I’m almost looking forward to this year’s Concept 2 Holiday Challenge (the goal is to do 200,000 meters on the erg from US Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. This year will be my 12th time doing the whole thing. I did my first one in 2001. There was one year when I didn’t do it at all due to injury, and two years when I only did the 100000m version – 2006, when we first moved to the Netherlands (our ergs hadn’t arrived for the first part of it, so we had to erg in the boathouse there) and 2011, when we spent much of December doing a driving trip through France and Spain.

I started doing a marathon training programagain a couple months ago, so I’m about midway through it now, doing around 50 km a week. (That plan uses four week periods – in each period, you ramp up your distance for three weeks, then get one easier week to rest a bit before plunging in again.) I’m already doing enough distance now to finish the Challenge in time; by the time it happens I’ll be up to around 65 km/week so it should be no problem. Once again, I don’t know if I’ll finish the marathon program, since I have no reason to actually do a marathon any time soon, but it is a good way to build up an endurance base.

It’s also a pleasanter way to do the Holiday Challenge; I used to just row 6-7 km a day (whatever the average was that year – it changes since Thanksgiving Day is on a different date every year) for 30 days straight. With the training plan forcing me on, I do more distance each row, but I get two days a week completely off. Of course there’s a down side – just ask me this Saturday when I’m cranking out my 18000 meters! (It will take me about 1.75 hours.)

Amazon’s Matchmaker program has been a godsend for erging, even better than the Librivox recordings I had been listening to. A lot of them are only a couple dollars more to buy if you already have the e-book – and since I reread everything I like at all I do want the e-book version. Right now I’m almost done with the latest October Daye book; I’ve concluded that those, the Kate Daniels books and the Chronicles of St. Mary’s are really ideal erging books, because no matter how hard the workout is, at least it’s usually easier than whatever the heroine of the book is going through. (Yesterday, I was cranking out 1km pieces, while Toby was holding her arm in the middle of an animated rosebush that was using its thorns to sample her blood.)

Meanwhile, getting ready for Halloween. I like to do a more subtle, office-appropriate costume at work. This year I wanted to be Middle-Aged!Hermione; according to JKR she went to work in the Dept of Magical Law Enforcement, so she’d be wearing robes to work at the Ministry, but I figure she’d have to liase with Muggles occasionally and would dress accordingly. I will wear a loose hip-length black seater, with a white collared shirt under it (sleeveless, so I don’t get lumps in the sweater sleeves and a Gryffindor scarf. unfortunately I can’t find the Gryffindor scarf I knitted years ago – I suspect I gave it away because I never wore it. I couldn’t find a cheap tie, so I bought a knit infinity scarf in Gryffindor House colors, which is probably close to what a professional adult Hermione would wear anyway. I also bought some cheap Peanuts leggings and t-shirt at Kohl’s, after I’d given up on the tie and before I decided to buy the scarf at Amazon, but even with a skirt over the tights that seems a bit less work-proper for me. I have always loved Peanuts, though, and can wear those items as around-the-house jammies. (The scarf was $20, which is why I was hesitating, but it seems to be knitted out of t-shirt material so hopefully I will get some wear out of it when I want an accent and it’s too warm for a knitted scarf or shawl.)

I am pleased with myself for remembering to bring not only the white shirt but also my hairbrush back last time we went to the lake house – using a brush on my hair will give me the required Hermione frizz. (Normally I just gfinger-comb my hair to get tangles out without ending up with a Rosanne Rosannadanna bush.) Also I have a pretty wooden hairstick with a bit of inlay on one end; I figure I can carry that as a wand (and also use it on my hair if all that frizz gets too annoying). It’s maybe 7″ long, so smallish but not completely out of range from what the books describe – but I figure the wizards might follow Muggle lead in miniaturizing their tech.