Marathon Training: Up and Down

My husband (very reluctantly) sent me a CNN article this week about Ultra Marathons, “Ultramarathons go above and beyond.” The author compared the 100-mile run to a relationship. “It’s great at first, and then you have your ups and downs. Near the end, you tend to hate everything about it. And when it’s over, you forget how bad it was and sign up for another.”

Marathons can leave us mere 26.2 mortals feeling the same way, and whether it was just a bad day or training error we almost always believe we can do better if given just one more chance. Here I am 33 days from one more chance.

I corrected the errors in my training program, and then wisely corrected them again.

My plan was to peak at 55 miles per week with three 20-mile runs before I redacted everything in my calendar four weeks ago. Now my calendar includes no more than 35-mile weeks, no more than 4 days of running each week, and one 20-mile run.

Having already completed a 16-mile run before the redactions, I found myself with oodles of time to reach that pinnacle 20-mile run. To fill in the blanks, I’ve run a second 16-mile run, two 18-mile runs, and the lone 20-miler is next weekend.

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The benefit of downsizing from a 6-day running schedule to 4 is that there is energy to spare (runners don’t do well with spare energy). Enter intensity.

Weight-lifters add weight. Runners add hills.

I’ve traditionally been a fan of the theory that running flat surfaces builds running economy – and it’s been a conveniently comfortable theory to hold onto – but plenty of coaches recommend hill training to build strength and speed; a strategy reinforced for me when I ran with my friend in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya where the marathoners use the road leading up the mountain for their speed work.

So this season I’ve added hills. The mostly downhill long-run route has been reversed once a week for repeats up the mountain, and because my next marathon is predominantly downhill, half the repeats are run back down. (Total elevation gain over the 2.5 mile uphill climb is 457 feet.)

The following week I go to the track for level footing.

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My long-run route challenges have been well documented by now, and I reluctantly write one further word. Adding miles to the pleasantly shady/quiet/blissful/if not steep first half of my run continues to be an issue, however, and this week I had the idea to run the same 2-mile stretch that was added to the last rather disdainful 18-mile run twice. Unfortunately, my little water bottle wouldn’t take me this far.

The new solution was to begin the normal route, add the 2-mile stretch along with a new 1-mile section, then back up the mountain where extra water and Gatorade was left in the Jeep. This unknowingly added an additional 450 feet of elevation for a total of 1,200 feet of elevation with several 6- 8% grade hills in the 18-mile run.

Those first few miles were really tough, although I felt strong through the rest of the run (and there were 2 successful potty breaks along the way if you must know). Still, it’s unclear if this route will remain in the portfolio of long-run routes. . .

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The first 4-1/2 miles of last weekend’s 18-mile run.
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The last 6 miles are flat, all sun and 35-45mph traffic (U.S. translation: 55-65mph traffic)

This season has reminded me of the importance of the one-stressor-at-a-time rule, something I had failed to incorporate into last season’s training. If not for the reduced mileage my body would never survive the hills, and if not for the extra rest days my legs would be toast.

It has been said many times that marathon training should be tougher than the race itself.  It’s great at first, and then you have your ups and downs. Near the end, you tend to hate everything about it. And when it’s over, you forget how bad it was and start the process all over again.

 

The Dark Ridge

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A mountain-top farm along my long run route.

There’s a slight coolness to the morning air, and the pumpkins have already been harvested from the farm along my long run route. I first claimed this route for all my long runs four years ago when we moved back home from Ecuador, and in four years it has never changed. The first 8 miles are sheer bliss, and one mile further is just torture.

After all these years, my husband can calculate to the minute how long it will take me to finish the long run. Once we have done the math and agreed on a time to meet at Lulu’s for lunch, I head to the top of the mountain.

Granted, the down side of a point-to-point run and our agreed upon meeting time (and the fact that I don’t run with a phone in my hand) means there is no dilly-dallying. I keep a constant check on my pace, and no matter what goes wrong I keep myself moving for fear I don’t make that meeting time, give or take a few minutes, and my husband goes into a lunatic-worry over what has happened to me.

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Beginning at the Balsam Community Center, this run takes me past the historic Balsam Mountain Inn, local fly-fishing spots, and the Moonshine Creek Campground.

The creek rushes down the mountain 30+ feet below the road on my left while the rock face extends 30+ feet up to my right. Houses are scattered here and there, a train pokes along its track high above the creek, the wooden planks of one-lane bridges crackle under my feet, and farms glisten in the bright sunshine near the four-lane highway where Dark Ridge Road meets Skyland Drive, and the sheer torture side of this run soon begins.

Last week when my calendar turned up an 18-mile run, I had the idea to extend the blissful part of the run by as many miles as I could piece together. I don’t particularly like running new routes, lord only knows how many free-range dogs live on these roads, but it didn’t take long before I came on a new road that would add two miles to this blissful side of the run.

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Courtesy: mapmyrun.com

 

So, I’d like to say I have a proven theory on why this happens, but if I’m going to need a potty break during a run (of any length really), this becomes apparent very early in the run. It was barely a half mile into this 18-mile run that I knew I would need to find an early potty break, and all the unfamiliar sights and sounds of this new route were lost due to the endless search for a good potty spot.

There’s the 30 foot drop on the left that intimidates me, and even in the few places where I could walk over and put my toe in the creek, my Outdoor Leadership training kicks in and I wouldn’t dare “go” within 20 feet of the water. So I keep searching.

There were the two rocks I used a few weeks ago to drop down below road level and back up again, but adding the 2-miles to the early part of the run skewed my memory of exactly where those two rocks were, and every time I thought I’d be brave and just duck behind a tree. . . a car came along.

By mile 5 the situation had become urgent and I walked for a moment to compose myself. I knew there was a bridge overhead just down the road, and although it would not be nearly as private as I would have hoped for, I vowed I would stop behind the big concrete foundation of that bridge. A few minutes later, I turned the corner and could finally see the concrete footings of the bridge. . .

There was no warning trickle, and it took a few seconds to actually accept what had happened. Then there was the briefest “What now?” Eventually I just stood there and laughed – it really was more funny than horrific afterall.

Many years ago I read a hilarious account of a brave runner who described his not-so-fortunate “accident” and it was the thought of this runner that came next. Immediately I realized I am not the only runner that has suddenly lost their bladder. In fact, as my husband and I would later say to each other, it could have been much worse.

My accident happened just after mile 6. There were 12 miles to go. It was too far into the run to go back up the mountain to the safety of my Jeep, I still needed to finish this long run, and the clock was ticking – my husband would be waiting for me. There was nowhere to go but forward.

There’s two things I’ll say about the whole ordeal:

It is oddly comforting to know we are not the only ones to have suffered something horribly embarrassing – it’s good for everyone when we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and. . .

Sometimes, no matter what has happened, there is nowhere to go but forward.

Let There Be Light(s)

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Shopping punctuates every remodeling project, and eventually takes on a life of its own. So far our shopping list has included toilets, sinks & vanities, faucets for the sinks, shower and bath, a kitchen countertop & kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator, stove & vent, dishwasher, washer & dryer, marble for the shower walls, bathroom floors & kitchen backsplash, paint for the walls, ceiling, trim and doors, doorknobs for every door, a heating & cooling system, a fence, propane tank, and light fixtures for nearly every room.

imageAnd with every project, there’s something on my shopping list that proves totally elusive. . . wearing my patience thin. In our last project it was the drawer pulls for the kitchen cabinets. This time it was the sconce for the powder room, although I haven’t gotten to the drawer pulls yet.

With this many things to buy at once, the name of the game becomes budget.

We’ve driven to the other side of town to plunder marble remnants, made a trip to the appliance clearance corner at Lowe’s every week (we found our washer for $300 – a savings of $700!), and waited for the deal of the day to pop up everywhere and anywhere. The biggest impact to the budget, however, can be made imagewith the one item that shows up most often on my shopping list: light fixtures.

This house had just three original fixtures that could be kept, which meant we needed 14 new fixtures. Ten choices have been made. . . four to go.

Kitchen

We bought the chandelier for the kitchen before we had officially bought the house (I wish I could say this was an unusual thing for us to do). Now this chandelier is in one of the many boxes stuffed between the remodeling debris, and I can only describe that it has beautifully colored crystals of clear, pink, red and purple (as best I remember).

 

The upper cabinets have been removed above the sink, which overlooks the keeping room. Then the price dropped on these Pottery Barn crystal pendants (from $299 to $103) and a pair of them will hang over the sink cabinet.

Gray cabinets were spot checked to be sure they wouldn’t clash with the cobalt blue of the refrigerator. Red velvet drapes match the red velvet bar stools, which I hope will also match the new chandelier, and the table and chairs we used in our previous kitchen.

The Keeping Room

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Several months ago E.J. Victor held a warehouse sale at a non-descript warehouse in Morganton, N.C. We wouldn’t dare miss it. . .

Two upholstered chairs sat in a separate room from the case goods typical of these sales. Although we noticed them immediately, they were blue. . . not our go-to color. Nonetheless, they were shockingly beautiful and I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

Ralph Lauren Modern Metropolis Club Chair in blue velvet (retail starting at $5,775 according to the website / our price: $350 each at the warehouse sale).
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LNC Swing Arm Lamp $74.99 at Houzz

I’ve tried not to let the chairs dictate the light fixture for this room – it is possible the chairs could wear out before the fixture needs to be replaced some dozen odd years down the road – but I can’t help but see the chairs and the room as one.

 

We’ve blown our budget a bit to secure fixtures that would help make the old paneling in this room sing (my husband hated the paneling). Swing-arm lights will be added over each of the three bookshelves, along with one somewhat modern yet stunning flush mount.

 

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Murray Feiss 3-light Steel & Glass Flush Mount $206 at Houzz

Master Bedroom:

The master closet (shown at the far end of the photo) has been demolished with that space being added to the master shower (on the other side of the wall). Both windows include window seats, and an opportunity for seat cushions with fabulous fabric.

Rosie 5 Light Crystal Pendant by OK Lighting (Wayfair: $118)                                     Anichini Tapestry Linens (The Red Collection $200)

A full set of Anichini’s tapestry linens showed up at my favorite consignment store in Greensboro, N.C. (The Red Collection) for just $200 (retail value: $1000+). The perfect chandelier showed up on Wayfair’s clearance rack for $118 (retail: $195) where the copper finish and smokey grey crystals will compliment the linens and new wall color (Sherwin Williams Buff). Hardwood floors will replace the green shag carpet.

I found the large gold chandelier for the dining room at a consignment store for just $45. From top to bottom left, fixtures for the guest bath, upstairs office, and guest room – each one $100 or less. 

Living Room:

We had intended to add can lights to the barren living room ceiling until we met with the electrician who enlightened us to the consequences of those can lights – he would have to drill into the lovely crown molding. Our fallback plan is to add several well-placed sconces, although we don’t know that any one of the six light switches along the interior wall will actually control anything we add to this room.

Not every room can support my idea of the perfect light, my own design decisions have put restrictions on the perfect choice for some rooms, and the very fact that the price has dropped significantly is what makes other fixtures perfect.

In the ideal renovation where we have stripped the walls down to the bare studs, there are few compromises. Every fixture contributes to the ideal plan. Sometimes life isn’t ideal though, and in those cases isn’t it nice to know we can still find the light of our life.

 

Our Forever French Remodel. . . in progress.

 

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There comes a time in every home remodeling project that I ask myself why on earth I thought I was qualified to undertake this project (eerily similar to what I say at the starting line of every marathon). There’s been hours of middle-of-the-night worry over some odd decision, or quite literally inches here versus inches there.

In every house I’ve remodeled, the overall design practically appeared in a flash. Seems I could see the furniture, the style, colors, and how we’d live there the moment I set foot inside the doors. Maybe because I have promised my husband this will be our last remodel (at least in the foreseeable future), or maybe just because it is one of the most special homes I’ve come across in many years. . . this house scares me half out of my mind.

Nonetheless, at the risk of divulging some design faux pas that only I have yet to see, here’s the design strategy for our new home – now nearly halfway finished.

Provençal. . .

A personal struggle ensued from the onset between the idea of French Provincial and French Country design. Nothing about this home felt country. Then my Aunt decided to sell her remaining parquet tiles, and the whole-house design seemed to take off from there. Finally, I could see a very elegant interpretation of Provençal developing.

The 28×28 tiles are made from different wood species giving them a unique design when stained. There will be enough tiles to use in the kitchen, entry foyer and master bath. (The finished floor in the far right photo is the finished version of similar tiles used in our last renovation.)

Powder Room. . .

Not one inch will be sacrificed in the design of this home, and this was especially critical in the downstairs powder room. The first toilet ordered left little room between the seat and the wall. We moved onto another room while we waited on a replacement, smaller toilet.

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The pedestal sink needed to be just 17″ deep to allow ample passage to the new toilet. The wall color was a safe choice but one that seems to fit well, although I do believe there may be another paint/glazing process in my future to give the color more depth/age. Add an impact piece of art and I think this little bath will turn into wow.

Taking the walls of your house down to its very studs is so much easier for creating the perfect lighting plan. We did not take this house down to the studs. 

I wanted a ‘statement’ light for this little room, but one 40-watt bulb wouldn’t shed enough light for the whole room, and the perfect fixture (top right) was too large. The crystal-laden sconce has been ordered, but will require the outlet be moved off center several inches. . . something I’m not sure is yet possible.

Guest Bath. . . 

My Guest Bath Inspiration room. . . and the real pink bathroom.

Saving the pink bathroom is proving the most challenging of all tasks. We found a fabulous vanity that fit the design I had in mind, Hollywood glamour, at only $400! (HomeDecoratorsCollection) The first delivery wasn’t even attempted because the vanity was damaged so badly, so we moved onto another room while we awaited the replacement vanity. It arrived a week or so ago –  in two boxes. . . in other words, assembly required.

We spent a day or two in shock. I spent another day or two re-thinking the entire design, specifically a simple 2-legged porcelain sink with the carrerra marble we’ve added to the floor taken all the way to the ceiling – although this would have been a budget buster, I was wondering why I hadn’t gone that route in the first place.

Our contractor called one evening and talked us off the ledge, and now we’ve finally made the move forward with our original design.

The vanity is exactly 61 inches wide, the space where the vanity will sit is 61 inches, although the space in the middle of the bath where it needs to be assembled is just 60-1/2 inches (thanks to that pretty, pink tile on the walls). To add to the drama, the original vanity supported one sink – our new vanity is a two-sink version, and now we worried about re-working the plumbing and lifting the vanity up and over to sit it flush against the wall in place. Ugh.

The plumbing has already been re-worked, and my husband immediately began stripping off another wall of the lovely pink tile to give us that precious 1/2 inch. This week we’ll assemble the vanity inplace.  The walls are destined for a lavish coat of Ralph Lauren metallic white (Lustre). Everyone’s holding their breath.

Master Bath. . . the room that will change the most.

Master Bath: ‘Before’

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imageMaster Bath ‘In-Progress’

The vanity on the right (‘Before’ photo above) has been removed to provide a doorway into the adjacent bedroom, which will become the master closet/laundry.

Moving the toilet to the far wall (where the bathtub was) gives enough room for a 60″ vanity. We splurged on the vanity (having reduced our budget with the assembly-ready guest bath vanity!), and I found fabulous faucets at LightInTheBox.com for just $99 each.

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James Martin Furniture ‘Mykonos’ vanity (bathroom vanity.com)

With the walls open, we can put the lighting anywhere we choose. You’d think it would become a simple decision.

I love the look of a pendant over the sink, but they do cast a shadow on the mirrors and I’ve sworn them off in this house. Sconces by the mirrors are quite beautiful, but I wasn’t sure whether we should use one large mirror or two narrow mirrors, and there’s hardly room for sconces, mirrors, and electrical outlets anyway.

The right choice seemed to be a sconce over the toilet that picks up the white of the vanity countertop, also providing much needed lighting throughout the room.

We discovered 18×18 black marble for the shower walls in a local tile warehouse, which will also be used as a border around the parquet tiles (similar to the picture above). White carrerra marble will be used on the shower floor, and, of course, the vanity top. I’m thinking of a pair of simple, wood-framed mirrors over the vanity, but the jury is still out.

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The new closet door entry on the left, and the makings of a laundry closet on the right.

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My inspiration laundry closet (courtesy sketch42blog.com).

 

Elsewhere around the house. . . 

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The guys have so willingly worked around our ‘stuff’ to paint all the walls my favorite color of pale yellow (Sherwin Williams Buff). Since this photo was taken the beautiful crown molding has also become a shimmering, pure white. Hopefully by the time I write about this subject again, we’ll be looking at finished rooms.

 

Most photos are courtesy Wayfair where I have purchased many of the items, or from my own camera role. My inspiration room photos have come from Pinterest. Please send me a reply if there’s a specific photo you’d like to know more about. thanks for reading! 

 

Scratch The Itch

3 weeks ago. . .

I missed a full week of training. I’ve never missed a full week of training. Things started with a migraine-style headache that led to nausea followed by several days of fever, chills, and lots of sleep. Day after day I promised my husband, and sometimes my Dad that I would visit the doctor. By Friday I was feeling better though, and I volunteered to take the early shift of meeting workers at our new house – giving me the opportunity to finally uncover the beautiful swan on the patio wall.

48 hours later. . .

The poison oak was evident along both arms, although my left arm took the brunt of the blow and was swollen twice its size replete with welts and blisters. I remembered from EMT training that poison is basically a chemical burn – I had a 2nd degree chemical burn on my left arm. It was the first day I was to get back to my training schedule, so I dutifully strapped my watch onto my right, less affected arm, and went for a run.

For all the miraculous benefits of modern medicine, I still consider it a last resort. I managed to control the urge to scratch the poison using topical creams, although that poison has taken its dear, sweet time to heal.

Meanwhile, the contractor finished installing the fence around our property, which includes a generous parcel of land up the hill behind the house that is all forest (and a good bit of our neighbor’s yard debris). We loaded the dogs into the Jeep that Saturday after my long run, and let them explore what will become their new territory. The boys were a little timid, so Dakota and I walked to the edge of the forest to show them there was nothing to fear.

24 hours later. . .

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Dakota was miserable, and irritable.

. . . the itching began. It was everywhere – on her stomach, ears, head, feet. I couldn’t see a thing, but she was obviously miserable. I held a cool cloth on her stomach, rubbed her with ointment, and tried my best to have her swallow a small piece of Benadryl. She was in such misery I couldn’t bear it.

I held her in my arms while she nestled her head under my chin and we’d walk around the house until she fell asleep in total exhaustion. Sleep lasted about an hour and we’d start the process all over again. I didn’t know whether to cry or scream.

It was chiggers, and every one of those nasty, little devils must have jumped off her and onto me. She was all better the next morning while I had red itchy bites everywhere – down my back, on my stomach, both arms and legs, chiggers on top of poison, but mostly on my neck and face. Whatever control I had over itching the poison oak was lost on these damn chiggers. They are surely the worst demons on earth.

I have learned everything there is to learn about chiggers, tried every remedy (including turmeric, which turned my fingers orange), spent inordinate amounts of time at the pharmacy counter, and I’ve taken enough Benadryl to kill a horse. I jumped out of bed at midnight the first night, stripped all the linens off the bed, stuffed them in the washer to contain the miserable critters, sprayed the whole house with bug spray (which I’m told will kill those still lurking in the shadows), and took a shower believing I was being attacked all over again. I won’t admit how many times this process has been repeated in the days since.

By this time my face and throat feel more like sandpaper than skin from the remedies that best relieved the itch. My face is red, sensitive to the sun, swollen, splotchy, and hurts so bad that I haven’t been able to run for three more days. I can honestly say I would have never believed there would be a time I couldn’t run because my face hurts.

My husband has spent the past few days in Chicago babysitting our dog that became an only child (who is doing absolutely fabulous by the way), and I’ve been relieved he hasn’t been subjected to the sight I have become.

Today is the last day I could withdraw from the upcoming marathon, but I have decided to refuse to give in. Who could have known just how far it would go when I decided to cut back on my training this season?

My husband and I have decided that if I survive this marathon, it will be an incredibly eye-opening experiment as it relates to how much training is enough, but if nothing else, this experience has given me an entirely new appreciation for “an ounce of prevention.”

The Running Question of the Year

This has been the year for me to question the experts: How much is enough marathon training? I’ve done my research, made my choices, and accepted the consequences. But how do you know you’ve reached the proper conclusion without also testing the limits to the opposite extreme?

Experts seem to agree that roughly 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two days of strength training each week is a healthy minimum requirement. It always depends on something, however. If you want to lose weight, more exercise may be needed. Do you want to win a gold medal? Absolutely, more exercise is needed.

I just want to finish a marathon in the fastest time possible based on my age, sex, and genetic endowment. How much running does that require? It has been the 2016 question of the year.

On the other side of the coin, a guiding rule is to limit exercise to roughly 10 hours, or 600 minutes each week – a limit I have tested often. Sometimes it goes pretty well.

Several years ago I was cycling up to 50 miles each week and running 30 miles. I ran my fastest marathon that year. Two years ago, I went back to school and spent two days each week hiking, climbing, swimming or paddling in addition to marathon training. That year I set a new personal best time at the 10k distance, and achieved a 2nd place age group award in the toughest marathon I’ve run yet.

So I’ve been thinking, maybe the better question is not how many miles to run, but how much time should we devote to our dominant sport?

We Know MORE, But It’s Still 26.2 Miles

In 2007 Jonathan Beverly sorted through the marathon training articles published in Running Times for the past 30 years to find “the essential, core principles by which to make all those four-page, four-month, four-point-font charts simple.” While the details within the most popular marathon training programs have changed over the years, four elements of marathon training remained constant from that first 1980 article to 2007: mileage, long runs, speed work and tapering.

To use this data to answer my question of the year, I dissected mileage.

The experts seem to agree that how much mileage depends mostly on your goals, which in turn are dependent on how much mileage you can handle without injury. If you aspire to a sub 3-hour marathon, most coaches have settled on an optimum training range of 60-70 miles per week. Depending on the course difficulty, my marathon times are usually between 4:00 and 4:30 hours. These same coaches indicate 30-40 miles each week is all that is required to get me to the finish line. Indeed this is the most mileage I have run when training for some of my best marathon finishes, and is barely half the mileage I ran when training for my worst.

What if I run those 30-40 miles in 4 days instead of 6, or 3 days instead of 5? What if I supplement running with other sports? Will I be more fit?

Because cycling burns more calories than almost any other sport, I dropped to just 105 pounds and down a full dress size when cycling was added to my training regimen. And during the 2014 Fall semester of paddling rafts, kayaks and canoes, I completely eliminated core strengthening exercises because paddling strengthened my core better than any exercise I had ever done. In the absence of these diversions of years past, I have filled 6 days of every week this year with only running.

My friend, Jono, is training for his first marathon using the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run program, which calls for 3 days of running per week. Currently, Jono’s 3 days of running totals roughly the same mileage as my 6 days of running. Jono had said to me, “You only need to run three times a week – it should be fun!” I couldn’t stop thinking about his advice.

In the interest of running experiments everywhere, I have subjected the remainder of this season’s marathon training to another experiment in hopes of finally answering the question of how much. I’ve taken my trusty calendar out, erased the remaining 10 weeks’ schedule, and re-written 30-40 miles of running into just 4 days – allowing blissful extra days each week for the cross-training of my choice.

Stay tuned. . . again.

Color Me What?

 

The renovation of our new home is minor, relatively speaking. It was only the kitchen and master bath that would be demolished, while a downstairs powder room and the upstairs guest bath got new fixtures and paint.

Then I decided it would be a shame to go this far and not replace the dated floor in the guest bath, which destroyed the pink cove tile along the bottom, and exposed the rotten sub-flooring around the toilet thanks to a previous leak.

After the vanity was removed in the downstairs bath we were left with less than a complete floor of tile, and when the remaining tile began to crumble we knew it too was a lost cause. And because these things are literally happening by the hour, decisions must be made straightaway, or work stops altogether.

Left to his own devices, my husband would duplicate everything from some previous home. Same colors, countertops, cabinetry, flooring – ditto finito! As you may have gathered, I embrace change.

For several weeks my focus has been on color.  For me, a home’s color palette is one of the first decisions to be made before the rest of the design can fall into place.  To that end, I’ve brought home one of nearly every color card available at Lowe’s. Some of them have been turned into a sample of real paint, which I have painted onto a section of wall in almost every room. Finally, after days of exhaustive frustration, I heard what color this house wants to become: neutral. It seems the color for this house should come from everywhere except the walls.

Our last home had 2 exterior colors, which were also used in 3 interior rooms, along with 8 more colors throughout the rest of the house. In an unprecedented move, our forever home will consist of just 3 interior colors, and one new exterior color on the front doors. Our contractor is counting his blessings at this very moment.

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I found beautiful draperies for the dining room and left them draped across the dining room table for more than a week hoping they would inspire this home’s color palette. They did not.

Meanwhile, dozens of color cards were collected and swaths of paint dotted the walls. The color for the front doors came about relatively easy, but to this day they look just like this. . .

The plan was to finish the 1st floor powder room so there was one working bath during construction. Sadly, there’s no ‘before’ and by the time we had snapped a photo, this little bath had bourne the wrath of my color quandary.

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Three of the workers warned me those dark colors would make this little room feel even smaller. . . they didn’t realize I had exotic bathroom images swirling in my head.

In progress . . .

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The upstairs guest bath carries a similar tale with it’s irreplaceable pink tile (there’s actually a movement to savethepinkbathrooms). I’ve spent hours researching how to design around the pink – mostly because the bathtub was in good shape and I didn’t want to replace it. When I stumbled onto this photo, I knew there was hope for my pink bathroom.

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Pinterest.com

Another photo we sadly missed the opportunity to capture was the original 1970s guest bath vanity and medicine cabinet, and now they’re long gone. A new vanity is on order, and will fit perfectly if we all hold our breath (there’s only a 1/2″ to spare).

Next week the floors will be covered in Carrerra Marble, the walls will become pure white, and somehow I’ll mix in a little of that beautiful green – maybe on the ceiling.

 

 

By the time we reached the Master Bath design, a common theme had begun to emerge: not an inch to spare. This bath has been designed, and re-designed with every inch accounted for. I couldn’t imagine the design for this room until the layout was correct, so now the fun work begins here.

This process has reminded me that houses, like people, show their personality in different ways. Some people are outgoing, verbose and lively while others may be quiet showing their spirit through tattoos, hobbies, knowledge, or clothes.

My last home was fairly monochromatic in its furnishings while the walls spoke volumes. This home speaks differently, quietly . . . albeit no less beautiful.