Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 500 Miles of Me

I set a goal to run 500 miles in 2009. I’m not really sure why I chose this number, other than it was larger than my 2008 miles and seemed attainable but not easy. I do not remember every one of those 500 miles, many of them were logged on the same sections of road or trail over and over again. Here are a few things I remember about the miles and learned while on those miles.

1. Running while you have to pee is uncomfortable. Running while you have to do the other thing is downright painful. It is almost guaranteed that when either of those two urges arises you will be no where near a port a potty, gas station or area with trees where you can relieve yourself.

2. I spend most of my non-running time in my brain, over thinking any and everything. When I run I am often thinking, but not about running, for the most part my body does all the work and my brain processes other “stuff” I need to work through.

3. Although most of the time my body does all the running, my brain has at times made bargains with my body- just one more mile, you can do it, I promise this will be the last one today. And the opposite has happened where my body has said nice try brain, but we’re done it is time to go home now- and I’ve learned to listen to this too.

4. I don’t really like running on hills. I know they are good for you, and help increase your endurance and speed, but they suck. Often it is the only time I run with hate… hate the hills. Although I did run a hill that I was goaded into running by a running friend who is a much faster better trained runner than I am- he has yet to run the hill. Just saying.

5. Speaking of hills, I ran a 10k this year that is ‘marketed’ as the toughest in the state. I thought nah, can’t be that bad. At first you are in disbelief of the hills. Then you hate the hills with every ounce of your being. Then you can’t help but laugh because you have to wonder what God and geology where thinking when they made the landscape this way and then you’re done.

6. I ran races in 4 states this year. The one in CA was early early in the morning. And even that early it was hot and humid. So hot and humid that before the race even started I needed to put on a new wiking shirt. The one in CT was a cross country course- which I had not expected, run on a day after several inches of rain had fallen.

7. I don’t really like running with anyone- I enjoy running races and setting people to catch up to, but having someone run with me I feel obligated to talk or entertain or go faster. That being said, there were several races where friends who are much faster than me came to meet me and bring me down the home stretch, and I am very grateful for them.

8. I love the supportiveness of runners at races. You often see the same people who run the different events and you get to know the people who run at your pace. You push each other, sometimes you are faster, and sometimes they are faster. But you cross the finish line, you hug, say congrats and you move on.

9. Running at night is fun, and in the summer, often cooler and at least where I live, the roads are often quieter.

10. When a dog runs at you, stand perfectly still. And although I appreciate you telling me your dog is harmless, that doesn’t help the fact that my heart rate is now off the charts.

11. I know putting a race on is a lot of work and I appreciate all the effort that goes into the event and as I run, I thank the volunteers I pass. No matter how small the event participant list is, do not assume everyone running has run the route before, marking all the turns and changes in direction is a good thing.

12. There was only 1 race this year where I longed for water. So much so that at the first water stop I took 3 cups of water, stopped and drank them all. It was only a five miler.. but it was a hot July day with a late start of like 10, it was also the only race this year I stopped and walked up a hill. Heat has an amazing capacity to make running really really difficult.

13. Changing your sweat soaked shirt in a parking lot after a run and letting it all hang out is accepted and often expected.

14. A Guinness milk shake tastes pretty darn good.

15. While running on the dreadmill I have watched several tv series- Weeds Seasons 1-4. The whole run of Sports Night. And so far am through Seasons 1 and 2 of Arrested Development. I also watched several movies, although I can’t remember all of them. Incidentally, having watched with the subtitles on, the first time I heard the voices of the characters in Weeds I thought ‘this is wrong, they don’t sound like that’- at least not the voices I had made up for them.

16. The sports bra is a wonderful invention. More women should look into wearing them when running. It is very supportive until it reaches the end of its life, at which point it lets you know in no uncertain terms that it is done helping you out by inflicting vast amounts of great discomfort.

17. Before the start of the half marathon, I saw a shirt that said Half of Nothing. I have to agree… 13.1 is a lot of miles and I’m proud of every one of them.

18. Stretching is your friend, really.

19. Running after eating a meal is a bad thing. Running after eating chili is something you do only once and never never again.

20. I once almost threw up at the end of a race. I had pushed myself really hard (and not after eating chili) and my body was trying to tell me something. Interestingly, my friends were very supportive standing by to watch the event.. much like being unable to turn away from watching a car accident. That’s runners for you.

I haven’t quite decided what my running goals will be for 2010, although I am leaning more toward working on improving my times by more speed and hill workouts and probably not running more miles than I did this year. But only time and the miles will tell.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


13.1. Thirteen point one. It doesn’t really seem like much when you say it. But when you say 13.1 miles it starts to mean something. 13.1 miles is the official distance of a half marathon. And I am proud to say that as of a couple of weekends ago I am officially a half marathoner. I ran them, all 13.1 miles.

About 2 years ago I started running after volunteering for a local 10k race that many of my friends participated in. After volunteering I set a goal of participating in that 10k the next year. I got a treadmill and started walking and then running. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could run for 1 mile without stopping- but I did it and I did run that 10k (6.2 miles) that year and was thrilled. Sometime early this year I set my sights on running a half marathon. I do not really know what prompted me to set that as a goal. But I did. As the time approached I got more anxious about the event and started to doubt my ability to run it, and also knew that out of sheer stubbornness I would show up and finish- even if it meant I had to walk part of it.

I’m sure I’ll get around to writing down the thoughts and events of the 13.1 miles, the thing however, that has been dancing around in my mind since the race is my reaction at the end. I was overwhelmed with emotion and started to cry. I had not expected that reaction. As I’ve thought about why I was so overwhelmed this is what I’ve come up with.

I was so very proud of myself. I set a goal and I met it. I did something that 3 years ago, heck, even 2 years ago I never would have even thought of doing. I pushed my body to carry me a lot of foot steps. I pushed myself mentally and physically past an invisible yet very real barrier that I’ve had most of my life.

See I’ve been fat my whole life. Truth be told, some of my most vivid memories are not of fun times, but rather of being made fun of, of worrying that because of my weight I couldn’t participate in an activity, or feeling like I was holding other people back because of my weight.

Honestly, one of my top 5 biggest fears and worries for my daughter is that she will end up fat like I was as a child. Children are cruel to people who are overweight. There are few among us who would ever allow our child to make fun of someone who was a different race, religion or sexual orientation or someone with a mental or physical disability. But fat people, fat people are the last acceptable group of people to be made fun of. And people don’t even realize they do it. There have been several people who after I have told them I am training to run this who have said- “You? You’re running?” “Or if you can do it anyone can.” I’m pretty sure they aren’t suggesting that if this red head can run a race then anyone can. Please do not get me wrong I have a loud and wonderful cheering section and have appreciated all of their wonderful energy.

I won’t get into the issue of struggling with your weight and all the people who say well if you just controlled yourself you’d be fine. I will simply say- show me the alcoholic or drug addict who can control themselves to have just one drink or 1 drug and not go any further, the big difference is of course, that in order to continue to live- food in some amount must be ingested every day.

When I began running I had a couple of fears- one was having a heart attack while running and two was being the last one to cross- the person everyone is waiting for, after all aren’t those two events exactly what would be expected of the fat person? To this date I have not been the last person to finish a race- I have been 2nd to last but never last- perhaps out of sheer tenacity, but it is what it is.

So back to those 13.1 miles this weekend- I carried my still overweight, and much more in shape and healthy body 13.1 miles. I was faster than people who are physically smaller than me (and who did just as awesome as I did by showing up and finishing) and I did oodles better than the people who sat home on their couches.

So I’ve concluded that those tears at the end were tears of pride and joy and relief. Pride at my accomplishments both in the race and in life, joy at completing a goal and in a way setting myself free from all of the mean and horrible things people have said, expected of me and done to me over the years because of my weight.

Photo courtesy of MaineRunningPhotos

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Working Mom

Recently I had the opportunity to travel for work. It was a great experience, I learned a lot- still processing all the information I learned. I 'hung' out with some coworkers that I don't normally get a chance to hang out with which is also nice.

Sunshine split her time between her Grandmother (my Mom) and her Dad, so my preparation for leaving involved packing for me, Sunshine and the dog who also stayed with my Mom.

Wednesday night I got a call from Sunshine and she was very upset, thing is I had already talked to her that night AND I missed her call back. When I did get the message she was already asleep. I felt so helpless, there was nothing I could do. Knowing I had talked to her only a few hours earlier and that she was sad and tired, I didn't want to wake her up, but it broke my heart.

I asked Sunshine's Dad to have her call me in the morning before she went to camp., thing is we were on a 3 hour time difference so I had to factor that in. and so it was a very early morning phone call for me.

From a professional standpoint the trip was worth EVERY minute of the time away... that just isn't something I can explain to my little one, that in the end the times I travel are good for us in that it gives me more knowledge and skills to continue to advance my career which in turn keeps a roof over our heads, food on the table and buys her the things she wants and needs. I don't know that an elementary school student needs to understand the concept fully... I just hope at some point she realizes that the trips I take for work are important and necessary and part of how our family works and that I survive anymore of those helpless moments that may come during my travels.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kung Fu Sunshine

Another session of Tae Kwon Do, another stripe. Sunshine is doing such a great job. She loves going to class and I like that she enjoys it. I love how sometimes she smiles and sometimes she is so focused and serious.

Doing forms.


Ax kick


Look at her go

Look at her go

Here I come


Monday, May 25, 2009

Let's Go Fly A Kite

I have Mother's Guilt. Seems like I have it in spades these days.

Like most people I am working harder, longer hours and making less money. We all know someone who has been laid off, had their pay cut, their hours cut, vacation cut or some other creative solution employers are putting into place to deal with the economy. Prices are going up for items I need, there is no room in my budget anymore for luxuries.

There is always a portion of my brain devoted to money and work- more so now than ever. I feel guilt that I am only taking one week of vacation with Sunshine this summer, and that any plans we had for visiting people have been put on hold.

I try to offset my guilt by having some new and different activities to do with Sunshine. I have made a point of going through Rachel Ray cookbooks with her and picking out recipes she wants to make and will eat so we can make them together. This weekend we went to the Memorial Day activities in town as well as the Roller Derby and the Demolition Derby. We rented one of her favorite movies that frankly after seeing it as many times as I have-I loathe it. More guilt.

Add into the mix that I still try to carve out time for myself to run- having set a goal of running a 1/2 marathon in the fall. To that end this weekend we experimented with me running and Sunshine biking along side- for the most part this was a successful adventure, there was some annoyance at me that I wasn't running quite as fast as she could bike. And tears ensued- more guilt. But in the end she has said she would go again- so I'll take it.

Today I laid on the lawn- my unmowed lawn because the lawn mower is broken and in the shop, while Sunshine reenacted the parade in our driveway. She then asked that we play some outside games. Completely exhausted and thoroughly enjoying the breeze and the sun, I said lets sit outside and read. Instead she went and got her kite.

As we stood on the railroad tracks away from powerlines to fly the kite I thought of that moment in Mary Poppins at the end when they all go fly a kite, when Jane and Michael's Dad realizes that flying a kite with his family is more important than work.

I know that Sunshine and I flying the kite together was way more important than work as are all the other things I take time to do with Sunshine. Yet I still can not get rid of the guilt for the time I am not with her, when my mind is occupied with me or work or something non-Mom related.

As one more additional reminder to cherish those moments, as we were nearing our time to come in for dinner a butterfly landed near us, clearly it had recently come out of its cocoon and was working to stretch its wings, testing them out.

So, I'm going to take some advice from Mr. Banks and that butterfly and feel less guilty and cherish all those special moments. I know for certain it is not going to be an issue task.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Latest Belt Test

Sunshine had another belt test recently, and once again she was awesome. We had to attend an earlier session because of another commitment, so she was the only person in the class higher than a white belt so she had to do the test by herself and it did not phase her.

I am so very proud of her.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Savor Every Moment

I have a theory, okay, I have lots of theories, but this one in particular has been bouncing around in my brain for a few months.

I recently met a guy, we'll call him Jon, who fell off a cliff while camping. He broke his neck and for about 5 minutes was paralyzed. He got his ability to walk back, but he spent months and months in enormous pain throughout his body and incredible headaches that made him unable to sleep for more than 2 hours at at time. He is, for the most part, fine now, he has a slight limp but you would never know about the ordeal he had unless he told you.

Someone else I have known for a few years, we'll call him Sam, recently shared with me that as a young child he had a tumor removed from his spine. He was in a lot of pain but didn't tell anyone, he didn't want to miss out on the sports season he was involved in at the time, until one day he could barely walk and he had to tell his folks. The tumor, thankfully, was not cancerous, he had it removed and went through a recovery period. And like Jon, if Sam didn't tell you about the incident you would never know.

Sam and Jon are pretty different people except in one respect. I have seen both of them in pretty difficult tense situations and they don't get rattle. They are the epitome of go with the flow kind of people. Both very smart, well spoken people who present themselves well, they just have a presence about them that is hard to nail down.

Until, I found out about their life threatening/altering medical events. And this is where my theory comes in... they get it, deep down they truly understand what it means to savor every moment, to live in the present, to smell the roses, only worry about the important stuff and to take in all the sights, because for a time, how ever brief, they both thought there wouldn't be any more moments to savor. Or at least that is my theory.

So I wonder, truly wonder, if there is a way, without the life threatening moments to get to that place where you can savor every moment, live wholly in the present and not sweat the small stuff.

I don't wish for anyone the life events that either Sam or Jon had, but I do wish for everyone- or at least for me- to find the way to smell the roses and savor every moment and not sweat the small stuff.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are You Smarter Than a Second Grader?

One of the very cool things that I am able to do is volunteer in Sunshine's classroom once a month. I have been lucky that I have been able to do this since Kindergarten.

I love the opportunity to meet the children, see what is going on in the classroom and stay connected with her. She always gets excited when she knows I am going to be coming into the classroom as well.

This year my time usually lines up with writing or reading. Two things that I have struggled with my whole life. I read slowly, always have, but over time I have gained a love of reading. And not until I was in my late 20s did I start to write well, now I am actually asked to write documentation and other documents.

One thing that I have never been good at is spelling. My Mom says it is because when I was learning to spell I was taught to remember Q like the qua qua the sound a coffee pot makes.. so you can see the confusion is that a C or a Q? I once spelled my name wrong on a standardized test and had to take remedial English as a Freshman in college because my spelling score was so low.

I digress a bit here... it has been interesting reading with Sunshine. Often she will read to me in the car where I can't see the words so she spells the letters for me and I try to come with the right word.. lucky for me.. probably because I am such an awful speller I have learned to figure words out based on context not their spelling.. this I am monumentally good at.

So today while volunteering I was asked to read stories the kids had written and give them feedback or help them out. Things like punctuation and capitalization I got that one covered... but OH BOY when it comes to spelling I may be corrupting an entire second grade class.

I was asked by 2 different children how you spell scared.. like I was scared of the monster. I had to write it down.. scared? scarred? wait which is scared of the monster and which is I was scarred by the surgery?

And on last weeks spelling list moped. I had to email my Mother and say.. moped.. is that I moped around all day because I was sad, or I mopped the floor?

Pretty scary huh?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Best Things...

It has been a long time since I've had much to say... well that isn't exactly true.. I often have lots to say and rarely lack for words- the right ones or the wrong once.

Like many people these days I'm barely breathing, barely keeping my head above water. In every part of my life I am trying to do more with less. I go from thing to thing to thing and don't stop, so to actually have the time to sit and write a few of my many words down just doesn't happen.

One of the things I have noticed during this time of hurry scurry is that people are nicer to each other. Maybe it comes from having to reprioritze and realizing as the bumper sticker I saw the other day said.. "the best things in life aren't things".

Maybe it comes from a common sense of treading water and barely breathing.

Or maybe it is like that natural instinct that you see in animals... somehow they know when you are having a rough day and just need them to sit next to you and let you know they are here.

Whatever the cause is I am grateful for the kindness of strangers and for the people in my life who have taken the time to send kind words and warm fuzzies... those are some of the "best things" in the world.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Proud

Today Sunshine had her belt test and she earned her Green Belt. She has been working hard and we have been practicing the forms at home.

Words can not express how proud I am of her today- she said she didn't care if she got another stripe or her belt. But she worked hard and she earned it.

One of the best parts for me was at the end when they bow to the teachers and then turn and bow to the parents when they are released she ran full steam at me and jumps into my arms. This is something that she has done since she could walk at day care at the end of the day at camp or what have you. There is no better feeling in the world than that moment when she jumps in my arms and holds on tight.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Human Doing

Someone once said to me that I am a really good human doing and not such a human being. I recently threw that line at someone else... I hadn't thought about it awhile... but it is true... if I have to just sit I can almost feel like a cage animal.

Today the thought of this took up significant noodeling power in my brain.

Am I that way out of necessity?
Is there really so much to do and so little time?
Do I keep busy so that I don't have to confront something?
Is it just who I am?

I don't know the answer, I suspect it is a combination of all 4 of those things to some extent.

There are days like today where I am so tired I could honestly sit on the floor and sob. I look at the pile of laundry that needs to be folded and the dishes that need to be done and the sneakers that sit on the floor looking at me reminding me I did not run this morning or the day before. A child who should be sleeping instead is calling my name every 15 seconds or so telling me that the animals are flying around the room. The same child who was just laughing so hard at a joke she told that you couldn't help but laugh along (which is probably why I am not sitting on the floor sobbing at this very moment). In my mind I know I have bills to pay and a checkbook to balance and the liter box to scoop and.... the list goes on.

Always something to do.... so you can see why I struggle with just being. Heck, I spend a lot of my time just trying to remember to breathe!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Golden City

When I was a little girl my parents owned a business that they ran out of a large old building. The history of the building was fascinating- in middle school I did a report on it- it had been a speak easy during prohibition, a theater before "talkies" and even after, an ice house where the ice from the river was stored for people to buy to keep their food cold. It was a beautiful old building. With lots of stories to tell.

Behind the building was a huge yard- it wasn't used on a regular basis for anything in particular.- but there was a huge spot light to light the building up since it abutted some railroad tracks. But in the winter time I used the yard all the time.

Just after a snow fall when everything is white and peaceful, there is that amazing silence and beauty that comes with a new fallen snow. I would walk over to the building and look at the yard, with the spot light the new snow shown almost golden. It was here that I spent hours playing, imagining I lived in a city of gold.

During the snow storm last weekend I was reminded of those moments as I shoveled and watched Sunshine build a city out of the snow piles created by the snow plow. Each pile was a different house in the city and served a different purpose, different people visited and she made a bench for me to come and sit on to talk to her.

I hope that when she is my age that her memories of her city are as fond as my memories of my golden city.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Hamster

I was sitting on the couch working and heard a noise.. I look over and this is what I see:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who I Am

I was accepted into a training program recently. I was hesitant to even apply for it because I thought when would I actually have the time to take the classes and do homework and that kind of thing?

But I did and last weekend I attended the first class. It was a wonderful experience meeting a couple dozen professional, intelligent, funny, successful women.

The first class was on communication and as you might expect we had to introduce ourselves. I have been thinking about my introduction of myself since then.

It was not my intention but when I introduced myself I focused on the fact that I am a Mom, a single Mom at that, and I left out all the other stuff I am.

I think because 100% of the time I am a Mom I loose sight of the other things I am. Maybe not loose sight, but maybe forget about the other things. There is always a percentage of my brain devoted to Sunshine, what is she doing? What do I need to do for her? What will she wear tomorrow? What about lunch? Do I have food for her lunch box? Did we remember her library book? Are we out of chocolate milk? Did she have homework?

I think sometimes I hide behind the fact that I am a Mom. It is easy to do, think of all the times you show up some place with your kid(s) and everyone has said hello to Sunshine and then Oh, Hi Mom. I'm not saying this is a bad thing in anyway. It is what it is and I love being a Mom- best and most difficult job I've ever had.

What I need to remind myself and remember is that I am a smart, professional woman who manages people, projects and products well. A volunteer for my community in several different way. A friend, a confidant, a pet owner, a runner and a whole bunch of other things, who happens to also be a Mom.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Science Museum

We were given tickets to take the train to Boston, a bit of a luxury. But a lot of fun.

We arrived in Boston and hopped on the T to the Science Museum.

I have little more to say than WOW. We could have spent a whole day if not more there.

All about the human body, so very cool. Kind of glad she wasn't interested in the section on how babies come from cells. :-)

This was a cool place of mythical creatures, we couldn't take pictures inside, lots of old artifacts. Beautiful Chinese dragons and mermaids and griffins. Wonderful.

We got tickets to the butterfly garden and really they were this close. Sunshine was a bit freaked that they landed on you so we didn't get to stay very long.

The map geek in me loves this picture.

Happy holidays T-Rex

This was an area on senses- taste, touch, see, hear, smell and this is a time delayed photo of us.

Am I just a dance of molecules?

This amazingly large light bright, lots of fun, I made the heart!

We also had a chance to take in a show at the planetarium on "What Happened to Pluto?" which reminded me that we need to visit our local planetarium more.

As we were leaving, good night T-Rex.

I want to try and make this an annual visit, this was so much fun.