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, April 30, 2010

Birthday um... wishes

One of my best friends, knowing me quite well, gave me the following birthday card. Don't bother wishing me a happy birthday; it was last month. :)

Open it up...

Being the model mother I am, I immediately shared it with the 11-year old and the 14-year-old.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You... I wanna talk to you...

above: my own rendering of me sucking at swimming

I told myself that I'd be happy after I qualified for Boston; it had been my prodigious goal for a little over a year or two. I told myself that, after I qualified, I could do more fun, hilly marathons and not worry about being so competitive.


At some point after I qualifed, not being sure of any exact moment, I decided that I wanted to do an Ironman triathlon the year I turn 40. That would be next year.

So hmmm. I'd better get some triathlon experience in before I start training for that next year.

Next up is a local Olympic Distance triathlon at the end of May. Sure, it would've been more ideal to have begun with a short sprint tri to get my feet wet (literality intended). I didn't know anything about triathlons (and still don't know much) so I had to google the distances. An Olympic tri is about a mile swim (1.2, maybe?), a 40-something-mile bike ride, and a 10K run (6.2 miles). A sprint is about a 1/2 mile swim, 20-something-mile bike ride, and a 5K run. The Ironman that I want to do next year is a 2 mile swim (or perhaps a little more?), a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon (26.2 miles). hee hee.

I already swim and cycle to cross train for marathons, so I'm not starting from scratch. Like many beginner triathletes, however, I'm not a strong swimmer. I've practiced (I did a "long swim" instead of a long run for my last long run for the Boston marathon because of a strained back) and improved so that I can go longer and breathe on both sides now, but I still suck at swimming.

A swimmer friend of mine, an ex college roommate, recommended my taking a masters swimming class, which is a class with an instructor who critiques your stroke and kicks your butt with a prescribed workout.

Long, boring intro almost over.

I went to my first masters swim class last night. I was so proud of myself for having taught myself to breathe on both sides (after many trials of sucking in water and coughing for minutes on end like an idiot)...

The first thing I learned is that I've been swimming farther than I thought, because I thought it was a 25-meter pool and it's a 25-YARD pool!!!

Thanks for sharing in my joy.

We did our warm-ups, 200 YARDS of freestyle, and the other two ladies went on to the workout, while the instructor called me over.

"I want to talk to you," she told me, finger waggling me her way.

"You're swimming box-like," she told me. "You need to imagine you're turning a big wheel and round out and stretch out your stroke."

I looked at her, not quite understanding.

"Here; I'll show you." And she did.

And I practiced another two laps stretching out my stroke turning a wheel.

"Better," she praised me.

I need praise.

I continued with the laps.

"Come 'ere," she waggled her finger once more.

I did as I was told.

"Swim toward me while I watch under water."

Again, I did as I was told.

"You're scooping your arms too far down in the water; you need to push back instead of down."

She demonstrated again.

Now I was practicing trying to push the water back closer to the surface rather than scooping down and around as I'd been taught as a kid.

I'll spare you the details, but by the end of the hour I had been corrected again and again so that I couldn't focus on all of the new forms simultaneously: push back closer to the surface, keep your elbows low, keep your butt up, skim your fingers closer to the water when you take a stroke, rotate your hand so that it's facing forward when you dig back into the water, stretch out your stroke longer and more round so that you're turning a metaphorical wheel... it was all a lot to remember....

I was grateful, though, for the advice; it's actually why I took the class. I knew my stroke sucked and that I needed some coaching. I think it's going to take awhile, though, for the changes to make it to my muscle memory...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

And the cat continues to hurl....

So... we just moved, which means I needed to find a new vet. I approached this challenge the same way I always approach a challenge to find the best of something. I google it. What in the world did we do before the internet?

I have to add that I REALLY liked my old vet; all of them were really laid back and down to earth, but I can't drive 45 minutes to the vet, especially since the cat hurls after approximately 3 minutes in the car. I'm not kidding. It's ridiculous.

So... I googled. I found a vet. I made my decision based on the pictures on the website... well, partly.

I had to take her for an updated vaccination, nothing more. A quick shot.

"Okay... so it's been awhile since she's had a complete exam," the receptionist tells me. "He'll do an exam before administering the vaccination."

I'm thinking... great. That's $50 bucks so he can look in her mouth and ears and tell me she's fine. But I don't say anything. I surmise that maybe they have to cover their asses since I'm - I mean she's - a new patient.

So I go in and meet the vet. He asks me how she's doing. I tell him she's fine and that she has a nasty habit of upchucking pretty often.

He embarks on a long-winded explanation of how evolution hasn't yet caught up with cats' diets. They're biologically still used to feasting on wild mice and other natural wild victims and manmade cat food just doesn't agree with them.

I can understand that, I think, although we humans don't wretch left and right and we have the same evolutionary issue...

He then looks into her mouth, which she despises.

"Ah.." he says with a disappointed look on his face. "Have you looked at her teeth?"

Now why the hell would I open my cat's mouth and look at her teeth?

"Nope," I answer.

"They really need brushing," he admonishes.

For crying out loud, I'm thinking. So how is it that cats haven't yet evolved quickly enough to master man-made food but they sure have evolved at lightning speed to need their teeth brushed by humans. That is ridiculous. At this point I'm thinking these people just see dollar signs when folks walk through the door.

I'm not so sure about this new vet... and my cat's teeth need brushing, apparently. Sucks for her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston bound! (oh, wait... I hafta pee...)

Being the overachiever I am, as soon as I realized that there was this marathon out there... the Boston marathon... for which one needed to qualify... well, that did it. No one was going to shut me out of a race because I couldn't run 26.2 miles fast enough.

So (never start a sentence with so), those of you who know me (and love me notwithstanding knowing me) or follow my long-lost blog are fully aware that I qualified for Boston last October.

Well, I done it. I done ran Boston. Not well, mind you, not as fast as I could, but part of that was on purpose so I could soak in all the excitement and part of that was due to my strained back, which began sending shooting pains down my legs starting at mile 17 and continuing past the finish. If it weren't for the throngs of yelling spectators I doubt I could have kept running... but on the Boston course... you just can't help it.

Guess who won the Boston? A Kenyan! Shocking! Americans Ryan Hall and Meb K. (an African turned American) were in the hunt but couldn't pull it out, coming in 4th and 5th respectively (although give Hall a break; he ran Boston faster than any other American ever has and the winner blew away the old course record). I think I know why Ryan didn't pull it out, though. Take a look at the photo. Here it is. Look. I'll wait. These are all AP photos, by the way. Just to give credit...

Did you look? What do you notice? Besides the fact that Ryan Hall is white and the others aren't. What else? Look again.

Still don't know? It's the hair. The Africans all have this smooth, aerodynamic doo, but not Hall. His HAIR is what's holding him back, I'm sure of it. He led the race for just about the entire first half, and I'm sure the Africans saved all kinds of energy just streaming behind his wall of hair blocking the wind. The hair just provides too much wind resistance. I'm sure if he had shaved his head he would've had it; I just know it. I'll suggest it to him next time I see him.

All kidding aside, what an awesome course and what awesome fans. Boston is so proud of this marathon, the sporting event 2nd only to the Superbowl in terms of media coverage. The entire race route is lined with people, but not just any people. People all ages, shapes and sizes who are busting their butts as hard as the runners are to encourage the runners... handing out water, beer, jelly beans, wet sponges, orange slices, m&ms, kisses, hugs, and most of all high fives. I think I high-fived every little kid in Boston, and I don't know whom it made happier: me or them.

I experimented with my motivation. Parts of the race I ran in the middle because (as my sister in law knows from having run a marathon with me) I like to stick the center of the road to avoid the slope; I found, however, that I was a lot more juiced running right next to the crowd and high fiving as many as I could.
The highlight of the day for me was the bus ride from the Boston commons out to the suburb of Hopkinton, MA where the race starts. A plethora of buses transport all of the runners from downtown Boston out to Hopkinton, and I found myself on one of them at 6:45 am headed west on a crowded school bus out to Hopkinton on interstate 90. After about an hour on the bus, still on the interstate, the guy in front of me, sporting a Brazil hat and a Brazil shirt and presumably from Brazil (although that's not really important), got up from his seat and crouched mysteriously next to the bus driver. A few minutes later the bus pulled to the side of the road and the Brazilian got out, walked to the edge of the interstate by the woods, and peed. He peed and he peed and he peed and he peed. Then he peed some more. The man had to pee and had to pee badly. Everyone on the bus shared the same conundrum. Do we stare or try to give him privacy? As the poor man jumped back on the bus, he thrust his hands into the air, looked up, and yelled "YES" in triumph. This was a very relieved man (pun intended). The busload of people applauded and whooped and hollered. We were very happy for this man and his empty bladder.
Subject change without transition: On my long runs weekend mornings I sometimes see people wearing the Boston marathon jacket; there's an official Boston marathon running jacket every year (whose design changes). I always stared at the jacket wearer with jealousy. "Ooh. Mr. fast runner. Aren't you cool? Got the boston jacket, huh? Think you're fast, huh?" Now I have mine.

Yeah, the color is kinda icky, but at least the drivers will see me as they look up from texting.