Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's That Time Again

It's the week before Thanksgiving, which for me means something a little different. That means its running season again. I'm a distance runner, but I'm kind of soft about it. What that means is that running 13.1 miles is hard. It takes a lot of effort, and it takes a huge toll on your body-sore muscles, aching joints, nausea and intestinal problems, blisters, bleeding nipples, and toenails that fall off, just to name a few things. At a calorie burn of about 100 a mile, a half marathon burns just over 1300 calories in only a couple of hours. So I figure if I'm going to torture myself that much, I shouldn't feel too bad if I'm not a beast about it. I mean, really. If I can run 13.1 miles, should I really have low feelings of self esteem if it takes me two and a half hours, instead of two or, lord forbid, one and a half? And if there's a hill at mile 10 (what sadistic jerk face would place a hill near the end of a 13 mile run? I guess the guy that picks the course figures he has very little risk of getting the crap kicked out of him by runners who can barely stand anymore, so why not have a little mean spirited fun?), why should I feel bad for slowing to a snails pace while I trudge to the top?

And, in that spirit, I wait until the coldest months of the year to run races. All summer long, I see nut jobs trotting down the road in 100 degree heat. Why? There are treadmills in air conditioned gyms where you can watch tv and drink ice water as your feet while away the miles. Others beat the heat by lacing up at the butt crack of dawn. Ugh! Why do you people hate sleep? Save the outdoor running for when the air conditioner outside is going full speed. Sleep in, then strap on the tennies when you're fully rested and go enjoy the crisp fall air. 

That's what I'm talking about. I'm running six races this year, from one coast to the other. Yes, some of them will involve rain, snow, sleet and freezing temps. My toes wil go numb and my chill bumps will have chill bumps. But when you start moving and the blood starts pumping, the cold is refreshing. The energy shot and pickles I have for breakfast will power me through the miles and across the finish line. And the sense of accomplishment when they put that medal around your neck is unlike anything else. So happy Thanksgiving everyone. Eat, drink and be merry. And afterwards, while most folks are loosening their belts, I'll be running that turkey, dressing and pie right back off of my hips. I know I'm nuts. But I'm not as bad as I could be.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting Busy

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a procrastinator. Everyone has those things they put off until they absolutely have to do them, right? I mean, if I ignore it long enough, it will either get in my face and scream at me to get it done or it will go away. And then I have avoided doing something that didn't need doing.
The problem with me is that I don't procrastinate to keep from doing things. I procrastinate because I'm too busy doing other things (and to be fair, because I get diverted by things that are more interesting). I have no less than six home improvement projects going right now. My daughter told my husband to promise not to let me start any more until I finished the ones that are half done. My husband, being one of the smartest men I know, wouldn't agree to that. He said he figured telling me "no" was a good way to end up on my bad list. He was probably right.

So I end up pulled in a dozen different directions with home improvement projects, gardening, running races, trying new recipes (I'm NOT giving up baking) work and writing. Which means stuff falls off my radar screen. As a writer, this is a problem. I've written many things, some published, some self published and most, as you've probably guessed, half finished on my computer. And then there's the social media aspect of writing, which means a blog, a Twitter account, a Linked In account, Facebook, and of course, just having the account doesn't help. You have to interact. Now don't get me wrong. I love to interact. I'm a serious chatterbox. My hairdresser and manicurist love me. When my daughter comes to visit, her boyfriend and my husband have resigned themselves to not getting a word in edgewise. And that's despite the fact that my husband isn't exactly a conversational lightweight.

But finding time to use all the social platforms, to interact with everyone on each with an acrobat's careful balance of useful information, engaging personality and just a hint of promotion (the social media witch's brew that, according to experts, will explode if not mixed correctly-or at least it will render itself completely pointless), is hard to maintain with so many other things tapping on my shoulder. This is especially true considering that Twitter has become a litany of "buy my awesome book" tweets interspersed with some philosophy and a few tweets with daily agendas that include everything from the announcement that the morning coffee has been consumed to the update on the weekly grocery shopping. By the time you wade through all of it to find something you can actually interact with, half the day is gone. Plus it makes playing on the computer seem an awful lot like work. 

I know, whine, whine, whine. Guess it's time to stop procrastinating and get busy. Think I'll spend a few hours on Pinterest. Maybe then I'll feel like I've accomplished something....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Must Love Dogs

I was never a dog person growing up. I liked them, I just wasn't over the top about them. When my daughter was 10, I got her this cute little poodle that fit in the palm of my hand. She's twenty now, and that dog goes everywhere she goes. I got really attached to the little guy when she moved off to college and he didn't. He followed me around the house, lay down on the rug near me when I sat down at the dining room table, sat in my lap on the couch and slept on the pillow next to me. And then she got an apartment and he went to live with her.

My then-fiance and daughter were sure I was going to miss him terribly when he moved out (and I did), so they conspired to get me a little white fuzzball that I ended up naming Bear. Bear is a Bichon, a little bit poodle, and mostly human, with big, expressive brown eyes. He will be two next month. But, other than the fact that he is now a bigger white fuzzball, you would never guess.

My daughter's dog, at ten, is a sweet curmudgeon that mostly sits, snuggles and watches the world go by. Not so with Bear. Bear is a warp speed dog. I let him out into our fenced in yard, he runs out the door. He runs five or six laps before he stops to do his business, and even then, the slightest sound will send him into another frenzy of "drive bys". I open the door when it's time to come in, and he blows by me fast enough that the leaves in the yard follow him in. He chases sticks and balls and the two cats that live in the yard (the one that lives inside has taught him to leave her alone--that was a hard lesson for him). I'm a distance runner, and I wouldn't dare try to keep up with him when he's going at full speed.

Inside, he's never far away. When there is  more than one person in the house, he makes the rounds, constantly checking up on everyone to make sure he isn't missing out on something fun. Especially when my mother comes to visit. She brings chicken cookies. He really likes her. When I come home from a trip, he tears in from the next room and twists, turns, wiggles and barks, trying in his own doggie way to express how excited he is to see me. And, bless him, when my husband lays down, exhausted after a hard day, that's Bear's cue. It's time to play. Wherever he might be, he stops what he's doing, leaps up on the bed, grabs my husband's wrist in his teeth and growls playfully. And who can resist those big, hopeful brown eyes? My husband always gives in, and Bear growls, gnaws, twists and jumps until my husband has had enough. And then Bear gives him a "hug", dives under the covers and stretches out next to him until my husband falls asleep, then moves over to sleep between my feet.

So why was I never a dog person before? I have no idea! I never realized what I was missing. I can't imagine life without the little mophead. He's a happy, sweet little bright spot. And I'm glad I have seen the light.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Running New Year’s Resolutions

Okay, so I think it is a requirement that we all make New Year’s resolutions, whether we really intend to keep them or not. I used to give up cigarettes. I have never smoked, so I figured that would be an easy one to keep—kind of defeats the purpose, I guess, but it made me feel like I was on the bandwagon.

This year, I decided to go in a different direction. Like, make a for-real resolution. The problem is that I tend to make decisions in clusters, and before I know it, I’ve bitten off a lot more than I can chew. I was on the phone with my daughter this morning, and realized that I was probably getting ready to do it again.

For those of you who have followed along, you will know that I got married and moved to another city about a year and a half ago. It was the best decision of my life. My husband is literally the most wonderful guy on the planet and I’m enjoying my new life tremendously. However. It did mean a pretty drastic routine change. I used to keep a stringent diet and a religious 6pm running schedule. Not so much anymore. I’ve put on a few pounds and allowed my running schedule to become a little more haphazard than it used to be.

On the flip side, I ran 4 half marathons last year so it’s not like I let everything go completely. So I decided my resolutions would be small adjustments. Back on the diet. Back on the regular training schedule. And my daughter has me convinced that minimalist running shoes are better for me, reduce injury, build muscle, etc., so the new running shoes my husband got me for Christmas are part of the training. Plus I’m running my next half the first week in March, and illness and irregular training set my time on my last two half marathons way under what it should have been. I’m going to work on regaining my speed. And fix my running style (I’m a heavy heal striker, which is causing ankle issues. So I’m trying to lengthen my stride and land on the balls of my feet).

This was where I started seeing my problem. I have to reduce my calorie intake, totally change the way I run, eliminate the support in my shoes so that my legs feel like I’m beating them after a mile, and all the while increase my speed. Over 13.1 miles. When I put it all together, it sounds a little daunting. And I thought I was going easy on myself. This is why people give up on resolutions.

Think I’ll give up cigarettes this year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stargazing and the Big Bang Theory

I love Big Bang Theory. I have a brother who is a computer engineer, another brother who is a design engineer, and a daughter who is currently knee deep in physics, organic chemistry and cell biology. I remember lunch with my brother and his wife one time when they were laughing about her dressing up as a “bucky ball” for Halloween (think Sheldon and the Doppler Effect). Between them all, I have a family full of Doctor Who loving, Battle Star Galactica watching, World of Warcraft playing, Magic card collecting, Dragon Con attending (in full costume) nerds. No one has a Star Trek uniform in their closet, but I think my sister-in-law would probably love to have one.

I have always been a bookworm, but I never considered myself a full blown nerd. I always thought I was on the fringes, watching my brothers nerd out from a close – but safe – distance. I like Star Trek and Star Wars. I love the Lord of the Rings movies and the Avengers. And I love video games. In fact I try to stay away from them because I get so addicted to them I can’t put them down. I’m pretty good with math and science. But my brain won’t wrap around physics. I don’t get it. I used to think you could sacrifice a chicken and draw some physics equations on the floor and you would be at risk of summoning demons. And I like shoes, purses and going to the beach.

Then along came Big Bang Theory. I watch reruns with my husband every night. It’s hilarious, and we both love it. I always think “they nailed it,” because my brothers are JUST LIKE THAT, especially my younger one. But what I didn’t realize was how many times I get the references. Like, every one that doesn’t have something to do with a convoluted physics principal. So when I saw there was going to be a meteor shower last night, it occurred to me that I might not be at the safe distance I thought I was. I love stargazing. I told my husband about it, and mentioned that I was a real nerd about things like that. His response was, “Baby, you shouldn’t limit yourself that way.” My husband is a real wit. It’s one of the things I love about him.

When I was finished laughing at him, I realized he’s right. My nerdiness isn’t limited at all. I guess it took someone who isn’t even close to being a nerd to see it. On the other hand, he indulges me. When I told him I wanted to get out of bed in the middle of the night and go lay out in the yard, in the cold, to watch the meteors, his response was, “Sure. I’ll get out the electric blanket.” So he dutifully got up at 1:30 this morning, put the blanket on the ground, and we watched shooting stars for an hour. The cat wondered what the heck we were doing, but once she realized the blanket was really warm, she curled up next to us and didn’t complain.  

It was wonderful. We saw dim meteors and bright ones, short tails and long ones, slow moving streaks and fast ones, all over the sky. And my husband enjoyed it, too. He said to let him know when the next meteor shower came through, and we would do it again.  As dates go, it rates as one of the most unique and memorable ones I’ve ever had.

Quiet time under a blanket with the husband watching the stars. Hmm. I’m good with that. Go nerds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving again. It seems like it has only been about two weeks since last Thanksgiving. The older I get, the more that seems to happen. So anyway, this is when we are supposed to take the time to stop and count our blessings. Here are mine (in no particular order):

1. I have the most fabulous husband in the world.  He treats me like a princess, is absolutely my soulmate, and I love him dearly.
2. I am blessed with a successful, smart, amazing daughter and two wonderful stepchildren that I enjoy tremendously.
3. My parents are both still alive and in good health. I have an 87-year-old grandmother who is in perfect health and still lives alone.
4. I have a job that I love and I can't imagine doing anything else.
5. I have a group of friends that are there for me when I need them, whether it is to laugh, cry or work.
6. I have been to some of the most amazing places in the world and have some incredible memories.
7. There are Big Bang Theory reruns on almost every night.
8. I am in the best shape of my life and just ran my fourth half marathon.
9. I live in a place where I can think what I want, vote for who I want, and the fact that others may not agree with me is okay.
10. I don't eat Twinkies anyway.

I hope you have things to be thankful for, too, great or small. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mickey Mouse Is My Favorite Cheerleader

I admit it. I never grew up. At 42, I sometimes think my obsession with the mouse is something I was supposed to have outgrown. On the other hand, one of my closest friends just turned 60 and she has a time share at Disney World. Aside from the fact that I’m terribly jealous of her (she knows this!), it does make me feel a little more normal.

The Wine and Dine half marathon is this weekend, and I can’t tell you how pumped I am. I normally get happy over my races, but the Run Disney events are just a bit different. There is an energy that is indescribable. They have this way of combining music, fireworks, speakers, and atmosphere in a way that can get thousands of people charged and ready to go. Even if it is pre-dawn and freezing cold. You don’t even care.

My first ever race was a Run Disney 5k. I went down to Orlando by myself, ran my 3.1 miles, and told myself when I was done that I would be back for more. When my daughter decided she was ready to run half marathons with me, I signed us up for the Disney marathon weekend. We ran the 5k one morning and the half the next (we actually felt guilty for not running the marathon the day after that—which is partially what inspired us to sign up for the marathon at the end of the year). We had a blast. Of course, we had a finish goal, so we didn’t take the time to stop  and enjoy the scenery, but we smiled, pointed and enjoyed ourselves tremendously as we ran past.

Wine and Dine takes it one step further. It’s at night! I’m a night owl by nature, so I can’t tell you how much that means to me.  I’ve never run a night race before, and I’m so excited. Of course, we’ve had a little bump in the road. My daughter has been having hip strain issues, so she slowed her training a bit to let it heal. She said the other day she should be fine to run/finish, but we won’t be setting any PR’s this time. This is my 4th half marathon, so I told her that was fine by me. We agreed that means we get to stop and take pictures this time around. I hope that means I’ll have some great Facebook photos when I get back.

So if you have plans to run the Wine and Dine this weekend, we'll see you there. We'll be the ones near the back with the camera. Wave at us as you run past!