Monday, April 30, 2012

In the Long Run: Mental Health

Yeah ... I'm totally shitting my pants right now.

And although me shitting my pants might seem more like a dip in my colo-rectal health, it's all mental. Trust me.

Taper run is done, and if it weren't for Husband running it with me, I wouldn't have made it more than 1.5 miles.  I felt worse four miles into that taper run than I did at the end of the 15.5 mile run last week.

I was faster last week, too.

I feel like the next 5 days are going to be an absolute terror for anyone that has to deal with me.  It's like the crazy-bitch switch is going to get flicked without any provocation, and then whoever has the misfortune of being there with me when it goes on, is fucked. I mean, they're fucked bad.

If I were you, I'd avoid me like the plague.

Husband, children, friends, chiropractor, clients and anyone providing some sort of customer service to me this week ... If the wrong Tracy shows up to any of our appointments, I apologize. She's meaner than cat shit when she feels threatened, and the 26.2 miles that demand to be run on Saturday, May 5th, are threatening the hell out of her.

I can guarantee that the week will be tough because Saturday  I got my race packet and I was so stoked with my number (Bib #949) and the shirt, that I was practically bouncing off the walls. To have a hootie-fied pin-up carrying a platter of cheese plastered on the front of the shirt seemed like some kind of sign from above that this was my race.

Yesterday,  mid-taper run, I'm pretty sure 'above' was telling me to just stick to knitting and competitive boozing.

I have to make things easy on myself this week. I need to start gathering my race day stuff and come up with a plan.

A client bought me Russell Simmons' "Super Rich."  I declined getting it this weekend, because I had a lot of work to get done, and his book would be too tempting.  This week, I'm going to spend time with Russell and a highlighter.

I'm going to put myself on a 6x/day calf stretching/water drinking routine.

I'm going to finalize my play list.

I'm going to schedule a haircut for the week after the race. I'm going to schedule a massage, too.

I'm going to listen to a lot of Talking Heads this week while I'm doing all this reading and stretching and hydrating.  "Crosseyed and Painless" will be my go-to song this week.

I'm terrified that I'm going to psyche myself out on race day and give up at mile 12.  Or that at mile 20, when the shit starts getting real, that I'm going to quit. I'm worried that what everyone keeps telling me about  adrenaline and actually having 3,000 other people running with me isn't actually  true. I'm worried it'll be hot. I'm still worried about pooping. I'm worried I didn't train hard enough. I'm worried I'll let people down.

And after that damn Leinenkugel gig, now I'm worried that Oprah* is faster than me.

Fuckin' Oprah.

You know who is way faster than Oprah? Midlife Rambler. I'd put my money on Midlife Rambler any day. What's he up to these days? He bangs out 10 miles and nearly falls asleep while doing it, he's that damn good. He's mentally stable and physically strong. And faster than Oprah. See what he's up to, here.

*I learned at the Leinenkugel shoot that Oprah** ran a marathon in 4:29:20. And now for reasons beyond my control, I'm competing against Oprah.

** Thin Oprah, from like, a decade ago.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nine Things That Are Stressing Me Out

... about the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

I didn't think you'd stick with me if I put "Real Housewives of New Jersey" in the title.

I'm stressed out by....

1)  Joe Giudice's weird eye. And then the black eye. And both the weird eye and the black eye when they're together.

2)  that Wakeleilei kid's crazy white teeth.

3)  Melissa's constant need to say, "Thank you, Jesus."  I wonder if she's talking about  her gardener, not the Son of God.

4)  Joe Gorga's chronic referencing of  his cock. My guess is that it's small, orange and smells like garlic and Drakkar Noir.

5)  Theresa's man face.

6)  the asshole that told Melissa her voice was worthy of recording.

7)  Ashley.

8)  the fact that the Gorga's are having an elaborate dinner while drinking a $15 bottle of champagne.  I know it's New Jersey, but I've been there, and they do, in fact sell Veuve.

9)  that the Manzo kids + Greg aren't my besties: it'd be a constant pants-pissin' party with them- they're funny as hell.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Graphic / Label design: Deviant Art / Adam Emery
My kids came home with lice on Tuesday.

The news of their new 'pets' launched me into a 24-hour natural-remedy makin', shampoo'n, nit-pickin', laundry-doin' bender.

Since I had learned that morning that one of my daughter's friends was dealing with the issue - combined with the fact that I had just finished editing an article on key essential oils to have in your medicine cabinet - I stopped by Whole Foods after my chiro appointment to grab some oils and prepare for the worst.

Initially, I didn't see anything in Daughter's hair. Neither did Husband. But we kept rooting and rooting through her massively dense head of dark brown hair and blam-o! Something moved. She had 'em. And so did Little Guy.

By 4:30 that afternoon, I was stripping all of our sheets off of beds and making giant piles of laundry on the living room floor to determine what needed to be washed first so that we'd all have covers to sleep under that night.  And since we have never dealt with lice before, I sent Husband to the nearest pharmacy for a lice comb, cheap vodka* and shower caps.

I called the school around 5 pm, to find out when the kids could go back to school, if I was treating them that night. The man on the phone (possibly the Vice Principal, I didn't catch his name) told me both kids could return to school the next day, so long as we treated them that night and sent them to school with the label from the box of shampoo we had bought as treatment.

It isn't toxic, and it doesn't come in one box.
Me: "Uh. I'm using a natural remedy of essential oils, olive oil and vodka. Do you want me to peel the label off the vodka?"

Him: (slight laughter) "Hold on. Let me ask."

I heard him relay my method of treatment to the Principal. Then I heard her snicker and say in a really snide tone, "No. We use a 'conventional' treatment."

I felt bilious rage rising from the depths of my tummy to the back of my throat. My core temperature shot up about 12 degrees.

Me: "I'm not putting those chemicals on my kids. So...when can they come back?"

Him: "The day after tomorrow." 

Me:  "Fine, I'll send them in on Thursday."

I. Was. Furious.  

But I had no time to be angry**. I didn't even have time to do the heebie jeebie dance that I so deserved to do.  The rest of the night was a frantic blur: mixing batches of our regular shampoo with blends of Tea Tree, Lavender and Eucalyptus oils; conditioning with olive oil; picking, picking, picking; rewashing; spraying with vodka; conditioning again; picking, picking, picking.

I boiled combs and brushes. And with the use of a neighbor's dryer, by the end of the night, we each had a hot, nit-free pillow to sleep on under clean sheets and blankets.  Both kids went to sleep with olive-oil soaked heads hidden underneath plastic shower caps.

The bottle is unopened. The purple comb is worthless.
To say I slept that night would be a bit of an understatement. It wasn't until 11:30 that I was able to wash my own hair and have Husband check me for ... friends ... (and I for him)***. The next morning, I leapt out of bed at 6 am, grabbed a pile from the living room floor and headed to our basement to continue washing everything we owned that could have possibly come in contact with our kids heads. By 9 am, I was at the nearest beauty supply store looking for a metal lice comb. As it worked out, Husband couldn't find just a lice comb on his Tuesday pm shopping spree, so he ended up buying the cheapest bottle of 'nationally recognized' lice elimination shampoo, which came with the worst, plastic nit comb.  

After another morning of washing .. just to make sure I got it all, I spent another 3 hours picking nits from the hair shafts of my children, in between running up and down three flights of stairs to keep up with my laundry.

By 5 pm, the kids appeared nit free and I had finished about 11 loads of laundry: only 2 more to go.  I sat down and started to do my research on the chemicals in 'traditional' shampoos, as well as more research on my natural remedy.  I penned a letter to the Principal.  

Wanna see it?

Dear Blah-Blah:

I was very disappointed with what I believe was your response to my phone inquiry on Tuesday pm re when my children could return to school, after I had treated their lice/nits with a natural remedy on Tuesday afternoon.

I believe I heard you tell the man who was handling my call that I had to prove I was using a "conventional" treatment or wait 24-hours before I could send the kids back to school. 

A few points, because I think there is a misunderstanding about how lice can be effectively treated.

1)  The use of essential oils, vinegar, vodka and olive oil is considered a conventional treatment, it simply excludes the use of toxins, such as piperonyl butoxide and pyrethrum extract.

2)  I'm attaching a photo of the ingredients I used to treat the live lice and nit shells for both kids.  All legit, safe and found in my home pantry and medicine cabinet. 

3)  I understand that the lice protocol is in the CPS handbook and that is what you may have been enforcing.  It is worth pointing out that anyone can buy a $12.00 box of RID or comparable poison and turn in the box to 'prove' treatment.

4)  I'm attaching a photo of the RID that we bought last night only because we needed the lice comb (it's the purple one in the picture, and it is a really awful lice comb).  The product is completely unused.

5)  I'm attaching a variety of links that outline conventional, non-toxic treatments of lice which support my treatment preference. Please note that the "Licenders" link (which, is not the product I've used) specifically says that "It is possible to get rid of lice w/out oil...or shampoo.  Technically...combing out the lice, if done properly and repeatedly on a daily basis, is enough to get rid of a lice problem." ( (

6)  Perhaps, the CPS policy should require parents bring in a used - and dirty- lice comb to prove their child has been treated. It matters very little whether it is a chemical or a natural, food-grade oil that kills living lice: it's the tedious job of combing that gets the job done well.
I have gone through the laborious task of washing and drying ALL of the bedding and clothing that could have been infested, which seems to be AS important as combing out nits. I will comb out their hair before bed tonight and check for nits in the morning. I will print out these attached images and include them in the notes to their teachers.


Educational, right? A little snark slipped out of me with points 3 and 6, but generally speaking, I kept it cool. 

Wanna see her response?

"Thank you for your response.  I have enclosed the CPS policy on the handling of lice.  I’m sure you understand that as an employee of CPS, I am bound to uphold their policies.  This particular policy calls for outbursts to be treated with this special shampoo.  I do appreciate your compliance, especially since it does not conform to your personal, preferred method."

If you want to see the lamest policy on lice, go on and Google "Chicago Public School Lice Protocol".  An empty bottle of pediculicide (look it up; it's used almost interchangeably with the word 'pesticide') is all they need as 'proof' that parents have treated their kids and can come back to school.  I'm still uncertain why my empty flask of vodka wouldn't have worked. 

I hope at least one of you reading this is pissed off. 

In short, she didn't read my letter. If she did, she'd realize I DIDN'T comply. She didn't need to send me the CPS protocol either ... I had indicated in the letter I had read it, because I'm like that. I do my homework.

She also proved to me that she and the CPS have limited interest in the wellness and well-being of our children.  To say that spreading toxins on their heads is the best way to deal with lice is ridiculous. To ignore the fact that any asshole can bring in a box  or empty bottle label and say they did their job is pretty flimsy (why not a baggie full of nits and dead lice? how about video footage of laundry being washed and dried?).  She's following a stupid policy that doesn't solve the problem (FYI - the bugs are getting smart and developing an immunity to those pediculicides) and she's defending it.

She's defending it poorly.

I am still livid. I just don't know what to do about it. I don't know that I have time to start up some kind of CPS Toxic Avengers Gang nor a Facts of Lice Task Force. It would be like banging a lice-ridden head against a concrete wall (not an effective way to destroy nits).  My gut instinct is to become a fat pain in her ass, calling unnecessary meetings and then scratching my head until my scalp weeps blood down my forehead and neck in her tiny office.

The nit issue seems to be under control. I'll continue to comb my kids hair daily with the nit comb...and then soak it in a vinegar and boiled water. Only time will tell if I cleaned all of the upholstery and beddings and pillows appropriately.  And if it comes back again, I will use my own treatment.  Although for shits and giggles, I may just draw a picture of a louse dry humping someone in the school administration on the back of the RIT box when I need to seek readmittance to the school.

I said it once, and I'll say it again.


*  We had a bottle of Grey Goose and Stoli in our liquor cabinet.  I may be trying out this 'natural' thing, but I'm no dummy. Top shelf vodka does not belong on a lice-ridden head. Husband came back with a $7 flask of "McCormick's" vodka: the preferred hootch of our local homeless folk.

** I had time to be angry ... and I was steaming, hot mad ... I just couldn't focus on the rage. I managed a quick call to my friend who I knew would support my anger and I shot out a nasty Facebook post about the bullshit 'label' policy.

*** Neither of us had lice or nits.   Regardless, I still can't stop scratching.

Monday, April 23, 2012

In The Long Run: Random Running Rants

Midlife Rambler and I are on two different running plans right now: I just finished the last long run of my marathon training program and he's on 'maintenance' before he starts his marathon training program. 

It's tough to find a shared focus when we're in such different spots. I offered two suggestions: 1) Random and 2) I'm-freaking-out. He thought Random would be a good route. :)

So, we rant. 

1.  There is a 99.99% liklihood that Husband is completely wrong about how I should dress for my long runs.  On Sunday, he advised me to lose the headband/ear-warmer thingy and my arm warmers.  I was out there for 2 hours and 45 minutes and only felt a little warm about 20 minutes of that run.  The wind coming off the lake was strong and brisk. I am thankful that on the 16th week of my long run training, I finally ignored his suggestion.

2.  That said, is there any way I could request a 49 F day, with a brisk wind, on Saturday, May 5th? My best running is done in cool to cold weather and I've trained in enough wind that it doesn't really bother me anymore.

3.  If I get my 49 F race day weather, I promise to look into a better bra or some sort of nipple management.  After an 11.2 mile bathroom break, I caught myself in the mirror of the women's room of Northwestern's student union building.  Despite my lobster red face, the turkey was done (there's that 99.99% rule I was talking about earlier).  For someone with almost no boobies, it was Nippletown, USA.  Two bras? Band aids? I'll figure it out.

4.   I really like the addition of Ong Namo to the beginning of my play list. Listening to it - and actually singing out loud - at the start of my run made me positively happy.  I think I'm going to drop it into the play list a few more times: I'll need some happy around mile 15 and again at 21 for sure.

5.  I do not enjoy being nearly hit by cars at intersections. It is equally unpleasant watching the near miss of a fellow runner.  What I do enjoy is shaking my fist at the driver and smacking my hand* angrily on the hood of his/her car. If my fuel belt had a holster for a gun....ah, well. That's probably a different post for a different time.

6.  Sunday's run was a challenge before I even hit the pavement: I had a lot of doubt, since the previous two long runs were cut short due to pain in the right arch of my foot. I was so happy to not have to roll out my foot until Mile 7.2 (and I mostly took that opportunity because of the little picnic area at Plaza Del Lago) and again at mile 11.2 (ish). There was some tightness/pain, but it was manageable.  That slant board thing really helps.

7.  Rolling out my foot at Mile 11.2 wasn't even totally necessary.  But since I had to pee and was already sitting down, I figured I'd multi-task. And then I achieved supreme multi-tasking and shameless runner status by eating a Power Gel and texting Husband and Coach ... all while peeing and rolling my foot on a golf ball on the toilet in the student union women's room at Northwestern. Eating. Texting. A shoeless foot. Peeing.  And singing along to Talking Heads' Girlfriend is Better since my playlist was still playing.

I'm this close to crossing a finish line with shit sliding down the back of my shorts and into my shoes and not really caring about it.

8.  I thought a lot about two friends on my run today.  Kristen, who's dealing with the same stupid foot problem I have, but hers isn't easing up much. She cut her run to 3 miles and is coming up with a plan b in the event she can't run her race on 5/6. I think she's super smart to be so pragmatic about it, but I know she's hurting - she doesn't miss a single workout: she deserves to run this marathon.

I also thought about my friend Kristina, who ran her first 5k in November. Since then, she's run a few more 5ks,  6 or 7 minutes off her time and has already registered for a 15k.  She's got running by its balls...I love it.

9.  During the run, I thought  about all the crap I'll have to pack for this race. The stretching gear, pre-race food, race fuel and all the various supplements and allergy meds might require a U-Haul trailer.  I need to start writing it all down so I don't forget anything.

10.  I taped both feet before I left.  The picture here is the 'before' picture.  I'm doing my best to hide my bunions by flexing my feet: please know I'm not that emaciated. I will spare you the 'after' picture, but try to  imagine a dime-sized blood blister on the left bunion, which was a total surprise when I pulled off the Smart Wool socks post-run. That blood blister cheated me out of the usual "Mommy just ran XX miles" foot rub that I mooch from someone in the house.  Husband said it has made me an 'untouchable'.

11.  With friend Kristen's help via g-chat, I got onto Garmin Connect and can finally see my splits. I've been keeping them for 2 or 3 weeks on the watch, but had no idea how to actually view them.  I was REALLY happy with my splits on this run: at one point, my best pace (best, not average) during Lap 12 was a 6:40. I figured out that was right after I peed and came flying back out of the student union.  Boogie Oogie Oogie was on the headphones.  

I also had a really good Mile 8. All credit for Mile 8 goes to Born Slippy, by Underworld.

12. Husband had a full-sized Snickers bar for me when I came home.  That was cool.

13.  I continue to be blown away by the support I get from my friends in PA (and elsewhere, via Facebook and Twitter and Blogger), from my triathlete training buddies, from clients and vendors and even from my chiropractor.  Along with the post-run grit face, the feedback and encouragement I have gotten from everyone is lovely: it gives me some connection to something after spending so much damn time in my own head.

14.  I started to tucker out at Mile 14. I fought to keep going until my run ended at 15.5 miles.  

I am terrified. 

If I had to run another 11 miles at the end of the 15.5 mile run, I don't think I could have done it. 

Coach isn't concerned about my distance training - I've gotten to 21 miles ... once. I think she's concerned about my right foot and my brain.  She's in good company.  I'm over the right foot - I think today's run proved that with better/more stretching of my calves, I'll be fine for race day.  The brain thing...yikes. I've got 12 days to convince myself that I'm ready, I'm strong and that signing up for this race wasn't the stupidest fucking decision I've ever made.

Is this where the real training comes into play?

15.  Despite all the anxiety that I have about this race, I'm still thinking about the rest of the season.  Can I train up to 2:45 throughout the summer, just so I don't lose too much endurance? Can I train to race a half in the fall and try to pull off a sub-2 hour race?  When will I need to start training for a March 50k?

16.  One thing about this race: I don't have to worry about drowning or being beat to death in the water.  That aspect of triathlon is daunting, no matter how well you've trained: you can't control who is kicking you in the face or pulling your legs down in an open water swim.  And at the speed I'll be running for the marathon, I really don't have to worry about other runners throwing 'bows. 

17.  Next week, 1 hour taper run. The following week: Showtime!

See what Midlife Rambler is up to here.  I'm guessing he's neck high in Beer and Beef, but that's just a guess...

* I wrote this post at 3 in the morning, while I wasn't sleeping. Proofing it this morning, I realized that instead of the word "hand", I had typed the word "head", which I find both hysterical and worthy of an asterisked comment.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Smile, Breathe, Binge

I'm working through something right now: something I've had decades to deal with and haven't.  The time is now.  But what I need to do is so frightening and overwhelming that I'm just ... stewing. It's inactivity. It's using up good energy. Yet, I can't smile and breathe before I make the decision to move forward (and Russell Simmons says if you smile and breathe before you make a decision it will be the right decision).

So I'm just going to shift the focus.

New foods I'm obsessed with:

Mole:  Mole is ridiculous: ridiculously awesome. I'm sad I didn't come to know mole until my late 30's. My late, late, 30s. I'm thinking about making mole next weekend and pouring it into my flasks for the race. I want to store containers of mole in my nightstand, so I can feast on it when I wake in the middle of the night.   I want to shower in mole. Swim in mole. Dig a trench around our building and fill it with mole so I can use the mole moat to keep people away from me and my mole inside.

Poached eggs: Our new go-to dinner is spaghetti w/ asparagus, parmigiano-romano and poached eggs.  I had no idea egg yolk was so good and so creamy on hot pasta. I haven't had my cholesterol checked since I started my poached egg kick (I eat at least 5/week) and at this point, if poached eggs are killing me, I'm okay with that. Poached eggs are worth the increased risk of death.

Oikos Vanilla Greek Yogurt: It's pricey, but worth it. The vanilla tastes like actual vanilla bean, not like that artificial flavoring that burns your throat. I hide it in the back of the fridge so no one else eats it: I live with culinary philistines -- they don't fully appreciate the flavor of this yogurt.  Every spoonful should be cherished and savored, not devoured in three, sloppy spoonfuls.

Avocado Toast: Fuck. Me. I had it for the first time today. I'm pretty sure it'll be a part of my pre long run breakfast (with a poached egg on the side).  It's exactly what it says it is: you mash up an avocado and spread it on a piece of toast. I season it a smidge with salt and pepper. Once again, I'm sorry it took me 39.85 years to discover it: I have lost precious time with avocado toast.

Water: I know water isn't food, but I'm kind of obsessed. Throughout all this marathon training, I've been really bad about two things: stretching and hydrating. With the addition of the slant board to my routine so it can passively stretch my calves for me, I've decided that every time I'm on the slant board, I have to drink 8 oz of water. I've had 48 oz of water so far today. I'm sure that's still wildly low, but I'm getting better at it. I'm guessing before the end of the night, I'll have another 24 oz: that's 72 oz total.

Lentil Soup: This may not be the right thing to say, but I'm mostly obsessed with the Veggie Lentil Soup from Pita Inn in Skokie. I'm certain that there are an endless amount of better, more authentic lentil soups out there, but Pita Inn's lentil soup is a $2.99 bowl of comfort and happiness. I shamelessly mop the bowl clean with a piece of their equally fantastic pita.

Now what?

I need to have another Indian night soon: Home made Tofu Tikka Masala, Naan, Dahl and Lentil Soup.  Samosas to be bought at nearby Indian restaurant. Beer. Friends.

I'm thinking of a new kind of summer bruschetta: garlic toast topped with mashed avocado and then a black bean/tomato mixture. Drizzled with lime juice, salt and garnished with cilantro.

I may act on the joke I made with a friend about Huevos Benedicto: Flour tortilla, topped with poached egg, avocado, mole and maybe some black beans, too. 

My distraction is over. I'm hungry. Time to make dinner and try that smiling/breathing thing again.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Week, Not in Chronological Order

Our Jog-A-Thon is done. It rocked.  

All weather forecasters in the universe told us today would be rainy and awful. Despite some sprinkles this morning, we decided to not postpone the event, and we ended up with a beautiful (slightly brisk), sunny day. My four cases of bananas - donated by a local Trader Joe's -- for a post-run recovery snack for the kids were not wasted. Most importantly, those four cases of bananas are out of my garage.

Little Guy. Too fast for my camera!
This event brought  out the best in everybody - our volunteers were helpful and generous with their time. Our teachers, particularly the resource teachers, were phenomenal. It was a day to be proud to be a part of the public school system.

We are fucking zombies now.  I'm too tired to refill my own wine glass. It is the best kind of physical and mental exhaustion: we put a lot of effort into this event and not a single ounce of that effort was wasted. Our event was flawless.

On Tuesday night, I met with the client that I think is the absolute bomb, to learn some Word Press skills. We probably spent three hours together and not a single second of it felt like work. I am thankful to be a part of this team. 

Yesterday, I got a call from the 'agency' and after the Jog-A-Thon today, I got an e-mail from the agency confirming a gig. I'm going to make a few bucks to let them take pictures of me for a few hours, which is cool, cause we could use the extra bucks.

Also, it's for a beer ad that is going to run during Oktoberfest.

I can't even begin to tell you the many, many ways I feel blessed this week. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

In The Long Run: Running Changes Everything

Midlife Rambler and Triple T channel Bowie and face the Ch-ch-ch-ch changes they've gone thru since training for (and in the case of The Rambler, completing) a marathon.

On Sunday's long run, around mile #2, I passed an orthodox Jewish woman who was obeying her culture's rules of modesty.  It was in the low 70s yesterday: by mile #2, I was already regretting my choice of short-sleeve, tech tee (I should have run in just the tank that was underneath it). This woman was wearing a NY Yankees baseball cap, a long sleeve shirt, a skirt that fell just below her shins, wool socks (or stockings?) and the most beat up pair of trainers I've ever seen (next to Husband's).

She smiled as we passed each other, her face flush and glistening from heat and sweat.

She must've really wanted to run.

I've watched men and women in single and double prosthetic legs competing in races. I've watched one man in prosthetics pass me.

They must've really wanted to run.

Throughout this marathon training, I've really wanted to run. And I've really wanted to not run.  I seriously question the honesty and sanity of  anyone in training that ever says they are always 100% ready to run, especially when they're going for close to four hours by themselves. But if you have stuck through a 4-or 5-month training program, generally speaking, you really want to run (most of the time).

For the workouts when I really wanted to run, I ran. For the workouts I didn't, well, sometimes my brain kept me going. Sometimes it stopped me cold.

I've always been cautious. I've always been hyper-sensitive to my limitations and I've respected them, usually to a fault.  Marathon training has pretty much thrown that right out the window.  Marathon training told me that I could run more than 13.1 miles. And more than 16. And even more than 20. On May 5th, it will tell me that 26.2 miles was hard work, but that I can still run farther.

Marathon training told me I could run for 10 miles with plantar fasciitis on my left foot. And then again on my right (as long as I rolled my foot every 2 miles on a golf ball*). It also reminded me to not get cocky: I need to take care of that foot now, and have faith that the 21 miles I ran a few weeks ago will be enough of a distance base for my race.

I guess marathon training has taught me to have faith in things that I can't control. Or at least, to not freak out and give up what limited amount of control I do have. 

I've experienced my highest highs (the distance runs; running in cold, wind and precipitation; finishing the run that I wanted to quit at mile 1) from marathon training, as well as my lowest lows (those runs cut short by my brain). I put myself in a pretty vulnerable position every single time I leave the house for a run, which usually leaves Husband and kids guessing: Is she coming back sweaty and happy or less sweaty and crying?  But nonetheless, I keep leaving the house for a run: I'm evidently getting okay with the vulnerability.

Above all, marathon training has taught me of possibility: I really think it is possible that every person in the universe is capable of training for and completing a marathon. Do I think everyone will see a podium or qualify for Boston? Shit, no. But when I tell people I am training for a marathon and they say, "I could never do that," my immediate reaction is, "Sure, you could. If you wanted to."

I wanted to go to college, not to learn, exactly, but because I was told you had to go to college to get a better job. I wanted to get a job after college, not because I knew what I wanted to do for a living, but seriously, I needed to pay off my debt from attending college. I wanted to marry Husband and have kids, but I wasn't ever one of those people that started planning her wedding at age 8; marriage and kids seemed like the right step in moving my life forward like all the other God-fearing, college-educated, white-collar folk I was surrounded by. 

But unlike anything else in my life, I really want to cross that finish line: I really want to run.  I want to be able to feel that pain (preferably not until mile 20, thank you), deal with it, cross that little rubber mat and then stop.  I really want to know what it is going to feel like to stop moving after I've been doing just that for 26.2 miles. 

Man, I want to know what it feels like to stop.

Training for this marathon, running for a good, long time every weekend for the past 18 weeks or so, has changed me. It's given me an appreciation for everyone that tries to run, no matter how fast or slow - or what physical or mental challenges they might be dealing with.** While I know that 26.2 miles is my Everest on 5/5, I already can't stop but think about a 31 miler in March 2013, because if I can run 26.2 miles, why can't I run 31 miles? And should I start thinking about a Century by the end of summer? And if I do a marathon and a Century this year, then should I consider a 70.3 next year? 

Four years ago, I put on my iPod shuffle and cautiously ran one loop (about .33 mile) around the park next to our building. Yesterday, I ran to Winnetka wearing my badass calf sleeves, pricey shoes and with 2 lbs of fuel - and pieces of clothing that I had stripped off - attached at my waist.

I've come a long, baby.

And so has Midlife Rambler. See what he's got to

Oh...and we've got this little, unheard of race going on in the States today.  GO BOSTON RUNNERS!!! You are an inspiration to all of us!

*This was my Sunday long run - rolling my foot on a golf ball for 10 miles before I stopped the run. I'm three weeks out from my race and am trying to walk the fine line of not being a total pussy (by quitting) and not being a complete asshole (by pushing it too far). I feel inclined to make some kind of joke about the fine line between pussy and asshole.

**How many people are out there running through cancer or divorce or bankruptcy or tendonitis or plantar fasciitis? But they're still running.

Photo credit: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Little Techno Goes A Long Way

I need help.  

This playlist - A Little Techno Goes A Long Way - will get me thru my last real long run, a 3 hr/50 min one, on Sunday.  It's 55 songs and 4 hours long.  I need at least 4 hr/30 min to a full 5 hours* on this play list to get thru my big event.

I might be a little Sparks-heavy, but I can really zone out to Sparks.

You should see a flow ... I'm starting slow and building.  And after I've gotten my techno/disco groove on, I'm really looking for verbal inspiration. Or, sympathy.


1. Ong Namo: Tuning in to Your Infinite Self, SatKirin Kaur Khalsa
2. Vitamin C: CAN
3. Especially Me, Low
4. Bloodbuzz Ohio, The National
5. The Only Living Boy In New York, Simon & Garfunkel
6. Any Major Dude Will Tell You, Steely Dan
7. Oh, Susquehanna!, Defiance, Ohio
8. Dog Days are Over, Florence + The Machine
9. Heart of Glass, Blondie
10. The Girls, Calvin Harris
11. Rock Lobster, The B-52's
12. The Number One Song In Heaven, Sparks
13. We Are All Getting Old, Telex
14. Bostich (N'est-ce pas), Yello
15. Supernature, Cerrone
16. Pull Up To The Bumper, Grace Jones
17. Tour de France, Telex
18. D.J., Davie Bowie
19. Born Slippy, Underworld
20. Comfortably Numb, Scissor Sisters
21. Leaving the City, Roisin Murphy
22. Beat the Clock, Sparks
23. Poker Face, Lady Gaga
24. Natural's Not In It, Gang of Four
25. Hong Kong Garden, Siouxsie & The Banshees
26. Ooh La La, Goldfrapp
27. Girlfriend is Better, Talking Heads
28. Jeepster, T-Rex
29. Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste of Honey
30. You Should Be Dancing, Bee Gees
31. Blister in The Sun, Violent Femmes
32. Pepper, Butthole Surfers
33. Wonderlust King, Gogel Bordello
34. Sad Song, The Cars
35. Angst In My Pants, Sparks
36. Paper Planes, MIA
37. Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win, Santigold/Beastie Boys
38. Creator, Santigold
39. Ain't No Other Man, Christina Aguilera
40. Work It, Missy Elliot
41. Superstition, Stevie Wonder
42. Panama, Van Halen
43. Hells Bells, AC/DC
44. Cherry Bomb, The Runaways
45. Keeping You Alive, Gossip
46. Head Over Heels, The Go-Go's
47. Sex on Fire, Kings of Leon
48. Alive and Kicking, Simple Minds
49. Don't Slow Down, Matt & Kim
50. Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Know, The Smiths
51. The View, Modest Mouse
52. Let Forever Be, The Chemical Brothers
53. Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen
54. Crosseyed and Painless, Talking Heads
55. The Gash, The Flaming Lips

* I don't know. Weather, less gear, aid stations, adrenaline ... it's a crap shoot for me on when I'll finish.

Photo Credit: cosmonautirussi via photopin cc

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chanting is Hard

So, I just chanted - for the third time this week (and in my life) - for 12 minutes.   It happened after I chanted with a client on Monday and after I learned today that Russell Simmons is a lot more than the founder of Def Jam and loaded.

It's super fucking hard to do.

My intention, was to turn off the noise. Right now, the noise in my head is awesome.  It's the best noise ever. But I wanted to give me a break. I've had a great week and I feel energized and inspired. I feel like a sponge that is just sucking up all the awesomeness that is out there.  I am grateful. And aware.

And oh my god! I can't turn it down!!!

I downloaded Ong Namo: Tuning into your Infinite Self, by SatKirin Kaur Khalsa, yesterday after chanting it with a client earlier this week. The experience yesterday was different than when I did it with a group on Monday, but nonetheless - I made the time and I tried it.  So today, I thought, I should be a pro, because it's my third time. Third time's a charm, right?

Bah! I could barely keep my eyes shut. And my brain wouldn't stop.  And why can't I keep my eyes shut? 

Imagine this, for 12 minutes:

russell simmons sweats when he meditates / is the cat in the closet / i hope the kids respect my request to leave me in peace for 12 minutes / will Michael's have the Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton yarn / did ken mean kimora? is russell still married to her? why did I also remember hating her? / am i allowed to hate ? / i'm glad lisa responded to my post / i really hope faith starts blogging / on the mat / off the mat / omg what if i'm crazy? is this a phase? is this what happens when you age? / this could be a good blog topic / don't think about the blog / relax / it takes russell simmons 5 minutes to get into it, so it'll take you 7 /  i don't think i could be a vegan / i'd miss eggs / i'm in the wrong place / shit. i just opened my eyes and looked at the computer / it's practice it's practice stop worrying about it being right / can it be wrong? / i should have tagged manos /oh i bet manos knows blissful hOMe / should i go back and tag him? who else? who else? who am i missing? / water / what is it called again? i'd recognize the cover? why can't i remember that book? / has Husband's mom been misdiagnosed all this time? / how did i not know about nightshades? /  should i look at the to-do list before we leave? / should i be less chatty about all this? / i'm crazy, i'm crazy, i'm crazy / why is he sweating? i'm not sweating / i didn't take my vitamins yet / maybe i should go to a yoga class / i can't do this by myself / do i have time to go to yoga? / i haven't been on my bike / eyes shut. eyes shut. eyes shut / if i'm going to change what i eat, it can't come from a place of 'what i have to give up' it has to come from a place of what i'll gain / wrong mindset / don't rush it / bacon's session wasn't so great. But I made time and I tried. And it is called practice.  So I guess I get to try it out again tomorrow. Or tonight. Whenever.

I still feel great. And I'm just gonna keep trying.

# # #

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chanting, Free Balls, New Work and Bananas

I chanted on Monday, found one tennis and two golf balls during my hill workout on Tuesday, met a potential new client today and then went to Trader Joe's to solicit a donation of bananas for next week's Jogathon.

I'm having a super great week.

I tried something that was outside of my comfort zone and it left me relaxed and centered.*

I needed a ball to roll my foot on during my outside hill workout, and my hill (or the Universe?) provided one (three, actually) to me.**

New business is finding me.***

Trader Joe's might give me free bananas. ****

I'm really liking this week.

# # 

* I need to blog about this experience. It was significant. I felt weightless for the entire day.

** I'm adding a golf ball to the pre- and post-workout routine.   Awesome.

*** I thought new work just meant some money. Money is helpful, but the real bang is having people value my ideas and contributions.  I love what I do.

**** Free bananas!

Monday, April 9, 2012

In the Long Run: Spirit of the Marathon

Last week, after a friend sent me a Hulu link to Spirit of the Marathon , I e-mailed Midlife Rambler and suggested we use the movie as a topic for this week's "In the Long Run" installment. On Sunday afternoon, I e-mailed him again and suggested that we not see each other's draft post before we published on Monday morning. I also asked him to not ask me why I didn't want to see his - nor he to see my - draft post.  I did it in a fair, Italian-kind of way.*

And here's why: what struck me the most about this movie -- even above and beyond all of these people training and racing in MY city, next to MY lake and using MY el station to get to the big event -- is how unbelievably universal running is. If you've ever tied a pair of trainers to your feet, you're gonna relate to this movie. You don't have to be training for a marathon.You don't have to have the speed of a Kenyan, or even the speed of a congenial, customer-service-oriented Dairy Dude in the Great White North. But if you run, this flick will speak to you because running is an amazing, universally shared - and completely relateable - experience.

I'm willing to bet Midlife Rambler is going to say the same thing.  And then I'll get to be all, "Fuck, yeah! I knew it!" by 8:10 in the morning.

Unless he doesn't say that at all. **

First things first.  

I totally blew my long run yesterday. I am having some issues with the arch in my right foot and I had some pain. I think the worst pain, however, was in my head. I stopped at 4.4 miles. I should have run about 18-ish. I was a little pissed with myself, but it didn't derail me. I have a 20+ miler ahead of me next week and if I've learned anything from this 18+ week training process, it's that I always learn something from a shitty run: I've got a different strategy for next week. I'll make it work.

It was a little ironic to fuck up Sunday's long run and then go home to watch a 102 minute movie about people who were doing what I had failed to do earlier in the day.
I took three pages of notes when I watched this movie so I could provide some kind of insightful review for this post. That was a lot of needless note-takin', readers.

The "I-don't-care-if-the-readers-are-bored" part of me wants to list every single thing I related to ... from a first time marathoner joking about her friends asking her if she thought she was going to win the marathon ("uh... no...") to Deena Kastor getting stuck aqua jogging while she recovered from an injury. Oh, I could go on and on. But the three things that really got me?

K. Switzer #261: Pioneer
1)  Listening to Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (in 1967), brought tears to my eyes. Women weren't welcome to race -- in fact, there was concern decades prior that distance running might make a woman's uterus fall out -- but she registered using her first initial and her last name: no one knew she was a woman. Well, not until the press van saw her around mile 2, made a big deal of it, and then a race official caught up to her and tried to tear her number off her chest.

She fought to keep running that race, even though she wasn't welcome there. I know there are oodles of woman who have fought and sacrificed so that I can do the things I do today ... like work and vote and stuff ... but K. Switzer fighting for my right to run 26.2 miles -- that feels personal.  Thank you, K. Switzer. I will work hard to keep my uterus inside me on May 5th, 2012.

I have a love/hate relationship with these things.
2)  Watching all of the athletes wake up at the crack of dark the morning of the marathon, getting their gear packed, kissing their loved ones goodbye and standing restlessly in corrals with that 'lamb to slaughter' look on their faces...well, my heart nearly beat out of my chest.

I think there is nothing worse than race morning.  If it wasn't for the morning of the race, I'd probably race a lot more frequently. You're hours away from actually racing, trying to force a poop before you're left to make in one of those filthy, stinky port-a-johns, freaking out about whether or not you remembered everything in your race bag and if you're me, you're second guessing all of the life choices that have brought you to this low, low place in the wee hours of the morning, when all sane and happy people are in their own, comfy beds, sleeping.

I. Hate. Race morning.

I do not look forward to 4:30 am, Saturday, May 5th, 2012. ****

3)  One of the runners profiled in the movie stops running in the race. Her support team is edging her to keep moving forward, but her face shows the pain and disappointment and defeat that all runners have experienced at some point. More powerful than her face filled with the pain of defeat is when she starts running again: the look on her face metaporphoses into one of strength and determination. That's when I started to sob.

I haven't run a marathon yet. I've run 21.1 miles. I know that at some point in the race, the pain and frustration and fear is going to take over my face: I'm sure I'll be in good company. I am, however, terrified that the transformation to strength and determination might not register and I'll let my face dictate my actions and my feet will stop moving.

There. I said it. It's out. Now... I just have to make that fear not turn into a reality.

In the opening scene of Spirit of the Marathon, American record holder and Olympic medalist Deena Kastor says, "Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most define us."  

I am anxious to see how those 26.2 miles of moments are going to define me.

Wanna see what Midlife Rambler has to say about Spirit of the Marathon? I sure do! Nothing like high-fiving myself before I've had the morning cuppajoe.*****

# #

* I made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

** For fuck's sake, Midlife Rambler? Why wouldn't you mention that running is universal? ***

***If you did mention that running is universal, I'm sorry for the footnoted attack above.

****But I'm thankful that K. Switzer has given me the right to run 26.2 miles on May 5, 2012.

***** Or not.

Port-A-John Photo Credit: darkmatter via photopin cc

Sadly, I couldn't find a credit for the image of K. Switzer.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Don't Take Pictures of Yourself in a Mirror and Expect To Get Paid For Doing So

So, every now and again, I get an e-mail from this woman in Chicago that gets regular-looking folks modeling gigs, right? I hear from her 2x one month and then she disappears for 6. And then she comes back. That's been happening for about four years now.  More often than not, I don't get the gig. It's no big whoop. It's not how we put food on the table.

When I do get the gig (I've gotten three), it's a little extra in the kitty for the month and a little boost of my self-esteem.

I got an e-mail two days ago indicating that based on a photo that was taken four years ago, I'm on hold for a gig (national, I think?) that would give me a pretty big chunk of change for 5 hours of work.  And by chunk of change, I mean, it could almost make last week's unplanned purchase of the MacBook Pro a non-issue. 

There is no guarantee I'll get the gig, but since I don't have to audition, it seems like a good idea to throw my hat into the ring.  All I have to do is send them a recent picture. Recent as in, taken within the last month.  Doesn't have to be a glam shot or a professional glossy -- it can be done with a cell phone: it just has to be 'recent.'

My cell phone is filled with pictures of Rick Crapster, food that I've prepared, pictures of the running gear I've acquired and my kids. I have a few pictures of me wearing a blonde or red wig and covered in fake blood. I've got a few pics of my various treatments (tape and needles) for running-related injuries, as well as a few of me stumbling out of a lake wearing a wet suit and a latex swim cap. That's it. The last photo I have of me was circa Thanksgiving.  As it works out, I take the pictures in our family: I'm not featured in them.

I spent more time than I care to think about this morning fixing my hair and putting on make-up so that I could spend additional time taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror with my (dated 3GS - it doesn't have the lens on both sides) cell phone. In addition to feeling like an asshole for taking at least a dozen pictures of myself in a mirror (I'm too old for that shit), I looked like an asshole, too. 

An absolute asshole in front of a shower curtain.

cell phone pictures in mirror
Yeah. A winner. I can do this with my arms AND you can see the package of Advanced Healing bandages on the shelf. Razor sharp elbows and blistered feet: who wouldn't hire me to represent their company? The only thing missing in the shot is a picture of a turd floating in the bowl of a toilet.

So I moved into Little Guy's room, where the sun was aplenty and tried taking shots of myself via "Photo Booth" on the Mac.  I achieved a slightly better series of photos, although the background shows a giant Batman logo and a hockey pennant. I picked one and sent it to the woman.

She responded, within the hour, and asked for more.


Wardrobe change. Hairstyle change. 

I asked daughter to take a picture. She's been sick, so holding still (e.g., steadying herself against a decent case of the spins) proved tough: all of the shots she took of me were blurred. 

So, I grabbed the computer again and headed to a new 'location' (the bedroom) for a second shoot.

All that produced equally ungreat photos. I sent them in anyway and apologized for not having a stash of photos of my most recent self stored away somewhere. I may have been apologizing for not having colored my hair recently and being waaay overdue for a haircut. Should I have also apologized for having one sick kid last who tossed and turned and moaned all night long, and another kid that just couldn't sleep so that I was pretty much awake from 11 pm to 3 am and that's why my eyes are super-squinty slits hovering above dark brown pools of saggy eye baggage that all the concealer in the world can't fix?

Or would that be too much information?

How is it, that on a normal day, I can get up, do the minimal amount of stuff and feel pretty good about how I look, but if someone asks me to look good for them, I fuck it up?   I won't prove it with a picture, but I currently am wearing a Jack Daniels t-shirt and my hair is fixed into two low pigtails: I look like I just walked off the set of Hee Haw. 

And beyond getting angry because I'm not looking like I think they want me to look, I'm pissed that it is 1:46 pm, and I still haven't figured out what the  'one thing'  I should be doing today should be.

I'm going to take a nap. That might be the absolute best I can do today.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One Thing

Just. One. Thing. (Find at PrettyBitter)
This makes me seriously hot.

Can you imagine? Committing to do just one thing today?

Honestly, I'm not sure why you'd need that piece of paper if you only had to do one thing. For me, I guess, it would be a much-needed reminder to focus: can't do everything, may as well focus on just this one. tiny. thing.

Truthfully, I've been a blur of color today. I banged out some client work this morning, tidied some trouble spots in the house, I'm on load three of laundry, I mopped the kitchen floor (and anywhere else I found sticky spots), I provided lunch for my kids and one extra, I cleaned up after lunch, and I'm half-way through baking some cookies. If I can keep up the momentum, I should have one bathroom cleaned and dinner started by the time Husband gets home. I'd really like it if I could pull off a shower, too.  Oh, yeah, and I'm writing this blog post.

I've been a rock star at multi-tasking all my life. And professionally, it served me well: my promotions were all based on my ability to start, manage, and complete 17* different things at once.  For the past three years, I thought it was why triathlon suited me so well: you're never just training in ONE event -- you can't chance it: you have to be (minimally) adequate in all three events.

One of the things I've realized in the past few weeks of my marathon training is this: I love focusing on one thing.  Long runs - on my own - are not easy: but if the most important part of my training is making sure I get that long run in every week ... well, that's all I need to focus on. I just have to make sure I'm in the game for that one long run.

Every Saturday, the one thing I have to do is run. That's it. 

And I love it.

I never thought I'd be the person that would love doing one thing at a time. Hell, I can't even just watch TV. I have to knit, or have a computer on my lap, or balance a checkbook. I'm not sure if this is an age thing, or if I'm just really fucking tired from doing 17** things at once for the past 39 years, but setting more realistic goals for myself is working out just fine.

Now, of course, I can't ever just do one thing. I mean...let's say I got this notepad, I'd have to put some kind of disclaimer on it re how it is to be used. I'd also have to have a dispenser designed so it would only allow me ONE sheet of paper per day, or shit would get out of hand. Examples of what the one thing could be:

*Eat something I really crave
*Clean up one surface that has paper clutter (leave the other surfaces for another day)
*Write up that invoice that I've been putting off
*Surprise Husband or kids
*Take a nap and don't feel bad about it
*Sit on the beach and stare at the lake 
*Bury one of the bodies
*Bake something sweet and wrong  
*Work out and don't feel bad about it
*Buy something for yourself that is cheap and unnecessary

That's what I'd use that notepad for:  And then if I accomplished that one thing, anything else that got accomplished that day would be icing on the cake.

I could really get into this...

#  #

*Seventeen is a random and arbitrary number.
**Seventeen is a random and arbitrary number, but I really seem to be connected to it today.