Tuesday, December 30, 2008

roller derby treadmill style and other randomness

Alright, I know I've been absent from the blogosphere as of late. I don't have a complicated reason, except that I've just been dang tired. My wipeoutitis has reared its ugly head as I barrel towards the finish of my marathon training (less than three weeks 'til race day!). I promise I will spend some time over my winter break catching up on everyone's blogs. I have a lot of reading to do! I have several race reports to catch up on and several running related stories for you...

1. Great River Road Run (10 miles)
If you are ever in the STL area during Thanksgiving weekend and want a great way to work off some turkey and pumpkin pie, I highly recommend this race. They shut down a 5 mile stretch of the Great River Road in Alton, IL, for an out and back flat course. The race quite literally runs next to the river, and it's really quite beautiful. Wind was the biggest weather issue that day, but otherwise it was a perfect day for a run. I ran a 20 miler on Thanksgiving, so I took it easy and ran much slower than my regular race pace. I met up with Mr. Snarky and some of his much less snarky friends to run. One of his friends was just returning to running after having a baby, so I stuck with her and we chatted it up along the race course. Yay for new running friends! Another added bonus-you are strategically located to partake in a post-race drink/meal at Fast Eddies...and we took advantage of the opportunity.

2. St. Louis Track Club Frost Bite Series
This is the second year I've participated in the series, and I have to say I'm hooked. The race series combines a long (8K, 10 mile, 20K, Half Marathon, and 15K) and short (3K, 2 mile, 5K, 4 mile, and 3 mile) distance race over 5 weekends during the winter months. If you live in the area, it's a great way to stay in shape over the colder running months. If you are a track club member, the race series only costs $30.00, or $6.00 per race. It's only a couple dollars more per race if you aren't a member. You can't beat those prices! I ran the 8K a few weeks ago as part of a 20 mile training run. I ran into a woman I met at the series last winter, and we spent the race catching up on all of our news from the past year. After we finished, we parted ways and I ran the rest of the 20 miles on my own. The 10 mile race was this weekend. It was 60+ degrees, raining, and VERY windy. It was crazy to be running in shorts at the end of December! I had run another 20 miler a few days before, so I took it easy, but it was a great run and a lot of fun despite the rain and brutal wind.

3. Wipeoutitis update
I don't know if my mind and body blocked out the memory of the exhaustion of the previous marathons, but I do NOT remember being this wiped out. I am so tired I feel nauseous most days. I've had to resort to running some days in the evening just to squeeze in another hour of sleep. Case in point...I went to get my hair cut a few weeks ago. I got dressed in my running gear before I went so I wouldn't have an excuse not to go when I was finished. After Laine finished highlighting my hair, I fell asleep in the chair. When I got my hair washed, I found myself dozing off again. As she was cutting my hair, I had to fight to keep my eyes open. We made jokes about me sliding to the floor and having her have to wake me up to flip me over and cut the other side of my head.

4. Roller Derby
The weather in STL has been absolutely insane. We've gone from single digit temperatures, ice storms, with below zero wind chill factors to 65 degrees, sunny, with freak flash floods thrown in the mix. During the single-digit ice storm phase, I was forced to do the unthinkable. Yes, folks...I ran on a treadmill. As my friend Cheri will attest, treadmills make me a VERY grumpy runner. I whine, I complain, and stomp around, I basically turn into a 3 year old in a mega-power struggle. So, I gathered my strength, stuck out my lower lip (what I apparently do when I pout, according to my parents), got in my car, and slid my way to the Y to do two days of 5 mile runs on the *gasp* treadmill. Luckily, my run club buds were also there for emotional support. We lined up and dominated the row of brand new, shiny treadmills (sounds good, but still sucks). I turned and looked at Cheri, growled, and commenced the torture. Now, it's been a while since I've been forced to run on the torture machines, so I didn't realize they've added some fancy bells and whistles. Treadmills now have the feature where you can program your view (i.e. track, 5 K race course through the trails, etc.), where you are a little red line, moving through the virtual terrain. This is just the treadmill makers' way of teasing you: You're not REALLY out here in the open, in the fresh air, with a mountain view. Yup, you're still stuck on a rubberesque strip revolving around and around in a stinky gym, facing a brick wall....just kidding....sucker!!!!
To pass the time, Cheri and I day dreamed about revising the feature. What if you could have a giant flat screen in front of all the machines that tracked everyone's progress on the same virtual course. Each line would have a corresponding number with the treadmill you were using. I decided it would make it A LOT more interesting and motivating if you could virtually knock your competitors into the course lakes and shrubbery....like we were in one massive virtual roller derby!!! Now THAT I could get into! Ah...good times, good times. Alas, they don't make roller derby treadmills and my two-day stint with torture came to an end when I threw caution to the wind and ran in the cold and ice. I just couldn't do it again. Cheri already has wee ones at home who engage her in power struggles...she didn't need me to virtually push her into a shrubbery too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

tales from the hood: betsy bada##

Every school year since I've been in the hood, I seem to acquire some kind of nickname. My call sign*, if you will, bestowed upon me by my students. Some of the more creative or colorful ones have been Miss Bogus and Stupid Fat-a## White B@$%*. Last week, I received the best one to date. I was teaching a lesson on patriarchal societies. The students were debating whether or not we live in a patriarchal society today. At the end of one of my class periods, the following conversation ensued....

Oreasha: Miss G, you got any kids?

Me: No

Oreasha: You married?

Me: No

Oreasha: You got a man taking care of you?

Me: Nope

Oreasha: So, you could say you are the head of your household right?

Me: Yes, Oreasha. I am the wage earner in my household, I pay all the bills, and I make all the decisions in my home. If something breaks, I have to fix it, or figure out how to get it fixed. If I run out of money, I'm it. I have to figure out a way to earn more to cover my expenses.

Oreasha: Miss G, you're like a single mom without the kids.

Darius: Ya, she's bad. She's Betsy, Betsy Bada##.

Me: (Laughing and shaking my head) Yes, Oreasha, you could say that. That is an interesting perspective. Darius, I am going to correct you on your language, but I can't even pretend to be aggravated with you for that comment....I have to admit, that one was good.

*I secretly imagine that I am an Navy pilot like Goose or Maverick, only I have slightly more derogatory names written on the side of my helmet/plane. Also, it would be slightly more embarrassing for my wing man to yell out my call sign as we high-five before I slide into the cock pit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

race report montage

Okey doke...here's the race report update I promised. I know you all have been on the edge of your seats (sarcasm), waiting in anticipation and I've been a tease and just kept you waiting. Well, the wait is over...

Race #1: O'Fallon Fall Finale 15K (er...Super 15K=9.5 miles)
This race locale has tortured me for the last couple of years. I started off with a bang, sizzled and fizzled in the middle, but ended the trio on the right foot. There isn't much to report (a.k.a. remember) about the race. I came, I ran 9.5 miles of hills, I finished. I felt great. I'm terrible at keeping track of my random race distance times, so I don't know if I set a PR or not. I do know that I beat my Sizzler time by 8 minutes and 38 seconds. Yipee!

Race #2: St. Louis Track Club Half Marathon
-This was the second time I ran this course. The first time was my very first half marathon, which I ran in 2:18.10. Granted, that doesn't seem that impressive, but I used it as part of a 20 mile training run in preparation for my first marathon.

-This year I ran it as part of a 14 mile training run. I just did a mile a warm up before the race. I wasn't trying to push myself too hard since I was only using it as my long training run for the week. The race is pretty brutal because it starts on
the hills of Clayton at Shaw Park, runs to and through Forest Park, and loops back through Clayton to finish where we started. I felt really good through the whole race.

-I was VERY excited to see my first joggler! I resisted the urge to point and cheer when I saw him (I've always wanted to see this in person). After all, I didn't want to throw him off his rhythm.

-I experienced a random act of runner kindness. Around mile 11ish, a fellow runner turned to me and offered me one of her Power gummythingys. I didn't want to be rude, so I took one and thanked her happily.

-The race also had an aid station that was staffed by a troop of Girls on the Run. Giving all the wee ones high fives as I ran by and getting to see all those young girls excited about running brought tears to my eyes.

-Last, but not least....When I ran through the finish and looked at my watch, I couldn't believe my eyes. I had made a new PR by 4 minutes and 41 seconds and I ran 6 minutes and 10 seconds faster than my last half marathon!

Race #3: Mountain Home Half Marathon
I was invited by Cheri, the leader of my run club at the Y and a Team in Training coach, to join their merry party of runners to this event. Donna and Jim were former trainees of Cheri's for Team in Training, and Adrianna was a friend of Jim's. Oddly enough, three of the five of us are Special Education teachers (What are the odds?). All of us were unfortunate victims of the Hurricane Ike mishap at the Lewis and Clark Marathon in September. My fellow runners had all signed up to do the full marathon, and I registered for the half.

We set off on our epic running road trip on Friday, in a fully stocked van of running gear, air mattresses, and lots and lots of food. Cheri made three CDs worth of songs in honor of the trip, all with "running," "mountain," or "hill" in the titles. Believe me, that was one random musical journey...where else would you hear John Denver and Ozzy Ozbourne within the same ten minute time period?! Cheri pretty much spent the entire trip scaring the poop out of everyone with how bad the elevation map looked for the race course and how freakin' cold it was supposed to be on Saturday. Once we entered Arkansas, someone bet a dollar to whoever spotted the first washer/dryer on a front porch. I said, "Aw come on guys, we can't be that judgemental! It couldn't possibly be that bad!" Dang it...I was so wrong. Rural Arkansas DOES have a plethera of large appliances as lawn art. We were about ten minutes past the state line, and wouldn't you know it, we saw about 5 stoves and a washer/dryer set. I stand corrected....they were right. About 45 minutes and several mispelled road signs later*, we had arrived at our destination....Mountain Home.

We checked into the hotel, dumped our gear, and headed out to the high school for packet pick up and the pasta dinner. Upon arrival at the high school, we discovered that they are the home of the Mountain Home Bombers. Yes, that's right friends. Their high school mascot is a plane that drops explosives on poor unsuspecting civilians. We should have seen this as a sign.

The pasta dinner and the post race lunch were both provided by the local church ladies (so cute). After we browsed a bit at the single vendor expo, we went to the cafeteria for our pasta and race-course briefing. They made a very heart wrenching presentation about the village in Kenya we were running to support the following day. Next, one of the race directors walked us through a power-point presentation of the course map. This summary included advice and words of encouragement such as, "If you go past the haunted house, you have gone too far," and "We hope you don't get any frost bite in any of ya all digits [pronounced DIIIIIDDDGGGGETS]!" They were very cryptic about the changes they had made to the race course, and almost seemed to take great joy in alluding to the torturous hills that were waiting for us in the morning. They had re-routed the race from last year and kept warning everyone that it wasn't the same course. I was in a state of happy ignorance. Donna went off to talk to one of the organizers about the course. When she returned she reported that, when told that we were going to drive the race course when we left the dinner, the woman had looked her right in the eye with a dead-pan face and said, "It's best not to, dear."

So, we didn't. We made a few stops to pick up some supplies and headed back to the hotel to try to get some sleep. The next morning we awoke to frigid temperatures and a bitter wind. We traveled back to the high school and started the race. I hung back with Adrianna for the first 8 miles until I had to turn around a double back along the half marathon route. Jim was a few paces behind us. We ran along a two lane highway for most of the race, with police cars racing up and down next to us, lights flashing, and the officers yelling at us through megaphones to stay on the other side of the fog line (Who knew the white lines are called fog lines?!). The hills started almost immediately and did not stop. We saw several runners who had quit doubling back (now walking), shaking their heads and muttering, "There's no way!" Eventually, it started to sleet and snow. Adrianna and I were pretty upbeat and were trying to trick ourselves by calling the needle-like sleet "angel kisses" or "cotton balls falling from the sky" and the wind was "invigorating." We had a good time making a game of the torture. We even were able to add to our running total of porch/lawn appliances as we ran. As we approached an aid station** at around mile 7, I had dropped behind Adrianna to avoid being repremanded by the approaching cop for crossing the forbidden fog line. Suddenly, Adrianna started screaming at the top of her lungs and jumping up and down. I noticed a snake on the road, so I jumped into the road, thinking she knew something I didn't about venomous snakes. As we were doing the heebie geebie run, I noticed that the snake was dead. Ya, the race officials got a few giggles out of that one. When Adiranna and I approached my turn around marker, she turned to me and pointed to several female runners ahead of me and said, "Catch those ladies and beat them." We high fived each other and parted ways. I turned around and ran a bit down the road and saw Jim heading up the hill. He greeted me with a loud, smiling "F*@# YOU!" and a single finger salute. He wasn't too happy that I got to turn around. I merrily told him I loved him and gave him a pat on the back...and was on my way.

Remembering my promise to Adrianna, I kicked it into high gear and went on a one woman mission to beat every woman I could see ahead of me on the race course. I was a woman possessed. I knew I had lost a lot of time pacing with the marathoners instead of the half mary's, so I had to push it the last 5 miles. I knew my secret weapon would be to run the upside of the hills while everyone else had given up and had started walking them. I was slightly distracted by the elderly man runner I saw in purple spandex shorts and pink flamingo glasses, who was taking pictures of everyone as we passed. Otherwise, I was a running fool. As I sprinted to the finish, I glanced down at my watch and knew that I hadn't been able to make up enough time to make another PR, but I was pretty dang proud of myself for running such a tough course under less than desireable conditions in 2:15.10.

After I finished, collected my medal, and took advantage of the free massage, I quickly returned to the hotel to shower and change before cheering my friends through to the finish of the full marathon. To kill time while I was waiting, I watched the awards ceremony for the half marathon. As they started to read the age group winners and their times, I realized, "Hey, wait a minute. My time wasn't that far off of their times!" Sure enough, when they got to my age/gender group, they announced my name...I had won second place in my age group! I picked up my commemorative key chain and happily returned to the finish line to wait for my friends.

They came hobbling and cursing across the finish line, which ironically had an ambulance ready and waiting. They all did a fantastic job! Cheri and Donna placed first and second in their age group, and Adrianna placed second in her age group (and set a PR!). In other words, the women of Illinois represented! Medals and commemorative key chains in hand, we checked out of the hotel and I drove the van home. Now, believe me, there is nothing funnier than listening to a van full of marathon runners whine and moan about their sore arses (from running all those hills) and recap EVERY mile of the race. Well, there might be something funnier...watching the same van full of runners try to get out of the van and walk into a gas station to pee after their muscles and joints have all stiffened up over the course of a 5+ hour road trip....sigh....I wish I had that documented on film...good times, good times.

*One such sign was for a restaurant called the Blu Pig. Apparently they think the silent "e" is unecessary since you don't actually say it.
**I'll say one thing for this race, they had AMAZING aid stations-fully stocked with beverages, snacks, gels, and the friendliest, most encouraging volunteers I've ever met!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

tales from the hood: my moment

I have been M.I.A. from the blogosphere as of late...been busy with work, training, and life in general. I have a back up of race reports (including a half marathon PR...yipee!), so I will post an update after I get home from the race in Arkansas on Saturday. In the mean time, I will provide you with a wee little tale from the hood from a few weeks ago. I call it "My moment in the sun."

Me: Okay, everyone it looks like we've run out of time for today. Please put your folders on the table. Make sure you give me my pencils back because I don't have any more! Thank you for your attention today, you all did a great job.

Tez: G, why you thankin' us?

Me: I feel that your hard work should be recognized. I think you did a great job staying on task today, so I wanted to say thank you.

Tez: G, we should be thanking you for teaching us and helping us learn. You shouldn't be thanking us.

Brain Mouth Filter (dream sequence style): (The ceiling split open and the roof blew off the building. Angels started singing "AHHHHHHAHHHHHHAHHHHAAAAAHHH!" Heavenly lights were shining brightly and doves came flying out in fluttering waves.)

Nique: A## kisser.

Me: SHHHUUUUSHHHHHH Nique! Give me my moment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

sometimes it just needs to be said: a race report from mr. snarky

Today's entry comes to you from a guest blogger, James. James is a runner friend of mine who completed the Chicago Marathon last weekend. He sent me his report from the race and I asked him if I could share it with you. I added the pictures because he hasn't given me any. Being a photo journalist, I think he should have done his race report as a photo story instead. Doesn't everyone know that it is incredibly easy to carry an expensive camera with a telephoto lens with you as you run 26.2 miles?!...wimp. So, it's his own dang fault if he objects.

Now, James REALLY likes to give me a hard time, so feel free to slam him for making fun of people who DNSed at the Lewis and Clark Marathon....punk. I also razzed him for his apparent aversion to encouragement along the race course. I have to remember never to give him a pat on the back for fear he miiiight stick his foot somewhere I would really rather not like one of his appendages. So, play nice everyone and welcome our fellow runner to the blogosphere...happy reading!

Ok...it started out rather nice with a fine pasta dinner at the pasta party and lots of sleep, more than I had had in several weeks at one time. We all got up and met in the lobby and noticed it was warmer than we thought it might be. Nevertheless, it was nice out. We even got some pixs with a running group from Japan.....

I led Team Alton in a group prayer and we headed for our starting positions. I had to cut away from everyone because I was up in Corral B. I should have stayed with the group! I found a nice stand of trees just outside my starting area to pee and it seemed I had started something because before long, every tree had someone, male or female, doing their business.

The race started out fine. I crossed the start line...BEEEEEEEEEP, when I noticed I was right next to one of the 3:20 pace groups. "Hey, cool," I said, I’ll just run with them.” Wow, it was warming up by mile 3, and I still hadn't got my wind, so I turned on some music to ease into it. Yes, yes that helped to run with the rhythm. Step, step, breath deep, in, out, in, out........... much better now. Now I’m running in stride with the pacer and he looks over at me to see what our pace is on my Garmin. I gave him hand signals when we need to step up or down, but for the most part we were dead on or under. After some short conversations with "Dave the Pacer,” I find out that he was from St. Louis, and skipped the LC marathon because of the rain. I laughed and said it was a enjoyable run, something to talk about years later....In my mind, I thought ..."Sissy." LOL

By mile 8, I was having trouble keeping a steady pace. I was up and down, falling behind and pushing to catch back up. I got out in front of the pacer a few steps, to make him push me, and it worked. I was back in the groove when I noticed I was going through a lot more of my sports drink that I carry with me. I used half more than I normally do......crap! It’s getting hot!!!

This pic is not of James...He's not a Kenyan.

I was doing fine, no cramps, no pain, and then it hit me at the 20K mark-WHAM! The wall… ouch, that hurt!!!! I slowed down to fill up my water bottle, and the only thing I could see was my pace group pulling away from me. Double crap! By mile 13.1, all I wanted to do was sit down on the curb and weep. Ouch, the pain was everywhere! Not the shin splints that had given me trouble for weeks before, not any leg cramps, no one place, I just hurt and hurt bad. I had felt this type of pain before in earlier marathons, but not until mile 20-21 and never this bad......the beast had hit me, but hadn't knocked me down.

My breath was gone and the pain that cursed through my veins made me feel like I had been beat with a baseball bat and, to top it off, my ipod quit.....triple crap! “S*&#!” I said, “Why am I not sweating anymore?....That can't be good.” Light headed and blisters forming on the bottom of my toes, (that had never happened before…triple- dog crap!) I limped to the side and slowed to a hobbling walk and yelled out the only adjective that fit the way I felt… "F@#%!(sometimes it just has to be used!)......Am I stopping?" I asked myself, “Has the beast got the best of me?” I only had half a marathon to go, so I slammed a Gu, took on some H2O, and picked up the pace.

In the next several miles, I saw slower pace groups pass me. I tried to speed up to keep up with them and try and salvage something from my first 20K. The pain would creep back in and hit me. Hey, it is hard to run with blisters....S@#%, this wasn't what I had planned for. Around mile 18.5, I tried my ipod one more time. Boom, it kicked on...got to love that Elvis! Time and time again, I had to tell myself, "Suck it up, sissy. You’re a black belt, for God’s sake, don't let the beast beat you."

I started to see earlier people that had left me behind, now suffering at the hands of the beast. I passed one runner who hit the ground, calling out in pain from cramps. As I passed, I started to slow up to help him, but instead went on. It just hurt too much to slow down or bend over.

This starts the ADD portion of James's story....

Awwwww crap, it was getting hot.....I was throwing cups of water over my head, something I normally don't do, all in an attempt to shake the beast. I saw others stopped in the shade with onlookers dowsing them with water, trying to cool them down.....Oh look someone throwing up.......mmmmmm bananas. I had to come in under 4 hours. That was the time I had set for myself in my first marathon, and I was not going to go over 4......breath, breath, breath....what breath?

Hey, what are all these red flags out here? Ouch, pain…Oooo water… need water....(the red flags were the high heat warning system they had put into place that I forgot about...different colors for different conditions).

Hey look! Mile 25, I'm almost done! "Almost there! Just a mile to go,” someone cheered from the side with a perky little smile on his face. "Keep on going! You can do it!" No s@#$ I can do it, you fat bastard. I just ran 25 miles, half of it in pain. I sure the hell am not going to stop now! I would have stopped and kicked him in [his man parts], but I’m not sure I could get my foot up there!

Up a hill and around the corner I went with .2 to go! "Pick it up sissy," I told myself. "Got to get that sub 4.”

“Get out of my way, you little twit," my mind yelled out to some stupid b@#$% that decides to stop within sight of the finish.....some people.

I crossed the line, in too much pain to even stop my Garmin...3:54, now that is cutting it close. CRAP!

As I made my way through the finishers lanes it was like a death walk. It was quiet, but for the music playing and the guy on the P.A........I got some water and found a wheel chair in the shade and watched as runners were helped to the aid stations and others up-chuck because they drank tooooo much water way toooooo fast after stopping. There were some tough runners here today! To see how people pushed themselves to the line only to need to be carried after that....odd people us runners...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

tales from the hood: hi, I'm yellow.

Logic...it's a tricky thing. What makes TOTAL sense to one person may seem completely unhinged to others. Most of my friends have heard this story before. It happened the year we started the program. One of our few female students at the time, Satin, had been sent to the front office for some kind of problem. I happened to be sitting in the isolation room with several other students during my duty time. She came storming into the office, and this is the conversation that ensued.

Satin (yelling at our security guy, Silas): I HATE THESE MOTHER @#$%IN STUPID-!@@ WHITE B*#$&ES!

Me (leaning out the door and speaking her to her down the hallway): Ah, excuse me Miss Satin, I HOPE, you are not talking about me! Do you want to rephrase that?

Satin: Oh, I wasn't talkin' about you Miss G. You're not white, you're biracial*.

Me: Oh, really?!

Silas: Ah, did you know that you were part black?

Me: Honey, last I checked, both my parents were still white, but I better make a phone call to see if anything has changed.

*I have been called white, pink, and yellow, depending on how they feel about me at the moment. If they like me, I'm biracial. If they hate me, I'm white. Sadly, they have had so many negative experiences with people who are white, they can't bear to recognize that not ALL white people are evil and are racist....so they classify me as anything but white to fit their logic.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

tales from the hood: the proposal

In a previous post, I mentioned that I am sexually harassed on an almost daily (sometimes hourly) basis. It kind of comes with the territory when working with mostly teenage boys with behavior issues. I will spare you the gory details of most of my encounters, but this one is worth repeating publicly. Most of my friends have heard this story already since it happened last year...

The "guilty" party is a 6'5" goofball named Jeremy. Jeremy is rarely ever serious and he rarely ever sits still. His harassing comments usually make my stomach turn, but this conversation was pretty funny.

Jeremy: Miss G, why did you break up with your boyfriend?

Me: Jeremy, it just didn't work out.

Jeremy: Did he cheat on you?

Me: Jeremy, no. Just let it go.

Jeremy: Did he beat you?

Me: Jeremy no. Again, let it go.

Jeremy: I bet he looks like a pirate.

Me: Ah, no. Last I checked, he doesn't own a parrot and still has all his appendages.

Jeremy: I'll marry you Miss G. I'll treat you real nice.

Me: Ew, Jeremy...no.

Jeremy: WHY NOT????!!!

Me: A: I'm not Mary Kay Letourneau, and B: Ew.

Ebony: Oooooo! G, if you let us dress you up, we'd take you out into the hood, and you'd find yourself a man right quick! Guys in our hood would think you real fine!

Me: Ah, no.

Jeremy: G, you wait. Give me a coupla years. When I graduate, we'll get married.

Me: Ah, no. However, I like that you are thinking about getting to graduation.

Jeremy: You just wait G. We'll go to Baltimore for the honeymoon.

Me: Hmmmm...sounds romantic Jeremy, but don't hold your breath.

Monday, October 6, 2008

the battle within

Ever since June, I've been setting my alarm at 4:15 a.m. What could possibly get me out of bed at that hideous hour everyday (well, except for my one "rest" day per week) for the last 5ish months?

Running, running, some swimming, and more running is the answer.

I am an reasonably intelligent woman. I know that running makes me happy. I know that running keeps me sane. I know that watching the sun rise every morning brings a little extra joy to my life. I know that starting the day with running is when God and I sort out all the junk so I can be....me. Knowing all this, does NOT stop The Battle from occurring EVERY morning*.

The alarm goes off and The Battle commences. The Battle is one between my body and my heart. I equate it to the Great Gazoo. Ya know, that annoying little green alien guy that kept pestering Fred Flintstone all the time and called him a big Dumb-Dumb?!?!

Well, here's how it usually goes:

Me: Aw, heck no! Your bed is so warm and comfortable. DON'T move. Hit snooze and go back to sleep, ya nut job!

The Great Gazoo: Getup. Get up. Get up. You know you want to.

Me: Shut up. I want to sleep.

The Great Gazoo: You love to run...remember? Get out of bed. Once you are out there yoooouu'llll like it!

Me: You are going to just keep talking until I get up aren't you? I'm never going to get any sleep am I?

The Great Gazoo: Nope! You might as well give up. Remember what our good buddy Peter Maher always said, "Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?' Don't be a wimp.

Me: (stretch...lots of loud cracking, snapping, and groaning...step gingerly out of bed) Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

The Great Gazoo: Wimp.

Me: Shut up.

*I used to be an evening runner, but I switched to mornings for some insane reason...probably the intense heat of the summer in STL. Now I'm just in the habit and I feel compelled to torture myself every morning. Besides, Gazoo and I have a great routine going.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

tales from the hood: brain-mouth filter

Today's installment is about this little thing we like to call the "brain-mouth filter." This magical device is situated inside our brains and it keeps the things that are going on inside our heads from coming out of our mouths. The adults* in our program actively use this device on a daily basis. Oh, what our mouths would like to say, but our trusty brain-mouth filter brings to a screeching halt. Here are some examples:

Example 1
Me: Tez, what do you call the part of your body attached to your ankle?

Tez: (eye roll) Aw man G, that's easy! It's my foot.

Me: Okay, good. Now, what do you call both of the body parts attached to your ankles.

Tez: Feets!

Brain-Mouth Filter: Oh' sweet Jesus help me not lose it!

Me: Tez, the word is feet. F-E-E-T. There isn't an "S" on the end of that word. Now you try.

Tez: Feets!

Brain-Mouth Filter: (sigh) *#$@!

Me: No, Tez. Let's try this again. One of those body parts is called a "foot" (I write it on the board). Some words, when you make them plural, or more than one, you DON'T add "S" to them. You need to change the spelling of the word to make them plural. The word "foot" is one of them. You have to change the two o's to two e's. More than one foot is said "feet" (I write it on the board). Now, you try.

Tez: Feets!

Brain-Mouth Filter: Stupid, stupid, stupid English language (bang head against wall)!

Me: Forget it Tez, it's okay. We'll try again later.**

Example 2

Me: Darius, please don't start undressing until you get into the locker room. I don't need to see that much of you.

Brain-Mouth Filter: Nor do I want to....

Darius: Aw man Miss G, it's not like you haven't see it before!

Me: That may be true Darius, but I did not ask to see your bare chest, so please put your shirt back on until you get into the locker room (he puts his shirt back on). Thank you Darius.

Brain Mouth Filter: You are sooooo going to get arrested for indecent exposure at some point in your life!

Darius (from the inside of the locker room): MAN! I hate getting dressed in here. It's so claustrophobic up in here. We can't get dressed out there because someone doesn't want to see my giant WIENER!

Me (yelling from outside the locker room): No thanks! I appreciate you saving me from that experience! Good vocabulary though...nice use of claustrophobic!

Brain Mouth Filter: (hilarious laughter) He did NOT just say wiener!?!

And lastly....

I came home from work today to find this flyer in my mailbox. Yup, that's right. Handguns and Rice Krispies my friends. Now, my students can Snap, Crackle, and "Pop" each other over their breakfast cereal! For crying out loud, what is this world coming to?!

*We try to teach the students to use this device too, but they haven't quite gotten the hang of it yet. It's an uphill battle. It doesn't stop us from trying though.
**Tez is a 9th grader that came to us mid-year last year. We have had this conversation many, many,(sigh), many times.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

irksome ike

If my regular readers are observant, they might be wondering why I didn't post a race report for the Lewis and Clark Half Marathon that I was registered to run on the 14th. The side bar list of my races completed has a nasty "DNS" next to it. So, here's the scoop...

Katie and I picked up our race packets the day before at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles. We took the requisite Runner Dork pics. I discovered that my race bib was #2!!! HOW COOL IS THAT?!?! Well, as a HUGE Runner Dork, I was jumping up and down with glee with that bib number. No, I don't have a particular fondness for the #2. I play a game during longer and crowded races. It's the "Find the Lowest Bib Number Game." Oh' don't judge...you know you secretly do the same thing...or some other variation of some stupid game. We all do weird things to pass the time during a long run.

The next morning came early...very early...3:30 a.m. early. I awoke to the lovely sensation of a sore throat that felt like I was swallowing sand laced with shards of glass. I drove to Katie's place, where we switched cars and her parents drove us to the race. It was pouring rain when I left my house. It turned into a light drizzle at Katie's place. By the time we got to the exit for the race start, it was an all out scary storm. We kept trying to make light of the situation by saying how cool of a race story it was going to make...we ran in a tropical depression! Katie's dad kept telling us to fudge the story a little and call it Hurricane Ike, since technically it was Ike...just down-graded.

It took us a better part of an hour to get from the ramp to the parking lot. The race had already started. We had timing chips, so it didn't really matter that we were late. The parking attendants were standing knee deep in water. Katie's dad parked by a Johnny on the Spot. He opened the door to make a mad dash to the "spot" and the wind nearly took the door off. Katie got a text from a friend who was watching her fiance run the marathon. She reported that she saw a girl run by in waist deep water. I looked at Katie. She looked at me. I said, "Aw Katie, this is your call. I've done this before. I know this is your first half, and if you want to run, I'll run with you. It's your decision." She made the call and we decided that we would turn around and go home. I barely made it home. Several of the major interstates and highways were closed due to flooding. I had to take several detours and, once I made it to my town, considered abandoning my car and running home. It would have been safer. I had to get off the main road and leap frog from parking lot to street to parking lot to street in order to make it home without drowning my car.

By the time I got home, I was in full-fledged sicko mode. I slept for four hours on the couch. I woke up and got a text from my friend James who started the race and reported that they ended the race after 10 miles. He was on pace for a PR! He's a machine...who runs a PR in the middle of the remnants of a hurricane?!?! They had to reroute the course several times due to flooding. They lost radio communication and were not able to safely support the runners in case there was a medical emergency. We wouldn't have been able to finish the race anyway.

I was completely bummed that I didn't get to run it, after training for it all summer. However, my heart just broke for my friends that trained for it as first-timers and/or had trained for the full marathon. Katie ended up going home and running 13 miles anyway (see her "race report" here). Kyle sent me a text on his way home from the race, asking me if I knew of any half marathons coming up locally. He was already planning his comeback. Cheri (who weighs about 90 pounds...I'm surprised she didn't blow away) braved the storm and tried to power through to run the marathon, only to be cut short. James blasted through 10 miles, only to be forced to stop by race officials. Kristin and her husband were first timers and tearfully told me that "I already knew I could run 10 miles...I ran that last week! I just wanted to finish!" Dave, who stood up to his personal demons and chose sobriety, used his marathon training as part of his path to recovery. You all handled your disappointment with grace, humor, and integrity. Your perseverance through the training was amazing and I am so proud of you. I am honored and humbled to call you friends.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

bubba gets picked first in gym class

My school district has partnered with our health insurance company to sponsor a 200-day Wellness Challenge. Here are the rules:
1. Teams will be comprised of four staff members. Name your team***.
2. Each team must assign a Team Leader.
3. Individually track your steps on a daily basis with the provided pedometer.
4. Submit your tracking sheets with a monthly grand total to your Team Leader on the first of each month.
5. Winners will be announced at the Health Fair.

What do we win?...a $500 American Express gift card (split into 4 cards for each team member)...and bragging rights that will be celebrated for YEARS to come.

Before you read my comments below about my excitement over my first round draft pick, I want to preface it with how COOL I think this challenge is. I'm so happy that I work for a district that is encouraging their staff to practice healthy habits. I absolutely adore the people I work with closely on a daily basis. I want them to be around for a very, very long time. I'm all for helping all of us to lead healthier, more active lifestyles. All joking aside, I am so proud of everyone who signed up for this and they are all winners in my book for taking steps to improve their health.

Now, I was a girl who NEVER got picked first for ANY organized sport in gym class. I'm about as uncoordinated at team sports as a toddler...who is blindfolded and (if it wasn't considered child abuse)drunk. Lets face it, not many elementary and middle school kids are challenging each other to any endurance feat* during recess or P.E. class, so I never got my moment to shine.

Well, I would like to announce...MY MOMENT HAS COME!!!!

I am part of a carefully recruited team comprised of:
1. Rob...soccer player (part of an indoor league), softball player (part of two teams), P.E. teacher, and dog owner.
2. Derek...stepfather of an active youngin', therapist, and dog owner.
3. Tracy...my preggers boss (Tracy, I love you honey, but you are our handicap), and dog owner
4. Me...marathon runner, teacher, dog owner

Why we are going to kick-a##:
soccer + softball + marathon training + teachers** + therapist** + principal** + parent +7 dogs in need of walking= VICTORY!!!!!

Please forgive me for a moment here. I don't want to seem over confident, but I've NEVER been in a position to trash talk. I just need to do it...just this once. I need to do this for all the uncoordinated freaks out there who never got picked first to be on the team at recess. This one's for you...

We are striking fear into the hearts of many. The kick-off meeting was held two days ago. I walked in the room and immediately had several co-workers at other buildings pointing at me and asking me to join their teams. The middle school principal took one look at me and said, "Awwwww heck no. We already know this team is going to win...they got Betsy."

The following morning, I started my usual routine...I went for a run. I started my marathon training this week, so the mileage hasn't been that tough yet. I ran 5 miles. I had over 7,000 steps logged before I even got out of the car to enter the school building that morning. The students were curious about the pedometers. When they found out what we were doing, they got into the trash talking too. They kept taking polls on who had the most steps throughout the day and were reporting the updates to the other staff. By the time I made it to the after school meetings, I had over 12,000 steps logged. One of my friends who works in our program at the elementary school, looked at my pedometer as I was walking by and yelled, "OH MAN! THAT IS SOOOOO NOT FAIR! SHE HAS 7,000 MORE STEPS THAN I DO! SHE SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO BE IN THIS COMPETITION!" I looked at her and laughed. I told her I worked really hard for those steps and every last one of them deserved to be counted. By the time I went to bed that night I had 15,661 steps recorded. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I had only just begun. God willing and barring any mob action knee cap busting, between now and the end of the competition, I will have trained for and competed in a full marathon, two half marathons, a 15K, a 10 mile river road run, and a winter long-distance race series.

Here's to you Bubba...it's been a long time coming, but you finally got picked.

*Well, except for who can punch one another in the stomach the most before someone yells "UNCLE!"
** "Teacher," "therapist," and "principal" are all job titles at my school for people who chase kids down = automatic step bonus.
***We need a good team name and t-shirt idea....Please send me suggestions!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

lousy lazy people

I have a bone to pick with the organizers of the Phoenix Rock n' Roll Marathon. I registered for the race this spring. The event isn't until January. I showed commitment. I decided I wanted to do it and went for it. Since then, I have received a series of emails from the marathon organizers with teaser topics like "Win a free Garmin!" or "Ultimate VIP Escape." Yes, they are offering a free Garmin:
Garmin Giveaway
Need a little extra motivation to get in shape or surpass your fitness goals? Garmin will help you keep track of your time, distance and speed throughout your training.

Now through August 31, Garmin is offering you a chance to win a top of the line Garmin 405 Forerunner!

Yes, they are offering a VIP escape to a fancy spa:
One lucky person will win the “Ultimate VIP Escape” prize package for two that includes 3-nights accommodations at The Arizona Biltmore, a $100 Gift Card to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, New Balance Running Shoes, Race Week VIP Perks
and more!

Now here's the lousy catch....if you read the "rules," if you registered before July 7th, you can only get the Garmin if you refer a friend to register for the race. You can't get the spa escape if you registered before September 1st...but you can get a chance if you get a friend to register.

SERIOUSLY!!!??!??! Where's the logic? Where's the love for the early bird?!?! Sure, you show automatic love to my late registering friends, but I have to be your little recruiter to reap the rewards?* Please feel free to tell me if I'm being a whiny baby about this....

*Yes, after I stop stomping my feet and pouting** for a few minutes, I will realize that I will reap lovely intrinsic rewards like a sense of accomplishment, continued perseverance, increased strength, endurance, new friendships, etc., etc., etc., for running the race. I know we don't run for the tangible rewards, but for the love of the sport.
**Sniff, sniff...waahh...but, but, but IT'S NOT FAIR!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

tales from the hood: dressing the part

Here's your next installment from a day in my life in the hood....

Me: Come on Ty'Esha, let's go!


Me: You can give your earrings to me and I'll put them in my pocket. I promise I will give them back to you after class. Come on, hurry.

Ty'Esha: I don't want to take them out, I need to change my earrings!

Me: What? Why?!

Ty'Esha: I want to change my earrings because these don't match my gym uniform.

Me: Awwww...come on, you've GOT to be kidding me. Ty'Esha...we're going to be late!


Me: (Sigh) Ty'Esha, honey, don't you know you look beautiful no matter what you have dangling from your ear lobes? Why do you want to look good for these boys*?


Me: Honey, if they don't like you because of your lack of earrings, you don't want to have anything to do with them. They need to like you just the way you are.

Ty'Esha: (eye-roll combined with a lot of foot stomping and a very poorly hidden smile) WEEELLLL, if they come in there, I'ma gonna run right in the locker room and put these back on right quick. I gotsta look GOOOOD.

*I'm not putting my male students down, mind you. She is always calling them "little boys" and usually won't give them the time of day. I was just throwing her own words back at her to see what she would say.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

tales from the hood

I've decided to start a new blog series about convos I have with my students. I *heart* them and I hope you find them as entertaining as I do. Today's installment happened today...and it just happens to be about running.

Andrew: Aw, maaaaaan! I hope we don't have to run outside today for P.E. It's raining and I just had my braids re-done.

Me: Come on Andrew! It's not that bad. I ran in the rain this morning! It can be fun!

Julia: Did you run a marathon?

Me: No, Julia I just ran 3 miles. I would have to get up at 2 a.m. to run a marathon before work.

Andrew: Doesn't your hair get ruined in the rain?

Me: No, my hair is different than yours.

Andrew: Oh. G, how long is a marathon?

Me: 26.2 miles

Andrew: Aw.....HEEELLLLL NO!

Bijon: Whoa.

Me: Andrew, language.

Andrew: I I I I I'm sorry G, my bad. (Andrew stutters horribly when he gets excited). What's the longest you've ever run?

Me: 26.2 miles

Andrew: Is is is is tttthat like from here to Alton?

Me: No. It's farther.

Julia, Andrew, and Bijon: AWWWWW....HELLLLL NO!

Me: Language.

Andrew: Ssssorry G. Sssso how far is it then?

Me: It would be about the same as running to the mall from here...

Andrew: NO WAY!!! G, THAT'S CRAZY!!!

Me: Wait, Andrew...I didn't finish. It's like running from here to the mall AND back...plus a few more blocks.

Andrew: AND BBBBACK? Oh, no. Oh no. Oh no. I could never do that G. You're going to live forever G.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

gangsta' factor

I've been back at work since the end of July, but my students' first week of school was last week. I have to say that I'm glad to be back. However stressful and sometimes dangerous my job can be, I really love what I do. I love my students, and I've missed the goofy things they say.

Case in point....

Conversation between Jeremy (a 6'4" giant who is an amazingly talented basketball player) and I as I escorted a group of students to their P.E. class:

Me: Jeremy, what's going on? You are so quiet!

Jeremy: I hate running. I'm not going to do it.

Me: Aw, come on, it's not that bad! Don't you have to run up and down the basketball court? You need to practice running to get better at basketball.

Jeremy: Well, ya...but it's not the same thing. I'm already the best at basketball. Besides, I'm quitting basketball.

Me: Well, okay...don't you still play street ball? You still have to run to play.

Jeremy: G*, it's not the same.

Me: Well, would it help if I gave you a basketball to bounce as you ran around the track?

Jeremy: [eye roll]

* My students often call me "G." Sometimes it stands for "gangsta" and sometimes it stands for the first letter of my last name. In this case I think he was referring to my last name because my "gangsta" factor is in direct relation to the coolness rating of the advice I'm dispensing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

hello, OCD

After I finished a swim last week at the Y, the lifeguard stopped me. He asked if I was signed up for their distance challenge. No two words are more dangerous in the English language to Betsy than "distance challenge." He explained that it was a running tally of Y swimmers' laps. All we have to do is tell the guard our total for that day at the end of our workout and they enter it into our own personal "challenge chart." I'm used to thinking of workouts in yards, not laps, so I spend a lot of my workout trying to convert them in my head (there is a reason why I am not a math teacher). Whoever has the highest number of laps at the end of the year wins some (to be determined) prize. The prize could be a pair of Speed Sockets...I could care less. The challenge has been made. I shall not resist. I have an inkling that I will not meet the challenge this year because it started in January...all that pesky marathon training is getting in the way. However, come January 2nd...IT'S ON!!!

On the running front...
I tried a Vanilla Orange Carb Boom!* for my 10 mile run on Saturday. The verdict?
Taste-made me gag
Energy Level-Eh...nothing to write home about. I'm willing to try it again, but I think the GU and Hammer Gel work better.

*I love that they put an exclamation mark at the end of their product name...like that extra punctuation is going to make you run faster.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

8 on the 8th Olympic Style Race Report

My Non-Runner Nancy virtual race turned out to be 9 on the 9th. We were challenged to do it with some sort of Olympic flare, but the closest I got was simulating the polluted air of Beijing by running a route along the congested main street in my town, with a little construction sand mixed in...apparently Beijing has a high concentration of desert sand in their air. I flirted with the idea of prancing around my living room with one of marathon medals post race, but I refrained. I don't have good curtain coverage on my living room windows and the neighbors may have questioned my sanity more than they already do. Here's my play by play report...

Night before: I'm only including this part because I was so proud of myself for planning ahead. I had a baked potato with black beans and veggies for dinner. Potatoes work better for me than pasta for carbo-loading. I added in the beans for extra protein to see how it would affect my run. I kinda lost some nutritional brownie points later that evening when I had a low fat ice cream cone from McD's with a friend (seriously, is crack on a cone).

Pre-race: I slept in until about 6:30 (whoo hoo!). Had some Simply Harvest while I waited for the dogs to do their business. I'm experimenting with pre-race meals* to see how it effects my time/stomach/need for a toitee. I usually do toast with peanut butter and a banana before a big race (just a banana or other fruit before a morning run). I'm also experimenting with energy gels. I downed some water and tried a Hammer Gel for the first time (tropical flavored). I put my water bottle and my baggie of Clif Bloks in my mailbox and away I went!

Race: I will spare you a mile by mile replay. Especially considering I was going solo, I don't have any dramatic battles or happy runner conversations to re-enact for you. I do have to say, I felt AMAZING!!! The weather was beautiful. We had a break in the heat and humidity. It felt like going on that first fall run of invincibility when your body wakes up and realizes that you aren't running with a 2 ton anvil on your back. It was one of those runs that you remember and cling to when the going gets tough and you have to remind yourself that running feels amazing...like you can do anything, go any distance, and you just can't wait to do it again. The only mishap was that I was so in the zone**, that I missed my scheduled water stop at the police station. I had gone a mile past the station before I even realized where I was, so I decided not to back track and waited until I looped back by my mailbox. I also tried out one of my new running skirts. I purchased two different brands online, both the same size. I tried out the first one earlier this week and it fit well. The one I wore yesterday was way too big, so I had to keep pulling it up for fear that I would be giving local traffic a little show.
My time at the 8 mile mark: 1:17.42
My time at the 9 mile mark: 1:26.53
I ran 20 minutes faster than my super 15K race two weekends ago, which kind of gives you an idea of how miserable I was during that race. Proper fueling, weather conditions, and a well planned race REALLY make a difference!

Post Race: I refrained from doing a happy dance around my living room and decided to try the Hour-After Plan outlined in the latest Runners World. I got as far as the "5 minutes after" hydrate step before I got side tracked (hello, ADHD). I did eventually eat and stretch though. I ended the race with Olympic flare by doing the legs up the wall stretch*** while I watched the Olympics on T.V.

*The hot cereal worked great. I liked the added almonds for extra protein and yumminess. Hammer Gel tasted like what I imagine a## in a tube would taste like, but it was effective. After I fought back my gag reflex, I was able to stomach it. I liked that it has less calories than Gu (I'd rather ingest calories that I actually enjoy). The packaging was a little awkward...I nearly lacerated the roof of my mouth on the wrapper (GU packets are smaller).
**Bubba was thinking about Laura's foray with the Gooey Butter Cake and realized that I should have told her about O'Connell's Pub. They have a Gooey Butter Cookie, which would have saved her (and the hotel plumber) from committing the crime of flushing Gooey Butter goodness down the toilet.
***Note to self: Take shoes off before doing this stretch...you will have some explaining to do about why you have scuff marks on your wall.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quatchi gets chicked

I've been swimming about 2-3 days a week in addition to my usual 5 day/week run schedule. I HATE to lift weights, so I figured swimming covered my upper body strength training, a little bit of core work, and fed my unending need for endurance endorphins. Plus, it's something I know how to do. I spent more of my life in water than on land for the first 20+ years of my life as a competitive swimmer, water polo player, and (gasp!) a synchronized swimmer.*

Yes, yes, feel free to laugh hysterically now. I'll wait.........

.....done yet? No? Okay, take your time..............

Okay, now that you've sufficiently recovered...

So after years of green hair, wearing drag suits that made me look like I got mauled by a bear, having the shoulders of a linebacker (my speciality was the 100 fly), dealing with hand cramps from unending bouts of jazz hands, and watching my skin dry out like a prune, I hung up my fins and traded them in for a pair of Asics.

Happily ensconced in the running groove, I managed to cut out all other activity. This brain trust move netted me a laundry list of injuries and very impressive set of incredible hulk legs **. Seeing the error of my ways, I've re-integrated swimming back into my routine.

Which brings me to my story from yesterday's trip to the Y.*** For several weeks now, I have found myself swimming with the same group of people. We don't talk much. Swimmers aren't as chatty and friendly as runners. It must be the whole I-may-drown-myself-if-I-open-my-mouth-to-speak thing....details. One particular guy and I always manage to end up having to share a lane. Swimming laps in public is a lot like carpooling with a stranger, only with a lot less clothing. There will never be a situation where you will voluntarily dress in clothing that resembles underwear and get close enough to a person to see their back hair (hopefully males only)in public and it be "normal."**** So, yesterday evening Sasquatch and I were destined to share a lane...again. However, we had the added bonus of two other strapping (albeit less hairy) young lads in the lane next to us. Now, I had already run early that morning and put in a full day's work, so I was pretty wiped out, but I couldn't resist trying to keep up with the boys. Nitmos and Vanilla seem to have a fascination with getting "chicked" while running...well, I was on a one-chick mission to not get "Sasquatched.*****" I quickly realized after literally eating their wake and feeling like, "Yes, now I know what it must feel like to do an open water
swim in a triathlon," I wasn't going to chick them on sheer speed. I then proceeded to puff myself up and did whatever any self-respecting marathon runner would do...I chicked them on distance. Sure, any Yeti can swim fast and "harass humans traveling through a forest"******, but can those giant man beasts go the distance? So, who prevailed in the battle of Quatchi versus TheBets?

....Yup, you guessed it, Quatchi got chicked. He tuckered out every couple laps, trying to impress me with his speediness, but *yawn* I wasn't impressed. It takes a lot to impress a green tinted, giant calved, purple short donning, jazzy handed, endurance freak. Better men have tried...and failed. We shall meet again on Friday, O'Hairy One. Maybe we should start carpooling....

*None of these pictures are of me, of course. I have long retired my sequins and matchie matchie swim suits.
**Now try to get the mental picture of a green-skinned, purple short clad monster doing jazz hands out of your mind.
***No, as far as I know I did not have a run in with Hot Dad.
****Unless, of course, you are a stripper. Side note to my side note...I was in a computer training today for a reading program for my students. One of the reading prompts asked them to identify the sight words "lap" "cash" "pole" and "dancing." I about fell out of my chair. REALLY??? Awww...come on! REALLY??? I can't make this stuff up. Either my computer had a dirty, dirty mind or their random word selector has a pervy virus.
*****If you guys can have your own made-up word for getting trounced by a girl, we can have one for when we are beat by hairy beasts.
******Seriously, who knew Teddy Roosevelt wrote a book about the territorial habits of Sasquatches? Ahhh...gotta love this great country.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

bubba's perfect gift

I celebrated my 32nd birthday on Independence Day this past month. A few weeks later, I got a text message from Kir. She was in Philly doing a triathlon. The text said that she had just found the perfect birthday gift for me when she went to pick up her race packet. I assumed the gift was running related, so my interest was peaked. What could it be? Goofy bumper sticker? Funny running shirt? A case of discounted Body Glide? East Coast Hot Runner Guy? Sadly, she made me wait to find out what it was....she sent it in the mail.

Well, a few weeks go by and I was eagerly awaiting my human-sized UPS box with air holes (After all, we can't have Hot Runner Guy suffocating, can we?). Alas, the delivery was a large white envelope instead. Yipee!!! My "perfect gift" had arrived. I ripped the envelope open and....

.....ta da!

Bubba was very happy! It was a Bondi Band dedicated to him. Aw, thanks Kir!

Now, I have never used a Bondi Band before, so I was intrigued. I sweat buckets when I run, so I was a little skeptical that it would work. I've worn it for a few weeks now, and I have to say I'm impressed by it's absorbency. I still get sweat in my eyes, but it's not as bad as it used to be. I tend to pull it down every once in a while and use it to wipe my eyes...it's quite handy. The only down side is that I forget that I'm wearing it and often wonder why people are staring at me so much, until I realize that they are trying to read my forehead. This,and the fact that I'm advertising that I like to eat, maaaaay be one of the reasons why I'm still single.

Just a side note about Bubba....I think he thinks I may have scurvy. I have eaten an obscene amount of fruit and vegetables in the past five days. Here's the break down...
oranges: 5
plums: 5

kiwis: 5
bananas: 10
salads: 4
bags of frozen veggies: 2
apples: 2
handfuls of dried cranberries: too many to count
watermelon: 1/4
Bubba: happy
TheBets: acidic mouth screaming for mercy

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

O'Fallon Summer Sizzler* Race Report

And the winner is.....(drum roll please).......
Sadly, no gold medal honors this time around. Apparently there are more girly sissy runners in the dead of winter than there are in the dead of summer. The girl who was at the top of the heap ran it in 1:13:21...Ahhh ya, that wasn't me. I'm just glad I survived the dang thing. It was a very frustrating experience. Now that I've had some time to cool off (in more ways than one), I am now prepared to give a race report.

Pre-race: My alarm didn't go off, but I magically woke myself up on my own in enough time to scramble out of bed, throw some gear on and make it to the race on time. Luckily, I had laid everything out the night before. I packed my fuel belt in anticipation of the heat. I knew, from the race I ran on the same course two winters ago, that the race would not be staffed well and I wanted to be prepared with extra water. I felt like a big running geek because I was the only runner wearing the equivalent of a runners' pocket protector, but I got over it. During the course briefing, they reminded us that it was a "super" 15k, which means they tagged on an additional .2 miles, making the official race distance 9.5 miles....SUUUPPPPER!!! Also, the Y had invested in timing chips for the event, which was new and exciting.

So here are a few mental notes I took during the race....

1. As I stated in my previous post, the course is on a road called Seven Hills Road. It's a VERY steep set of hills that run along a two lane highway (with a few side jaunts into some neighborhoods), which means:
-Lots of yummy road kill...I counted six raccoons, three birds, about half a dozen froggies, and one unidentifiable heap of a carcass.
-Absolutely no shade....blazing sun....96% humidity.
-Bonus licence plate game activity! Katie and I are on a non-road trip license plate game kick (Yes, we're huge dorks, but I prefer "cute and endearing"). I managed to get Alaska, Hawaii, and North Dakota during the race!

2. Most people don't like to run 15Ks. It got kinda lonely because there were only 44 runners on our course (there were more 10k and 5k runners). I only had three short convos of note.
#1 Passed older man who made a comment about the lack of Johnny on the Spots...I told him the cornfield on the right was his best bet.
#2 Passed a huge military lookin' guy and I offered him some of my water. He said thanks, but he thought he could make it to the next water stop, and he was just ready for the dang thing to be over.
#3 Got passed by two ladies running together, and the second one made some comment to me about how much this race sucked.

Which brings me to why we were all incredibly frustrated.....

3. In the span of 9.5 miles, they had three water stops...at mile 3, mile 7, and mile 9. They gave us about 4 oz. of warm water in Styrofoam cups. The stops were manned by people with the maximum age of 16, minimum age of about 10. They had no Gatorade, no medical support, no bathroom facilities, and no vehicle support to check on the runners. Every once in a while they had these water stop mirages. The volunteers wore fluorescent yellow t-shirts that could be seen from really far away. They had a few strategically placed volunteers on the course with cowbells, supposedly encouraging the runners. We kept thinking they were water stops, but they were just cowbell teasers**. We would have given anything to have those bells filled with icy cold beverages instead of useless metal clangers. By about mile 6, I saw more walkers than runners....people were dropping like flies. I think we were all scared that if we didn't slow down, we might pass out...and who would find us? I finally gave in to the heat and walked the upsides of the last few hills. I ran out of water at mile 7 and didn't want to push it too much. Needless to say, most of us were pretty frustrated at the end of the race and vowed to write strongly worded letters/emails to the race director in protest.

Now, before you call me a sissy girl, I have to clarify a few things. Having done a fall marathon, I'm no stranger to long runs in the heat. I also have run in summer races that are really well organized.***The race organizers neglected to follow the rules that most experienced runners know as basic common sense:
-Always start running early.
-Hydrate well...place water out on your route ahead of time, carry water with you, plan a route that has drinking fountains strategically placed, and/ or alternate between water and Gatorade, Gu20, etc. if you are running a longer distance.
-Run where there is shade.
-Make sure you run in populated areas in case you need help (or a potty).
-If you can get your neighbors or random strangers to spray you with their garden hoses as you run by, it's always a bonus...just make sure you are properly lubed up.

*Remind me to never run a race with "sizzle" in the title again.
**Don't substitute cow bells for fluids. They will make your dehydration headache worse...and make you want to beat an innocent 10 year old volunteer senseless with a metal noisemaker.
***The Boilermaker in NY is a good one-great spectator and volunteer support, water stops every mile, and they even have an unofficial a popsicle stop!

Friday, July 25, 2008

gold medal champion

Tomorrow morning I am going to revisit my championship race...the O'Fallon 15K. There is a legacy to live up to here...a lot of pressure. Now, my friends would tell me NOT to share the complete story with you, but I am going to give you full disclosure. I would hate to be found out later.

Two winters ago I ran the same 15K course over Super Bowl weekend. It was my first 15K. Tomorrow's race will be my third official 9.3 mile race (I also ran the Boilermaker last summer). The same Y is having a repeat race in October, called the Fall Finale 15K...if you're in the area you should register and run it with me, of course if you aren't intimidated about running with a champion (hardy, har, har).

As a tribute to my race tomorrow and my moment of glory, I am going to recap my original O'Fallon 15K. The "original" was run in sub-zero cold with a blinding, mind numbing, fierce, I-feel-like-I'm-in-a-wind-tunnel wind. The race course is on a road called Seven Hills Road. It actually has SEVEN hills. It's not false advertising. Combined with the wind and the sharply graded hills, I often felt like I wasn't actually moving. At times, I actually felt like I was running backwards. Needless to say, I didn't think I was going to do well, but since it was my first 15K it was a guaranteed PR. The event has a 5K and a 10K that runs at the same time. The 5K and 10K runners split off from the 15K runners shortly after the start. When I got to this point in the race course, I noticed that the race field for the 15Kers was quite small, so it quickly became a very lonely run. When I finished I decided to stick around and be social, to congratulate the winners, defrost, and possibly collect a ribbon. I figured since the race was so small, I might actually have placed somewhere in my age or gender group. The race officials eventually got to the 15Kers and told us to meet them at the main Y office to collect our prizes and to get our official times. The race directer looked at me and asked my name. She then smiled and handed me....a GOLD MEDAL! I had placed first out of all the females and first in my age group. I'm cool.

And now.....the WHOLE truth.....

I have to confess that there were only three females in the race.

So, tomorrow I will revisit the "gold medal" course, only it will be a blistering 90-something degree morning. The race will have a completely different set of extreme weather conditions, but hopefully there will be a bunch of sissy girly runners out there that will decide to sleep in instead of sweating it out on good ol' Seven Hills Road...and I can have a repeat "gold medal" performance.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

seriously bad runner 'tudes

So, I just took a trip to Chi-town to visit my brother, SIL, and niece. They live in the house where I grew up, so I'm very familiar with the neighborhood. There is an elaborate trail system a block from the house. I was VERY excited to run on it because a lot of it is gravel. It was a much needed break from my usual pavement pounding. It was also REALLY great not having to wake up before dawn every morning to run in a tolerable temperature...it was actually still in the seventies at 8:00!!! Woo-hoooo!

Now, having lived on both coasts, I normally sing the praises of the friendliness (is that even a word?) level of midwesterners*. However, if you ask a Chicagoan, anything south of Joliet is "The South." Having lived in "The South" for four years now, I've now realized that I've grown used to overly friendly and outgoing people...ya know, people who actually make eye contact and don't think you are crazy or out to mug them. So here is a recap of my "rude" awakening....

Day one: No run, just watched longingly as runners in the neighborhood were cruising around the streets that evening. I had about four hours of sleep and sat on a train for 6 hours. I decided to take a rest day.

Day two: Headed out on the trail at 8:00 a.m. It was breezy, cool, and a perfect day for a run! Yipee!!!! The trail was PACKED with people running! I was very excited to be running with so many buddies! I was a little confused why so many people were running and not at work, but I was glad for the company. My excitement ended as I tried to make eye contact with my new runnin' buds. I said "Good morning!" Nothing. Nada. Cricket chirping silence. Unfazed, I kept on running and waving at people, trying to get SOME kind of response. I finished the run, a little disappointed.

Day three: Headed out around the same time as the day before. I see a few of the same people...still no love. Some of them even have a very serious looking scowl on their faces! My niece does a good reenactment of the scowl.
I was beginning to think these people don't even like running! I stopped trying eventually. One notable event was that I saw Hot Runner Vacation Guy. He was waaaay too young for me. Probably some guy home on college summer break...more like a Hot Runner Puppy.

Day four: Headed out early for this run. I had to leave for the train station around 7 a.m. There were less people out at this time, but they were a lot friendlier. Most of them exchanged my morning greeting and I even got a few waves! Yeah for early runners! Maybe that was my problem?!

*Chicagoans have been top on my list of friendly people in the past...this could have been a total fluke, so please don't send me any mean, hateful, "How could you trounce your hometown peeps?!" comments.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

tiny woodland creatures

I've been MIA from the blogosphere for a few weeks. I've been busy. I've become a murderer of tiny woodland creatures. Granted, this post has very little to do with running, (unless you count me running around with several cases of the heebie geebies), but you'll have to humor me for an off topic post.

Tiny creature victim #1: Baby Birdie
Birds nest between my roof and my screened-in porch every year. Every year, some overly ambitious young chick decides to launch itself out of the nest prematurely, inevitably causing death. Last week, I discovered Baby Birdie laying on the ground next to the back patio, tempting my dogs to ingest it as a Scooby snack. After jumping up and down and doing my first rendition of the Heebie Geebie dance (cross training?), I scooped Baby Birdie up with my pooper scooper and tossed it in the poop bucket for his burial...I know, I know....I'm a horrible person.

Tiny creature victim #2: Wee Wittle Sparrow
Last week I noticed random splotches of white on my countertops. I couldn't figure out what it was. On Friday, I noticed it running down the mirror in my upstairs hallway. I thought it might be a friend's hair gel. She came over for to go for a walk and took a shower at my house before we headed out to a friends' house for a party. Then it dawned on me that it looked like bird doo. I thought, "Naw, not possible. How could a bird be pooing in my house? I haven't seen or heard one?!" The idea stuck in my head though. I kept entering every room gingerly, thinking that a bird was going to swoop out at me...but it never happened. Then late one night, I noticed something as I passed my spare room on my way to bed. Sure enough, there was a dead birdie laying on the floor under the door frame. I did the heebie geebie run back down the stairs, grabbed a broom and a dust pan, and swept up the wee wittle sparrow. I did the heebie geebie run down the stairs again and ran out the front door, across the front porch, and threw the wee wittle sparrow into my neighbor's bushes. He's biodegradable, right?! I knew I couldn't sleep with him laying in the trash can, so I decided to fertilize my neighbor's bushes....I was being neighborly right?!

Tiny Creature Victim #3: Spinning Turtle
Several friends and I were carpooling to church on Sunday. We were cruisin' along on the interstate, engrossed in conversation. All of a sudden, we heard a distinctive crunch. It sounded like I ran over something and popped my tire. I quickly looked in my rear view mirror to try to identify the obstacle. However, instead of seeing the usual road trash, I saw a cute little turtle spinning and flipping into the air like someone had just flipped a giant coin. Of course I was immediately distraught at my unintentional turtle-slaughter. My friends tried to convince me that I had just given him a fun ride, that he landed safely, and made it to the other side of the road. Or, that his buddy, who was on the side of the road, came out and rescued him, carrying him to safety. A conversation on turtles' ability or inability to flip themselves over once they are on their back ensued, which did NOT make me feel better.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

me and 60,000 of my friends

A week ago today was the Komen Race for the Cure (I'm a wee bit behind on my blogging). The Race for the Cure is a cause near and dear to my heart because my grandmother died of breast cancer many moons ago. I have run it the past three years in her honor.
St.Louis competes every year to have the biggest race. I think they probably made their goal this year. I tried to run the 5K with 60,000+ other runners/walkers. It was mostly a lot of dodging, bobbing, weaving, and trying not to fall and break every bone in my body as a stampede of people moved down the streets of St. Louis. I considered giving myself PR props for surviving the race unscathed. Here are a few pics of the race, but you really had to be there to truly appreciate the sheer number of people who were out there, supporting such a worthy cause...saving the ta-tas.

Melinda and I before the race. This was Melinda's first race! Her mom and one of her grandmothers are breast cancer survivors.

The Mighty Kate, Kate's husband Skip, Kate's mom, and one of their friends before the race.

My friend Katie with Melinda....Katie is training to run her first half marathon with me in September!

Holy Moly that's a lot of people! The sea of people you see up ahead of us on that hill extended in the same way behind us....60,000 is A LOT of people!

Crazy guy running in a bear costume...

Katie and I walked down to the Arch after the race. The rising Mississippi is creeping it's way into the city.

The city dyed the fountain pink in honor of the race.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Random question for my fellow running bloggers....

Why is that I can run miles and miles of training runs blister-free, but when I run a race (no matter what the length) I end up with blisters on my toes?

It's definitely a head scratcher...

Oh...and here's a picture I took at the gym the other day that gave me the giggles. Not that fathers can't be hot, it just struck me as funny that he was advertising...Do his kids call him that? Did his wife make him get that plate?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

back in the saddle again

I *heart* running. After a forced four day detox, I am back in the saddle again. I was crawling up the walls by Wednesday. I love to be outside and I wasn't even allowed to do that...talk about cabin fever! I took a short spin around the neighborhood on Thursday after work, another one Friday morning, ran the Route 66 10K on Saturday morning, and ran a recovery run this morning. Ahhhhhh....it's good to be back.

I've never run a 10K race. I've ran every other random competitive distance (besides the ultra) that I can think of though, which I find rather odd. So here's my first competitive 10K race report.....(drum roll please).

Friday evening: I went to Bipod to pick up my race packet. They made a mistake and had my registration down as a non-competitive runner, so my time wasn't going to be recorded for the age group results. They wouldn't change it for me either. It was kind of a bummer, but I thought I would just wear my watch and hopefully remember to pay attention to it when I crossed the finish line. The goodie bag had a key chain flashlight, a regular key chain, a can cozy, and some Biofreeze (Yeah!...great stuff). The t-shirt was Cool-Max, but enormous and a hideous gray color. My pre-race dinner consisted of a handful of Cheez-its and half a frosted oatmeal cookie from the Cupcakery in the Central West End. Ahhh...the dinner of champions.

Saturday pre-race: Woke up to a foggy cool morning...perfect, not too hot or muggy. I got ready to go, had a good breakfast, and headed out the door. I drove about a mile and remembered that I forgot my ipod and turned around. I made it to the race in plenty of time. While I was waiting for it to start, I struck up a conversation with a fellow runner. She BQ'd and ran it this year. I admired her Garmin and we chatted excitedly about running, races, training, etc. while we waited for the race to start. I knew I would never be able to keep up with her, so I told her to run ahead without me.

Race miles 1-2ish-The course ran along some of the city streets...lots of potholes, hills, and brick paved avenues...not exactly smooth sailing.

Race miles 2-5ish-The course ran along the MCT Trail system. It was shaded and not too crowded. The runners and other trail users were very considerate. I ran with a pack for most of the race, trying to pick people off as we went. I knew I was holding back, but I wasn't stressing about it. I was just enjoying being out there again with my runnin' peeps. At one point, a water stop sponsor had people shooting water at the runners with water bottles. Normally, I would appreciate that, but I got nailed in the face and I was wearing my glasses. Since no one has invented lense-shield wipers for glasses yet, it was a little tricky trying to run without banging into my fellow runners and try to wipe them off so I could see.

Race miles 5ish-6.2-We were back on the city streets. I tried to pass a woman that looked super buff that I had been playing sling shot with the whole race, but I couldn't catch her. I finished in about 56 minutes and change...subtracting time for the trip from the gun to the starting line...I forgot to look at my watch. I had that old familiar "Dang, I know I have so much left in me!" feeling after the finish, but I'm not going to beat myself up too much over it. I now have a baseline time for any future 10Ks that I do, so I have lots of room for improvement!

Post Race-My new running friend (Tammy) and I hung out after the race to see if we won any door prizes. She won 1st in our age group and got a nice trophy. The overall winners got a free pair of running shoes too. They had some great door prizes (i.e. massage gift certificates, road i.d. gift certificates, clothes, etc.-that's what you get for having a running store sponsor a race!). Tammy won two 6th row Cardinal's tickets!!! We ended up taking a stroll around the local farmers' market and exchanged contact info. so we could meet up for a morning run sometime. I love being a runner....we are such a friendly, encouraging bunch.

*Oh, yeah...I also got a new air conditioner this week! I am no longer living in a sauna and I can sleep in my own bed again!

About Me

My photo
I'm a teacher with a running problem, or maybe I'm a runner with a teaching problem...you pick.


races completed

A bunch of 5Ks...I've lost track over the years...

O'Fallon (IL) YMCA 15K Winter 2007

St. Louis Track Club Half Marathon (spring) 2007

Spirit of St. Louis Marathon 2007

Boilermaker 15K Roadrace 2007 (Utica, NY)

Lewis and Clark Marathon 2007 (St. Charles, MO)

St. Louis Track Club Frost Bite Series 2008


-10 Miles


-Half Marathon

Go! St. Louis Half Marathon 2008

Route 66 Festival 10K 2008 (Edwardsville, IL)

O'Fallon (IL) Summer Sizzler 15K 2008

Lewis and Clark Half Marathon 2008 (St, Charles, MO: DNS-cancelled due to Hurricane Ike)

O'Fallon Fall Finale 15K 2008

St. Louis Track Club Half Marathon 2008 (PR!)

Mountain Home Half Marathon (Arkansas) 2008 (2nd in age group!)

Great River Road Run (IL) 10 miles

St. Louis Track Club Frost Bite Series 2008-2009


-10 miles

Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Marathon (AZ)

Go! St. Louis Half Marathon 2009

Kentucky Derby Half Marathon 2009

future races

race wish list

Big Sur Marathon
Disney Marathon
Nike Marathon
Marine Corps Marathon
Great River Relay
Bolder Boulder
Chicago Distance Classic