Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Dream

If it doesn't take much to ruin Katie's day, it doesn't take a whole lot to make mine.

When I got home tonight I was totally exhausted, with a computer-induced headache and a wild look in my eye. But I knew something good was a-comin', and it wasn't the Wells Fargo Wagon.

It was this:
(Do other people take pictures of food?)

I try hard to stay apolitical, as well as areligious (is that a word?) on this blog, because at work I play a journalist, and I kind of take that seriously. But I gotta tell you: I belong to this church that just blows my mind. If they hear you are sick? Or in the hospital? It doesn't matter that you are now 12 days post-op and back at work, you are getting dinner delivered to you. So I came home to lovely cajun catfish, rice, green beans, and a yogurt parfait for dessert! All homemade by some lovely volunteer.

It's been a steady stream of cards and well wishes by phone and e-mail. And while in the hospital, flowers delivered to me by a most charming and dashing elderly priest, who left me this note:
I thought you would be having a glass of wine by now. Hope everything goes well.
Um yum! Make me dinner and I'm all yours.

Bring me flowers and watch out.

I am one lucky girl.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Nightmare

The National Marathon was held last Saturday, March 24, 2007. I'd like to share a snippet with you from the The Washington Post's coverage of the event: "Traffic and Commuters Snarl as District Clears Runners' Route."

O.K., I'll admit, it seems like there might have been better traffic control. But this quote pretty much sums up why we have an obesity—and name-your-rage—problem in this country:
Katie Rynn, 26, a television producer, spent her morning in Arlington County picking flower arrangements for her wedding (she chose calla lilies for herself and white tulips for the bridesmaids) [NOTE: This is what we call adding color in newswriting]. After spending an hour on what is normally the 15-minute drive to her fiance's apartment in Kalorama, she eventually decided to abandon her car and walk the last few blocks.

"A nice, happy morning turned into a nightmare," she said.
A nightmare? A NIGHTMARE, Katie??

A nightmare was 9/11 when the Pentagon was hit and people lost loved ones, or the 7/7 bombings in London, or what the Iraqis, and our troops, live with daily. I can think of a few more nightmares and I bet you can too, and none of them have anything to do with having to walk three freakin' blocks.

Give me a break.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Surf's Up!

Before I press on with my tale, many thanks to everyone for all your good wishes—they meant the world to me. As I was laying in the operating theater, and after, I thought of all of you. I also thought: "I am so blogging this."

Monday dawned bright and clear, and I drove myself to the hospital, the WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER, ETA of 11 a.m. I was whisked away to pre-op, asked to disrobe (and re-robe).

My blood pressure was hovering around 90/50; pulse (this is for you Bob) around 49. But that's because I was nervous, so it was high.

Off I went to surgery with the brilliant and talented Dr. Cheryl Iglesia, a marathoner herself, and the smartest urogynecologist in North America (also the fastest talker).

I was given a lovely sedative, and walked into the operating room where at the very last minute the wise and clever Dr. Iglesia said ix-nay to the epidural they were planning (because of my previous back problems) and said "You'll be fine with blah blah blah blah." I'm guessing that blah blah was heavy sedation because she asked me to cough several times during the procedure (a test), which I complied with, so I must have been some kind of conscious, and also because (as I was told later) I discussed the merits of surfing in Barbados with everyone in the room.

I am apparently a lot of fun when semi-conscious.

The whole thing lasted maybe 1/2 hour, and soon I was in recovery trading barbs with the nurses, shivering and drifting in and out. Blood pressure was now holding steady at 80/40 and my pulse was, well, low. In fact, it actually hit 33 at one point! (Is this a competition? You bet it is, Bob!) Now, some people have low pulses because they are, say, Olympic athletes. Or, dead. I think running has lowered my pulse some, but surely not to 33. It never got back above 49 during my entire hospital stay. Even my temperature was low. Everything was low except my weight. What else is new.

I had very little pain afterwards. I was spending one night at the hospital because they wanted to see (TMI ALERT! TMI ALERT!) if I could pee on my own without benefit of this

It was dinnertime by the time I got a room, and I made the mistake of mentioning I was vegetarian, which apparently threw the kitchen, where they are unfamiliar with vegetables. Around 7:30 p.m.—let me add that I had not had anything to eat since midnight the night before, not even water, so I was all kinds of hungry—they finally brought in my "dinner": A plate of grapes. Oh, and a piece of cake. (I am so not kidding.)

(Random observation: Without glasses, 11:40 p.m. looks exactly like 8:00 a.m. But actually, it's not 8:00 a.m., so get back in bed.)

I had no pain, but felt a bit nauseated throughout the night and had this interesting conversation with nurse #1:

Me: I've got a bit of an upset stomach. Have you got any ginger ale? Or saltine crackers?
Nurse: Oh no. But I can bring you some orange juice. And graham crackers.
Me.: Do you have children?
Nurse: Yes.
Me: When they have an upset stomach do you feed them ORANGE JUICE AND GRAHAM CRACKERS?!!!

Nurse #2 had the exact same answer to nausea. Is this in the rule book? "Upset stomach? Give orange juice."? I finally told nurse #2 I'd give her $1 to go find a machine and get me some freakin' ginger ale. And finally, she did. God bless her.

Next morning, the catheter was removed (TMI ALERT #2) and I was filled up with water and escorted to the WC. No go. (Literally: No Go.) Back on the catheter I went. So, I got to go home with a catheter.

(This is as long as a race report, only without a PR at the end.)

Nothing was painful, amazingly, but needless to say, I was a wee bit uncomfortable. On Thursday morning my doctor repeated the "can you pee on your own test," and this time I passed. (These double entendres are killing me.) One of the nurses actually said "good job!," to which I replied, "I haven't been told 'Good job!' for peeing on my own since I was two!"

The only side effect so far is fatigue. So, just like the other two-year-olds, I'm back to taking daily naps. I am also dying from inactivity. I am not allowed to stand for any significant period of time, or lift or carry anything. Since nothing hurts, this is really counterintuitive, but I am complying like the good soldier I am. It is quite a challenge to not do anything. Who knew? (I did slip out last night to see Bruce Cockburn at the National Cathedral. And I didn't fall asleep!)

The other side effect is that I am not allowed to drive. Which meant I had to wake up Number One Daughter early this morning to drive me to the National Marathon to see Coach Peter. The car decided to overheat and run out of gas all at the same time so it was an interesting morning and made it a challenge to get NOD back to school, since she was going to take the car with her. (And in case you were wondering, all garages in D.C. and Maryland are closed on Saturday morning.)

But ... I did get to see Coach Peter at mile 24, and take a photo, and I talked with Bex, who ran the half, by phone afterwards, and a huge congrats to both! Run right over and tell them so.

And that, my friends, is, finally, all she wrote.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

For Juls

From my peaceful, holy place, Holy Cross Monastery, West Park, NY, for Juls.

(sunset over the Hudson)


(Another sunrise)

(flowers in winter))

(Hudson River at dusk))

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Breaking Through

I know you are all on the edge of your seats wondering: Did Jeanne do it? Did she actually run six entire days in a row? Or maybe you're wondering: What's for dinner?

So yes, I did it. I ran six days in a row. I ran when I had no time to run, I ran when it was icing and snowing, I ran when it was colder than a gravedigger's heart. I also ran in some of the loveliest weather we've had all year.

It was as though someone flipped a switch in my brain. No whining, whinging, or worrying. I just laced up and ran, and worked life in around it. I. Enjoyed. Running. I can't tell you why, or what made the difference. Some people have a theory that it was all mental—that my enjoyment came from the fact that I was suddenly free from any pressure to perform.


Thursday I ran three miles when I had two planned. Friday it was freezing and icing and I ran hard on the treadmill for two miles—something which, during a normal week, I would just have skipped, because (say it with me now) I hate running, and the only thing I hate worse is running on the treadmill.

And then there was Saturday, Day Six.

I met my running group, led by the speedy and highly capable Coach Peter, at Roosevelt Island:

(Roosevelt Island)

(Peter, holding forth with a captive audience. Or, maybe holding his audience captive. Not sure what Bex is reacting to. Maybe one too many doughnuts?)

a lovely sanctuary in the middle of the Potomac River. We parked there, and ran down the Mt. Vernon trail towards Alexandria, Va,, along the Potomac, and back, a 4.25 mile roundtrip. A small but (obviously) HARDCORE group of us met in the parking lot and took off in three groups: advanced, intermediate, and run/walkers. It was seriously cold. 32F, 17F windchill, but beautifully sunny, the D.C. skyline in the distance, the water sparkling, the crew teams out in force despite the wind, their coxswain's voices fading in the distance.

I took off with the intermediate group (I think there were five of us) and I had the honor of having speedy Coach Bob running SOLO with me. After I got over the part about feeling stupid for being too slow to run with this speedy speedster (his goal for the National Marathon this coming Saturday? 3:15), I started enjoying myself.

Coach Bob took off after hanging with and encouraging me, and Coach Peter stepped in out of nowhere. I swear the man has a transporter. He just materializes. He ran with me to the bridge (the other four in my group were far ahead) and then ran with me all the way back.

Running with someone faster than you turns out to be a Really Good Thing. (Maybe this is not news to any of you, but it hit me like a lightning bolt on Saturday.) I've spent the past two years avoiding running with faster runners because ... well, it's embarrassing! I'll hold them back! I don't want to be that person!

Saturday's run reminded me of playing tennis with someone better than you, or dancing with a better dancer than you are. When I occasionally go to the local jitterbug hall, it never fails to amaze me that the expert dancers will dance with me. And that they are patient, kind and encouraging. Dance with a highly skilled dancer and he can make you feel like you're a good dancer, too. (Geeze, all of a sudden, I feel like dancing.)

So Saturday's run was like that. Like a really good dance with a really good dancer. So thanks, Peter! You sure can dance.

But, no dancing for me for a bit. I'm off to have this done tomorrow. (The irony is not lost on me that the minute I get the hang of running I have to stop!) and then I'm going to be a really excellent spectator and cheerleader (without the jumping around stuff) for a few weeks.

Peter, Bob, and Bex are all running the National Marathon next Saturday (Bex is running the 1/2). Bring your dancing shoes, people!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I give you Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains:

As down the glen one Easter morn
To a city fair rode I,
Their armed lines of marching men
In squadrons passed me by.
No pipe did hum, no battle drum
Did sound its loud tattoo
But the Angelus' bells o'er the Liffey swells
Rang out in the foggy dew.

Right proudly high in Dublin town
Hung they out a flag of war.
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky
Than at Suvla or Sud el Bar.
And from the plains of Royal Meath
Strong men came hurrying through;
While Brittania's Huns with their long-range guns
Sailed in through the foggy dew.

The bravest fell, and the requiem bell
Rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Easter-tide
In the springing of the year.
While the world did gaze with deep amaze
At those fearless men but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light
Might shine through the foggy dew.

And back through the glen I rode again
And my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men
Whom I never shall see more
But to and fro
In my dreams I go
And I kneel and pray for you
For slavery fled
Oh, glorious dead
When you fell in the foggy dew

Learn more about the Easter Uprising of 1916.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Three Runs Down, Three to Go ...

Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 2 miles (plus spinning in the a.m.!)
Wednesday: 3 miles (75F!!)

I'm halfway to my goal of running six times this week. (Don't believe me? Check my running log!)

What morals can we draw from this little half-completed exercise?

  1. If your feet ain't happy, you will hate running. (Mizunos!)

  2. When you set a short-term goal, running becomes non-negotiable. Today, I honestly could NOT fit a run in. There was no way. I had morning meetings, afternoon meetings, meetings to set up meetings, meetings to debrief after meetings, and after-work meetings. And ... I fit in a 3-mile run. At lunch.

  3. Of course that meant I missed lunch. Or, since I rarely take a real "lunch," I just missed eating anything at my desk. Or eating my desk. Poor Planning on my Part. Or, let's just blame work. During one of those meetings (may I use the word interminable here?), I honestly thought I would gnaw my arm off.

  4. So, I broke, fell off the no-sugar band wagon, and had a pop tart. OK, OK, I had two. I tell you, I was desperate.

  5. I forgot what #5 was.

  6. Oh yeah, weather. Beautiful, gorgeous spring. The kind of weather that makes running, well, dare I say? Easier.

  7. I don't want to jinx it, but I'm actually starting to like running. Two 1/2 years in! Is solid consistency the secret? Who knew? And if you did know, why didn't you tell us?!?!

Stay tuned. More important lessons comming your way.

Now, appropos of nothing in particular, except: I loved this actress, it's a fun song, and a peak into 40's slang:

Betty Hutton, RIP. They just don't make 'em like that anymore. I especially like the GI's dancing.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Drop Whatever You're Doing...

...and rush right over to Bex and Peter's and see what they've been up to. Congratulations to both on a FANTASTIC race! Go show them some comment love!

Meanwhile, today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life. Or week. The first day of the rest of my week. During which your heroine attempts to run not once, not twice, not even three times, but SIX ENTIRE DAYS in a row! Or not!

Today was Day One. I ran four miles in blissful 57F in my brand new Mizuno waveriders (I think they made a movie about these babies), with no blistering! Yay!

Besides the Mizunos, the shoe menu included: Bold's beloved Wright sox.

I've been through these combinations in the past few weeks:

1. Nike Pegasus
Wright Sox

2. Nike Pegasus
Thorlos (thin and thick)

3. Nike Pegaus
No Inserts
Wright sox

etc. etc.

It's enough to make a person batty, all these iterations. And none of them made the slightest difference.

Well today was my longest run in a long while and I would usually have developed a blister by mile 3. But I was feeling good, except for a very very tight right calf, which I attribute to not wearing inserts (isn't this fascinating? I know, it is, isn't it?)

I got to 1.5 and thought, oh, what the heck, run to the two mile mark. (I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever EVER say stuff like that. EVER.)

And all my splits were under 11 minutes. Including the last mile faster than the third! Going uphill! Standing on my head! (Insert never ever ever, etc., here.)

It helped that I was listening to the Steve Prefontaine episode of Phedippidations. Steve Prefontaine (I know, the movie sucks) was an incredible talent. A talent cut short.

All I know is: Today, I didn't loathe running!

And that means that today was a Good Day.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Streak Continues!

See, in my world, a "streak" probably has a slightly different connotation than in your world. I'm not sure exactly what my definition of "streak" is, but I'm having one, damn it.

Monday: 3 miles outside, on trail, in cold early dawn.
Tuesday: Spin
Wednesday: 3 miles on that $#!fickin' frackin' treadmill
Today: 3 miles, outside in the not-all-that cold-midday.

Laugh if you must, but that is my streak. Three runs in one week! And the week isn't over yet. I might just end up with 13 miles in the can. (I vaguely remember the days when I could run 13 miles in one fell swoop. Was that really just five months ago? Sigh.)

I think actually a streak is a continuous spell of exercise. Which by that definition could actually mean one day. OK, a continuous spell of exercising over more than one day. OK, how about running four times in one week (which will happen after Saturday's run)? OK? We clear?

That's my streak. And I'm damn proud of it!

In other news: I've started taking the bus to work. That doesn't sound momentous to many of you I know, but whenever I take the bus, I feel so virtuous. It's hard for me to be without a car because I often have 72 bags of stuff I'm dragging with me (usually running gear, books, papers, lunch, giveaway clothes) but I am trying to arrange it so I take the bus at least four days a week. Besides saving wear and tear on the car, and a little thing I like to call saving mother earth, the other HUGE motivator for me is that I can now read the paper again. If I'm lucky, the bus gets stuck in traffic and I get to read 2-3 stories. It's all good, people!

In other other news: I finally achieved one of my lifetime goals (listed over there on 43 things): To have the Washington Post (the people who brought you Watergate!) print one of my submissions. Don't believe me? Read for yourself! Cross that baby off the goal list!

And saving the best for last:

CRAIG: 3:59:32
ALISON: 4:01:25

(Geeze Craig, would it have killed you to let her go first? C'mon!)

Congrats to both of you!

(Superman, aka Craig, and not Alison)

And that's a wrap people!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Weekly Roundup

Yes, I'm well aware it's Tuesday. Only Tuesday. How is that possible ... Since it feels like Friday, we're having a weekly roundup now. OK? OK!

1. Ran with 10k group Saturday. Three miles on the mall. In what felt like 70F weather. You'll never guess ... but when you run with a group? You tend to go faster. Who knew?

2. Can a person die from overwork?

3. Ran Monday morning—outside—at 7 a.m. Three more miles!

4. Have taken extremely expensive custom-made inserts out of shoes. Am now using thicker socks to compensate. Fascinating, non?

5. This morning, 6:30 a.m. Am I still dreaming? Or am I in spin class, one of only two people to show? And the other person is a sweaty guy?!? And I'm sitting directly in front of Spin Instructor? Annnnnnnnnnd, I made him laugh today. I said, "Personal training!" I told him my heart rate: 32bpm (10 seconds). He almost ran for the defibrillator. Oh, that's not all. I also asked him if I could take a photo next week, for my "web site." He said: "You want to advertise for us?"
Me: Um, yeah, sure!
SI: Cool!

(This is so not him.)

6. If I run tomorrow morning, this will qualify as a "running streak."

7. It's supposed to snow tomorrow. Morning.

8. Treadmill!

9. Had cupcake at work tonight. It was sitting out on the counter. It was 7 p.m. I got to work at 7: 30 a.m.

10. But made up for it with extremely healthy dinner: corn/roasted red pepper soup, baked (alright! nuked!) sweet potato, and baked mahi mahi. I really love Trader Joe.

That's all I got people. It's been a long week, and it's only Tuesday!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Good Luck Craig & Alison!!

It's Sunday. Time to sleep in, eat a leisurely, decadent breakfast, read the paper (or two), take a nap ... or fly to Tanzania and do this.

But only, you know, if you really feel like it.

My pseudononymous friends have actually flown to Tanzania and are running the Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon Sunday, March 4. C was reeling from the after-effects of anti-malarial medicine when he left. So we're hoping he recovers in time. Plus, this is his first marathon! Some people.

The marathon route leaves Moshi stadium and heads down towards the town, and then along the main road to Dar-Es-Salaam for approximately 8-9km. This section of the route is relatively flat, and there are plenty of well-wishers along the road. We turn around and head back to the town of Moshi, tracking down into the actual town itself before turning toward the mountain and heading up a long, steady ascent towards Mweka. The uphill climb is gradual, but with Kilimanjaro towering above and all the local villagers out to cheer you on, the time passes quickly. The turnaround point marks approximately 32km and the last section is a fast downhill run back toward the stadium. Regular water tables as well as 'sponging points' and the odd 'shower' keep the runners refreshed and cool along the entire route.

I can't wait to hear all the details!

Friday, March 02, 2007

I Am Not My Pace

I am not my mileage.

I am not my weight.

I am not my bodyfat.

I am not a number.

I am not what I do.

I am not what I can't do.

And neither are you any of those things.

I'm a whole, entire person, complete with quirks, guilt complexes, and delusions of grandeur (in my case). I bet you're pretty complex, too.

I am often hit in the face with reality.

I often bump up against my dreams and find they are, indeed, impossible.

I do my best! I angrily say to myself. Not always! I angrily answer. Sometimes, I decide to coast. Sometimes I don't put 100 percent into whatever it is that I claim to want. If I really wanted it, nothing would stop me, right? Somewhere along the line I decided I didn't want it—whatever it is— quite that much.

Sometimes my best just isn't good enough ... for me. Because ultimately, there's no one else who cares. There's no one else I have to please, except myself.

Just me. Unfortunately, I'm one tough customer.

Which is why I have to remind myself of who I really am. So this is my little reminder.

Thursday, March 01, 2007