Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

It’s the end of the world

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane –
Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn –
world serves its own needs, regardless of your own needs. Feed it up a knock,
speed, grunt no, strength no. Ladder structure clatter with fear of height,
down height. Wire in a fire, represent the seven games in a government for
hire and a combat site. Left her, wasn’t coming in a hurry with the furies
breathing down your neck. Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered
crop. Look at that low plane!

This is what my brain sounds like in my head.  So, I’ve started making lists.  Lists are very good.  If you can find where you put them.

Unfortunately, lists also tend to make me feel slightly overwhelmed.  It seems more stuff gets added than gets crossed off.

Of course it would help if some of the things on the list didn’t include “Find keys … again”  “phone…”

And, really, do you need to put laundry on a list?  I think not.  I think I will cross that off.  It’s not like, when I look in the drawer and have no more clean socks, I’m going to be unable to understand that laundry needs to be done.  And the very helpful — but incredibly irritating – incessant pinging of the dryer when it’s finished usually inspires me to get the clean clothes taken care of.  Someone got paid to create that sound, and it wasn’t me.  They got money to irritate people.  Dammit.  I do that all the time and I never get one penny.

Speaking of appliances, do yours say words?  Mine do.  And they say the same words every. damn. time.  Could they change up the conversation?  No.

Dishwasher:  Wasssshhh-aaahhhh wasssshhhh-aaahhhh wasssshhhh-aaahhh.  I’m so terribly sorry, dishwasher, that you find the entire reason you were created to be such a burden.

And the washing machine, WTH for, I don’t know, says DoctorPepper-DoctorPepper-DoctorPepper.  It could be a Coke conspiracy.  I do like Diet Dr. Pepper.  Oddly I sometimes find myself craving Dr. P while doing laundry.

Nahhhh.

Nah??

I got up this morning, looked at my to do list and thought, it’s Monday.  It’s not 8am.  So I turned the list over and now all I have is a blank piece of paper.

I think this is a metaphor for a lot of things in life.

How important is it?  Important enough to be engraved on a list?

How often do we replay shit in our heads that we would never write on a list?  He said she said they didn’t they did they never I never she never they always I always they always.  Particularly if the conversation in our head contains negative content more than 24 hours old.

God I wish I could turn my brain over to a clean sheet.

Anyway, it’s Monday and I have a list, I’ve had my coffee, and it’s almost 8am.  I’m going to try working on the list on the sheet of paper and ignore the list in my head.  I’ll stream some R.E.M. and leave you with this #firstworlddogproblem:

The sprinklers are on in Murphy’s favorite part of the yard.

sad murphy

Sad Murphy

Fifteen minutes later:

sad murphy 2

Sadder Murphy.  I’mma hide in this corner, here, and the sprinklers will go away.

I just checked again, now the sprinklers are done.  Murphy’s plan of action worked and they disappeared.  His world didn’t end.

I checked my to-do list.  It didn’t, either.

*sigh*

Don’t stop believing

Don’t stop believing

Yesterday as I drove in the dark along the nearly deserted six-lane road, hitting all green lights like catching the brass ring on a merry-go-round, Journey started playing on the radio.  Green lights and one of my favorite songs, the day started well.

I did stop believing once for a bit of time, between my back, my broken foot, and an overdose of steroids, which makes running again all the sweeter for having known the pain.

Runners tend to see running as a metaphor for life:  struggle, pain, failure; achievement, success, fulfillment, and for good reason.  So often running, like life, is a dichotomy of both success and failure, achievement and loss, pain and joy.  We live so much of life in our minds.  “I can’t.”  “They won’t.”  “If only…”

When we run, we can be.  When I run I can look up at the sky, hear birds calling, breathe deeply, hear the soft sounds of my feet on the pavement.  The problem is, my leg hurts.  I run, I look around, I hurt.  Now, I know what causes the pain, and I know I’m not likely to break anything or do permanent damage as long as I continue doing what I’m supposed to do.  In this case, I want the joy more than I don’t want the pain.

One of the most healing moments of my life was the night of my brother’s funeral.  Everyone had left, just family members sitting around the kitchen table, wondering what to say or do, when someone started telling a story on Bret.  Soon we were crying laughing at memories of my brother who was so incredibly rich in love and personality.  Crying, and laughing.  Joy and pain.  At that moment I knew – I believed – that someday that gaping hole that went straight through me, right through the middle of me, catching on every breath, would fade.  The pain would lessen over time, and it was OK to grieve and still feel joy.

I am a person who focuses on negative.  I don’t know if I am depressive because I’m negative, or if I’m negative because I’m depressive, but I’ve finally decided that doesn’t matter.  What matters is what I believe.  What is the truth in this day?  It’s grey, cold, cloudy.  Can I fill it with warmth and light?  Do I dwell on “I wanted to…”  “Now I can’t…”?  What purpose does this day hold?

I’m re-reading Jack Daniels, who says every run should have a purpose (such as intensity or distance).  He, however, was coaching world-class college kids.  I’m not comparable to either world-class or college-aged, and I’ve decided some of my runs will have the purpose of just for the hell of it.  Because I can.  Because I can wake up, and my legs mostly work, and it’s not 3 feet of snow and I just can.

Yesterday I changed my routine and joined some friends I haven’t run with for a while to get a few miles before the sun came up.  We ran down the street and out the Greenline, just goin’ anywhere.  We ran and talked and joked, in the dark, picking out the clearly marked “snake crossing” in the dim beam of my head lamp, elated that no snakes appeared to be anxious to cross in the dark under our feet.  Too soon it was time to turn around, get back to the cars, and go do grown-up things, so we reluctantly headed back.  When the run was done my watch noted that I’d gone 3.72 miles.

I have a dangle.  This means that, if I do not run off the remaining .28, my numbers will be odd.  When I download my data, my numbers will not end evenly, there will be a .72 mile dangle.

Then some other day I will have to run an extra .28 to even the dangle, which means I will have a second dangle.

I had 7 on the training plan.

Now I have to math. 7 – 3.72 = um, 3.72 +.28 = 4 and I have five to do, so that’s 1.28, except, wait, I actually have 7 to do, and 7 – 5 = 2, so I have 2.28 to do.

Somehow that doesn’t seem right.  I think I did something wrong there.

I drove home with 3.72 miles on my watch, worrying stupidly the entire time about finishing the goal.  Hitting the mark.  I got out of the car to go run my 1.28 or 2.37 or whatever I had left and stopped, standing still in the carport.  A flock of birds circled and swooped in the early morning sun, rising and falling as they chittered, swirling upward and off into the beautiful pink sunrise, going anywhere.  I thought about that word, purpose.  What purpose do these birds have, really?  To exist.  They exist.  They move and breathe and live and give birth and die.

I turned and walked into the house.  The run was good, the company was awesome, the sunrise was beautiful, radiating pink across the sky as we walked back to our cars, sweaty from the run and starting to chill a bit.  A better purpose was served than meeting any numbers I’ve self-imposed.

If you are struggling with life or with running – don’t stop believing.  Don’t give up.  Go ahead and give yourself a break if you need, take some time off, reconsider the purpose in your life.  As much as you can – and we all know this is very hard to do, but as much as you are able – look for some joy in this day.  Make one goal, feel purposeful and believe in yourself, and believe in time.  Believe in healing and growth and purpose.

Dust in the Wind

Here I am in my second full day of unemployment, surprised to find that nothing I thought I’d immediately accomplish has happened.  The stockings I intend to needlepoint have not even been purchased, the Christmas tree still sparkles, and the vacuum cleaner sits in the hallway on the main floor where it was put to rest after finishing the upstairs over 24 hours ago.

I find (as I’d expected) that I feel slightly aimless in this transition time, unanchored and uninspired.  The past several months have been a time of introspection, looking back on my life and looking forward.  How do I want to live as I move forward?  Who is the person I want to work toward being?  What needs to be done to accomplish this?

Adding to this rumination is the fact that I will be entering a new decade of life next year.  Not only am I not overjoyed by the fact, I’m even less overjoyed than the overjoyed I wouldn’t be anyway, due to the fact that until about a month ago I thought I was a year younger than I am.  This makes my previous argument with myself, i.e. “get your head out of your a$$, you have two years before that happens” completely ineffectual and entirely untrue.

I did, however, run 6-1/2 miles yesterday and seven today.  The 6-1/2 yesterday were the coldest I’ve ever done, 11 degrees with wind that burned my face raw.  I ran a some alone first, then met Becky for four.  While we ran we talked about everything, as runners do.

As today’s morning passed so did the heavy grey clouds, eventually leaving the sky a bright winter-pale blue, the sun glinting on the lake.  I bundled up, at the last minute grabbing my Shuffle – something I rarely do – thinking perhaps I didn’t want silence today.  A mile into the run I turned it on, even more rare, and as I rounded the corner I saw this the same moment “Dust in the Wind” started.

 dust in the wind

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment’s gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes with curiosity

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

(Aa aa aa)
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Oh, ho, ho

Now don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
(All we are is dust in the wind)

Dust in the wind
(Everything is dust in the wind)
Everything is dust in the wind
(In the wind)

(Ooo)
(Ooo)
(Ooo)

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Now don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy

Seven days ago I was surrounded by the sounds of my adult children, cooking, joking, playing with their son/nephew.  I’m still freshly missing them, and knew I didn’t want solitude today.  I didn’t realize how impacted I would be by the first words and voices I would hear in my silent morning.

I know someone who seems to hate their job, yet they go into their office every weekend.  When they go on vacation they spend half their time on the phone, usually upset, or on the computer, again, usually upset.  Or so it seems to me.  Of course, I’m judging from what I observe, not knowing for certain, which is one of the things I’m trying to quit doing.  You see that’s working well so far.

I didn’t hate my job at all – I had the good fortune of dealing with people who are consuming as a hobby what I helped provide, so they tended to be pretty easy-going for the most part.   Plus, they’re runners.  If they do get upset they go for a run and get over it.  I also had the incredibly good fortune of working for a local non-profit which usually assures you don’t have a salary you cannot live without, so if you are questioning the direction your life is taking the impact is largely minimal.  I would not have the luxury of retiring before 65 if I were contributing most of the income, something I’m deeply aware of.

Now don’t hang on
Nothin’ lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy

Unless I’m struck down suddenly, sooner or later (I’m aiming for later, in case this concerns you) a day will come when I will lie in a bed, at the end of my time, and all the money in the world won’t another minute buy.

As I move forward in the journey of my life do I want to see only the grey?  Or do I want to see as much sun as possible, glinting onto the path, lighting the day and my way?

How do I want to spend these minutes I’m left?  Do I want to remember grievances from years or decades past?  Do I want to continue to allow pathways of negative or harmful thinking (they don’t, they never, I can’t, I don’t…) dig themselves deeper and deeper, creating impassable canals of rutted, rotten thinking in my brain?

Do I want only to take from this world, my life, my family, or do I want to try in some way to add?

What truly has value here, in my life, in each day, in the world wherein I live?

What can I put into this world today instead of wondering what today and the world will give me?

All my dreams
Pass before my eyes with curiosity

What can I do – how can I do it? – to make sure those dreams passing before my eyes for the last time will bring tears of joy and love instead of anguish, regret, and sorrow?

Figuring that out – that’s my real job.

Fear and Loathing in the suburbs Or how pumpkin bread learned to hate me.

Last month, in my enthusiasm for all things Christmas (Bah-humbug.  I put the damn tree up, and within a week it was decorated.  Can I read my book now?) I purchased some canned pumpkin.  For some reason I purchased three cans of pumpkin.  Not only did I purchase three cans of pumpkin, I purchased three of the largest cans of pumpkin you are able to purchase without going to extremes like industrial commercial restaurant supply places, which are usually located in fairly shady areas (it seems to me), probably because overhead is cheaper and if you are storing gallon-sized cans of pumpkin you probably need a lot of space.  Pumpkin is not a high-end market item, so the income from gallon-sized cans of canned pumpkin would probably not cover overhead in a warehouse located near the mall and bookstore.  Also, and more importantly, I prefer to spend less time than more in the car while driving around town, as I think it safe to say I am an excellent driver and, unfortunately, most of those around me on the streets around are not.  Not that I judge.  Anyway, I don’t want to drive 13 miles to a shady warehouse to purchase pumpkin for which I have no use, and in gallon sized cans.  If I’m going to purchase pumpkin for which use I am unsure, I may as well save some gas money, my time, and possible road-rage incidents in which I find myself beating the steering wheel – inevitably hurting my hand in the process – and screaming blasphemies about someone’s parentage, sexual preferences and IQ.

Somehow, between 9 days in Arizona visiting my mom and PR’ing my marathon, about which I shall ruminate in another exciting WordPress missive at some other date, and another 8 days out-of-town with my family, leaving me with 14 days to do all the normal stuff, plus all the Christmas stuff (the slowly decorated tree and half of the Christmas cards mailed), I thought I was going to make something edible which included canned pumpkin.  My thought, being that I am so into the Christmas spirit and all (oh – I did purchase a pine scented candle, too.  If I entered the room with nothing but the tree lights on, and squinted a lot, I could almost believe the tree was a live tree, pine scent wafting about the den) (and by the way, when you say you purchased a live tree and brought it home – and I’m perfectly fine with either of you doing so, I’m not meaning to judge – I just want to be sure you realize that what you purchased was, in fact, a dead tree) (truth-in-advertising not being what’s it’s cracked up to be, and all.  Not that I’m saying either of you are so dumb that you thought your tree was really still alive and not in actuality dead. I’m sure you realize it’s a misnomer.).

Ahhh…where was I?  Yes, pumpkin.  Flush with success over getting the tree decorated in under a week I decided to make pumpkin bread and give it to people.  Digging out the recipe I realized that each loaf of bread took 2/3 C. of pumpkin and each large can of pumpkin proudly contains 5.3 each of two-third cup servings.  This left me with enough pumpkin to bake 15.9 loaves of pumpkin bread.  I don’t care how much you like pumpkin, no one wants 15.9 loaves of bread, and if you do want that many loaves I don’t really care because I do not care to waste my precious remaining 14 days of the month making 15.9 loaves of bread.

It all became moot in the end, anyway, as you will soon see.  Pumpkin bread hates me, hates my household and does not want me to make it any more.  Personally I’m going with it’s a sign from God that I have other, better things to do, like write WordPress posts and play Spider Solitaire which, by the way, if Spider Solitaire suddenly became alive, I’m certain it would be one of those drivers I mentioned earlier.  This has nothing to do with the fact that I lost 7 games in a row.

Stupid damn game.

HOWEVER – back to pumpkin bread.

Feeling quite Martha Stewart-ish, what with the half decorated tree, the pine scented candle, and old Christmas songs pinging out of my iPhone, humming along happily I dumped pumpkin into the bread machine (right — you thought I made it by hand, didn’t you?  HAHAHAHAHAHA) along with sugar and spice and everything nice ♬ OH THE WEATHER OUTSiiiiiiDE IS FRIGHTFUL BUT THE FiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiRE IS SO DELiiiiiiiiiiiiiiTEFUL ♬ ♪ I sang, flour floating about the kitchen, Murphy so excited that he sang along with me although some curmudgeonly people might say he was howling and not with me, but at me, but those people are Scrooge McScrooges.

Some time later the bread machine dinged.  I removed the dough, rolled it out and set it in pans to rise under a towel.  A while later I returned to find the bread quite despondent and flat.  “Bread,” I asked, “what are you so despondent about?  Rise and shine!  This is your time!”  Bread just sat in the pans, flat and small and dead.

Shit.  I bet…yep, dammit. Yeast.  Oopsie…

Into the trash, good-bye sad bread.

Yesterday dawned, dreary, grey, windy and cold.  What can I do to perk this place up, I wondered?  I know!  I still have enough pumpkin for 13.9 more loaves!  Let’s make bread!  LA-LA-LA-LA I sang, awakening again my inner Martha (oddly considering crocheting scarves after making the bread), carefully measuring and adding the required amount of yeast.  The machine whirled and twirled, later producing a light, soft, puffy mound of pumpkin bread which again I carefully rolled out and set in pans to rise.  Checking later revealed fluffy mounds of dough ready to be popped into the oven.  DING the timer rang, and I removed the perfectly shaped, lightly browned loaves of bread perfection, setting them carefully on a towel to rest.

A while later my friend April was preparing to leave and as she passed the dining room on her way to the kitchen door Murphy quite unexpectedly growled and barked loudly.  I figured he was startled and moved to comfort him.

DAMMIT.  HE’S EATING MY BEAUTIFUL PUMPKIN BREAD!  Death by dog!  Half the loaf remained, chewed, gnawed and shredded.  I looked in the kitchen to see the other loaf, set further back on the counter and apparently not quite close enough for him to obtain, bearing teeth marks revealing Murphy’s initial attempt at bread murder.

Two more loaves head to garbage can oblivion.

Pumpkin bread hates me.

 

 

 

It all comes out OK in the end.

I assume that somewhere on the curve someone had a fantastic high school experience, felt secure in themselves, always had great outfits and dates, made straight A’s, drove a sweet car, and never had pimples that looked like and felt like this:

volcano

It wasn’t me or anyone I know, but the truths of the universe are that there has to be someone, somewhere.

Eventually I realized everyone feels more-or-less the same way:  shy, insecure, or unhappy with their looks or shape.  The realization never stopped me from continuing to feel vaguely shy, insecure, and unhappy with my looks and shape.  It did help me realize that most people feel the same, and that they’re thinking more about their insecurities than mine.

Thus I figured things get better with time.  You get over issues, you get to buy the car you want and eventually, maybe, pimples quit growing on the end of your nose the day before the big meeting with the boss or the morning of your wedding.

I was an idiot.

The first time I heard, “you know, at your age…” I was over 30 and pregnant with twins, but none of the warnings and worries happened and the boys turned out fine despite me.

The next time I heard, “you know, at your age…” I was turning forty and it occurred to me that, at his age, if the Dr. said that very many more times I might punch him.

Let me tell you something:  they don’t quit saying it.  In fact, the chances of hearing that increase exponentially and annually.  It becomes an inevitable conversation at each checkup, as certain as the pimple fated for the tip of my nose the day of Prom.  You can try to ignore it, get rid of it, hide it with powder and Clearasil, and/or beg little baby Jesus, who’s sittin’ in his crib watchin the Baby Einstein videos, but you are going to Prom with a big-ass zit and nothing is changing that.  Just as certain, at some point, it will be mentioned that “at your age” it’s time for a colonoscopy.  Images of Depends, Dentucream and Life Alert flash through your mind.

WARNING:  Contents below contain graphic imagery of pain and suffering and incredibly bad puns.  Read at your own risk.

You’re old enough for a Colonoscopy.  A turning point in life, this is where the shit gets real.

A nurse returned my call.  Doctor does procedures on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.  The day before you may consume Jello and Popsicles (no red food dye), Sprite, and chicken broth.  You may have nothing by mouth the day of the procedure.

If you’re smart – and if you’re still reading this, you are not – you quickly realize if you have the procedure Monday afternoon, then from Saturday night to Monday morning you’ll have nothing but Jello, Sprite, Popsicles, and something which boasted to be chicken broth but tasted rather like old shoes must.  OR – you can choose door Number Two and only suffer Monday, wake Tuesday morning and immediately proceed to the procedure.  I chose Number Two.  They will send a packet of information in the mail.  “Packet” smacks of delusions of grandeur.  What you get is a small flat envelope telling you where and when to arrive and a prescription for something called Movi-Prep.

Are.  You.  Shitting me?  MOVI? PREP?

I surreptitiously slid the prescription to the tech, who searched the shelves and announced loudly and proudly, “MOVI-PREP?  YEP, WE HAVE MOVI-PREP” and handed me something the size of a shoe box.  “Holy crap, I have to drink all of that?? “

Home, reading the instructions, no, I don’t have to drink all of it.  I have to drink more of it, as I was instructed to mix it with 32 ounces of water.

At 4pm:  Empty contents of Packet A into container C and fill to 32 ounces.  Drink 8 ounces of preparation every 15 minutes along with 16-24 additional ounces of water.

At 8pm:  Repeat with Packet B

4 pm:  I chugged 8 ounces of Movi-Prep, which immediately almost came out my nose but I swallowed back the gag, gulping salty, sour lemon dish soap with a hint of metal shavings as quickly as possible.  It seems four minutes later the timer dinged.  This time I had an ice water chaser nearby.

4:30 pm:  I finished the 3rd dose.  A flock of chirping, chittering birds starts flying about in my abdomen.

4:45 pm:  Nascar begins warm-up laps.

5:02 pm:  As my running coach once noted, it’s extremely difficult to run clenching your sphincter.  No shit.

5:35 pm:  I wobble to the bedroom.

5:35:30 pm:  I am birthing fireworks.

6:15 pm:  I walk feebly to the bed.

6:15:30 pm:  Is this an exorcism?  What is this?  How the f*ck do I have this much sh*t in my body?  I’m going to die!  Can you sh*t to death??  I imagine it.  Hubs calls 911.  “SHE’S ON THE TOILET!  SHE’S BEEN IN THERE FOR DAYS!  YOU HAVE TO HELP HER!”  But it’s too late.  They don hazmat suits and tell him to wait outside, the house is not safe,  and please be sure all pilot lights are extinguished.

7:42 pm:  NATO has finally brokered a peace treaty with the Movi-Prep.

8:00 pm:  Begin second round.  Surely this will be a piece of cake.  Oh…gawd…cake…ewww…

8:15 pm:  There is a Volkswagen full of clowns in my stomach.

8:17 pm:  I move the Movi-Prep to the bathroom counter.  It’s faster that way.  Hell, that sh*t’s fast any which way.

8:45 pm:  Accompanied by the yowling of cats in heat in my stomach, I gag down part of the last dose.  I finally give up, pouring half of it down the drain.  The drain had a consistent clogging issue.  Had.

Time becomes a haze of exploding volcanoes and dreams of ice baths.   Napalm and stuff that existed before I was born is taking its leave.  At some point in the night I staggered to the bed and slept.

Epilogue:

A.  My friend recently had a 6″ pre-cancerous polyp and 8″ of her intestine removed.  Upon the follow-up visit the Doctor told her, had she waited a year, he would have been discussing her end-of-life options.  Her children are in high school.

B.  This young mother saying good-by to her husband and children.

C.  It’s all over in a few hours.  Do what the doctor says.

D.  My report came back All Clear.

Important Self Test Which Will Reveal All You Need

I often see FB posts revealing someone’s Person Type, their Inner Spirit; shining examples of Hope, Love, or Eternal Peace Hippie Girl.  I am not necessarily against that, as it was once revealed that I am a rainbow farting unicorn.  Other than that one time, though – and this is just my personal opinion, even though I do the little tests – I think these links results are sh*t.

These links are sh*t because they don’t offer the options real people would actually choose if they could.

So I’m going to make a test for you that will actually work.  This test will reveal your true self, your true inner spirit, and the real reason you live and breathe, however well or poorly, on this earth.

Get a paper and pencil because I am not going to have a little button at the end of each question which will tally and do a reveal at the bottom of this post.  That sh*t costs money and I just bought groceries for dinner, so that’s not in the budget.  If you are unable to find a working pencil, a scrap of paper, cannot write the letters A, B, C, D or E, or cannot add, and/or any combination of these, your personal revelation is immediate:  You Rock.  You have a life and are too busy to screw with having usable writing utensils and stupid pads of paper, you have a phone to do all of that.  When the end of society as we know it comes, and we know it will, probably sooner than later –  the Demicans and Republicrats tell us so every night on CNBC/FOX/FML – your life will then suck because your phone will be useless.  Meanwhile, since I do have paper and a pencil nub, I can write notes on scraps of paper begging for rescue and throw them in rivers in all the pop bottles I keep meaning to recycle, but forget.  This will as useless as your phone but slightly more fun.

Today we will determine what type of personality you have.  The options will be Zen, OK Most of the Time, What’s It Matter It Will Never Work Anyway, Don’t Push My Buttons, and DANGER, Will Robinson.

1.  You arrive at work on Monday morning.  There is no coffee in the building.
a.  I’d probably spill it, anyway.
b.  ooooooooooooohhhhhmmmmm
c.  I should be … WTF??  Someone moved my monitor a 1/4 inch, stupid son of a …
d.  OK.  OK then, hey, it could be worse, right?
e.  Seriously?  This is the best question you could come up with?

2.  Your ideal weekend would include:
a.  My local ashram, a church picnic, time petting fluffy bunnies, holding small babies smelling of powder
b.  Coffee first.  Then, I dunno.  More coffee.
c.  I’m going to start edging my yard at 4am Saturday since that a$$ next door was blowing leaves at sunrise on Memorial Day.
d.  I have plans but I bet it’s gonna rain.
e.  Invisibility.

3.  If you could choose to be any fantasy animal, you’d be:
a.  Godzilla, only I’d be flying one of those human f*cker’s planes.  BWAAA HAHAHAHAHA take that you little minions!
b.  A fluffy bunny in a sunny field full of pretty flowers
c.  I went as Winnie the Pooh on Halloween once, but it rained.
d.  Oh, you know, whatever no one else wants to be.  It’ll be fine.
e.  The one that just got turned into a zombie and is chasing whoever wrote this idiot test.

4.  Your Gramma, the Pope, a kitten, and, um, Hitler are in a boat.    Who said what:
a.  “No, not Hitler, that’s so over done and, really, stereotyping.  Must you have a bad guy?”
b.  “Oh, yeah?? Who thinks it’s overdone?  I can use Hitler if I want, dammit.”
c.  “Now, everyone, let’s be nice and cooperate.”
d.  “OH!  I know!  I know!  The boat sinks!”
e.  “Look, I’m not putting up with this sh*t and this test is stupid.”

5.  You decide you need to start meditating.  You’ll be a better person for it, don’t you think?  Your meditation word is:
a.  I think it’s “maybe”
b.  I’ve been meditating for at least a minute and this is bull*&^!
c.  My spirit word is never to be revealed.
d.  I think I have one, it’s around here somewhere, hold tight.
e.  My word is STOOPID.  Why am I still taking this STUPID test??

6.  Go-to reward:
a.  Beer
b.  Ginseng tea
c.  Shooting range
d.  Well, whatever you think would be good
e.  Beer at the shooting range

7.  You’ve been thinking some type of regular exercise would be a good thing.  What do you decide to do?
a.  I have a personal yogini already
b.  Jogging sounds nice, that could work
c.  Shooting range
d.  I’ll probably get injured, maybe I’ll just stay home.
e.  Bludgeoning bloggers.

8.  You are lost, alone on a small island in the middle of the sea.  What book do you wish you had to read?
a.  First Aid
b.  The Bible
c.  How to build a boat
d.  How to swim
e.  How to grow coffee and machetes

9.  Ideal vacation.
a.  Zombieland
b.  Disneyland
c.  Well, I don’t want to fly anywhere.  They always lose my luggage.
d.  Anywhere I can be with my loved ones.
e.  Xanax.  Lots.

10.  You will recommend this extremely accurate and helpful test to how many of your friends?
a.  Are you sh*tting me?
b.  I’m not sure.  I like my friends.
c.  All of them!  We’ll all take it TOGETHER!  It will be so nice!  We’ll Bond in Harmony and Joy!
d.  I think I’ll wait and see how I do, first.
e.  Are you f*$%’ing sh*tting me?

RESULTS.  Give yourself the allotted points for each answer:

Question 1:
a = 3
b = 1
c = 4
d = 2
e = 5

Question 2:
a = 1
b = 2
c = 4
d = 3
e = 10

Question 3:
a = 4
b = 1
c = 3
d = 2
e = 15

Question 4:
a = 1
b = 4
c = 3
d = 2
e = 20

Question 5:
a = 3
b = 4
c = 1
d = 2
e = 25

Question 6:
a = 2
b = 1
c = 4
d = 3
e = 30

Question 7:
a = 1
b = 2
c = 4
d = 3
e = 35

Question 8:
a = 3
b = 1
c = 4
d = 2
e = 40

Question 9:
a = 4
b = 2
c = 3
d = 1
e = 45

Question 10:
a = 4
b = 2
c = 1
d = 3
e = 100

If you scored:
1-10 Points:  It doesn’t matter because you’re up in the clouds meditating.  This test and all it represents is a false reality.  You are:  ZEN
11-20 Points:  Ah, it’s fine.  Whatever, things usually work out, I’m fine with that.  You are:  OK Most of the Time.
21-30 Points:  Seriously, you knew this wasn’t going to work, didn’t you?  You almost quit halfway through. You are: What’s it Matter?  It Will Never Work Anyway
31-40 Points:  You have a lot of buttons.  Do you know that?  You do.  And people push them.  All the Damn Time.  You are:  Don’t Push My Buttons!!!
41-1,000 Points:  YOU WIN! YOU WIN!  YOU ARE AWESOME!!  You see through the falsities of humanity, the treacle, the drudgery, the aimless wandering of the soul.
YOU ARE DANGER WILL ROBINSON

Here’s your prize, which you can obtain at this link for $3.73 plus S&H.  Buy yourself a coffee cup too, I don’t care.  I don’t give a SH*T because I don’t like your attitude.

danger_will_robinson_button

This IS my Happy Face.

Here follows a riveting, step-by-step recap of last weekend’s rain-athlon.  You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  You’ll be forever changed.  You’ll never get this four minutes back.

After taking most of Thursday to get my head back on, I did well Friday.   It finally came down to the fact that I couldn’t face being a wimp.  It came down to ego.  Facing the triathlon was the lesser of two evils.  I needed the bragging rights, I couldn’t sit home pouting while everyone else put on their big pants and did the race.  Plus – did I mention? – they have free beer.

Once I figured that out and got moving I felt better.  I got organized, printed a triathlon check list and realized I’d done well getting everything arranged and packed.  The alarm went off at 4am, the car was loaded and we were set to go.  Weather.com never changed its mind; this is what our drive to Tunica looked like:

rainy

 That’s rain, not a crappy picture.  Although it is also a crappy picture.  Hey – it was 5am and I was only on my third coffee.

I stalled on the Happy Face a bit when we arrived, getting out of the car in 52 degrees of windy rain.  We set up my transition in the rain and mud and went into the hotel to stay as warm and dry as we could until the start.  The lobby was full of people in varying stages of concern, irritation, or resignation, making me not the only one with the Idonwannas.  One of my friends walked out and went home.  I felt slightly envious.

Sitting on the lobby floor I wrestled with the now sentient and obviously reluctant wetsuit which, as I pulled at the rubberized neoprene, continuously snapped back into its original shape like a new rubber band, clinging to my calves as I pulled and stretched with increasing effort.  I finally got the reluctant thing – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any happier than the rest of us –  about halfway up my thighs.  Standing, I jumped in place and tugged on the suit, because jumping up and down helps?  At one point I got my arms into the arm holes but couldn’t stand straight because the crotch was still halfway up my thighs.  Normally this type of thing would be a bit embarrassing, bent in half, in public, captive to a large stretchy garment of rubber, but everyone else was doing the same dance.

The best part?  When I finally got it on, found a stranger to zip me and was able to stand straight?  I had to go to the bathroom.  And it wasn’t optional.

Thank you, nice lady in the bathroom, whom I’ve never met before, because with my hair smashed inside the rubber swimming condom and my body squished flatter than a pancake you looked for a moment as though someone was not in the correct restroom, and yet you didn’t scream.

thankyou

Waiting for the start, standing in barefoot in the wet, muddy grass in a sleeveless wetsuit and 52-degree rain made the jump into 68-degree water feel nice.  Even nicer, I felt no fear of the swim.  I wasn’t much faster than last year, in fact it seemed to take much longer – because this time I knew where I was going? – but I made it.  I ran through the squishy muddy grass to my transition site.   The wetsuit that didn’t want me is now my best friend, “please, I love you, don’t leave me” and I plopped in the mud, finally jerking it off my feet, pulling socks on over the mud – who cared at this point – and crammed on my bike shoes.

Running through the grassy muddy transition I worried about all the stuff that could get crammed in my cleats and if I’d be able to clip in, but the Gods of Rainy Triathlons provided a handy-dandy shoe washing station:

IMG_0660

 That’s not me ^^

This is me:

MIM tri v.2

This IS my Happy Face ^^
(DISCLAIMER – I am not a member of the Very Awesome Thunder Tri Team, but Kat C. loaned me this jacket to stay warm on the bike.  See?  Awesome people.)

The bike was great!  I was hitting 20 – 21 mph!  It was so easy!  No strain, quads kicking in and not complaining, calves are silent – maybe it’s a miracle?  I’ve had a miraculous cycling miracle with my 2014 training plan of four bike rides?  This is AWESOME!  I’m golden!  I’m like … in a shitton of trouble, turning left halfway through the bike into a straight-on headwind blowing misty rain in my face.  I dropped from 20mph to 10 in about 13 seconds.  A woman in my age group passed me and disappeared into the distance.  Dammit.

If you’ve never done a run following a bike ride, even a really slow bike ride, it’s weird.  Cycling cadence is much higher than a run cadence; your legs get used to going round and round faster than usual, so when you head out on the run it feels like you’re still slogging through the mud of transition, yet you’re gasping for air, doing a 100-count-per-minute cadence.  It seems to take most of the first mile to get the message to my legs that they can relax now.  I managed to pass the lady who’d passed me on the bike and came into the chute knowing I’d left everything on the course, finishing 6 minutes slower than last year, all of it lost on the bike.

Saturday afternoon sitting around the pool with everyone I found myself thinking, “I could still register for tomorrow’s Olympic distance”, and I considered it for a moment, before realizing I was completely untrained for it.  I knew, given my sincere desire not to injure this year, that  it was a bad idea.  But if I were trained up enough…

WTH??

Get yer head outta yer …

It took considerable effort and most of the day – and a sunny day at that, which would normally help more than it did – but I think I have finally successfully completed the most recently needed headeroidectomy.

This time last year, a couple days before the Memphis in May Sprint Tri, I was also a bitch, but it was born of fear.  Heart-pounding, jump-out-of-the-car-and-run-to-the-portajohn fear.  I wish I were a better person, a person who could panic with grace and good humor, but so far in my life that has never happened.  At least for now I’m stuck being a jerk.  Hopefully I’m shortening the jerk duration but I have no proof.

I’ll tell you the difference a year makes.  I have no reason to believe that you will believe what I’m about to say because I sure didn’t, and I’m the one who heard the words come out of my own mouth, although I could have been channeling some long dead Egyptian god of the Nile, in which case it would have been my own mouth I guess, but not my own words, right?  Anyway, you can imagine my shock when one day my mouth said out loud, “I’d like to get a swim in the lake.”

I turned around reallyquick to be sure Jeff Dunham was not standing behind me playing a practical joke but, no, it was just me and Murphy, and Murph was busy chasing a squirrel and barking.  He’s good and all, but I’m pretty sure he cannot be a ventriloquist and bark at the same time.  Apparently it was my mouth which said that.

Obviously it was surprising.  It was not what I expected my mouth to say, but there you go, it did, and when I thought about it I realized that my mouth was right.  Brain also thought it would be nice to swim in the lake.

So, we did.  Becky and John and Jay came over and we jumped in the cold lake water squealing like girls even though two of us were boys and we swam around until the cold water made us get a little vertigo.  Then we climbed out of the lake, had a beer or two and ate pizza.  It was quite a nice afternoon and I was pleased.

I’ve ridden my bike in circles clipping/unclipping, I think I know how to shift.  I may not really love riding the bike but the panic is mostly gone.  The swim was actually fun, especially the beer part afterward, which was my favorite.  And, of course, all that’s left after that is the run.

My training is not where I wish it were, it’s harder to run slower than I was running last year, which means it’s near impossible to run faster, and faster would still be slower than it used to be.  This makes my ego hurt, and it probably hurt your brain reading that sentence but I swear it makes sense.  So I know that I’m not going to kill the triathlon this weekend.  I’m just going to swim without panic, ride my bike with a normal workout heart rate and finish up with a run.

Then – and this is where the genius comes in – you are going to be soooo impressed – all afternoon Saturday I will sit around the pool in the sunshine with my friends and  free beer.

I repeat – all I have to do is go for a little swim, tool around on my bike, and then run, and I get all the free, warm, soft sunshine I want!  And if I get too warm in the free sunshine, I can get in the pool!  Then I can get in the sun!  Then the pool!

Hallelujah

Okay, plot development.  This is the sad part of the movie where the heroine is deathly ill and the hero is gone off to war or something, I don’t know.  Wherever heroes go.

Current forecast for Tunica this Saturday:  feel like temp of 50, 60%-70% chance of rain.  Mostly cloudy and mid 60’s for the afternoon.  I felt very frustrated, which is quite 3 year-old-of me, albeit an improvement over being very 2-year-old-ish.  Crank crank pout and stomp feet.  DON’T LIKE.  Make it go away.

Of course it’s not going anywhere, unlike our flake of a hero.

So this is what’s going to happen.  I’m going to get wet in the water, then I may get wet on the bike, which I’ll be riding in already wet attire, and then I’ll run in wet attire which wouldn’t get any drier regardless, it will get wetter with rain, or with sweat, or with both.  I’m going to think of the participants who are doing both the Saturday and the Sunday race, with a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday morning also.  I’m going to think of Becky’s bike breaking last Saturday, and I’m going to think about all the people who wish they had the luxury of running, biking and/or swimming but they don’t, and I may do it soaking wet and cold.  Who knows?

Then, as long as I don’t fall off the bike or on my face, I’ll be done.  If I do it without complaining and with grace and charm I will be a heroine, at least in my own eyes.

And – the beer will still be free.

Sh*t happens. Later we can get over it.

Well good morning you two, and how are you doing this fine day?

The sun is shining, reflecting off the lake, but I find this confusing as the sky is overcast.  Apparently somewhere on the other side of the house the sun is poking through just a bit, even though I cannot see it.  Another metaphor for life.  And this morning I am thinking especially of my dear friend Becky who has diligently put in all the miles training for her 2nd half-Ironman, which is being held this morning in the Gulf Coast.  Well, two-thirds of the race are being held anyway; the swim has been cancelled.

I saw her face when they announced it and my heart fell for her.  Later the crank fell off her bike.  All of that, the hours and hours of training, struggling through hard workouts, planning, worrying, dreaming.  Done, gone.

Titanic

Fill in the metaphor: ___________________________________________________

I know she’s devastated.  I combined some $%&* and some tears when she told me.  You know how it is, for a minute you think, really?  You’re kidding, right?  But, no, she’s done, it’s over for today.  We all know how this feels.  You’ve worked so hard, you’ve followed your plan, you do everything the boss says, or the trainer says, you follow the rules and all of a sudden you run into a wall.  You break your foot, or your bike fails, or your boss reviews your input and says no.  Boston gets bombed out.  NYC gets stormed out.

shit happens

Personally, when stuff like that happens to me and I get this type of input:  “life goes on” “make lemonade” – it just makes me mad.  I believe we need a little space to be upset.  It DOES suck.  It does hurt, it’s incredibly disappointing.  Oh well, la-la-la, get over it, look over here, a rainbow!  Oh yeah?  Guess where your rainbow can go.  I’ll be fine in a bit, just back off.

Last week I had the great opportunity to attend the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Annual Convention in Spokane, Washington.  This may surprise you, but there is not an overwhelming plethora of running club secretaries in the Memphis area.  I know, right?  I am a company of one.  So it was a lot of fun to talk shop with other attendees, and I’ve carried home a notebook full of ideas.

This is the fourth convention I’ve attended and I believe the best so far (possibly inching ahead of our hosting in 2012, don’t tell anyone).  I met Bernard Lagat!

bernard

I wasn’t going to ask for a photo – but others did, so I jumped into the fold.
No pride, no regrets.

He spoke at lunch of the sacrifices his family made for one another, the opportunities he was fortunate enough to be given.  A very engaging speaker, he talked openly and honestly about success and failure, accepting and moving forward.  He laughed along with all of the attendees when he described what coming in fourth in the Olympics felt like.  Fifth place, you pretty much know it’s not going to be your day.  Third, *sigh* I made the podium!  Second, *yay* I’m not first but I’m not third!

Fourth:

horseshoe handgrenade

Don Kardong addressed this also when he spoke on Saturday.  This must have been an especially bitter pill when the first place finisher was later stripped of his medal for doping, but just like Mr. Lagat, he was charming, humble, and funny.  He joked that after the doping issue the first place medal was divided into thirds and this was his portion:

neck_ribbon_image

Um…thanks?

That evening Deena Kastor spoke.  She was the 1997 RRCA Roads Scholar recipient, living in Colorado working as a waitress, training, then working all day on her feet, training again at night.  The scholarship allowed her to quit work for a year and focus on her training.  We all know how well that turned out!

All three were humble, grateful people, appreciative of the help they’ve received and the chances they’ve been given.  They are among the best in the world but they would not have been there speaking to us without dedication and hard work.  They fell, they struggled, they stood back up.  They grabbed the opportunities they were given and remain grateful for all of it.

I will never be an elite runner.  I have, however, realized through these speakers that I can continue to strive to be an elite person, even if I do slip a bit, falling back and struggling when the sh*t shows up.

++++++++++++

ADDENDUM:   After the DNF Becky cried a bit, then put on her shoes and ran out to the course to cheer on her friends and teammates.  I’m proud to call her friend and hero.

But, no, back on the horse that may throw me.

Well, I’ve just been sitting around on my flukey bootie doing nothing.

I did do some laundry.  But only because I ran out of running gear.  A person needs priorities.

I even went for another bike ride.  Becky is an insidious person and acted like I would be doing her a favor if I rode with her.  Eventually I decided to give it one last try, since I’m registered for a Tri.  Because I’m stupid.  Maybe I should not admit publicly that I’m stupid, but, really, not admitting it doesn’t change it.  Plus it’s rather hard to hide the fact when I just typed “I’m registered for a Tri” because anyone reading that knows immediately that I am stupid.

The reason I didn’t want to ride my bike any more is that I don’t like the feeling of sheer terror.  Call me stupid (I know…) but I just don’t.  I don’t get happy with the adrenaline rush, heart pounding, head throbbing with blood rushing through my brain by the gallon, my body shaking with the flood of fight-or-die hormones.

One weekend when I was in high school a bunch of us, as we sometimes did, had a picnic in the desert.  This was always a day-long affair, everyone driving out in the boonies, kids jumping out of the cars and running all over, moms setting out food and visiting.  The dads would take us all out to some wash and teach us to shoot cans.  My brother had a dirt bike he’d bought with his newspaper route money and the bigger kids took turns riding it around.

It was my turn and I was about a mile from camp, doing no more than 25mph (it had a governor) when I hit a wash and the bike bogged in the sand, so I punched it – just as I also hit a rock with the front tire and the bike came to an immediate and abrupt stop.  I, however, did not stop, going head first over the handlebars, landing on my chin.  Prior to that moment it was never on my radar that a person can break their jaw, but I knew immediately and instinctively that I had.  I also had blood dripping on my shirt from somewhere on my face.

A few months earlier I’d sprained my ankle which necessitated a visit to the ER for an x-ray to be sure it wasn’t broken.   So far in my life – and I hope no further – I have broken my finger, my wrist, my jaw, my toe and my foot; I’ve learned it’s good to go ahead and check.  While there a young man in another room had a nose that would not quit bleeding and they were packing it full of something (cotton?  I don’t know).  That kid was screaming like they were sawing off his foot.

Thus my concern, walking the mile back to camp with a broken jaw which I could not feel because actually I was in shock, was not my jaw, but the source of blood, because I had no intention of ever letting anyone near my nose.  Fortunately it turned out it was just a big gash in my chin from the impact.

By the time we’d driven back into town and stopped at the house to get insurance info the shock had worn off and let me tell you, a broken jaw:  hurts.  Like a mother.

And they would not give me anything for pain in case of head trauma.  I hung around the ER for a few hours while they tended to other people, finally x-raying me, the tech apologizing profusely as he turned my head this way and that.  Yep, broken, up to a room where I dozed off and on, in pain, until the next morning when they set my jaw.  Still un-medicated, because they also needed me able to communicate while they set the jaw.  Which I’m grateful for, I didn’t want a crooked face but – it hurt.

I spent the next six weeks walking around with my mouth wired shut, talking funny and carrying wire cutters because if I ever got a stomach virus or bad food things could get ugly pretty quickly.

That’s the end of the story.

Until a week or two ago, when I met Max.  Mas is a beautiful dog, probably a golden-lab mix, who appeared to be maybe a year old, 80 pounds or so, and newly, deeply in love with me.  He saw me riding Matilda, minding my own business, my HR about 189 since Brain wouldn’t quit thinking about how it would feel to go face first over the handlebars, and he knew we needed to be Best Friends.  Flush with adoration, deaf to his owner’s fervent pleas, Max raced out of his yard and down the street after me, barking his joy and devotion.  I managed to slow before he reached me, getting one foot unclipped before he jumped on me.  The other foot was still clipped, and while he leaned against me in slavish love and his poor owner continued to yell at the now-deaf-with-adoration dog I managed to unclip just in time, catching myself before I went over.

Max suddenly and miraculously had his hearing restored at the exact same time the owner arrived at the scene, apologizing profusely and thanking me for my patience and understanding.  I nodded that I do understand, I also have a dog who suffers event-induced deafness.  And I couldn’t have said anything cranky because my heart was stuck up in my throat doing about 250.

Shaking and shivering I got on the bike and wobbled back home, where I leaned Matilda against the wall, took off my helmet and threw it at the wall, following that with my bike shoes and gloves, swearing loudly with colorful words that it was over.  Sorry, Matilda, that’s the end of the relationship.  It’s not you, it’s me, I want a divorce, you can have the storage shed in the settlement; there you will slowly wither and die, covered with cobwebs and eventually rust.

old bike

I knew – I knew – that Becky would not let it lie.  She was good.  She didn’t say anything.  Like, what?  I’m stubborn?  She and hubs, I know what they are thinking when they get all quiet and don’t mention the elephant in the room.

But she’s so darn little and cute when she gets stubborn, and I didn’t want to make her sad, so I finally put Matilda in the back of the car and drove to meet up near the end of her ride.  Since my biggest worry on the bike is not riding the bike – it’s the sudden and unexpected stop that keeps me in panic mode – I had the brilliant idea of riding in circles and stopping.  There I was, in the St. Phillip parking lot, riding in circles.  Ride – unclip – stop – repeat, while the ladies walking into the church looked at me like I might need an intervention.

“Hi, my name is Terri, and I bike…”

 

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