Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crunching and boy/girlfriends

The 6 year old continues to entertain, even as he tackles adult topics. Yesterday, when his brother and sister were teasing T. about A., a little girl on his team for whom he seems to have a soft spot, being his girlfriend, he said quite seriously that he's not "crunching" on her. Quite the contrary. She's "crunching" on him. God bless first graders who don't even know the word is "crush" not "crunch."

And the older two had a bit of a matter of fact and disturbing to dad conversation about future boyfriends or girlfriends. R. wanted to know when she would be old enough to babysit T. without older brother W. around. Without waiting for an answer, she announced that it wouldn't be until W. had a girlfriend and was out with her. I thought hubby was going to choke on his pizza. He nearly had a coronary when W., instead of arguing that he was never going to have a girlfriend, said that R. would have a boyfriend by then too. I just laughed. My babies are getting older and starting to become aware of the opposite sex, or at least of the fact that older kids are actually interested in the opposite sex. Where has the time gone?!


I went to volunteer for my very first shift at the elementary school library. I had very little to do; so little I wonder why they have a volunteer shift during the time I was there. I checked in about 6 books, checked out about 3 (and admittedly forgot to stamp them with the due date stamp--I guess it's hard to hire good help these days and I recommend they dock my pay immediately!), straightened *all* the shelves in the library and then stared off into space for an hour. I forgot to take a book with me in case of boredom. But I honestly didn't think I'd be bored. I mean, how can a bookaholic be bored silly in a library? And I have to add that I can see why my kids don't love to check books out at school. The books we own are far more appealing. Is it a rule that library binding means dull and uninspiring looking? Yes, yes, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But we all do and I have to say that grimy, neutrally colored books are not a draw at all. Even worse, I have more of the currently popular books than the library does, unless every last one of them was checked out. Such a disappointment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mupdate #6 (9/27/08)

It’s officially taper time. After a very soggy 20 mile run, I am now “marathon ready.” If you were waiting for this announcement to donate, get yourself to my website (http://pages.teamintraining.org/mi/nikesf08/kknox1n5c2) and get on it. No more dithering!

I was very nervous about running the 20 because it is the longest we run before the actual race. It’s also considered the “dress-rehearsal” for the marathon. And since conventional wisdom (is there really anything conventional about running a marathon?!) says that you shouldn’t do anything new for the race, this was the chance to try out clothing, drink, food, and pace without any penalties or pressure. I must admit I’m still wondering what the penalties would be but that’s because I am such a rule breaker. Bwahahahahaha! I won’t lie. Twenty miles was not easy. I felt better doing it than I thought I would but I remain a bit skeptical that I will cheerfully push on and do another 6.2 miles afterwards. The great and anonymous “everyone” says it is so though so I guess I’ll take it on faith and hope like crazy that “they” know of which they speak. Three weekends from now I’ll be testing that theory out. Nerve-wracking to know it’s that close!

So what did I learn from my 20-miler, you ask? Well, I am clearly a slow learner because I did some of the things I’ve already mentioned as no-nos in previous mupdates. For instance, who on earth didn’t learn her lesson about charging the iPod before a long run? Oh wait; that’d be me. Yes, despite learning the perils of a dead iPod with miles to go before I sleep way back in June, I completely ignored my own advice and trotted out without a full charge. Only slightly less than half my run was completed to the accompaniment of my own breathing, the pounding rain, and traffic shushing past. Not very entertaining, I might add. Oh, and before the iPod pooped out, I learned that running in the rain will cause the volume to slide up and down randomly, either because the rain was hitting the controls so hard (maybe it was my blazing speed that made the rain hit so hard) or because so much rain and sweat was dripping into it that the innards were going haywire. Either way, I alternated between being deaf from the volume and having to strain to hear even a whisper above the pounding on the pavement. Good times, I tell you.

I learned that there’s no such thing as too much Body Glide because whichever portion of your anatomy (and I’ll spare you the details—I know! Me, being circumspect. Note this date and write it down. The moon is blue tonight and hell has clearly frozen over) you do not liberally coat with this sticky deodorant-like stick will surely develop raw rubbed bits. If you’re like me, you will be lucky enough not to feel them until you get in the shower and the hot water stings the snot out of them, wherever they have happened to hide on your body. Good thing I do still have some old diaper rash ointment although when I use it I see people sniff at me surreptitiously given the ages of my children and the lack of a baby amongst them. Who knew that running would provide me with a great excuse to never purge through some of the ancient things in the medicine cabinet and by extension validate all the pack-ratted objects we have around here. Okay, maybe it doesn’t validate *all* of them, but I’m going to pretend it does.

I had the no meat the night before a long run bit of advice, which I think I only just wrote about less than a month ago, reinforced again today. I was quite content to only eat meatless pasta the night before but that just didn’t fit with the dinner I had sitting in the fridge so I ignored my own commonsense, tempted fate and luckily didn’t anger the poo gods too badly. I managed to finish the run and make it home before my body went into intestinal revolt. Of course, since I could tell what was coming like a freight train, I didn’t have time to stop and get my usual 4 bags of ice for my ice bath. This is a bigger crisis than having to wobble myself on shaking legs to the bathroom tout’suit when I got home because I didn’t get a decent ice bath and am now more than a little sore. The small amount of ice available in our freezer melted in mere minutes, leaving me sitting in my own lukewarm sweat rather than numbed into a blissful state where I didn’t care that I was sitting in my own sweat. And all because I had meat last night. Stubborn and stupid. Yep, that just about describes me.

Because the race will have different energy/food sources than I have been using on my runs, I knew enough to test them out before race day. See, even the ding-a-lings can learn if they listen really hard! So I went to the only store in all of metro-Charlotte than apparently sells the things and bought myself a bunch of packs. I like Gu (certain flavors) and other squeezy-type gel energy things. I like runner’s beans. I am not so sold on these Luna Moons things that they’ll be having at the race. These things are like gummy bears for the crazy running set. And I have to say, despite my sugar addiction, gummy bears have never been my candy of choice. The packages were hard to open (even kid fruit snack packs have a notched bit to make tearing into them easy) and I had to do what would make my dentist cringe: tear open the pack with my teeth. I was ravenous and so probably looked like a wild animal snarling and tearing into some poor picnicker’s supplies. Then these gummy moon-shaped fruity things (blueberry and watermelon were all I had) got stuck in my teeth and I spent at least the next miles trying to dislodge them but coming closer to sucking my fillings out instead. I will say that by the end of the run, I no longer cared what I was cramming in my mouth and would have cheerfully eaten dirt if I’d thought it would give me an energy burst so the moons will likely be fine. I do have to say I far prefer the chocolate Gu or the Honey Stinger gels to anything chewy though.

I know I’ve previously mentioned that it seems to rain on long runs when I wear a white shirt and this was no exception. You’d think I would have been smart enough not to wear white given that the forecast called for rain for several days. But no, I got cocky when I woke up and it wasn’t raining; put on the white shirt, and basically assumed that the promised storm had lasted a mere one day and had nicely passed through before this longest of runs. Well, clearly Murphy, of Murphy’s Law fame, is somewhere on a cloud laughing at me. Of all the times I have been rained on for a long run, this was one of the most torrential. In addition to having on a translucent shirt by about mile 3, I was also splashed up and down my legs with some of that charming Southern muddy red clay and had a small waterfall draining down my pony tail, along my spine, and into my shorts. I actually had to wring my shorts out at the end of the run. This didn’t help much as I noticed that I left a rather large, smeary, wet butt print on the seat at Panera, where the whole Team in Training group congregates after runs. It probably took a long time for anyone else to occupy that booth after we left it!

One of the most interesting results of all my long runs is a horrible build-up of salt on my contacts. Not only is it annoying to have to rub at my eyes constantly because of the stinging, but the salt actually accumulates to the point I am seeing through a huge blur. Maybe this is getting me ready for the potential of a foggy run in San Fran? Either that or it’s pushing me to Lasik surgery.

I have a new thing in my arsenal against my aching, protesting joints. I haven’t used my body pillow since I was hugely pregnant but I am finding it makes my hips feel ever so much better, just as it did then. This pillow has just been thrown on the bed behind the other, more decorative pillows since T. was born and it is another thing I contemplated throwing out when we moved. But just as with the diaper rash ointment, it has come in mighty handy lately. Even more justification to never throw anything away. You just never know when you’re going to lose your mind, sign up for a marathon, train like a crazy person, and need things that only gargantuan pregnant women or poopy babies need. Fun times I tell you!

Have you ever driven past runners and thought they were nuts? Well, I know I am one of them, especially after today. Here are a few of the ways to tell you’re officially a whacko runner:

1. You don’t even think twice about running in the rain. As a matter of fact, running in the rain generally helps dilute the sweat running into your eyes so in some cases it’s a welcome event. And if it promises to cut the heat, well, bring it on, baby!

2. You once wondered who in their right minds (and this may be the key distinction here) would be interested in running for hours. Now you are that person. You’re actually pleased when you look at the handy dandy GPS watch to find you’ve been running for 2 hours because it means you’re about half way through. And I suspect that it’ll be even longer than that for the race itself. I never liked to go that long without a decent meal before I started running (well, unless I was asleep—about the only thing in my world to trump eating). Now I’m out there food-less, unless you count the weird things runners nosh, for hours and hours and hours at a time, voluntarily even.

3. You find yourself referring to lengthy runs with the word “only” prefacing the mileage. When someone asks how far you’re running that day, the answer is “only 14 miles.” Yeah. There’s nothing “only” about 14 miles…ever. And if you think there is, you’re likely a marathoner or certifiable (although that is a bit of a redundancy). And in case anyone reading this cares, next weekend, I’m only running 14 miles. The following weekend, I’m only running 8 miles. It’s the weekend after that that things get impressive: a mere 26.2!

So I’m officially in the home stretch and get to start my taper. Hallelujah! I suspect the coaches would be unimpressed if I stretched out on the couch and just stayed there for the next three weeks (they are always telling us to stretch though!). Somehow I’m guessing that this is not what they mean by taper. Too bad because I could probably get addicted to some cool cooking or travel shows in that amount of time and I’m sure that minus the bed sores I’d develop, my body would be good and healed before the run after all that time on the couch. Good and healed, soft and out of shape—same difference. :-) Anyway, be thinking of me on October 19th. It’s time!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Charlotte meanderings

It's amazing how much nicer things look without ugly curtains blocking the view. (I finally found the oomph to take them down--still haven't tackled the boxes but I wouldn't want to over-extend myself.)

Does the south breed more blondes? Everyone here is blonde (and thin with flat tummies--as is they didn't actually birth their children). Ok, disingenuous question since it's clear that most of them pay for the blonde. But seriously, I've never seen so much blonde hair in all my life. Clearly I'll never fit in, although mother nature is ever so kindly turning me a shade of blonde too, white blonde.

Why is it completely impossible to find gas in this city? Every gas station I pass is out. And on rare occasions there is gas, there's a line into the street waiting for it. Plus two out of three cars seem to be SUVs so that isn't helping the gas situation here.

No one is from here. It's the complete opposite of Detroit where everyone has lived there since the year one. I think most of Michigan and Ohio's dwindling population now lives in Charlotte. I've never seen so many cars with Ohio State Buckeye stickers on them ever, not even in Columbus.

Off all the luck!

Here's hoping the weather forecasters are as on target as they usually are. Apparently a low system is supposed to move in this afternoon and start dumping rain, accompanied by winds up to 35 miles an hour. This charming weather front is supposed to sit on us until about Saturday afternoon. Guess who has to do her 20 mile run on Saturday morning? Yep. That's right. Me. The original drought buster. This could be the nastiest, most unpleasant "dress rehearsal" for the actual marathon ever. I might need to go buy myself a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes--unless the rain water helps dilute the sweat so I don't get the funky salt build-up on my contacts that make everything look foggy. At least once the 20 miler is finished, I'll officially be in taper!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Insecurity and the little things

As I made clear in my last post, I am a whiny, boring person so if you read this latest whine, you have no one to blame but yourself. You have been forewarned.

Am I the only person around who still has the completely insecure, not-popular girl from childhood (through high school) still lurking inside of me? OK, you probably don't have me lurking inside of you 'cause that would just be weird but you know what I meant even if I didn't present it with my usual erudition. ;-) I went to my tennis lesson yesterday and had a major flash of feeling left out. After the lesson, everyone else went off together and I was left to sulk my way home on my own. Gads I hate being the "new kid" in the neighborhood. Is it any wonder I can sympathize with my poor socially immature middle schooler?

Oh, and yesterday also pointed out another, little-considered inconvenience of moving. Not only do you have to find new doctors, change your mailing address, switch kids' schools, and other assorted big things. But you should also remember the small stuff; changing your Triple AAA membership to the proper state is one of those things. Because if you forget, you too will run over a nail and have to call them. And let me tell you, when you are busy skipping the school meeting you are supposed to be attending as a result (okay, so running over the nail wasn't *all* bad as it gave me a legitimate and pitiable excuse!), you definitely don't want to be shunted from one regional office to another in the organization. It's like playing telephone when you were small. Even though you explain the situation to each customer service representative you speak to, someone along the way (I suspect the first out-of-state person I connected with rather than the second or third) will garble the heck out of your address and your butt will be stranded for hours.

So if you are me, you can be both stranded and moping. Look out pantry--emotional ravishment ahead!

Status update as life encapsulated

Like so many other people I know, I have discovered the time sucking joys of facebook. Since I spend inordinate amounts of time on it, I thought it might be sort of interesting to see what my status updates say about me. Here are the ones I could pull up:

Kristen is starting to think this marathon training is for the birds.

Kristen is overwhelmed by the mess made by emptying all the moving boxes onto the floor.

Kristen is ridiculously thrilled to have her internet back.

Kristen is doing the carpool rounds.

Kristen is feeling smug she got 100% on the sixth grade grammar quiz at curriculum night.

Kristen is grateful the famous Carolina sun has gone into hiding today.

Kristen is likely to kill her oldest child today given the teacher's e-mail she just received.

Kristen is working on her latest "mupdate".

Kristen is stiff and achy after her 18 mile run this morning (just one 20 miler to go before taper time!!!)

Kristen is still in her jammies at dinner-time.

Kristen is annoyed Whitaker has lost his gym uniform a mere three weeks into school.

Kristen is eating crow.

Kristen is practicing splits with my daughter.

Kristen is having trouble shoe-horning my kids out of bed for school.

Kristen is wondering about the marketing genius who thought that saying their toilet paper left behind fewer bits was a good idea.

Kristen is hoping she's finished cleaning out the barf bucket for today.

Kristen is now stuck at home with a second sick child--here's hoping number three dodges the viral bullet.

Kristen is suffering from whatever the kids had.

Kristen is trying to catch up on everything she let slide this weekend.

Kristen is trapped at home with a flat tire and waiting for the AAA folks to come and pry the awfully tight lugnuts loose.

Kristen is thinking that running 6 miles followed by an hour tennis lesson may not have been the smartest choice.

Kristen is off to be indoctrinated in the proper uses of an elementary school library.

So what does this all say about me and my life? Apparently I am a lazy, whiny, boring person with rotten kids. Must work on this!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Inspirational stuff

When I ask folks for music or quotes or just plain pats on the back, they always come through. I sort of wonder about some of them, given what they come through with (Britney Spears? Really?) but I do love that people actually take the time to respond to my requests. So I thought I'd share the inspirational quotes that have thus far made their way into my little in-box. And because I'm me, I can't resist editorializing on them too.

"Pride is holding your head up when everyone else has their's bowed. Courage is what makes you do it." (Well, courage...or stupidity, one of the two.)

"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal." (Or they are the things you trip over, like curbs and speed bumps. Oh sorry, that's just my clumsiness showing again.)

"Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory!" (Bwahahahahahahahaha!)

"The only easy day was yesterday..." (Given that I lounged in my bed yesterday--sicker than sick--this is probably true. However, I suspect I won't be thinking this at all the day *after* the marathon.)

"If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got..." (I've only heard this one with regards to weigh loss. Sadly, as my too tight pants can attest, this one is all too true.)

And my personal favorite, because I am the queen of schadenfreude: "Misery loves company." (Why else would I like running in a group?! If I have to suffer, I want others to come along for the ride!)

As cynical as I've made this post seem, I do love the encouragement though, so keep it coming, unless you encourage like my mother, who asked if I was going to lose all control of my bowels and continue running anyway because I'd forgotten to care there was cr@p ooshing down my legs. With this kind of familial backing, is it any wonder I am the way I am?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gym Uniform Found; Mom Eats Crow

Ok, not exactly. Dad is at fault (isn't he always?). Turns out that when he folded his laundry this weekend, he somehow thought that the on-the-shrimpy-side 11 year old's shorts were big enough to fit a 6 foot adult and that the shirt, clearly emblazoned with the kid's middle school was mine. Wonder if we should offer to take the point loss that lack of uniform meant for the kid today. I will, while eating crow, refrain from mentioning that said kid was planning to leave the house without the uniform anyway until I reminded him (and precipitated the crisis) that he needed it. Ok, so I mentioned it. I have to try and justify my own lack of culpability here somehow!


So after spying on my kids' lunch choices yesterday, I was pleased to find out that the middle child did indeed buy green beans yesterday. She likes them she says. (I suspect they are the nasty, cooked to mush, loaded with sodium, right out of the can variety but I guess beggars can't be choosers.) Her brothers were greens free, per usual. And the oldest took his ala carte choices to a new level yesterday. He bought both ice cream and a cookie! I suspect that this is to make up for the fact that the cafeteria ran out of cheese pizza and he was forced to have a cheese quesadilla instead, which they had the nerve to have adulterated with onions and green peppers. If I were a betting mama, I'd say I paid for a cheese quesadilla that hit the trash with a mere one bite out of it. Oh, and food to waste wasn't W.'s only unnecessary expenditure yesterday. Somehow he's managed to lose his gym uniform after a mere three weeks of school. How does this happen given that they all went to Catholic school last year and kept track of multiple uniforms on a daily basis? Watch me flush another $30 away to buy another uniform (but if he loses this one, all future uniforms will come out of his piggy bank).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Do I want to know?

The schools down here offer a service where you can add money onto your child's lunch ticket online. This is amazingly handy. They e-mail me when the account gets below a certain pre-set limit and I pony up the credit card number to keep my kids fed. Convenience, thy name is paypams. Now, as much as I am appreciating this handy-dandy system, I can also see what each of the short members of the family buy each and every day (ie why the account is being drained faster than I have accounted for). I'm not sure this is a good thing. I mean, aren't children's poor nutritional choices at school supposed to stay hidden from their parents? No longer! For instance, the youngest bought himself macaroni and cheese, potato wedges, chocolate milk, and a slice of cake for lunch on Friday. Do you see anything green in that listing? Me either. This fruit and vegetable free meal cost me the rather steep price of $2.75. His sister bought herself almost the same meal, minus the potato wedges (a sweet potato muffin instead and substituting ice cream for the cake slice. Nothing green here either! The middle schooler didn't do any better, choosing *premium* cheese pizza (I don't know what premium means either--other than being a euphemism for "costs more"), chocolate milk, and ice cream. Perhaps I should stop checking their food purchases and give thanks that they aren't yet a part of the childhood obesity epidemic, despite their poor nutritional choices at lunch.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mupdate #5 (9/12/08)

I finally had the mental breakdown that everyone has warned me about. No, not *that* one, the one about running! I really should have had my head examined right up front for thinking that training for a marathon would be a good plan when I had to move 1000 miles away from my running groups and friends. But, of course, I signed up for it anyway and it seemed like everything was going swimmingly, even though I spent the summer doing all of my runs alone (and I do like to run in a group). I chalk this up to being in the Upper Peninsula, which is truly the place of my heart, and it being such a perfect and lovely summer there so that even when I was crabby, my attitude was still pretty positive for the most part. Things crashed and burned, however, once I hit Charlotte. My body ached beyond belief and I was lonely and unmotivated. (The blister that tripled the size of my little toe, painstakingly acquired on my last 14 mile run up north didn’t help either.) So I let myself wallow on the couch, staring at boxes for a week and a half. I think I needed that down time to not only heal (the blister and the aching stiffness and the twingy knee) but to get my determination back. A friend of mine has told me all along that running is a very mental sport, which of course means it’s inevitable that mental me would find it, and I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have avoided any mental breakdowns until now. Now I just have to hope that there aren’t any more in the near future since the marathon is a mere month away. There’s just no more time for the luxury of doubts about my capabilities (and that’s doubts about my physical capabilities, not mental capabilities for those of you out there snickering right now—besides we already *know* about the mental deficiencies).

One of the things that really stymied me on my running down here in the sunny South (which has been raining and flooding ever since we arrived—wonder if it’s me?!), was the fact that mapmyrun.com doesn’t seem to function well in this area. Every time I’ve mapped out a run, it has taken me down streets that end in dead-ends rather than continuing on through to the cross streets I’m supposed to turn down. The first time it happened, I sort of stood there gaping at the house that had the audacity to be built right smack where I should have been running and almost burst into tears (reference the mental breakdown stuff above). The second time, I schlepped my way through peoples’ soggy yards along a very busy road with no shoulder to get back to where I needed to be, muttering under my breath the whole way. So you can imagine how disconcerting it was to be stopped by a sheriff about a mile later once I was back near my neighborhood. He waved me over to him and started by saying, “I’m going to make you stop. I’ve had a complaint...” Meanwhile, in my head, I’m wondering if people could possibly be so mean as to complain about me walking through their yards along this scary, busy road (which I was NOT supposed to be on as per mapmyrun.com). I was prepared to burst into tears as my defense but it turns out that the complaint was that about a dog that had charged out at a woman. Very gratefully, I gasped that I’d only been living around here a week and that I’d only run twice in that time so I hadn’t seen any dog. I don’t know if it was the relief or what, but as soon as I walked away from his car, I was super dizzy. Luckily it passed and I plodded on home. I could just see it: Woman arrested for trespassing, claims internet made her do it. Bet that would have made it nationwide and my family would have been so proud!

I assume that most of you weren’t glued to the tv watching the women’s marathon at the Olympics like I was. I was probably the most unsocial person at the bar that night (not that I ever rank far above that anyway but this was the first time I had an excuse!) but I was completely riveted by the whole thing. Those women are simply amazing. I am proud to say that I can run a half marathon faster than they can run a whole marathon. And that’s as close to greatness as I’m going to get in the sport of endurance running, I suspect. London in 2012 is definitely safe from the likes of me. I will say that I looked at their bodies and glanced down at mine (beer in hand—although beer is a carb, right?!) and wondered if I’d ever get to even half as toned as they were. Then I realized my problem (and it wasn’t the beer). I have the caloric intake of Michael Phelps (10-12,000 calories a day) and the activity level of, well, let’s not go there right now as I’m trying to get myself back on track! I will say that eating my weight in junk food the past few weeks has been a bad plan in terms of feeling good. I know I’m a slow learner, but now that I’m trying to be more mindful of the sorts of foods I’m eating, I do feel better. I may not lose another pound until after the marathon is behind me, but I do have more energy for running when my caloric intake isn’t almost solely provided by Frito Lay and Mrs. Fields.

As I get further and further into the crazy long distances, I am discovering all sorts of new places to develop blisters. My toes, despite liberal application of Body Glide to my poor abused feet, are sporting lumps and bumps in spots that prior to running I would have sworn came in contact with nothing besides air. But apparently when my feet swell into stuffed sausage form, every last part of them cozies up to some other part leaving me looking like I’m walking (make that wobbling) around on bubble wrap. Not a nice feeling, I might add! This is why you should buy running shoes a size too big: to account for the swelling. I was initially skeptical but shudder to think what variety of raw meat my feet would look like right now without that extra swell room. As is, they are quite the ugliest feet I’ve ever seen what with the blisters and the development of a second black toenail to keep the first one company. And because I’m so fashion forward, despite knowing the injunction about open-toed shoes and ugly feet, I generally schlep around in sandals when I’m not running, scaring small children and disgusting adults with the state of my gnarly looking feet. If you’re really lucky, I’ll take a picture of the final damage after the race and post it on my blog for the brave, curious, or those who appreciate the graphic nature of televised operations though I may have to post a warning to save the unsuspecting.

While blisters are an unpleasant by-product of all this crazy training, even worse is the horrid stiffness I can’t seem to shake without benefit of a rather ridiculous après-long run routine coupled with better living through chemicals. The folks at the local grocery store think we are the weirdest, partying-est people ever because I stop in every Saturday, soaked and stinking of sweat to buy four family-sized bags of ice. Unfortunately, the ice is for a party of one: me. I have to spend 20-30 minutes wearing a sweat shirt and sitting in an ice bath up to my hips if there’s a prayer in the world of me being able to even hobble, never mind walk like a normal human being, over the next few days. Once I have numbed my desperately screaming muscles into oblivion, I lie on my back and prop my legs against the wall to help drain all the blood out of them. The dog particularly loves this portion of the routine since it means she can freely lick my face, up my nose, sit on my hair, etc. and I’m incapable of escaping her. It’s also leaving some interesting heel marks on the wall in our bedroom. Guess I’ll have to consider painting once the marathon is over or maybe I’ll just wink at people and not explain when they see the marks. D. might appreciate that tack most. ;-) I have no idea if the ice baths and elevated legs are helping that much but I’m not discontinuing them for any amount of money just in case! The thing that is definitely a godsend though, is drugging the hell out of myself. Advil is my friend, and a better friend than I ever knew, I might add. I know for a fact that Wheaties is not the breakfast of champions, Advil is. Given that I never needed pain killers after swimming, I’m more convinced than ever that I was never meant to be a runner. But somehow, I’ve become one. So every morning I take calcium, a multi-vitamin, and Advil. Twenty minutes after my chemical cocktail, I’m actually capable of climbing the stairs and waking the kids up for school (not that they appreciate this, of course). I swear this marathon is making my joints feel eighty years old. Have I mentioned how much I am looking forward to tapering (after the 20 mile run in two weeks)?

Given how beaten down and torn-up my body has been feeling and how mentally broken down I’ve been, there have been a few things to raise my spirits. Two of you (and you know who you are!) sent me new running mixes after the plea in the last mupdate where I admitted to some downright bizarre musical choices. Both of the CD’s made me laugh because they date us so very well. Both the new mixes and my old mix share this summer’s big Kid Rock hit All Summer Long (yes, I have that one mixed in with my Erasure and Johnny Cash—see, I told you it was a bizarre mix) and Eye of the Tiger does nothing if not point out what children of the 80’s we are. But I love my new music and receiving it brightened my days and helped me get back out on the road. If anyone else wants to send me suggestions for music, I still need some, especially since my mix and the two new mixes only add up to 4.3 hours which that could be a bit optimistic pace-wise (about 10 minute miles) as I seem to getting slower on a daily basis. Goodies in the mail aren’t the only things that have helped the attitude. In true girly fashion, retail therapy went a long way towards helping too. All the mileage had worn the treads off the bottom of my shoes so I asked around to find a good running store here. I came away from the shopping experience with shiny, new shoes and Yankz, the newest gadget I absolutely had to have. Yankz are elastic shoe laces which enable me to be like my kids and unlearn the skill of shoe-tying. And they come in some spiffy fashion colors. Mine happen to be royal blue to match my shoes but I did consider the obnoxious lime-green for a minute, knowing that R. would have thought that was the coolest of my choices. Sadly, traditional, old, fuddy-duddiness reasserted itself quickly though. I guess I’m never destined to be the hip mom (and I’m sure it’s tragically pitiful to even worry about it). Un-cool color choice or not, giving the credit card a workout at the running store made me a happy little soul. After all, anything bought there is a necessary expenditure, right? I’m sure all the gadgets and whatnot are a very worthwhile investment in my health. ::snicker:: Lastly, my confidence in myself was also helped by a decent, if slow, long run last weekend. Don’t get me wrong, 16 miles was tough, but I did it and didn’t feel the urge to cry or call D. to come pick me up at any point during the run. What a giant step back into the swing of things!

I have to say I am amazed at how many people I know (and never suspected of being certifiable) or am meeting who have run marathons. I always thought I was a part of an elite minority—not to be mistaken for the “elite” runners who sign up for marathons and do crazy things like qualify for Boston and get to start up front at the starting line, far away from plodding riff-raff like me. Ah well, so I’m not unique. I’ll recover. The good part of realizing this is that this means there are so many people who can give me good advice (and odd but oddly soothing advice like elevating my legs). I do remain contentious though if the advice sounds like a sacrifice on my part. I mean, I do appreciate all the folks who have said that I should cut out all refined sugar these last 5 weeks but if you think that’s happening, you really haven’t met me! I’m quite certain it’s great advice but my body would likely shut-down and refuse all wheedling attempts to make it run if I did something so drastic and unsatisfactory as skipping dessert. After all, being able to eat dessert guilt-free is what got me into this running gig in the first place. And deprivation has never been a strong suit for me. I’m okay with giving up meat on the nights before a long run if that helps keep the bathroom emergencies down to a dull roar. I’m more than happy to carbo-load (the Atkins diet has never struck me as a particularly appealing option anyway) myself into a pasta coma and I will even grudgingly choke down a chocolate milk after a run to help with recovery. But give up sugar? I think not. You just can’t make me! And if sugar’s so darn bad, why does the marathon have a Ghiradelli chocolate mile? (Don’t answer that. I already know it was a great recruiting ploy. After all, I fell for it, didn’t I?)

So tomorrow is my 18-miler and two weeks from now is the big one: 20 miles. In the interest of keeping things fresh for these appallingly long runs, I have resorted to trying to come up with all the training clichés I can remember (and even some I never knew before this) so I can make myself gag (I mean giggle) as I’m out there trying to live them. So far I have:
Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Pain is temporary. Pride is forever.
No pain. No gain.
And my personal favorite (which I have remembered since I was 12 years old and first saw it on the locker room wall at Mercersburg Academy for swim camp):
For a good time, call… No. Just kidding. It really goes: “Upon the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of countless thousands who upon the dawn of victory, paused to rest, and in resting, died.” Inspirational, no? Well, I thought so at 12. Now I find it a bit more morbid but it still manages to hover in my warped head as I run along. Any others you all want to funnel my way, I’d love to hear ‘em!

Lastly, for those of you who haven’t glazed over with boredom reading this, if you haven’t yet had the chance to donate, please consider doing so. It’s very easy to do. And maybe those of you who have donated once would like to prove how user friendly it all is and donate again? Just go to my site: http://pages.teamintraining.org/mi/nikesf08/kknox1n5c2 and click the “donate now” button. You can also go here to read all the mupdates you might have missed. I know, I know. All that impressive sarcasm and inappropriate sharing all in one place! How will you be able to stand it? The fund-raising deadline is approaching like a runaway train (so is the marathon itself!) and while I’ve gone above my required numbers, this is such a great cause I can’t stop asking for you to support them. And in the spirit of the upcoming elections, my name is Kristen and I approve this message. (Don’t you think an entire work this long void of lying, mud-slinging, and character impugning deserves your support?)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheating or jumping to conclusions

So I open up my mail this morning and find the sort of e-mail you never want to get from your child's teacher. Here's what she wrote: "I just wanted to make you aware of what went on in math class yesterday. Prior to the test, we had a 10 question folder check in which I asked for the titles of 10 of the pages in the folders. As I was grading them, I noticed that W. and his neighbor had the same answers- and the same wrong answers. I did not see either person looking at the other's folder, but it did raise a bit of suspicion, so I asked both students to re-take the folder check with different questions. I am going to count the second grade for both students. Please let me know if you have any questions." The only question I have is whether I ground him the second he walks in the door or if I offer to let him hang himself with an explanation first. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... And here I thought he was adjusting to the move so well. :-(

New low

I have sunk to a new low of complete disinterestedness. Bet you didn't know there were levels, did you? Sort of like Dante's 7 circles of Hell, I am creating my own list of intentional slothfulness. I've gone from just not caring about unpacking things to not even caring to unpack things despite the fact that my mother will be here later today to see the house for the first time. This is like plunging from level one to level seven or like going from amateur to being the highest paid pro of all time. But we all need to excel at something, right? And apparently this is my area in which to shine!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are you a stress eater?

I was standing in line at the grocery store and saw a cover blurb on some really high class woman's magazine (ha!) asking potential readers if they are stress eaters. Looking into my grocery cart, I glanced at the Mike and Ike's I had grabbed after cruising the candy aisle and thought about what inspired their not even very tasty, chemical-loaded purchase. I mean, why not overdose on sugar when your 9, almost 10 year old daughter cries and tells you that she doesn't want to dance at the studio she chose anymore? Should this have driven me to eat? Before answering, consider that I'd just written a more than $500 non-refundable check to the studio the week prior. Am I a stress eater? Puh-lease! If people actually have to take a quiz to figure that out, the answer is no and they should quit pretending to the world that they understand the whole stress eating phenomenon. For the rest of us, well, we know what we are and are in training for the stress eating Olympics.

(Oh, and because I am also a charter member of mean mothers, I told her she was obligated to dance for the studio this year but I could give a rip less about next year--as long as she decides before I write any checks.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Have I ever mentioned how much I love my friends? I go through waves of being completely lonely and depressed here (par for the course as anyone who has ever moved a long distance knows) and yet my friends have been so wonderful. Sometimes I get off the phone and cry because talking to them (you!) drives home how friendless I am here and other times a friendly voice makes it all bearable so I end up smiling. No telling which call will lead to which response either. And I do appreciate all of them!

Also, I must say I was tickled beyond belief when I mentioned my dismal musical situation in my last mupdate and I promptly received two offerings from friends. They are both great and both of them came on days I really needed a pick-me-up. I listened to both sets in the car first, just to see what was on them. My kids wondered why Eye of the Tiger is on both of them. I'm thinking this must be the official manifestation of the fact we're older than dirt. ::grin:: It was a bit much when none of the three kids knew anything about Rocky but if I keep playing my Run, Kristen, Run and Psych CD's, they'll at least be able to sing one of the songs that defines our generation. Oh, and to E. and J. who sent the CD's: Huge thanks in general and also specifically for not including Chariots of Fire. That one might just have been too slow, even for me to run to. And it did make me giggle that both of you included All Summer Long (which I already had in my own weird running mix). That is sure to date all of our mixes to this summer in particular, isn't it? Perhaps the CD's should be called something like "Mix for a child of the 80's running in '08."

Lest you all feel too badly for me, we do seem to have landed in a fun and friendly neighborhood so hopefully I'll get glad again soon. When several sets of neighbors found out I was running a marathon, they offered to spend Oct. 19th drinking a beer for every mile I run. I told them the pace I'll likely run will mean they'll be lucky to end up pleasantly buzzed. They were still willing to make the sacrifice for me though. Now that's solidarity with the new neighbor, isn't it?!

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