Thursday, August 6, 2015
Friday, November 8, 2013
The treadmills are going whirr, whirr, whirr. All around I hear the cadence of pounding footfalls thump, thump, thump of dozens of disciplined runners. I quietly move over to the row of treadmills. I look to the left. I look to the right. I find an open treadmill. I get on the treadmill. I place my water bottle on the right, a towel next to me on the left—although I'm not sure why I have a towel, since I don’t sweat. I take out my book, set it up on the book shelf in front of me, and turn the treadmill to 3.5 miles per hour; because I’m not a runner.
I am a lot of things, but I am not a runner. Everyone knows that runners:
- Don’t read books while running, and
- Actually run
And since none of those things apply to me, I know, for a fact, that I am not a runner. Well, at least, that was the case over four years ago. Until that fateful day. The day I became a runner.
I’m at the gym, minding my own business, leisurely strolling at 3.5 miles per hour, reading my book, all bundled up with a jacket and sweat pants (Because it's so cold in here!), and not sweating; when the runner to my right looks over to me and says, “Hi! I’m Lucy*. I met you last month at the pool.” I look at her and don’t recognize her. “Yes, we met during the kids’ swimming lessons, remember?” I look at her again more closely, and remember. She does look a bit familiar. At the pool, she had looked a lot different. She had looked like a normal person then. She did not look anything like the runner next to me.
Over the next few months, I get to know her.
“O my gosh!” says Lucy, “I’m completely drenched. I look like I just got out of the pool.”
I look at her and agree. “Yikes! You are. I guess I’m lucky that way. I’m always cold, and you see,” I lean in closer to her and whisper, “I don’t sweat. Not even in 100 degree weather.”
She is speechless at first, but then she adds. “That just means that you’re not exercising hard enough.”
The following day, we are on the treadmills again. Lucy, sweating profusely. Me, hardly perspiring. When Lucy looks over to me and says, “You know, if you’re not sweating that means that you’re probably not working hard enough. Why don’t you try raising the speed to 4.0 miles per hour?”
So I do. To humor her. I set the speed to 4.0.
Days go by and now I’m walking at 4.0 miles per hour. Reading my book. Again, Lucy is sweating buckets and buckets of sweat. Me, I’m as dry as the leaves in winter, and proud of it. Lucy is not impressed. “You’re still not working hard enough,” she says. “Try setting the speed to 4.2.”
To humor her, I do it. I set the speed to 4.2. This goes on for weeks. Lucy, sweating like a pig. Me, not close to breaking a sweat.
Fast forward a few months. I’m briskly moving along at 4.5 miles an hour. When Lucy announces, “If you can walk 4.5 miles per hour, you can easily jog at 5.0 miles per hour.”
I stop in my tracks and almost fall off the back of the treadmill. I'm incredulous. I’m outraged. “But I’m not a runner!” I insist. “I have bad hips. I have weak ankles. I have high arches. I have asthma. I can’t run. I really wish I could, but I just can’t. It’s medically impossible.”
Lucy, just smiles and says, “Trust me. If you can do 4.5 miles per hour, you can handle 5.0 miles per hour.”
Just to prove her wrong, I try it. I crank that treadmill all the way to 5.0. I'm slowly jogging for a few minutes when I start to feel a bit warm, so I pause the treadmill and take off my jacket. I turn the treadmill back on and keep jogging for another ten minutes. At this point I notice that I can no longer read my book because my head is bobbing up and down and it's making me dizzy to try to read. I keep jogging. I feel perspiration rolling down my face. I’m not completely drenched, but I’m actually sweating. “Yuck!” I exclaim. “I’m sweating.”
Lucy smiles at me with an “I told you so smile.”
At that point I realize that like a runner:
- I am sweating
- I can't read my book on the treadmill, and
- The treadmill is set to 5.0 miles per hour and I am no longer walking.
And I think to myself “How is that possible? I’m NOT a runner!”
But that is because I had been wrong about myself. I am not, not a runner. On that day, I became a runner. A bona fide runner. A crazy mother runner.
Over four years later, after countless 5Ks, a bunch of half marathons, and five full marathons, I am convinced that everyone needs a Lucy in her life. Everyone needs someone that will challenge her to step outside her comfort zone; to quickly move to uncharted territory; to do what she always thought was impossible.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
It's the week before the marathon, and according to my marathon training plan I'm ready to run the marathon. Marathon runners know this week as Marathon Taper Week. Relatives and friends of marathon runners know this week as Get Out of the Way Week. And they use this time to plan a vacation in a different hemisphere from where the marathon runner will be located this week.
In the spirit of marathon taper week I've put together a "Top Ten" list of things for a marathon runner to do during taper week.
Top Ten Things to Do During Marathon Taper Week
10) Don't think about not running. This is really hard to do, because this is the week that the weather is perfect for running, and you notice that everyone else in the world is out running.
9) Carbo load. You need to load-up on those carbs. Pasta, potatoes, bread. Bring it on! Remember, beer is full of carbs.
8) Check the weather forecast for race day. Obsessively check the weather. If you don't like the weather forecasted for race day the first time you check, keep checking until you get the forecast you like.
7) Decide on what you will wear for the race. Have outfits ready for every type of weather condition you can imagine. Spend time trying on all these outfits.
6) Clean out your closet. Since your weekly mileage is down, you have all sorts of extra time. Be productive and clean out your closets. If after cleaning out your closets you still have extra time, you can clean out your garage, your kitchen pantry, your laundry room. The options are endless.
5) Memorize the race route map. This is important because you can't count that race officials will properly mark the course. Do you really want to blindly follow the crowd and chance going off course? It's happened before. Don't take chances and memorize the route.
4) Go on a short, two-mile easy run to keep your muscles loose. This is also better known as attending the marathon expo. You can get your two miles of cross training easily by walking to the expo, walking around the expo, and standing in line.
3) Put together your marathon play list. If you spent enough time memorizing the race course, then you can even choreograph the music to coincide with the landmarks on the marathon route.
2) Set your alarm for race day, and in case you're worried that you will not hear the alarm, set two or three other alarms. The more alarms you can set, the better.
And the most important thing to do on marathon taper week.
1) Show up at the start line on the right day.
Friday, October 11, 2013
There is a mosh pit of people lined up on either side. The paparazzi are clamoring to get a better shot of you. The band is playing. People are cheering, waving banners, clapping. Complete strangers are trying to get your attention and are shouting out your name.
"Way to go, Kathy!"
"Looking Good, Susy!"
"Keep up the good work, Nicole!"
You look directly in front of you and see a cleared path to follow. People move out of the way to let you pass by. You are nervous and excited. The energy is all around. "That’s right," you think, "It’s time to Party. It’s time to get this 26.2 mile party on the road." Because this marathon has just started.Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that anyone who links the word party with the word marathon is completely out of her mind. And I would normally agree with you on that one, if it weren’t for the endorphins from all the running. It’s like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Yes, these endorphins make me so happy that I’m convinced that running a marathon is as much fun as a party, but wait, I can actually prove it.
First, other than Oktoberfest, where can you go and hang out with a mob of happy people with whom you share the same interests? A marathon is full of people with shared goals. Thousands and thousands of brand-new friends who, just like you, have trained for months. Friends that know what it's like to live off GUenergy gels and Gatorade for the past three months. They have carbo-loaded. They understand all about hill repeats, speed workouts, and long runs. If you tell them that you just ran 20 miles and then sat in a bathtub full of ice cubes afterward, they will nod and smile in understanding. And don’t forget that they also speak your language. Not only can they say the word fartlek, they can say it without bursting out laughing or quickly getting out of your way when you say it.And if having thousands of new friends isn’t enough, how about all the celebrities you’ll see along the way? At my last marathon, I actually saw Elvis. I know, you thought he was dead, so did I, but there he was singing to me in front of the conservatory. By the way, I also saw Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, the Blues Brothers, and a gorilla. A real gorilla. He was just standing there giving everyone high-fives.
How about all the free food and drinks? I used to think that Saturday morning at Sam’s Club was the place to go for free food and drinks, but no, a marathon has that beat. You go to Sam’s Club and there you might see five, maybe six free sample tables with one person working and fifty people lined up in a single file line to get a bite of bacon-wrapped, cheese, mini dogs. At a marathon, you’ll find at least twenty-four stations of table, after table staffed by hundreds of people handing out refreshments, and the best part; no waiting. And then there are the random strangers that will give you bottled water, free candy, fresh fruit, home-baked cookies, and even ice-cold beer. Try to get free, ice-cold beer at Sam's Club.How can it get better than this? Well how about all the cool party favors they hand out. At the Flying Pig Marathon, I got a brand-new, technical shirt with the coolest logo of a pig dressed up like Batman. Who doesn’t love pigs and Batman? But together? I know, wow! They also give you a brand new Asics gym bag, and all types of free samples.
But the best thing is the fans. They line up all along the 26.2 miles for hours and hours, just to watch and to cheer-on the runners. They have cowbells. They have megaphones. They have cute babies. They have streamers. And they have the best signs in the world. They make these signs that say things like:
“Worst Parade Ever” (which is funny because it’s not true)
“Chuck Norris never ran a marathon."
“Don’t stop people are watching."
"Why do all the cute ones run away?”
And the best sign of all, at the mile 25 marker: “The end is near.”As you can see, a marathon is just one long party. You get to make thousands of new friends. You get to rub elbows with celebrities. You get free stuff. You have strangers cheering you on and entertaining you the entire time. But best of all is that moment when you think that you’ve had enough fun. It’s been close to four hours and you look straight ahead. The end is near (that guy at mile 25 was right). You cross the finish line with your arms held high. And just as you stop, a fan places a medal around your neck. A shiny new medal. Now that’s what I call the end of a great party. A 26.2-mile-long party.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Being the good mother that I am, and wanting the best for my children, I’m always on the lookout for wholesome opportunities that will help me grow strong, healthy children. In addition to watching their diet, keeping them safe, and loving them beyond words, I realize that it’s important to provide them with opportunities to exercise their growing muscles. . .
Therefore, please explain to me why my children spend most of their time glued to their computers, or reading books, or working on arts and crafts? I’ll tell you what, it’s time for an intervention, that’s what that is!
A reality check moment occurred the other day. Googie was whining to me about how I never let him do any exercise, and how much he loved to run, and how I never let him go out for a run. When he was done with his exposition, and after I was done laughing uncontrollably (kids say the darndest things), I calmed down enough to ask him if he would like to join a cross country team. His brother was on a high school cross country team that also had a grade school team. It seemed to be a great solution to this problem.
He was so excited that he jumped up and down, hugged the guts out of me, and proclaimed me the best mother in the world. After I collected my guts and put them back in my body, we went to the cross country information meeting. He liked what he heard, so off we went to get a pair of real running shoes (real=expensive) and a couple of running outfits. All the bases were covered. No chance for an epic fail.
Eager to begin his first day of practice, Googie was dressed and ready to go. Running shoes. Check. Running clothes. Check. Giant water bottle filled with ice-cold water. Check. And out the door we went. We showed up to practice about thirty minutes early so we relaxed under a tree. The team started to show up. The coaches showed up. Practice began.
Googie had a lot of fun meeting the other kids on the team and taking part in the ice-breaker activities where everyone introduced themselves. Then just like that, the coach told everyone to run around the field to warm up, and a herd of runners took off. After the dust settled, I looked and saw Googie standing in the middle of the field, all alone, crying.
I ran up to where he was. “What’s wrong?”
“Everyone is faster than I am”
“That’s okay, they have been running for a while. You’re a beginner. It’s okay.”
“I’m going to die!” he cries.
“No, you’re fine. Let’s just walk back.”
“I hate running! Why did you make me run? You think this is fun?”
“Yes, running is fun. You just went out too fast. You’ll be fine.”
“No! I will never run again! I don’t like cross country. I don’t like running on the grass. Why did you make me join cross country? I want to play soccer”
Thinking (or not thinking), I quickly point out, “Sweetie, soccer is running on grass after a ball.” This rational, statement flipped his switch. Did I say rational? Everyone knows that rational and children don't go well together. If Googie was upset before I said that, then he was completely unhinged at that point.
“You just don’t want me to do anything! You don’t want me to exercise! You don’t want me to have fun! You like to see me suffer! I never want to do this again!” He was hysterical. I would also like to point out that there are not enough exclamation points in this world to express how that child sounded at that moment.
He was upset. I was upset. After I spent a fortune on cross country gear, he just quits on the first day of practice. Although I’m a firm believer that a person should finish what they start, I’m also a firm believer in peace and quiet. I think that twenty-plus years of practice as a mother have taught me this, at the least. And ten years of practice with this particular son have taught me that the probability of a good outcome if I insist he stay on the team and attend practices, would be zero. Weighing my options, I decided that he could quit.
Today, Googie is perfectly happy reading his books about Chemistry, building Rube Goldberg machines, and making a mess in our living room— while his running shoes sit nearby. His running shoes, very expensive knick-knacks, go really well with the décor in that room right now. Trés Chic!
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Being the only female in a house overrun by testosterone is rather exhausting. Males are noisy, smelly, and messy. A male’s idea of clean and hygienic is rather different than a female’s. For example, males are staunch believers in the ten-second rule; when something edible falls to the ground, they have ten seconds to pick it up and eat it. That’s just ridiculous. Any self-respecting female, or at least any rational person (I’m being redundant, sorry), knows that you only have three seconds to pick food off the ground before it becomes inedible. Then there’s the whole thing about manners. Boys and girls have different ideas of what constitutes polite, social behavior, especially at the dinner table.
According to Emily Post, etiquette expert, there is a correct way to behave at the dinner table, and she has a list of the Top TenTable Manners that are very basic and should be easy to remember. They include chewing with your mouth closed; not making any gross noises at the table, such as, blowing your nose or slurping; not sticking your hand in your mouth (or other orifices, gross!); using your napkin, keeping your elbows off the table; you get the idea. These are just a few of the ten, very basic and easy-to-remember rules, or at least I used to think they were easy to remember. I can’t keep track of how many times I have found myself teaching these rules, or reminding my table-mates of these rules, or how many times the rules get broken around here.
But with all the etiquette rules and whatnot that are out there, I have to say that I’m sure that no other family in the entire world has "The Two Basic Rules of Dinnertime Conversation" that we have at our home. These two rules are always followed around here, and it’s a rare day when both of them are forgotten at dinnertime. We could be talking about politics, religion, current events, or any controversial, non-controversial, or just plain lame topic. These two rules are always followed:
1) Always bring up a bug of some type in conversation.
2) Always mention a bodily fluid of some type at the dinner table.
Let me give you a few examples. You would think that the Bible would be a safe topic at the dinner table, but at this house the conversation would somehow turn to Moses, and someone (one of the male youngsters in this house) would most definitely bring up every bug in the ten plagues, as well as how the water was turned into blood. Or how about talking about the beautiful, flowering pear trees, or the sweet-smelling blooms on our linden trees; you would think that was safe, right? But then we would end up talking about bees, flower nectar, and the process that bees go through to make honey (FYI, it involves bodily fluids). Okay, you say, the weather is a safe topic, right? Wrong! We would end up talking about flies in the spring, and how they regurgitate what they eat every time they land on something. Or we would end up talking about mosquitoes in the summer, and how they suck your blood. Babies are cute and safe, you say. Umm, let’s not go there. You get the picture, I hope.
So, if you live in a male-dominated household and are looking for a way to spice up things at your dinner table, or if you want to lose a few pounds, why not consider adopting "The Two Basic Rules of Dinnertime Conversation." You too could be blessed by boys and bugs and spit and blood.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Sitting around the kitchen table, doing school work together as a family, beginning the day at whatever hour works best, wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers, a typical homeschooling family starts its day. I remember back when I was researching homeschooling this was one of the scenes that was repeatedly painted by homeschooling experts.
I never quite understood the appeal of sitting around past breakfast time still in pajamas. Pajamas are for sleeping and nothing else, that is, unless you're sick or you have a newborn. The thought of going past breakfast still wearing my pajamas is depressing. I can't walk to the mailbox in my pajamas. I'm not sure why, but all I know is that if I have to open the front door for any reason, I will at least put on some real pants.
Apparently, I'm strange (surprised?). It seems that wearing pajamas in public is the thing for the PTO crowd to do, particularly while dropping children off at school. It's like a scene straight out of People of Walmart. I almost feel overdressed in the morning dropping my children off while wearing jeans, a Target crewneck, and gym shoes. That's right, I didn't get the memo. I can almost hear the other moms thinking, "Who does she think she is? Wearing real clothes here like that."
So, in tribute to these moms, and dedicated to their traumatized children, I present to you, my highly-regarded, award-winning, five-star poem entitled "Mama in Pajamas."
Mama in Pajamas
she drives the kids to school
with rollers in her hair
she looks like such a fool
you wish she wasn't there
she walks out of the car
with slippers on her feet
why does she walk so far
why can't she be discreet
you hope your friends can't see
maybe they're all asleep
oh, Lord please have mercy
or else you just might weep
mama in pajamas
morning, noon and bedtime
tell your shrink your traumas
of mama drama school time