this is 2 laps around a track, you can do it. Then a sign saying 400 yards, and I was like one lap left. Then I saw 200 yards and I was like, I used to sprint this in high school. I was surprised with my finishing group that many were content to walk across the finish line. I decided I’d power through and I sprint that last 100-200 yards. And then, yay!, I’d done it. I’d crossed the finish line. 6 hours, 15 min and 11 sec later. I almost burst into tears. I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it.

Here’s a fuzzy finish line photo. I was too tired to be able to hold my phone still (remember I started around 43 minutes late).

Now I’m pretty excited at the prospect of running another marathon but this time I’ll train properly. It was an amazing experience and all the support you get from people. I don’t know what inspires so many people to stand out in the cold just to cheer us on but it’s so amazing and it’s true, during those points when there were lots of people cheering you on, you forget that you’re running and you just run on the force of the applause and the cheers. 🙂

One really cool thing was that my friends could track my run the entire time online because of this cool orange thingy on my shoes called a D-tag.

Every time I ran through a mile marker it would record where I was. It was awesome to go on ravelry the next day and see that I had an online cheering squad on one of the forums. A couple of people kept track of my movements and shared it with the group and everyone said the loveliest things. It was cool having my phone on me as well. As it was a blackberry, whenever I was in a really bad spot, I would open it up and there would be a few emails or facebook messages with people cheering me on. Isn’t technology just amazing sometimes?!?

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Hi guys,

I just did the drawing using a random number generator to determine the winners. All sponsors’ names were placed in an excel spreadsheet in order of donations.

Winners are as follows (Name in bold):

– Antonio of Malabrigo yarns has generously donated 1 bag (10 skeins Malabrigo worsted) mistake color as a prize. Jacquelyn Ridzy aka jacqui722

– An item knitted by moi (within reason) – we’ll chat though various options and I’ll both knit the item and provide yarn (no cashmere or outrageous yarns though) ;-). zzwhitejd – Jenny Raymond

– Handknitted socks by moi – again we’ll chat to see what socks you like and I’ll again provide the yarn. The socks below are just an example. I also happily knit men’s socks as well. Archergal5219

– Ulmus Shawl (worn in the photo as a scarf): Many have admired this item I have knitted and I’ve loved wearing it. I think it will make a lovely prize for someone. Michaela Chatman

– Audiobook from Kathy (Woolybelle on Ravelry)will donate to one lucky winner his/her choice of audiobook (15 CDs or less) from Recorded Books. iraknitwit

– $50 gift certificate to Yarn Company in NYC. This was generously donated by Patti (pattiblaine on ravelry). dknit52

– Cable Crush Cowl. This cowl was designed by yours truly this summer and it’s knit in Malabrigo Merino Worsted. Colorway: Rhodesian. Lauren Koestner aka libra276

– Skein of yarn (fingering weight). This is a lovely plum color. 364 yards/100 grams; 50% Superwash Merino 50% Tencel. Dee Brown aka Blackrayne

– Skein of yarn (fingering weight). For the yellow lover in you. 100% BLF / 100g / 420 yards. warpedntwisted

– Skein of yarn (light fingering). Malabrigo sock. 1 skein = 440.0 yards. Colorway = Turner. ninja8tofu

– Statue bought during my summer volunteer trip to Ghana. Diana Samour

– 5 copies of the Cable Crush Cowl pattern.

Elizabeth Webber AKA PictureandBook

Congratulations to all the winners! I’ll be in contact through various means shortly to let you know.

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Disaster/Knitting Tragedy

We have this housekeeper (more of a live-in nanny/housekeeper as my mom is on her own with my little brother) who did my laundry and felted my Swallowtail shawl knitted in Malabrigo Dos (still a test yarn). I’ve cried. I’ve drunk wine. I’ve eaten buffalo wings. And now I think I might need a scoop of Haagen Dazs. I kept meaning to tell her not to touch my handknits but I hadn’t noticed that she’d picked up the shawl as it was hanging with my coat on the door. I hadn’t noticed it was missing until way way too late (when she dropped my laundry off in my room). My heart stopped for a moment.

A Eulogy for my Shawl

I so loved you shawl,
you were squishy and warm,
and though I’m not a huge fan of purple,
you were just the right color that I could enjoy.
Oh goodbye my beautiful shawl.
You are now a lovely, soft bit of felt and I’ll try to make
a lovely purse or other felted item with you so that
you would have not lost your lustrous shawl life in vain.

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Marathon update coming soon…

Probably tomorrow I’ll post a full brief of my marathon experience with pictures, etc, but today I’m too tired to write anything coherent. It was great: loved the first 8 miles, the crowd was awesome, I high fived anyone with there hand out and I was like, ‘what are these people talking about, this is going to be easy’. The second half of the race was tough. Mile 15-16 was torture. Ran out of gas around mile 23. Could barely move. Pulled it together on mile 25 and finished strong; managed to sprint the last 100 yards – wanted to end in style. Overall, not a great time: 6:25:11. But I’m super happy! I’ve completed a marathon! Yay!!!!

The crowd cheers…

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