Thursday, January 31, 2008
The start is always the same - here's the driveway leading away from Stately Wasser Manor.
And here's my street.
I pass this new store called Gameology. It's where you can hang out late into the night pounding Red Bull and playing Halo or whatever. I am semi-terrified of it.
This is a crappy picture, but I had to post it anyway. It's of a tattoo parlor, and 90% of the time, there are heavily tatted guys hanging out in front smoking. The tattoo parlor is almost exactly one mile away from my house, so I always feel excited when I get to it out running. I feel a connection to it.
These are some of the dorms at Augustana College, where Steve works.
Then I pass a train yard.
This bridge is called the Government Bridge (or something like that) and it goes to Arsenal Island, as well as over the Mississippi into Iowa, where I work. I was too chicken to take pictures of the outposts at the Arsenal because I didn't want to look suspicious.
The bridge is about a thousand years old. I've run across it before. The surface of it is a grate. You know that creepy feeling you get when you walk over a subway grate, like you can imagine plummeting down into the Morlock tunnels? I had that feeling the entire time I ran across it. It even seems to shake. And if you look down, you can actually see the river. It is terrifying.
Welcome to Iowa! Check out this skeevy pawn shop...
Located right near a really cool arts center.
That's my parking garage, and that clock tower is part of my building.
The view from the walkway to my office is really cool. You can see the Figge Art Museum...
And the River Music Experience building, which is also home of Mojo's, where you can get the finest chocolate chip cookies in all of downtown Davenport... provided you get there before they sell out.
And we made it! There's my desk!
Now, on other days, my commute is slightly different. The next day, I had a partner.
We pass Dr. Gyros, where Steve and I occasionally have prescriptions filled for deliciousness
And Whitey's Ice Cream. Mmm, Whitey's.
Jack is safely dropped off at school
and my drive continues. This is Rock Island High School, and I remember running track meets right here.
From there, I get on the Centennial Bridge, which is much prettier than the Government Bridge. I've run across this one, too, because it's cool to think I can hit two states on a run.
That day I took a different route home because I had a meeting. I was happy to get a shot of this building, The Stripping Solution. It's like the answer to the I'm A Single Mom And I Just Want To Make My Way Through College Problem.
Here's yet another bridge across the Mississippi. I'll run over it when I do the Quad Cities Marathon in September.
So, that's how I get to and from work. There's plenty to look at, and it's even nicer when it's not ass-cold out.
I have the greatest cheerleaders in the world.
Steve and Jack have been incredibly supportive of my running. When Jack sees me put on my shoes, he understands what I’m about to do, and says, “Have a good run, Mommy.” If we’re in the car and pass a runner, he’ll say, “That lady is running, just like Mommy.” He will even run laps around the yard so that he can be a runner like me.
There are so many things that he does that make me proud. To think that I do something that makes him proud is just an amazing feeling. I love the fact that I’m setting a good example for him – setting goals, creating challenges for myself, and making exercise a priority. And there is nothing like coming home from a run and having him give me a high five and ask if I had a good run.
As for Steve, not once has he complained about my spending an entire Saturday morning on a training run. He understands why I spent $400 on running shoes last year and why our pantry is now cluttered with Gatorade and Gu. Every once in a while, Steve will point out that it’s been a while since I’ve downloaded any new songs and suggests that I get something new for my running mix. He supported me when, on vacation, I took the time to do a ten mile run. Steve will work into conversation with friends that I am training for a marathon, or that I just ran 18 miles, or that I just finished a really cool race – he’s like my publicist, bragging about my accomplishments so I don’t have to! Most importantly, not once has he ever echoed the little voices in my head that say, “You know, it’s kind of hot out today. Maybe instead of running you could sit inside and eat ice cream.”
One of the happiest moments of my life was when I saw the two of them half a mile away from the finish line of my first marathon. Steve was holding up Jack, and the two of them were cheering for me like crazy. It made it easy to give that final kick and finish the race strong, and with a smile on my face.
On a day when I don’t quite feel like going for a run, I will think of the two of them. I’ll think about how many times they’ve smiled and kissed me goodbye before I went out by myself. I’ll think about the signs that they made for me at the marathon. I’ll think about how they tell me I look pretty when I come home bathed in sweat.
It makes me want to show them my appreciation by moving forward, by not quitting, and by being the runner that makes the two of them proud. Better still, I know that my running has helped me immensely to better manage stress, keep my temper, and be a better wife and mother to the two of them. So, I put on my shoes and I go out for a run. For my guys.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Spirit is a documentary that follows six runners of varying abilities (from a Kenyan to bronze medalist Deena Castor to a guy trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon to first time runners to a guy in his 60s) through their training and the race.
I knew I was in for a good time when I parked my car and saw that I was surrounded by other cars with 26.2 stickers on them. The theater was packed with people wearing race t-shirts and running sneakers, making up a nearly sold-out crowd.
It was a really fun setting to be in, as the audience would geek out about interviews with Frank Shorter, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, and John Bingham. I was, of course, excited to see my girl Paula Radcliffe.
The stories were really compelling, and the whole thing was totally inspiring. I wanted to go out for a run right away (though the fact that it was after 10:00 and under 15 degrees below stopped me), and I have to admit that when I got home, I went on the internet to see if there's a way I can run two marathons this year instead of just one (looks like not).
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
If I were to give just one piece of basic advice to aspiring runners, it would be this:
Don’t be intimidated.
So many of the fears I’ve heard from my friends who are starting running boil down to them being intimidated by their lack of experience. They don’t want to look or feel foolish. There is truly no need to be concerned. Runners are among the kindest, most supportive people I have ever met. Nobody is going to laugh at you for being slow, for asking dumb questions, or for not finishing first.
Let’s look at a few places where a novice runner might feel intimidated, and I can promise you, your fears are unfounded.
The very first thing you need when you start running is a good pair of shoes. The best place to go to get those shoes is a store that is dedicated to running. That is where you will be able to get the personalized attention and service you need to get the best pair of shoes for you. Does the idea of that scare you? It shouldn’t. Don’t be intimidated. The staff at those running stores are used to dealing with runners of all levels. And let me tell you, they will be so happy that you’ve chosen to spend your money at their store, and not at Dick’s, that they will give you fantastic service. Don’t be intimidated – go to a running store and get a great pair of shoes.
I know some people who have wanted to start running, but are afraid to leave the confines of the treadmill at the gym. They’re afraid that they’ll look pathetic out there on the street, chugging along too slowly. Don’t be intimidated. The other runners who see you think, “Hey there, fellow runner!” and are just happy to see a comrade. The people driving past you on the streets will either think, “Hey, good for her,” or “Man, I should really do that.” Not one single person will think poorly of you.
Once you start running on a regular basis, you’ll be tempted to enter a race. After all, free t-shirt! But maybe you’re afraid of how you’ll look. After all, what if you come in dead last? What if you’re way, way at the back of the pack? Again, don’t be intimidated. One of the things that makes running unique as a sport is that people can compete in different levels in perfect harmony. When I ran the Bix 7 last year, I finished with a time of 1:10:13. Wude Ayalew , the women’s winner, finished with a time of 36:57. Obviously, she is in a different league than I am, and yet, she and I ran the very same race. That’s like a person who enjoys shooting hoops in their driveway playing a game of basketball with Michael Jordan. Even better, an elite runner and I can both be challenged in a race like that, on our own levels. There’s room for success at any level – even for beginners – so long as you’re not intimidated.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Toughness Points Accrued: 0
Instead, I spent a good portion of the day on Sunday watching Charlotte's Web, also known as Piggy-Spider on the couch with Jack. We snuggled up, and it was delightful. Not so delightful was that I fell asleep with my neck in a very awkward position. I woke up yesterday morning with my neck completely screwed up. It is to the point where instead of turning my head, which hurts so much I feel like throwing up, I pivot from the waist like Batman.
It is very frustrating to know that I can do strong and athletic things, like run a marathon, but that falling asleep on the couch can utterly destroy me.
Toughness Points Accured: -2
So yesterday, I got home from work in a foul mood. Every single thing I did all day long was accompanied by the discomfort of the neck. My head seemed like too weighty of a burden for my poor neck to hold up. It just sucked all around. And it was snowing.
But I went running anyway.
Shoveling the snow and making my neck and shoulder go through that effort was out of the question. But I figured if it would hurt for me to simply walk upright, I might as well be uncomfortable and be running. And I was glad I did. At least I was able to concentrate on something else. At least I was able to enjoy my iPod and the feeling of the snow on my face.
Toughness Points Accrued: 2
It all balances out.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
It has become increasingly obvious that it was silly for me to think I could live without it. There is just so much gadgety fun and number-based nerdiness to be had, you know? I have gone on two runs with the Garmin, and I feel fondly enough towards it that it seems silly to refer to it as The Garmin.
So, as of yesterday's run, it - nay, SHE - has been renamed Paula, after the kickass runner Ms. Paula Radcliffe.
Paula's got some bells and whistles I still need to figure out, but she's pretty easy to run with.
The thing that's not so easy with the running right now is that it is really catlicking cold outside right now. Yesterday it was 16 degrees out - without windchill - and my running outfit could best be described as Bank Robber. I wore:
Long sleeved tech-shirt
Sexy reflective vest
Long underwear in tech fabric
Fleece UnderArmour pants
Usual running socks, though I DESPERATELY wish I could get a pair of running socks that are knee-high, preferably striped.
Survivor buff, worn around my face, covering me from my eyes down, and pulled up in the back to connect with my hat.
The buff got a bit wet from my breathing through it, and towards the end of the run, I yanked it down. By the time I got home, it had frozen.
This, my friends, is the kind of run that Amy at Runner's Lounge says builds your Tough Guy points. I love the fact that my iPod played "Fighter" as I got started.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Roary (Jack speaking): I miss my MommyDaddy.
Me: I understand, Roary. But Jack needs you, and you are a very important part of this family.
Jack: Yeah, Roary. I need you.
As if Jack was not the one who brought up the subject of Roary missing his parents. Ah, the complicated emotional life of a boy and his stuffed tiger. Someone should write a comic strip about it.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The osteopath ordered x-rays and examined my knee. No damage to the bones or tendons, and the space between the bones was “perfect.” He diagnosed it as chondromalacia patellae, which is a pain under the kneecap. The underside of my kneecap is not as smooth as it would be in an uninjured one, and that is what is causing the discomfort. He gave me a “return to running after injury” program to follow and said that, given my level of fitness, I should start with week 3, rather than week 1. He also gave me a handout of weight training to incorporate into my workouts once I’m back up to speed. This will strengthen the muscles and hopefully prevent a recurrence.
I had my first "return to running" workout last night. I ran 15 minutes at a snail's pace (around 12 minute miles), and it felt really strange to be going so slowly, but hey, better that than hurting myself. After that, it was 20 minutes at a "medium" pace, which I had as 10 minute miles. I am happy to report that when I was done, I only felt mild discomfort in the knee, which was gone by the time I went to bed. Yay!
One of the most delightful aspects of my appointment was that the doctor kept referring to my excellent muscles and skeletal structure, my strong conditioning, and referring to me as a strong athlete. That was really flattering.
Jack and I were at Festival of Trees, enjoying the kids' craft area. Jack was making an ornament by stringing beads onto a pipe cleaner, which were then twisted into a circle. The sample the lady showed alternated red and green beads, but naturally Jack had no interest in doing that. He put the beads on however he felt like it, and I saw absolutely no reason to stop him. The craft lady commented that he was the first kid she'd seen who didn't follow the pattern.
I thought that was so sad.
Either Jack is the only kid out there who dared to do anything different or - more likely - the kids who did try to do something different had parents who told them they were doing it wrong or said, "Honey, wouldn't it look pretty if you did red-green-red-green?" And frankly, no, it would not look prettier. It would look like something that I could do, and that would bring me no joy when I saw it hanging on the tree.
Then, a few weeks ago, I took Jack to a paint-your-own pottery place. He selected a lizard figurine, and I got paints while he checked out the play area. The woman who gave me the paints told me that there were different widths of brushes, if I was interested. I laughed and said that wasn't really necessary - the kid making the lizard was only three years old and wasn't about to get fancy with different brush widths.
She smiled at me conspiratorially and said, "Oh, I know, it's hard. You want to let them be creative, but..."
But nothing. The lizard was certainly never supposed to be my artistic creation. If it were, for one thing, it would not have been a lizard. But second, what do I care if he paints it some weird way? The most important thing was for us to all have fun, with a second consideration being for Jack to create something that he was proud of. Him creating a showpiece lizard for me to display was never in the cards. Frankly, it was not at all hard to watch as Jack slapped random colors onto his lizard. Nor was it hard to allow him to name it "Stormtrooper The Lizard."
Jack has also been expressing this creativity a lot in the way he dresses. Yesterday, he decided to pretend to be Prince Charming. So, he added his Santa jacket and a khaki bucket hat to his regular clothes. As you do, apparently. Steve and I had to laugh over the fact that he was going for Prince Charming, but between the crazy getup and the black eye, he looked like a punched lunatic.
Today was even more awesome. I dressed Jack in an outfit that Steve's parents got him - Mickey Mouse t-shirt, with a matching hooded vest. Picture a hooded sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. Jack zipped the vest all the way up, then added my red headband, which he wore Olivia Newton-John style around his head. He looked like an extra from Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. And it was awesome.
Jack's teachers, Miss Missy (unfortunate) was delighted with today's ensemble. As soon as Jack walked in and she spotted the headband she said, "Oh, what are you today? I can't wait to see!" The fact that she takes such obvious joy in the satorical decisions of a three-year old boy makes it clear to me that she is absolutely the right kind of teacher for Jack.
Even if he is a punched lunatic.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
My past couple of posts have gotten some nice comments (hello, lovely people), including a marriage proposal from Nancy. They also seem to be begging for Betsy Lessons of the Week, so here are a few for you all.
Reindeer Sandwiches: Cheryl asked how to make reindeer sandwiches. They could not be easier. You make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or any kind of sandwich, on the theory that maybe your kid recognizes more than one kind of sandwich, unlike mine. Then, you cut it into triangles, which I think we all know is the way that sandwiches taste best. Arrange them on the plate so that the crust is at the top and the bottom points down. Stick two pretzel rods in the top for antlers. Make eyes and noses with raisins. If you're feeling fancy, use a teeny bit of honey to make the raisins stick. Extra Cool Mommy Points if you use a red M&M (the mini ones are best) to make one of the reindeer Rudolph.
The Dishes: The part of the house that gets the biggest, most challenging mess is definitely the kitchen. I mean, every other room, really, all you have to do is put stuff away, and that's not so hard. But the kitchen, you've got to actually clean things. And it's a neverending battle-fight (as Jack would say) because the dirty dishes just keep on coming. I have found that it is absolutely essential to stay on top of them. If there is a dishwasher full of clean dishes, that means that all of the dirty dishes stack up in the sink, which means that I can't really use the sink, and that when I do empty the dishwisher, I have to spend too much time filling it again, and I have to run it again right away, and... ACK! So, as soon as that bitch is full, I run it. And as soon as the cycle is done, it gets emptied. It makes a HUGE difference in my life.
It should be noted, by the way, that I can be really anal about certain things. This being one of them.
In other news...
- Jack voluntarily ate two green beans last night. We are in shock. I was pretty sure he would never eat anything green unless it had an M on it.
- It has been freakishly warm here. All of the pretty snow has melted, and I've gone running IN SHORTS for the past couple of days. Huzzah! But also weird. My man Al Gore is silently weeping over the whole thing, I'm sure.
- I broke down and went to the doctor about my lingering (since, oh, November) knee problem. Every time I go running, my right knee hurts for a day or so. The doctor spent about ten minutes looking at it and said, basically, "Got me. Go see a specialist," so that's what I'm doing tomorrow morning. Of course, after the knee got some attention, it didn't bother me nearly as much during last night's run. Wouldn't it be great if this problem just solved itself?
- We've had a good run together, but it looks like my Nike + is dying. The sensor battery is low, and my friend the Internet tells me that they can't be replaced - I'd have to buy a new kit. Um, is it bad that I am seeing this as an opportunity not to buy a new $30 sensor kit, but rather to spring for a Garmin? Yes, there's a teeny price difference between the two, but I am pretty sure the Garmin will even do my laundry for me. I can't wait to get it in the mail.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
1. When you walk in your front door, which room do you enter?
There's a nice sized foyer at the front of the house. Turn left for the family room, right for the dining room.
2. Do you have a dishwasher?
3. Is your living room carpeted or does it have hardwood floor?
There is a sort of oatmeal-colored carpet that covers the living room and most of the first floor. The kitchen is a very pretty Pergo, and the upstairs is all hardwoods.
4. Do you keep your kitchen knives on the counter or in a drawer?
We have a block of knives on the counter, plus a magnet holding more one the wall. Keeping knives in a drawer would be asking for trouble with Jack!
5. House, apartment, duplex or trailer?
House. Or, if you prefer, a Stately Manor.
6. How many bedrooms is it?
Four. Steve's and my room, Jack's room, a guest room, and the office. I am so glad to have a seperate office. In Previous Stately Wasser Manor, we had the office in the front room of the house, which afforded no privacy for Steve when he was writing.
7. Gas stove or electric?
8. How big is the yard?
Big. I love it so much. Will love it even more when we build a deck.
9. What size TV is in the living room?
Freaking huge. It's 36" and weighs a million pounds.
10. Are your plates in the same cupboard as your cups?
No, we have a really fun mishmash of coffee mugs.
11. Is there a coffee maker sitting on your kitchen counter?
Of course there is. Otherwise I might die.
12. What color is your home painted?
White with black shutters. I would like to repaint the shutters green some day.
13. What room is your computer in?
The office. This is one of the few rooms that Steve and I painted. Three of the walls are a rich chocolate brown, with an accent wall in light blue. It is so pretty, you guys.
14. Are there pictures hanging in your living room?
Of course there are. We have some coffee-related pictures hanging over our lovely orange chenille couch. And the Family Wall is pretty much what you'd expect - a big grouping of pictures of our family.
15.) Are there any themes found in your home?
Our family room is decorated with movie posters - the original Star Wars trilogy, plus movie posters for Jack in his play area - Shrek, Toy Story, Cars, and Spider-Man. Jack's room has the dual themes of Elmo and Star Wars. We hung up a bunch of autographed Star Wars pictures in his room and it looks awesome. Oh, and the guest room is very beachy looking.
16. What kind of laundry detergent do you use?
Cheer, in a big-ass box from Sam's.
17. Do you use dryer sheets?
I don't, because I think they're unneccesary and not at all green. Plus bad for performance fabrics. But Steve uses them.
18. Do you have any curtains in your home?
Brown faux suede curtains in our bedroom, blue ones in Jack's room, and white ones in the guest room. I'd like to get something to add a shot of color to the dining room, maybe a rich orange.
19. What color is your fridge?
20. Is your house clean?
Yes, and will be even more so after the cleaning ladies come tomorrow.
21. What room is the most neglected?
The finished part of our basement. We don't use it for anything.
22. Are the dishes in your sink/dishwasher clean or dirty?
It is my mission in life to always have the dishwasher emptied. Too many dishes pile up, and it's chaotic, plus I then have to stop and empty, then fill the dishwasher before I can work in the kitchen. Things are now as they should be - no dishes in the sink, a few dirty dishes in the dishwasher.
23. How long have you lived in your home?
Since July 2, 2007.
24. Where did you live before?
Temporary Wasser Manor, aka my mom's house.
25. Do you have one of those fluffy toilet lid covers on your toilet?
Those gross me out.
26. Do you have a scale anywhere in your home?
Yes, in the closet in the guest room.
27. How many mirrors are in your house?
Three? One in each bathroom, plus a full-length mirror in the bedroom. We had tons of decorative mirrors in Previous Stately Wasser Manor.
28. Look up. What do you see?
Ceilings with that swirly texture to them.
29. Do you have a garage?
No way would I live in the midwest without a two-car garage.
30. Are you planning on moving anytime soon?
No, and possibly never again.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
It's not easy to fall right back asleep after something like that, but eventually I did. Unfortunately, I think I'd just hit REM sleep when Steve woke me up and asked me to take over. I stumbled downstairs, groggy and bleary-eyed. Jack was watching Dora, and I was even more confused. Dora put Boots in charge of a party and went off with... Swiper? Swiper was helping Dora travel around the world, even preventing different countries' versions of himself from swiping friendship bracelets? Huh? And how did Swiper learn the "Come on, vamonos" song? Several cups of coffee later, I verified that I was not halucinating, but it was a bit touch and go for a while there.
I took Jack to the doctor on Monday - a walk-in clinic at his doctor's office since it was New Year's Eve, so he didn't see his usual doctor. This guy's name was Dr. Schott, which is awesome. Really if your last name is Schott, you should either be a pediatrician or open a bar. Honestly, he should do both. Dr. Schott would be an awesome name for a bar.
I told Dr. Schott about Jack's cough, and Jack, who was pretending to be Spider-Man at the moment, showed the doctor a boo-boo and claimed that it was the bite of a radioactive spider. He told Jack that he'd soon be able to crawl walls... and told me that he had Croup. Jack's treatment for the spider bite, I assume, is to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. For the croup, he prescribed a sterroid to lessen the swelling of his throat.
I went to Target to fill the prescription/see if they had any cute new clothes. Feeling like quite the responsible mom, I asked the pharmacist if there were any side effects I should be aware of. She told me that it would probably make him "jittery." Lovely. Really, every three-year-old needs something to make him especially hyper.
And the stuff definitely makes him nutty. Later that night, he was bouncing off the walls, so determined to destroy something that I gave him a catalog and asked him to rip it up so that I could get just a little bit of work done in the kitchen. Then I blasted my Jack playlist on my iPod and made him dance to burn some of that energy off. Napping is out of the question, and it's hard for him to fall asleep at night, between the coughing and the drug-induced crazy.
The good news is that he slept very well last night - from 7:30 PM to 7:00 AM. And he's only on the meds until Friday. I hope my little guy's cough gets better soon... for all our sakes.