Monday, April 30, 2007

What 'Runner-Up' Means to Me


Thanks to Runner Susan for naming me runner-up in the Rise and Shine worst-morning photo contest. (Does this mean if Juls can't perform her duties, I get to step in? I'm standing by!)

And, I want to thank all the little people who helped me along the way. I swear I'll never forget you.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rise and Shine!

It all started with 21st Century Mom, that troublemaker. She cited the challenge issued by Jessica of Daughter of Opinion to post an unadorned photo of what you look like first thing—very first thing—in the morning. As Jessica put it
A close friend of mine recently suggested that what really provides substance to a relationship and bonds people together is sharing the "yuck".

If you are a blogger who posts pictures, I challenge you to feature your own "Rise and Shine" photo.

I dare you to not only reveal but revel in your own imperfections and, in doing so, show us who you really are.
Runner Susan had to up the ante by issuing a challenge: Free masthead to the worst morning picture.

Never one to shrink from a challenge, I offer exhibit A:

And if that's not scary enough, try this on for size:

In fact, I got so into this, I took a photo every single day this week. OK, several photos. I should win for persistence alone!

Are we closer now? Did we bond?

But dang, I forgot you could smile. Then again, I don't do much smiling first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Boston Marathon 2007!

When last we left her, our heroine was struggling with a broken head and extreme sleep deprivation. I soon realized that, Jeanne, you could do this kind of hair-brained no-sleep thing when you were 20, but not so much at 50!!

On Marathon Monday (4/16) I was up early, feeling hungover, chomping at the bit, ready to GO GO GO!!! I wanted plans, maps, cameras. What to wear? When to leave? Synchronize your watches people! I was so determined not to miss Dianna and jeff! Or Michelle, who was orchestrating the whole support train, along with April Anne.

I think I finally drove R. to distraction asking her advice about weather, when we should leave, wasn't it time to leave yet, etc. You'd have thought (or maybe you ARE thinking) that I was running this thing. As if! I decided it was easier just to wear everything I owned. (At 7:30 a.m., in Boston proper where I was located, the wind was howling and the rain pelting.) Unfortunately, at the very same time I was reporting "apocalyptic" weather conditions to Runner Susan, jeff was phoning in with the news that the weather looked great! Low winds, slightly misty ... conditions=perfect! (Next time let's get our story straight people!)

We made it to the first checkpoint, Checkpoint Happy Swallow Tavern (or something like that) in Framingham, mile 7, at 10:30 and hung around waiting.

Mistake one: As the first press truck passed by, I assumed it was tracking the the elite men, and that I had missed seeing them by mere seconds.

Mistake two: As the second press truck passed by, I glanced up and saw that THOSE WERE THE ELITE MEN. The first truck was following the wheelchair leaders. So I missed THAT photo, too. Sigh.

But I did manage to get myself together enough to get a shot of some of the women's leaders:

(If you're interested: #7: Russian Lyubov Denisova—finishing in 7th place for women overall, in 2:38:00
#50: Californian Mary A. Akor—finishing in 11th place for women overall in 2:41:01
#61 Californian Christine H. Lundy—finishing in 12th place for women overall, in 2:41:14.)

We finally caught up with Michele and entourage: Di's parents, husband, Michele and her husband, and called each other (on cell phones) from across the street. We dashed back and forth a few times trying not to bump into runners, and the tension mounted!

(I also want to give a shout-out here to SteveRunner of Phedippidations, who did a great job, and who I was also hoping to see! And my Spinning Instructor! But, I missed them both. Story of my life.)

Finally, Jason spotted them, and trusty R. got the money photo! Several of them! We didn't know it at the time, but those were the only photos we'd get of them running.

Three cars raced to mile 13 (OK, it's entirely possible that we stopped at Dunkin' Donuts on the way, but only for a minute!). Alas, somehow they were too fast for us and we missed them.

It was on to the finish! Michelle and entourage hung at mile 25ish, and R. and I hung right past the finish, but as usual, I managed to watch both Dianna and jeff pass right by me (in my defense, it was a little crowded).

(Just past the finish, where I missed seeing Dianna and jeff.)

(Some random finishers.)

We assembled at the assigned meeting place, and anxiously awaited the arrival of the rockstars:

(Thank God for cell phones! Michelle's husband, Michelle coordinating, April Anne, and R.).

(The delightful April Anne and Michelle)

(Does this look like a woman who just ran a marathon? In 3:22??)

(The team, and since I took these photos, of course, I missed Jason. Sigh.)

And that my friends, concludes this year's edition of my Boston Marathon Epic Spectator Report. Thanks for letting me ride on your coattails for three posts, Dianna and jeff!

Friday, April 20, 2007

How I Made It to Boston, Part 47

The train finally dumped me and my concussed head off at South Street Station, Boston, where my dear friend R. was waiting. It was raining. No, strike that. It was monsooning, only without the nice warm part. It was cold. It was just like the Boston I remembered from my wasted youth—gray and miserable from September through May. God, I love it.

R. had to work, so I asked if I could go with her. She is an accomplished photographer for the Boston Herald. We both started out at Boston University's School of Communication in 19blahdeblah. She stuck it out, and I bailed to get a degree in possibly the most useless field on earth: rehabilitation counseling. (Trust me: there were no jobs for a 22-year-old with a B.S. in that obscure field.) But, no regrets, right? The time was not right for me and wouldn't be right until 22 years later when I finally got my M.A. in journalism.

Live and learn.

In all those years, I had never seen R. in action. She's photographed just about everone you've ever heard of—politicians, musicians, authors, sports stars—and superstars, and just plain regular people. Crises and kids splashing puddles. South Africa. You name it, she's photographed it.

Today (that would be last Sunday, 4/15, try to keep up), she was assigned to photograph a ceremony at Faneuil Hall commemorating Holocaust Rememberance Day. It was a moving ceremony; I had a place to sit and listen to survivors of the death camps, and their children, share their stories, as I watched R. deftly take photos without disturbing the ceremony. It's not so easy.

After that we scuttled back to the Herald's offices, and I got to sit in what used to be the "darkroom" and watch R. do her thing. Some other photographers were there and we all had a merry old time talking about changes in the news biz, the unions, being sarcastic and making fun of things. My kind of peeps!

It's funny how the darkroom has been totally transformed. I remember when there was a circular door to go through so that you didn't let in any light. Now the room is well lit, and littered with desktops and laptops and all kinds of electronic paraphenalia.

Wait, I'm losing the thread ... where was I?

Right. Marathon.

After that, we hightailed it back to R.'s place for a lovely dinner, and somehow I believe I kept up my part of the conversation, which mostly consisted of me asking what the symptoms of a concussion were, my head drooping towards the table and drool running out of my mouth. I make a fun houseguest.

We were all in bed (no, not together!) by 10 p.m., while outside the wind whipped furiously—nay, some would say EPIC-ly! Alarms wer set for a 7:30 a.m. wakeup to get a jumpstart on the Big Day.

(R. and friend)

Part Next: The Big Day.

UPDATED: Of course, I forgot to include a link to the best photo of all! Blame the concussion.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How I Made It to Boston, Part One

After waiting until the very last second to decide to go watch history being made, thereby ensuring that I missed every single decent airfare, I managed to find a decent train fare by leaving at the arse-crack of dawn Sunday morning and returning at a similarly ungodly hour Tuesday morning. It's about a 7 1/2 hour train ride, when you take the local (Motto: "We stop every 15 minutes!") from Washington, D.C. to Boston. For good measure, I made sure to drive to and from Philly (six hours, roundtrip) on Saturday, to see Number One Daughter be inducted into an honor society (making me a very proud mother!) returning Saturday night around midnight.

To recap:

Saturday: drive to philly, eat very sad vegetarian dinner at catered induction ceremony, cry when daughter gets inducted, drive back to D.C., arrive home at midnight.

Sunday: Wake up at 4 a.m., drive to Union Station, for 5:20 a.m. train to Boston.

We good?


I was a wee bit tired. So I asked a friendly and helpful Amtrak employee where the "quiet" car was—that would be the car without the endless clang of cell phones and witless conversation that goes with them. He replied, "Did you pay for a quiet car? No? No quiet car on this train!"

Apparently it costs more money to NOT HAVE NOISE. Tell me, please, how is noise less expensive than not noise? If I had had my wits about me, I would have asked him that very question. Alas, I did not have my wits about me, and I was very soon to lose the few wits I had left. But! Amtrak employee said the very last car was sometimes quiet-er.

Just let me sleep. Please.

There was a woman with a kid sitting in the first, spacious row and I asked her if she was planning on using a cell phone because I needed to sleep. She said, "How should I know? I'm not making you any promises." People! Ya can't live with 'em... etc. I trudge to back of car.

Sleep, just let me get back to sleep.

Sleep was elusive. But! I had cleverly stashed some Tylenol P.M. for the journey.

The stuff works like a charm. Usually. I took two. Without water. Something I don't really recommend, since I now had two pills stuck in my throat. I thought I would die or throw up. But! Friendly helpful Amtrak employee was coming my way!! Yay! I asked, "Does this car have a water fountain?" He said, "Yes, there's a water fountain in every single car. But, you don't want to drink the water on this train. It's poison. It will kill you." (I am so not making this up.)

So, I waited until he left the car and then went forward to the water fountain and drank the poisonous water. Amtrak employee saw me from the next car and came back to warn me again.

It's against this backdrop that the first "incident" occurred. I wobbled my way back to my seat and—you know how above the seats is a rack for your luggage? Yeah? Well, in my semi-alive state I smacked the side of my head into that mother like I was tackling it. I think little musical notes circled around my head like they do when Bugs Bunny bumps into something.

To recap:

1. I have pills stuck in my throat.

2. I have swilled poisonous water.

3. I have hit my head like a linebacker going in for the kill.

I curl my 5'9" body on the two seats where it does not fit, plug in the Nano, and listen to Yoga Nidra, my guaranteed sleep potion.

Which, after listening to it several thousand times, I concede is not working.

At some point I stumbled forward to use the facilities.

And, on the way back, I had to move aside to let the conductor through. As I stepped into a spare seat, what did I forget?

Luggage rack. Located approximately 5'7" from the floor.

This time, I smacked my head against that thing so hard my teeth shook. In the exact same spot as the first time.

I spent the rest of the journey wondering what a concussion feels like. In fact, here I sit, four days later, and I'm still convinced I have loosened a blood clot, and will probably have a stroke in bed tonight.

It's been nice knowing you!

Coming up ... part two, wherein your heroine gets cold!

(Davie the Clown, one of my gracious Boston hosts.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

She Did It!!!

(Thank Goo You're Fast?? Goo??!? Me, wearing every single piece of clothing I own. Layers, people, layers.)
--Photo, Courtesy R. Dekona)

Well, I'm back from my epic journey to Boston, and have my own epic story to tell, in 457 parts, but the most important thing is: She did it and she did it very very well indeed.

(And he did it, too.)

Rock on, RBF!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Please enjoy this musical interlude whilst we take a short break:

Back in a flash!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Injured? Have I Got the Exercise for You!

Welcome to my happy place.

It's called Yoga Nidra, "an ancient, profoundly healing and extremely powerful process that helps you coalesce and direct your life energy," says the Yoga Nidra CD a friend very thoughtfully lent to me. "To prepare for Yoga Nidra, lie down on your back, on a very soft, padded surface," sort of like a ... bed, maybe? Continuing:
Remember, that in the practice of Yoga Nidra, it's not about effort or trying.
And in case you didn't catch those instructions the first time around, you get another little reminder,
It's not even advisable to try to have a particularly deep practice. There's no effort, no concentration, no trying ... not even trying to stay awake. ...In this practice, you will be hovering at the threshold between sense consciousness and sleep consciousness. This is a very receptive state of being. It's normal, especially for new practitioners, not to remember all parts of the session [well that's reassuring!] Don't worry, your subconscious mind is still responding and benefiting from Yoga Nidra.
No trying? Check! No effort? Double check! No concentration? No problem!! I just plug in my Nano (until someone bans "listening devices" in bed) and I have rarely gotten five minutes into this CD before I am stone cold asleep, like a particularly noxious drunk. Only without the drinking part. You have no idea how monumental this is. I generally approach bedtime with dread, looking forward to an hour or two of tossing and turning, until I give up and get up, wander around, clean, and then wake up too early so I'm in a Really Bad Mood all day.

So, this is fantastic! It's like a drug. I actually believe all that stuff about hovering between this consciousness and that consciousness because since I started using this—right after my surgery—I have had the most fantastical, vivid dreams. It's like going to the movies for free. One dream had monkeys in it sitting outside my bedroom window; in another, I was in India walking over the backs of elephants (I'm sure that means something very profound); and in yet another, I was visiting a friend in Senegal. I like to travel.

This is my kind of yoga. Maybe, one day, after all this has passed, I will be ready again for this kind of yoga. But right now, laying in bed and having someone lull me to sleep as a form of exercise well ... yes I said yes I will Yes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

(From my balcony.)

(Potomac River in the distance.)

OK, technically this was the day before Easter. Flouncy spring dresses? Back in closet. Out comes the long underwear.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Walking Towards Running

There is no contest: Walking is easier than running (for me). There is no fear associated with it, I don't have to talk myself into it, it's relatively easy, and, the best gift: there is no pressure to perform. I've walked 2 miles a day three days this week, and plan to walk every day, gradually increasing the time and mileage.

The rewards are tremendous. You're outside, you're free, it's free, you can do it in ANY kind of weather, even in the worst winds, if properly dressed. You can evesdrop on people's conversations. You get to pass people! You notice the little changes in the flora and fauna. You see wildlife! (One bunny, one deer.) I have no concern whatsoever for my pace! Um, OK that last one is actually a lie.

My first two walks clocked in at 17:30 min miles. Yesterday, I did 16:00 min. miles.

Who says I'm competitive?

UPDATE: Speaking of competitive, check out Thomas' account of his first ultra. Thomas is a riveting writer, and includes such details as him running up the "Devil's Kill Me Now" hill, and many other descriptions of Irish places with fanciful, and terrifying, names. He finished in the time it takes me to lace up my shoes. Thomas, you're amazing!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Baby Steps

Dear Diary,

Today I went for a walk. It took 35 minutes, and I was soooooooooo proud of myself, singing, "you go, girlfriend!" the whole way. I just WALKED three miles in .... um... 35 minute ... wait a minute! That can't be right!"

I am such a dunderhead, Diary, it was only two miles. Believe you me, Diary, walking is not as easy as it looks! But I know I can do it, because I believe in myself! And because my BWF (Best WALKER Friend!) Anita, told me about this site were they actually teach you how to walk. And it has a good schedule on it so I don't do too much, witch you know me, that's just what wood happen!! So, Thank you Walker Fiend!

I was sooooooooooooo happy to get back on the trail, and I listened to the Christmas episode (I know, I know! I am sooooo far behind, Diary!) of the Ricky Gervais show. That's the episode where they read from Karl's diary about the mad women next door and Karl's father who cut the mattress in half because it didn't fit, and Karl's Uncle Alf who slept in a dinghy. "It's like you live in a nursery rhyme!," Mr. Gervais said. I don't know why people were looking that way at me, just because my hair was a little sloppy, and I was walking, talking, and laughing to myself. Sheesh, Diary, people are so WIERD!

And Diary, last Saturday I went to the DCRR 10k Group and messed with (or maybe that should read "messed up?" LOL!) some paperwork before handing it all over to Coach Peter, who exclaimed, "How did things get this confused?" LOL!!! Well, I sure know how to make myself useful by taking lots of photos of everyone else running and stretching, and in between I walked around in circles because I had volunteered (I know, I know! I do sooooooooo much!) to watch everyone's stuff. It was exhausting, Diary, let me tell you! But if not me, then who? I believe it was President John A. Kennedy who said, "Make sure you volunteer for your country." And I try to live like that every single day. As all my friends know only TOO well! LOL!!!

Yesterday, I visited my doctor for my two week after-my-operation thing-y and you'll never guess! My heart rate: 56! (It was high because thinking about Bob made me happy.) My doctor also got very very stern and said, "You have no idea what actually happened to you, do you?" Well, Diary, I hung my head in shame! My doctor is soooooooooo right! She said that my body is busy trying to grow around (ugh! yucky sutff!) some kind of medical mesh thing-y into it's tissue and that I just had to stop carrying groceries, and really, you know, like heavy things, and no I could NOT start yoga or wieght lifting or ANYTHING, unless I was good and ready to have my medical thing-y fail and have to start all over. Oh Diary! I was scared. But you know that sometimes doctors have to be mean because they are trying to help you. I saw that on House. And I no that's what she was trying to do, you know, like give me some love, only tough.

So Diary, that's all their is for today! I'm so excited to be back walking I don't know what to do! I have to go cuz American Idol is on and I am crossing my fingers for Sanjaya cuz he is soooooooooooo dreamy!

Love ya!
YKW (You Know Who!!!)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Born to Win!

It was a tough race today, running the "Cherry Blossom Negative 10-Miler" but I seemed to be in good shape towards the end there.