Where I’ve Been – Crafting and Half-Marathoning

Hello my little blog.  Since I’m paying for a domain name, I might as well update this thing every once in awhile, eh?

So, if there is anyone who read this blog with any sort of regularity (anyone? ::crickets::), then you may have noticed my absence.

I just got tired of blogging. I needed a break.  I started blogging in a smaller space and I have been enjoying that.  Just purging my thoughts like I did in the old days, not caring about a “point.” But I don’t even update that blog with any kind of regularity. I am just focused on other things these days.


I’ve been doing a lot of crafts (mostly cross-stitching, with some crochet thrown in there).  Boyfriend and I have a group of friends we play Magic: the Gathering with, and I won’t even go down that rabbit hole because I’ll start talking about booster drafts and how I need to stop making decks with black and white because there are other color combinations out there that I really need to explore, and –


Boyfriend restored a drum kit for me as a Christmas gift, which really has been a game changer.  I haven’t given up my dreams of being a female Dave Grohl and while I know it will still never happen, at least I can pretend to be one with my real drum kit. 

Oh! And I ran another half marathon.

I blogged pretty extensively about my training for a full marathon back in 2011.  To this day, running that marathon has been one of the most profound experiences of my life. I have no doubt I will run another again.  However, training for and running one is absolutely brutal.  It put me in a different mindset and after the race was done, I wanted to continue running that extensively, for the wrong reasons. So I burned out, and hard.

I can’t put into words how much that burnout affected me mentally.  It lasted for about a year and a half. 

And then, at the end of last summer, I was pondering just how much my break from running had affected me and I thought – it’s time to get back into running again. I had really started missing it.   I went to bed that night thinking I was going to train for another marathon. I woke up realizing this was insane.  I couldn’t go from being burned out for a year and a half to running another fucking marathon.

So I decided to train for a half. This training experience was different.  Since I was out of town on various weekends, I couldn’t connect as closely to my group as I wanted. There were different coaches being floated around, and not as many people training for the half as they were for the full.  I felt disconnected and frustrated with my group.  At one point, I even considered quitting.

I was more of a quitter when I was younger, but as I’ve gotten older, I grew deeply embarrassed by it and now don’t quit something unless I have a very good reason to do so.  So I signed up for the half marathon and decided to go to the next training run, which just happened to be one of the coldest mornings we’ve had all year. It was like 23 degrees outside. I am not kidding.

But something changed that morning, as I ran a rather miserable seven miles in my three layers of clothing.  When I finished that run, I felt strong, and my desire to train for the half-marathon was renewed.  After that, I had a better attitude about my group. I made more of an effort to talk with my teammates, even if I wasn’t there every week.  I got to know the coach a little better. I really loved those runs.

Before I knew it, six months had already gone by, and it was race day.  On race day, I waited nervously in the starting corral with Boyfriend next to me.  It was 6:30.  “I need to pee,” I told him, even though I had already peed twenty minutes ago.  Naturally, there was a humongous line to the porta-potties.  I ran out of the porta-potty at 6:57 and Boyfriend and I ran back to the starting corral.

So that’s how my race started.

Race day was extremely humid.  After training in mostly cold temperatures all winter, running in the warm weather felt strange.  The weather was very similar to what I had experienced during my marathon, and I was very grateful I was not running one that morning.  It took about three miles to find my groove – adjusting to the humidity, getting around throngs of people.  I was monitoring my pace at this time. My dream was to beat 2 hours, but I didn’t know if it’d be possible.  I stopped looking at my watch after about 4 miles.

Around 6 miles, I assumed I wasn’t going to beat my goal and that I should just run the best I could.  Then two things happened – I passed up the coach who led the 9:00 min/mile pace group.  Running in that pace group would guarantee about a 2-hour finish.  Then I passed up the 4 hour marathon pacer. I thought, as long as I keep ahead of this pacer, maybe I can still do it.

I booked it for several miles and hit a small wall around ten miles.  I was tired.  My stomach was starting to get rebellious, so I shoved down some Pepto-Bismol to shut it up.  At eleven miles, we passed up the marathon/half-marathon split. I remember getting emotional when I had passed this split at my marathon.  But now, I thought, “You mean I have two miles to go instead of 15? HELL YES.”

At mile 12, I had a resurgence in energy, just in time for the hill. I believe the technical term for this hill is “ginormously steep.” It is ridiculous.  I put on some inspiring music to pump me up. I was going to beat this hill!

The hill totally made me its bitch.

Boyfriend had been planning on meeting me at the top, but he wasn’t there. And I’m so glad – I didn’t want him to see me huffing and puffing. He was about a half mile down the road.  He called out, “Jenny!” I shouted some mushy stuff back to him.  He said, “I’m going to run with you!” This was so motivating.  I continued running, feeling renewed.

600 meters from the finish line, I felt tired.  At the 400 meter mark, I felt almost nauseous, which almost never happens. I knew I was pushing myself.

I kicked it in and when I crossed the finish line, I looked up at the race clock, since my watch had stopped working.  The race clocked showed 2 hours and 3 minutes. Since I had crossed the starting line at least five minutes after the race clock started, then I knew I had beat my goal time.

I ran the half marathon in one hour and fifty-five minutes. I was ecstatic.

I have to admit – I’d had a chip on my shoulder about half marathons. I had already run a marathon – why would I do a half? But I felt so proud of myself when I crossed that finish line, almost as proud as when I crossed that marathon finish line.  Half-marathons ARE a big deal. They’re a different kind of race.  It was nice being focused more on my speed, and not just survival. 

So yeah.  And now it’s over, and I don’t know what I want to do next. Probably another half.  I want to run this next one even faster.



I Don’t Know Who the “Girl In the Mask Is”

In December, I let “jennyquixotic.com” expire. I was not updating this site anymore and it just seemed appropriate.

Today, someone let me know that typing in “jennyquixotic.com” was taking them to a site called “Girl Behind the Mask.”

That person is not me.  It appears that she has taken the domain name. I let it expire and so it is her right to do so.  But it is very frustrating that before, when my blog name “jennyquixotic” was typed into google, just my posts would come up.  Now it’s someone’s page and I do not want to be associated with that at all.  It’s a good lesson about the internet – nothing is ever yours and if you don’t hold on to something, it’s gone.

Point is, I am not “Girl Behind the Mask” and so if you see posts relating to that person in your feed, it is not me.  My blog is now registered as “thejennyquixotic.com.” The name was mine first, and it is clearly documented on the internet that it is.  Maybe I’ll update this site again, maybe I won’t.  But there are too many years of memories on this page to be redirected to someone else’s site.

I Apparently Enjoy Finding Novel Ways of Injuring Myself

Yesterday I was putting together a treat for my dog.  He has this rubber ball with a plastic water bottle in the middle that he loves.  I’ll add treats to the middle of it, often when I’m about to eat dinner.  It’ll keep him occupied for at least 30 minutes.

As I was bending down to hand him the toy, I smacked my forehead up against the corner of my (metal) chair.  I don’t know why I didn’t see the chair in the first place, but, you know.  I guess that’s a moot point now.

As I retold the story later, the general reaction was, “Oh my God! That must have really hurt!” To be honest, it didn’t hurt.  It was just intense pressure;  I’d hit my head pretty hard as a preteen, and I remember the same kind of pressure in the initial aftermath. This pressure was coupled with disorientation and a general, “OH SHIT did I hurt myself badly?” feeling. 

After it happened, I remembered clutching my forehead and walking around in my living room to shake off what had happened.  Within 15 to 30 seconds, I started feeling mostly normal, though fuzzy.  In the midst of my initial haze, I managed to turn the stove and oven off, so plus one for me.  I’m responsible, even when I’m threatening to give myself a concussion.

I was afraid I’d need stitches, especially since I was bleeding, and starting mentally preparing to drive myself to the emergency room.  But when I looked at my injury in the mirror, I was relieved to see that the wound was more superficial than I’d initially anticipated.  There’s a lovely cut there, and there’s still a bump on my forehead today, but I am very relieved that it wasn’t more serious (especially since I live by myself – I can’t really afford to be knocking myself unconscious.)

Here’s to finding more inventive and creative ways at injuring myself.

Nostalgia Bomb – Kumbia Kings, “Azucar”

Several weeks ago, I attended a beautiful wedding (congratulations, James and Leslie!) I like South Texas weddings.  There are always constants you can look forward to, no matter how many you attend.  For instance, there’s going to be wedding floor dancing to a mix of pop, country, and Tejano.  You can look forward to munching on some Mexican Wedding cookies.  A mariachi band is sure to make an appearance at some point after the wedding.  And fajitas WILL be on the menu, whether it’s at the rehearsal dinner or the actual wedding.

This wedding I attended was lovely on all accounts and did not disappoint with the South Texas traditions.  As I was leaving the dance floor to take a break, I heard a Tejano song that sounded very, very familiar that instantly took me back to high school.

Kumbia Kings, “Azucar”

Now, I’m gonna be honest.  I don’t listen to Tejano.  But hearing it instantly brings me back home to my backyard growing up.  Our next door neighbor Nas (who painted his house purple) blasted Tejano every weekend, drinking Tecate and barbequing.  I started growing fond of the songs and became familiar with them, like “Azucar.”

You guys may not know who the Kumbia Kings were, but if you grew up in South Texas, you did, even if you were a total white girl like me.  Selena’s brother was in the Kumbia Kings, so that fact right there sealed their popularity.  Selena was a BIG DEAL where I grew up. (Fun fact – it’s almost like a rite of passage in my town to visit her grave. I’m just saying. We’ve all done it).

And since we’re heading down memory lane, STORY TIME!  I was almost in a Kumbia Kings video, right around the time this song came out.  It was going to be filmed at our high school gym during Christmas break. I was so excited but my mother, in a fit of protectiveness, decided that I couldn’t because she didn’t think there would be any adult supervision. I was bitter about that for quite awhile, because for some reason unknown to mankind, I was certain my big break would be from that video (cut me a break, I was sixteen).

I later saw the video on TV; my high school principal and several of the administrators were in the closing scene.  But the extras’ parts involved sitting in a stand for a crowd scene, so chances of my being seen would have been nil anyway.  IT’S OKAY, MOM, I’M NOT MAD ABOUT IT ANYMORE.

All these memories – sitting out in my backyard and smelling barbeque, thinking that Hollywood would care about my being an extra in a crowded gym for a Tejano music video – came flooding back to me when I heard “Azucar” playing on the dance floor.

And that is why I love South Texas weddings.

Success Kid

Today, one of the new employees dropped off a detail check he had completed for me and started asking me (lots) questions about the site we’re working on. “Why do we measure oxidation reduction potential?” he asked.  “It is because of the contamination out there?”

I hate being asked technical questions on the spot, but I slowed my brain down and said, “Well, to my understanding, it’s more of a function of the site geochemistry and tells us whether or not we need to add an oxidant or reductant to clean the site up.”  He nodded, looking impressed, and said, “So it’s based more on the site geochemistry than the contaminants?”  “Yes,” I responded though my brain started guessing itself.  What if it IS a function of the contamination?

So I asked my trusty friend Andres, who works in the same field as I do.  “You’re correct,” he said.  “It can also be a function of the contamination as well, but not so much with organic contaminants.”

“The only constituents at this site are organics!” I replied. “YES!”

For someone constantly second-guessing herself and her technical knowledge, it’s nice to be right sometimes.


I was hesitant to write anything about this, but I decided that I should.

When I moved to this city back in 2008, I was a pretty miserable person for a multitude of reasons, none of which are important now.  I got on a project that required me to drive back and forth from downtown three to four times a week.  At the time, my driving anxiety was significant.  I hated the driving. I was lonely and sad, and missed home all the time.  I considered moving back.

I used to park in a lot outside of a city building, but once I got caught, I finally started parking in the tiny garage next to my downtown office.  All was well until the day I slammed the (good) side of my truck into a concrete barrier.  The incident left me jittery.  It was just one more silly setback that made me want to move back home.  Unsure of where to park, I decided to park at a hotel nearby.

One day as I was walking back to my truck, I saw an older man smoking a cigarette and watching me intently.  “You know you can’t park there,” he said.  Oops. I began to stammer. “But I’ll let you park there,” he said.

We began talking.  His name was Jim, and he worked at the hotel.  For the next several years, Jim let me park at his hotel, when he could have easily let me be towed.  He would even alert me when a special event was coming up so I could get a special parking permit and not be towed.  Allowing me to park at his hotel eased my driving anxiety greatly. I stopped hating my downtown work and began to enjoy it.  Jim was outside often, smoking, and he would talk to me after I was done with work.

I began bringing by cards and cookies to show my gratitude; I didn’t want to take advantage of his kindness.  We began exchanging emails and texts, and before I knew it, I had gained a dear friend.  Jim would call me the daughter I never had.  He gave me great advice when I needed it, and made me chuckle with his stubborn Irish humor and charm.

Jim was no fool – he was whip smart and could figure out a person with one glance.  He could cut straight through the BS and knew what I was feeling without my saying it.  In the past year, he told me he saw a light in my eyes that he never had before.  “You were in a bad place when I first met you,” he told me.  “Now you are happy. And I love it.”

Jim cared deeply for his family and friends and would do anything in his power to help.  He spoke often of his son and his deceased wife, Patty.  Patty clearly was the love of his life and though she had passed fifteen years ago, it was clear that he was still deeply in love with her.

Over the past couple of years, Jim’s health declined. His health started deteriorating significantly in the past six to nine months. I remained in denial.  He would get better, just like he always had in the past.  When I visited him several weeks ago, after Apollo’s puppy school graduation, Jim warned me that it may be the last time I would ever see him.  He was right, but I didn’t believe him.  I still thought he had time.

I pulled up to the hospice this afternoon after work to drop off a card and some goodies.  His son had warned us that his health had taken a turn for the worse, and I wanted to see Jim at least one last time.  I was very nervous. I had never been to a hospice before, but I knew what being in one meant.  I was worried about how Jim’s condition would be, and if he’d even want to see me.  I knew Jim never liked having visitors while he was sick, and I hoped he wouldn’t be upset that I was visiting.

I walked inside up to the welcome desk and asked the receiving nurse if Jim was up to seeing visitors. I saw her exchange glances with another nurse. My heart started to sink.  The nurse told me that he had just passed away.  I felt like I was in a bad movie or television show.  The plot device of someone passing away just before a friend could see him always had seemed so cliche to me, but now here it was, happening to me.  I hadn’t expected to cry but tears welled in my eyes.  She asked if I wanted to go in and say goodbye, but I was afraid, and I didn’t want to disturb his son.  So I left the bag of goodies on the desk and asked that she deliver it to Jim’s son.  I had started crying. I felt bad when I did because I thought about how the nurses must have felt to have to deliver sad news like that and watch that person break down. I left quickly so that no one else could see me cry, but I don’t think I was successful.

I am doing okay now, though still sad.  His passing wasn’t unexpected, but I still didn’t think it’d be today. Why didn’t I ever get a picture of us together? Why didn’t I see him one last time, before he got really sick?  Why didn’t I have dinner with him?

Jim’s friendship came at a time in my life when I needed it the most.  I learned so much from this humorous, hilarious, humble, and extraordinary man.  I’m so glad to have met him and I’ll never forget him.  I don’t know if there’s anything after life, but if there is, I hope he and Patty are giving each other enormous hugs right now.