Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes…or Kidnappers, Either

The problem with having a good imagination is that…well…sometimes…you can have TOO GOOD of an imagination.

Which isn't always a blessing.

Let me backtrack for a moment….

This morning, I bounded out of bed at the bright and early hour of 7:00 am, unbridled in my enthusiasm that I was going to have the exciting opportunity of running for a whopping 90 minutes….


I mean, doesn't EVERYONE just squeal with delight at spending their Saturday morning pounding the pavement in 95% humidity for an hour and a half??!!


Well…me neither, honestly.

But it must be done, if I'm to run in this upcoming half-marathon. Sigh.

So anyway…I ever-so-slowly crawled out of bed, taking a glance at Hubby, who was still buried under the covers.

"Aren't you running, too?" I asked, knowing full well that he was awake, no matter how he tried to feign sleep.

Mumbling something that sounded like, "I'll run tomorrow," he quickly rolled back over…so, shrugging, I got dressed and headed out the door without him. Deciding to begin with the route to the south, I quickly got my running music programmed, and off I went…but it wasn't too long before I quickly discovered why I HATE to be an early-morning runner.

See, living at the lake…I've realized that all of our spiders in residence spend their entire night busily spinning webs from one side of the street to the other…laughing amongst themselves maliciously, knowing darned well that I, an innocent victim, will experience PURE TERROR the next morning as I run through these webs of torture. I could seriously use a machete as I karate chop my way down the street, cursing and freaking out as the silky-but-sticky threads wrap themselves around me in a slow death squeeze.


I hate spiders.

And now I know the TRUE reason why Hubby waits for me to run first.

Anyway…I continue on my journey…stopping every now and then to admire the beautiful sunrise that is rising over the quiet lake…the stillness of the neighborhood, as my neighbors are still all nestled in their beds on this frosty morning…and watching for the ever-present snakes that like to slither across my path just to keep me on my toes.

I hate snakes, too.

At one point, it's time for me to turn around and run back in the other direction, and I soon see Hubby, jogging towards me. He's pretty competitive, and when he saw that I wasn't waiting until tomorrow to run, he'd be darned if HE waited, either. He's not about to let me get one run over him. Anyway, he's already ran a good distance in the other direction, so we take a few minutes to compare notes on how our runs are progressing.

"My heel is hurting," I whine…hoping, in a selfish way, that he'll say, "Oh NO! Your HEEL??!! You should go home right away and go right back to bed!!!! Poor, poor you! And I'll wait on you hand and foot the rest of the day!!!"

But he didn't say that. Drat. So I continued on my run, while he continued on his.

About four miles into my run, I was now on the path to the north that goes down a closed and pretty-much-deserted road…when I saw, up ahead, a white van.

Parked. On the side of that closed and pretty-much-deserted road.

Hmmm….This is odd.

And my imagination quickly went into overdrive.

"Why would a white van be just parked? On the side of the road? On a DESERTED road, no less??!!" I asked. And of course, when you're running all by yourself, and you have no one else around to answer you, you pretty much have to answer your own questions.

"OH MY GOD!!!" I squealed. "What if it's a van full of KIDNAPPERS??!! And when I run by it, they're going to open the door, grab me, pull me in the van, and KIDNAP me??!!"

I mean, it could happen. Right?

Do I continue to run? And run by it? Or do I stop and turn around? Decisions, decisions…and after pondering it for a few minutes, I decided to wisely (???) take a PICTURE of said van, so that way, if they kidnapped me as I ran by it, I'd quickly throw my cell phone into the surrounding fields, and the police would later find it, and there would be a CLUE as to who my kidnappers had been.

Feeling very proud of myself for thinking up such a brilliant plan, I did just that - I took a picture of it. And then ran right by it. Where I saw that it was a deserted van - no kidnappers. Whew.

And note the high quality of this photo - I'm sure it would have been an invaluable clue for the police...

When I saw Hubby later, I had to chastise him a bit…as I knew darned well he'd seen that van at the beginning of HIS run, and could have at least warned me about it, so I wouldn't have had such angst and terror on a Saturday morning (disregarding the spider webs and snake hunt).

"Why didn't you tell me about the van?" I asked, continuing, "You could have told me that there was no one in it…!!"

His answer? "I would have told you about it if it HADN'T been safe to run by it."

Wait, what?

Is THIS what he would have said??!! "Oh, sweetheart…there's a white van up ahead - whatever you do, DON'T run by it, as it's full of kidnappers, just waiting to drag you into it and disappear forever."



I finished my run. I didn't get kidnapped. I cleared the streets of all spider webs. I saw a beautiful sunrise. I saw no snakes. And my heel survived.

And all done by 9:00 am on a Saturday morning.

Not bad, huh?



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just Call Me "Mean Mom"

Dear Daughter started high school last week, so she has now officially reached the age where she is firmly convinced that her parents are complete idiots.

This became never more evident than in a conversation she and I had the other night…but before I recap our…um..."discussion"…I need to backtrack.

Approximately six weeks ago, Daughter had major nasal surgery…a 2.5-hour operation in which not one, not two, but THREE separate procedures were performed on her nose. This was all because of not one, not two, but THREE separate nasal fractures over the years, resulting in her not only having a very crooked and uniquely shaped nose, but the inability to breathe. The operation was a huge success, and we spent the last few weeks resting and taking it easy, to allow the bones in her face to slowly heal. She is still a bit swollen, but the surgeon assures us that the swelling will reduce over the next few months, and she will end up with one beautiful schnoz.

In the meantime, she was not allowed to swim, nor run - nor even allowed to wear glasses on her nose, so as to not damage anything. We have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon in another three weeks, where, hopefully, we'll be all clear.


So…Sunday night, while eating dinner, Daughter calmly announces, "I'm going to be playing sand volleyball with my theater club on Friday night - can you pick me up?"

I look at her like she's just grown three heads and sprouted ten eyeballs.

"WHAT did you just say???!!" I manage to croak.

"I said, gah, that I'm playing sand volleyball Friday night - and can you give me a ride?" This all said with a bit of attitude and tone, because, obviously, her parents are not only OLD, but also apparently, DEAF.

I looked her dead in the eye and firmly replied, "Not on your life."

"You won't give me a ride???!!!! Why not??!"

"Oh, it's not about giving you a ride. It's about the fact that you are not ABOUT to play sand volleyball."

Well. This set her off. She couldn't understand - at all - why she would be denied this golden opportunity, so I rationally tried to explain it to her.

"Did you forget that you just had NOSE SURGERY six weeks ago??!!" I asked. "One spiked ball to the face - one accidental elbow to the face - and your entire operation is DONE. OVER. KAPUT. WASTED."

Even with this explanation, Daughter did not see the rationale of being denied a game of volleyball…so she argued. And argued. And argued some more…obviously believing that her parents are the most idiotic, stupidest parents that ever lived. At one point, I said, "Fine. You think this is just Mean Mom talking right now. Go ahead - call your doctor. Ask HIM if he thinks you should be playing volleyball less than six weeks out of surgery. When you're not even allowed to wear GLASSES at this point. See what HE says."

Grumbling to herself, Daughter finally relented and sulked off…while my ears burned with whatever names she was probably calling me under her breath.


Mean Mom. Stupid Mom. In her eyes, that's what I am…she doesn't see me as Smart Mom or Safe Mom…but I guess that's the price one pays for having a teenage daughter around the house.



Friday, August 8, 2014

Royals 5k: A Review

When I was a little girl…I wanted to grow up and play professional baseball.


Every summer night, I'd drift off to sleep in my bedroom, my bedside radio tuned to the Royals radio network, so I could listen to the play-by-play of my favorite team…. My dreams would entail me being the first woman to ever play professional ball, and I'd be the SUPERSTAH of the baseball world - with parades, parties and statues in my honor.

George Brett would take notice and perhaps even marry me.

Reality quickly crushed those dreams, as it often does, and instead of playing for the Royals, I spend my summer days and nights supporting them and cheering them on - whether it's attending a game at Kauffman Stadium, or watching them on television as they travel around the country.

Such was the case last Saturday, when they had their annual 5k Charity Run on a beautiful, surprisingly cool morning. Hubby and I laced up and headed to Kauffman Stadium, arriving along side almost 2,000 other participants, with the opportunity of running around the warning track of the stadium, all for a good cause.

Because I'm smack dab in the middle of training for an October half-marathon, my running schedule called for me to run 8 miles on Saturday…which presented a bit of a conundrum, as the 5k is "only" 3.1 miles. Somewhere - somehow - I needed to get an additional 5 miles in…so Hubby and I got a bit creative.

After parking the car, gearing up with our iPods & earbuds, as well as our energy gels, we headed down near the official Start Line, and then quickly got in a 2-mile warm-up before the race. We ran loops around the parking lot several times, which made for an albeit boring run - but it got us both warmed up and ready to go. Here's my Garmin, tracking me:

In hindsight, I may do this before EVERY 5k, as it really loosened things up for me and allowed me to be in "the zone" before the actual 5k ever began.

After finishing up our 2 miles, this left us with 10 minutes before the race, so we quickly made our way over to the corrals by the start line. With Hubby being fast, he hopped in towards the front of the racers, while I slowly made my way back to the "turtles" - otherwise known as the "slow runners." They're my people and I love them.

The gun sounded, and off we went. I really, really liked this course, for the most part…there were few hills, and it was easy to spread out from the other runners. I absolutely HATE courses that have "pinch points" - where they bunch up the runners in a tight spot, creating mass pandemonium and opportunities for injury. Gah.

I did my run/walk intervals and was feeling pretty strong; the only thing that slowed me down was the increasing heat along the course, with zero shade. Running in a parking lot - along asphalt - leaves little room for trees and shade. I got hot. Really hot. Check out the Garmin map of the course:

There was one water stop along the way - at about the halfway point - and I took a tiny swallow, and then showered myself with the rest of the water….That cool, refreshing shower was just what I needed to find my second wind for the last half of the run.

Towards the end of the race, they funneled us into a VERY steep tunnel (think 35-degree angle) that led down and inside to the warning track. It was pretty awesome to run around the field and "pretend" that I was actually a professional ballplayer - rather than a wanna-be runner plodding along on a charity run.

Here's Hubby as he runs around the track:

The track was surprisingly slippery…I had to really watch my step, so I didn't do a face plant on the field. That would have been rather embarrassing - and would have probably been caught on camera, knowing my luck.

Of course, upon exiting the field, we now had to run UP that very steep tunnel. Joy. Hills have been my nemesis lately, and after getting some awesome training advice from my running coach, Jessica, I was determined to RUN up that sucker and not have to walk it, like most everyone else around me at this point. Imagine my delight when I DID it! I made it to the top running - where I preceded to do a bit of the Rocky victory dance, complete with arms in the air.

My celebration was short-lived, though, as I had absolutely no oxygen for about a minute or two, and I still had half a mile or so of the race to complete. Sucking in whatever air I could find, I took a few steps…when something happened that was so funny, so coincidental, and yet so motivating, that it was one of those 'weird' moments that live forever.

As I said, I was pretty spent. That hill had taken it out of me. I figured I would just walk to the finish, and that would be good enough. And suddenly…on my iPod...came the song, "Royals" - by Lorde. True, it's not about the Kansas City Royals - but she has said in an interview that she was inspired to write the song after seeing George Brett in a photograph, wearing his Royals uniform. So - it's "our" song, so to speak.


Here I am, just coming out of Kauffman Stadium, where the Royals play…and I hear this song. How bizarre was THAT??!! How could I NOT start running again? Walking? Ha. Walking be damned. I was going to finish this race RUNNING at full speed, while I listened to the soulful strains of "Royals" in my ear, giving me the motivation and the "umph" that I needed to finish.

Woot! Woot!

I finished 21/62 in my age division for women. Not bad, huh?

Hubby finished 3rd in his age division. Gah. I hate him. He got a nice letter and some movie tickets for his prize:

Check out the medals, which were pretty awesome:

Normally, at this point in the race, you get to head to your car - or the after party - and celebrate. But not us. We had another 5k (or 3 miles) to run. WE WERE SO EXCITED.


Hubby decided to re-run the 5k course again, but I just decided to do loop after loop after loop in the parking lot. Check out my Garmin:

My pace was slower than a snail's, because at this point, the tendonitis in my left knee was ON FIRE and was SCREAMING at me with every step. It hurt - a lot - but I was determined to get that mileage in…so I sucked it up and hobbled till I got it done. Which may have been rather stupid, but us runners aren't known for our rocket science brains sometimes. We're more known for our stubbornness and refusal to admit when we're injured.

All-in-all, though, a very great day. Would I do the Royals 5k again?


I thought the course was great; the organization was awesome; the bling was pretty good; and the chance to run on the field?




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rock the Crossroads Recap: Spontaneous Combusting


Last night's 5k was basically just that…running through the fiery, blistering heat of a hot July evening….

They organizers advertised it as the "hottest" race in Kansas City, and they were NOT kidding! The 5th Annual Rock the Crossroads was a sweaty adventure through the downtown streets of the Crossroads arts and music district of downtown Kansas City.

Having reservations about running 3.1 miles on a hot, steamy July evening - I got totally sucked in by the bling:

That medal was WAY cool. I would walk across hot coals to get one. So - I signed up.

On Friday, Hubby went down to pick up our shirts and bibs, and I was impressed with those, as well, for the most part. The shirt itself is a very awesome tech shirt, but who was the brainiac who chose a BLACK shirt in July??!!

Yeah. That wasn't happening. Not to mention, it's TOTALLY uncool in the running world to wear your official shirt BEFORE you've earned it by completing the race.

Saturday was race day…I spent most of the day hydrating, as well as nursing Dear Daughter, who'd had nasal surgery a few days earlier. (She's recovering slowly - but doing better each day.) At 4:00 pm, Hubby and I headed to our nephew's 9th birthday party, where I skipped the baked beans (as a courtesy to my fellow runners later that evening), but hesitantly had a hamburger patty - worried about how this would settle on my stomach later. In the heat. EEP. Yeah. I'd pay for that later.

At 6:00 pm, we headed downtown, and sure enough - my stomach was feeling a bit queasy. I knew part of this was nerves, as I ALWAYS get this way before an official race - but I wondered how much was due to the hamburger. Maybe that wasn't so smart. You think?

This next photo is interesting. Have you EVER seen a totally empty Start Line/Finish Line thirty minutes before the gun?

Yeah, me, neither. This is because it was about 90 degrees outside - and even hotter in the sun. So, the 915 registered runners were standing in any shade we could find at this point. It was only about 5 minutes before the Official Start Time that we all reluctantly made our way over to the starting chute.

I was pretty far back in the chute, so I didn't officially cross the Starting Line until about a minute or so in…I started off strong, sticking pretty close to pace. At about 1.5 mile into the race, however, we were running up a hill…that seemed to go on forever. I ran…and I ran…and I ran…determined to conquer that damn hill no matter what it took.

That was stupid.

Powering up a mile-long hill…in 90+ degree heat…after eating a hamburger?

Just shoot me.

My legs starting cramping…my stomach started heaving a bit…and my head felt SO hot that I thought it was going to melt off my body. Seriously - I thought I was going to spontaneously combust, and I was SO. FREAKING HOT. that I thought about quitting. I seriously looked around to see if there was a medic near by. Ack.

With what few brain cells I had left that hadn't boiled away at this point, I decided that my ultimate goal was NOT to finish with a personal best time - but just to finish. Standing up. Even if that meant walking a bit.

So that's what I did. I walked. And would then run…a little. But walked some more.

Whew. Smartest decision I ever made.

By now, my Garmin was getting irritated with me, as it kept beeping in alarm: "BEHIND PACE!!!"

Yes. I know. If I ran at my usual pace, it would NOT have been pretty. So, I eventually just turned my Garmin off to shut it up. I didn't care about my pace at this point - I decided I would be happy with finishing in 40 minutes.

Run a bit. Walk a bit. Some times, the roads would be in the sun, and I felt like I was boiling from the inside out. Then we'd hit a cool, shady bit of road, and it was pure bliss. Oh, how we take shade for granted sometimes.

There were two water stops along the route, and I used both of them to dump a cup of water over my head - drenching myself in a refreshing shower of coolness and relief.

Before long, I turned the corner and saw the Finish Line up ahead - a welcome sight. Even better, I saw Hubby, waiting for me to cross. He'd already finished his run way earlier, doing it in 25.04. I hate him. Gah.

My official time was 38.38 - which was WAY better than what I was hoping for. Not my best time, but I blame the heat, and the fact that I had to walk so much.

Hubby finished in 25.05 - which garnered him 4th in his age division.

The good news: I didn't get sick. Although I certainly felt like it, at one point. I've learned the important thing in running is to listen to your BODY and not your ego. It's hard to do that sometimes, but it's definitely smart.

Would I do this race again? Probably. The course was pretty easy, other than that really long hill at the beginning. Most of it is downhill, which is wonderful.

I would skip the hamburger next time, though. Gah.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

My Fashion Faux Paux

There's nothing like running 7 miles on a Sunday morning and then realizing that your shorts are on inside out.


I did that.

Not gonna' lie.

It's not my fault. Really. I TOTALLY blame Hubby for this fashion faux paux.

Because today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year - so far - with temperatures and humidity feeling like we're living on Mars, I decided that it would be necessary for my survival to get up at 6:00 am for my run this morning. My training plan called for an unheard-of seven miles - a new distance record for me. Gah. If I have to run seven miles, I'd prefer to do it before the heat soars to record highs, thank you very much.

So…the alarm goes off…and I nudge Hubby to wake up, as he's in this with me. He mumbles something that sounded like, "I think it's too windy. You shouldn't go." And he went back to sleep.

Normally, I'll look for ANY excuse to not have to run - especially seven miles - and I was sorely tempted to do just what Hubby suggested…but I knew in the long run (Ha - a pun! See what I did there??!!), I'd be glad I went…and I'd be doubly glad I went at 6:00 am.

So…I got out of bed, and got dressed in THE DARK, so I wouldn't wake up Hubby.

And that, dear readers, is how it happened…how my shorts mysteriously went on inside out…but I wouldn't discover this gem until much, much later…after I'd been running all through the neighborhoods.

I'm just sure my neighbors love me.

Anyway, I headed out the door…the skies were dark and cloudy, as we'd had a major storm roll through about 4:00 am this morning. There was still some lightning way off in the distance, but it was deliciously breezy, which helped negate the 78% humidity in the air.

Training is just that…practicing and learning so you can improve. I try to use these training runs as a means of figuring out what I'm doing right…and what I'm doing wrong…what works for me…what doesn't work for me…and how I can get better…all with the goal of that half-marathon in October.

This morning, I tried something new…I strapped on a Hydration Belt that Dear Daughter had given me for Mother's Day. I figured I would need some water during the course of seven miles, so today was a good day to test this out…see if I liked it…and see if it helped.

Well…as I began running, all I could hear was the water…sloshing back and forth. This is NOT A GOOD THING when your bladder is about the size of a pea…I've decided for future runs to not put so much water in each bottle, so I don't feel "the urge" for the entire distance.

My bladder will thank me for this later. Gah.

This morning's run was actually quite beautiful, if you discount the fact of my inside-out shorts and sloshing water…here are some photos I took along the way, to show you what it's like to run around my neighborhood:

I heard a HUGE crashing sound to my left while running through here…it sounded BIG, like a giant grizzly bear or something…but I'm sure it was just a deer. I hope. I don't run fast enough to outrun a giant grizzly bear.

Our spooky tree…this morning, I could see the lightning way, way off in the distance here…so cool…

I have to run through this cornfield, which I HATE. I always think of that movie, "Children of the Corn", which scared the BEJEEZUS out of me when I was younger…I always think some scary, zombie-like, murdering children are going to come walking out of the corn as I'm running by. So, I go all Kenyan-like and run super fast through here. Just in case.

This is a highway. I have to run about a half-mile on this, while cars and semi-trucks are whizzing by me at 65 mph. The speed limit is only 55 mph - but no one pays attention to that. Which is why this is a very popular spot for the local cops to set up a speed trap. At 6:30 am on a Sunday morning, though, it's pretty quiet. Very few cars. One truck. And no cops. Just a crazy Middle Aged Drama Queen running along with her shorts on, inside out.

Eventually, I turn off the highway, and I'm back on the country roads…this morning, I ran into Hubby here, coming along the opposite direction. I guess he decided to get out of bed after all. Not carrying any of his own water, he asked for a sip of mine that I was carrying, and that's when I realized - I was his pack mule. Gah. I shared, though, with the thought that the less water I was carrying, the less sloshing I would hear. And my bladder would be happy.

Eventually, I'm back running along beside the lake…it's beautiful, but I don't want to take too many photos here, as all my neighbors live along here, and they'd think it was pretty creepy, if I were to be taking pictures of their houses and such along the way. In shorts that were inside out.

Before I knew it, I was home…7 miles. I had DONE IT - WOOT!!! My longest distance yet, and my pace was pretty consistent:

The fact that I survived - especially the hazards that I faced, such as giant grizzly bears, murderous children of the corn, speeding semi-trucks, and sloshing water - pretty much offset the embarrassment of my shorts.