QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR MORE): "No, no. You don't understand. This is an '89 Calico. I'm pretty sure that exceeds the Kelly Blue Book value. The cat's totaled." --A comedian whose name I forget talking about a vet who presents a $3,000 bill for a 12-year-old cat

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hiring, anyone?

So... remember the 11-year-old son who started the lemonade stand franchise?
yeah. him. My kid.
Recently we had friends visiting. I bought, because I'm a wild 'n' crazy kinda mom, a case of Orange Fanta (like crack for kids whose mom, in typical practice, does not purchase food stuffs with hydrogenated oils or food coloring) as a special treat.
While the group was outside, the 11-year-old and his female 11-year-old visiting friend (an angel on earth) volunteered to go inside, make sandwiches, and bring them out for the rest of the group. I should rephrase to state that, in actuality, the female 11-year-old (angel on earth) volunteered the both of 'em before my 11-year-old son could reasonably protest, much to his dismay.
I was delighted. A KID (well, kidS) going inside to fix MY lunch for ME and the rest of the crew. Surely pigs were flying somewhere.
An appropriate amount of time later, the two 11-year-olds emerged with the cooler in hand, complete with sandwiches for all and orange Fantas for the kids.
"Hey, cool..." the adults observed, "you guys get Orange Fantas, huh?"
"Yeah," the female 11-year-old (angel on earth) replied, "he made me pay him $1 for it."
After a healthy degree of horrified laughter, we learned that she had bargained her way down from $5.
I think he'll make a fine used car salesman someday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This one time? At band camp?

Remember the annoying yet amiable character from American Pie who constantly tells stories about band camp? "This one time, at band camp?"

That's my 11-year-old. He has the wonderful gift of gab, which will serve him well as he gushes corporate-speak in a major company, mingles at a party, or takes a sales job.

At his present age, though, it is sometimes background noise distracting me from what I need to accomplish. Unfortunately one of my faults is that I cannot concentrate with any kind of irregular sound in the background: a tv, the sound of a pencil tap-tap-tapping against a desk, wrappers being crunched, chips being chewed, my son jabbering... (as mama-face says, don't judge me. I know I have issues....).

Usually what he's doing when he talks to me is rehashing a movie or a tv show in painstaking detail. Ya know the corporate-speak term "high level"? Yeah. He doesn't do high level. He does,
to use more corporate speak, granular. In excitedly describing a [bad] movie he just saw, he tells the story in great, painstaking detail, blow by blow, scene by scene, recreating it as if you were sitting there watching the movie. That's great - except I don't have 2 hours to listen to him describe a movie. It would be one thing if he uttered a few sentences and moved on... but... he doesn't. He's like the energizer bunny. He keeps going and going and going... until I finally must say "hey buddy- can you just give me the summary?" (which doesn't have the desired effect)

Someday he'll make a perfect filibusterer in the Senate...

Do your kids do this?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The little engine that couldn't

All that trash talking I did about my last 2 speed runs? I forgot to knock on wood so the gods wouldn't hear me bragging and punish me (yes; that's why you knock on wood). Obviously that gal lying on the ground isn't I, but I sure know what she felt like.

Today's training prescription, a la my marathon training schedule: run a 10K (6.2 miles) as fast as you can. (at mid-day in high heat and humidity in my case).

I recruited the 13-year-old to accompany me on his bike to push me when I became tired.

Here, roughly, is a log of my thoughts from beginning to end.

Before the run.

I am feeling GOOD.

I can do this.

I rock.

I am strong.

I want Boston.

I will tell myself to push when it hurts; run through the pain. Pain makes us stronger.

The first mile:

Hey- this is going pretty well. It's a little hot, but I'm okay. I'm feeling strong. I can do this. I WILL do this. (7:28)

The second mile:

Yeah. I'm getting a little tired. Maybe I started out a little too fast.

No... I'm not going to sabotage myself.

I CAN do this. Keep a rhythm.

Run strong.

Keep going.

Relax. Acknowledge the discomfort and run through it.

This is what's making me faster and stronger.

shew. I'm tired. (7:35)

The third mile:

Is the wind behind me or in front of me? When I turn around will it be harder?

I don't think I can do this. I think I'm gonna rest at the half way mark at 3.1.

No- I'm strong. I can do this. I'm supposed to push.

I can't. I have to slow down or stop at 3.1 (7:40)

(meanwhile- the 13-year-old, recruited for encouragement, is so far ahead of me he can't even hear when I yell. He's just in his own world ignoring me. It's inspiring).

The fourth mile

Wow. I didn't realize how tired I was until I stopped to rest.

It's really hot.

I'm going to keep pushing, though.

I've rested a couple of minutes, and now I'm going to push through.

I have to slow down.

My body temperature is way high.

I can't wait to get a drink of water when I get home.

I wish I were home already.

It's HOT. I'm being a wimp. I want this run to be over...

No... it's not healthy to go all out in this heat. I could hurt myself.


I have to stop again after this next mile.

shew. I'd love to walk.

No. I'm not walking. I need to keep going.

If I'm going to stop after another mile, I may as well speed up and get this mile overwith.


The fifth mile

Okay; I'm going more slowly but I'm continuing.

I've slowed down but this workout has done me good.

I may not have done the prescribed workout but I got my butt out here and did speedwork, even if it did turn into intervals rather than a tempo run.

Man it's hot.

I feel a bit nauseated. (8:32)

The sixth mile

Okay. It's really hot. It's really humid. I'm thirsty. I'm tired.

I can't do this. I've got to walk.

I walked until the last 1/3 of a mile, which I ran at a 7:00 pace out of guilt.

The thirteen-year-old? Home already, bike neatly put away.
Oh well. Some days ya got it; some days ya don't.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The agony of defeat OR huh... You really ARE what you eat...

With about 8 weeks go go until my 10th marathon, the Bay State marathon in Massachusetts (did I spell MA right?), I am in full training mode. I need a 3:45:59 to qualify for the revered Boston marathon, and my best time (set in May this year at the New Jersey marathon) is 3:50:14. Chah. I can do it! The Bay State has the highest percentage of Boston qualifiers every year, being a double 13.1-mile loop on pretty flat ground, thus my choice of that particular marathon. When I tell fellow runners what my next marathon is, I get a chortle and a: "ah. Going for speed, huh?" Yuppers, I AM. It seemed like the perfect choice until I realized that I return from a business trip to Germany the Friday before the Sunday on which the marathon is held. 1 1/2 days to recover from jet lag to go for my Personal Record and a BQ. oops. I'm just trying to ignore that little fact... details, details.

In the meantime, I've been training, and training during the summer sucks. It is (insert lots of whining) so hot. My long runs have been slower than usual, the combination of vacation-style eating habits and the heat have made me struggle with speedwork somewhat, and I have been skipping my resistance training.

THIS week, though, has given me reason to smile. I have kicked ass (and I do say so myself) during my two speedwork sessions this week (albeit they are shorter because it's a recovery week, but I'm patting myself on the back, anyway).

Both speedwork days I ate no junk food and lots of fruits and veggies, and lo and behold... my evening runs were awesome. Huh. Hot dang. Do you think there might be something to this "you are what you eat" thing? I wonder if all those nutritionists are right?

My first speedwork session was only 5 x 1K (.62 miles) repeats (after a 1.5-mile warm up and before a 1.5-mile cool down). My time on the track happened to coincide with the high school cross-country team out there on the track doing their speedwork. They were doing repeats of 800s (.5 miles). So: an old lady juxtaposed with skinny-minny high school kids.... oh... and Sophie, running around the track with me intermittently. It's hot for Soph with 2 fur coats (God knows how she has any hair left with all of the hair she sheds inside the house), so she takes breaks every so often, sitting on the side for a lap or two, then joining in. Problem is... after her break sometimes, she will sprint across the field to catch up to me (it's beautiful to watch), and she kept cutting off the high school runners. oops. my bad. well, Soph's bad.

Anyway... I digress. So here I am running speed laps with the skinny-minny high schoolers. Doing repeats of a slightly longer distance than the teeny-boppes. Well, here's the point of my story. During one lap I was behind a skinny-minny teenage girl in the middle of her speed interval... and I was approaching. Huh. I thought to myself. I'm going faster than she is. I wasn't the only one to notice this. Her fellow adolescents, doing a recovery lap, were tuned in to the situation. They were watching. I kept running. And I kept catching up. I got nervous. Should I pass her? It's going to humiliate her. Well, I didn't have much choice. I passed her at about a 7:10-minute-mile clip. I think she was stunned, and her cohorts were rolling. The poor girl would never hear the end of this. She stepped it up a bit, but so did I... it felt so good... and as she neared the end of her shorter distance, I kept going. Ahhh. The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat. Someone should use that as a tag line or something....

Yesterday, for my week's 2nd speed session, I was supposed to do a 3.5-mile tempo run at my 10K speed, supposedly 7:35-minute miles. When I tried to do this last week (a 5.5-mile tempo run at 7:35 minute miles), the best I could do was 7:44-minute miles resting for a couple of minutes after 2 miles and 4 miles. Yesterday, though, I was pumped from having passed the skinny-minny teeny bopper... AND I went out in the light rain just after a nice downpour had brought the temperature down 20 degrees. I was in a good place mentally.

And... I DID it! I ran my 3.5 mile tempo run in 7:18s - kicking in a 7:05 pace for my last 1/2 mile. This time, at the same track, a couple of teenage boys happened along just as I was starting. They ran a quick mile at about the same speed as I was going and then stopped, scratching their heads and watching me. Darnit if I was going to let up. I was less motivated when they left, but kept it up.

Not much humor in this post, sorry, but I am smiling. It's so easy to convince yourself you've lost what you need to do well - especially in the summer's heat and humidity- but now I feel like I can do it.

By the way... for my runner readers (and non runner readers if you're feeling cheerleader-like. I follow a blog called 26.2 Quest, a guy training for his very first marathon. Yesterday's post described the longest run of his life so far (14 miles) and asked for his followers to spread the word because he needs as much support as possible. If you're feeling kindly inclined, feel free to stop by and encourage him; that's what runners' comraderie is all about. While you're at it, I could use some support for my October 18th marathon BQ attempt. I've been hesitant to blog about it because I'm afraid of failure...but ya know what? I'll just keep trying! ;)

Friday, August 21, 2009

I just lost 3 1/2 hours of my life...

Okay, okay. I know everyone complains about this, yielding the cliched "mom's taxi" and "soccer mom" stereotypes, but I'm special, so suck it up. Mine is worse than yours.

Here was my night last night:

Do you get it with my superior mouse drawing skills?
I left my house at 5:20 to take the 11-year-old to soccer practice at Field A . I went back to my house at 6:30 to get 13-year-old into soccer gear and into the car (a painstaking process... where are your soccer socks? I asked you to be ready. I dunno. where are your cleats? I dunno. Did you prepare a water bottle as I suggested? um. no.). I drive the 13-year-old to soccer practice at Field B (the opposite end of town) to arrive at 6:55 pm. I go back to the house to get the dog at 7:20. I get the dog into the car (much easier than getting kids into the car... especially since no shoes are necessary) and drive to get 11-year-old, whose practice ends at 7:30. Its not making sense for me to go all the way home and then all the way across town again, I suggest to 11-year-old that we simply spend 1/2 hour at the dog park before picking up the 13-year-old at 8:30. 11-year-old agrees. We go to the dog park. (Run, Soph, run! Alas, it's 94 degrees out and, although there are lots of canines at the dog park, they are all pretty much sitting around just looking at each other, too hot to move. Usually when a new dog comes in, all the dogs run to sniff the butt of the newbie. Yesterday it was like: "yo, Hank. 'sup. I assume your butt smells the same?). 8:15. We leave the dog park and go to Field B to pick up 13-year-old. It's getting dark so I schlep the dog and 11-year-old to the opposite end of the field where practice is conveniently held to make sure 13-year-old can find me. 8:45. I have been driving among home, Field A, and Field B now for over 3 hours and I actually fed the kids dinner before soccer practices. I decided to throw my healthy eating habits (which lasted 24 hours, I think?) out the window and get blizzards for all.
How do you parents with more than 2 kids do it?
Let's do it again next week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The perils of capitalism

Summertime…. Cookouts, fireflies, no school, and … lemonade stands.

A lemonade stand exemplifies the quintessential, innocent, kids’ summer experience: cute little boys and girls set up a flimsy table on the side of the neighborhood street, put up a handmade sign, and, not yet warped by the mean, real world, assume that everyone will pay 25 cents for a homemade lemonade in a paper cup.

Yesterday, being low on cash, the 11-year-old decided to man a lemonade stand. He mixed the Country Time that I had just purchased all by himself, carted the table out to the street’s corner, schlepped along some cups, put up a sign, and waited.

Ten minutes later, he came strolling back into the house, relaxed as could possibly be.

“Ahhh, yeah,” he gloated, “nothin’ like owning your own company.”

He saw the perplexed look on my face, prompting further explanation.

“Yup, I just hired myself some employees… and now I can just sit back and do nothing while they work. Just rake in the bucks while I chill.”

My perplexed look didn’t go away.

“Yeah…" he continued to explain, "I just told the other kids I’d pay ‘em 20% of my sales, and they'll sit by the stand all day while I’m in the air conditioning. Yup. It’s nice to have a labor force.”

My perplexed look morphed from one of perplexity to one of contemplation and possible horror. While kind of impressed with his entrepreneurial spirit, I didn’t want to condone corporate greed, snobbery, lethargy, or irresponsibility.

“Perhaps,” I suggested, “since you find yourself making some money while doing nothing, you could think of an activity to pursue while they’re working so that you’re doubly productive?”

“Hey! What a great idea!” he was into this. “I can set up a rival lemonade stand right next to the one I already started! I’ll have the monopoly and people will have to buy from me!”

“That’s not quite what I had in mind,” I lamented, still ashamedly proud of his business savvy.

Because a mom’s opinion doesn’t carry much weight in 11-year-old’s corporate matters, he went ahead and started a competing stand just across the street from the first one.

I did what most overworked, tired parents did; I buried my head in the sand, whispered “la la la la la la” to myself, and ignored it.

I then rode past the two lemonade stands for a 14-mile cycling workout. “Back in an hour!” I shouted.

When I returned, I was immediately updated by the 13-year-old: “Mom! Mom! He fired the workers from the first stand and they’re running the other stand now!”

“hmmmm,” I reacted brilliantly. “Why did he fire them?”

“Oh, I dunno… I think they got bored and walked away or somethin’ – hey – wanna buy a lemonade?” Apparently they got disgruntled, formed a labor union, and went to work for the competition.

“Sure,” I chuckled, “but I don’t have any money on me.”

“That’s okay,” he allowed, “you can pay me later.”

The 11-year-old shouts toward me from across the street: “Hey! You’re buying lemonade from them? Our lemonade is 5 cents cheaper AND we give you more!”

“Oh, uh. Yeah. Lemme do my silly running drills and then I’ll swing by and buy one from you, k?”

I did, indeed, go to buy a second cup of lemonade from the other stand. When I explained I didn’t have any money on me, the 11-year-old (yes... my son) hesitated. “You can’t pay us right now?”

“No, buddy,” I answered, “I’ll pay you when we get home. Plus – remember – I paid for the original goods and the overhead.”

“hmmm. Well, uh….” Apparently he was not accepting credit.

After taking down my social security number, he relented and allowed me to have the lemonade I didn’t want in the first place.

In the end, I think we all learned valuable lessons: 1) Lemonade stand labor unions need a bit more oversight. 2) Competition seems to increase sales. People stopped at both stands out of pity and paid for more than one lemonade. 3) Capitalism is alive and well and practiced readily by 5 to 13-year-olds.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A lesson in cross-training

I fully intended, was all prepared, to do my 17-mile long run Sunday morning at the beach. Instead, my alarm clock malfunctioned (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) and I awoke too late to get my 17 miles in. The rest of the day's heat would prohibit it. I decided to make it a cross-training day or short run day instead and do the 17 miles Monday.

The ocean was lake-like, so calm there was barey a ripple, and the water was also relatively warm. I decided, brilliantly, to cross-train by swimming in the Atlantic; it would be my first open water (non pool) swimming experience.

I have always loathed swimming, never quite sure at any moment that I'm not going to inhale with the wrong timing, choke down a sizeable gulp of water, and drown. I also never mastered, or even got by with a decent flip turn, so that I always feel a little silly swimming laps at the gym's pool. Lucky for me no one can tell who I am, anyway, with my gorgeous swimming cap and goggles rendering me incognito. Notwithstanding my personal abhorrence of swimming, one can unfortunately not deny its benefits as a cross training exercise (or main exercise for non runners); it is great cardio exercise with no impact and can be done on a hot day with, literally, no sweat. I have thus persevered, and with practice I've gotten a little less prone to death. Still, though my strokes are somewhat better now, my revulsion for swimming continues, due to its unfathomably boring nature. In what other sport does one move one way for 25 meters, then abruptly switch directions and move back the other way for 25 meters, back and forth, back and forth, repeatedly until one caves in from the tedious monotony. No new sites to see, no music, no hills, no turns. Just the same 25 meters, one direction... and then the other direction. Poke a sharp needle in my eye, please!

Swimming in the ocean, I surmised, might be more physically challenging but it would be infinitely less boring. I searched around for the one-piece bathing suit that I usually use to swim and discovered I had not brought it with me. oops. I decided I could probably manage in my bikini; after all, the Atlantic Ocean is fairly opaque. I took my cap and goggles down with me in my beach bag, telling only the husband of my silly plan, and read my Runners World magazine on the beach for awhile. My 11-year-old kept hauling in tiny little harmless jelly fish, piling them at my feet, but the boys said there weren't any big jellies out there. Just the little ones with no tentacles.

12:54: I gather my swimming cap and my goggles unobtrusively and wander down to the water's edge, feigning a quick dip.

12:56: I have made my way out past most wave jumpers and slip the cap and goggles on, ignoring the chortling chuckles of observers.

12:57: I begin swimming northward in the Atlantic, not very far out from the shore. The ocean is fairly warm.

12:58: I'm doing okay; the challenge is that I can't see anything with my goggles underwater (opaque ocean), and I breathe to my right side (I'm not at all skilled enough to breathe on both sides), so I can't see what's in front of me. I have to keep stopping momentarily to make sure 1)I'm not swimming straight into shore 2) I'm not swimming straight out to sea and 3) I'm not running into a person.

1:00: My right hand, on its pass under me through the ocean, strikes a large jellyfish. I am officially freaked out. I jump, squeal, and move as far to the left as I can to make a wide swath around the creepy creature. I have reacted as girly as I possibly could. I am grossed out. I tell myself it wasn't that big; dont' be a wimp. It's not going to happen again. Listen to Dory and just keep swimming....

1:02: I start seeing shapes in my goggles in my freaked-out condition, worried that every little thing I see is part or whole jellyfish. I admonish myself for my wussy behavior and keep swimming, stopping here and there to make sure I'm swimming straight north.

1:04: My stomach feels a little tingly and itchy - as if something had stung it. I think a jellyfish may have stung me back there when my hand hit it. I think to myself: "I HAD to wear a bikini."

1:05: I strike another jellyfish with my right hand. It feels pretty big. I squeal again, stop, scoot away from the scene of the contact, and tread water for a few moments, contemplating whether to keep going. I am pretty grossed out. Again I urge myself to keep going, telling myself I am really overreacting.

1:07: I am paranoid as I swim northward, sure a jellyfish lurks ahead of me with each stroke.

1:10: My paranoia pays off as I hit another jellyfish. I lurch backwards, laugh at myself, and swim toward shore. I take off my cap and goggles and make my way back to the beach. I have only swum about 5 or 6 blocks, but I can't take the jellies...

I walk southward back to the family posse on the beach. My stomach itches, as does my wrist.

As I approach my family, I describe the swim and explain why I'm back so soon.

"Did you get stung?" the thirteen-year-old questions, "your stomach is all red."
I can handle bugs on a bike ride. I cannot handle swimming with the creepy crawlies. I will NOT be doing that again....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sleep is overrated

The urchins, aka my 11 and 13-year-old sons, seem to be sucking me into their adolescent vortex of disrupted circadian rhythms. I seem to be going to bed later and later and more and more sleepy in the mornings.

Last night I decided to put my proverbial foot down and put my literal feet up earlier at night. By a more reasonable hour I was half asleep, only to be jostled awake again around midnight by the sound of the boys' loud conversation. They're supposed to be in their own rooms at night, but somehow one always migrates to the other's room where they chit-chat the night away until sleep kidnaps them against their wills.

Irritably I put up with the loud talking for a little while; I don't really know how long because time takes on different characteristics in the middle of the night, doesn't it? Finally, wide awake now, I sat halfway up and yelled: "BOYS!!!!"

The poor husband, whom I assumed would be as awake as I, jolted upright, violently wrested from his peaceful dreams. "huh? what?"

"oops. I'm so sorry!" I whispered. "My bad. hee hee. Just assumed the boys were keeping you up, too. sorry, sorry."

I think perhaps eventually I drifted back off, but the thing I most poignantly remember was my sleep again being interrupted by the sound of the cat hacking up a hairball, always pleasant around 3 am or so.
If memory properly serves, I believe she had similar woes around 3:26 am.

I finally arose at 6 am to get my ass kicked by humidity on my 10-mile tempo run, during which I failed miserably to keep my training program-prescribed pace. "Why does my training book think I can do this," I kept wondering. I'm so good at positive thinking during running...

It's going to be a great day. Really it is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why me?

I think I have "sucker" written across the top of my forehead. I state this hypothesis because I live on a street housing exactly 1.2 gadzillion kids ages 13 and under. Where do they all hang out? My house. My yard. Sometimes the urchins do innocuous things such as ride their bikes or scooters up and down the street or get a nice, normal, healthy game of football going in the back yard.

Other times one of my sons will come into the house surreptitiously while I am typing away at my computer in my home office, hard at work in the medical publishing industry. I note to myself that he has come in. I then note to myself, somewhat alarmingly, that he is sorting through the trash can.

"What are you doin'?" I'll ask.

"me? Oh! uh. yeah. um. I'm just making sure that all the recyclables are being recycled."

"mmm hmmm. and what are you going to do with any recyclables that aren't recycled?" I'll query.

"nothin'." A loud buzzer sounds for the wrong answer. "Nothing" means "something you won't like" in 11-year-old boy-speak.

"Okay, spill it, buddy. What are you guys up to?"

"Really, Mom, nothing!"

The boy goes back outside and has numerous empty plastic bottles lined up outside near the street (in our front yard, of course). He runs back and forth between the hose and the bottles.

Curiosity kills me, so I wander over to the door and watch.... and listen. Turns out they have some sort of pump contraption, originally meant to be used to power up a water laser squirt gun, rigged to these bottles, which they have filled up with water and are blowing sky high into the air with said contraption. It's really kind of genius. I'm a little proud, actually.

I poke my head out the door and all the boys pretend to be busy with something other than rocketing plastic bottles - anything else that could occupy them, such as a passing ant.

"Oh hey, mom. Looks like the grass needs cutting, doesn't it?"

"Hey, guys. That's kind of cool." I observed.

"Oh..whew! We thought you'd be mad at us!"

"Nah - as long as you recycle all the bottles when you've finished and as long as no projectiles hit anyone or any neighbor's property, you're good to go."

"Cool!!!" the tone changes, "did you see that last fire blast?!!!"

I take a deep breath and head back inside. Not much today. What concerns me is when I hear any of these words in hushed, conspiratorial tones, either alone or in combination with other words:

red dye
food coloring
baking soda
duct tape

Why, oh, why, I ask myself, can these neighborhood boys not pick someone else's house for this stuff? Why is it always my house? I guess I should be grateful that I always know where my children are... except that one time my son's friend's mom came to pick up her son from a playdate and I couldn't find them... but that's another story.

(Note, in this first video, my son's correct use of an adverb in the heat of the moment.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The answer is....

Thanks for your guesses, everybody!

The answer is....

It's a drawing of my run yesterday: 18 miles all completed around an indoor track. Crazy? uh-huh. Perhaps. Consider, though, that the outside temperature was 96 degrees. Still think I'm nuts? nope.

12.65 loops around the little indoor track at the gym = 1 mile. That means I circled and circled the elliptical 228 times. over and over and over. and over. and over. My only hope of averting insanity was my iPod.

Periodically, other people came.... and then they went. They walked around the track. They talked. Some others came and jogged. Some sprinted around a couple of times. Still, there I was. Running around. and around. and around.

Somewhere in the middle of mile 13 or 14 my iPod displayed a low battery sign. I was terrified. I pictured a scream at a horror movie, juxtaposed agonizingly against a background of eery silence. Noooooooooooooooooo.

I put a plan into action. I decided that fast forwarding past the songs that didn't exactly match my cadence was sucking up too much battery power. I switched from random "shuffle songs" to my running pace playlist and refrained from fast forwarding, turning up the volume up or down... anything that would suck the life out of the only thing keeping me going.

I forgot my Gu (energy gel packs), so the only thing I had to keep myself going was water, but that's good for training... teaches your body to work with less.

In the end, I did the 228 laps. In the climate-controlled interior of the gym. 18 miles around a little radius of 66 feet... I know this because, even though I have a master's degree in English (see what I'm doing with it?!), I figured out the radius of the circle I ran... see below.

I don't know which makes me more proud - figuring out the radius of the circle or running 18 miles around it....

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's this?

Whaddya think? What is it?

Friday, August 7, 2009

To wave or not to wave?

I’m a runner. Most runners casually acknowledge each other in passing out on a run, similar to the way in which fellow motorcyclists subtly raise a couple of fingers as they pass one another. Not a nerdy big wave – just a cool “yo, ‘sup” kind of a wave.

For a runner, a lot of gestures can qualify as a ‘hello:’ a quick raise of the hand, a nod of the head, a smile, and of course a “how ya doin’.” Mornings are particularly gratifying, when one is able cheerily to extend a “morning!” to one’s fellow humans. The day’s beginning is that much more auspicious when runners and walkers greet each other with good wishes for the day to come.

The buzzkill comes when there is no response. Nothing. Nada. A wasted effort on the part of the runner already expending a lot of energy. I am particularly offended when, inbetween labored exhalations, I greet a person walking and s/he fails to acknowledge my friendly salutation. If I, while huffing and puffing and burning more calories per minute than the walker, am able to muster enough energy to greet a fellow human being on a walk, then surely a walker can return the gesture.

I acquiesce that there are some exceptions out there, one of which is a lovey-dovey couple walking along, hand-in-hand, oblivious to any world but their own. Walk on, lovebirds. Peace. A busy mom or dad trying to keep toddlers in check is also forgivable. Two or more people heartily engaged in conversation; that’s okay, too.

Any solo runner or walker, however, who cannot summon the vigor required to nod the head, raise a [friendly] finger, or mutter a “hey” is a disgraceful Debbie Downer. Deep in thought or listening to headphones? Just want some time alone? Unable to multi-task? Spent from speedwork? Suck it up and wave, for crying out loud. How hard is it? Go ahead… make my day.

Wave, dammit.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Totally unrelated subjects

First, my kids and their friend are currently outside catching bees in jars. Yes, that's right. Catching bees in jars. I know, I know. It's stupid. Do I admonish them for their stupidity before trauma strikes or do I let them learn the hard way?

On a completely different subject, I have just finished eating my favorite post-run treat, which is one of those yummy lemonade Edy's all natural popsicles. Only... I didn't get to eat the whole thing, really, because whenever I get to the end, and the popsicle is thin and hanging on to the popsicle stick by a thread, it generally falls off unless I pop the entire, really cold, big hunk in my mouth. Neither of these outcomes is particularly desirable. If it falls off, poof. Gonzo. Sadness. If I have to pop the entire thing in my mouth so it doesn't fall off, well it's FREEZING and not so enjoyable. What a conundrum.

I'm just saying...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A fun time was had by all

Last week’s vacation was particularly gratifying because 64% of the group with whom I was hangin’ was unaware of my blogging habit, and therefore prime targets for blog material. There were 11 of us, and my family of 4 were the only beings conscious that they were bloggable; it was a beautiful thing.

I remain close with 3 of my high school friends from the Chicagoland area, 2 of whom tolerate me enough to schlep their entire families, along with mine, on vacation together every summer. This was our 9th annual summer adventure, and this year’s destination was beautiful, rainy Colorado.

We left Sophie in the doggie spa, complete with pedicure appointment, and set off ….

The first day it rained… kinda hard. But we managed to have some fun anyway.

We rode those 4-5-person bike buggy contraptions around a big lake, except for the husband and me on a tandem bike.

Those suckers are scary until you really get going; actually, they’re scary when you’re going any speed. You have no control. At one point the husband hopped off and the 11-year-old (now officially 11) hopped on and all hell broke loose:

“Stop wiggling the handle bars; we’re going to CRASH!!” I screamed at him (literally screamed).

“I’m NOT doing it on purpose! Do you think I’m doing it on purpose?!!!” the 11 year old answered.

(do I look calm?)

Meanwhile, 100% sure we were going to bite the dust any moment as we dramatically wiggled back and forth over and over, I lamented that we lacked bicycle helmets. My life flashed before my eyes. I stuck out my feet to try and slow us to no avail. I was utterly helpless. I’m so sorry for everything, God, I began apologizing….sure the end was near…

When we finally gained momentum, the 11-year-old slammed on the brakes (with me behind him) – I can tell you that the concept of inertia is alive and well (an object at rest stays at rest; an object in motion continues in motion. I was the object in motion…).

Why are you slamming on the brakes!” I yelled.

“Because you’re YELLING at me!” he teared, visually and completely in despair.

It was not one of my finer moments as a mom. I had to bribe back his affection with a full-sized Snickers bar.

Boy that was fun. Shew.

If it weren’t for my friend’s 7-year-old daughter who innocently kept showing, to everyone we passed, the cut on the back of her middle finger (Look! I have a cut on my finger! she kept yelling), it would have been a complete bust. I tried to get a picture of the 7-year-old naively flipping the bird to all passersby, but alas, my camera was out of batteries at that point.

Here she is with her "I hate you" finger (as her parents finally explained) politely holding onto the handle.

At one point the 13-year-old had taken over the tandem bike with the husband. He rode one way with his Dad, and then on the way back the Dad was gone. “Do you know you lost a passenger?” I queried.

“Oops!” he yelled, turning around.

stranded Dad

The next day it rained kinda hard AGAIN. …. But we managed to have some fun anyway. We moms (whilst the Dads went to various beer breweries for tastings) took the kids to a really “fun” park where they have this giant banana slide that always puts the tune from the 80s kids’ show Banana Splits in my head.

Remember that ungodly happy bouncy annoying tune? It went, and I quote (ahem): “la la laaaa, la la la laaaa, la la la la la la la la.” Remember? The “fun” park went really well until the kids starting whining that they wanted to do it again and again and again and we moms were reduced to complaining that our kids never appreciate the nice things we try to do for them and looked forward to the evening’s cocktail hour’s beginning a bit early.

The next day it rained kinda hard AGAIN… but we managed to have some fun anyway.

In the morning the husband had to do a conference call for work with about 12 Elk in the front yard of the mountain house. I guess they were looking for some finance tips in this down market, but he managed to keep it all confidential.

Speaking of Elk, there are a plethora in Estes Park, CO. They’re everywhere. Just look. I was particularly excited to see this big guy from the safety of our car:

oh look! More Elk... they're ubiquitous out there....

and more! (okay maybe these were deer)

We hiked, the whole crew, 2 miles up to the top of a mountain the same day.

Is it cocktail hour yet?

It all started auspiciously enough until there was some whining and some scraping of knees incidents (and it was too late to throw in the towel and go back for an early cocktail hour). We had to fight for our packed lunches at the top around a lake where a mean pack of chipmunks tried to take our food from us.

On the way back down it started to rain again. That was really fun, what with all the whining kids and being underdressed for the cold temperatures and the mud and everything.

The next day it rained kina hard again! We went to town and did some shopping. The kids got some ice cream cones.

I (and the other adults) had planned on mooching from the kids’ ice cream cones,
but they all got disgusting, unsensible flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy, so I was forced to send the husband back for a chocolate-dipped waffle cone filled with double chocolate ice-cream with brownie bites (or something like that). He had to run to catch up.

Do I hear an "awwww... what a nice guy..." ? Yup!

I even shared, which was unusual for me and chocolate. I was proud of myself.

On the last day… it DIDN’T RAIN!

We went on a hike by a beautiful waterfall where we posed for a gadzillion pictures which will be used, as the tradition goes, for Christmas card photos in 6 more months. We took a few steps, and posed for pictures. We took another few steps, and arranged ourselves for a photo. More and more photos... Inbetween poses the Dad of the youngest in the group, the 5-year-old girl, swallowed a few valiums in an effort to calm his nerves while his daughter climbed on the tall rocks around the river.

All in all, a fun time was had … and this is what happened when I urged the boys to unpack:

I guess I had it coming.