Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good things come in tiny packages!

I'm in love. I mean the kind of love they talk about in bad teenage novels, or vampire books. Love at first sight. How could I not be. Look at him. Just look at him. This might be the cutest thing I have ever, ever seen.

I've asked for a pony many, many times in my life. It was the standby as a child. "Mom, can I have a pony?" The answer was always the same. "NO". I resorted to asking Santa each year as I sat on his lap at Payless Drug Store. He never said "no", but then each Christmas morning I woke up sans pony. As I got older, the recipient of my question changed from my parents to my husband. But the answer was always the same "no".

Now comes this little guy. I bet Sean might not even notice for a while. He could live in the back yard and until hop harvest season comes around, Sean wouldn't even notice. Heck, he could keep the grass down back there. I envision him prancing across the lawn to greet me when I come home each day. I would put his halter on and we would go for a trail run together after work. I could let the little neighbor children put their dolls on him for pony rides. Why I could have him for a class pet. Oh, the possibilities are so endless. All I know is that I could give him the very best pony life ever!

So tonight as I gaze at the photos of the most adorable creature ever, I channel Miss Veruca Salt, "I want the tiny little pony, please husband, I want the tiny little pony right now".

(photo from here click for more photos)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Battle of the Wills

I'm a pacifist by nature. I don't like conflict. I would go so far as to say I hate conflict and so I generally avoid it like the plague. Not to say that I'm above it by any fashion. No, I'm more of a good old fashioned passive aggressive aficionado. I've mastered it to an art form. Not something I'm remotely proud of, but quite frankly I learned from some truly gifted masters, so it is my go to when I don't know what else to do.

So imagine my surprise as I've found myself right in the thick of battle. Over the past week I've battled with children over all sorts of issues (and for the record, don't battle with children, you never, ever win). I've battled with the dog and I don't even know why he has been so annoyed with me and I've battled with my schedule to no end. But the epic battle of late seems to be with "will".

Here is how that battle seems to go "Will I be able to run today?", "Will my IT band cramp up like a super ball?" "Will my shins take another day of pounding?", and the mac daddy of all my questions "Will I be able to even run in this 1/2 marathon?"

For the better part of the past couple of weeks, I've pushed that question to the side and continued to push my way through. I've found a great trail right by my work and a sucker willing to run it with me (kidding Laura), which helps on the days that the battle centers around my insane work hours. While I have given up and flown the white flag on the original downloaded training plan and miles schedule, I have gotten at least 3 days of running in a week.

I have subjected myself to some of the most horrific pain ever, disguised as a "sports massage" in an attempt to bust up the knots in my "hammies" as my massage therapist calls them ( hey does that mean my legs resemble pork products?) and get me back out on the trails again.

I've given up my fruity alcohol drinks in exchange for lemon ice water in an attempt to keep me hydrated and on my game. And what have I got to show for all of this? Not much. Not much at all. Except the paradox of feelings of pride for sticking with it and trying so hard and the pangs of doom over the idea that this is still so far from where I need to be. So what does one do when they feel like they are in over their heads? Why we call for reinforcements of course. We call in the big guns. In my case that would be Sean. How interesting that a conversation that seemed so innocent would help me locate a superpower even greater than I imagined.

When I shared my concerns with Sean he informed me that I would be fine. Ok, that sounds innocent enough and it would have been had it stopped there. Oh, dear husband how much you could have saved yourself had you just stopped there. He then pointed out that I "just needed to stick with the schedule". Um, I can't stick with the schedule, my body can't take that many days in a row of running. Ok, well then you "better up your mileage so you are at least getting in the number of miles you need to be at in order to keep to the schedule". That damn schedule again. I curse the day I printed it out. He then went on to insert the last nail in his own coffin and let me know that "if I didn't think I could do it, I should contact the race so I can let them fill my spot with someone on the waiting list". Oh, grasshopper what have you done? You should have stopped with fine, you had me at "you'll be fine".

In steps the super hero "Passive Aggressive Girl". And what does she do? Why she does nothing of course. Literally, says nothing, for the next hour. This is her arena. Her specialty! She goes on with her day seething to herself, "why doesn't he notice how much stronger I've gotten? " "Why doesn't he see how regularly I have been running?" "Why doesn't he notice how far I've come from where I was?" "How about a nice serving of wow, you're a rock star!" And then I realize as I'm fuming at him for what he hasn't noticed, that it doesn't matter anyway. I noticed! Maybe I didn't before, but I do now. I don't need any reinforcements, I am my own reinforcement. Passive Aggressive Girl saved the day. (Look, this is my blog, my strategy. Could I have solved this much easier in a more direct manner? Probably, but who cares I'm not talking about that right now)

Oh, and as for my spot at the race? Sorry wait listers, I think I'll be saving that spot for myself.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Will work for Garmin!

Today I learned why fairy tales are not true. It started out innocently enough. It's Sunday. My long run day. I check my schedule and is says I'm supposed to run 6 miles today. Six miles? Yikes, that seems very far to me. I realize that I am also planning a run with my friend Kate today. Well, good I think to myself, the miles will be less painful with my friend! Yay for the girlfriend run!

However, Kate and I haven't run six miles before other than our 10k we ran last summer. We have already made plans to meet at our regular spot which is a 1.6 mile loop. We usually do two to get just over three miles in. I'm running through scenarios in my head about how I could go early and get in extra miles, or stay late and get in another loop or two. I think I've got it all worked out in my head. No problem. I decide that I'll run with Kate as far as she wants to go today and then I'll do another lap after to get my longer run in.

So we start running and Kate is a rock star today. We are setting a new record heading into our third lap before we take a break at the bridge so Maggie May can get a swim in to cool down. It is at this point where I have the genius idea to turn around and retrace my path and meet up with them going the opposite direction. I figure this is how I'll get my extra miles in. Clearly the oxygen to my brain was thin at this point.

I strap on my ipod (my new strategy to drown out the voice in my head) and select my AC/DC motivation and start running. I pick up the pace to see if I still can. I then begin to see the flaws in my thinking. First, I have no idea how far I have gone up to this point. My mind begins to wander to what if I didn't know where I was. I remember the popcorn trail left by Hansel and Gretel and chuckle at the fact that I have passed no less than 15 dogs on my run today, all of whom would be happy to snack on my popcorn trail. Not that popcorn would help me determine the number of miles I've gone at this point anyway.

Now I'm sure some graduate student could come up with a master's thesis based on the number of pieces of popcorn I'd need to begin with and the rate and spacing at which I'd need to drop them to determine the mileage I'd gone for the day. None of this is going to help me though. Neither is my good old Iron Man running watch I have on my wrist. I know I've been running for an hour and I know I've gone more than three laps and I know that I'd like some popcorn and a coke right about now. Still I have a head full of useless information and no idea where I'm at.

How did I end my run? I kept going. I met Kate about 2/3 of the way around going backwards from how we started. I then turned around again and jogged back down the path again headed towards the car. So did I make 6 miles? No, I'm positive I didn't do that. I might have made 5 with my back and forth trek, but I just don't know for sure. What I do know is that my little low tech days of my digital watch and a pocket full of wishes and fairy dust aren't going to get me a hill of beans in this training program.

So tonight as I drift off to sleep, I hope my fairy godmother brings me a Garmin!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Trail Confessions

Today we received the e-mail confirmation for "The Dirty Half". Not that the cashing of the check wasn't enough to get our ticket for the clue bus that we actually did in fact get in. Now it is "officially" official. I'm excited. Well, let's not go that far, let's say I'm cautiously optimistic at this point. But that is a far cry from where I was last week at this time. I'm putting in my miles and meeting with my new found hero Olivia to teach me some tricks of the trade to keep my legs working properly. The ability to finish this is no longer my fear. My biggest fear is that I have to do it alone.

When I first decided this would be a good idea I had managed to lasso two of my boot camp buddies to run it with me. We all sent in our entry forms and waited for the news. Well, I thought we all sent them in. Turns out they pulled a fast one on me and did not send theirs in. So now it is just me and Sean. Sean won't even be in the same wave start as me (when he runs it actually looks like running), so it is just me, myself and I running in wave three. Yes there will be others there, but not "my" others.

Running is labeled as an individual sport. Iron Maiden immortalized the concept in their epic ballad "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner". Talk to almost any runner and they will tell you about the work or personal problems they solved while on a run. They love the solace they feel while running, the peace, the clarity, the centered nature of the run. I've heard of it, I admire it, I would love to experience it! But there is one small problem, just one minute detail.....I hate running alone. I hate it so much that I never do it. Seriously you say?" Seriously" I answer. NEVER.

Now you might wonder how one who is surrounded by 30 needy voices chirping endlessly for 7 hours a day could possibly hate running alone. I've tried it, I really have. Sean talks about the peace of the trails and the calm productive nature of his thoughts during his runs. I think he must be high. Here is what happens in my head "why are you breathing like that?" "Are we even moving?" "How much longer do I have to do this?" "How far have I gone?" "What do you mean I've only run 1 mile?" You can imagine how it might go down hill from there. Am I proud of my record setting self-loathing? No I'm not, but at 41 it's a little late to be changing the tape loop in my head. It started back in the days of the 8 track and parachute pants and hasn't really ever changed. It is what it is. What I love, what I crave is the run with my girlfriends.

It amazes me the intimacy of the miles I run with friends. Something about being out there together makes it ok to open up and just share. As the worries about work, life, love, pets and family spill out onto the trail, we gain strength, energy and renewal and somehow come back better than we left. I have ran through the shared loss of parents, pets and friends. I have made new friends, exorcised my demons and shared my hopes and dreams. I've learned to believe in myself more than I ever thought I could, by simply spending an hour or so on a wooded trail with some amazing people. The miles pass quickly and that tape is put on pause for the time we are out there.

So now I am faced with the need to start putting in some miles solo. It terrifies me, alone in my own head for two plus hours. Yikes! Maybe this needs to be the topic of discussion when I meet my girl friends for our weekend run. I have the feeling I'm going to need their help on how to solve this one.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shoe confessions

It is no secret that I'm a shoe whore. I wear that fact proudly like a badge of honor. There are more pair of shoes in my closet than anything else. I've got my personal favorites but they are all beautiful in their own right. Lately though, my beautiful shoes have sat idle in their boxes not to see the light of day. My daily shoes have become of the hideous Mrs. Bates sensible variety.

Why do I torture my fashion sense with these boring shoes? Because I need my favorite shoes to be able to work their magic! What are these ruby red slippers I speak of? They are my running shoes. They are blue and silver, or at least they used to be. They don't take me to OZ when I click them together, yet they do take me up and down muddy trails which is beginning to feel like home.

Until last week. I think that my favorite pair of shoes are wearing out. This concept terrifies me. Why would a self proclaimed shoe whore be upset by the prospect of having to gasp-purchase new shoes you ask? Because I spent the better part of the past 10 years on the quest for the perfect running shoes. I am plagued by shin splints. I've battled them since my high school Cross Country days. That is, until I purchased my Saucony Pro Grid Stabil GS last October. Those babies were heaven on my feet from the first run I took in them which happened to be the MacForest 15k Run. Never, ever had I experienced a stitch of pain in them until last week. They carried me through and ankle injury and literally thousands of stairs in addition to many miles on the wet winter trails. But now my old injuries are reappearing and I'm guessing that my magical shoes are no longer magical.

Now I must purchase a new pair. Of course I want the same shoes, but herein lies the problem. Running shoes are notoriously changed, tweaked and adjusted to a new model twice a year. That means my dream shoe of last season may very well no longer be available this season. However, since I have no choice, I have to throw caution to the wind and move that mouse and just order a new pair and hope for the best. Oh I just found out they come in ruby and silver. That's got to be a good sign. Click, click, click. Maybe I'll name them Dorothy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Love the one you're with!

This is Rogue, my faithful border collie of the past 5 1/2 years. (give or take a month or two) Today I took him to the vet to check to see if he had an ear infection, which he in fact did. After about fifteen minutes of poking and prodding, a nail trim and a chunk of my paid down credit card, were were out the door. A bag full of meds and a grumbling dog mama hopped into the car and drove home. I met my mom for lunch and we swung by Animal Crackers, my favorite store which just so happens to be owned by one of my favorite people! But I digress from my story.

While in Animal Crackers I ran into a dog which was the spitting image of my border collie "Lucky 13". I kid you not, this dog looked exactly like her. It took my breath away. Lucky was my 13th anniversary gift from Sean and the light of my life for the two short years that we had her. She died of a crazy aggressive form of cancer that took her away from us. I don't think we ever really recovered from that. While watching "Rosie" her twin dog, I had what my arch nemesis Oprah would refer to as an "Ah ha" moment. Curse you Oprah. I'll call it an epiphany instead.

What I realized is that I have spent the past 5 years wishing that Rogue was Lucky and quite frankly being annoyed with him that he isn't. He is not dainty and graceful. He is a bull in a china shop. He isn't smart as a whip, he is dumb as a post. OK, not dumb as a post but rather, less brilliant than a border collie should be. And he is a genetic nightmare. Rogue should never have lived at all. He has had one health crisis after another in his short 5 years of life. And yet as I thought back to our early visit to the vet this morning he was just a happy to be at the vet and see all his vet pals as if we had been at a free demo day at the doggy cookie house. He loves everyone. (well, almost everyone and we are working on that one) He is always happy to do just about anything and always game for something new.

I was born with horrible health problems too. I spent the first five years of my life in and out of hospitals and surgeries, probably making my parents crazy too. I bet they never once said "Jeez, why did we have to get this defective kid, I sure wish she was different than this". So as of right now I will stop comparing him to Lucky or any other dog we've had prior to him and start enjoying him for the dog he is. I'm going to start right now by taking his freshly trimmed nails out for a lovely mud bath trail run. To quote that horrible song from the 70's:

If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with! Normally I don't advocate that type of thing, but I think I really should take a cue on this. Now off to dirty some paws.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Be the Monkey

As a kid I was a total monkey. I spent most recesses going back and forth across the monkey bars. I could climb to the top of all the jungle gym equipment and hang for an entire recess without giving it a second thought. I did spins on my knees and would hang upside down for a penny or lemon drop. Now the only time I see a lemon drop is when I order one at Big River. And while if I drink enough of them I could possible fall down, there isn't much jungle gym monkey time in my life.

Until today. Today in boot camp I learned that monkey bars are nothing like riding a bike. It isn't something that you just get back on and do and your body doesn't forget how. Nope, not even close. While I used to be able to cruise back and forth on those things for the full thirty minute recess, now I can't even last thirty seconds. When I say I couldn't last thirty seconds, I'm not kidding. I couldn't last 15 seconds. Oh hell, let's just throw out the pride and admit I was good for about 10 seconds and one pull up. Oh holy hell, what has happened to that carefree monkey girl.

So now I am a woman on a mission to reclaim my inner monkey. I want to see those bars and cruise across effortlessly like I did back at Wilson Elementary School. Or at least, last longer than 10 seconds the next time Shandra decides that pull ups and hangs would be a good idea. Nope, if I could do it then, I can do it now. How will I train for this epic rematch? Well, this is where once again, my job is my playground. Literally. So look out 3rd graders, there's a big kid coming out to play. See the monkey, feel the monkey, be the monkey!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The check's in the mail!

Damn it. They cashed the damn check. I have been checking my e-mail daily for the past two weeks to get that confirmation e-mail I've been promised to let us know that we are in fact in "The dirty half" so that all this pain I'm putting myself through is worth it. However, each day, there has been no email and no posting of our names as registrants on the web site.

I get that the wheels of life turn slowly and the whole watched pot thing, so I figured that we just had to be patient and if it was meant to happen it would. But over the past couple of days as my aching body was rebelling against all the extra effort, a tiny little bulb had begun to shine in the back of my mind. "Maybe we were too late, maybe we won't get in". Maybe I can just slow this pony back down to the middle age crawl that I'm so damn good at. The whole rationalization process had started about why it's better that we didn't make it. I actually found myself smiling again. My consumption of Easter candy increased!

My new found bliss lasted exactly 48 hours. That is when I decided to check my bank statement and there right in front of me was the proof I'd been waiting for. They cashed the check. Oh crap, they cashed the check. Panic spread quickly like a bargain brand syrup on my breakfast pancakes. Now I have to go through with this thing. They've got my money and my pride. There is no way out but across the finish line. Stupid Internet banking. I could have lived in bliss for another 28 days waiting for this month's statement information back in the pony express postal days.

So tomorrow I will be placing my running shoes back by the door and two blue peeps in my pre run snack bag. Good thing the Easter Bunny predicted this dilemma and hooked me up with several weeks worth of Peep goodness. I'm gonna need it. Should I be annoyed that he hooked Sean up with beer? Somehow, this just doesn't seem fair! Oh well, bring on week 2 of the training plan.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Say hello to my little friend!

Spring is here. Oh yes, Spring is here!

How do I know spring is here? Is it my tulips in the front beds? Is it the occasional sighting of the sun in the sky? Is it the temperature of the raindrops or the adorable frolicking lambs in the fields? Nope, none of those even comes close. It's all about the arrival of my favorite fluffy treat. It's PEEP SEASON!

My friend Erin is horrified by my love of peeps. She has even gone so far as to say some really awful things about my fluffy little friends. But what she doesn't know is that I've loved PEEPS for longer than she has been alive. So step aside girlfriend, my loyalty lies with the chick. (Or the bunny, if I'm in a bunny sort of mood)

Now some people are Peep purists. They only eat the chicks and they only eat them in yellow. I do not fall in this camp. I am a semi-purist. I guess it stems from my Episcopal background. Not as dedicated as the Catholics, but a close second right? I believe that all Peeps are created equal. I love the chicks in all colors (although I am partial to the blues this year for reasons I'll explain soon) and I love the bunnies too. While normally purple are my favorite, I have very much enjoyed the orange this year as well. However, while not a purist, I am a Peep traditionalist. I do not believe in Peeps in other seasons. I've seen them in hearts, bats, baseballs and Christmas wreaths. That is where I draw the line. Peeps are meant to signify spring and should not be taken in vain and bastardized to fit other holidays purely for profit. No, they are an Easter/Spring candy only. While I will be more than happy to purchase extra and save them to make s'mores in the summer, I will not purchase the summer version. Nope, it's chicks, bunnies or nothing!

Now Peeps have ALWAYS been my favorite Easter basket treat. I'd willingly trade my sister peanut butter eggs and hollow chocolate rabbits for her peep stash. But it wasn't until last night that I truly experienced the magic of the Peep.

I have been trying for months to break the 36 minute mark for doing the Bald Hill loop. Try as I might I could never, ever get faster and quite frankly it seemed that I was slowing down. So last night when Sean came home and said "Let's go run" I was less than excited about the prospect. So as an act of defiance I popped two blue peeps in hopes of claiming I just ate and blame my slow time on that. Well, those little peeps powered me through and like a biggest loser contestant, I shattered through the 36 and skipped right to the 34:10 mark. And I owe it all to my little blue friend. Yes, I know men over 40 can say that same sentence but maybe, just maybe there is something to the blue.

Mmmmm Peeps, my own performance enhancer..wonder if I can order a case?