Thursday, February 28, 2013


I'll just come right out with it.  Stephen King is my favorite author.  My goodness, it's hard to describe what I love about his books!  I've just started and then deleted 16 sentences, because I can't seem to get the words right.  Here are some of the words that I've repeatedly come up with during the last 7 minutes of trying to write 1 or 2 sentences:  Home. Familiar. Imagination. Exactly. Me. Sunset. Gotta. My thoughts. Afternoon. Understand.  Maybe someone else who has read his stories will be able to put those words together in a way that isn't so...nineteen.

As a Constant Reader of his, I've come to notice the number 19 in my daily life, and when I saw that I was approaching my 19th blog post (this one), I wanted it to be special.  Over the past few days, I've been daydreaming about The Dark Tower, and trying to think of ways to work it in to my mostly-about-running-and-kindergarten blog.  Last night, I dreamed about Roland Deschain, and woke up feeling sad, with the words "The Man in Black raced across the desert, and Roland followed" running through my mind.

I then came to the disturbing realization that I'm still reading the same book that I was reading back in January, even though I'm enjoying it and reading as often as I can.
The author, +Jenn Thorson , sent me a magnet and sticker.  Na na na boo boo!  I got prizes and yoooouuu didn't!  (But seriously, you should read this book, and add her on G+.  Awe. Some.)
That I also plan to read books for 2 different book clubs before the end of March, have received 2 free books that I'm really looking forward to reading, and had to return my last 2 library books, late and unread, does not bode well for my finding the time to re-read the entire Dark Tower series anytime soon.

Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  19.  Books.  Blogging.

I decided to share with you an idea I had a couple of years ago that I'm still praising myself for today.  I thought about how cool it would be for my son (daughter was yet-to-be) to receive the entire Dark Tower series as a gift for his 19th birthday.  Then, I started thinking of another favorite book series, and how cool it would be to give him the Harry Potter books for his 11th birthday ('cause that's how old Harry is when the series starts, remember?)  Finally, my Idea (capitalized on purpose, as it is that good) was fully formed.  I would start a birthday tradition from the time he learned to read until he turned 19, and give an age appropriate, meaningful, really special book or series of books as a gift each year.  Also important to note is that the books would be real ink and paper types, and hardcover, mostly.  I worry that 13 years from now, they'll be hard to find in that format.

4 haircuts, 3 shoe sizes, 2 lost teeth, and 1 pants size ago.  Hard to believe it has only been 6 months since his first day of Kindergarten.

 His 6th birthday is coming up soon, and he's been reading since last Spring, so at last, I get to start the tradition.  I was originally thinking of getting the Junie B. Jones books, but then I read some of them.  They're cute and funny, but little Junie narrator uses very poor grammar, and talks back to her parents and is allowed to say the words "stupid" and "dumb", which our son is not.  Even though it's hard to find them together in a good set, I have fond memories of reading the Amelia Bedelia* stories when I was a child, so they win this year.  Next year, he'll get the Arthur chapter books, followed by the Little House on the Prairie series when he turns 8.  My dad gave me a great book the year I turned 9, "Stories for 9-year-olds" which I would love to find for my little guy.  Age 10 will be exciting, too, with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series finally being appropriate.  11, HP (dur) and 12, Hunger Games ('cause when they're 12, they're eligible for the reaping, you know).  Between birthdays 13 and 18, he'll need to read some Tolkien, some Twain, and some not-required-by-teachers Classics.  And then, he'll turn 19...and I don't want to think about my sweet little boy being almost out of his teens, thankyouverymuch.

Today, I spattered advice all in and out of this post, but the gist should be clear, even if you just skimmed (yeah, I know who you are, you skimmers!):  READ!

What are you reading now?  No, no.  Don't tell me.  I can't add to my list of must-reads right now!  Ok, only tell me if you're not enjoying it and wouldn't recommend it.  Deal?

*The set pictured in that link is not what I would consider "good".  They're not written by the original author of the series, there are only 3 books, and they're paperback.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Like a Bat Out of...

...our carport.  Any ideas you'd like to share on how to deal with this situation will be taken into careful consideration.  Should we call an exterminator?  A joker?  Set up a signal for when it can leave its cave?  Pretend we don't notice all the telltale signs of its existence and attend galas at the manor house left to it when its parents were killed?

Poor construction many years ago = A lovely home for flying rodents.

Well, now that I've captured your interest, I'll share what this post is really about.  More races!  Ha ha, non-runners!  Now I've got you!  I'll tell you what, though- if you keep reading, I'll share the first ever on this blog another interesting, non-running related tidbit of info from my life.

Race #4- DeLand Fall Run, October 13, 2012

Last time, we left off in early September.  Between the one-mile race and my next 5k, I did a lot of training for my first half-marathon.  My super-fast sister had offered to pace me and each of my fellow halfer trainees for the race of our choice, so I asked her to run this race with me.  2 years earlier, it was my first ever 5k, so it was kinda special to me.

The weather was great, the race was small and started right on time, my family was there, cheering at the start and finish, and all my training had left me feeling confident and ready.  I had run my personal best 5k time in February of 2011 (26:27) and I was really hoping that Jenn's pacing skills would help me beat it.  I decided not to use any tracking device, and just follow her lead.  She started us at a moderate pace, and the first mile went by pretty quickly.  I found all the advice she was giving to be really, really helpful--reminders like, "Keep your head up, stand straight, use your core, lift your knees", etc.  Plus, each time I thought about any of the body parts she mentioned, I was able to follow her instructions and correct what I had been doing wrong.  Between miles 2 and 3, I felt the old familiar "I'm going to die".  Insert eyeroll here, and excuse me while I rant at my brain.  What the eff?  I had run way more than 3 miles at a time, many times.  I had run fast 5k races.  I had run fast!  I had run over 300 miles in 5 months!  And yet, I tried to stop and walk.  During a race.  In which I wanted to break my personal record.  AAARRRGGGHHHH!  Jenn's words: "You'll be so mad at yourself if you don't keep running right now."  My response: "No, I won't.  I don't really need to run fast."  I did keep running, but I also slowed way down.  Insert another eyeroll here.

Close to the third mile marker, my sis really started pushing me.  And by 'pushing me', I mean that she started yelling at the top of her lungs for me to pass her, and to RUN.  I did, and I did.  "Once you cross that finish line, you can stop and never move again.  But now you have to run!"  When I crossed the finish line, I knew I had given it my all, at least for the last quarter mile.  Once I had caught my breath (and broken up 1 or 2 fights between my son and his cousins), we went to the computer that was set up to give us immediate results.  We (yeah, it took both of us) carefully entered in my bib number, and saw:
1 of 6
First. In. My. Age. Group.

Of course, we stuck around for the pancake breakfast and awards.  The pancakes were mushy, but the coffee was hot, and the guy said my name right when he announced it after saying the sweetest words, "First place women 30-39".  There ended up being several more women in my age group, too.  It wasn't that small a race.

Now, for the asterisk.  The first woman, overall, was in my age group.  She finished, like, 20 minutes before me or something, and since she won a different award, she wasn't eligible for the age group award.  Another much faster woman in the race was my dear sister, who would have finished, like, 30 minutes before me if she hadn't been pacing me.  So, technically, I was first in my age group.  But really?  We all know better.

Result: 26:42

Race #5- Niagara Falls 10k, October 21, 2012
            Beauty & Wonder

Baby and I surprised my sister by joining her and her family in Canada (eh?) to cheer her on for her first full marathon (best idea ever, by the by, when we're talking about running).  When I was looking up information about the marathon and travel arrangements and such, I realized that if I was going to be in Canada, in the Fall, for a race, I would want to run.  My 10k race started at 8:30 a.m, when the temperature was 71C (okay, I don't understand Celcius.  It was 55 Farenheit, but in Canada. Whatever that is.)  While walking from the hotel to the start line, I was able to watch the sun rise behind the mist of Niagara Falls.  Jealous?  You should be.  There were also rainbows. You don't get to see pictures of them, though.*

During my training runs, the fastest time I had run 6.2 miles was 1:05:47.  I knew that I hadn't been pushing myself during those training runs, so I was fairly sure I could do the 10k in less than an hour.  The night before the race, my sister happened to mention that the girl (who I still hadn't ever met) I tried to beat in my first 5k of the season had just run a 10k in 58:xx.  "Oh. Well, I guess I'll have to beat her.  This time, for real."  My plan was to run the first half slow and easy, and try to finish that in 30 minutes or so.  Then, I would run the second half not quite as slow and a tiny bit harder, and still finish in under an hour.  

Should I tell about tiny boner weirdo man?  Nah.  That's not the important part of the story.  The best part of this race was the running of it.  The scenery was beautiful (see above), the course was flat and well-marked (and there was wildlife!), and I wanted to keep running forever.  Since I was running in a foreign country, I couldn't use the app on my phone that I usually used to track my runs.  I had no idea what my pace was, but after the turnaround, I started passing people.  At the 9k mark (who knows how many miles that is), I heard someone behind me say, "You're doing great!  You're at 59 minutes!", and I thought that was our so-far time.  I rolled my eyes at myself for having run so slow, but decided that I should still try to beat my training run time, and kicked it up.  Soon after, I saw my dad, cheering for me.  When he said, "You're well under an hour!", it was as if he had tossed me an energy burst.  I looked at The Falls, looked at the sky, took in the beauty of my life, realized that I couldn't stop smiling, and crossed the finish line.  I could have run faster, I knew immediately.  But, I didn't want to.  The running was too wondrous.

Result: 57:38 (and I totally beat the girl who had a baby a month or so before I did)

Now, as promised, the non-running tidbit.  I concern myself with number patterns more than what is probably healthy normal.
I carefully reset the trip odometer in order to create an up-n-down, front-n-back palindrome, 69996. 66.6  And then?
I missed it.  Boo. Hoo.  Hoo.

Pay no attention to the SPEEDometer.  Just look at the odometer, and imagine what it displayed mere seconds before this picture was taken.
There you go.  Let amazement and awe ensue.  My advice for today is to stop (or at least slow down) and notice the beauty around you.  If there isn't anything magnificent to look at, try making something cool by pressing a 'reset trip odometer button'.

Favorite Natural Wonder?

Favorite Number?

*Unless you go to my sister's blog.  She has lots o' rainbow pictures.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mommy of Mine!

At last, the post you've all been waiting for!  The time has come, the time is now, the how-I-started-running story is finally here!  (It just happens to coincide with my mom's 29th birthday.)

Simply put, my sister made me do it.  She's two years older than me, and my earliest memories include her great ideas for what we should do, how we should play, and where we should adventure.  The fact that I can't recall ever not following her lead speaks volumes for the quality of her ideas, as I'm not one to let others think for me or tell me what to do.  And by "others", of course, I mean "other-than-her"s.
She probably told me to make a stupid hand motion behind her.

The longer version of the story is what you're here for, though, right?  If not, then go ahead and skip to the end.*

I didn't realize that my sis had been running until after she raced her first 5k.  (Aside- her first race time still beats my current best race time.  She's really stinking fast.)  I think she, like many new runners, felt a little weird talking about her new found love.  It doesn't make sense when you think about it logically, but I've read about it in articles and heard about it from several people and even noticed that I did the same thing- secret running.  Once I learned about her habit, I, of course, wanted to follow in her footsteps (har har).  Early in the summer of 2010, she took a break from running for a few weeks, and I had the ridiculous thought that I could catch up to her if I started then.  I went out for exactly 2 runs during those 6 weeks.  I wore pajama shorts and undertanks, and sneakers which weighed approximately 3 lbs each.  I went a mile each time, running for about 25 seconds, walking for 5 minutes, and then running for a few seconds more before I lost my breath again and let myself walk.  I got shin splints after both "workouts", which hurt for many days, and were quite discouraging.  Fast forward to late August, when we were both at a baby shower and a mutual friend, Angie, started asking Jenn about running.  Angie lives less than a mile from me, and at the time, my sister lived about 3 miles away.  The three of us decided that we would start meeting to run together early in the mornings, starting the following Monday.  Jenn would drive to Angie's, the two of them would run to my house where I would meet them outside just after 6, and then we'd all jog around the well-lit park across the street from where I live.

The following Monday arrived, and my alarm went off at 5:50, as expected.  I thought to myself, "Hah!  Like I'm going to get out of my cozy bed to go run.  Nobody really expects that of me."  A few hours later, I talked to my thoroughly annoyed sister on the phone.

"Where were you this morning?  I thought you were going to meet me and Angie outside."

"Oh, you thought I was serious about that?  I don't run, remember?"

"Sigh. Not if you stay in bed, you don't.  Jerk.  We're meeting again tomorrow.  You'd better be out there when we get to your house."

"Fine.  But I'm not going to like it."

The next day, I actually got out of bed when my alarm went off.  Brushed my teeth, put on my socks and new, Target brand, slightly-lighter sneakers, and went outside.  (Notice I didn't mention changing into running clothes.  That's because I thought it best to sleep in them, since they were also my pajamas.)  A few moments later, my sister ran up.  I leisurely sauntered down to the end of my driveway while she jogged in place, waiting for me.

"Come on!"

"What, now?  Don't I need to, like, warm up or something?"

"Yes, dummy.  Running will do that."

"Oh.  Where's Angie?"

"At the end of the other street.  She needed to catch her breath."

By the time we got to Angie, 0.1 miles away, I was gasping for air and my thighs were burning.  We decided to skip the park and just "run" back to Angie's house, as that would be plenty of exercise for us two newbies. When we made it there, (0.75 miles in ~14 mins) I had Jenn drive me back to my house.  All the blood circulating in my legs made my thighs red and itchy** and I still felt out of breath when I got out of her car and went inside for a shower.  Over the next few weeks, we got into the habit of running together nearly every morning.  We got to know the dark streets in our neighborhood, figured out that the lights in the park didn't make the surrounding woods less scary, learned to expect the meanest-sounding growl from that one dog who we all pictured to be the size of Godzilla, witnessed a car accident, and gradually, started being able to run longer distances.  I did not stop wearing my pajamas to run, and I did not even consider spending money on running shoes again, after I had just spent over $20 on the pair I was using.
When I read blog posts, I like a lot of pictures.  I think we can all be grateful that nobody took photos at any of those early-morning runs, though, and instead enjoy this picture of my little beauty.
And now, one of my famous (to those who know me well) story tangents.  I'll get back to the running story eventually, I promise.

Husband proposed to me on Christmas day, 2009, and we set 10/10/10 as our wedding date.  In February of '10, we bought a house and spent over a month fixing it up before we moved in.  Once we were settled, the wedding plans began in earnest.  I'm a pretty laid-back individual, and Husband is also easygoing.  We both wanted our wedding to be small and personal, and didn't care much about all the usual trappings of such things.  (Aside- we spent just about $5,000 on our wedding, had around 100 guests, and it was absolutely perfect for us.  Live music, flowers, cake, really truly delicious food, signature beverages, a unique and comfortable venue, a delightful candy buffet... Stay tuned for advice on inexpensive, fabulous events like that one.)  It just so happens that even mild mannered, un-bridezilla-ish women like me can get a little stressy when faced with events like house buying, remodeling, and wedding planning.
You can't tell, but the counters had pink flowers, and the insides of the cabinets were pink, too.

Best $250 ever spent?  Reglazing the tub and fixtures to white.  I cried real tears of joy when the pink was gone.
Between February and August of that year, I visited the doctor 3 separate times for 3 different, debilitating ailments, which all turned out to be caused by stress.  Since then, I've been to the doctor 3 times, and once was for a new employee drug screening.  I was taking ibuprofen 3 times a day, every day, because my back and shoulders hurt so badly from tension.  I was excited about my upcoming nuptials (that always looks like a dirty word to me), but I was not handling things well, really.  I was extra forgetful, snappish, exhausted, and probably not much fun to be around.  Then, one pre-dawn morning, my life changed forever.

(Aaaaannndddd, we're back, just like I promised.)

On September 27th, 2010, I celebrated my one-year cigarette free anniversary with my longest run to date, from my house to my sister's.  I had still been doing a lot of whining and complaining during many of our daily runs, and I still told everyone who would listen that I hated running.  It was hard.  It made me sweaty and stinky.  I gave up sleeping in.  I said the words, "I'm going to die" almost every time we hit the pavement.  But, I kept doing it.  At the time, I believed that I only did it because Jenn and Angie were expecting me to.  Now, I realize that I was already addicted, even though the need to run was still sub-conscious.  I also didn't figure out right away that I wasn't having the same physical manifestations of the stress I was under.  I just stopped taking the ibuprofen, without really wondering what had made the tension leave my back and shoulders.  I gladly started thinking straight and remembering things again, without ever considering saying "thank-you" to my sister and friend for making sure I was running all the time.
Calling oneself 'gorgeous' is probably a bad quality, right?

Every bride should be so lucky to have a Maid of Honor who makes them do a laughbend like my sister did to me.
Running kept me sane during some of the most overwhelming months of my life.  And when things calmed down, and Fiance was finally Husband, I realized that I didn't want to stop running.  The thought of not being able to run anymore, for whatever reason, became a really scary one.  It was while out for a run while honeymooning that I understood that my name wasn't the only thing that had recently changed-- I had changed.

I'm a runner.  Seeing those words on my screen makes me thankful, proud, joyful, and a little choked up.  Being a runner has also brought me into the strongest, best physical shape of my life.  I've learned that I can endure a lot, that I'm able to overcome obstacles, whether they be mental, physical, or actual things like dead animals on the sidewalk.  So, thanks, snissy, for going first and dragging me along with you.

My advice today is to take the advice of those who know you.  Even if it means getting out of your (literal) comfort zone and going outside to wait in the dark to punish your body and whip it into shape.

Easy Question:
From whom do you take advice?

Hard Question:
What has changed you?

 *It's impossible for me to type those words without then reciting in my head the wedding scene in "The Princess Bride." "Skip to the end!" Do you, Buttercup, take... "Man and Wife!  Say Man and Wife!"  Man and Wife...

**Am I the only one who has experienced this?  I've never heard anyone else complain about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

= 8000 words

There's been lots and lots of excitement 'round these parts lately, and I'm looking forward to writing about all of it nearly as much as you're looking forward to reading about it.  Until I can sit at the computer without: 
A. Falling asleep
B. Risking the life of my almost-toddler who tries to put Ehv.Ry.Thing. in her mouth (Remote controls.  Wet wipes.  Shoes.  Books.  Chairs.  Phones.  Light sabers, big and small.  Toilet paper.  Walls.)
C. Feeling guilty about Mt. Laundry
D. Serving as a breathing encyclopedia for 5 y.o., I'll have to put to the test the word value of these pictures.

Care to guess where we went yesterday?
The Dentist!!!

We went to Sea World, too. :-) 5 y.o. is so brave.  He went on the rides by his lonesome since I had to stay with Baby.  Here he is on the Carousel.

I would be lying if I said she's reading books already.  I would not be lying if I said she loves listening to stories and chewing on looking at the books by herself.  

My dad won for his age group at a fun 5k.  Medal-eater not normally included.

My sis beat all but 2 other women in her age group in her most recent half-marathon.

I just realized...I could say this was my first-place medal, and most of you wouldn't be the wiser.  Hmm...
It actually belongs to my brother-in-law.

Fast parents=fast kiddle.  My 8-yr old nephew.

Husband & I spent a ridiculous amount of money on some ridiculously awesome concert tickets.   This is what we look like when we're rockin'.

The time has come for me to bid farewell, for now.  I'm yawning like crazy and I think I hear stinky clothes calling my name.  But I won't leave without dropping an advice bomb on y'all:  Wash your hands.  I'm tired of hearing everyone coughing.

Are you a brave roller coaster rider, like our 5 y.o.?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Some Races

Non-runners, beware!  This is my latest maybe-this-is-a-running-blog-after-all post, and I can't guarantee that you'll find any helpful advice here.  Except, of course, the obvious: RUN!  Anyway...

I decided to recap my season of racing, but then I realized the following:

  1. I'm signed up for 4 more races before the end of March, so it isn't exactly the end of the season
  2. Florida racing season lasts quite a while, plus some of the races I wanted to mention were technically last season's
  3. I should probably break up my recaps into more than one post, or risk finding the end of the seemingly endless blank page upon which I type
So, let us begin at the beginning...of Baby's life outside the womb, that is, when I started racing again.  

Race #1- Run 4 Life, May 5, 2012 
            Bad Idea

Baby was born on Friday, March 23, which meant that this race was held approximately 36 hours after I had been cleared by my doctor to start running again.  I had registered for it when I was still pregnant, after having done the math and figuring that I would just walk the 4 miles if I wasn't quite up for racing yet, because I wanted to contribute to the cause.  The race was raising funds to benefit a local suicide prevention program.  Those of you who know me, know why this cause is very close to my heart.  Those of you who don't, well, that's a story for another day.  But while you're here, let me just put this in your head:  don't do it.  If you're thinking about it, seek help.  Help is out there, and there is no problem too big to solve.  If you don't know how to find help, let me know and I'll find it for you.  I promise.

On the Friday before the race, my sister picked up my packet for me, and delivered it.  As soon as I saw the bib and shirt, I broke out in a cold sweat.  I set them aside and tried to talk myself out of my fears.  
"It's just a run.  It's not as if anything is expected of you."
I don't think I can run.
"So, walk."
Yeah, but.  It'll take so long!  What if everyone leaves?
"Then run a little.  You won't be the last one done."
Yeah, but.
"It's no big deal.  It's just a run."
Right.  But...
Several times throughout the evening, I had similar conversations with myself in my head.  That night, I woke up three times from nightmares about the race.  People were chasing me, there were large animals, criminals...  When I got up in the morning, the feeling in my stomach was not one of excitement, it was one of dread.  But, as I had reminded myself repeatedly, it was just a run.  Just 4 miles.  I would be done in an hour, even if I walked a lot.  I told myself those things on my drive to the start line, and was pretty close to being ready for it.  And then, I turned onto a road which was part of the course, and saw this sign
Only not this sign.  I <3 this one, though!
that read: "Every day you're alive to run is a gift!" Then, the crying started.  Lucky for me, I was able to pull over and park on the side of the road just past the sign, because I could no longer see through my tears.  As I tried to pull myself together, I gathered my things and went through a mental checklist to see if I was ready for the race.
Bib and pins-check
Hormone overload- check
Meaningful, important run- check
Car key- check
Sob. Sob. Sob. knock knock knock
My sister, having knocked on my car window: "Are you crying?"
Me: "Um.  Yeah.  'Cause, I don't know.  There's a sign, back there!  And, um.  I'm just really nervous."
                "You know you don't have to do this, right?  But, it's just a run.  The start line is right over there. You can do it!"
I turned my head to look for the start line, which somehow made a whole lot more tears come out, and decided I would have a DNS (did not start) on my record.  All in all, it's not so bad.  Mostly because nobody looks at my racing record (until now- GAAAHHH!).

Result: DNS

Race #2- Go For The Gold 5k, August 4, 2012
             Medal #1

On the night of Baby's birth, my wonderful sister gifted me with paid registration into a half-marathon (more on that later), so I started training for that race in May.  Running in Florida during the Summer months, and, let's face it, even the Spring and Fall months, is really hot.  Really humid.  Really not fun for normal people.  But doing so prepared me for an early-season race!

Surprisingly, it didn't take much for me to shake off the awful feelings that had led to my DNS a few months earlier, and mentally, I felt totally ready for this race.  It helped that I had run the exact course, twice, in the preceding weeks, once with the race director.  It also helped that my goals were not so lofty- I wanted to come in under 30 minutes, and I had a secret goal to beat a fellow running group member (whom I had never met) that was also racing for her first post-baby time.  I spied her before the start of the race with her husband and kids, and was thrilled to see that her baby was at least a month older than mine.

This race marked the first time I ever did a real warm-up run for a 5k.  In my earlier experiences, I was always nervous about being able to finish the entire 3.1 miles, so I didn't want to push my luck by running extra beforehand.  Finally, I was confident enough to start the race off right, with a 1-mile warm-up run about 20 minutes before "GO!", and with some stretching in betwixt.

I started alongside my training buddies, and we stayed together until just after the first mile.  I probably could have kept up with them for longer, but when I learned that my first mile was so much faster than I had expected, I immediately slowed down.

Just past the two-mile mark, I thought about stopping to walk.  Ye ole familiar "you can't do this" (that stupid, nagging, mean, nasty such-and-so) popped into my head.  I countered with, "Ok, slow down.  Walk.  But then, run faster than before."  The threat worked!  I didn't stop, I didn't slow down any further.

This race started and ended at a small, local beer and wine bar
no comment
with plenty of televisions tuned to the women's Olympic Marathon race, happening at the same time as our little 5k.  We were all given gold medals, though, unlike those suckers.
The beer wasn't free, but it was yummy!
I did not beat the other new mom, but since her baby was older, I felt triumphant anyway.  We actually finished 35th and 36th overall, 6th and 7th in our age group.

Result: 28:37

Race #3- Genuine Mile, September 11, 2012
            New Outfit

This race benefited another great cause- the local fire department.  It ended at a local bar/bistro (hmmm...a theme?) and participants earned a free beer if they were able to run the mile in less than 9:11.  My sis was just running again after having dealt with a stress fracture,

and my dad decided to do this race despite still recovering from his tendon troubles, and not being a beer drinker.  My brother-in-law also joined in, and managed an age-group award for his first run of the year.  The 4 of us jogged to the start line to warm up and joined in as the group sang the National Anthem together.

Because of the staggered start, my sis and I started 9 minutes after the first group of runners.  I was forever behind her, the little kid in the picture, and most everyone else, it seemed.  2 other women and I had been switching places throughout the mile, and near the end, they both passed me.  The fierce competitor in me came out, and I sprinted ahead to smoke them both.  Nah, that's a lie.  I saw my family cheering, waved, smiled, vaguely noticed as the other racers crossed the finish line before me, thought about my malfunctioning Nike+ gizmo, and then realized I was done.
That's me, in the cute pink outfit.  With legs whiter than my socks.  Behind the lady I could have passed.
 The race was fun and quick, and I got a free beer.  Definitely not my proudest achievement, though, as I immediately realized that I could have run faster.  In a longer race, that realization is not so hard to swallow.  I'm pretty sure most runners think back over the miles and find that they could have pushed themselves harder at certain points.  In a one mile race, though?  Yeah.  There should be no smiling, waving, sign reading, or gizmo worrying.  There should be running.  Fast running.  In the end, all my family members won awards, except me.  Congratulations to them! (No, that's not bitterness or sarcasm you're sensing, it's self-loathing.  Just a bit, though.)

Result: 7:49

See what I mean about running out of blank page, if I keep up the recaps?  More to come...

Fierce competitor, or smiley waver?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wuv, Twoo Wuv

One day, a few months ago...
"Mom, I want to get married with you when I grow up."
"Well, I'm afraid that isn't possible.  I'm already married to Dad, remember?"
"Well, then I'll get married with Baby."
                       "Unfortunately, that won't work, either.  You can't marry someone who is already in your family.   When you get much older, you'll meet a girl who is not in our family, but you'll want her to be.  Then, after you know each other very well and love each other, you can get married."
eyes a'twinkle, smile spreading across his face
"I'm gonna get married with Allison*."
My future daughter-in-law might be the 2nd from the left in the front row.
                         "Oh?  She's a pretty nice friend, huh?"
"Yeah.  She's my BFF."
                         "It would be nice to have her as a good friend for a long time, wouldn't it?  If you two are still friends when you're all done with high school, then maybe you will get married.  For now, though, it's better to just concern yourself with being a kind friend and not finding someone to marry."
"Can I have a snack?"

One day, a few weeks ago...
"Mom, you remember how I told you Frank's* big sister Delia* was asking us each questions when we were playing at his house the other day?"
"Well, one of the questions was 'Who is your girlfriend?'
                           "Oh?  And what did you say?  Kindergartners don't have girlfriends, right?"
"No, we do.  Frank said Anne*, and you can guess who I said."
"Yup.  We're going to get married."
                            "What do you think it means to have her as your girlfriend?"
"I don't know.  What does it mean?"
                            "You should probably just say she's your friend from now on.  Everyone in your class should be friends with each other, and you don't want to make anyone feel sad or left out, right?"
"Right.  But Allison is my BFF."
                           "Okay, but so is Frank, right?  And Jason*?"
"Yeah.  Can I have a snack?"

One day, last week...
"Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me!"
                        "Well, come here!  Any chance I have to kiss my little boy, I'm going to take!"
                        "Where did you hear that, anyway?  Do people say that at school?"
                        "But then, there's no actual kissing, right?  It's just something you guys say 'cause it rhymes?"
"No, we kiss."
My thoughts, exactly.
                          "Who kisses?  Where?  When?  How often?"
"I kiss Allison and Rachel* on the carpet when we're watching a movie sometimes."
                          "Son, that is not okay.  You kiss your family members.  You do not need to kiss your friends, especially not at school.  Got it?"
"Uh huh.  Why?"
                          "Because school is for learning and doing school work.  Not kissing."
"Is it time for dinner?"

One day, this week, that was not today...
"Mom, I've got to write Allison a letter as soon as we get home.  I'm going to write her a letter and she's going to write me a letter.  And remember those three pictures I drew yesterday?  I'm going to give her the best one.  The one with all the details.  Remember?  Indigo and violet in the rainbow?  Can I play on the Kindle?"
                         "Yes." Please!  Anything to distract you from writing a love letter!
a little while later...
"Okay.  I've got to write a letter to Allison.  What paper should I use?  Here's the picture I'm going to give her, because it has so much detail.  Oh, I think I'll draw another rantom butterfly.  See?  I used even more colors.  Do you think she'll like it?"  Flips the picture over and writes, 'I will get'
"Mom, how do you spell 'married'?"
                        "Sound it out." Maybe if I don't tell him, he won't write it!
writes 'mared!' Folds the picture into a blank piece of paper, and draws hearts all over the front and back.
                       "Why are you drawing so many hearts?" Is it the only shape you remember how to draw?
"Because I love her!  I'm going to give it to her tomorrow and she's going to put it in her backpack."

later still...
                       "Son, I don't think you should give that letter to Allison."
"What?  Why?  I told her I would write her a letter!  And I love her!"
                       "Well, it's just not so nice to write a letter to only one person in your class.  You should be friends with everyone.  Don't you think it might make your other friends feel sad to not get a letter from you?"
"I am friends with everyone.  Allison is just in my heart, like you and Dad and Baby and Ms. Carter*.  Please, Mom!  I really want her to have that picture and I already drew all those hearts and I told her I would write her a letter!"
                       "We'll see.  I'll talk to Dad about it.  I just don't know that it's appropriate."
"I'm really going to get married with her.  I really am.  What are you making for dinner?"

Here's the thing:  Er--wait.  There are several things.  
  1. I think boyfriend/girlfriend relationships are inappropriate, at best, destructive, at worst, until at least high-school age.
  2. I had my first kiss in kindergarten, and my second first kiss when I was 17.  (Shut up.)
  3. I also planned to marry that boy from kindergarten.  (I didn't.)
  4. Although our society seems to sexualize everything, Husband and I have tried hard to shield our children as much as possible from terrible pop music, television shows and movies with questionable content.  We believe that although we can't prevent them from seeing or hearing inappropriate depictions of sexuality, we can protect their innocence for longer (and better) than society at large would expect.
  5. 5 y.o.'s feelings of love for Allison are very pure.  He doesn't talk about how she looks or that he wants her to be his girlfriend because he wants a relationship exclusively with her.  He just loves her.  His actions mimic those that we, as a loving family, perform.  He wants to do nice things for her, and treat her kindly.  
So, we let him bring her the heart-covered, extra-detailed, 'married'-misspelled letter today.  About 80% of me expects a nasty note from her parents, or disciplinary action from the school.  Isn't there a no-tolerance policy regarding PDA?  We allowed it because, well, it's love.  Despite what bad experiences and bad music have led many of us to believe, the truth is that love is not a bad thing.  

Now, I'm going to write a mushy-gushy letter to Husband, and then watch "The Princess Bride", and "Love, Actually" if there's time before I go pick up Allison's boyfriend from school.  You should take some time today to write a love letter, even if you're not in a romantic relationship.  Love is so much more than romance.  It's all those extra details, like indigo and violet, and more rantom, colorful butterflies.

First kiss?  First love?  

*All names changed, in case their parents happen to stumble across my blog and get mad about not giving me permission to post about their children.

Friday, February 8, 2013

At Rantom

My 5 yr. old son, like every kid, mispronounces words.  And I, like other parents when their kids do it, think it's adorable.  However, you may remember that my son kinda likes to be right, so for the past couple of years, he's been asking to be corrected if he says something wrong.  "Why would you guys let me call it 'Miskelly and meatballs' if it's really 'spaghetti'?"  I should probably remind him that 'random' is with a 'd' and not a 't'.  I'll admit it, though.  Every time he learns the correct way to say something that he has mispronounced, my heart breaks a little.  It is a painful reminder of how fast he's growing up, and I feel like the next thing I know, he'll be teaching me the fancy new words he learns in medical school (or in Astronaut school- whatever).

He's had a bit of a rough go at school this week, and consequently, at home.  I'm pretty sure he's about to grow out of all the clothes he just got for Christmas to replace those he grew out of from the beginning of the school year, and growing seems to make him tired, grumpy, and moody.  Of course, I can't tell him, "It's cool that you were running in your classroom today, because I know your legs are getting longer."  (I definitely can't, right?)  I just keep reminding myself that these problems will pass, and that I'll miss these days when they're gone.

Oddly enough, playing school at home, doing homework, and reading together are activities that seem to break him out of his whiny, pouty moods faster than anything else.  Evidently, finding excitement and joy at the sight of a blank piece of paper is genetic, because I totally recognized the look on his face when I handed him a notebook and pen the other night.  After doing some writing and some math on his own, he requested that I write out some math problems for him:
"Good job on your check marks, Mom!"
When we started, and he saw the blanks on the page, frustration was his initial reaction, "What do you want me to do, Mom?  Just put rantom letters here or something?"  I explained that the number he should put in the blank would be whatever one would make the problem true.  He got the first one super fast, the second and third each in less than 10 seconds, needed a bit of help with the fourth, and figured out the fifth with ease.  He's a total genius.  And yes, he can be a genius who mispronounces words.  Who growls and yells during class.  Who tickles his friend's face with his (quickly completed) worksheet.  Who runs, jumps, and gallops when he should be walking.  He totally can.

Today's advice may seem rantom, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow it.  Don't be afraid to trust your instincts, and don't be afraid to ask for help*.  And if you happen to randomly see something pretty, take a picture of it!

Do you like mushrooms?

I'm thinking of breaking out of this 'ask a question at the end of each post' habit.  What do you think?

*Unless you're alone on a dark road with a flat tire and your instincts tell you that the person coming to offer aid is actually a murderer.  Then, you should be afraid to ask for help.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Cross training is...important?  Yes ...beneficial?  Yes ...recommended by those in the know?  Always ...done consistently by runners like me?  Um.  Well.  See, the thing is, I just don't have any desire time.

We've all heard that running is addictive.  Maybe that's why we runners don't like to do other kinds of exercise.  A crack addict will probably smoke weed if it's put in their hand, but they're certainly not going to put in much time, money or effort to obtain it.  It just doesn't have the same effect.  I'm like just about every other runner I know; cross-training doesn't really become important until an injury prevents me from running. And we're all a bit like the flat broke crack addict who finds some free Mary Jane, sighing, "It's better than nothing."

I realize that the experts talk about cross-training for runners as different forms of cardiovascular exercise that work the same muscles used in running, but in different ways.  Liptickling, rowing, cycling, swimming, and even pool running are technically the cross-training exercises that runners should do.  If you've been hanging around these parts for any length of time, you know that this is not a technical blog.  Or, technically, a running blog.
"Just you wait.  Soon, I'll be able to roll my eyes when you're annoying."
See?  Nothing to do with running.
It is a blog!  And I do have some advice to share!  And it's probably worth less than my son's duplicate Pokemon cards!  And it might not even be entertaining to read!  So many sentences should not start with 'and'!  Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Cross-training.  Er- CROSS TRAINING!!!!!  Woooooo!

I contend (because I wanna) that cross-training can be whatever exercise, other than running, you find enjoyable and actually do on your non-running days. I try to work in an hour of Yoga a week, plus an hour of Arms-n-Abs on a different day.  The key word in that last sentence, of course, is 'try'.  When I'm not dealing with a running-related injury, it's a whole lot easier to skip going to the gym and just pound the pavement.
I can hold some yoga poses for hours.  I'm just that good.
Since training for last November's half-marathon, I've had an on-again/off-again relationship with calf, knee and hip pain.  I've had more pain-free days than pain-full days, but my knee started protesting again -loudly- during a run a few weeks ago.  Since, I've been running fewer miles, walking more, and RICEing (rest, ice, compression and elevation) my knee each time it starts to hurt.  After a half-mile walk/half-mile run "workout" earlier in the week, I found myself with plenty of time to get to Yoga class at the Y where we have a family membership.  I arrived early enough to lay out my mat, arrange my water bottle and shoes, put down the ladybug that had hitched a ride in on my shirt, and send a guilt trip text message to my sister about how everyone else there had a friend.  (Turns out, I did, too.  The ladybug stayed right next to my mat throughout the entire class, and climbed quietly back onto my arm as we started the meditation practice at the end.)  Here's what I love about yoga: I don't even feel like I'm working out, but my muscles are sore afterward.  Using the connection between body, mind, and breath really does enable me to do things I wouldn't have expected to be able to do.
I look just like that when I do it, but with the bulges in different spots.
p.s. Gross, right?  Shouldn't they have photoshopped that out?
Once the class was over and I had set my ladybug friend free again, I spoke to the instructor about how my feet cramp up when I'm on the tops of my toes.  She suggested stretching my toes (and the rest of my body) often, continuing to practice Yoga, and she directed me to my new favorite website, where ancient meets present day.  That night, I searched for information about my foot-cramping problem and learned that-- wait.  Do you want to guess?  I bet you can.  While you think on it, please enjoy this lovely picture:
Sun rising behind the mist of Niagara Falls
If you guessed that my foot cramps are related to my intermittent calf, hip and knee pain, you win! It turns out that all those parts are connected (dur) and if you stand, unbalanced, with bad posture, you probably also walk with your feet going wonky, and you might even run with your hips swaying, back arched, and your heels hitting the ground way harder than necessary.  I do all of these things.  As discouraging as it has been to learn that I don't know how to run, and that in fact, I'm so bad at running that I've caused actual damage to my body, I found hope in this article!  Basically, if I consistently practice Yoga and incorporate some breathing and posturing techniques into my running, I can expect relief from my pains.

I made another Great Discovery at the gym the next day.  I can use the elliptical machine and the weights without hurting myself!  I ran on the elliptical for 20 minutes without even a twinge of knee pain, and followed up with a round of upper body and core work, also without pain.  Of course, I also didn't feel all my worries melt away, or get the relief and relaxation that come after a good run.  To put it a different way, "marijuana" will never replace my "crack".  But it isn't a bad stand-in.

What's your "crack"?