Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Who Me, Slow?

Me, Heathrow Airport, Dec. 3, 2006, trying to contain my excitement at going home.

In other news:

My no sugar plan is going swimmingly. Well, except for the part where I pretty much want to kill everyone all the time. I could use some work with that part of the plan.

In other other news, I thought I'd share some more photos (to distract you from the general lack of running news) which I am calling the Evolution of Jeanne:

July 4, 2006.

Happy return from Sevilla, Number One Daughter! Dec. 21, 2006.

Company Christmas Party photo booth, Dec. 2006. Who knew I had it in me?

Dec. 23, Kennedy Center Concert.

It's entirely possible that I am losing weight. I refuse to write it, in case I jinx the whole thing.

So, just to balance out the yang from the yin, let's post this one from Christmas morning:

Keeping it real. Someone needs a new nightie.

Photos courtesy S., D., K. and B.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas

My thanks to all my new friends, people I never would have met (and in some cases--most cases--I still haven't met, but who daily make me laugh out loud and take myself less seriously. And what a gift that is!

I won't even begin to list all of you here. It's impossible. Plus? I'm really lazy. But please, stop for a moment, and drop a line to our friend, Mark, founder of the RBF, and, with Aaron, of completerunning, and give him some love and thanks:

I'm not putting the url to his site because he has been battling nonstop against some nasty Internet bugs and I'm afraid to link to him for fear of making things worse. He needs a pat on the back for hanging in there. And a few hugs.

So if you've tried to get to recently, and haven't been able to, that's why. But do check back frequently. Mark is literally working around the clock to keep things running smoothly, and he's a bit afraid of losing our faithful readers (as if!)

So, thanks to Mark, to complete running, to the RBF, my extended family.

I must now enter go and enter the bowels of hell, otherwise known as:

Tyson's Corner Center Note: Appearances can be very very deceiving.

But, let's not end on that note. Let's end on this one:

Number One Daughter hanginging with the fam at the Barcelona Cathedral

And this:

Once in Royal David's City

And with that, I bid you all: joyeux noël et bonne année!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tag--I'm It!

I hated tag as a kid. I could never keep up. Some things never change ...

But this tag is different! Fun-ner! Thanks Rich!

Come along into my secret fantasy life:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Irish coffee, decaf, with Jamesons, no whipped cream. Got that?

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Of course wrapped! Badly wrapped, I might add.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White lights inside. A house? You have a house?

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Of course. I'll take it however I can get it...

5. When do you put your decorations up? One week before Christmas. If I had my way (which, come to think of it, I generally do), it would be Christmas Eve. The way it's supposed to be.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Sweet potatoes, in any form, whatsoever (yes, even with gross melted marshmallows).

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? When the fighting stopped? Then again, that was rare. Don't have one.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Huh? What are you talking about? What truth?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Always. One gift, and it must be p.j.s The way it's supposed to be.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Motley collection of miscellaneous ornaments. Nothing matching--ever! The way it's supposed to be.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it! SNOW DAY! (Ok, it never means this anymore, but it's burned into my brain that snow=staying home. Used to, anyway.)

12. Can you ice skate? Disaster waiting to happen.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Every handmade thing Number One Daughter has ever given me (that's the virtuous answer). Non-virtuous answer: Haven't received it yet. There's still time, people!

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Music, friends, Advent, religion.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Buche de Noel. Tough getting that regularly, though. Especially since I'm not usually cooking ...

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Queuing up at 4 a.m. in the cold outside the Kennedy Center for the free Messiah-sing-along tickets! Then, dragging various people to the Kennedy Center to attend said sing-along. If I do nothing else, this is it. The way it's supposed to be.

17. What tops your tree? An old broken down angel. The way (say it with me now) it's supposed to be.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? (Hmmm, do I go virtuous, or not? Not!) Getting doesn't feel so bad, I gotta say.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Easy! "See Amid the Winter Snow," from the album, CHRISTMAS CAROLS FROM OXFORD: Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford. Followed by "Once in Royal David's City." (I'm such a music snob.)

20. Candy canes? Eh.

21. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story, with Major Award!

22. What do you leave for Santa? A great big mess.

Now, I tag:
Black Knight, Thomas NEW! LBTEPA,
Anita, and last but never least, Bold.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sugar's Just Another Word for


I officially stopped eating sugar on Friday, December 9. Right after my appointment with the surgeon and my abrupt decision to get in the best shape of my life. I figured cutting out sugar would be a fairly easy way to drop a few pounds, plus, after the three-donut day, something had to give.

Week one went by without a hitch. I'm not being insane about this sugar thing, just so you know. I am still eating soy yogurt with fruit at the bottom that I'm sure has a ton o' fun in it.

But, it hasn't been as hard as I thought it might be. I am eating better. My favorite treat so far? Take an apple and nuke it for 4 minutes. Um, yummmm!

I haven't even been craving the stuff. Saturday at the hairdressers they were giving away cookies and chocolate kisses and I almost went for it—outta shear (get it?) habit. I stopped myself just in time. So much of eating is shear habit. Free chocolate? Extend arm, open mouth.

So things have been fine with me going sugarless. It's not like I've been on edge or ready to hurt, maim, or kill anyone who gets in my way or anything. (I think I made someone cry at work last week though. Sigh. I will make it up.)

And today? Today was our annual $@!$%@~ cookie contest. In which hordes of people bring in cookies for the hordes of employees to taste and vote on, with winning categories such as "The Martha Stewart Award," (I won once!), or "Best-Named," (lame), "Most Original," (the cookie "emsemble" that resembled a cat's litter box, complete with cookie "litter" won hands down one year) and of course, the grand prize is "Best Tasting." If you win that, you get crowned cookie queen or king and get to keep the crown for an entire year.

Here's how it works: You get in line, and walk around a giant table, and sample, oh, 300 cookies, and then you vote. It's a Big Deal.

And I ... almost cracked today.

But ...

I didn't.

Didn't go. Didn't taste. Didn't vote.

Oh, yeah. Did I mention? I hate everyone.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I went to sleep Sunday dreaming of Bedford Falls and woke up in Pottersville. You know the place, right? It's a very very bad place where everyone works 14-hour days and then wake up only to work out like madmen before heading back to work again (OK, I made that part up about working out). Still. You don't wanna live there.

Where, oh where is Christmas?

My news is that I'm scheduled to have a little surgical procedure on Feb. 12.

I don't embarrass easily (as you know only too well if you've ever read my blog), but for some reason, I am embarrassed about this: I have urinary stress incontinence.

Excuse me for a minute.
Voice inside Jeanne's head: Jeanne, it's not like it's a moral failing or anything! It's not like you killed someone!
Another voice inside Jeanne's head: Yeah, but if I was smarter, this wouldn't have happened!
Hand of first voice inside Jeanne's head: Dope slap.
Hello my name is Jeanne, and I have UI. And voices in my head.

I "leak" when I run, walk, talk, sit, sneeze, cough, move, live, or breathe. If this fact makes you queasy, imagine how I feel about it.

I had to tell so that the rest of my story will make sense. But first, let's learn a bit about UI:
Between 12 million and 25 million Americans are thought to have UI. Exact numbers are not known: many who have the condition are too embarrassed or pessimistic to seek treatment. But according to the National Institute of Aging, at least one in ten people over age 65 has the condition. Women are more likely than men to get UI because it can be caused by the physical trauma of past pregnancies and by the muscle weakness that sometimes results from a drop in estrogen at menopause.
—from the AARP's cutely named "Oopsie Daisy" site (gag me)
I don't quite fit into any of those groups, except I did have one enormous child 20 years ago. And I'll be 50 in February (Feb. 7 to be exact: mark your calendars!).

It's nice to know I'm not alone. And I'm betting that some of you out there have this problem too.

So,the upside is that I should be cured after this procedure.

The downside is that, post surgery, there can be no aerobic exercise—nothing, not swimming, biking, elliptical, nada— for—are you ready?—twelve weeks. I can walk fast, but that's it. And that's only after at least two weeks of total rest. No lifting weights, either. (And yes, I've tried all the other treatments, rest assured.)

You know what happens when you go two weeks without exercise. You can imagine what visions are dancing through my head just thinking about twelve weeks with no exercise.

And now, please whine with me and pity me, because twelve weeks of no training takes me into May and that means: No Cherry Blossom 10 miler, no St. Patrick's Day 10k, no Mother's Day 10K, no George Washington Parkway 5k ... waaaah, all my favorite races!

It also means quite a loss of muscle tone and endurance and, unless I'm extremely careful, weight gain.

OK whining over. I don't have cancer, I don't have any incurable or painful disease, I need to thank my lucky stars.

And I decided immediately that I would spend the time between now and Feb. 12 getting into the best shape of my life.

I started this week by taking a drastic step: I gave up sugar. Great time of year for that, right? So far, so good.

Next, I sampled some classes at a drop-in gym one block from work.

So here's what my week looked like:

Monday, 6:30 a.m.: A one-hour Reebok strength-training class that kicked the stuffing out of me. I still hurt from it.

Tuesday: 7 a.m.: Ran my first three miles since Spain. 11:30 min pace. I was sucking air the entire way. Not pretty, but my leg didn't hurt.

Wednesday: 9:15 a.m.: Second strength-training class with same instructor as Monday. Going to this was a pain because I had to get to work early, work, change, leave work, etc., do the reverse, and her class on Wednesday is very different than on Monday. A lot more talking, a lot less working. And NO OFFENSE TO the SAHMs out there, because I would cut off my arm to be one, but the class was populated by mostly rich Bethesda SAHMs, who had nothing to talk about but getting their hair done and the burden of the holiday and its many parties, and getting their grass manicured and their feet cut (or was that the other way around?), anyway: not for me.

Thursday: 6:30 a.m. this morning. Yoga (not Bikram) class. This was also a killer. KILLER.

So, I consulted my trusty, (if two-timing), highly unpaid coach for a plan that made sense, and this is what I got:

3 days of running: 30-45 minutes. Go easy. You're just trying to maintain right now.
1 day: yoga (which I consider core strength training)
1 day: upper-body and core strength training
1 day: spinning class

I realize this is 6 days of exercise. If too much, drop down to 2 days of running.
Now, this I can live with! And I hope it does the trick.

I had to tell my colleagues the situation, and one of them asked: Do you have any evidence that getting into great shape now will result in less loss of muscle tone after surgery?

Um, no?

But I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that going into surgery healthy should speed recovery time. (Tammy, help a sistah out!)

So that's the story. Blood and gory.

Merry Christmas you old Building & Loan!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It Really Is a Wonderful Life

Today I spent the day in Bedford Falls.

But before I get started with that story, run over to Susie's and give her a GIANT congrats for setting a PR on a very challenging course. (And to David, too!) And though Susan and David are the ones who actually did the work (and it was work, believe me, it killed me just looking at the hills), a big shout-out goes to Bex who was running her first half, yet decided to pace Susan and David to a PR. Bex could have easily said, "See ya!" and taken off, but instead, she did a fine thing. I heart the RBF!!!

My job, since I wimped out and didn't run this half because of my stupid $#!~@ ITB, was pretty damn simple: take photos at the start, drive 10 minutes to the 10-mile mark, where there was a cool statue, and take photos at the end. The race started at 8. Photos: check! I didn't have to be at the 10-mile mark til 9:15. That's an HOUR AND FIFTEEN minutes to make a 10-minute drive. That would be a 10-minute drive. As in TEN MINUTES.

I had the directions from the start to the 10-mile marker, which was TWO BLOCKS from Susie and David's house. That would be TWO BLOCKS.

So, with all the time in the world, I sauntered over to Starbucks, grabbed a latte and the Post, and figured I'd drive right over to the 10-mile mark (remember? That place that was a 10-minute drive?) because I didn't want to take any chances that I would miss getting a good shot of my little RBF group.

Armed with my latte, a map, and written directions (left, left, right, left, right—bam! home in TEN MINUTES), I took off.

Well, by 9:00, a good FIFTY MINUTES after I started, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it.

I was driving 70 mph, zigzagging all over God's creation. WHERE THE HELL WAS THAT FIRST TURN???

I returned to the start two times before I finally got it right. Then, of course, I got every single red light. Plus? There was a RACE going on. So there were marshalls holding back traffic on the quaint streets of old-town Fredricksburg.

I'm telling you I thought I was going to have a heart attack getting to that 10-mile mark.

Wheels screeching, I drove to within a block of the 10-mile mark, jumped out of the car, and instantly saw my work colleage Craig flying down the street. I tried to run alongside him (in my Land's End clogs and fifteen layers of clothing) but he was booking it.

I made it to the statue by 9:15. Only by divine intervention. And I stood by myself, asking everyone who ran by what their pace was, so I could see if I missed my little group. The 8-minute pace runners, the 8:30, the 9:00, yeah! I didn't miss them! Meanwhile, all the racers thought I was the race photographer, so I started taking photos of everyone. With that nice statue as a backdrop.

See? Strangers in front of nice statue.

(I'm trying to shorten this story, I swear.) I finally saw my brave trio opposite the mile marker and grabbed a shot. I couldn't figure out how they got by me. Oh well, disgusted with myself, I headed back to the car to drive the TEN MINUTES to the finish so I could at LEAST get that shot. As I opened the car door, someone screamed "Jeanne!" and there they were, running towards me and getting ready to run by the statue. The statue that I had left. Because I thought I had missed them.

I left the car door ajar, and ran alongside as they handed me clothes and gu packets and I got one decent shot of the three of them, but of course, not in front of the statue where I had stood for 1/2 hour and got every single other runner...bah!

See? Our little trio with NO STATUE in the background.

Blah, blah, all's well that ends well, right? Right! And what a finish! I made it back in TEN MINUTES this time, and got a few shots of our group pouring it on.

It was awesome!

Afterwards, we went to brunch in old town Fredricksburg, where I endured many comments about how clever I was to turn a TEN-MINUTE drive into a 60-minute one.


Old town Fredricksburg is like, well, this:

And Susie and David are, in reality, George and Mary Bailey. In fact, I'm pretty sure that David runs the old broken-down Building & Loan. As we walked along the Rockwellian streets of downtown Fredricksburg, we were stopped every 10 seconds by people saying hello to them, or congratulating them.

And, just to make the day absolutely perfect, Richie nailed his marathon! You go, girlfriend!

So, what I'm saying is: It's a Wonderful Life.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Marco, This Is For You

(Gratuitous photo of me, at Monasterio de San Leandro, a cloistered convent. That sells candy.)

I'm been trying hard to catch up since I've been back. But you people are relentless!

Let's start with Marco.

Marco Antonio, to be exact. He was named after the Roman emperor, he told me. He spoke a few words of English, I spoke a few words of Spanish, and we both spoke that other language—yes, the language of pain.


Well there is some history before we get to Marco.

Last Monday, after the Thanksgiving yoga class and treadmill embroglio, I laced up the shoes and decided to go for a 90-minute run along the river in Sevilla. This is not as easy as it sounds because 1) I had only the vaguest notion of where I was, and where the river was, and 2) the street names in Sevilla change every 50 feet.

(Map of Seville, in mosaic.)

Regardless, I was determined, because I had a half-marathon to prepare for!

Here's a curious thing. My entire time in Sevilla (six days) I saw a total of maybe seven runners. All of them at night. And all of them men. So here I was, dressed to the nines, as usual, in my lycra this and dri-max that, running through the streets of Sevilla. I felt a wee bit ... exposed. And then I got mad. Because, despite all the warnings I received, I never once got hit on! Is it possible I didn't look so good?!?! Nahhhhh...

Back to the run. Of course I had the Shuffle hooked up, and I was bopping along to the tunes, taking in the beautiful weather, the sites, trying to memorize everything I passed so that I could make the return trip.

I felt a slight twinge at the top of my right thigh. No matter. And a more severe twinge on the bottom of my right foot. So, of course, I ignored both pains.

I ran toward the river, past the Plaza de Espana

About 40 minutes in, things were starting to really go south. I was aiming to get to the bridge that was built for the 1992 World Expo, and looks like a harp

... but I didn't make it. Part of the run was on cobblestones and that was killing me because each step was a different height from the one before it. I pushed on to 45 minutes and then took a break and assessed the situation. Foreign city. No phone. No espanol. Only one way back. I tried stretching. Walking. Running. Rinse. Repeat.

I did however, have my debit card with me. So I stopped in at—are you ready?—a Starbucks. Sigh. To get some water, rest and think. Unfortunately you need an ID with a debit card. No tengo. I begged and cried (a universal language!) and the kid relented and gave me the agua. I made my way outside and sat at a lovely outdoor table; I was enjoying life. I was ... oh-so-European! What's a little pain in the face of so much beauty? I'd get home eventually. That feeling lasted right up until the waiter from the restaurant in whose chair I was sitting came over and shooed me away. I guess having the lyrcra-clad sweaty American with the big ugly running shoes sitting at his table was not exactly bringing in the biz.


The good news is I (of course) made it back to my hostess' house. The bad news is I was limping. However, I sucked it up and spent the rest of the day walking (more about that later).

Number One Daughter belongs to a health club. Health club offered massages. So I scheduled one for the following day, Tuesday, at 1:00.

At 1:05 Tuesday, I was ready and waiting. And in he walked. He took me upstairs. I explained where it hurt. He poked and prodded and found the spot (it's exactly in one spot), and then he did what he does.

And he does it very, very well.

Afterwards, we had a lovely chat. He showed me a photo of his fiancee and bebe (grrr). So, at least I knew he was on my team. I asked if I could take his photo because I would be blogging about him. I said all that in Spanish. Sort of.

If ever you find yourself in Sevilla, in need of a sports massage, go here:
Cuesta del Rosario 8, Pasaje Interior
(and by the way, none of that will help you; I walked by CuestaSport about 47 times before I found it.)

So, try this:

When you get there, ask for Marco:

He'll make you feel good.


However, curiously, one massage will not fix you. So I remain somewhat broken. I am supposed to run this on Sunday with Bex and Susie and David and I guess that would be a dumb thing to do. I'm going to try to run tomorrow. Just to see. So far this week I've biked and ellipticalled. Oh, and ate three donuts today. Just because.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Taste ...

I know you are all waiting with bated breath ... so here ya go ...

(Studebaker ad, in mosaic.)

(NOD's school.)

(Look! Lovebirds! And orange trees! At the Sevilla cathedral!)

(Y, tambien, Marco! Whatever is ailing you, Marco can fix. Or make you swoon. Either way. It's all good.)

Friday, December 01, 2006


I have 12 minutes left on this computer. Am in VERY cool youth hostel in Barcelona: Hostel Itaca. If you´re ever in town, stay here.

Barcelona: awesome. Gaudi: awesome!!!! Walking: Not awesome!

Monday last (God, was that only a week ago??? I went for a 90 min run from my hostess´ flat to the center of sevilla along the river to a cool bridge that looked like a harp ... everything was going great! I was bopping to the tunes! Beautiful day! And 45 minutes in ... something sort of snapped at the top of my right thigh... it´s been bothering me, and i guess it had had enough. No panic, though, I just limped/walked-ran home.

And then the next day I went to see: Marco Antonio (and I have the photos to prove it). More about that later.

I have had so many adventures I can´t begin to count them. This is my last night here, tomorrow I see the rest of Barcelona then back to sevilla at night then to england, then to a hotel then to heathrow, then to me case.