Friday, August 31, 2007

Last Night I Dropped a Lamp on My Head

In a sudden burst of energy, I decided to vacuum at 9 p.m. I was still strung out on Benadryl, cayenne pepper, Theraflu, and various other stuff designed to rid myself of the evil that is this cold.

My house is a little crowded these days. Which makes walking around difficult, never mind vacuuming! What came over me?!?

In a slo-mo-Rube-Goldberg-esque sequence, the vacuum got hung on a dining room chair, and flipped it over, knocking into a very heavy, and very unstable (it had a rough childhood), floor lamp, which then conked me right in the back of the head.

I saw stars.

Proving once more that housework is bad for you.

Thanks for all your kind comments. Sorry if I infected you. I can indeed recommend the cayenne-pepper gargle cure. It worked. Or else time and antibiotics worked. Take your pick!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I'm sick, and not in a good way.

I ran three miles Tuesday morning, but that's it, I'm down for the count with a raging sore throat and a cold. You know the kind of sore throat where it hurts to swallow, or breathe? I'm holding my breath right this minute.

The last time this happened was on my birthday, in Miami, at a networking conference, in a luxury hotel, where I almost met Craig of Craig's list but I didn't, since I couldn't talk.

I've tried this FAIL-SAFE sore throat cure: Gargle with 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in warm water every 1/2 hour. One more day, and then, that's it. I'm ripping my throat out.

Besides being hopped up on cayenne, I'm hopped up on antibiotics, on lozenges, on Benadryl. I'm drinking water and juice like it's going out of style, and have only gone to work for half days. I'm sleeping like it's my job. Except when I can't sleep because my throat hurts too much. I read an entire book yesterday, Baldacci's The Camel Club. (Rating: good for when you're sick.)

I did get to watch the World Track and Field Championships in Osaka. Did you know there's this crazy women's race called the Steeplechase that involves women running seven laps around a track, jumping hurdles AND water, just like horses? I got very ticked off when they cut away from that to show me the Men's hammer hurling championship. Now there's a sick sport.

The thing about taking time off when you're sick is that it's tough to enjoy. You should totally take sick days when you're not sick.


I have nine miles scheduled for Saturday. Just last Saturday I was very busy lecturing my little running group about how running once a week, which is what several of them told me they had done, was not gonna cut it.

Oh how I hate when my words come back to haunt me.

Meanwhile, I've been carefully studying this video for tips. Although I have a feeling that it's everyone else who needs to watch it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lose a Friend ...

... gain some furniture!

My good and extremely generous friend, coach, and younger-than-me-but-wiser mentor, Bex, is heading west. Before she left though, she asked if I'd like to take a lovely armchair and ottoman off her hands.

Rule #1 here at Not Born to Run Headquarters is: Never say no to free stuff.

After Saturday's run in the sun, I asked this charming fellow if he would be interested in picking up an armchair and ottoman from Bex, and delivering it to me, across the river, a million miles away. It was 105F on Saturday, remember? "Of course!," he said. "Happy to!" (Let us state for the record that I offered to help load the truck, but was refused.)

Oh, the perils of owning a pickup.

So I went on home, showered, and whiled away the afternoon sipping iced tea while gazing at my upside-down screen door, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new chair and ottoman. Until Bex called, interrupting my reverie, asking would I be interested in a matching loveseat? How about a side table?

Rule #2 in the Not Born to Run household: See Rule #1. Meaning that Peter and Bex and E. now had to fit everything into Peter's trusty red pickup. In 105F.

Mmmmm, this lemonade tastes good!

So, that's the story of how a good man got roped into moving a whole lotta furniture in 105F. (Did I mention it was 105F?) And why my living room looks like Ikea met Crate and Barrel—and then threw up.

(Note tin can on side table labelled "France Argent." We (supposedly) put all our change in there, saving up for a big trip to France. Somehow the balance seems to be going down.)

Rule #3 in the Not Born to Run Household: Something new comes in, something old must go out.

Anyone in the market for a raggedy old exceptionally heavy couch? No?

There's this kid in Philly I know ... just got her first apartment ... now if I could just find a way to get that thing up there ...

Farewell, Bex! I hardly knew ye.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Southern Barbeque!

According to, that's what's going on out there today.

A high pressure system centered over Louisiana will continue to bring very hot weather to the South. Temperatures will reach the century mark for places in southern Arkansas, South Carolina and North Carolina, while readings for the remainder of the South will climb into the mid to upper 90s. Relief, however, is on the way with a cold front pushing into the region later this weekend.
And hello, you can also toss in VIRGINIA, D.C., and MARYLAND, accuweather people.

Arlington, Va.,
8 a.m. 88F/humidity 93
9 a.m. 91F/humidity 87
11 a.m. 100F/humidity 72

We ran eight miles in these conditions this morning on the no-longer-so-lovely W&OD trail, which runs 45 miles from Arlington to Purcellville.

The trail is suffering from some kind of tree blight, so it used to be lovely and shady, but now it's endless miles of, well, see for yourself:


Kind of sad.

What's sadder is running on it. Running on hot asphalt. Endless miles of it. Endless relentless clear blue skies and sun. Endless sun. No. Escape. From. The. Sun.

There were hundreds of people out there, and they were all insane.

I brought up the rear of my little group today. There was no running back and forth checking on people. Thankfully, Coach J. was also there and she was the pointman.

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure I saw a long tunnel illuminated with white light at one point. It's possible that I also saw my (dead) grandmother. I hung with M., who is from Trinidad, so, naturally I asked her, "So, do you have snow in Trinidad?"

What I'm trying to say here, is: IT. WAS. HOT.

So, eight miles in 1:46. I'll save you the trouble of doing the math: 13:15 minute/mile pace.

But all in all, I felt good at the end, despite my trying to argue with Coach J. that that had to have been NINE miles. Her Garmina said otherwise.

What doesn't kill you you makes you stronger, right?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where In the World Is Jeanne?

I'm sure that's the question on all of your collective lips. Or on the edge of your collective seats.

Thanks to a tip from 21st C. Mom, to avoid blowing my gasket driving all around creation last weekend, I bid on a car from Priceline, and for $20 a day was promised a mid-sized car in which to lug all of Number One Daughter's many many MANY things back to school. Instead, the nice people at Hertz gave me this:

Now, I'm totally anti-SUV, anti-mini-van, anti-car really, but I gotta say: the world looks different when you can actually see where you are going! And when you don't have to run the heater to cool down the engine. It was awesome. I meant to take photos of me licking the thing, but ran out of time. It only took me 20 years to become a soccer mom. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

On to the road trip!

Well, first, I was here:

(Number One Daughter breaking the blinds in her new just-outside-of-Philly-right-above-a-nail salon-cum-pizza-place-apartment, as the BF cheerfully watches, and the mother takes photos. This room will be shared by two girls.)

And then? I was here!
(Surrounded by topless boys! At last! Dear friends D and B, hubba hubba.)

And now, I'm back in paradise:
(Look at the progress since my last posting!)

Actually, there has been progress.
1. Bathroom. Upstairs landlord responsible for hole in ceiling settled with me for $3,500. Now, I just need to borrow a bit more and I'll have a HOLE new bathroom!

2. Car. Second trip back to the dealer revealed that—are ya ready?—the cap was loose on the radiator. There is no blown gasket, no cracked gasket. In fact, there may not be any gasket of any kind. And, the dealer AT no charge kindly TURNED THE LID on the radiator to tighten it. They swear that a LOOSE radiator lid was causing my engine to overheat. (Is there a mechanic in the house?) I mean, really. Whatever, the car hasn't overheated yet, and now I have it in writing that nothing is wrong with it.

3. Running. Yes, this is a blog about running. Sort of. I ran 90 minutes at the beach with B, pictured above. OK, actually we ran 1 hour and 24 minutes but who's counting. I have no idea if we were running 12 minute miles, 11 minute miles, or 10 minute miles (ha ha), but if past performance is any indicator, 86 minutes got me near 8 miles. Maybe.

We got up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, after a late Friday night spent frolicking, giggling, talking politics, knitting, iPhones, and weddings. Yet B., God bless him, got up at the crack and got me out the door. We ran all over Rehoboth, hither and yon, and had a great conversation. He'd probably say it was a good walk spoilt, but I swear we were running. I felt good afterwards, too!

I was back at NBTR headquarters Sunday night, where I immediately plunged into NOD-withdrawal. Sigh. I'm sure she's missing me too (NOT).

Monday: Couldn't face work. Could. Not. Face. It. But like the Good Soldier I am, face it I did. What I really couldn't face was running before work. So I ran four crappy miles in the evening.

Today, Wednesday, I set out to repeat last week's feat of six miles before 7 a.m. (six before seven! Trademark!) I got through mile five and that was the end of that. I slog/walked the last mile back. I think it must have been the glass of wine I had Saturday night. Or my general malaise. (See, Laurie? I actually had a good run Saturday morning! So no more conjuring me on those rare occasions when your runs go bad! Ha!)

I have three miles to run on Friday, then eight on Saturday with my group.

I have no clever way to end this post. Huh.

How about we end this way? It was good enough for Bogey.

Here's looking at you, kid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Did It My Way

That was me this morning. Doing it my way.

I decided to talk to myself (again) as though I were giving someone (someone not so bright) some advice. Someone NEW to running. Someone who was feeling despair about running. Someone who didn't know her arse from her elbow.

Here's what I said:
Self, you're gonna run six miles this morning, before work.
"Six miles!! You're nuts. I don't have time or energy for that. I can only do that if I'm with a group, heavily distracted. Or sedated."
Well, you're gonna do it anyway, cuz you're doing too much else this week and you need the mileage if you think you're gonna run this on Sept. 16.

So, I went out early, 6 a.m., it was still cool (relatively speaking), and I told myself to take the first two miles slow, pick it up for miles 3 and 4 (my version of picking it up, OK?) and then slow it way down for the last two miles.

Now, I don't know if this is in any way any kind of, you know, official, running-type work-out or anything. I mean it wasn't a tempo run, or intervals, or fartlek, or whatever. It was a pure JEANNE run.

So here, because I like to share, (I'm a giver!) I give you the JEANNE run, guaranteed to not kill you and yet, leave you feeling amazingly good (how many other things can you say that about?!!):

mile 1: 11:13
mile 2: 10:50
mile 3: 10:14
mile 4: 10:21
mile 5: 11:42
mile 6: 11:50

I felt good. Afterglow!

Meanwhile, I leave for Philly tomorrow morning (in a rental car, don't worry) to drop off Number One Daughter at her first apartment for her senior year. I'm spending the night with NOD and her roomies. Slumber par-tay!!

Friday, I'm driving from Philly to Delaware to visit some friends at the shore. And I'm staying through Sunday, unless they kick me out sooner which is not beyond the realm. So somewhere in between now and Sunday, I've got to get in an 8-miler. (Are ya listening Bob?!?!?!) If anyone knows any good running routes in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, drop me a line!

In the meantime, give a listen to ol' blue eyes over there ------------------->

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let Me Count the Ways

... that you can install a sliding screen door incorrectly.

While stumbling around HD (home for the departed?) yesterday, a lovely sliding screen door practically jumped into my path. I mean, I wasn't even looking for a screen door. I was on a toilet-hunting mission. I took it as a sign that I was meant to have an insect-free apartment. No need for measurements, it looked about right.

As I said, my mission was to find a plain, white toilet. Duck in, pay $70, duck out with a toilet. How hard could that be? HD had cleverly placed all their toilets (well, the ones for sale) on the ceiling. They were hanging from the ceiling (I am so not making this up). And since there were, oh a few thousand choices, all white, I decided that I must vigorously research them before buying. Nobody in their right mind just runs out and buys a white toilet! What was I thinking?!?!

I had big decisions to make! Did I want the Williamsburg Elongated One-Piece Toilet in White? (Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. A little bit of history in the salle de bain). Or did I want the Memoirs(R) Comfort Height(TM) Elongated Toilet with Stately Design, White? (I'm dying to know what it remembers ... or what memories it induces.) Or, being the Anglophile that I am, perhaps I'd be more suited to the Devonshire(R) Elongated Toilet Bowl, White, which presumably flushes with an English accent. Very cosmopolitan.

Buying a car is easier.

So I gave up on the whole toilet endeavor, since it was giving me an HD headache, and instead, came home with a screen door.

Reading through the screen door instructions, I caught on to the fact that the door's height could be adjusted. NOT THAT IT SAID THAT ANYWHERE. But adjusting it required tools. A huge obstacle in the NBTR household. Our motto? "Everything has a place, but nothing is in its place."

I finally located the phillips head screwdriver in Number One Daughter's nightstand. (I am so not making this up.)

So, the door first went on backwards, then backwards and upside down, then frontwards but upside down. I figured I was winning though. The door went on three ways, all wrong. But I suffered four scraped knuckles! (See? 4-3. Love. Whatever.)

A few HOURS later, it was still wrong. Like an itch you can't scratch, it was really bugging me that we'd have to open our new, if bloodied, screen door, by digging fingers into the "bug seal" and sliding it to the right, instead of using the actual handle. Which was on the right. So when the door was open, you couldn't even get to the handle.

For the record, nowhere in the instructions did it say P.S. Before starting, MAKE SURE YOU'VE GOT THE DOOR SITUATED CORRECTLY!!! I mean, that's just sloppy, if not criminal.

Where oh where is rent-a-husband when you need it?!?!?

Obligatory Running Note: Saturday I ran 6.48 miles with my running group. Neither of the coaches for the "slow" group showed up (one was scheduled to be out), so I pretended to be a coach. It was perfect running weather. Cool, crisp, sunny. We ran along the C & O canal, on the towpath, from Fletchers Boat House, to Key Bridge, back past Fletchers to Chain Bridge and back.

I ran back and forth between them but they were really spread out. I cheered them on at the turnaround. It's quite an eye opener running with people who are slower than you are and encouraging them. I highly recommend it for your own mental health, if nothing else. What a difference from last week's death march when I could barely choke out the words "water, give me water." So I'm a little behind schedule because my long run should be at eight, but whaddya gonna do?

What I'm gonna do is sit back and admire my slightly off-kilter screen door, you know, the one with the blood on it. And the 1/2 inch gap at the top. It kind of looks like it needs braces. I'll feel the cool August breeze waft in as I sit on the couch and leaf through the toilet section of the HD catalog. Here's a racey little number:

Only $1,899! It's electric, it composts. I daresay it might even do the dishes.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Déjà Vu All Over Again

I swear I'll get thank you for this, LBTEPA! I have the oddest feeling that I've answered this before. But nevermind, let's see what I come up with this time around:

Jobs I’ve Held

Nursing home night attendant, driver for the Boston Transit Authority, temp for the Library of Congress, waitress at Mr. Donut (my first job—foreshadowing?)

Movies I Can Watch Over & Over

Best Years of Our Lives******
Bridge on the River Kwai
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Liar, Liar

My Guilty Pleasures

Watching crap TV
I have an intense love/hate relationship with donuts

Places I have lived (in order)
New Haven (that's in Connecticut, for my international readers), Boston, Arlington, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Bethesda, Maryland

Shows I Enjoy
Masterpiece Theater
What Not to Wear

Places I Have Been on Holiday

Ireland, London, Spain, Montreal, St. Catherine's, Ottawa; Lake Champlain, Vermont; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; San Francisco, San Diego, Tijuana, Mexico; Big Sur, Disneyworld, Disneyland, New York City (well and all states between Massachusetts and California if you count the four-day bus trip I took for $99 from one coast to the other in 1977.)

Favorite Foods
Nicely done salmon; good Indian food; mango and sticky rice

Websites I Visit Daily

Bloglines; Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, Washington Post, New York Times

Body Parts I Have Injured
(Does this include childbirth??)

Awards I’ve Won
Second place fiction for the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant New Writers Award 1975 (think bleak and morose);
Best New National Project, National Jaycees—for the 1992 Alternative Candidates' Debate (See? Proof is provided!)

Nicknames You’ve Been Called
Jolly Green Giant (grade school kids aren't all that imaginative);

(As Nytro would say: Who reads this crap? Although I am proud of my awards. They're my fallback position when I wonder where my life went.)

Anyway, I'm sparing all of you and tagging no one. You have lives to live!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Wednesday, Do You Know Where My Run Is?

It's been averaging, oh high 100s since Saturday's debacle. I've only "run" once. Despite all my moaning and bitching, I don't skip runs. It's totally due to fear, not to any dedication or commitment, believe me (although I am dedicated AND committed. Honest. Or should be). But I awoke Monday at 5:30 to a dark dreary rainy humid hot morning and I just couldn't do it. I reset the clock for 7:30 and slept in!

A brilliant move since we all know how it cools down during the daytime.

I decided to try four miles at 5 p.m., and in another burst of brilliance (that really was smart) I left the watch home and decided to cover the four miles however I could. It was 99 F. Three miles in, I started walking, walked for 1/2 mile, then shuffled the last 1/2 mile back to work.

You know how they say once you get out there you'll be glad you did?

They are so wrong.

But as as my encouraging co-worker TallGirl said the next morning: "That's more than most people did!" Amen.

Tuesday was a "rest" day, seeing how I'd exerted myself so much on Monday. I also had to be at a conference downtown by noon, so the morning was spent trying to work, in between 25 phone calls from Number One Daughter, who was trying to wrap up her job, and get a second opinion on our car.

NOD and the BF were leaving on Wednesday (today) on an extended road trip to visit relatives in the Hamptons (hers not his) and then drive on to St. Catherine's, Ontario, site of the 125th Royal Canadian Henley this weekend in which BF is rowing. Only at the very last minute the organizers added heats on Friday, which BF hadn't planned on, which meant less time in the Hamptons, and, lots of ensuing complications and planning. Plus there were birthday presents to prepare for the cousin (a mix CD of goodbye songs for her semester abroad! all the songs had to be about leaving or traveling. Now that was FUN!) that we played around with til 1 a.m.

So the thing about staying up until 1 is, you don't much feel like getting up at 5:30 to run.

And we all know what happens when you skip a run.

The. End.

That's what happens.

This week so far:
It's too freakin' hot.
I ate too much crap at another conference.
My sleep is all outta whack.
I'm sick of running.
I spent $500 on car at the dealer, who didn't find a cracked casket (ha ha, i wrote CASKET instead of GASKET!) or anything other than a bunch of fluids needing replacing or flushing or whatever it is they do with fluids. Of course, after we picked up the car, it immediately started overheating.

I. Am. Very. Cranky.

But you know me by now: Cranky or not I have a job to do—I'm here to shine the spotlight of optimism on whatever little tidbits of joy there are in this worrisome world. To that end, I give you:

Happy Nixon Resigns Day!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bridge on the Way to Washington National Airport

Me, this a.m., on the Mt. Vernon trail: "You'll go on without me and that's an order!"
Coach: "You're crazy with courage, and for what?! You've got the stench of death about you!"
Me: "Sorry, it's hot out here."

I can particularly relate to the guy who is marching in place with only one boot. Marching in place ... not getting anywhere ... yes, that sounds familiar!

I love these runs. Even when they suck because no matter what, it never fails that I get a story out of them. It's all blog fodder, people!

Last week I ran 16 miles, 10 during the week, 6 on Saturday. This week, I upped my weekly mileage to 13, and my Saturday run to 7. What's that you say, Laurie?? Blah blah blah careful don't add too much blah blah too soon la la la?? A.J.? Did you say something?

My group was running 5 miles Saturday morning, so this fellow suggested I get there early, run 2 and then go out with my group for 5. Seven in the can without even noticing! Brilliant!

I got there at 7 a.m. and ran one mile out and back. I was slow, but often am on those first few miles: 11:34 and 11:00. I got back, met with the group and went back out for 5 miles. By 7:30 a.m., I swear it was 110. In the shade. Inside. With air conditioning. I started out fine on this—let the record reflect—my second run of the morning. I ran with a new kid, dishing out portions of my vast wide and deep running knowledge for her to drink in. And then? I fizzled out like a damp match.

Oh who knows why it happened. Heat, too many miles added too quickly, no water (did I mention I had cleverly brought no water?), I'm lazy (my personal favorite), but what happened was around mile 3 (really mile 5), it was all over. I watched every single member of my pace group pass me while I told them all oh no, I was fine. I'm walking because, I dunno, it's so nice in the broiling sun, I thought I'd prolong this death march. I pretty much walked the last two miles, which sort of defeated the point of getting there early but oh well. I even resorted to talking "nice" to myself, as in how I would talk to a friend who was struggling, but I wasn't buying it.

If I'd had the strength, I would have whistled the "Colonel Bogey March."

In the end? Colonel Nicholson goes beserk, everyone dies and they blow up the bridge. Now that's what I call a good movie!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Say It Out Loud*

...I'm a runner and I'm proud!

There's something to this thing of declaring your intentions, and I'm not talking Jane Austen and marriage proposals. Although come to think of it ... nevermind, that's another post entirely.

For weeks now I've only been able to run this schedule during the week:
M-3 miles
W-4 miles
F-3 miles
and then Saturday, whatever is on the long run sked--currently at 6 miles!

I looked back over last year's running log and noticed that at this time last year I was routinely runnng 6 and 7 miles during the week, plus doing hills and track work. Yeesh, what the hell was I thinking??

I KNOW what I was thinking. I was thinking: girl, you got a marathon to run!

So this year, no marathon. But I got a 10 miler to run! And I'd like to get a 1/2 marathon in there, too.

So you know, time to step it up already.

So Saturday, I was complaining (what else is new) to one of my running group peeps that I could NOT seem to up the distances during the week. COULD NOT. And I had no idea why. And together we pondered what that was all about, as she slunk away to talk to someone normal.

So, lo and behold, this week I started Monday morning with a 4-miler, and Wednesday did 5 miles, and tomorrow, if the planets are aligned and my meds kick in, I'll do four miles!!

See? I went from 3-4-3 to 4-5-4!

And all because I said out loud what I'd been thinking for weeks, which was: What the hell is my problem?

I just thought I'd share that with you.

Have a nice day!

* Apologies to James Brown.