Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Autumn is Steve's favorite season. He is definitely starting to win me over. The boys and I had an amazing weekend, so full of autumn-themed activities it was like something out of a magazine.

Saturday morning, we headed to Boo at the Zoo, an event at nearby Niabi Zoo. Jack donned his Mickey Mouse costume, grabbed his pumpkin bucket, and collected an impressive amount of candy. He was happy not only to get candy, not only to be at the zoo, not only to be Mickey Mouse, but also to see the other kids in their costumes. He kept excitedly yelling, "LOOKIT!" and pointing to a princess, a pirate, a dinosaur, and so on. It was a beautiful day, and it gave Jack the opportunity to hone his skills at saying "Trick or treat" and "Thank you" loud enough for people to hear.

On Sunday morning, Steve somehow convinced the two of us that doing yard work would be fun. He and I took turns mowing the lawn and raking leaves with Jack. Jack participated as any reasonable kid would: by jumping into the leaves. Of course, he gave it his own twist, declaring that he was Han Solo, the leaves were the carbonite freezing chamber, and that I was Princess Leia, there to rescue him.

After that, the three of us went to the Family Museum for their Scarecrow Shenanigans event. Jack iced a sugar cookie and decorated it with M&Ms, practiced the bean bag toss, and decorated a mini pumpkin with googly eyes and pom poms. Then, imagine his delight when he found a little girl dressed like Minnie Mouse! The two of them realized the inherent cuteness of their pairing and spent a lot of time holding hands and hugging.

Today, Steve and I went to the Halloween party at Jack's school. The kids all got dressed up (suprisingly, there were no princesses in his class) and went to the nursing school next door trick or treating. Steve and I got there early and helped the teachers get the kids dressed and entertain the ones already in costume.

If you ever want an ego boost, hang out with a group of toddlers. Basically, if you are willing to be a tiny bit silly, or can make stuffed animals talk, or are willing to draw pictures, or will read a book with just a little bit of inflection, you are a rockstar. Jack was incredibly proud of how fun his mommydaddy were.

All of this, and we still haven't gone trick or treating yet!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

I decided yesterday afternoon that if I didn't go running I would probably die. I informed Steve of my fervent desire, and he said fine, so long as I promised to take it easy. I drove home in a state of Christmas-morning like excitement. I passed a group of cross country runners out for practice and wanted to yell out my window to them that I was going running, too!

Three blissful miles later, I was back home, and Steve and Jack were arranged in the Cutest Possible Moment. It was almost like they planned it, a moment I imagine like this...

Steve: Jack, Mommy will be home soon. Let's do something cute to make her happy.
Jack: We could dress up like Muppets.
Steve: Good, but there's no time for that.
Jack: I know! Let's cuddle and read a comic book.

Sure enough, they were snuggled up on the big blue chair reading a Justice League comic. Freaking adorable. And then, when I got out of the shower, Jack was playing with his Superman action figure while Steve made dinner.

I am a lucky woman.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here?

"Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
The battle's done, and we kind of won,
So we sound our victory che-er
Where do we go from here?"

--Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More... With Feeling"

The battle's done, and I kind of won... but what next? I know I'm not the only one thinking it, because today both Bowulf and Ex-Non-Runner Nancy posted about their post-marathon goals.

Training for, then running that marathon has definitely changed me. I have been a runner since I was 10, but there have been some fallow periods. After the many miles and two stress fractures of high school were over, I didn't run much at all until I took running for one of my PE credits in college. Then I mixed it up for a while at the gym. Went on the occasional run with Steve. Did a ton of running when I was unemployed (because Yoda knows I had the time). Then job, pregnancy, baby who didn't sleep through the night until after his first birthday, killer commute - all of that set in, and I didn't run as much as I'd have liked to.

But now? I don't see going through a fallow period ever again. Hell, I ran 26.2 miles just a few days ago, and it is killing me to take off this recovery time. I am even trying to figure out the best cold-weather running gear so that I can keep this going over the winter, avoiding the dreaded treadmill/indoor track for as long as possible.

I am also thinking about my upcoming race calendar and what I want to accomplish in 2008.

First up is the Living History Farms Cross Country Race. Apparently, it involves climbing up muddy hills, trying to jump over creeks, and similar. Hello, how awesome does that sound? I am so there, and that's just next month.

I want to run my first half marathon. A half sounds like a fun race to run. It's long enough to be challenging, but it's not like it's going to kick my ass so hard I have to take the elevator for a few days afterwards. The Quad Cities Distance Classic in May includes a half.

I could not possibly be a runner in the Quad Cities and not run the Bix 7. That's just a great party, has killer hills, and an elite field.

The Dam to Dam 20K sounds intriguing. Gorgeous setting, and an interesting distance to race.

I'll also grab some 5K's where I can find them, and I'll probably brave the horrendous hills of the Firecracker 10K next July 4th.

Then, the big kahuna will be the Quad Cities Marathon in September. I can't resist the hometown course, especially knowing it'll be so much easier for me to get some fan support. It's also a lot flatter than Des Moines, so I bet I can get a PR.

This is going to be fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why I Run

Over 100 training runs
Over 555 miles
Two pair of shoes
Over 55,500 calories burned
all leading up to...

26.2 miles!

That's right, Internet: I did it! And all weekend long, I was reminded of reasons why I run.

  • Before the race yesterday morning, a perky blonde lead us through a warm-up. I participated, because what else was I going to do, wander around nervously some more? About 20 seconds into her warm-up, I was reminded that I hate aerobics. The stretches she did made no sense to me and seemed to involve cute poses. And her marching and double-knees and whatnot made me feel like a moron. I cannot get my arms and legs to coordinate to save my life. If I didn't run, I'd have to either do stupid crap like that or not eat cookies.
    And by the way, after the warm-up was done, I plunked down and stretched again, exactly the same way I have been since I was 14. I know what works.

  • Runners are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It was really cool to be able to say hi to Amy and Tom, who set up a really cool Runner's Lounge meeting place. It was great to see their smiling faces both before and after the race. And Non Runner Nancy actually found me during the first mile and came up to say hi. How cool is that? Nancy, I wish we'd been able to hang out more! Next time, okay?
    But even runners who I hadn't "met" before were friendly and easy to talk to. Like the man staying at our hotel who spotted my marathon sweatshirt, the people who struck up conversations with me during the race, and the really funny man wearing a hat that said, "Old and In the Way." By the way, from the looks of that guy, he might have been old, but he sure wasn't in my way. I have a feeling he was way faster than I am.

  • What better way is there to see a new city on a beautiful fall day? We lucked into some gorgeous weather. It was probably in the 60s all day long, overcast, and with just the right amount of breeze. The leaves were changing colors, and the course routed us through some really cool places - from downtown Des Moines to an incredibly wealthy neighborhood (I'm not just talking big houses, I'm talking big houses with sculpture collections in front of them), through the neighborhoods of Drake University, along a wooded trail, through a lovely park, around a lake, and back downtown again.

  • All of the things I said about how nice runners are goes at least double for volunteers and spectators. Every single volunteer had a smile or word of encouragment for me, and they seemed genuinely happy to help. The people who passed out gummy bears were, I'm fairly certain, angels. There was a volunteer standing somewhere in that wooded trail, the only non-runner I'd seen in miles clanging a cowbell to encourage us along, and let me tell you, I was so happy to see someone, anyone, that I about hugged her. And there were families sitting in front of their houses cheering just as enthusiastically for us mid-packers as they were for the leaders, kids offering up high fives - it was just cool.

  • Male marathon runners are sexsay. Hot guy in orange that I followed for much of the race, I salute you. Imagine my shock when I passed him at around the half and he didn't catch me... when, an hour later, he blew past me and was nowhere to be seen, I felt the natural balance of the universe had been restored.

  • You can demand that people cheer for you, and they'll actually do it. The last 1.2 miles of the race seemed to go on for-freaking-ever. There was hardly anyone to be seen until about a quarter of a mile away from the finish. I was determined not to stop and walk (and as a bonus, got to pick off some people), but it was not easy. When I finally saw a crowd of people, I yelled, "Give me some love," and they did just that. It's not often that you do something difficult and can actually request applause, but runners can do it.

  • On that same note, if you do something really difficult, usually you don't get anything just for getting through it. But after a marathon? You literally do get a medal. I wore mine to work today and am considering wearing it every single day from now on. Okay, maybe not... but I was pretty amused by Jack's reaction to it. He asked me what it was, and after I explained it, he said, "Oh, like Princess Leia gave Luke and Han." So, I guess I should ammend that two difficult things you can do and get a medal are run a marathon or blow up the Death Star.

  • My two biggest inspirations in life - my reasons that I can and do run - were right there, cheering me on. I cannot stress how much it means to me that Steve and Jack were there to watch me. For one thing, it helped me think of the race not in terms of, "Only 22 miles to go," but more like, "Only four more miles until I see my boys again." Steve and Jack were there cheering for me at the perfect spots - the 12 mile mark, the 20, and at the finish line. Jack was very serious about holding up his sign and yelling, "Go, Mommy, Go!" and Steve kept yelling that he was proud of me and to stay strong.

I am really proud of how I did. I trained well and fueled well, so at no point did I hit "the wall," and at no point did I think I wouldn't be able to finish it. I'm sure I'll do better next time, and I'm sure there will be a next time... for 26.2 and for lots of other distances.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Revenge of the Jedi

Parts of my childhood were completed consumed by all things Star Wars. I watched the movies over and over again. Memorized dialogue. My brother and I used to fall asleep every night with The Empire Strikes Back playing on a record player in the hallway between our bedrooms. We had all kinds of action figures, ships, toys, and play sets. Return of the Jedi trading cards. Yoda t-shirts. I'd lead Andy and Jenny in Jedi Training just about every day during the summer.

All of this, I'm sure, drove our parents nuts. My grandmother recalls taking Andy and me to see one of the Star Wars movies. While we were standing in line for a movie that Mimi had absolutely no desire to see, one of us commented that this would be the 10th time we'd seen the movie in the theater. She wanted to get in the car and go home right then and there.

And now, the tables have turned. Jack is a full-blown Star Wars maniac. He wants to watch the movies constantly. Play lightsaber "battle-fight." Pretend to be Luke escaping from the Wampa, and I play the roles first of Ghost Obi-Wan, then of Han (including slicing open imaginary tauntaun with his lightsaber). The only books he wants to read are the storybook versions of the movie.

He is amassing an impresive collection of Star Wars toys, and will quickly rattle off the ones that he wants to go look for right now: Boba Fett, the cricket (aka Salacious Crumb), Jabba's best friend (aka Bib Fortuna), the wampa, and so on.

He is, in short, absolutely crazy.

Steve was the exact same way when he was a kid. It could not be more obviousl that we got the correct baby at the hospital.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


For the past week, one thought keeps running through my head:

I'm really going to do this, aren't I?

Because, oh my god, Internet - my marathon is on SUNDAY.

The damn thing is so close that I can no longer refer to it as "at the end of October" or "on the 21st." It is on Sunday. Soon.

I believe I am experiencing what is known as Taper Madness. Because I no longer have 40 miles a week of running, or a pending trip to Disney World, or the need to marry two of my friends - to distract me, I am going a little nuts.

It is a huge leap of faith to think that just because I ran 20 miles a few weeks ago, I can go ahead and throw in another 6.2, and a combination of adrenaline and crowd support will make it do-able. Especially because that 20 miles was not easy. But you know what? If Hal Higdon says it'll work, then I will just have to trust him.

I am also excited. Excited to get out there and run more than the 8 miles I did on Sunday. 8 miles, which used to be the farthest I'd ever run without stopping, and now feels puny. Excited to be part of the crowd. To see what I can do. And even to hopefully meet fellow runners like The Runner Formerly Known as Non-Runner Nancy and the gang from Runner's Lounge.

No matter how things go on Sunday (and I reluctantly admit that I do believe that I will finish the race and will survive, not that I want to jinx myself), the experience of training has been awesome. I have pushed myself to do things I never did before. Sometimes it was hard (that's what she said), but it was always worth it. Also cool? If we're in the car and Jack sees a runner, he'll say, "That lady running like Mommy." That makes me proud.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Where Have I Been, Part 3

On Saturday, October 6, my good friends Dan and Liana (aka Danana) got married. The wedding was special, not just because I love the Danana like family, but because I had the opportunity to marry them.

At Danana's request, I found a place online where I could become an ordained minister. Then, I did some research and worked with Danana so I could write the ceremony.

Here's one of the things I said:
I was friends with Dan and with Liana before they became Dan and Liana - or, Danana, if you prefer. I watched as their friendship grew into something even more special, as the two of them fell so deeply in love that they couldn’t imagine spending another day apart.
It has given me such joy to see the way that their relationship has made both of them happier. I love Dan and Liana separately, but I love them together even more together. They compliment each other and make each other so happy.

I really feel like I did something good for the universe in playing even a small part in getting the two of them married. They are best friends and true partners. They take such good care of each other, and I know they always will.

It was important to me that I do a good job with the ceremony, and one of my biggest goals was to not cry. Seriously, people, the minister does not cry. Kind of detracts from the bride and groom, which is definitely not cool. But sweet Yoda, it was hard. I practiced the ceremony several times, marrying an array of ducks that were outside while Danana got their pictures taken. And this part killed me, even when reading to the ducks:
Dan and Liana, you have stood before us today and promised yourselves to each other from this moment on. You may not know what the future holds, but you do know that you’ll face it hand in hand, side by side with your very best friend, the person who loves you more than anything. In those days ahead, may you always remember the happiness and love that you felt for each other on this day.

I am happy to say I got through it with no tears. There were people in the audience who cried, but I held it together.

And the weekend? So. Much. Fun. Our friends are an absolute blast, and I wish they'd all move here so we could do this more often. I also can't wait for Dan and Liana to come back from their honeymoon, because I miss them!

Where Have I Been, Part 2

As fate would have it, our vacation was smack dab in the middle of the peak mileage week of my marathon training. Yoda have mercy!

In the blazing hot Florida sun, I ran five, ten, and five mile runs. I swear, I thought I was going to melt. After the ten miler, I bought a bottle of gatorade that was pretty much the best thing I have ever tasted. It two about two seconds for me to guzzle it, like something out of a commercial.

All of this was on top of getting less sleep than usual, plus walking around the parks all day every day. And often carrying Jack around when the stroller was just not going to cut it.

We got home on a Saturday, and the very next morning, I had to wake up and do my 20 mile run. Conditions for this run were far from ideal. I wasn't rested at all from the week prior, not just because of the running, but because of the travel. And, right before the run, I had a brief scare in which I thought I wasn't going to be able to run the marathon at all. (Long story short, I'm still on track, but I didn't know that when I set off.) Both mentally and physically, I was not in the best place.

So, remember not so long ago when I completely rocked out that 18 mile run? Well this was a hell of a lot more than two miles harder. I really had to kick my ass through out the run. I actually envisioned picking myself up by the scruff of my own neck and hurling myself a few feet ahead at a time. Kind of like the fight Edward Norton has with himself in Fight Club.

It wasn't pretty, but I got through it. And now I'm tapering. It is so weird that the 8 mile run I'm doing on Sunday seems so short. And it blows my mind that my race is a week from Sunday. So soon! I will just have to trust that I trained right and that I am well and truly ready. I am looking forward to seeing what I'm made of - both actually getting my legs to go that far and making sure my head's in the right place.

Where Have I Been, Part 1

Okay, yeah... it's been a long time since I've posted. Things have been absolutely crazy at Stately Wasser Manor. The boys and I went to Disney World for a week. Then, there was a rushed week at home, then Steve and I left for a long weekend for a wedding - at which I was the minister. And in between was my peak mileage week for the marathon. It got to the point where I couldn't sleep because I was so stressed about things like when I was going to get a pedicure, because I really needed one, because the shoes for the wedding had peep toes, but what if they messed with my calluses and I got blisters - and holy Yoda, am I really stressing out about a spa treatment?

So, now it's time to catch up.

First, I colored my hair before our vacation.
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Believe it or not, I think it has a passing resemblance to my natural hair color, whatever that is.

Then, the boys and I had an amazing, amazing trip. I wondered if going to Disney World with a two and a half year old kid, especially one who is potty training, was going to be just exhausting. But it truly wasn't. Jack was so delighted by everything that he spent most of the vacation in a state of delight, saying, "Lookit!" about every two seconds.
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We saw Cinderella's castle...
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and met a bunch of characters. Roary was especially excited to meet Tigger, a famous tiger.
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We went on rides. Jack especially loved the Buzz Lightyear ride, Peter Pan, and Pirates of the Caribbean (which now features Captain Jack Sparrow). We also had a great time on the teacups.
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On our last night, we went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, an after-hours event with trick or treating, special parades, different fireworks, and all kinds of other fun. The boys and I went as The Incredibles. Steve kept forgetting we were in costume and wondered why people were looking at us and smiling.
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There were all kinds of just amazing Disney moments. Jack "scared" Captain Hook by saying "tick tock" to him, which amused him for days. We'd luck into great spots to watch the parades, and we found almost all of his favorite characters at one point or another. A sudden downpour of rain coincided with the chance to watch the Bug's Life movie with no wait in line. A really nice Disney cast member gave Jack a Chip pin, which he wore the next day for a character breakfast where Chip and Dale would be visiting. A woman in the gift shop saw Jack's pin and was so charmed by him that she gave him her Dale pin.

One of the best moments of the trip really summarized the experience. We were watching the fireworks, which were amazing and featured a real live Tinkerbell zipping from the top of the castle right over our heads. Jack was distracted by the voice of Jiminy Cricket, who was narrating the fireworks. Where was Jiminy, he wondered? Steve finally told him that Jiminy's voice was all around us, and that's why we could hear him. Jack took a moment to let that sink in, then said this:

Look, Roary! Magic!
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