So here I sit...

Instead of tackling all the 101 things I need to do before we head to Chicago for Christmas at my brother's on Sunday...I'm at my 'puter. I have started cleaning the bathroom and the shower curtain is in the washing machine, but I still need to print my Christmas letter, get my cards put together and mailed, clean the rest of the house (Hurricane Dane has once again taken its toll), wrap a buttload of stuff, buy stocking stuffers and a few last-minute gifts, get another run or two in (including a 10-11 miler tomorrow), ship stuff to DH's grandma in OH, pack, etc.

Ugh. I have no motivation.



Party Hearty!

Tomorrow my brother receives his master's degree in Computer Science from IIT, so after I drop Dane off at school today I will be driving the rest of the way to Chi-town to hang with my bro' and the 'rents for the weekend. I'm looking forward to a mini-vacation with the fandamily. After Grant's ceremony we're planning to hit up a pub with 100 high falutin' beers...mmm....beer.

When I return I need to take a moment to post about what happens when little boys go snooping and find their Santa gift.





Dane and I just caught this film yesterday...and it was just as fantastic as the reviewers have said almost unanimously. Fun, charming, and such a cute tongue-in-cheek parody of sorts. It sort of pokes fun at earlier Disney princess films, but in a very sweet sort of way...and still has a fairy-tale ending.

Apparently there is already Oscar buzz surrounding the female lead, Amy Adams--and a nomination would be greatly deserved. The original songs are cute, too, so a nomination for one of those would come as no surprise, either. Susan Sarandon was a fantastic love-to-hate wicked stepmother/queen and James Marsden (aka Cyclops from the X-Men films...I knew he looked familiar, but had no clue it was the same guy until I checked IMDB at home after the show) made for a perfectly charming prince.

And I think I see what all the fuss is about with Patrick Dempsey...wow, he really is dreamy! Hard to believe what an awkward dork he was in all those 80s flicks.

Life's otherwise been fairly uneventful and busy. I finished the bulk of my holiday shopping (can I just say how much I continue to LOVE online shopping?!), now we just need to organize and wrap, get stuff to my sister, etc. This weekend is my brother's graduation...he is receiving his masters in Computer Science. I will be driving and staying for a few days, as will my folks. Then 10 days after his graduation is Christmas, so I will be home for all of a week before turning around and returning to Grant's place for that holiday. Hopefully the weather will cooperate for these road trips.


Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

So I spent the day working on my folks' holiday card design. I hope to get theirs and ours sent to my printer tomorrow.

I ran yesterday and the day before...I think I may have set my recovery from my bug/infection back a bit. My run on Tues. felt pretty good, but yesterday's was a struggle. It doesn't help that it's been cold with windchills in the teens. I think I asked too much of my lungs. Today I've been coughing quite a bit, again. Hopefully I will feel up to doing 10 miles or so by tomorrow. It's supposed to be really cold, again, so that will be a factor, depending upon how I feel. Sat. is forecast with better weather, but DH will be likely be working a JDRF benefit food booth at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert with 2 shows (that we wish we could afford tickets to).


Just as I suspected...

I have some sort of sinus/lung infection (coughing up copious quantities of green crap and my lungs feel about half capacity), so I am on good ol' Septra DS antibiotics for the next 14 days. Hopefully I will feel like a new woman by tomorrow. Usually I feel mostly well by 24-48 hours after starting a course of antibiotics for this sort of respiratory garbage.

Due to my lung issues I have managed only one half-assed run in the past week. I hope I can get a run in tomorrow and 4 for the week. I want to run tomorrow, Weds., Fri., and Sat. I REALLY need to get a long one in at some point--hopefully I will feel up to it Fri., as that will mark 2 weeks since my last long run.

I did get to use my Garmin for the first time on Saturday. My average pace was a good 30 seconds slower than normal for an easy run of that distance:
Motion Based log
It was neato (seeing just how slow I was going during my entire run)...though the elevation profile seems pretty off. Hopefully I can figure out if there's a problem with the unit over my next few runs.



Stir Crazy

5 days. That's how many days I have gone without running. That's the longest non-running span I have had since I started almost 2 years ago. The longest I had gone prior was 4 days when I was in LA, but then I did a lot of walking. This cold/bronchitis/sinus infection business is for the birds. I have had my Garmin for the better part of a week and have yet to do it. So today I am planning to brave the cold, wind, and risk that I will leave a lung somewhere and get out to try out my gadget. I also desperately need to move...burn some calories, get out of the house. Of all the times to get sick--when it's high eating season--ack!

My brother and his GF left yesterday in the early afternoon. I'm really looking forward to seeing them in a few weeks at Grant's graduation (he's getting his master's in some sort of Enginerd program) and then again at Christmas. We had a lot of fun the couple of days that they were here.


Evil has settled in my lungs

Yech. Last thing I want to do is clean house, but my brother and his GF are coming on Weds., so it must be done. Anyone have a spare set of lungs to lend me for a few days? No planned running today. I've got that tight cough...gotta get a cough suppressant/expectorant.



Give a - give a - give a - give a Garmin!

You know the running bug has bit hard when you lust after something which possesses more than a passing resemblance to the uber-geeky calculator watch of the '80s.

For months I have been lusting over the Garmin Forerunner. I thought they were kinda cool, but unnecessary when I first started running...then I ran my first 15k this past June--a race with mostly unmarked or very poorly marked miles. As a result I ran it much slower than I had planned, since I was afraid of going out too fast and then experiencing crash-and-burn...and without mile markers I really couldn't gauge my pace much at all. I hauled ass for the last mile, but that was too late to make up for 8+ miles of taking it too casually.

I have a couple of friends who have the Forerunner and it's really nice for long runs, too, since there are no mile markers in the real world. As they run they know their pace and distance (and elevation profiles). The only way I have been able to track these things is by manually mapping my runs via my log on RunningAHEAD.com. Eventually this log site will also have Garmin integration, which is going to be an added bonus.

I had mostly been coveting the 205 model, which is the same as the 305, but without the heart rate monitor--which I doubt I would use much at all (I've been running for almost 2 years without knowing my heartrate and believe that I do pretty well pacing myself based upon how I feel). But there is currently a $50 rebate on the 305 which brings the price (~$150 after rebate) down to within $10 of the 205, so I pulled the trigger.

This will be my early Christmas present. DH is picking up a new Cannondale mountain bike today...my $150 wrist-mounted GPS gadget (and the new Winter specific running shoes with removable ice spikes I have on order) pales in comparison to his ~$1500 bike, which pales in comparison to his $3500 road bike. It's gonna be a fit Christmas this year in the Dykstra household!




Promising news for our little monkey

NY Times ADHD research article The news media was heavily discussing this new research yesterday. As the mother of a child with ADHD it was very encouraging to see the result of scientfic study of his disorder. The new findings really mesh so strongly with the sorts of things we have seen with Dane for most of his life. The inability to focus and delayed fine motor skills. It's also reassuring to see that there's a strong likelihood that he will eventually not require stimulent meds to help him focus and not have inappropriate levels of activity for the classroom.

This new research has found that kids with ADHD have brains that develop slower than their "normal" counterparts, but that these kids eventually do catch-up. This has me wondering if Dane's delay in most developmental milestones (for instance walking and talking) could have been early ADHD issues. He's pretty famous for hitting these milestones at the very tail end of what is considered typical, yet once he does he almost always exceeds what is expected of a kid his age. We have seen his reading abilities to be a prime example of this. He almost stubbornly fought learning to read...then within a matter of a month went from slowly sounding out words to reading longer and more complex phrases with expression--especially texts with a variety of characters speaking. And he very rapidly went from reading aloud to preferring to read silently.

The thing that still has me frustrated, however, is the general lack of understanding of or empathy for these kids. I was very saddened to read the comments following the above article...so many people referring to children with ADHD as "monsters," or "bad" (or still insisting that it's a matter of bad parenting and that corporal punishment is the solution). Anyone who knows Dane would never attach such labels to him or suggest that his behavior is the result of lax parenting. While he may be overly active, he's never been aggressive or angry. Frustrated, yes, but never have his actions included harming another child. If anything he'd fit the class clown mold. Dane's a very affectionate, sensitive, polite, and witty little guy. There's a reason that his closest friends have almost always been girls...he's very much like his father and his uncle (my brother) in that respect.


Phew...what a busy week -- so glad it's Saturday!

On Monday we had Dane's parent/teacher conferences. His teacher told us in no uncertain terms that she thinks he's a "brilliant" (her term) kid. We told her that at kindergarten screening they wanted to hold him back and she was utterly shocked. But everything happens for a reason...had we not been so irritated with that school district we never would have put him into the Montessori school near us last year for kindergarten and he would not be in the outstanding Montessori charter school he is at, now. We absolutely love his school and so does he. I think it's going to help mold him into an amazing, mature, sensitive kid with no fear of independence or creative thought.

As a reward for that stellar report I took Dane to Barnes & Noble to pick out some books. Just in the past month his reading has really taken off. Of course, now we can no longer spell things like C-A-N-D-Y or P-R-E-S-E-N-T-S in an effort to keep things from him. There will be no secrets in Dane's presence.

I felt like I was running around a lot this week, since Dane had half days each day and his school is 30 minutes away. Derek would take him in the mornings on his way to work, then I had to be at Dane's school by 11:15 to pick him up. On Thurs. I picked him up, then later in the afternoon we went back down that way to see a movie with friends.

As for running, I have only gotten one 4 miler in since my half marathon. I had intended to run for an hour yesterday, but had a fall-down-go-boom episode (in the house...just walking and talking on the phone...oops) and banged up my left knee pretty bad. So I decided that running on a fresh hemotoma wasn't such a great idea. Today I plan to do 7 easy miles or so.


Ahhh...and with that my race season ends

Such relief. I am really a bit burned-out, but I am still planning to do a full marathon at this time next year, assuming no injuries or training problems.

Today's race was a few minutes slower than my PR from 5 weeks ago, but considering my past month of training has been sub-par, allergy/sinus issues, and poor sleep thanks in part to a certain rescued fuzzy furbaby...well, things weren't really so bad.

And here are my final stats (I am SO average):
Chip time: 2:07:49
Pace: 9:46 / mile
Field Placement: 542 / 892 (60.8%)
Group Placement (F 30-34): 49 / 90 (54.4%)
Gender Placement: 273 / 544 (50.2%)

...and some pics

I'll write more details tomorrow, but I've now been up almost 17 hours and am coveting my pillow something fierce.




Is there anything bluer than the sky in Oct.!? Wow, it is gorgeous out...I am looking out the window at a beautiful sugar maple in brilliant shades of orange and yellow. The contrast between the tree and the intense blue sky is astounding. Amazing what low humidity does for our atmosphere in West MI.

The allergens still seem to be pretty bad...for almost 2 weeks I've had this sort of numb, dull ache with occasional bouts of mild dizziness...hello inner-ear/sinus issues. I can't wait for a really good, hard frost!

Just 2 more runs before my last race of the season, a half marathon on Sunday. I am feeling pretty burned-out and can't wait for a few months of lower mileage and relaxed runs...though I do NOT look forward to the miserable weather that will come along with that decreased mileage. Starting in the Spring I begin to train for my first full marathon next Fall.

I'm finally catching up on sleep...two nights ago we finally locked the baby kitty in the basement for the night after he commenced attacking Erik kitty as soon as we turned the lights out. Last night we put him down there with a dish of food before he could even pick a fight (in his mind he's playing, but Erik is a middle-aged cat who just wants peace and quiet after his people go to bed for the night). We will likely be sequestered in the basement most nights until he can learn to not be a little nocturnal asshat.

I'm in the process of changing the affiliate program connected to my Date Night Toys adult store. I've been advertising for a month on Google AdWords, have a good click-through rate, yet only 2 sales...so I'm -$60 in the hole. I have found that the current site is not all that easy to navigate or perform search functions with, so if it's difficult for me, I imagine that the average customer really doesn't have the patience for such an unintuitive store interface.

The store I will switching to can host my store using a subdomain of my own site (it will be store.datenighttoys.com) and it will be custom colored to match my doorway page, which I recently redid with a new primary graphic:
The site is MUCH easier to navigate, has a huge selection, good prices, lots of reviews, and VODs (video on demand) and other downloadable video clips. Pretty cool. Now I just hope it brings in some $$. My job search is pretty futile in this land of 8% unemployment--everyone wants experience and I have too much education for entry-level work. I can't even get an interview at Walgreens, fer pete's sake!


Can we get a hard frost, please?

Gah, I am sick of allergies. For about the past week I have had that sinus pain and pressure thing, sneezing, eyes that feel like they are bugging out of my head, lack of energy, shitty runs (actually, 3.5 weeks of those), and that buzzy/dizzy vertigo thing. I so wish we'd get a good hard freeze to kill the worst of the pollen, mold, and other assorted crap that is kicking my histamines into high gear.

My last big race of the year (a half-marathon) is in less than 2 weeks. It had been one of those big races I'd been looking forward to, but after my awesome effort 3.5 weeks ago my subsequent training runs have all been mediocre, at best, and downright godawful, at worst. So now I am just shooting for survival, not a new PR. I'm sure my sinus issues have not helped matters, nor has a certain formerly sweet kitty.

Chase USED to be such a nice little nighttime furbaby, but in the last week or two he has really been a twit. Last night he spent much of the dark hours harrassing Erik, who protested loudly. So instead of a quiet house we tried to sleep in one with alternating sounds of noisy kitten running (how is it that a 6# feline sounds like a rhino racing through the house?) and middle-aged cat yowling in annoyance.

The last 3 mornings I have woken, picked out clothes for Dane, gotten him up, made his lunch, and then went back to bed (Derek gives him breakfast and gets him loaded into the car) until late morning to at least give my body ample sleep to recover from runs and make up for sleep lost from kitten disturbances and sinus problems. I'm so over it.


The Chicago Marathon - 'The Onion' Style

One Dead, Hundreds Injured As Chicagoans Attempt To Run

The Onion

One Dead, Hundreds Injured As Chicagoans Attempt To Run

CHICAGO—One man died and over 300 others were seriously injured in downtown Chicago Sunday when thousands of the city's residents made an...


Why Running Is Better Than Sex

Posted by a friend of mine on Running Ahead:
1. Running is consistently longer than sex

2. It's easier to explain the injuries

3. Routes don't get jealous of other routes

4. You can freely discuss when, where, and how many friends you were with when you lost your running virginity

5. You actually want to remember when, where, and who . . .

6. It isn't embarrassing when people find out you train a lot on you own

7. It confuses the hell out of jealous spouses who can't figure out what they are jealous of and why it is so much fun

8. Nobody tells bad running jokes on prime time television

9. You don't have to hide your copies of Runners World or your race photos

10. It's good even if your running partner goes too fast for you


Tortoise vs. Hare - Slow, but steady, wins the race

Appetizer: Recipe for a crappy 12 mile run ~
half bottle of wine 2 nights prior
poor eating all week (ie minimal veggies, lots o' crap)
inadequate sleep for several nights running
high humidity
higher than normal temps

Mix well

This next week should be better, though. My legs finally don't feel so beat up after taking 2 full days off. My feet are a little annoyed by my new shoes (4th pair of same model, they're just a little stiff at the start. Probably should have put more than 8 miles on them before doing a long run in them).

This AM I did a long run with a friend who is running a half marathon with me in 3 weeks. And I wonder if she will ever learn that running like a jackrabbit (relatively speaking--we are both turtles) does little to get you running longer distances without needing to stop frequently. I should have had my iPod, as she was ahead of me for about the first 7 miles, often by 2-3 minutes. I caught up with her when she had to stop. She had to stop again at about 9 miles, but I kept going (did the entire 12 miles only stopping once with her for about 30 seconds to use my inhaler). I'm slow, but I don't run beyond my abilities--I'm a smart tortoise. Now she thinks she may have hip flexor issues.

Running slower = running further at consistent pace and even negative mile splits. Run too fast and burn out faster. I'd rather go the distance, even if it takes me forever to get there.


Gah, gross... *barf*

Tomorrow marks 2 weeks since we had our little rescued kitten into the vet. We had him vaccinated and wormed (and treated him with Frontline to prevent fleas, which carry worms), since he had round worms. Well, apparently the worms are back--it's not uncommon for cats to need a second worming ~2 weeks after the first. Unfortunately, now that he is in our house we will have to worm ALL 4 of our cats, just to be safe.

Why would anyone want to let their cats outdoors when it so often means dealing with worms (my childhood cats always had fleas and worms, since there weren't good flea preventative treatments back in the 80s)? They seriously make me ill just to think about them. I mean, our cats sleep on our beds and the worms come wriggling out their butts, so I don't even want to pick up any of our cats right now....

Other than that he's still a really fantastic little guy. The cats have all adapted to him and Lola already likes him FAR more than Erik--who has always been a thorn in her side. Thor is no longer scowling at the world and even plays with Chase a little. And Erik seems to almost be happy with this new little playmate--Lola pretty much detests Erik and Thor is often too lazy to want to play.

Switched my Date Night Toys store over to version that has cheaper prices on products and lower commission (20% instead of 35%). In looking around it appears that the prices in the higher commission version are on the high side. The 20% commission store offers prices of 15-20% less on most items, which is much more competitive and should garner more sales--after all, 20% on a sale is more than 35% on no sale. Been working more on my Google Page Rank ads, too. Sure would be awesome to make a couple hundred bucks/week off of this venture.



Gah, crappy day...end to a crappy week.

I want a "do over" on this week, ok? My "runs" since last Saturday's race have stunk--2 of 3 consisted of as much walking as running and my one full run was so slow. I now seem to have come down with DH's cold (just in time for the weekend, how nice...just hope I can still do an 11 miler with my friend who is running a half marathon with me 4 weeks from this Sunday) and last night I found out that a dear friend of mine has been diagnosed with breast cancer. At least she's remaining relatively upbeat about things--she's joking that she's going to bleach her hair blonde before it falls out and then she thinks she may opt for double radical mastectomies (to head-off future issues with cancer) and get breast implants, instead.

The really shitty part is that her mom has terminal lung cancer, so not only does she have to deal with her own illness, but she's trying to care for her mom at the same time. It's this sort of garbage that has me leaning further and further into the atheist camp with every passing year. No loving god would ever heap this much shit on a single person and who wants to have anything to do with a deity who is an asshat?

In less unhappy news I have been working to get my datenighttoys.com site listed with search engines and set up on Google AdWords for pay-per-click advertising. So far no sales, but I'm still learning how to optimize my search keywords and page ads to get the most click-throughs/page impression, as well as the most hits for the least amount of $$. I'd love it if I could make a few hundred bucks/month off of the site, since it pretty much takes care of itself and I simply take the 35% commission. My only expenses are for the web hosting of my entry page (cheap) and advertising. I don't have to deal with order fulfillment or customer service.


Charming, my ass!

Last night I slept OK, even though my race-worn body really needed to sleep like the dead...that little stinker kitten we rescued slept in our room for the first time since we found him a week ago. In the garage he was Chase the Charming, but in the house he seems to be "Chase: Ninja Warrior Cat." He slept well through the night, though we frequently woke to him up by our heads purring like a machine. As soon as it started getting light he went into crazy mode and started bouncing off the walls and attacking our hands. I'm tired. ;)

Now he is passed-out on our bed. I should take an afternoon siesta, myself.





Just after 10AM I crossed the start line for the Old Boys' Brewhouse 1/2 Marathon. I started to Pat Benatar's "All Fired Up" and crossed the finish line to Faith No More's "Be Aggressive." And blew my PR outta the water by 10:32 (av. pace/mile under 9:30). I rocked that damned race! I had great cheerleaders, too, complete with a HTFU! banner around the 11.5 mile mark that kept me pumped for those last grueling miles.

There was some question as to the length of the race based upon maps I had seen online, but it was so well marked for mileage on the course that I am certain it was a full 13.1. Overall this was definitely one of the most well organized and enjoyable races I've ever run...almost the entire thing is on an asphalt bike path that runs around Spring Lake--our old stomping ground. I can't wait to run it again next year and feel so psyched for my HM in Grand Rapids in 5 weeks...that course is a bit less hilly, so I'm hoping to maybe cut another minute or two off of my time for that--but if I don't it won't break my heart, as I had such a great time today.

The first 3 miles were my usual "let's get this warm-up crap over, already." At around mile 3 another runner in an orange skirt and white top caught up with me and we stuck together for the next 3 miles. She is a personal trainer and a server at our nearest Logan's, so I recognized her. She's 11 years my junior and was telling me that she has also lost considerable weight in recent years--this was her first half marathon. I lost her on a hill around mile 6 (I do loves me some hills) and didn't see her again until the finish (she was a few minutes behind me and still placed 2nd for her AG--out of 3, I think...damn fast 30-somethings that I had to compete with).

The rest of the race I was alone. I passed 4 more runners between 6 miles and the finish, so I was so thankful to have my iPod for company. In usual form I pretty much maintained a consistent pace for the entire race. I really can't wait to someday have a Garmin to see the complete breakdown of pace over the course of a typical race. I sure do seem to be Ms. Consistency.

There were a total of 102 racers in the HM, I placed 76 overall (7/9 in my AG--one of the larger AGs in the race), so not bad. I'd really love to someday place in the top half of an event, but this was a pretty competitive field.

After the race I enjoyed a nice raspberry ale (our race swag included a pint glass with $2 refills all day for racers), a wet burrito, and lots of water. I'm really glad I didn't wear my 3/4 length tights--I was perfectly comfy in my skirt and even a little too warm in sunnier parts of the course. We were pretty sheltered from the wind until the last few hundred yards approaching the finish. I think the temps were ~65º with low humidity and not a cloud in the sky--perfect day.

And for my shoe whoring happiness NB was one of the sponsors and I got a gander at the 903...a bit less gaudy than the 902 (my speedwork shoe--I'd love to try it in a long race, but for now I limit it to shorter runs of 4-5 miles), but still appropriately flashy.

This will definitely go down as one of my most memorable races--and without any negatives. It was really a wonderfully blissful run.

Ooh, something that has me even more pumped...I was just looking at last year's Grand Rapids HM results and my time today would have nabbed me 13th place out of 46 runners in my AG--I was 27th last year (there was a woman who ran that in the identical time to what I ran today's race...and today's race didn't even have a start pad, so my actual time would have put me in 12th).

Damn...I'm on fi-yah!


Back in Business!

My old partytoysr.us domain expired, so I decided to move my adult affiliate store to an easier to find domain/store name, Date Night Toys. Now I need to go through the work of resubmitting to adult search engines so that I can be found on Google.

Chase the Charming

2 days ago Chase received a (mostly) clean bill of health. Tests for Feline Leukemia came back negative, so he was treated for worms, vaccinated, and I treated him with Frontline for fleas when we arrived home. We'll keep him in the garage until Sat. afternoon, that way we can make sure that he doesn't have any respiratory viruses or anything that he could spread to our 3 other feline furbabies. After my half marathon race in the morning we'll come home and bring him in to stay in our room for a few days--so the other cats can acclimate a bit to having him in the house before they have any face-to-face meetings.

He's still such a little love. I think he will definitely be a major lap cat. When we've spent time out in the garage with him he's pretty much all about snuggling the entire time we're out there--and purring...loudest purr I've ever heard on a cat. Amazing the sound that his little 5# body can produce! He loves to stand on our laps and stretch his front paws up on either sides of our necks--hugging. Or he'll lay belly-up on our laps and stretch his paws up as far as he can reach, with this expression of pure adoration on his fuzzy little face. So sweet.

I really hope the other cats don't give him too hard a time. I think as long as he doesn't chase after them and want to play 24/7 that they will accept him relatively quickly. When we brought Erik in he was a PITA...and still is. He's a bit maniacal and went out of his way to harass our older 2 cats...as a result they never really accepted him. If Chase is as gentle with our older cats as he is with us I think he'll be like Thor--well tolerated by the other cats.



Words...words, words...

That little Chase is something else. What a gentle little personality--granted, he hasn't yet been introduced to our kitties and won't be until after a full round of flea and worm meds, vaccinations, etc.--but I really think he's not going to be the little stinker that Erik was when we brought him in as a little urchin. So far he mostly just wants to be nuzzled, loved, touching our faces with his paws or butting our chins with his head. And purring...non-stop. *sigh* What a little doll baby kitty!

A few descriptives for Chase...charming (as in Chase the Charming), gentle, trusting, uber affectionate, friendly, social, polite, bold, intelligent, playful, docile, loyal... I can only imagine how many more positive adjectives we'll find once he is in our house and settled-in.



Chase Pix

Here's more of the little runt:


We're back to 4 cats, apparently. About 15 months after our sweet Gus died a new little rascal has decided to take advantage of our lack of will against feline wiles.

I returned from a short, but crappy run last evening to find the guys zoomin' around on their bikes in the driveway...while being CHASED by a little silver tabby guy of ~12 weeks. Friendliest little fuzzball I've ever met and very bold. Funny watching a tiny kitten chasing after a 1st grade boy and his big, barrel-chested dad on their bikes.

So I go indoors to start fixing dinner (salmon and brown rice). As the salmon is nearing the end of baking I ask Dane if he knows how much longer Derek will be in the garage (detached, on the opposite corner of our largeish lot). His response, "I don't know...he took the kitty out there with him." Danger, Danger, Will Robinson.

So Derek finally comes in as Dane and I are finishing eating. He has the kitty out there...with a litterbox and a fire blazing in the little woodstove and a jar of water to drink from. Oh, boy. Of course, not to be outdone I bring him out dishes of salmon, cat food, and some cheesy milk drink for cats that we bought and never used when Gus was so ill.

He inhaled it all. And next thing you know I'm at the grocery store at 10pm buying Kitten Chow (which was the only kitten food they had). Gah, we have no will power.

I suppose we *should* try to find his rightful "owners," but anyone who lets a little kitty out on his own at such a young age (especially when we had frost in the forecast for overnight) doesn't really deserve such a sweet little friend. He shows signs of fleas and ear mites and I'm certain he's got worms, too. Tomorrow I will be calling our vet to bring him in for a check-up and if he's in good health (ie no FIV or Feline Leukemia) I'm pretty certain we'll be getting him immunized and will start thinking about having him neutered in the not-too-distant future. Our old fart cats are just gonna LOVE us, I'm sure...NOT!

Oh, and the boys have already named him "Chase."





Ahhh...what a couple of weeks. Dane just finished his first full week of 1st grade, culminating in his first spelling test, yesterday. 7/7. I'd so love to take that test to Montague Public Schools to show them how very wrong they were to recommend we hold him back. He's doing just fine in 1st grade and positively loves it. Holding him back would have been the biggest mistake ever, as it wouldn't have addressed the real issue, ADHD.

He's rapidly making new friends in his new school and his best friend is a girl in his class who is also in 1st grade (the classroom is combined 1st & 2nd grade) and TALLER than Dane. This is the same little gal who was playing "kiss tag" with him during the first week of school.

His teacher also seems to really enjoy having him in class. Earlier this week I stopped in to ask her a question when I dropped Dane off (Derek had a class down in Holland to attend, so I was taking Dane to and from school 2 days this week) and she said that she wants to start a journal of funny things Dane says. Apparently he had told her the previous day that he needed to keep a pencil behind his ear to help his brain work better. She was puzzled by this and asked him why that would make him think better and his response was "Uncle Dan (my best friend's DH) told me that he keeps a pencil behind his ear to help him think." Apparently Dan had a pencil behind his ear a while back and Dane asked him why he put it there...his response was the brain thing....


After dropping him off one of those mornings I did my last long run (just over 14 miles) around Spring Lake. Pretty convenient, since the half marathon I will be running next weekend will go around the lake, so I know the course pretty well (when we lived down there we often biked around the lake, so it was already fairly familiar territory for me).

Speaking of Spring Lake, I am also working on my resumé for a part time job at a new fitness club in the area. It's one of those 24 hour joints with key cards that is staffed only a few hours/day. It would work perfectly for me to drop Dane off and pick him up from school AND have regular access to treadmills for running indoors when the Winter weather is nasty. I have my fingers and toes crossed that I at least get an interview.

That's really been a sticking point for me in recent years. I've had minimal luck landing interviews for entry-level jobs. I think a lot of employers don't want to consider a person with 2 BAs...but I don't have the experience in any field to pursue anything but entry level, so I'm in that proverbial spot between a rock and a hard place. I applied for a one-hour photo lab position at a Walgreens that is opening 10 minutes from us in a month, called to confirm that my application was received, and the guy I spoke with said they would be calling applicants at the end of this past week to set up interviews. The phone never rang. I'm more than qualified, but I'm sure they'd rather hire someone who has minimal qualifications and won't be as likely to demand more pay or leave when something better comes along.


Ladies' Man Strikes Again!

Sheesh. My kid is some gifted Romeo, apparently. Every classroom he has been in has found him fending off the affections of little girls by the end of the second week. I know not where he gets this trait, as NO ONE on EITHER side of our families is skilled with the opposite sex--least of all my kid's parents (Derek is a self-proclaimed geek and I have been a geek/nerd magnet since as far back as I can remember).

Today I picked Dane up a few hours before his school's open house. Upon asking him how his day was he told me about a girl who was following him around the classroom trying to kiss him--he claims she finally caught him and kissed him on the knee. I only half believed this tale...until we were at open house.

As we were making our way off the playground a little girl was running in our direction. She abruptly stopped just after making eye contact with Dane...then suddenly a complete come-hither expression crossed her face and she teasingly asked Dane "wanna play kiss tag." I kid you not. Derek and I both looked at each other in shock and utter amusement.

3.5 days into 1st grade and my kid already has a girlfriend, apparently. And she's taller than him, which says something, as he is 75th percentile height. She's also a very pretty little girl (dark, wavy hair and green or blue eyes)...needless to say, my kid does have good taste (like father, like son...heh).



School Daze

There's my "baby" on his first day of 1st grade at Walden Green Montessori Day School. He's already so much more mature than he was even 6 months ago. Derek drops him off at the curb in the morning and he trots right in to the building and gets himself to his classroom. No drawn-out hugs and kisses sessions in the morning like we did every morning of Kindergarten.

In the evenings getting information about his day out of him is damned near impossible, though. Basically all we know at this point is that he really likes his new school...which is great, as he was pretty apprehensive before school started. He was pretty upset by the prospect of having to make new friends and have a new teacher.

Tonite we have an open house at his school to attend, so I really look forward to seeing more of what he's done the past couple of days and to meet more with his teachers and maybe some parents of his classmates.

Next week he will start staying after school for an extra hour or two in after school care, as Derek is taking him to and from school each day. His work is just a couple of minutes from Dane's school, so it's pretty convenient. And next week I will be concentrating on my own job hunt. This week I have been occupied with school stuff and a photo order for my best friend and her riding student.


How is this even possible?

As of Tues. I will officially be mom to a 1st grader. I'm flabbergasted. Since Dane will now be in school full days it's time for me to find a job. I'm hoping for a part-time one-hour photo lab job at the Walgreens that is being built in our community. Low-key and fun. I should still have plenty of time for running (got a marathon to train for next year), yet be bringing in some income.



I'd make a piss-poor Amish woman...

16.5 hour long power outages suck ass. Especially when they screw one out of their long run for the week and there is no other opportunity for said run, since Derek is in Montana through Sunday. Crap. Power came on about 90 minutes ago and I could have done a 5-6 mile run right, but I slept like such crap due to said power outage (no A/C, no fans, still, humid, hot bedroom, stress about food in fridge) and have spent the time since the power came back on catching up on dishes (out of spoons) and laundry. I would have gone earlier, but they didn't predict we'd get power back until TOMORROW PM. Asshats and their grossly exagerrated predictions.

And I stink and need a shower. And instead of a healthy breakfast or lunch I settled for McDonald's, since I didn't want to open the fridge, couldn't run water, and couldn't cook anything. Stupid Summer storms. More are predicted in the next several days, so it could be a rough weekend--especially without my hubby around.


A new life/home for Zeke the Civic Si

Not long ago some semi-creepy garbage hauler stopped by asking about our non-running '89 Civic Si. I told him that I doubted DH would part with it, as it's his baby (first car). I gave him our # and told him to call back and talk to DH. Never heard anything more.

About a week-and-a-half ago a police officer stopped by (at 11:30 PM...WTF?!) to inform us that the car either needed to be registered or moved out-of-sight (it's been "dead" for about 1.5 years--ever since we bought our Mazda 3...Zeke seemed to know he was going to be retired). At this point hubby decided that it was time to find a charity to donate the baby to, but needed to find the title, first (likely at the bottom of a box someplace).

Today a young guy and his girlfriend stopped by asking about Zeke. He is a Honda geek and wants a Winter beater to use to save on his pretty '94 Acura Integra (with some substantial mods under the hood, bracing inside, racing seats, and other street-racing mods). He and his girlfriend were both very sweet, mature "kids" of 20. They just bought a house in the neighborhood and spotted Zeke almost immediately.

Zeke's stubborn. 3 of his 4 brakes are seized-up with rust from living under a tree (and sometimes under a snowbank). I think he doesn't want to leave us. But he doesn't realize that he will live a much happier second life with Josh and his GF. The garbage hauler likely would have sold him for parts, as would the charities. The neighbor guy is going to give Zeke the TLC he deserves--he and his buddies all do extensive work on Hondas and can even do work to replace the rusty areas with new metal and repaint him.

It will be so nice to see Derek's baby buzzing around the neighborhood instead of knowing that he's been ripped-apart for his engine, glass, and other useable parts. He'll almost certainly see his 20th birthday in one piece, now. We have a classic car parade in our community every July--prereq. is cars have to be at least 20. Perhaps we will see Zeke rollin' along with some major "plastic surgery" in a few years.


Once again on my Shit-List...

Yes, I'm looking at you, Mother Nature. You have given us a record drought Summer. But, of course, the ONE day we had a JDRF ride team picnic/pool party to attend--the highlight of the past 2 summers--you decide it's the perfect time to end months of hot, sunny, dry weather and dole out cold, rainy, dreary crap. You know, this garbage would have been MUCH more appreciated spread out over the last 3 months, rather than concentrated upon this entire weekend.

I will say in your defense, however, that my 9 miler yesterday was really nice...cooler with a gentle, intermittant rain. Sure beat the sultry stuff I've been forced to run in for most of the Summer. For a change I finished my run feeling refreshed, rather than overheated, soaked with sweat, and queasy.


Oh, and YAY!

I can't believe I haven't posted about this, yet...Dane is no longer #1 on the waiting list for the awesome K-8 Montessori charter school near DH's work--a spot opened, so he is all but officially enrolled for next year...wheeee!!!! We're totally geeked. The school we currently have him enrolled at is also good, but still has a more traditional classroom structure--with a heavy emphasis on Fine and performing Arts. I think he would also be happy there, but the desk-centered learning environment in the classrooms would likely not come easy for him. We really believe he will thrive in the Montessori-style classrooms, as he is already familiar with the method of learning and seems to really do so well with it.



I didn't think it was possible for me to be more disgusted...

But nothing I learn about this case should come as a surprise, I guess....
"For years, rumors of a rogue group of Milwaukee police officers known for brutalizing suspects have been circulating around the city. The group reportedly called itself the Punishers, a name that came from "The Punisher," a vigilante comic book, video game and film character, and many of its members were supposedly on hand at the Bay View party where Frank Jude Jr. was attacked in 2004.

It turns out that the group's existence may be more than a rumor, according to evidence presented Thursday during the sentencing hearing of fired officer Jon Bartlett on federal gun charges.

Bartlett, convicted last week in the Jude case, had an incriminating tattoo, while another convicted former officer, Andrew Spengler, had a Punisher decal on his car, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Frohling.

Frohling showed a photo of Bartlett's tattoo in court and said it pictures the same long-toothed skull emblazoned on the Punisher's body armor. The skull is inside a black spade. The tattoo also features the number seven, which Frohling said refers to Milwaukee Police District 7, where Bartlett used to work.

And one of the guns Bartlett illegally tried to buy was a civilian semiautomatic version of the P90 rifle, an automatic weapon sold only to law enforcement and the military that is the comic book Punisher's weapon of choice. No evidence of any other brutal acts by the group was presented at the hearing, which resulted in an 18-month prison term for Bartlett."

The story continues at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website. Apparently Jon-boy also had some white supremacist manifesto in his home, too--a text that Oklahoma City Federal Building bomber Timothy McVeigh was a fan of. Gross.


Well, the race still sucked...

...but I did get a killer photo approaching the finish. That's me in my element--the sprint to the timing pad! Gosh, I almost look like I'm good...though 15/19 in my age group would suggest otherwise. I kind of hope I fare better next year, once I am in the next age group up--though those late-30s gals can really kick some major booty. I think that's when a lot of female runners hit their performance peak. So there is hope yet for me to break into single-digit mile times for my longer races. Right now I'm in the 10:15 range for the HM and longer and I'd like to someday be in the 9s.



Grand Haven Coast Guard Fest 10k -- aka Fool me once...

Am I a glutton for punishment? This race was my most miserable last year--thanks mostly to poor race management. So I guess it was wishful thinking that had me register and pay money AGAIN for abuse.

Last year's biggest issue was poor course marking, which had those of us "bringing up the rear" types off course for a section, then back-tracking. This year the course was marked much better...but only 2 aid stations (last year I remember clearly at least 3) for 6.2 miles in warm, humid weather and a 9am start? Par for the course, apparently, as they moved the finish refreshments a couple of blocks away from the finish, then ran out of water and cups (and I finished ahead of over 48% of the field). At some point they found more water and cups, but the lines for water were--no joke--at least 30 deep. Nuts on that business. I went inside the YMCA to buy a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade--maybe I should bill the race organizers....

I heard that the 5k folks (who started at 8am) had to wait in line for water--during a RACE--at the single aid station on their course.

I don't care if racing purists look down upon me, in the future I will do nothing longer than a 5k without my own hydration (I brought my own for the 15k I did last month, which I really didn't need, as that one had aid stations EVERY mile, but thought that would be overkill for this race)...I was so envious of those smart folks who had hand bottles and regretted not grabbing my own. I should have been able to easily clock in at under an hour given my recent training, but by 3 miles I was queasy and chilled and my pace kept dropping...I'm almost always a negative splitter or maintain an almost perfectly consistent pace for the duration of a race, but overheating and inadequate hydration took their toll. As a result I came in at 1:01:48 (start is not chipped, so my actual time was probably closer to 1:01:30). I still beat last year's 1:11:11, but I'm not all that thrilled about it. In April I did a challenging, hilly 10 miler at a faster pace than this race.

There's really no excuse for them to not have perfected this event. DH ran this race 20 years ago, so it's by no means a new race. That 6.2 miles felt SO much longer than the 25k I did in May. The Grand Rapids Marathon was only in its 3rd year last October and it was FAR better organized and executed than this mess.

Now I'm in search of another 10k in the not-too-distant future so that I can get my PR under an hour--as it should be. Last weekend there was a 10k about equidistant from this one...I really wish I had known about that race prior to registering for this one. I don't think I want to pay for an hour of irritation again. The ONLY thing they did better this year (aside from the course marking, which I didn't actually need this time around) was the shirt. But that's not saying much, as last year's shirt looked like it was designed by a trained monkey (not a flying monkey, mind you).

The one highlight was getting to hang out withmy friend Joni and her family after the race and watching her hubby and our boys run up and back down a HUGE and steep sand dune. I think her husband is very brave...and maybe a little nuts to volunteer for that.


Tomorrow's a big day for my 'little man'!

Tomorrow as I race in a 10k event about an hour away my son will be competing in his own first "race"...a 'tot trot' for kids 3-6. Apparently it's an obstacle course for the kiddos. I think I'm more excited about it than Dane is, though I think he's pretty geeked about wearing his own race bib and he got his very own race packet with t-shirt, coupons, ink pen, and granola bar--just like mom's pack. One of my friends will also have her son doing the event (she'd run the race with me, as well, but she's recovering from injury).

That reminds me...I need to get one of my good cameras set up so DH can take photos of us.


Check out my new do!

I've been toying with the idea of going shorter for about 6 months, now. My stylist went a tad shorter and sleeker than I had wanted, but our printer's out of magenta ink and I couldn't print the photo I found online of what I wanted--so she got pretty close. In another inch around my jawline it will be closer to what I want.

Anyhow, I can still tuck the front bits behind my ears and throw a hat on when I run, which is ultimately what I was going for. No more ponytailin' it before every run. Has a lot more style than my center-parted long-bob, too.

Heh, maybe Jon-boy and his cohorts can do this, too!



Finally, justice is served

Jon Bartlett and his cohorts have now been found guilty of the horrific beating they meted out to a biracial man in Milwaukee almost 3 years ago. At the state level these clowns were found innocent by an all white jury, but with a more balanced jury in a federal court room these "men" have finally been found guilty of a hate crime.

I don't recall how many years Bartlett already is sentenced to for other asshattery, but this should add enough time that he will be a VERY old man before he ever breathes free air, again...if he makes it that long. My mom and I were discussing how unpopular crooked cops and child molesters are. I'm guessing his fellow convicts of racial minorities will have particular disdain for an officer of the law who violently beat an unarmed minority individual.

We were also wondering if he will serve his entire terms in a federal prison or if they will move him to the federal pen. for this sentence, then back to state for the remainder? Either way, we feel no pity for him.


Gotta love The Onion

Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash


Breakthrough on Feet!

...aka my takeoff on the title of a downhill skiing technique book published years ago.

In the past week I had been reading and paying more attention to online discussions and articles about running form, particularly in terms of midfoot striking, as opposed to heel striking. Since starting running I was pretty aware that I am a hard heel striker--the outside edge of the heels of my shoes always show wear long before any other part of the shoe. And in recent months I have been plagued by pretty much back-to-back injuries...nothing serious, but the sorts of things that take some of the joy out of things.

I've also been frustrated at my lack of speed and inability to break beyond ~11 minute pace for my easy runs. Granted, a year ago I was probably running closer to 11.5-12 minute pace, but I've been at 11 minutes for a good 6 months, even with increase in miles and speedwork.

So, back to the foot strike thing...I've concentrated on landing more midfoot, or with a more flat foot, rather than heel-to-toe. 2 nights ago I was having an entirely crappy, painful, slow run...but during the last 15 minutes I decided to incorporate some of the techniques that "Chi Running" promotes--namely the foot plant and more erect, forward leaning body. Almost immediately I found that my turnover rate increased, but with no added effort--and my shin pain almost instantly decreased substantially. Hmmm...

Today I decided to try being more mindful of my footstrike and posture for an entire run (I had planned on 90 minutes, but the humidity was kicking my ass and my asthma, so I called it good at an hour). Not only did I feel more light on my feet, but I cut my pace by :30-:45/minute...hello?! That's HUGE!

Now I feel like I've found my Holy Grail of running! I want to do more reading and research, but from what I have already read it appears that adapting from heel striking to midfoot striking has cured a lot of folks from chronic injuries (like knee problems, shin splints, foot issues, chronic compartment syndrome/calf problems...all things I have dealt with). Chi and Pose running experts also recommend switching to a more minimal shoe (Pose folks actually push for some barefoot running, but I'm not that brave/nuts), as the thick, oversized heel in modern running shoes actually encourages heel striking.

I had been planning to grab a pair of New Balance 1223s as soon as they are available...but now I think I may hold off. At $135 I'm none too eager to spend that kind of money if I don't need to. Instead I just ordered a $90 pair of NB 902s, which is a lightweight performance stability shoe. I'd likely not wear these for anything but speedwork and shorter races...at least not until I know if they would work for anything longer. They are less stable than any other shoe I have worn, but moving away from the heel striking should go a long way towards minimizing the overpronation issues I have. My light-med stability 767s may be perfect for most longer runs and races, as they don't have *too* oversized a heel area.

I'm still using my Asics Gel Kayano 13s for some runs, but the more I wear them, the less I like them. They just never have fit like any of my wide NBs, even though they are technically wides, too. Tell that to my 3rd toe on my right foot, that is still healing from a blister, since the shoe narrows too rapidly and rubs into it (even with almost an inch of space beyond my longest first 2 toes). I am convinced that they contributed to my right knee problems, too--and I have read 3 other accounts of runners who have had similar issues. Very strange.

Saturday I have my only 10k race of the year--the Grand Haven Coast Guard Fest 10k. Shouldn't be any problem to kill my PR from last year, as it was 1:11:11. Avoiding any tragedy I should easily get under an hour--even if I run heel striking the entire way!



Oh, happy day!

There's an X-Files sequel in the works! I had given up hope on any sort of sequels, since it's been so long since the first movie--so glad I was wrong! Now I'll be getting my Mulder fix!





Phew...ran 3 days in a row, total of almost 19 miles, then "ran" almost a mile with Dane this afternoon. He really wasn't up for actually running (he got a side ache pretty quickly, then wanted to chat-up every person we met on the paved path)...he's been a biking fool for the past few days. He FINALLY let us take his training wheels off and he discovered how much easier it is to bike without those aides. Kid has been completely inspired by watching the Tour de France a bit with his dad.

Derek organized a group bike ride for the JDRF fundraising folks, so Dane and I met them all for ice cream, which was really fun. I'm starting to really lust after a road bike. Now that Dane can ride the thought of something all 3 of us can do together is pretty enticing. Plus, as much as I love running, I am godawful slow. I have a feeling that I would be a bit of a natural on a bike. I have pretty powerful thighs that aren't particularly well-bred for running. The physical features that limit my running potential would be assets on a bike. Having a long, fast stride is not nearly as important on wheels as being able to turn a crank hard and fast--something my sprinter legs could do fairly well, I imagine.

Plus...the other night we were at the bike shop where Derek purchased his sweet carbon-framed baby almost 3 years ago (he has a wheel that has a crack, so we were in for warranty replacement issues) and saw a junior version of a Specialized roadbike. In 2-3 years Dane would likely be big enough for that, so that may well be the time that I also get outfitted with a decent roadbike, myself. By that time I will likely have run at least one marathon (if all goes according to my long-term running plan) and will have achieved that goal. After that a 100 mile bike ride will probably look pretty intriguing to me....

In other running-related news, my knee issues that have plagued me a bit since my trip to Wisconsin seem to in part be related to those Asics shoes I started wearing about a month before the patella problems cropped-up. I only realized this once I found some cushy arch supporting insoles to put in one of my New Balance pairs of trainers. After just a few runs in those my knee felt MUCH better and the new insoles kept my foot happy, too. Then I did a long run in the Asics and the knee was angry again...ding ding ding--I think we may have gotten to the bottom of my knee problem.

I'm sure the long drive did not help, but now I think the shoes may have been at fault. Gah, I am SO glad that the NB 1223 is coming out soon--I loved my 1222s, but they needed better arch support. If the 1223 has more of a defined arch I will have found the perfect shoe, methinks. If the arch is still low I can always buy an aftermarket insole (the Sof Sole performance ones seem to be perfect for my needs).

Ack, spend $135 on a shoe to fix one problem, then get injured...just my luck!



For Kamal...

Here are my codes--replace the [ and ] with < and >

Here's my log code:
[script src="http://www.runningahead.com/scripts/1272ca9ee59e47b2a1e3552fd4259300/latest/10" type="text/javascript"/][/script]

Distance totals:
[script src="http://www.runningahead.com/scripts/1272ca9ee59e47b2a1e3552fd4259300/totals" type="text/javascript"/][/script]

[script src="http://www.runningahead.com/scripts/1272ca9ee59e47b2a1e3552fd4259300/records?all=1" type="text/javascript"/][/script]

Not sure why they don't want to display properly on your blog...I'd ask Eric for assistance if you still have problems--he can look at your blog and probably tell you exactly what you need to do. He's a helpful guy.




Reveling in another's pain...

Especially when the object of my revelry is Jon Bartlett...first boyfriend, a fact which causes me some embarassment today. Though it can be said that I learned who not to marry from that single relationship--my spouse could not be more different from Jon if he tried. Derek is a gentle, sensitive, honest, ethical, witty, fit, blonde-haired liberal atheist...pretty much the antithesis of that creep already behind bars.

This trial should be good viewing. I already have ample popcorn and beer on hand for the show.


Previous news stories relating to the case can be found HERE.



A few days in the motherland...

...aka the great state of cheese (WI).

A week ago my son and I drove my mom and nephew back to WI after they spent a week here with us in MI. My sister lives in Green Bay, so we walked to an IHOP for supper, then spent that night with my sister and her boys. The next AM we drove the rest of the way to my folks' place in Door Cty.

The drive from GB to DC was sort of surreal to me as they are building a 4 lane divided hwy. As a child most of the trip was done on 2 lanes with plenty of curves, so the trip could be quite slow if one managed to find themselves behind sluggish "tourons" (my new favorite term...tourist + morons). Some of the highway is built right on top of the pre-existing road, but other parts veer off a bit, so in stretches there are frontage roads. Unfortunately some of the small towns on the route are all but being lost and I imagine the tourism $$ they will now miss out on is going to hurt some businesses. There are definitely negatives for the area.

That first night in GB and the subsequent night in Sister Bay found some pretty uncomfortable temps, but by Weds. a front came through and the weather was gorgeous--though NE WI is as desperate for rain as we are here in West MI.

On Weds. AM Dane and I met my childhood buddy, Liz, for breakfast at the ultimate in cheesy eateries, Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant...home of good, albeit overpriced, food and goats on the grass roof. After leaving the restaurant Dane and I wandered and checked-out some of my favorite childhood places, including the Mill Road Gallery owned by one of my HS Art teachers (I was very impressed that he recognized me immediately). We also went down to Pebble Beach where I spent many a day of sunning and swimming as a child. It was a unique treat for Dane to be able to throw rocks in the water, as all we have in our area is sand, sand, and more sand.

Weds. afternoon Dane and I went over to visit another childhood friend and her 19 month old son. I ran into a few other HS classmates and it's really mind-boggling to meet their offspring. This is the stuff that makes me feel sorta old.

Weds. night I went for a run that started out fairly painfully. My right knee gave me fits most of the time in WI and is just now showing good healing. Apparently my legs don't much care for running a race, then roadtripping while still recovering. I think this was my first bout of "runner's knee."

Thurs. my mom ended up not having to work (she sells tickets for a ferry and due to high winds from the NW they didn't go out, as it's difficult for the capt. to dock), so she accompanied Dane and I on our trekking around. We had lunch at Digger's, then hit Peninsula State Park and climbed up to the first platform of the tall 3 platform observation tower. Dane got cold feet, which is just as well, as I don't do heights well at all--particularly since I started having inner ear and vertigo problems in recent years. We also went to the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and had frozen custard at Not Licked Yet.

On Thurs. night I met up with Jen and Liz at JJ's/La Puerta and we each had 2 margaritas...that's a wild night out for us 30-somethings! It was so wonderful to have a few hours to gab with the girls. In some ways it really seems like no time has passed. I wish I lived closer and could do drinks with them more often.

Friday my parents both took off from work so we rode the passenger ferry from Gill's Rock to Washington Island and back. Picked-up some cheesy "Danish" souvenirs for Dane, including a sign that says "Parking for Danes Only: All others will be towed" and a funny Dane mug. After that we stopped at my great uncle's (actually my paternal grandpa's cousin) orchard farm market (Seaquist's) to buy fudge and goodies. We then had a lunch/snack at a bakery with some killer chili and bread. Dane wanted to go to Pebble Beach again, so we drove down that way for a bit so that grandpa Bruce could show him how to skip stones.

For supper on our last night in Door County we had to do the original fish boil at the Viking Restaurant. Dane wanted nothing to do with fish or chicken (likely due to his having eaten a PB&J snack not long before at the bakery), but he did enjoy the flames and drama of the fish boil itself. I'll be posting some fantastic photos of this once I get around to pulling them off the memory card and resizing.

After supper we drove out to the scary lookout at the little Porcupine Bay park, then back home to pack and prepare for bed.

On Sat. AM we packed-up the car and left just minutes after my folks left for work. We made slow progress heading home, in large part because I didn't sleep well the entire time we were in WI (thanks to a certain little boy who thrashed and gnashed his teeth in his sleep next to me), so I was depending upon coffee and Diet Coke to keep me awake for the long drive. We also picked up cheese at our favorite WI dairy (Renard's) and stopped for a while down by my brother and his GF in Chicago. I was so happy to meet her--she's a female version of my brother and they seem such a good match (unlike his ex-wife).

We made it home about 12.5 hours after we left WI, exhausted but glad to be able to sleep in our own beds.


4 states in 1 day

I'll write more later, but last night we returned from WI...what a LONG-assed drive! I think we left about 10AM EST and we rolled-in to our driveway ~10:30PM. Took it slow, made lotsa pee stops (caffeine to keep me awake = lotsa full bladder), spent a couple of hours by my brother and met his GF, construction, traffic, etc. My bed felt SO good last night and it was the best sleep I've had in a week. I feel like a new woman today.


I really should be in bed...

In less than 12 hours I will be running the Chronicle Seaway Run 15k. A year ago I ran my very first race--the Chronicle Seaway 5k. Tomorrow I will be running at the same location, but starting 10 minutes later and in the longer event. Last year I felt like a noob and now I feel confident...I have already raced 2 10 milers, a HM and a 25k, so a 15k is a relative piece o' cake. As of tomorrow I really feel like a seasoned runner, even though I am still a relative newbie at this whole thing.

AND the race shirts are awesome...sea turtles with wings. Someday I want a little running turtle on my ankle with "zoom-zoom" below the little terrapin. I'm feeling really psyched for tomorrow...and the forecast is looking perfect (low 60s at the race start and likely low 70s by my finish...and full sun).

Another neat thing about tomorrow's race...I will have the best cheering section yet--hubby, son, and my mom and nephew (almost 6) are in town, too. And my bib is #12...just like my birthdate, 2/12. Should be my lucky day!




Humpday Humor

I love song parodies...

Thanks, Liz!

If there are one or more people on your friends list who make your world a better place just because they exist, and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the Internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.


My poor, sweet boy...

Last night Dane had his Kindergarten "graduation" ceremony (complete with real gowns, mortarboards, and 2007 tassels). He and the other 2 Kindergarten students at his Montessori school received their diplomas and wonderful little scrapbooks chronicling the year. It was a fun couple of hours of picnicing and playing outdoors at his school.

When it was time to leave he had a melt-down. In part because his meds were wearing off (a lot of times he will get somewhat emotional when this happens), but mostly because he was really upset. Even though he will still be doing 3 days of Summer Camp at his school most weeks he was so very sad that he won't be going every day or seeing some of his friends again. Next year he will be at 1 of 2 schools 45 minutes away (down near when my hubby works and where we plan to move. He is first on the waiting list for the charter Montessori school down there, which we hope has a position open over the Summer. If that doesn't happen he will be at a charter academy that specializes in Fine Arts as a major part of their curriculum), so he will meet all new friends.

We reminded him that next year he will be in 1st grade at a new school, which set him off into even more tears...he doesn't want a new school, new teachers, or new friends...poor kid loves everything about the school he's been at this past year. Honestly, if anything could be improved about his current school it would be for them to have a bigger facility and be able to serve kids through at least 3rd or 4th grade.

This is such a drastic change from last year. Last year he didn't have nearly the connection to his classmates and teachers as he has developed this year. Much of this is thanks to his ADHD diagnosis and proper treatment, but I think just as much has to do with a learning environment more suited to his learning style (more independent and creative) and to teachers who are so much more caring towards their students and a much lower teacher/student ratio.

The biggest regret Derek and I have is not having looked into this school 3 years ago, when we first enrolled him in preschool. We had always figured the tuition would be too high, but it's really not much more than what we paid for the community ed. tuition preschool that he attended for 2 years. As I paged through Dane's little scrapbook I was in tears, myself. 2 years of frustration from his preschool could have been saved by having him in the Montessori program from the start. I'm sad that he only got to attend this school for 1 year.


$$ Shoe Whore strikes again!

For the past couple of months I have been dealing with a mild form of tendonitis or perhaps cuboid syndrome, particularly on my outer right arch. I stopped wearing my New Balance 767s that I had worn all winter and went back to my more stable and more $$ 1222s. This helped, but my outer arch area was still pretty tender, so I purchased another pair to keep in rotation (I tend to wear at least 2 different shoe models, that way I can rotate them to keep from stressing the same muscles and joints in the same way and I always have a dry pair if I run in rain or snow), the NB 857, which is their most stable stability shoe (and probably bordering on a motion control shoe).

While this definitely has helped my arch area, the 857 is a little too stable for my legs, so I found that some runs in this shoe were actually painful. A couple of weeks ago I even purchasd some $24 orthotic insoles to put in my shoes, but this added too much stability (but they work really great in the shoes that I use when I do my strength-training workouts, so that wasn't a wasted purchase by any means...I think they'd be great for lots of walking, too). Then I tried another solution--small heel cushion/lifts under my insoles. While this made my arches happy, it royally angered my shins...back to square 1.

So it occurred to me that maybe I would be further ahead looking at a completely different brand of shoe. I have had great luck with NB (particularly with the 1222--I'm on my 2nd pair and have run 2 10 mile races, a half marathon, and a 25k in this model), but I'm tired of nursing a chronic injury. Wearing shoes indoors all the time also helps, but it's not the cure.

So yesterday I made the trek down to our nearest full-service running store and had a really knowledgeable sales guy help me find a better shoe for my needs. He watched me walk barefoot and looked at my feet (normal arch when sitting, flat arch when standing...lots of collapse which likely has a good deal to do with my arch problems). He said that my 1222s are definitely a good shoe for me (moderate stability, lots of cushion...generally worn by larger, heavier runners, but I tend to not be light or quick on my feet), but had me try on about a half-dozen other similar shoes.

I ended up with a pair of Asics Gel Kayano XIII (cushioned moderate stability trainer), which is one of Asics most popular, top-of-the-line (and $$) shoes. They are a direct competitor to my 1222s and the exact same price, but they seem to hug my foot a bit better, particularly in my rearfoot area. They also come in wides, which is pretty necessary for me (though the wide version only comes in one boring color--that's where NB trumps everyone else...they make ALL of their shoes in every color in wide and narrow widths, as well as the average mediums). For $135 I should have choice in color, right...?

I did a short run last night in them. At first they felt sort of weird...not really painful. I did have some shin pain while running, but I have been dealing with painful runs for the past week from using the heel lifts, so I'm pretty certain it's not due to the shoes--they also seem to support my arches better, particularly on my outside edge. I will keep doing my shorter runs in these for a week or two until I have broken them in a bit and have a better idea of whether they will suit my needs. The running store will take them back if they aren't right for me. If that's the case, then I am probably back to square 1. I tried Brooks and Saucony shoes that both were similar, so that might be my next option, though they still did not fit my foot as nicely as the Asics. I also tried a Nike+ model (which would be cool with my iPod) and they fit my feet well, but tilted my foot out a bit and I'm pretty certain would not be a happy shoe for me.


Say Cheese!

Actually, I have no clue what this has to do with cheese...but I am extra proud of my British heritage upon watching this...


MySpace Theft...

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?

2. Do you have any weird sleeping habits?
I'm a drooler.

3. When was the last time you've been swimming in a lake?
Last Summer. I live a short drive from numerous freshwater lakes, including Lake MI.

4.Would you rather sleep with someone else or alone?
Alone. I always sleep the best after Derek is up and out of bed.

5. Where is the Wizard of Oz?
Well...the guy who wrote the novel is from Holland, MI or had a vacation home there. Holland is full of freaks, so maybe the Wizard is there....

6. Do you consider yourself creative?
Mostly. Not as much as when I was a kid, though.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?

8. Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears?
Christina, I guess. She actually has a decent set of pipes and seems to be fairly stable.

9. Do you stay friends with your ex's?
Hell, no.

10. Do you know how to play poker?
No, but I should learn.

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
Probably pretty close to it...maybe 40 hours. It hurts like hell.

12. What's your favorite commercial?
Ahhh...damn, I can't recall. I know I saw one recently that had me LOL, but it's not coming to mind at the moment.

13. What type of food do you eat the most?
cheese. Duh....

14. When was the last time you had a lot of fun?
We helped a friend build her deck last weekend. We are going over there tonight to help out some more (and drink beer), too.

15. Have you ever had a Choco Taco?

16. The Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees?
Meh...baseball is lame.

17. What color are your bedroom walls?
buttery yellow.

18. How often do you forget your dreams?
Most of the time. I should really keep a dream journal--I have some weird ones!

19. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
Gah, I do that at least once/week, I think. Usually Dane does something goofy that gets us both laughing hysterically.

20. Can you name 5 songs by N'SYNC?
Not off the top of my head, but if I recognize their stuff when I hear it.

21. What's the one thing on your mind right now?

22. If you could swim in any ocean which one would it be?
Mediterranean...actually, I guess it's not an ocean, per se, but it is saltwater, so I'm gonna go with that.

23. Do you put salt on a turkey dinner?
Not usually. Most turkeys are so brined that they are already quite salty.

24. Do you always wear your seat belt?
always...even just to move the car a few feet.

25. What cell service do you use?

26. Do you like bananas?
mostly, though I have to be in the mood.

27. Have you almost gotten in a car accident?
Who hasn't? Mostly due to asshats who can't drive. Lots of folks who go on autopilot on the road or who behave as if they are the only vehicle out there...that's some scary stuff.

28. What do you wear to bed?
t-shirt, undies. In the winter I might wear flannel jammies.

29.Been caught stealing?
When I was 4 or 5 my folks caught me with some little erasers or something that I had taken from a store. They took me back and made me return them to the shopkeeper. I never lifted anything after that.

30. Do you know how to play pool?
Not really, though I've always wanted to learn.

31. Can you play pool?
See 30.

32. Do you truly love anyone?

33. Bluegrass or rap?
Both...I like just about everything--except WASP Gospel. *gags*

34. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?
Hmmm...Nathan Fillion or Ewan McGregor.

35. Skim, 1%, 2%, or whole?
whole or 2%. The lower fat stuff is like water. I might as well just drink water.

36. What food do you find disgusting?
lima and garbonzo beans.

37. Windows or Macintosh?

38. Did you ever play, "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours"?
Yeah, I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade.

39. If you could pet any animal w/out getting hurt, which would it be?
Some variety of big cat. I love ginormous kitties. I'd want to hug it around the neck.

40. Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
Online, sure. Not sure if I've done that IRL.

41. Have you ever sung in front of the mirror?
I still do (don't tell)!




This just in!

I got new shoes! I have long been hearing great things about Keen shoes and pricey, ugly, fun shoes have never done me wrong before (hence my obsession with Dansko orthopedic clogs). Lately I have been having foot issues that I am almost certain are mild plantar fasciitis (my outer arch, particularly on my right side, feels like it is being stretched too far...common problem for those with very high or very low arches). The best treatments for this is shoes with good arch support and not going barefoot. I still need to find a pair of shoes for in the house--I tried Crocs, but I don't know how people can wear those barefoot. They make my feet sweat something fierce. Nasty sensation...like wearing Nerf balls on my feet--yuck!

I have a pair of Tevas that I have been wearing for several years and they support my feet well, but after washing them the straps shrunk and they aren't a model that is adjustable through the toes. As my feet are quite wide this led to shoes that would cut into the front half of my feet--particularly late in the day or if I were bloated. Right now they will be gardening shoes, as they do work fairly well mucking about in the dirt.

The Keen sandals (Venice H2 model) really fit me nicely. Dane has some similar protected toe sandals that he loves, too. Nice to have practical shoes that we can hike on the beaches in without worry of injury to our toes.

I'm definitely of the opinion that spending more on shoes and eyewear is money well spent. I still have a pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers (Liz, remember these?--I think mine are almost 20 years old!) that stay in my glove box for passengers in my car in need of shades...I think those are actually coming back into fashion, funny enough. My experience has definitely been that the spendier footwear is a better value when compared to cheaper shoes--they usually fit better and hold up longer. No more buying a new pair of $20-40 sandals every Summer and having to take them in for repairs at least once.



Less than a month later...

I think I have another cold. Not sure, but all afternoon I was dragging and I have a mild sore throat...though this could also be allergy-related, so who knows. Now I am physically cold and can't wait for bed--hope it's just a cold and not the flu. Oh, well, at least my big race is over and the pressure's off. My 2 runs since the race have been really godawful...yesterday I walked at least a third of the 4 miles. Maybe my body is telling me to just take a break for a few days.

Just spent a buttload of money on stuff to plant in the yard, though, so I hope I at least feel up to doing that this weekend. The planting won't even be so bad, but we have a lot of weeds to pull and dirt to shove around to get things ready to plant.



2007 Riverbank Run 25k -- aka Run, Mommy, Run!

Woke up dark and early (as opposed to "bright" and early--not too bright at 4am) to make sure that I would have plenty of time to shower, get dressed, eat, get my coffee in, relax, make sure I had everything I needed along, and ample time for my guys to get going, too. By 5:45 we were out the door and ready to hit the road for our hour drive to the race.

After a potty stop (coffee...heh) we were in Grand Rapids at 7am, sharp. We easily found a parking spot in a ramp just a few steps from the starting line, then went into DeVos Place where they had opened up the huge hall that they use for the auto show and other large events as a nice indoor place for runners to stretch and use the bathrooms. I got my last potty in about 45 minutes before the start. My best friend, Eryn, was in line to "go" as I was exiting the ladies' room. We then got down to the business of warming up, stretching, and saying goodbye to our hubbies and my son before we crammed ourselves into the elbow-room-only crowd lining up for the 25k (the larger 5k event starts 5 minutes after the 25k takes off).

A few minutes later the crowd starts to move forward...I didn't even realize that the race had started (I guess we were back far enough to not really hear the gun), but we were off. I was fully expecting to have to dodge slower people and waste a lot of time zig-zagging in the first mile or so, as I did for the Komen Race for the Cure 5k I did last Fall, but I really didn't have to. The crowd very quickly spread out and I almost immediately found my comfortable, maintainable pace--which I maintained almost perfectly from start to finish (the hills in the second half slowed me some, but I made up for it in the last couple of miles...when my sprinter thighs shine, heh).

By mile 2 Eryn was getting ahead of me...part of me wanted to push to keep up with her, but a bigger voice in my head said "you had 3 shitty runs in a row before this race and have trained for an entire year--make this a race to remember fondly, not one that leaves miserable memories of breathing struggles and nausea. There's always next year to kick some ass once you know the lay of the land and what to expect." I listened to that voice. I also want to get my allergies and asthma under better control for '08--especially since I want next year to be the year that I complete my first marathon.

The weather could not have been more perfect if I had ordered it. Cool, damp and cloudy at the start, giving way to milder temps and full sun with light winds just a few miles in. Along the race I would occasionally chat with other runners--some who ended up speeding up, others who slowed-down. One gal I recognized from the 10 mile race Eryn and I did 3 weeks ago. She was one of 2 women we passed just before the finish of that race. For a long while I kept pace with a woman who does triathlons and was "coaching" a friend along in this race. I eventually lost them when they walked through a water stop--I have found that I definitely do well with my Camelbak, as my legs almost instantly tighten up as soon as I slow to even a brisk walk (if I ever have to use a port-a-john during a race I think it will really mess me up bad).

The only real physical issue I had during the race were a couple of miles of what I am pretty certain is chronic compartment syndrome. I really only get this now during longer races. It almost always comes on about 3 miles in, causes my feet to go mostly numb for a couple of miles, then dissipates. It's strange, but it's far less bothersome now than it once was, since I know it's temporary.

By mile 11 the hillier terrain was starting to effect my breathing to the point where I thought it might be a good idea to use my inhaler. Note to self: should have been doing this during all other long races--what a difference it made. Shortly after I came upon a runner who was loudly yakking on the side of the course. Right then I REALLY wished I'd had my iPod--that sound is enough to make even a runner with no queasiness sick to his/her stomach. There were other times I kind of wished I had my iPod, too, but mostly I was enjoying eavesdropping on the conversations of others (boy, do people ever talk about strange stuff, :p) and the other sounds of the race.

I used a GU packet around mile 5, then a little Rice Krispy treat a few miles later, and one last GU 3-4 miles from the finish. One guy noticed the Rice Krispy treat I pulled from my Camelbak and said "hey, you got a beer stashed in there somewhere?" I told him that unfortunately I didn't, but that it had definitely crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Shortly after I heard a couple of people talking about my favorite beer (Bell's Oberon) and I started really looking forward to the finish line (never did get my free Michelob beer, though).

During the last 3 miles I think I had a permanent smile plastered on my face. I wasn't running this race as fast as I had originally wanted to, but I just found the whole experience to be so blissful. AND by this point I was starting to pass people left and right. Slow and steady DOES win the race. By the last mile I was dodging people like they were standing still. The last half mile I was nearly sprinting and I felt stronger than I ever have at the end of a race. I wore the biggest cheesy grin for the last few hundred yards. Next year I will likely finish faster and with no silly grin on my face, but this year I went for the experience. Of the 5,672 runners who ran the 25k I'll bet there were few others who finished giggling. Seeing Eryn just a few yards ahead of me as I approached the finish line and being able to cross hand-in-hand with her was just the icing on the cake.

After the race we stopped by a JDRF garage sale in town that we had donated a bunch of stuff to (my charity of choice is Girls On The Run, hubby's is the JDRF, as he is preparing for his 3rd 105 mile bike benefit this Summer). Then we drove an hour to Eryn's place to hang out for the afternoon. It was one of the best. days. ever.


Today we had big all-you-can-inhale Mother's Day buffet. I love eating like that and feeling not a whit of guilt!