Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ooh La La

It's time for another Take it and Run Thursday. The theme is "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" and it totally makes me want to fire up my Rushmore soundtrack and listen to the song "Ooh La La" by The Faces.

I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger.
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger.

I'm happy to say that I haven't done anything too horribly foolish in my running. I mean, yeah, I would have finished the Des Moines marathon faster if I'd done more hill training. I was under the mistaken impression that there were maybe two hills in the first 7 miles of the course, while in fact there were probably only two little stretches that were flat. But my goal was to make it across the finish line, and I did that.

But the one mistake that I made when running was way back in 1989, and it still resonates with me so many years later.

The mistake?

I forgot to bring a sports bra with me to cross country practice, so I just wore my regular bra. I thought it'd be fine, and that it would keep the girls more or less in check. That it did - they really weren't going anywhere.

But, Internet? Oh, the chafing. The spot on my chest right between the girls was pretty well completely worn off, and I cannot tell you how much that hurt. It hurt anytime any article of clothing touched it, and any time I sweated, it would sting like crazy.

Suffice it to say, that is a mistake I will never, ever make again. I would rather run barefoot than without a sports bra.

(this post was totally sexy)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane

Jack (through his bedroom door): MARY JAAAANE! MARY JAAANE!
Me: What?
Jack: Mary Jane! Guess what? Green Goblin is in my room.
Me: Jack...
Jack: Don't forget, call me Spidey.
Me: Spidey, it's time to go to sleep, sweetie.
Jack: But Mary Jane, Green Goblin -
Me: Spidey, do you have your webs?
Jack: Yes.
Me: Is your spider-sense working?
Jack: Yes.
Me: Then I think you can handle this yourself. Web him up and go to sleep.
Jack: Okay, Mommy.
Me: That's Mary Jane.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'd Rather Be Running

The theme for this week's Take It and Run Thursday is Strength and Flexibility.

And, um...

Sometimes, I tell Jack that he needs to eat some chicken nuggets before he eats more french fries. Jack likes chicken nuggets, sure. They're (relatively) good for him, yeah. But sometimes, they're just something to get through so he can get to the stuff he really wants, namely the fries.

For me, strength and flexibility are to chicken nuggets as french fries are to running. I acknoweldge that they're good for me and will make me a stronger runner, but the truth is, I pretty much just do them because I have to in order to excel at the running that I really care about.

Let's start with the strength training. My New Year's resolution this year was to take my running to the next level. Last year when my running renaissance began, I was happy just to be putting in the miles. This year, I am adding strength training back in to make me stronger - and to hopefully keep my knee injury from cropping up again. I'll lift 1-2 times a week on easy running days. Much like taking my vitamins every day, I'll do it, and I won't complain about it, but I'm not going to get excited about it, either.



My body? Does not bend.

I do stretch after every run. It's another example of taking my vitamins. I know it's good for me, and I know it will help prevent injuries. And I figure since I've already put in, at minimum, half an hour running, I might as well spend another five or ten minutes stretching. But Internet, it is not a pretty sight.

Remember when we had to do the Presidential Physical Fitness tests in school? I always did a respectable number of sit-ups. Managed to hang well for the flexed arm hang. Completely rocked out the running tests.

But then, there was the sit and reach test. You'd sit on your butt with your legs straight out in front of you and reach as far as you could.

Every single time, the tester would say, "Okay, go ahead and start," only to discover that I had already started, and was, in fact, struggling.

Also, I cannot touch my toes. Not even close.

I'm following Hal Higdon's Intermediate program for my Trisko training, and he designates Mondays as a Stretch & Strengthen day. I'll pretty much do whatever Hal tells me to do at this point, so I have designated Monday as Yoga Day. I even have a yoga DVD called - I kid you not - Yoga for Inflexible People.

I had my first Yoga Day this week, and it was pretty much the most pathetic thing you ever saw. For one thing, as I mentioned, I do not bend, so it really didn't look like much.

Even more amusingly, the DVD, of course, was a model of tranquility. Gentle music, lots of talk about breathing, blah, blah, blah. I was about the least tranquil thing you ever saw. Put aside the fact that I was red-faced and straining. Instead, consider the fact that I had to pause the catlicking thing three times to put Jack back to bed. I was not a model of peace and calm; I was a model of, "Sweetheart, if you don't go the hell to sleep, I don't know what I am going to do."

Still, you can't just eat french fries all the time. Sometimes, you need to eat some chicken nuggets in order to keep balance in your life.

Of course, it is possible that I have stretched this metaphor far more than I can stretch my body.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ice, Ice Baby

Internet? I am officially sick and tired of winter. Enough already. The snow, it is pretty. But I could realy do without the ice that covers every surface, effectively screwing up my plans for most things.

I officially started my trisko training this week. I don't mind running in the cold, and I don't care if there's snow on the ground. But ice is a problem. By the time I get out to run, it's dark, and if I can't see the ground, it's just too risky that I'll slip and fall.

So, yesterday, i did something that I really didn't want to do: I ran indoors on a treadmill.

Sweet Yoda, it was boring.

I only ran 3 miles, which under normal circumstances is easy-breezy. Done in no time. On the treadmill, even at my usual pace, it took for-freaking-ever. Not even the combination between my iPod and a trashy MTV show on TV could distract me from the pointless boringness of what I was doing. And there is no sign of any thaw any time soon, so I am going to be stuck doing this for the foreseeable future. BLECH.

In general, I am out of sorts. I'm over the flu, but my cough lingers, so I often find myself wheezing or hacking up a lung. And now Jack is sick, which has not diminished his energy level, but has increased his whininess and neediness. He also cannot manage to stay asleep all night, so he'll come dragging into MommyDaddy room to tell me that he wants a drink of water - from the glass that he walked past in order to find me and give me this news. Or, even more pathetically, "Mommy, will you sleep with me?" Apparently, just having me on the floor next to his bed was comforting enough for him to go back to sleep, the poor little guy.

Really, this entire post is about me complaining.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Making the Miles Fly

This week for .Take It and Run Thursday, the topic is music and podcasts. I generally listen to music while I'm running and have been known to completely rock out to my Power Song, which is "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers. I am not ashamed to admit that when I was training for my first marathon last year, I had a vivid mental image of myself racing to the finish line with cheering crowds on either side of me that synched up perfectly with that song.

But for long runs, the absolute best bang for my buck is downloads of This American Life from iTunes.

Each episode is about an hour long and costs 99 cents. That is a freaking bargain. And the stories are funny. Or sad. Or poignant. And the next thing you know, an hour has passed and it's time to listen to another one.

I know there are places where you can download a playlist with songs of a certain number of beats per minute designed to optimize your stride and make you run faster. But, um, I am not fast enough for that to matter. The dulcent tones of Ira Glass are enough to keep me going.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wonders Never Cease

First of all, Internet, thank you for all your kind get well wishes. Whoever said you were good for nothing but porn? Not me.

Yesterday was full of miraculous happenings at Stately Wasser Manor. Jack and I went to the card store to get valentines for Steve. While we were there, Jack said, "Mommy, do they have a potty here?" I told him that they did not, and he loudly announced that he needed to "go poopy," instantly making me think of Vickie Iovine's promise that if your kids don't embarass you on a regular basis, you are not getting your money's worht out of parenthood.

I told him that we'd need to go home (only two minutes away), and asked him to PLEASE wait until we got there. Believe it or not, it worked. He actually held it, just like a grown human. I rewarded him with a giant pile of Junior Mints.

I've been hesitant to say it, afraid to jinx myself, but I think the kid has pretty well figured out this potty training thing. He cannot yet be trusted to remember on his own to go to the bathroom, but with prompting, the accidents are extremely rare. Like, two in a month rare. And 3-4 mornings a week, he wakes up dry. Crazy!

And here's an even bigger shock. Last night, we were eating dinner, and Jack said, "I yike salad." And then he allowed me to put a lettuce leaf on his plate. And then he picked up the lettuce leaf. And then he ATE the lettuce leaf. Steve and I nearly died of shock. Jack told me that his teacher, Miss Julie, convinced him to try salad. The next time I see her, I am giving that woman a big hug.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Death's Door

Internet, I have been sick.

Really, really sick, with the flu. I can't remember the last time I have been so sick. If I watched TV for more than an hour, the effort of holding my body upright was such that I had to take a nap. At night, I couldn't sleep, between coughing and having weird fever dreams. When I went to the doctor, the nurse offered to give me my B-12 shot, and I declined, the prospect of putting all my weight on one foot for 20 seconds while she gave me the shot too exhausting.

Today, I am kind of back with the living. I'm going to work for a partial day. Today marks the first time I have left the house since my doctor's appointment on Friday. The first day since Thursday I have worn pants other than sweatpants and have put on a pair of shoes.

Steve's main way of helping me feel better has been to take over with Jack completely so that he didn't bug me and so that I wouldn't feel compelled to help him. It was the perfect thing to do.

As for Jack, he has called to check on me from Grandma's house. And yesterday before he left, he brought me about 12 different stuffed animals, some to keep me company, others to keep each other company. He has also been extremely understanding of the fact that I have yet to take him to see the Princess Giselle movie as promised.

I am completely bored with being sick and am hoping to be back to normal soon.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Half Some Respect

The topic for this week's Take It and Run Thursday is the half marathon. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because in about a week, I am going to start officially training for my first half marathon, the Quad Cities Distance Classic.

A half marathon is the only standard distance that I have never raced. I'm excited about it, because I think it'll be a fun distance to race. 13.1 miles is a long way to go, so it will be challenging, but it's a lot more manageable than a full marathon. I am going to train hard for it, but because the mileage is less, I just won't have to put in as much time.

There's just one problem with the half marathon: the name.

There is no other race that is defined by it's relationship to some other race. A 5K isn't a Half 10K, for crying out loud. Calling the distance a half marathon makes it seem like something less important, less challenging than it is.

I have several friends who've run half marathons. Here are some of the reactions they've gotten:

  • Oh, so you didn't want to run a whole marathon?

  • Just a half?

  • So, when are you going to run the other half of your marathon?

Granted these people are not runners, but rather the same people who say things like "I never run unless someone's chasing me" and expect you to laugh like they are the first person ever to come up with that little gem. Runners respect the half, and the unique challenges it poses.


In the movie Spirit of the Marathon, one of the runners jokingly says that he runs marathons for the t-shirt. There is some truth to that, honestly. We don't wear our race t-shirts just to cover our bodies. We wear them so that people will look at them and say, "Wow, she's a runner. That's bad-ass." A half marathon runner, someone who hauls themselves 13.1 miles, deserves that same kind of respect and awe.

So, what can we call a half marathon that will make non-runners give halfers the respect they deserve? Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thireen. How about we rename the half the Trisko? Now that's a race to be feared - and respected.

Pop-Up Blocker

Here at Stately Wasser Manor, we have been having huge problems with pop-ups. No, not the annoying kind you find on the internet. Worse. These pop-ups occur when we tuck Jack into bed, only to have him pop up eighty bazillion times over the course of two hours.

It is maddening. For one thing, by the time I put that wee maniac to bed, chances are, I'm ready for a break. Or, I've got stuff that I need to do that is hampered by having to return him to bed over and over again. And the kid needs his sleep, so spending two hours fighting it is not helping things.

I've tried the "stick" approach to discipline - taking away stuff he likes if he gets out of bed. But even the threat (carried out) of taking away his Buzz Lightyear costume for a day could not keep him in bed. He explained, "I just want to talk to Mommy." Thanks, but no thanks.

Then, I decided to see if he was old enough to be motivated by the old standby, the sticker chart. Jack and I worked together to draw a chart, using his current favorite color of blue. For each night that he stays in his bed, he gets a sticker - princess stickers, since that's what I had handy. After he gets five stickers, he gets a treat. The treat he chose was to go to the movies to see Enchanted with me.

I cannot believe how well it worked. Every morning, he'll come find me, proudly asking for his sticker, and we'll put it up together. He immediately went five days in a row with no pop-ups whatsoever. We're making plans for a Saturday Princess Giselle outing, and have already made his new chart. This time, Jack will earn his very own copy of The Wizard of Oz.

Best of all, he feels a real sense of accomplishment. He is truly proud of doing so well.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mail Slot Details

I had a feeling my adventures in the mail slot would garner some interest. According to my mom, the dimensions of the mail slot are 14 x 11.5 inches.

It is also probably about a four foot drop from the mail slot to the floor, so I'm happy I didn't have to take that face first.

Update: Here's me and the mail slot.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Saving the Family

It was a weekend of adventures at Stately Wasser Manor.

Saturday morning, I took off to get my hair cut and colored while the boys planned a fun daddy-son morning. I had my phone turned off, so I was not aware of the fact that Steve had locked the two of them out of the house. Once Steve realized that I was not going to answer my phone, he started hunting around for solutions.

He got the ladder out of the garage, climbed it, and removed the screen from a window in the dining room. He gave Jack some instructions, carried him up the ladder, and slowly lowered him into the house. Jack realized the gravity of his assignment and therefore did not take advatanage of this as an opportunity to watch TV and eat cookies, but rather raced over to the back door and let Steve in the house. Steve told Jack that he "saved the family."

And on a plus note, my hair looks great.

That night, I went over to my mom and Doug's house to take care of the cats, mail, and empty some bucket that has to do with water runoff from the furnace. Important stuff. Unfortunately, their lock is tricky, and no matter what I tried with the catlicking key, I could not make it even budge. Meanwhile, Fannie May, one of the cats, was looking at me through the window and crying.

It was time, once again, to save the family. But how could I get into the house?

Nancy and Doug have a large mail slot - bigger than a letter, I assure you. I discovered that if I took off my coat (to reduce bulk) and put my hands over my shoulders to make them narrower, I could probably fit. Nevertheless, I had my cell phone in my hand in case I got stuck like Pooh. I shoved myself into the house and even figured out a way to contort my body so I didn't have to take the four foot drop face first. The cats were fed, the bucket was empty, and the family was saved!

Plus I have bruises on my abdomen as a badge of honor.

Sunday, I decided to run over to their house to feed the cats, then run home to combine tasks. It was lightly snowing when I left - it was lovely. By the time I started back home it was snowing, um, cats and dogs. The snow was blowing into my face from both directions, and there was so much of it that I couldn't see far in front of me.

Still, I got in five miles without Paula beeping at me to speed up. And this is what I looked like when I got back:

How many toughness points do I earn for that one?

Sailing the Seven Seas to the Dairy Aisle

Because, again, if you have a Captain Jack Sparrow costume, why wouldn't you wear it to the grocery store?