Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rick Crapster

Rick Craaaaaaaaaaaapster.
Meet Rick Crapster. 

Some of you know him as Raoul.

In his nearly 16 years of life, he's had multiple short-lived stints answering to Milo, Nacho, Long John, Tinbit, Lorelai, Boy, The Boy, Boyish, McBoy and Senor Pussypants.*

And when I say answering, I don't mean that he actually acknowledges any of those names. There are a lot of vacant stares when we talk at him.

His given name, Raoul, was selected during the peak of my own play time of Tears for Fears' fifth CD, "Raoul and the Kings of Spain."

He practices saying his own name, usually after we've all gone to bed, while he paces the long hallway to take a few bites of food before joining us in our bedroom. 

"Raaahh-ooooohewl.  Raaaahhh-ooohewl," he croons.

But now, he is Rick Crapster.

I didn't create Rick Crapster. I'm not that talented.  I did, however, immediately following a harrowing aqua jogging experience yesterday, return home to soothe my soul by devouring what was left of my secret chocolate stash and watching some Dog the Bounty Hunter before I had to get the kids from school.

I can't do the Rick Crapster episode justice. I strongly encourage you to Netflix it (Season 8, Episode 2: Trouble in Paradise).  Without totally spoiling it, there is a delightful surprise with an ATV, the consumption of PEZ,  Beth talking smack with the crudest woman ever and Leland taking someone (Rick Crapster, actually) out.**  It's bounty hunting, Chapman-style, at its finest.

After 45 minutes of the Chapman's talking about Rick Crapster, I couldn't help but to rename The Boy. I texted Husband to let him know of the change.  

"I sense a story," was Husband's response.

The success of a name change is repetition.*** We can't just announce: "We're calling him Ricky Crapster, now," and assume that it will stick. We have to pose questions and answers using the new name. We need to create songs. It's not a bad idea to even start creating new nicknames (the Spin-off) based on the newest name we're trying to commit to. It is also good to get Buy-In from outsiders. For example:

  • "Daddy, did you say hello to Rick Crapster yet? Say hello to Rick Crapster, Daddy. Give Rick Crapster some Daddy love. Rick Crapster needs Daddy love."
  • "Is Rick Crapster hungry? Does Rick Crapster want to eat?  Poor Rick Crapster. He so hungry that big, bad Rick Crapster. What does Rick Crapster want to eat? Food? Does Rick Crapster want some food?"
  • "Has anyone fed Rick Crapster? Who is feeding Rick Crapster? Has Rick Crapster eaten yet?"
  • "Does Rick Crapster have a plan for today? Who knows what Rick Crapster is planning for today? What's on Rick Crapster's agenda?"  

I'm going to take a napster
With Little Ricky Crapster...

Spin off: 

Rick Crapster ... Ricky Crapster ... Ricky Bobby (See? That was Daughter's Genius. She got us from Dog to Talledega Nights in one turn!)

Outsider Buy In:

A friend is working on a mascot and logo for an organization she works for and was soliciting some Facebook feedback on her preliminary designs. All of my suggestions for her included Rick Crapster. And then I liked all of my own comments.

Rick Crapster for Mascot.

I'm sure a lot of her Facebook friends are wondering, "Who the fuck is Rick Crapster?". And
those that ask, force her to explain Rick Crapster. She might even respond, "Rick Crapster is the newest name of my friend's cat.  His name is Rick Crapster. You can call him Rick Crapster."

Suddenly, everyone is talking about Rick Crapster.

Currently, Rick Crapster is curled up on his little pillow near the radiator. Rick Crapster looks comfy. After this post, and at least 40 minutes of knitting, I think I'll get Rick Crapster and snuggle with him on the couch. 

I think Rick Crapster would like that.

Rick Crapster. It's the name you wish you would have given to your cat, too.

But you didn't.

*Senor Pussypants has a theme song.
Senor Pussypants!
Senor Pussypants!
A Pussy here,
and a Pussy there.
Senor Pussypants!

** Leland gets cranky when he's hungry. I will keep this fact in mind, should I ever anticipate needing to occupy his time for several hours at a time.

*** We've never actually had success. I'm just guessing ...


Returning from school with Little Guy today, I came to an intersection that was a full-out clustercus of cars and construction and a woman walking a dog.

I don't remember who did or didn't lurch into the street, but we were all at a standstill, with one car (not mine) kind of holding everyone up.  

It had potential to get ugly.

The woman walking her dog looked at the car in the middle of the street - its driver looked really uncertain about continuing through the intersection. She smiled and waved him through.  

Then he smiled at her. 

Then I smiled because I thought this was going to be yet another incident of too many self-important, self-absorbed d-bags that were going to honk and yell and gesture.

One simple smile diffused all the potential ugly.

I was very happy to witness it all.

PS - Don't be alarmed. I've got something in draft format that is the standard piss and vinegar / acid tongue for which I'm known. I just think it's nice to give a nod to the people and stuff that doesn't suck, when it is deserved.  Also - Chicago experienced about 7 hours of spring-like weather today. It's hard to not be smiley.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging is the stupidest fucking thing ever.

Really. It is.

I just spent 40 minutes aqua jogging in lane 6 at the Y. I don't actually know if I was aqua jogging for sure.  I was in water,  so I guess that accounts for the aqua part. As for jogging? Hmmm... I was moving my legs and doing something extraordinarily wild with my arms to try and run/pull/kick my way from the mid-point of the pool, where I can't touch, to the deep end. 

Aqua jogging.

My workout was a 10 min EZ warm up, 10 x 1 min Hard/1 min EZ and then a 10 min EZ cool down.  

There is no differentiation between my EZ and my hard. I was either thrashing my way in a barely perceptible forward motion, or I let my snazzy weighted water belt naturally turn me on my stomach for a dead man's float.   That's what it does: It makes you fall forward.

The water belt, a size small, wasn't small enough for me. I don't know if the typical aqua jogger has a big gut or giant boobs, but my belt kept slipping up. The first 20 minutes of my run, it was resting under my arm pits and pushing me forward in an unnatural way. The entire time, the plastic attachment to the belt - much like the kind you find in restaurant high chairs, was cutting into my ribs. I couldn't make the belt stay around my waist, no matter how tight I cinched it. So I lurched forward and did the best I could do until my 40-minute sentence was over.

I'm glad I either didn't know about the shoes, or they weren't available at our Y. Because that shit wasn't going to happen regardless. I didn't use the weights, either.

I hated it. I hated every minute of it. In addition to the physical discomfort of the belt and not really knowing if I was doing it right or not, at the end of 40 minutes, it didn't feel like I had completed any kind of workout, which is a strong indicator that I wasn't doing it right.

How can you run when your feet aren't touching anything? Isn't that treading water?

I watched a video and everything. 

Fuckin' aqua jogging.

How I really feel about it:

1)  The person who invented aqua jogging is a jerk.
2)  Aqua jogging is stupid.
3)  Aqua jogging is bad for my spirit.
4)  Aqua jogging makes me crave a good long swim with lots of big gulps of filthy poison water.
5)  I hate aqua jogging.
6)  I could not aqua jog to the end of a pool if naked Eddie Vedder, naked Leland Chapman, naked Patrick Sharp or naked Jason Schwartzman were at the opposite end, cheering me on with their hot nakedness, a bottle of Jack Daniels, two dozen oysters on the half and some high quality yarn.
7)  Aqua jogging makes me want to cry (and I started to at minute 11), even though I've been out of the pool for a full hour.
8) I am done with aqua jogging.
9) I would prefer sliding naked down a banister of razor blades* than to ever aqua jog  again.
10) The best thing about aqua jogging today was that I got a great, legal and unmetered parking space directly in front of the Y.

I would like to binge drink right now. 

Madison, I'm sorry I was a bitch when you stopped by. It was the aqua jogging, not you.

* Gilmore Girls reference

Monday, February 27, 2012

In The Long Run: Injury (aka, My Left Foot)

Another Monday installment covering the road (or tread) more and less traveled by Midlife Rambler and Triple T...

I pulled off 10 miles of running on Saturday - at an overall pace that was a bit surprising - with a mild case of Plantar Fasciitis.

I cut the run short 50 minutes, and to some, that might have been quitting. To me, it was an absolute triumph.

For starters, from the very first stride, I had discomfort. I powered through 6 miles before texting my coach when the discomfort started to get a little more intense. It wasn't full-blown pain, but I could see it was going there.  One year ago, I would have been back in the house with a glass of wine in my hand by stride four. 

"I can't run when I'm injured! I need more wine!" 

On my mind for the entire run was a text I had gotten from my coach the night before: "Be smart tomorrow." 

I knew what she meant. Don't be stupid and run through pain. But don't quit just because you haz a boo-boo. Distinguish pain from discomfort and adjust accordingly.

Got it.

While I tried to not focus on my left foot, the constant discomfort reminded me for 6 stupid miles that it (the left foot) wasn't totally happy to be on this run with me. I tried drowning out its anger with Mini Snickers and Power Gels. There was a brief period on Sheridan Road, while Grace Jones was entertaining me with "Pull Up To The Bumper" that I wasn't thinking about my left foot: I was totally thinking about Grace Jones' 'bumper'. *

By the time I hit six miles, I could feel a hot sting on the inside of my left calf -- starting just a bit above my ankle. That area is a hot spot for me when I use The Stick to roll out my calves, so drawing on all the medical education and knowledge I have**, I deducted that I could be in trouble. I shut down the Garmin and texted my coach to let her know what was happening and ask her what I should do. While I was waiting for her response, I called Husband to let him know things were about to get shitty, and I might need him to save me from myself.

Coaches first response: "Is it sharp?"
Me: "No. Discomfort for whole 6 miles, getting more intense at ankle and calf."
Coach: "Only (stop) if it's sharp pain. Slow it down some."
Me: "K"
Coach: "Wait. Are you 6 miles away from home?"
Me: "Yes"
Coach: "Turn around."
Me: (To myself: Did that already. )
Coach: "Shoot for 7.5 or 7 miles."
Me: "K"

Once I started running again, I didn't feel bad, but I was very aware of that hot spot above my ankle. At intersections and lights, I'd bend down to massage it a bit: it felt hot. I thought that was odd, but I kept going.

More heat. Tight, hot, heat. But the rest of me felt fine.

I texted Husband: Meet me at Northwestern's Student Union Building. Get me after Little Guy is off the ice. And I kept running.

At 7.81 miles, I found myself in front of the Swimming and Athletic facility. I switched the Garmin off again and I headed inside to stretch. On the floor in this building -- which was bustling with activity -- I decided to dig into my calf as hard as I could. I took my shoe off and as I rolled my running tights up, I saw the source of my pain.

It wasn't my calf muscle. At 39-years old, I've evidently not yet  mastered how to properly put on pants. My Cold Gear Compression tights were all bunched up at the ankle, working for 7.81 miles to create a blood blister the size of a pencil top eraser just a little north of my ankle. That was my white-hot pain. My stupid pants had rubbed the shit out of my ankle.

I'll be honest: for a second, I sat on that floor and thought, "No one has to know. I can stop right now and no one has to know that the pain I had wasn't from my PF, but a symptomatic result of me not having a firm grasp on daily skills, such as dressing myself. No one has to know."

I yanked my toes towards me a little more. I worked the abnormally high arch of my foot pretty aggressively.  I dug into my calf muscles, being careful to avoid my new, throbbing blister.  

I knew I'd HATE myself if I quit. This run was not what I wanted it to be, but I was damn close to 8 miles into it. Quitting now seemed dumb.

I pulled my tights down my foot, so that they were mid-arch, to prevent further blistering. I got up, used the restroom (Why not? It's there!), sucked down another Gel, and got back to running (after texting Coach and Husband).

This had to have been my ugliest run ever. I had two breaks (one at the 6 mile mark to get feedback on whether I should stop or continue on, and then at the 5-minute stretch and blister control session at NU) and for someone that doesn't stop or walk through water support stations during races, that's borderline failure. I knew that pushing on was what had to happen. It was the pushing through that was going to make this run less of a suck and more of a success.
It shouldn't look like this.

For a short stretch on the NU campus, with Lake Michigan to my left, I thought about Eric Moussambani, that luckless fuck from Equatorial Guinea who won a wild card entry (designed to encourage developing countries without expensive training facilities to participate in different events) to swim the 100 Meter Freestyle in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He had only started swimming 8 months prior to the games.

I remember seeing this event back then. I couldn't remember his name or where he was from or what year it occurred,  but I remembered watching that poor summabitch in the pool, practically vertical, trying to reach the end of his lane.*** The crowd went nuts cheering him on, because he was so ridiculously out of his element. They cheered him to the end of his set.

I was a running Moussambani today. I wasn't winning shit. And it hurt. And I wanted to stop. I also had a small crowd cheering me on: I had gotten two texts - one from Husband and one from Coach - that told me what a hardcore, bad-ass I was. So I kept running.

And then I kept running some more. 

I kept running until I realized that in addition to my left foot/ankle/heel and calf pain, the left side of my ass was starting to hurt. I made a quick decision that I was likely - but unconsciously - adapting my running form to either protect my PF injury - or even to spare my oozing blood blister - and that adaptation was causing me other problems. I figured that dealing with PF 10 weeks before the marathon was really all I had time for: I should work hard to avoid fucking up the rest of my body now, too.

At about 9.6 miles, and still running, I texted Husband and told him where he could pick me up. And then I ran my ass off until I hit 10 miles.

Then I stopped running.

One year ago, assuming I might have run longer than the first four painful strides, stopping at 10 miles when I had at least 4 more to go would have sunk me mentally. Today, I limped across the street and crawled into Husband's parked car (we had a flawless pick up!) and proudly reported that I made it 10 miles WITH PLANTAR FASCIITIS. ****

Saturday's run was fraught with good decisions. And when I couldn't make them entirely on my own, I contacted the right person to help me through it. There's something to be said about knowing what you don't know. I'm happy that I can discern discomfort from pain: that feels like some kind of evolution as a runner.

Let's face it, I'm going to have a ton of discomfort during this 26.2. Ideally, the PF will be in check by then, but from what I hear, 26.2 miles can really do a number on an otherwise healthy/happy body. You either push through the discomfort and pain or you DQ yourself.

I'm hoping today's little experiment will arm me with some mental toughness on May 5th. I earned a stripe today, for sure.

Stop by Midlife Rambler's page to see how he has - or hasn't - dealt with injuries. Cautionary tales, readers. Cautionary tales, indeed.

* Grace is not singing about parallel parking.

** I have no medical education or knowledge.

*** Thanks be to Google and YouTube. I found him and watched his agonizing 1 min 52 sec thrash to the end of his lane. The crowd cheered him on like he was setting a new record (he was, I believe, actually setting a new record: a new record for slowness.) and once again, just like 2000, I had tears in my eyes.  Incidentally,  Moussambani was practically vertical and that bastard still could beat me in a 100 m. WTF?

**** Everything I do now is done with Plantar Fasciitis. I ran 10 miles with Plantar Fasciitis. I washed the dishes with Plantar Fasciitis. I answered the phone with Plantar Fasciitis. I cleaned the cat box with Plantar Fasciitis, etc., etc., etc. Everything I do with Plantar Fasciitis is 20x more worthy than whatever you may or may have not done without it.*****

***** That last statement was directed at Husband.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Little Splurges

I went grocery shopping yesterday and splurged a little.

Since Husband and I made a commitment a few months ago to really save money (like, really saving money), I've been a hard ass about buying anything that isn't necessary or on sale. And if it is on sale, but not necessary, I'm still not buying it.  We've watched our monthly expenditures on groceries plummet significantly. We eat out less and seem to eat better. We shop smarter.  And we don't buy everything we want the second we think we need it.  

I knew we had saved some bucks on groceries and since it's a short month (just 29 days!), I got a little crazy at the grocery store. Oh yeah...I'm crazy like that.

First unnecessary purchase: Pink tulips. 10 stems on sale for $2.99. And even though it had just started snowing as I walked into the store, I knew that tulips meant spring was news. Tulips are my absolute favorite flower and at $2.99, I couldn't resist them. 

Second unnecessary purchase: A bottle of Malbec. I wasn't going to Run Club because of a conflict with Husband's schedule (and because of the Plantar Fasciitis), so I didn't have a post run beer to look forward to. But with nothing to do but prop up my bum leg and knit, Malbec seemed like a good consolation prize. 

And it was.

Third unnecessary purchase: A bag of mini Snickers. I have been jonesing for chocolate all week and realizing that at my age, a hidden stash of chocolate was 100% okay. I hid the chocolate in my knitting bag. The kids had no idea how the mini bites of awesomeness made it into their lunch bags today.  Daughter suggested it was simply "Mommy Magic" and is fine with not knowing how it got there, so long as it got there.

Good girl, Daughter.

Fourth unnecessary purchase: Peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.  I love to bake. And I love to bake Nestle Tollhouse Cookies (The only modification I make to the recipe is to use a mix of chocolate AND peanut butter chips).  But more than loving to bake the cookies, I just love how my house smells when I bake them. Plus, I had just received four boxes of Girl Scout cookies from a mom-friend at pick-up (and I had that bag of Snickers in the cart, remember?): it's not like I needed to bake cookies.

I needed to smell cookies.

Because of my foot, I ended up not baking them last night, but did so today instead. It would have been perfect, had I not forgotten to take out the broiler tray we used last night to make hamburgers: The house smelled like smokey, charred meat before I got the cookies in the oven. Oh well.

I've been enjoying the flowers all day and all night, and between little covert attacks on the chocolate stash in my knitting bag and less covert attacks on the freshly baked cookies, I'm damn happy. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm a Real Runner, Now!

I just returned from the chiropractor's office. The left foot has been struggling since Sunday's long run. 

I've got plantar fasciitis. 

The appointment took a little longer than normal, mostly because he stuck me with a few needles on the bottom of my left foot and on my calf muscle.  Then he taped my foot up and I walked out of his office with extra tape and instructions on how to wrap my foot before Saturday's long run .  I also left with  "The Stick"

I get to rub out my calves before and after running with this thing. 

Yup. I'm a middle-aged runner.

Being told I have PF doesn't make me a real runner. I think what makes me feel like a real runner now is that when I walked into the chiropractor's office I was pretty blunt. 

And desperate. 

Desperately blunt.

"I have my long run on Saturday. I have to do my long run. And if she (my coach) makes me run in the pool, I'm going to fucking kill myself."

The first time I met my chiropractor was when I was training for my first half marathon in 2010. I went in for some minor problem and was praying he'd tell me I'd have to pull out of the race.  

He didn't.

This time, I went in there praying he wouldn't tell me I couldn't do my long runs.

He didn't.

And that, I think, is what makes me feel 'legit.'  I'm a real runner because this long run, as shitactular as it could be (they're calling for 6-9 inches of snow on Friday) is important to me. I need to do this long run. Period.

I will also say that I was relieved that I actually had a legit issue. I'm a pussy and I would have died of embarrassment if he told me, "You haz a boo boo on your piggies. Take two aspirin and call me if you need help pulling off the band aid."

But now I can be all hard-core/bad ass/tough guy: "Fuck yeah. I be rollin' all over town with the PF. A little inflamed ligament doesn't stop this bitch from doin' what she do." 

My mileage isn't going to be great this week -- I've missed two run workouts. I'm still allowed to bike. I'm unfortunately still allowed to swim. I could probably get both arms stuck in a wood chipper, and I'd still have to swim.*

I think Saturday's 2 hour/35 minute long run will be loaded with intention:  knowing that not being able to run would be way worse than having to run, even if it is snowy and slushy and I'm tired.

*Anyone have a wood chipper I could borrow?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Naked Stranger Hugged Me Today: Another Weird Naked Story

I had a swim workout scheduled for today. It was my first scheduled swim workout in a few weeks, as I was letting the imaginary tonsilith / actual damaged esophagus heal. Honestly, the workout scared the shit out of me: it seemed like too much, too fast, too soon.  I've been agonizing over the workout since I opened up the e-mail this morning which detailed what I was expected to do.

As I sat in my car in front of the Y, I resolved that although my coach had outlined her intention for my swim, I was going to make my own: If I stuck to my own intention and couldn't meet hers, it was going to be considered a win.

My intention?  I wanted to focus on my exhaling which, in theory, will help me swallow less water.

There's been a fair amount of conversation about why I get sick in the pool. We've ruled out nutrition*. And while I do show signs of sensitivity to chlorine, it doesn't mean I'm hard core allergic. For the most part, I just seem to swallow too much water.  

The feedback on correcting this problem has been this: Don't swallow so much water.

That's all well and good, but the reality is I don't swallow pool water intentionally. I've never woken up thirsty and thought to myself, "Hey. Why waste all my good water here at home? Go to the Y and get as much free pool water in your belly as possible! Suckers!!" It's not like I'm Austrian or anything.

I guess all swimmers take in a little water. I either take in more than a little or what I do take in has enough poison (Chlorine is poison, kids. And when people sweat and piss in the pool, it creates more little strains of poison.) to make me nauseous. Whatever. I did some research and learned that full exhales underwater -- and completing the exhale before I turn my head to inhale -- will minimize my intake. I knew this before, but it served as a good reminder, nonetheless.

As I'm entering the six lane, like a lamb to slaughter, I notice Aurora in the pool. I am not good at recognizing friends in the pool: swim caps and goggles make it hard to identify anyone. But since Aurora swims for 3 or 4 hours at a time (she crossed The English Channel in September and is planning a few more major swims), she has a shit-ton of nutrition and swim gear on deck at the end of her lane. If I can't recognize Aurora-the-person, I can always recognize her stuff.

I stopped by and we chatted for a few minutes. The pool was busy this morning, so even though I had dropped my gear a few lanes down, bitches be swarmin', so I started to move back to my lane. I asked Aurora how much time she has left in her workout and she told me that for the duration, she has to swim with a parachute.

[insert record scratch here]


Part of her torture training includes swimming with a smallish parachute attached at her waist -- I imagine this provides some resistance so she feels like she's swimming against current. Right then I knew that my dumb-ass workout wasn't that bad: no where on the workout did it tell me to strap on the parachute.

My swim was okay. I managed 1,750 yards (that's a mile, give or take) and was a little faster on my sets than I was supposed to be. I cut my warm up and cool down significantly and totally forgot about my intention to focus on exhaling. I just kept thinking about Aurora, a few lanes over, dragging a damn parachute behind her.

I didn't exactly meet my intention, and I didn't exactly meet the intention of Coach, who had about 1,000 more yards or warm up and cool down for me, but I came out unscathed.

Back in the locker room, I was immediately aware of the Y's hi-tech ventilation system: a $20 oscillating fan mounted to the top of the wall at the corner of the locker room. By the time I had crossed the 6-lane pool, walked thru the 4-lane pool, got up the stairs and was into the shower area of the locker room, I was cold. At my locker, with the oscillating fan blowing cold air directly on me, I became uncomfortable.

I complained about the dumb fan to Aurora,  who was just around the corner from me, and doing her best not to flash me -- even though she's threatened to do just that on numerous occasions because she knows how uptight I get about Weird Naked. A woman in the same bank of lockers said, "I think you can turn it off," which surprised me. I guess in my short-bus kind of mine, I thought ventilation was controlled in the sophisticated offices of the Y (the locked broom and supply closet in the corner of the locker room). Little did I know, there was a pull cord on the fan to adjust speed and turn it off and on.

Still in my swimsuit, and with a towel wrapped around me for warmth, I went to the fan to turn it off. I didn't even see the cord. As I awkwardly fumbled with the dial, a woman -- naked and still toweling off -- announced that she also disliked the fan. And before I knew it, she was standing behind me. Really, really close behind me.  

Okay, her naked and wet front was partially touching my towel-covered back. 

WEIRD NAKED. Possibly Weird Naked with Assault. That's a felony in Texas, I'm sure.

I am the Queen of Weird Naked. Not because I do Weird Naked, but because I witness a lot of Weird Naked. Since I've been so open about how Weird Naked freaks me out, I have a cadre of peeps who are compelled to text me the minute they are witnessing Weird Naked. 

The only thing that kept me from absolutely collapsing into a freaked out heap onto the floor -- other than I'd probably see naked woman's hoo-ha from the ground up, was that Aurora was privy to the whole scene: she saw the Weird Naked -- the Weird Naked that involved me.

I got into the shower and stayed in it for no less than 7 hours, just to make sure the coast was clear when I got back out. It was.  I got myself dressed and out of there in 10 minutes flat. 

Subsequent Facebook exchanges resulted in actual LOL's. 

Me: Was that woman totally naked when she stood right behind me to the fix the fan? Did I just win the title for Weird Naked?

Aurora: Oh Yeah. And I was thinking: OMG, Tracy is going to die! 
Aurora: I was in a towel, so I couldn't help!

I will never love swimming in a pool. I could grow to like swimming in open water (if the water temp is a perfect 74F). But I do love seeing friends at the pool, getting a reality check on what I'm doing and of course, being hugged from the back by a naked stranger. 

Some people have to pay cash money to get naked people to touch them!

And then I went to the store and bought some chocolate milk and a Snickers bar. Good day!

*We've ruled out nutrition as a factor to sickness except when I come to the pool with nothing in my tummy but coffee and Shot Bloks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weird, Dog. Weird.

I've been getting so excited about long runs and new business opportunities, that I've been ignoring one of my true passions:

Dog the Bounty Hunter.

After an unsuccessful attempt on Aguirre (the ruthless treadmill known to others as #11) due to some extraordinary ankle/heel pain, I came home, plopped on the couch, surrounded my left foot in a considerable amount of ice packs and committed to nothing serious for about 60 minutes. 

Dog time!

I'm on Season 7 now.  It's all the same format. They identify the bad guy, pursue the bad guy, call the bad guy awful names and then they try to convert the bad guy to the right side of the law as they take his ass to jail. Every episode. That's what happens.

Dog had some awesome dialogue (diaDogue?) today. They're looking for a giant d-bag named Tyler. He missed his court date and is hiding. 

They catch the 19-year old Tyler pretty quickly. Tyler is doing his best to appear thug-like and is dressed in a white wife beater tee that reveals a chest full of bad tattoos (Bad as in ghetto lame and poorly drawn).  The most prominently placed tattoo reads "Money Over Bitches."

Dog is hopeful that he and his family can scare this 19-year old straight. So Dog goes Old Skool/Hard ASS on him.  Here's how it plays out:

(The capture has been made. Dog enters scene.)

Dog: Guns and bullets? You a tough ass? Money Over Girls? Unbelievable. Where you learn that shit at?

Tyler: (says nothing; appears shocked and afraid.)

Dog: You meet some real guns and bullets, brotha..

Tyler: (sheepishly) It's just tattoos man

Dog: What does that mean?

Tyler: My dude just gave me a free tattoo.

Dog: I want you to take a soap and rag and scrub that thing off right now, man, because I don't like it.  You don't live around me and have that tattooed all over your ass. What do you got on your ass? Hair?

Tyler: (appears confused. rightfully so. why does Dog want to know what's on his ass?) Hair.

Dog: You better hope you have a lot, because you going to jail. I need a rag and a bar of soap.

(End Scene)

The car ride proves to be equally hilarious and possibly more awkward than the ass hair conversation.  Tyler is sitting between Dog and Leland. Duane Lee is driving.

Dog is really having a hard time understanding why this kid has bullets and revolvers tatttoed on his chest and shoulders. I mean, Dog just can't wrap his brain around why this kid, who has served one day in prison, thinks he's so gangsta. Dog and Leland are grilling this kid about the ink, all the while the towel and soap that Dog has given him to scrub off the tattoo is resting on his handcuffed hands. 

Tyler maintains that he got the guns because his friend does a free tattoos.

And then Leland steps in.

Leland: What happens if you get older and you don't like that kind of stuff?

Leland doesn't say much, but when he does, he's a straight shooter, friends. Any 75-year old grandmother would have posed the exact same question.

More questioning of Tyler ensues, but this time, the focus is on why he's 1/2 credit short of his high school degree.

Duane Lee: You didn't graduate from high school! You're 19 years old! What the fuck is your plans?


Duane Lee - also a few credits shy of his high school degree - nailed it:  What the fuck IS your plans? You could owns the world if you just finished that 1/2 credit 'n shit.

I don't know. If I was in Tyler's situation and Dog asked if I had hair on my ass, I would have clenched up so tight that I would have turned myself inside out at the butthole. As a Dog aficionado, I've gotten to be fairly good at translating Dog to English. But I can't tell you where he was going with the "Do you have hair on your ass" comment. I just can't figure that one out.

And as far as Leland and Duane Lee go, doling out advice on appropriate tattoos and high school competencies, well, yikes, guys. There's something about the pots calling the kettles black on that one.

I'm fearful that I'm going to finish Season 7 tonight. Which means I'll only have Dog Days (how we refer to Wednesday's at my house) to enjoy. Unless I just start the whole process at Season 1 again.

Monday, February 20, 2012

In The Long Run: Internal Monologues (Say What?)

These long runs are getting more and more like therapy.  Sadly, since I run solo, I'm both patient and therapist and full disclosure: I don't think I'm giving myself unbiased advice. Also, my hourly rate is absurd.

Sunday's session: 2 hours/10 minutes. 

Midlife Rambler and I exchange ideas each week on possible topics, but until we've each had our long run, we really can't pick what we're going to write about. The internal monologue has been an idea since our first collaborative post and this week, it seemed like it could work. Because my long run was on Sunday, instead of Saturday, and because Midlife Rambler's run was on Friday, instead of Saturday, we couldn't really agree on a topic until about 6 on Sunday evening.

$65 for 7 pair of panties? Meh.
We did know, however, that this image would have to appear in the post. Why? Because we are Blog Whores*.  Ass gets clicks. 

I thought about the "rundies" a lot. And although I know Midlife Rambler was really bummed that rundies wasn't making a suitable boxer for men, I can't be sure that he didn't order them anyway. 

Generally, these are funny. I don't know what an 'easy 6' is: i'd probably swap that one out for 'hill repeats' or 'negative splits'.  For Thursday night Run Club, I'd insist on a 'chase mo' pair.

But my biggest beef with the bikinis is that I'd never know what I was doing unless I was pantless and could Linda Blair my head the full 360 to see what my ass wanted me to do.  And were that the case, "run, tracy! run!" might be a good idea, too. Coach would probably suggest a "tracy! arms!"** pair.

2 hours and 10 minutes was way more time than I needed to contemplate panties. After last week's devastating treadmill / track run, I had to focus. I had to redeem myself. I had to stay running for 130 consecutive minutes.

In my previous life as a Media Whore (I was a public relations consultant for about 8 years), I learned quickly that 'the story' was always about people. Many of my clients were architects or real estate brokers/developers or contractors: they designed or financed or built buildings.  But we weren't just pitching a building to a reporter: we would highlight or create the 'people' part of the story to the reporter: that's what would make them want to cover the project. 

Because of this, I think about people -- and their stories -- a lot. 

In no particular order, on Sunday's run, I thought of:

Husband: We got in an argument the previous night and I left the bedroom to sleep on the couch. That annoying summabitch followed me to the living room and sat on the chair for 20 minutes trying to convince me to take the bed so that I got a good night's rest for Sunday's run.  Even when I kind of hate him, I have to hate him a little more for being so nice. The bottom line is that Husband and I need to have more time without the kids and without phones and computers that connect us to the rest of the world.

Coach: It's impossible to not think of her. I know she doesn't actually do this (she's an emotionally solid woman), but I worry that when I miss a workout, she goes into the nearest closet and cries. She's a good 60 miles away from me on any given weekend, but she is 100% always with me on those runs. Today, I remembered that one long run we did together when she found 2 quarters on the street. She talked and talked and talked ... and I struggled to keep up with her and just couldn't figure out how she had the stamina to chat and run and find loose change and not even seem to realize that she was hustling. I am quite grateful she's gotten me to this point in my running. Three years ago, I couldn't even imagine running the Shamrock Shuffle (it's a 5-mile run / beer fest. 40 gillion Chicagoans run it each year).

Gram: I thought about Gram a lot during the run. I haven't called her in awhile, and I need to. I knew that if I called her this week and told her I ran for 12 miles (that's what I ended up with) she'd say, "Oh, honey! If Pap were here, he'd never believe it. You could hardly walk a straight line, let alone run, when you were a little girl. We didn't think you'd ever turn into a runner!"

In her 86-year old heart, that actually is a compliment. I just have to rearrange it in my mind to make it so. I'm going to try to call her today -- my hips and knees and groin are in enough pain that we could have a great conversation about getting old and how difficult getting around can be.  Also, I'm having interesting poops now that I'm countering the Prilosec with L-Glutamine supplements: 86-year old women really like talking about the daily (if they're lucky!) BM.

My Midwest Training Buddies: It's hard to run the route I'm running and not think about my athletic friends: we've biked this course before at the crack of dark*** during the summer, and the park I ran through before turning back is where we'd do our crack of dark swims. I think by next week, I'll make it to Plaza del Lago, where one morning during a group ride,  I managed to take my phone out of my bike jersey pocket and snap a photo of a deer that was galloping (do deer gallop?) through the middle of the street. The group had dropped me by then, and since I was dicking around with the deer, I wasn't able to catch them, but hey! Deer!  I was definitely the winner that morning.

The Bahai Temple. It's one helluva milestone, yeah?
My PA Running Friends:  I can't help but think of my friends from Pennsylvania anytime I approach what we in the Midwest consider a hill. If they ever come out here and go for a run with me and I show them my 'hill,' they will probably want to push my tired ass into traffic. I had two 'hills' today: A slight incline up Sheridan at Isabella and then on my return trip, running up the hill at the Bahai Temple. 

I tried hard to run those hills with some power. I thought: "I'll do it for Jeff and Wendy and Jenny!"

Then I got home and found out they all ran a 6 mile race today and 4.5 miles of those 6 were hills. Central PA hills.

I'm a pansy.

Midlife Rambler: Since we started the blog, Midlife Rambler is on every run with me. He pisses me off though, because he runs much faster than I do, and I'm tired of chasing him. I'm a whole two WEEKS older than The Rambler -- couldn't he slow down a bit for me? And although I've never seen the whites of his eyes, I do think about him and wonder if he's running in women's bikinis with chocolate pudding on his face while trying to hurdle the occasional moose that crosses his path (when he's outside).  "Oot of my way, you fucking moose!" I imagine him yelling. "I need some bacon, some hockey and some Alanis Morissette. Stat!"****

Many, many others: I replayed conversations I've had with people recently. I examined ... and re examined ... all sorts of situations in my life and questioned if I made the right choices. I thought about work. About blogs. I thought about past races. I couldn't help but think of me and Madison running our first half and not knowing if it would ever end and then pooping in the woods once I decided it actually would not ever end.  I thought about this race. The big one. The 26.2 miles of potential hurt that I have committed to running on May 5th. 

The last 30 minutes of the run, I started to be aware of my left knee. Then my hips. Then my groin. The last 20 minutes of the run, it felt like all of my cartilage had evaporated and my bones were just grinding against each other with every stride. I was certain the friction of bone-on-bone action would start a fire. It really fucking hurt. 

The last 10 minutes of the run, I started to panic. And I had doubts. Big, big doubts. I had to have looked at my watch nothing less than 70 times in those final 10 minutes. I was still moving. But time was standing still.  I was blocks away from my building, but didn't think I'd  live long enough to see it again.

Once the run was over, I managed to make it up three flights of stairs to our condo. I enjoyed (read: I shook it first) an FRS Energy Drink, put my fuel belt and Garmin away and within 30 minutes, was back in the car and driving the route I had just run to have coffee with some fellow triathletes/runners/cyclocross friends, one of whom was in town for the weekend. 

As an aside: I happened to be in a car, returning from Kentucky Spring Training Camp, with these three women last year when President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was dead. We will always have flooded Kentucky, Sears Tire Repair and a very chilling, surreal and static-y radio announcement from the middle of nowhere on FM radio.

By the end of our coffee, I wasn't as aware of my aching parts. And although the 2 hour/35 minute run scheduled for next weekend seems absolutely impossible to me today, I have renewed hope that I'll be able to do it.

The panties want me to succeed.

"run, tracy! run!"

Click to see what is on The Midlife Rambler's mind and ass when he runs!  

* Credit to Wag The Dad for the term "Blog Whore"

** I do weird shit with my arms when I run.

*** I say "we" loosely. The folks I sometimes train with like to do shit at 4:30 in the morning. I am not, nor will I ever be the 4:30 AM Athlete. I admire them for doing it, but for fuck's sake. That shit be crazy. I'm often just falling asleep at 4 am!

**** This is what Canadians do, right?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Wall

I love a good plan.  I mean, I really love a good plan.

Sometimes, when there is so much going on, it's hard to sit down and make the plan. But the plan is vital. 

Taking time to make the plan saves time in the end. It always has.
On Friday afternoon, I wanted to celebrate after a week of small, but worthy, accomplishments. I had participated in two business meetings and have started generating (insert gasp here!) new business. I had an albeit short, but very good run on Tuesday (the results of long runs and shorter speed workouts are paying off). Under my own direction, I started taking allergy meds which immediately relieved the 'ghost Elizabeth' that Prilosec couldn't seem to resolve. 

In the same week, I managed to compromise my left groin while rolling from my back to my right side in bed (Yes. I'm now at an age where I can sustain an injury by simply changing positions) and I did send my son to school in his pajamas on a day that turned out to not be Pajama Day.  But other than those things, I really had a swell week.  Time to enjoy.

After collecting the kids, we collected Husband and ended up at a nearby restaurant bar -- it's where Blackhawks fans on Chicago's North Side go to watch games -- and had a fun dinner.  Burgers, wings, the best tater tots I've ever had and pints of Stella and Guinness. We ended our gluttony with their one and only dessert: The Skillet. A freshly baked brownie topped with multiple scoops of ice cream and whipped cream and chocolate and caramel goo. It was heavenly.

Then we hit up the nearby Blockbuster and raided the shelves for the most random selection of movies ever during their "Going Out of Biz" sale. 

It was a good Friday night.

But instead of letting everyone flop on the couch when we got home, I put those bitches to work. I made the kids tidy the playroom and their own bedrooms.  Husband redded up the kitchen and Daughter sorted laundry and mopped the kitchen (really poorly) while I updated our checkbook/the budget and made note cards for The Wall.

This is The Wall:

Aren't you jealous you don't live here, with me, and the note cards, on a Friday night?

I thought you might be.

The note cards are the spin-off of how I'd manage multiple accounts and multiple co-workers on my team when I worked at the agency downtown. I learned the concept, a Tickler file,  at my worst job ever.  Basically, I used to keep hanging file folders that were numbered, 1 through 31 (days of the month, get it?) in one filing cabinet drawer. And then, things that were due or needed to be followed up on that particular day, were dropped into that folder. If I called someone on the 5th and they said to call them back on the 9th, I'd take the folder and drop it into the hanging file numbered 9. It wasn't a completed task, so it couldn't get crossed of a to-do list. It needed follow up. On the 9th.

I knew what I was doing every day based on the file folders.

So, when I left that gig to do the full-time mom thing, I adapted the system and made it work in a 3x5 index card file. Trouble is, I sometimes forget to look in the card file, so it's easy to miss stuff.

When I'm planning a kid's birthday party, or hosting a family gathering (say, Thanksgiving) that involves days worth of preparing, I find the whole process easier to manage if I tape the note cards to the wall. Then I can assign specific note cards to other people in my household. 

Ah! The joys of delegating!

Now that we're a one-car family, the note cards on The Wall help us get as much done as possible and still have some time to spend together  -- relaxing -- on the weekends.

So, I made The Wall last night. And this morning, I felt okay sleeping until 8:30 am (Oh yes, I did!) because I knew we had a plan for the day. A plan for the next three days, actually.   Things felt under control.

After coffee, I gave Husband his note cards and any other supplemental items that he needed to complete his note carded tasks (library cards, hockey picture forms, blank checks, etc.). When he and the kids left, I got started on my note cards.

It's going on 3 pm now. I've gotten so much accomplished today, that I'm not going to feel the least bit guilty if I curl up on the couch and shut my eyes for a few minutes. I've maintained laundry (the ongoing process of washing it /drying it /carrying it both up and downstairs to the laundry room/ folding it and / putting it away), scheduled a Monday meeting, reviewed a Web site and started jotting down thoughts about next steps, reached out to Clif Kids and a local running store for Jog-A-Thon donations, researched promotional items for the Jog-A-Thon, contacted Levi's about the 5-month-old jeans that split last week, ordered more birth control pills and started a list for Target.

That was a productive Saturday. And I haven't yelled at anyone yet. 

The notecards, if you can see them, are weird. 

Some of them are just to manage the reading and spelling logs Little Guy has to finish up before Tuesday. One of them is a reminder for Husband to 'De-Bark' the bathtub (the kids had a 'fabulous' idea on Monday that I just wasn't paying attention to and it resulted in a bathtub, bathroom floor, and waste paper can being filled with tree bark).  Another one is just: "The Box."  I've got a box of leftovers from Little Guy's room renovation that needs to be looked through. I thought moving it to the living room would speed up the process. Instead, we've all just learned to step over "The Box". Okay...the system isn't perfect. :)

"Long Run" is the top card for tomorrow.

The best thing about the notecards is that you can tear them up when you're done. It's 20x more satisfying than crossing an item off of a to-do list. Trust me.

Of course, I created about 10 more note cards as I was tearing up the completed ones. However, I either hung the cards on the wall or put them in the index card box, so it's all good. 

My reward? I mean, other than the smug satisfaction I have from getting a lot of work done today? 

I had a beer. I'm watching Dog. And Husband came home with 200 ruled 3"x5" index cards for me.

What's not to love about that?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Nice Work (If You Can Get It)

I've spent the last five years bitching because I didn't have a steady income. Because I'm not making a financial contribution to the family. That I'm dead weight and the last nail in the coffin that is our  future.

This week I had two business meetings. I'm very certain these meetings have opened doors to other business meetings and possibly new clients.

This wasn't my schedule, originally. But it's my schedule now, because it's here. Phones are ringing and doors are opening.

I am so excited to spend time this weekend reviewing web sites and developing ideas for content. Finding a voice for a company that doesn't quite have one yet.  Strategizing about connecting people and ideas to products and services.

People are going to pay me (in American Dollars!) to write stuff for them.

Ideally, this would have happened three years ago. But it didn't.

It's happening now. 

Schedule be damned, things are working out now, I guess, because my plan was superseded by a different, bigger plan, that I didn't create.

If I am able to generate clients and start working again, even if only for 10 hours per week, I will feel whole again.

I am hopeful.

I am also sleepy. I think this Prilosec is making me perma-drowsy.

* Husband works hard to not let me believe my own crazy.  My contribution, he says, is more than anything that starts with a $ or ends with a k. Sometimes I agree with him. But I'd really like to see some checks with my name on them.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our Morning (In Pictures)

How I feel every morning when I wake up:

And why I feel that way every morning when I wake up:

What Daughter acts like every morning:

And how that makes Little Guy feel:

What I thought would happen after a heart-felt conversation in the car with Daughter before drop off:

What it actually turned out to be:

Where I'm going to be in another hour and 15 minutes:

And how I feel about that right now:

My projection of what I will feel like by the end of the day:

Something's gotta give.