Tag Archives: summer

Summer Sunday Stats #1: Two Weeks, Two Days.

Our house is full again.  The Siren and the Unfocused Kids have been gone for 15 days.  First, they drove to our shared beach house in Delaware with the Siren’s mother. I used up some frequent flyer miles and joined them for last weekend, then flew back to Chicago Sunday night, worked Monday and Tuesday, then met them in Philadelphia (where they had dropped the Siren’s mother to spend a week with her brother) to drive to my mother’s place in rural New York.  We had a nice visit, then started the drive Saturday evening and got about 250 miles in before stopping for the night and doing the rest today.  Breaking the drive up into two pieces felt positively luxurious compared to the one-day drive home from Brooklyn last Thanksgiving weekend.

I’m glad to have everyone back home — the house was eeriely empty while the Siren and kids were gone.

On Writing: I think my word count for the week was something like 150 — I just didn’t have a lot of time to work on Project Hometown, even on the plane.  The week before was a little better, but not a whole lot.  The total word count for Porject Hometown is now 11,586.  I also mapped out a pretty good short story idea that I would like to work on in the coming month.

“Jimmies” was rejected, with the most encouraging rejection letter yet — it even implied that more than one person had read it.  I’ll send it back out again this week, but it’s time to finish something new.

On Running: Not bad.  I had a good 8.5 mile run from our hotel to my mother’s on Saturday morning; I was slow, but it was uphill almost half the distance, which is a big change from my usual Flatland routes.

Hope your summer is off to a rollicking start.


Summer Sunday Stats #6B: The Last Summer Sunday.

This is the second part of a two-part Summer Sunday Stats post.  This post will make more sense if you read Summer Sunday Stats #6A first.

Today’s Chicago Half Marathon was the last meatspace race I’ve registered for this year, but I have one more virtual race to go:  The 3rd annual World Wide Half Marathon, part of the Phedippidations World Wide Festival of Races.  It’s self-timed, and the course isn’t USATF-certified, but the race directors do a great job building the excitement and even put together a e-goody-bag, and Steve prepares a special episode of Phedippidations with people cheering, which is great to listen to.  The race is October 11 and 12; each runner decides when and where to run his or her race, then post results to the website.  It’s a lot of fun, and there’s still time to register for the half marathon, 10K, or 5K races.

Moving off the running:

Words of Meet the Larssons written this week:  3,770 (92,948 total).  That’s more like it.  I managed — for the week, anyway — to stick to my pledge not to work on any other writing projects until the first draft of MTL is finished.  The draft will need a lot of work, but I think I’m on track to make my self-imposed Halloween deadline.

Other news:  We introduced the kids to Go Fish! yesterday, and Unfocused Girl to Clue, both of which went over big.  We were looking for something to do together on a rainy afternoon other than watch a movie; we’ve tried card games and board games before (Candyland, Hi-Ho-Cherry-O, a couple of others) without success, but it looks like the kids have finally gotten old enough to handle games with rules, which is great.

What a disaster of a weekend, weather-wise.  Even here in the city, not far from our house, the Chicago River has flooded hundreds of homes and streets with waist-high water.  Unfocused Girl’s school is closed tomorrow, thankfully just because of flooding in the streets and not in the school itself.  We’ve been lucky to have had only a trickle of water in the basement, back by the mechanicals.  Anything I can clean up with a few towels qualifies as a minor problem.

Finally, I came across a couple of interesting writing blogs this week, which I’ve added to the “On Writing” section of my blogroll on the sidebar.  Chicago-area mystery writer J.A. Konrath writes A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, which focuses on marketing yourself (and your book) and the business side of being a writer.  Scott William Carter, whose own first novel is coming out soon, writes The First Book, with interviews of authors whose first novels are about to be or have recently been published.  If you’re a wannabe novelist looking for inspiration, you might want to check these out.

There’s more I meant to put into this post, but I’m exhausted and I’ve forgotten what it was.  If I remember it and I have the energy, I’ll post an epilogue.

Summer Sunday Stats #6A: Lessons From My 14+ Mile Half Marathon.

The final Sunday of summer deserves special treatment, so today’s post will be divided into two parts.

Miles run:  13.1 in just a few seconds over my goal time of 1:45:00 for today’s Chicago Half Marathon, plus well over a mile from where I parked my car to the starting line.  First lesson for the day:  don’t leave late for races.  Especially when it’s raining.  Especially when the race starts in a neighborhood with absolutely no decent parking. The gun was scheduled to go off at 7:30am; I parked my car at 7:25am at University Avenue and 61st Street (and the only reason the space was open was because it was zoned parking; I want to thank the Chicago PD for not being aggressive about ticketing during the race).  According to Google Maps, that’s a mile and a half from the starting line.

The northern edge of what’s left of Hurricane Ike reached Chicago today, although it’s impossible to tell the difference between yesterday’s unending rain (not from Ike) and today’s unending rain (all about Ike).  The Chicago Half Marathon website made it clear that the race would be on rain or shine, although they would almost certainly have canceled it if there were a lightning storm.  I went down to the race Expo yesterday and picked up my race packet; it wasn’t a big Expo as these things go — I didn’t see any of the local running stores represented, which was odd — so I didn’t stay long. I threw the running clothes I wanted to wear for the race into the laundry before bed, and didn’t give it much more thought than that.

I got up at 5:30, but dawdled over breakfast and didn’t get out of the house until 6:45.  Still raining.  I did two things right:  I grabbed towels to put on the seat of my car after the race, to keep it from getting soaked (and smelly), and I grabbed a sweatshirt to put on after the race so I wouldn’t freeze.  I didn’t forget anything I would bring to an ordinary race — watch, Cliff Shots, hat — but I didn’t make any other preparations for the weather.

Here are all of the things I did wrong, in the order that they mattered:

  1. I left half an hour too late (6:45 departure for a 7:30 start).  The race start is around 17 miles from my house, and parking in Hyde Park on the morning of the race is very, very, very difficult.
  2. I took I-55 from the Kennedy Expressway to Lake Shore Drive, since that’s the most direct route to Hyde Park.  If I had thought it through, I would have remembered that in previous years, the traffic was pretty bad on LSD going into Hyde Park, but I didn’t.  Luckily, I realized in time that it was all of the southbound Drive, not just the ramp, that was backed up, and was able to get off and take the Drive the other way and get back onto the Kennedy, to the Ryan, and then took 55th Street into Hyde Park.
  3. I ran to the lakefront and realized that the starting line had moved; after years of starting by the Museum of Science and Industry at 57th Street, the race started this year at 63rd Street.  Had I read the materials I received at the Expo, or checked the course map on the website, or read the big “New Start Location” paragraph on the “Half-Marathon Information” page, I would have realized it.  Lucky for me, the confusion caused by the rain and the new start affected a lot of people and the race gun went off around 12 minutes late.  Even so, I didn’t have time to wait in line for the port-o-potty; I had to insult a bush.
  4. Because I was so late, I joined the pack approaching the starting line towards the back.  It took more than four miles for the pack to thin out, and it slowed me down considerably.
  5. I forgot to pack dry shoes and socks, so the drive home was kind of unpleasant.

But eventually, it did open up, and I came within a few seconds of my goal time.  I’m pretty happy with that, considering I was soaking wet before the race ever started, and my shoes were completely waterlogged.  The only real problem was one that those of you who are male and who run for long distances have undoubtedly faced.  Just a moment:

NOTE TO FEMALE READERS:  You can skip the rest of this entry.  Really.  You’re not missing anything.

Okay, so here it is: bloody nipples.

Normally, this isn’t a problem for me on runs of less than 15 or 16 miles, but it starts much faster in the rain when my shirt gets wet; if I’d been thinking, I would have put on band-aids before the run, so that I wouldn’t need to be wearing them now.  Which I am.

The rest of this week’s Summer Sunday Stats later.

Summer Sunday Stats #4: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Hope you’re having a good long weekend.  We’ve been pretty laid back here at Stately Unfocused Manor; we had some friends over for dinner on Saturday, and mostly just hung out yesterday.  School started for Junior on Wednesday; Unfocused Girl starts at her new school (now with extra distance from home!) tomorrow.  I can’t believe she’s going into second grade.  I hope the new school works out — it’s a new building with great facilities, but a school isn’t just a building, and it’s going to be a big change from the Montessori program we’re used to.

Miles run:  11.75 miles, in 1:51:08.  I took it slowly, because I’ve added a lot of weekday miles lately and was kind of wiped, and because it was really hot — I finished my entire water bottle at the turnaround point.  The important thing was to get my long run mileage up from 10 — the Chicago Half Marathon is in two weeks, and while I’m not looking to set a PR, I don’t want to feel as unprepared as I did last year.

Weather:  Sunny and hot. ‘Nuff said.

What was on my iPod:  J.C. Hutchins’s Ultracreatives Interview #4, C.C Chapman’s Accident Hash #273, and Black Lab’s album See the Sun.

How’s the writing going?  I’m so glad you asked.  I wrote 899 words of Meet the Larssons (87,776 and counting).  I was distracted by the Democratic National Convention (anyone remember that?  Denver?  Speeches?  Anyone?  Bueller?) and by a short story that wanted to be written.  I’m trying to keep the short story — I don’t have a good working title for it yet, so let’s just call it “Secretary-General” for now — to under 5,000 words, which would fit within the guidelines of most s.f. markets, and is about right for the story anyway.  So far, it’s at 3,656 words, all written this week.  I probably wrote the last 2,000 words on Friday; the Mrs. went to bed early, and I stayed up late.  I know that I shouldn’t let myself get distracted by other ideas while I’m working on the novel, that I should just write them down and get back to work on MTL until the first draft is done.  I try, I really do, although that kind of mental discipline doesn’t come easily to me.  When an idea is just an idea, I can put it aside; I email myself a note about it, with “Idea” in the subject line, and I can forget about it.  Sometimes, though, like TTB and now SG, I get more than just an idea, I get the whole story in my head, and in order to get it down so I don’t lose it, I essentially have to just write the damn thing.  It doesn’t mean the story’s good, or really complete, but it does mean that I have trouble focusing on anything else until I get it down.

Rather than comment on the selection of Gov. Palin as McCain’s running mate (is he pandering to the religious right or to Hillary voters?  It’s a mystery!) or Hurricane Gustav’s advance on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, since those topics are being more thoroughly hashed out elsewhere, I’ll leave you with the hysterical Large Hadron Rap:

Summer Sunday Stats #3

Summer Sunday Stats for today:

Miles run today: 10.05, in 1:30:45. I could feel the exhaustion in my legs before I’d gone half a mile, and it never really got better. I think it was from the TKD test yesterday — we had class first, cut a little short but still 45 minutes, and then the test was surprisingly intense (I have a couple of nice bruises on my shin from the sparring). Still, it was the longest run I’ve had in four weeks, and with the Chicago Half Marathon in three weeks and the World Wide Half Marathon a few weeks after that (not to mention the marathon at the beach in late November, not that I’ve decided anything, but still…), I need to get the long runs in more consistently.

Weather: Sunny and warm, but not too hot, even though I didn’t leave the house until after 9am. As perfect a day for a long run as you could ask for in August in Chicago. It would have been even better if I’d worn sunscreen.

What was playing on my iPod: I Should Be Writing #96, followed by Phedippidations #147. Mur Lafferty (ISBW’s host) is promoting her very cool superhero novel, Playing for Keeps, which is being published by Swarm Press. It’s already available on Amazon.com, but the official launch date is tomorrow (Aug. 25), and she’s asking anyone interesting in buying it to order it tomorrow on Amazon to move it up the Amazon charts. Other podcasting novelists, such as Scott Sigler and Matthew Wayne Selznick, have done this kind of Amazon run with some success, so first thing tomorrow, you know I’ll be on Amazon ordering my copy of PFK. Mur podcast Playing for Keeps earlier this year, and also released it as a series of PDFs; if you want to see what you’ll be getting, Mur has re-released the PDF (along with a new bonus short story in the same universe) in time for the launch of the print edition, and you can get it here. I originally read PFK in the PDF version, and I’m looking forward to re-reading it as a bound book; I’m mentioning it here because I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from I Should Be Writing, and want to pay it back.

Words of Meet the Larssons written this week: 2,941 (up to today). That number surprised me when I added it up, but I think it’s correct. It’s been a decent week for writing, and I expect to get more done once school starts — on Wednesday for Unfocused Junior, and on Sept. 2 for Unfocused Girl (at The New School) — and they start going to bed at a reasonable hour again.

Other news: Junior’s cast came off on Friday! He’s a little nervous about the arm, but he has started wearing his Superman costume again, which is a terrific sign of normalcy (he wouldn’t wear it with the cast, because Superman would never have a broken arm, of course).

Finally, while I’m talking about new books, I should mention that John Scalzi’s latest sf novel, Zoe’s Tale, was released on Tuesday. I bought it that day and finished it Wednesday night, because Unfocused Girl was breathing down my neck to get her hands on it (those of you who know her will understand). It retells the events in his previous novel, The Last Colony, from the point of view of a 17-year-old girl, and is can be read as part of the Old Man’s War series or as a stand-alone novel. Not that Scalzi really needs my help promoting it, but I really enjoyed it. I think Unfocused Girl will, too, although now that she actually has it, she wants to finish the books she’s already working on first, including one of the Warriors novels and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; my guess is that she’ll finish the Warriors book and then start Zoe’s Tale, without worrying about finishing anything else, but we’ll see.

Unfocused Girl is working on her novel, The Adventure Friends and the Sword of Destiny, and just asked me if I was working on my novel, too.  That’s a reminder that instead of dragging out this post all afternoon, I should be writing.

Summer Vacation Stats, Part 1.

Unfocused Girl and I are testing for our yellow belts in Tae Kwon Do this morning, so I may have to split this post in two to get something up before we head out. Seems reasonable, since I’m covering a two-week vacation.

Number of days of vacation, departure to return: 16

Number of those days spent traveling or preparing for travel (packing, closing up the house, etc.): 4. We drove to the beach this year, ignoring the conventional wisdom to leave early by leaving late and driving into the night. We weren’t comfortable trying to do the entire 813-mile route all in one day this year; next year, we will. The kids will be a little older and better able to handle it, and we’ll be more confident ourselves. We also used one of our own cars, Mrs. Unfocused’s Mercury Sable, instead of renting a minivan, which is what we did the last time we drove. It wasn’t as comfortable, but it was about $1000 cheaper just by saving the rental, not to mention the better gas mileage from the sedan.

Number of dishwashers at our family beach house: 2 — Mrs. Unfocused and me.

Number of days spent practicing Tae Kwon Do:  almost all of them.  We bought a couple of gym mats and hauled out our pads.  Taking a two-week vacation right before our test could have really blown our chances of passing, but we worked pretty hard, especially Unfocused Girl.  No guarantees, but I’m confident we’ll both do well.

Breaking News!  It’s Joe Biden!  GREAT choice for veep!

Okay, more about me.  Where was I?

Number of words of Meet the Larssons written: 1898.  It’s not quite what I had planned, but I had a lot of things I wanted to do, and the vacation was about spending time with my family, not hiding in a cave by myself to write.  Also, the beach house doesn’t have a cave.  I’ve written more since.

The running stats will have to wait for after the test.

Summer Sunday Stats #1: The Long Run I’ve Been Waiting For.

Weather: Sunny and not godawful hot. I was out the door by 8:15, which helped too, but really it was a perfect day for a run.

Miles run: 10.30, in 1:23:28. I ran the same route I’ve been running, so don’t ask me why it’s suddenly half a mile longer. I think this is closer to reality, though; I think the pedometer was having some trouble the last few long runs. This was the best long run I’ve had in months. I’ve been eating better (read less) and training more. I’ve added speed work back into my training, which makes an enormous difference. For the first time this season, I finished my long run feeling like I could keep going for miles, and I ran the second half considerably fast than the first half (7:45 min/mi vs. 8:28 min/mi).

What I listened to during my run: Episode #140 (Running Barefoot) of Phedippidations, followed by Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel for the final push.

Words of Meet the Larssons written: The day isn’t over yet. I wrote about 400 words on Thursday, and approximately 300 words on Friday; I didn’t get a chance to update my word count meter yesterday, and I can’t do it now because I’m writing on my office Windows laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad X61s), not my MacBook, because I’m on the road again (I’m at O’Hare waiting for a delayed flight at this very moment — thanks, American!). I don’t have Scrivener, including its handy word counting tools, but I have MTL exported to a RTF file on my memory stick, and I’m planning to work on it on the plane. It felt good to get back into it on Thursday and Friday, though, and while I’m still a little rusty, I’m getting back into it.

The kids are getting a little sick of my travel, especially Unfocused Girl. It didn’t help that I didn’t find out about this trip until around 10pm on Friday night, so I had to spend all of Saturday afternoon at the office dealing with things I thought I’d be doing on Monday. Looking back at my calendar, I’ve been out of town 10 days out of the last 30, and working most of the rest; my usual travel schedule would be more like 2-4 days in a month. No wonder she’s unhappy.

Mrs. Unfocused, UG, and I spent this afternoon working on her Tae Kwon Do skills in the basement (it was raining by the time we finished lunch), while Junior played on the computer. UG wants to earn her yellow belt at the end of the summer — we’d all like to test, really — but she needs a lot of work. I think she’ll get there, but it isn’t easy for her; she isn’t used to exerting as much control over her body as she’ll need to master the moves she’ll be tested on, and it’s hard for her to focus her attention the way she needs to, and she gets frustrated when we point out where she’s going wrong. This is one of the first things she’s really wanted that hasn’t been easy for her — she was not this motivated to learn to ride her bike, for example — and it’s going to be hard for her to stick to it. But she knows she won’t be allowed to take the weapons class until she gets promoted, and she really wants to take the weapons class. She’s also taking fencing and archery for a week each at summer school this month.

My little girl is growing up, and someday she just might kick your ass.