Friday, June 26, 2009

TGIF Photo Friday

It's hot. I don't know if the weather is keeping everyone quiet around the Ridge or not, but there hasn't been too much going on this week. Gladys did tell me this morning that she liked my tan (which I can thank Grandma's for), and when I put my arm up against her lily-white one, she mock-gasped and said "Good grief, I'm dead and don't even know it!" She makes me belly laugh every single day.

I don't have much time (why do I schedule meetings for Fridays?) so here's all I have today, a pic of Hubby and I getting ready for some seriously good food after the marathon last weekend. Just thinking about my steaming plate of wild mushroom risotto with crab sauce and buttered asparagus makes my mouth water. If I ever decide to write another blog I think it will be about food. And eating food. And maybe wine. Mmmmm.....

Oh, and if you want to see what Nic calls the Grandma Death March face, click here. Oy. On the running front: I haven't ran this week. My feet still don't look so great--I actually have one toe that is entirely purple. It is so weird! There is a Firecracker 5K here next hopefully the fat toes will fit into a pair of running shoes by then.
Happy Weekending!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Good Gad

I showed Gladys my medal from Grandma's and told her I got it for running a marathon this weekend. "Good grief, I'll bet you were tired!" she exclaimed. She's so dang cute I want to put her in my pocket and keep her forever. "Yeah, I was pretty tired," I agreed.

"You know I used to love to run," she began. "You did?!" I quickly prompted, automatically chalking up just one more reason why I love this woman. "Oh, yes. My sister, she would stay in the house and read a book, but I would always want to go outside and run. Not for any reason, just to run. I think I thought it felt good."

"I think it feels good, too." I smiled.

"Just moving feels good," she continued. "I played basketball in school, too. Boy, I loved that." Gladys is positively tiny, and not just little old lady tiny. You can tell she's been a little person her whole life. Basketball?! I can't imagine this, and tell her so. "Oh, honey, I played all through school. I was the center." I asked her if she was taller than the other kids in her class...I just can't visualize this little wisp of a thing as the center on a basketball team (nor did I have any idea that girls even had a basketball team 75 years ago!) "No, I wasn't really taller than anyone, but I sure could jump...thanks to Mama!" Gladys says this with that ever-present twinkle in her eye.

"Your Mama taught you how to jump?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, with the gad," she laughs as she swooshes her hand back in forth in front of her. Of course I had to ask what on earth a gad was. She explained, "Mama must have called it a gad since she was Irish, but really it was just a piece of a shrub or tree and she'd swat our legs with it to teach us a lesson. I'd always start crying before she ever even swatted me, but that didn't help any. So I learned to jump, which made me a pretty good basketball player!"

I tell Gladys that it sounds as though she's been turning lemons into lemonade her entire life. "You know, I don't see much use in not being happy," she says. "Like some people around here, they sit around all day and say I wish I would die or why don't I die, well all I have to say about that is that I wish they would die already and leave the rest of us happy people alone!"

Well said, Gladys. Well said.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grandma's Report (or "Dear Grandma: You're pretty...but mean.")

We arrived in Duluth early Friday afternoon, excited and anticipating a fun weekend full of things we love the best: running, running stuff, runners, and food. Things nearly got off to a rocky start when we were informed by the nice girl at the Sheraton's registration desk that we were actually scheduled to arrive Thursday, and therefore our entire reservation had been cancelled. I laughingly made a joke about the guy in Runners World who had slept in a port-o-pot the night before a race, but Hubby didn't even crack a smile. He didn't even actually breathe until the girl came back declaring we could still have the room after all. Whew.
We got settled and walked to the Expo in an air of nostalgia. Grandma's was the first marathon I ever watched Hubby run...before we were married and before I ever considered running for any other reason than to get away from something scary. (Grandma's, although not the year I went the first time, was also the very first marathon Hubby and his brother ran...back when they called themselves the Irish Striders and raced nearly every weekend thinking they were so cool...which they probably were.) The Expo was great, although jam packed full of people. Once we made our way through all the masses we went to Grandma's for an early dinner. Most of the other diners looked as though they had just run the 5K race or were carrying race packets for the next day. The atmosphere was fun and people were wishing us good luck as they walked by our table. I love runners. They are some of the nicest people around. I really think if you took a control group of runners and measured them against a control group of non-runners, the percentage of jerks in the runner group would be far less than the non-runner group. The world needs more runners.
The ambience was terrific as we left the restaurant. Volunteers were working on the finish line, runners were taking pictures, and there were people everywhere. You could just tell this was going to be a great race. And then, the fog rolled in. Suddenly I was freezing. Which meant I also started to panic, thinking my sleeveless singlet was not going to keep me warm enough during the race. We had been watching the weather all week and there had been little change in the projected high of 62 degrees, so I didn't even bother to pack anything else. Little did I know that my worry of having the wrong attire was going to be a bad joke.
Saturday morning, we left the hotel only to discover 65ish degrees and about a million percent humidity. Long gone was the fog and chilly air from the evening before, and in its place was a magnificent, bright, and cloudless sunrise. As we walked to the bus that would take me to Two Harbors, I reminded Hubby to look for Nic. I had told him on the drive to Duluth that he was hoping for a sub-3 and to look for a bright yellow shirt with NF on the front. I also tried to relay the plaid shorts story, but it seems blog humor doesn't translate well when trying to verbally explain it...nor do I think it translated well the third time when Hubby tried explaining it to Nic's dad! Anyway, I found out later that Hubby didn't remember Nic's name, but remembered the NF, which made him strike up conversation with these people at Knife River (around the five mile mark):
How about that?! Hubby was hanging out with Nic's fan club at mile five. He even caught a pic of this guy looking fast and strong:

Speaking of mile five. By the time I got there, I was absolutely drenched in sweat, thirsty, hot, and salty. After only five miles!! I knew this wasn't good, but I was keeping pace. Between miles six and ten, all I could think of was wanting a drink. Every. Single. Step. I knew from reading my race packet the aid stations were every two miles in the first half, but this didn't keep me from looking for water at every mile mark. I even daydreamed (hallucinated?) about asking a spectator for their bottle of water so that I could fill it up at the next water stop and carry it with me. Aid stations at every two miles is typically more than adequate, but it was hot. Really, really hot. I was so hot and thirsty I couldn't quiet my mind enough to get my breathing into a rhythm, nor could I think of anything else but getting that next drink.

Somehow, I made it to the half only a minute over my desired pace. The minute might has well have been an hour, though, because mentally I had already checked out. I knew there was no way I could run the second half with an even split. It was getting hotter, there was not one merciful cloud in the sky, and absolutely no shade on this otherwise beautiful and breathtaking course.

Nothing was working for me. Not the ipod, not the mantras, not the breath counting, not the silly games where I mentally tie myself to a runner ahead of me. Nothing. And then...THEN....I see the sign that says "drop out zone." I don't have any complaints about this well organized and awesome race, but maybe they could come up with something better than "drop out zone!?" To someone who is already struggling mentally, these signs were like handing the jail keys over to the inmate and expecting him to stay locked up. After seeing that sign, I stopped to walk for the first time. I also decided for the first time ever that I was going to quit without finishing. Yup, that's what I was going to do. I was going to DNF. I started to look for Hubby, knowing he would be somewhere near the half so I could tell him I was done.

Then the inner dialogue began. "DNF??? Are you crazy? Just because you can't make it to the finish line in a time you decided was "good enough," you're just going to quit? Man, what an ego. How about you be happy that you're healthy, and that you have two strong legs that even make it possible for you to consider going 26.2 miles. How about you be a little grateful that you get to travel and meet people and run fun races and be with your husband while doing it? How about you think what running actually means to you and why you really run in the first place? Do you run because you think you can set a record by finishing in under five stupid hours? Seriously?!Who cares? Give me a break, will ya, and suck it up and do this thing. Who the hell cares what time you finish in. It's the journey, man, not the destination."

After that jacking up, what else could I do but take a deep breath and start running again?

Unfortunately, that first walk made it easier to take another walk break at mile 15. And easier yet to take another one somewhere before 17. I also started drinking Ultima because of how much I was sweating, and all the bodies sitting on the side of the road were starting to freak me out a little bit and the last thing I wanted was to be one of them. The Ultima made my tummy hurt, which then made me wish I could vomit for the next several miles. I was so happy to see Hubby at mile 19 I stopped to give him a salty kiss. I was beyond caring how long it took me to finish but also wishing it would be over soon. I saw him again at the bottom of Lemon Drop Hill, right before the 22 mile mark. I think he must have given me a boost, because I actually ran all the way up that hill! After that, I really don't remember very much other than people shouting encouragement to "smiley," which apparently was me, but why was I smiling? I have no clue. I felt used up, burned up, and my feet were starting to feel as though they had been through a meat grinder.

I do remember the 25 mile mark and thinking that all I had to do was run another mile. I couldn't even talk myself into that, and took a walk break about half way into it. Finally, at the turn that would take us the last few tenths I was able to muster up enough to run across the finish line....where they announced my name!!! I'm so glad I was coherent enough to hear it! I've never had my name announced at the finish of a marathon. Cool.

The final damage: 9 blisters caused by wet feet from running through every single sprinkler and hose on the course, a severe case of monkey butt from sweating in places one shouldn't, sunburn because the sunblock was sweated off by mile 2, and a finishing time of 5:23:20.

But I didn't quit.



But really happy. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Going to Grandma's

We're hitting the road at noon! We're going to stay in Madison, Wisconsin tonight (and meet up with a friend for dinner) then drive to Duluth tomorrow. Almost showtime!! I can hardly believe the spring has passed so quickly. Last night as I was trying to decide if the papercut on my thumb would affect my finishing time, I started to let my mind wander down the path of perhaps I haven't trained enough. In an effort to prove myself right and chuck the whole idea of even going to Minnesota this weekend, I looked at the running log. I have no idea when this happened, but I ran 120.7 total miles for May! That's the most miles I've EVER run in one month, and I'm at 368.4 on the year. That's almost as many as I ran in 2008 and it's only June! I hope that means I'm ready.

I also hope my knees don't hurt and that I enjoy the day, the run, the lake, the ambience and the experience. And I kinda sorta maybe hope a tiny little bit that maybe perhaps just possibly I could potentially break five hours. Whew. There, I said it. I'm putting it out there. If it's meant to be, I'll be one happy girl. If not, I'll still be one happy girl. I think I'm really going to like looking at the lake for 26 miles anyway.

Fast running vibes are coveted and I'll be back with a report on Monday.

If you have never seen this, take the time. The human spirit is amazing and inspiring. Happy Weekending!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gladys Goodie

Gladys is outside my office door, sitting in her normal chair. As I walked by to drop something in the mailbox she remarked that I always "look so perky."

"I think you're always pretty perky yourself, Gladys. That must be what keeps you so young," I reply.

"Oh, I wish I were young," she sighs.

"What would you do?" I ask, not really knowing what else to say. She hesitates for only a fraction of a second and comes up with this gem: "Much of the same things I've already done."

I love this woman! Her comment, though said casually, is certainly profound. At 92, she could be outside my office door sitting in a chair thinking about all the parts of her life she wished she could do over. Everyone has things they wish they could do over, Gladys included. What I think we forget sometimes is that those regrets are actually very few in number in the big picture, and while some regrets stick around longer than others, the most important thing is to LET IT GO at some point. If we spend a lifetime giving energy to regrets they will ultimately hold us captive....and someday we'll turn out to be the grumpy asshole at the Assisted Living that no one wants to sit with at lunch.

Instead of dwelling on her "do-overs," Gladys is sitting out there in that chair remembering everything else that has been good about her life. I think she is living proof that a positive attitude and sunny outlook will cultivate a happy life. She has Alzheimer's. She does not know what year it is. She cannot remember her roommate died.

But she is happy.

She makes me happy. Have I mentioned I love her?

Monday, June 15, 2009

View from the Ridge

Friday afternoon I decided to take The Boss to lunch "in town." The Boss pointed out "in town" sounds kinda funny considering Rock Ridge is only a mile away from "in town," and "in town" consists of two decent places to eat, a bunch of used car lots, several bars, lots of churches, and one tattoo parlor. Ok, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little and "in town" isn't really that bad, but The Boss lives in a town of 100,000 compared to our roughly 13,000 (of which an enviable number attend "church" at the aforementioned bars), so I think it's safe to assume a slight cultural difference and fully give her permission to laugh heartily at my suggestion to eat lunch "in town."

With that conversation behind us, it is determined that I will drive her car. As I begin to pull out of the long drive, The Boss gasps. Not knowing the cause of her alarm, I hit the brakes thinking I have hit something and already starting to berate myself for agreeing to drive The Boss' car in the first place. As the car comes to a stop, The Boss breathlessly exclaims "Is that woman topless?"

I look out the car window. There in her yard sits Mrs. Sunbather. She does indeed appear to be topless. We've taken Old Lady Sunbathing to a whole new level here at the Ridge.

So....this morning, Mrs. Sunbather's neighbor came into the office and requested permission to erect a piece of lattice on the end of her porch....because she "needs to do something about the view."

Let the work week begin.

(Which, by the way, is a short work week because I happen to be running a marathon in five days!!!!)

Friday, June 12, 2009

TGIF Photo Friday

Happy Friday! We've had the Regional Director here at the Ridge all week, so not much happening but meetings. She's still here, but how could I miss Photo Friday? Here is the first thing I found this morning: a picture of "all us grandkids," or at least those who had been born by 1975 or 76. There are 15 of us total, so there were still a few more yet to come. Any idea which one I am? (Hint: the goofiest looking one!)

This little jewel showed up on Facebook a few weeks ago. That's me when I was 15 or 16 years old, hanging by my partner's neck and touching my foot to my head. Crazy, huh?

Fast forward to June 2009. Guess what's in a week!?!?!? I've had a very easy week of running, since I've been coming to the office early and staying late it would have been hard to fit it in, but I think the rest is good. 10 miles tomorrow, a couple of short runs next week and then we're off to the races. Happy Weekending!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day in the (Alfer) Life

5:30am Alarm sounds. Roll over and go back to sleep.

5:39am Alarm sounds. Hubby says "It's 5:39, Runner Girl." I consider flipping him the bird but realize it's too dark for him to see it. Ruminate on how much DST sucks because it's still dark at 5:39am.

5:41am Groan and drag my dead butt out of bed and wonder why I run.

6:00am Meet Running Partner at the trail. Remember why I run. Smile.

8:00am Arrive at Rock Ridge. Blink headlights at apartment window of bedridden resident. Wait for him to blink his flashlight in reply. Smile.

8:15am Sing good morning to the residents eating breakfast. Consider the fact they would probably like to flip me the bird. Smile.

8:30am Worker Bee wants to "let me know" that a resident smells like poop. ???

10:00am Gladys comes the office to report her coat has been stolen. Smile.

10:47am Joseph comes to the office to find out how he can get to mass. Smile.

10:55am Gladys comes to the office to report her coat has been stolen. Smile.

11:15am WorkerBee comes to office to lodge complaint against her supervisor.

11:27am Gladys comes to the office to report her coat has been stolen. Smile.

12:00pm Mr. Lights-Are-On-But-No-One-Is-Home comes to lunch wearing his pajamas over the top of his clothes. Smile. (he's adorable)

12:01pm Mrs. Sunbather tells me in a (very loud) stage whisper that Mr. Lights-Are-On-But-No-One-Is-Home is wearing pajamas. Smile at her attempt at discretion.

12:05pm Gladys reports her coat has been stolen. Smile.

12:06pm Mr. Lights-Are-On-But-No-One-Is-Home gets up from the dining room table.

12:07pm Mrs. Sunbather tells me that Mr. Lights-Are-On-But-No-One-Is-Home has not eaten yet.

12:08pm Joseph asks how he can get to mass. TRY to smile.

12:09pm Amidst chaos (and in the dining room...ew!) another resident reports their toilet needs plunged.

12:10pm Decide I need to leave for lunch. Consider drinking my lunch. Thought makes me smile. Have a sandwich in the peace and quiet of my own home instead.

12:45pm Reluctantly leave my nice spot on the deck and drive back to Rock Ridge. Blink lights. Smile at flashlight.

1:15pm Gladys reports her coat has been stolen. Smile.

1:30pm Get stopped by Little Miss Chatterbox. Talks and talks and talks and talks. The chatter is so nonsensical I can't help but smile.

1:38pm Gladys saves me by asking where I was headed. "To get a drink," I replied. "It sounds like she's already had one," Gladys retorts, nodding her head at Little Miss Chatterbox. Smile and laugh my head off.

2:00pm Joseph comes to the office to find out about mass. Again. Smile. Again.

2:05pm Resident reminds me toilet need plunged.

2:54pm Gladys reports her coat has been stolen. Smile.

3:20pm Mrs. Torrance (I decided to call her this because her eyes looked exactly like Jack Nicholson's in The Shining!!!) comes to the office to tell me there is a conspiracy against her and that if anything happens to her that I should insist on an autopsy. She goes into great detail.

3:40pm Frantically IM Assistant to come save me.

3:43pm IM Assistant that she's fired.

3:48pm Assistant finally comes to my aid. Declares an emergency to get me out of the office and away from the crazy lady. As I walk away Mrs. Torrance shouts "dont' trust anyone!"

4:00pm Worker Bee, oh never mind.

4:30pm Resident reminds me toilet needs plunged. Consider flipping the bird...but smile instead.

5:00pm Realize that I have not accomplished one single task on to-do list, but have smiled more than most people do in a week. Consider myself lucky.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Race Update

We just checked the website for Hubby's official results.....FIRST IN HIS AGE GROUP!!

He rocks.

(Hubby's) Race Report

I only have one negative thing to say about today, so I'll just get it out of the way first. 6am is mighty early for a race to start! It's not often I see 4am on the alarm clock. I have no idea how people get up that dang early every day. It's inhuman.

With that being said....

Today has been a great day! We stayed in South Bend last night (because of the heinous start time) and what do you suppose happened first thing this morning as we were leaving the hotel? We ran into Laura at Absolut(ly) Fit. It was almost surreal, as I had just been telling Hubby that she was running today and he asked me if I knew what she looked like. I told him that I thought she would have on a Marathon Maniac shirt and probably a running skirt based on photos of previous races I've seen on her blog. Just a handful of minutes later, Hubby saw a girl standing at the counter of the hotel wearing the described outfit. He's sharp, that one. It was her alright, and she is as adorable in person as she is in her pictures! We introduced ourselves, I wished her luck and we were off to the start.

Hubby was more nervous than I've seen him for quite sometime. He tied his shoes seven times! I was worried he would start out too fast due to the pent-up energy and anxiety but once he lined up at the start he seemed to relax, even if just a little. I waited for the gun to go off so I could start my watch, then took off in the car for Notre Dame Stadium, where the finish line is. I met up with my running partner at the stadium and we took off on our bikes.

The marathon course was great for spectating from a bike. We were able to see him at several places and were thrilled every time to see him on pace for his desired finish. At the 15 mile mark the course made a loop, so that the 20ish mile mark was in the same place. We decided to hang out there until Hubby came back, and were able to see some other runners we knew, including Laura. I hope she had a good race...she sure looked strong at the 15 mile mark and with no signs of passing out!

When Hubby passed us again, he was still right on pace. Yay! We rode our bikes ahead and waited for him at mile 25. He had slowed a little, but still looked as good as anyone can after running 25 miles. Feeling quite sure there was no way he couldn't qualify at this point, we took off for the finish line....but he beat us there! I easily found him (he's taller than most runners, so he's pretty easy to spot in a crowd) and to say he was happy is probably an understatement! Not only did he qualify, but he did it with 18 or so minutes to spare. Just to be safe, I guess. :)

We're home now. Hubby is happy, we're going back to Boston, and all is well. (Moe! We have another AE meeting at the Lenox next April!) Now I have to go run because I have no other time to fit it in this weekend. So I'm wondering? Since I rode my bike all over the marathon course this morning, and I'm running this evening....does that mean I'm doing my first brick?!?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Foto Friday

Where did the week go!? I can hardly believe it's Friday already. This week at the Ridge has been annoyingly busy, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) it's been busy in a mundane kind of way, rather than a someone-put-poop-in-the-garbage-disposal kind of way.

Tomorrow Hubby runs what will hopefully be his Boston Qualifier (send good running vibes!) I'm taking my bike and plan to cheer him on at as many mile markers as possible. He's awesome, and because I think so, today's pics are all about how much fun we have.

This is us having a picnic at a park last summer. I set the timer on the camera, put it on the picnic basket, and here we are! We're such dorks, we take pictures of ourselves all the time.

A few years ago we took a bicycle trip through North Carolina, which was fantastic! I think we were on Ocracoke in this picture.

We have been going to Boston for the marathon for the past eight years. Hubby's birthday is on April 19th, which means we are always in Boston for his birthday. (Once the marathon was even ON his birthday.) Three years ago for his birthday, this wonderfully awesome and thoughtful wife actually scored some Sox tickets. The reason I'm so wonderfully awesome is because they were playing the STINKIN' YANKEES....which happens to be Hubby's favorite team (his only flaw I've found so far). I even let him wear his STINKIN' YANKEES shirt!!! (Luckily it was cold and he had to wear his jacket. Hee!) Anyway, here we are with the Green Monster.

Here we are in Chicago in 2003, the morning before my first marathon. His sister is on his left and that is a friend of ours on the far right....he had helped the three of us train and get through that first marathon. Our time was 5:55!!! His was something like 3:20. See why I think he's so awesome?

And speaking of running! My 21 miler went well. Slow, but well. Knees are feeling better and I'm starting to feel the anxiety of knowing I'm running a marathon in two weeks. 13.6 on the books for tomorrow, after Hubby qualifies of course!
Peace and happy running!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Sunbathing Continues...

I'm sitting in my office working on a report (how did it get to be June 2nd already?!?) when suddenly I detect a presence. I look up to find Mrs. Sunbather standing in front of my desk. I guess the reason I didn't hear her come in is because she is barefoot. She is also wearing a pair of sunglasses and.......

wait for it!!

One of these little numbers:

Except hers was more of a faded baby blue color with a little anchor on the leg, elastic that would fit around my jeep, and vintage, oh, about 1981, I'd say. It was also at least two sizes too small, which is just a guess based on the amount of ass cheek that was hanging out.
"I'm so embarrassed I had to come to the office dressed like this," she begins. I'm breathing deep, trying not to snicker, and mentally writing this post as the scene unfolded. "But I went outside to get some Vitamin D... just 15 minutes is all you need, you know...and I guess the door was locked when I closed it behind me and now I'm locked out and this is all I have on." As she explains her plight she is waving her arms around and I am unbelievably distracted thinking that any minute one of those 85-year-old boobs is going to pop out of the top of the stretched-out terry cloth when suddenly my preoccupied mind starts singing, because that's just how my tracks roll when it comes to ye olde train of thought.
If I see them I'll go blind.
Fleshy white-colored mammories
That's the way they were.
Terry cloth romper,
That should've been left behind
Barely covering wrinkled mammories
That's the way they were.

It's official. This job is making me crazy.