Friday, December 28, 2007

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

(I am totally stealing this post from Andy Carvin's "Morning Edition" interview this morning.)

What are you doing New Year's Eve?


What do you wish you were doing New Year's Eve?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Is It Physically Possible to Eat More Chocolate?

Apparently, this is the science experiment I am currently engaged in.

The good new is: I hit the motherload of presents!

I can see! I can see! Goggles with corrective lenses! Thanks E.!

Number One Daughter picked out this fabulous new nightie ... OK, maybe it's a little big, but I'll be filling it out in NO TIME at the rate I'm going.

A new work accessory, It's a MAJOR AWARD! given to me by NOD, who knows me like a book. I think it will bring just the right note of decorum to my work life.

I spent a relaxing afternoon crying underneath my new ELECTRIC BLANKET while reading this fabulous book about Terry Fox by Douglas Coupland, one of two sent to me by none other than your Running Blogfather. You just never know when he'll show up.

As usual we finished off gift giving with a yummy breakfast of homemade french toast made with homemade bread. Yum.

Oh and NOD got a few trinkets, too:

I hope your Christmas was as peaceful and happy as ours was.
Midnight Mass

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thought o' the Day

Since changes are going on anyway, the great thing is to learn enough about them so that we will be able to lay hold of them and turn them in the direction of our desires. Conditions and events are neither to be fled from nor passively acquiesced in; they are to be utilized and directed.

—John Dewey

I'm for that!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pondering Presents

So I'm thinking about presents. And here's what I'm thinking: I think when you get a present, there's only one response you get to make, and that's this: Thank you.

I read all these letters to Dear Amy and Carolyn Hax complaining about getting crappy—or just the wrong—presents, and asking for advice about how to tell the gifter that their presents suck. You know, in a nice way.

And I don't get it.

I mean, of course I DO actually get it. Everyone hopes that their loved ones will know them well enough to know what would please them. But don't these people get how lucky they are that someone remembered them at all??

I decided—because I'm a saint? um, no—to be happy that someone thought enough to remember me. Period.

I know people will disagree with this philosophy, but really, it saves so much angst. Granted, I don't have a big, extended family, so I don't have anyone to fight with, impress, or feel bad about. And, aside from Number One Daughter, there are no kids awaiting presents from me. So I know I have it easier than most.


I also totally don't get what's bad about re-gifting. I gave a friend of mine a hardcover book that she saw me reading on vacation, and admired. I enjoyed the book, but knew I wouldn't re-read it, so gave it to this person for Christmas. I honestly saw nothing wrong with doing that. Yet she was offended.

I guess it's easy for me to be sanguine about the whole gift-giving experience since there's really only two people who give me gifts (and hey, thanks to both of you!)

Oh, I realize that giving presents often has nothing to do with the actual giving of presents. It's so symbolic—of what I mean to you and vice versa. I guess if year after year I give you presents that seem to imply that I know nothing about you, or have never actually met you—well, I guess that could get on a person's nerves.

To illustrate: One year I came home from work to find a box outside my apartment door, in the hallway, leaking some red fluid. A Christmas present! But what's that it blood? Is this some weird reprise of Se7en???

Oh no, it was just a Christmas present from me mum. She'd sent a box of frozen steaks.

I'm a vegetarian.

So yeah, I get the disappointment that someone who should know you—at least a little!—doesn't. But you can't make that happen.

We all have so much crap already. I mean really. Think about it. Don't you have everything you really need? Who wants more stuff?

Well, unless it's something like this. A girl can't ever have too many of those.

I Was Soooo Not Last!

Perspective is an amazing thing. I'm so glad I did this race. I'm not kidding. Look I got 776 Grand Prix Points, for pete's sake!

So I was 10th from last. I was 7th from last. I was 8th of 10. But I was not last! And you know what? I was running my own race. OK, it happened to be in the middle of an actual, you know, race. But I was giving it my all and doing my best. Not always typical of moi. So I'm happy!

In other happy news, why do I always have things growing out of my head in Christmas photos?

(My best boys B. and D. Happy Christmas!)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ten Miles

(Addendum: Oh, oops: total time: 1:52:55 (11:17 min. mile))

I should have been home making eggnog quick bread for my hairdresser (don't ask) but I dragged —and I do mean DRAGGED—myself out of my NICE WARM HOUSE to run 10 miles in 39F (REAL FEEL 31F).

I'm trying to hit 10 miles in 1:50 so I can qualify for the National Marathon. Not that I want to run it. I just want don't want anyone telling me I'm not allowed to.

So during last week's wonderful hilly half, when I felt like I could run forever, I hit 10 miles in 1:55. Today, at three miles I was thinking that somebody moved the wall. From 22 miles to three. I really wish someone would explain to me why running is easy one day and misery the next. WHY? WHY??

Here's how I've been running my 10 miles: Drop off car at work. Pop up to the trail, run 1.5 miles out and back = 3 miles. That puts me back at work. Run two miles past work = 5 miles. Two miles back, and I'm at work again, and now at 7 miles. Run out 1.5 miles and back = 10.

See? It's brilliant. I have about four chances to quit! And I'm never farther than two miles away from work.


Mile 1: 11:15
Mile 2: 10:49 (kill me, really, I can't run another foot, I hate this and I want it to stop. OK, Jeanne, if you really want to, you can stop at mile 3. Then, you can write about that on your damn blog.)
Mile 3: 11:09
Mile 4: 10:18 (whee! downhill!)
Mile 5: 10:26
Mile 6: 11:57 (and back up)
Mile 7: 12:46 (might have been a stoplight and traffic here)
Mile 8: 12:00 (or maybe it was here)
Mile 9: 10:43 (please make this end. i'm begging.)
Mile 10: 11:30

Nothing says consistency like "Jeanne"!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It Can Only Mean One Thing

When your spinning instructor? Promises to bring in a CD for you next week? And then he actually does? And not only brings in the CD? But brings you a MIX CD of the great Lila Downs? With songs from like more than just one CD? And then tells you where he went to high school (Barcelona)? And what year he graduated (1976)? And answers your questions about whether he speaks Spanish? And you have an ENTIRE conversation? About whether or not he still uses Spanish? And he says yes, but only with the gardeners, and with "OUR" housecleaners?

It can only mean one thing.

He's definitely married.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Smokin' Photos

(O.G. (Orange Girl) and TSG (Track-Suit Guy) think they have a chance. Ha!)

(Have shaken off hangers-on. I figure I'm doin' a 6-minute mile here.)

(The giant crowd is right there behind the ... err, um ... did I say the word behind??)

(Happiness is ... Susie and David.)

(Does my head look pointy?)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Born to Be Worried

Fredericksburg Blue and Gray Half-Marathon, Dec. 9, 2007, official results:
8/9  Jeanne L McCann   02:34:59   02:34:26   11:47

Yes, I was.

Fredericksburg Blue-Gray Half-Mary Recap:

I wish I could show you the topographical map. Just picture the Swiss Alps, and that's kind of what this was like.

Two things happened Saturday night that helped: Susie and David invited some friends for dinner; the woman, V. is a very serious runner. Both she and her husband talked running and strategy and speed work, and even took time to give me some tips. "Not a good idea," said V. of my plan to walk the hills. "Once you give in to walking, your brain gets the idea that it's ok. Just pick out markers and try to get from one to the next."

The second thing: David called to wish us well. I don't know what you said to me exactly, David, but you made me feel that I could do this.

Oh, and a third thing: training in Tahoe with Bex. Even though she had only taken me on a three-mile hilly run, her no-nonsense approach resounded in my brain.

So, those were my secret weapons, and after a fitful night's sleep, I awoke at 5:30 to down oatmeal, coffee, water, and worry about what the best outfit was. It was overcast, misty, gray, and about 42F. Tights, a turtleneck and vest.

The race started at 7:30 a.m. As is my wont, at 7:20 I was in dire—DIRE—(if you get catch my drift), need of a portapotty. Line too long. So out I trotted to the back of the strip mall. TROTTED being the operative word.

Here's how it went:

I decided not to run conservatively (for me). I decided not to walk. I mentally broke the race into two six miles runs, with some more miles after that.

Sidebar: I was using the Ironman Timex iControl for iPod—the last time I use it. I couldn't get it to recognize my splits. You have to hit the split button just so or it thinks you're trying to control your iPod. The watch gets confused. Does this command mean rewind? Or play? Or SPLIT??? I thought it would just know. It didn't. And it wasn't even hooked up to my iPod.

My thoughts at the start: I was out for a training run, I wanted to enjoy the race and the scenery, and I was going to try not to walk. (Along with the ever-wistful hope of PR-ing.)

Mile 1: 10:47 I started at the waaay back. I was hanging with two women, one I dubbed Orange Girl, who were chatting up a storm. I knew I would have to either get in front of them or someone would get hurt. I sped up.

Mile 2: And then took a break. Like some mythical building rising from the ashes, there was my portapotty, right when I needed it. Time: 12:38

Mile 3: 10:52: I was now pretty much in last place. I could just see the tail end of the race far in the distance, including the two women. I wanted to start picking off people, but I knew it would take miles to catch up.

Mil2 4 & 5: 22:14: I caught up with the last girl as she started walking. We chatted. She said she'd never been last before and I said me neither. She was, like me, from D.C., where we are used to pretty big races with loads of people who are "last." I quickly passed her. Getting the watch to record splits was costing me a few seconds each time I tried it. Very annoying.

Mile 6 & 7: 24:00 As I passed the intersections with the fantastic volunteers who were holding back traffic (no roads closed) I'd say, "Hey, I must be first since no one is in front of me!" Ha, ha. I crack myself up. I'd caught up with the two women I'd started with. One was doing a lot of walking, the other, Orange Girl, would run for quite a while, then walk. I passed her. Yay! We were on a short but steep incline to a muddy track we had to run around. I was still feeling fine.

Mile 8: 11:17 O.G. passed me.

Mile 9: 11:31 We're running through the streets of historic Fredericksburg. I think I saw one spectator. But God bless 'em, the volunteers stuck by their water tables for all of us stragglers. Unlike say, the ARMY.

Mile 10 & 11: 23:02 I hit mile 10 in 1:50 1:55, my fastest 10 miles ever. I started thinking maybe I had a chance. Mile 10 turned onto a paved trail that went by a canal (river?). Melancholy in the weather, but beautiful. I passed Orange Girl.

It was just the two of us now, vying for what felt like last place. Just past mile 11, we turned off the trail and walked up some stairs to get to the bottom of the mile-long hill. I walked the 20 yards or so from the 11 mile marker to the stairs.

Orange Girl passed me.

Mile 11 is the start of a mile-long very steep hill. I was prepared for it. I walked for another 20 seconds, and then started a slow, slow jog, remembering what V had said the night before.

Mile 12: 00:00:98 Whatever.

Mile 12: 14:23 Um, there's more hill here. Some guy who had been in front now fell back. The line-up for last place is now Orange Girl who is walking the hills, Track Suit guy and me. TSG tries to talk to me. "Can't talk," I have to grunt not once, but twice! Hello! You wanna pick me up? NOW IS NOT THE BEST TIME.

Mile 13: 12:33 I'm now close to Orange Girl again, and following her. The orange cones seem to go to the left but she goes straight so I follow her. About 50 yards on, she stops and says, "Where's the finish?" %$$@!!!

The race starts and ends in a strip mall so I know where we are, but we've gone too far, and have to backtrack a bit. I'm calling it 50 yards. This is where I decide I'm going to GET HER if it's the last thing I do.

Mile .1: 1:20 I smoke Orange Girl AND Track Suit guy both in a photo finish. Pfft.

Susie and David were expecting me at 3 hours, so were surprised (hey, I was surprised too!) They cheered me into the chute and I think Susie even ran with me, but I couldn't talk.

You'll have to read Susie's report to see how they did. :)

After the race, I bumped into V from the night before who asked how I did. I was only too happy to babble for 10 minutes (see above) before it occurred to me to ask her how she did.

"Oh," she said. "I won."


La-De-Da, PR

Unofficial: 2:34:xx (11:45 min/mile pace)

Whoooo hooooooooooooooo!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The "M"* Word

My (and your) favorite coach, the Little Dictator, seen here demonstrating her favorite carbo-loading technique,

is running the Honolulu Marathon tomorrow as a "training run."

Go give her some comment love!!

And yours truly is running the Blue/Gray Half in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with Susie and David tomorrow. I'm in fine fettle. I've been PMS-ing all week long, (boys, avert your eyes) only to wake up this morning to find out that the "pre-" part is OVER. Now I'm just bleeding to death, feeling undertrained, nursing a sore foot and a headache. I'm gonna be some kind of company!

My goals for tomorrow (not necessarily in this order):
1) Try not to take out frustrations on members of the opposite sex
2) Finish
3) Don't irreparably inflame the PF
4) Finish under three hours
5) Meet or beat my September 16, 2007, Philly time: 2:38:06 (12:04 min/mile)
6) Beat or meet my first 1/2: Montgomery County Half Marathon, September 24, 2006: 2:38:15 (12:05 min/mile)
7) Learn how to flip turn (oops! wrong sport. ha ha)
8) Ya know? Anything really
9) Have fun tonight with my hosts.

That last one is a given. The rest of my goals? No promises.

So, one of us is doing a marathon in 90+F heat as a tune-up for her REAL marathon. One of us is fooling around in Fredericksburg tomorrow. I'll leave you to ponder the implications of that.


Friday, December 07, 2007


I have a half-marathon to run on Sunday. Have I mentioned that (I mean, you know, like more than 20 or so times)?

In preparation, I ran four miles this week. F-O-U-R. Well, it's too late now! My personal mantra. It's. Too. Late. Now.

Swimming? Did someone ask about swimming? I LOVE THE SWIM! I'm swimming twice a week. So far just doing the same old 1,000 yards in the gorgeous outdoor YMCA pool. When I went this week, on Tuesday, snow flurries were floating down. The steam was rising from the water. I caught glimpses of the moon still high in the sky. As I swam, the light slowly broke. It's seriously gorgeous. Sometimes I think I'm actually getting better. Sometimes, I feel a twinge of regret when my last few laps come around and I wish I could swim longer, but work beckons.

I can honestly say I have NEVER wanted any run, EVER, to last longer. This is because somebody obviously does NOT want me to enjoy the run and does everything in their power to make sure I suck at it. (I'm really liking this explanation.) It quite obviously has nothing to do with my lack of training. Obviously.

So, this week, I ran F-O-U-R miles on Monday, swam on Tuesday, nothing on Wednesday (it snowed! dreadmill at work is broken, like I'd use it anyway), Thursday, spinning (another religious experience where I engage in a rich fantasy life), and here we are are today, Friday. Should I run today? Will it make any difference on Sunday whether or not I ran today?

Maybe it would be smarter to rest? Resting sounds smart, doesn't it? Especially since the PLANTAR FASCIITIS in my right foot is getting harder and harder to ignore. I've been ignoring it for months. Now, somewhat suspiciously, all of a sudden, it's screaming at me when I walk. Sometimes, when I sit.

I took the morning off from swimming so I could run. But then I couldn't run because I had to take the car in to get new tires. (This is the third time I've had tire problems just prior to a visit to Susie. Coincidence? I think not!) So, no swim, no run. Of course I could run later today. That's a possibility. But then there's the PF to think about. (This is why I don't twitter—I mean, could you imagine the endless stream that is my thought process going out over the Internets?? Well, yes, I'm guessing you actually could imagine.)

I don't know exactly who is in charge of running, but I am officially registering a complaint. Just so you know that I know exactly what is going on.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Need Some Holiday Gift-Giving Inspiration?

Runner Susan has a most excellent post up at CompleteRunning, giving a host of ideas for gifts for runners.

And it's only Part One!

That woman can seriously shop.

(P.S. I'll be most happy to supply my snail mail address, you know, just in case anyone needs it. For any particular reason. Having to do with presents.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My 22 Best Design Tips Ever - Part One*

*From Brian Gardner

10. Avoid writing really long posts.
One thing I personally don’t like doing is spend a lot of time reading one post - if you have that much to say about something, try breaking it into a few posts, or make it a series. Although people are attracted to good content, you may also lose your visitors’ attention by making them scroll down the screen a hundred times.

What can I say? I'm a rebel. On a word bender.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bell-Ringing and Running and Their Relationship to Mood

It feels weird not to blog everyday. But I figured you people deserved a rest. I mean, you have lives to lead.

I'd like to share and reflect on some recent happenings at NBTR headquarters:

1. Last week I made a pretty bad mistake which left me in the depths of despair and crawling on my belly like a worm.

2. Saturday, I ran 10 miles. I walked a lot of it, so I don't have any idea how I ended up with a time of 1:57. I had to get 10 miles in because of the POSSIBILITY that was still just a POSSIBILITY that I would be running a half marathon on dec. 9.

3. If I just run slower, won't that stop me from walking?? I remember my first 10-miler, the Cherry Blossom, in 2006, the first time I'd ever run 10 miles ever, and I did that without walking. And I remember telling myself that all I had to do was slow down if I got tired. SO WHY DO I HAVE TO WALK NOW???

4. During my 10-miler, I tried out the Timex Ironman iControl for iPod watch—with the iPod—that was sent for me to review. I'm pretty sure the Timex/iPod people don't want me to review it—yet. Because if I reviewed it now? It would not be a good review.

5. After making my e-mail mistake last week, I was pretty miserable, but seeing David & Co. helped. A lot. Friends are good. Especially when they make you believe you are not the heartless bitch you think you are.

6. But of course I've been replaying my error over and over again, cuz I hear that's great for one's mental health.

7. Sunday night my bell choir was part of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a big extravaganza at our church involving all our exceptionally good choirs. The "house" was packed.

8. We had three pieces to play. The first one went OK; we played it on our own. For the second piece, we accompanied the Little Boys and Girls choir. We had rehearsed the start with them—the start being the crucial part—once about 15 min before showtime. The first two notes were mine and mine alone. Which, ok, I admit, made me a little NERVOUS. Like I'm not the calmest person on the planet to begin with. I had to watch the choir director from across the room for my cue. I watched. Saw her mouth "Three, four," give a nod of the head and I was off and running, with the rest of the bell choir "chiming" (get it?) in after my start.

Here's the thing about playing bells: It's really easy to lose your place. Plus, you kind of have to keep counting the beats per measure to know when to play your notes. Plus, it's not like you can take the bells home to practice. I practice a lot with spoons. Or pencils. At work. Behind the walls of my glass office. (Paint that mental picture.)

So it's not so easy to watch a conductor from across the room and glance up and down at your music. (Well, I'm sure it's quite easy for someone who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING.)

I thought something sounded off after the first four measures, but I kept going, until around the 8th measure or so when I got a poke in the ribs from the bell-ringer to my right and a whisper to "look up." I looked up and the choir director had STOPPED. We were re-starting. IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.

Well, of course we were. I had screwed it up. I knew that with the certainty that I know my own name. The Little Boys and Girls Choir had NOT screwed anything up. No, it was the great big NBTR (Run, Ring, choose your verb. Must start with "R" though).

Let me ask you: How many concerts have you been to where the choir had to start a piece again??????!!!!


There was nothing for it but to start again. So I did. As with most trauma victims, I have no memory of what happened after that. I do remember sitting down afterwards, doing some yoga breathing, trying to figure out how to tell our bell choir director that very obviously I was not improving, getting worse if that were possible, blah blah, I SHOULD QUIT, better for everyone, etc., and how to say it without sounding pathetic and whiney.

I was back in despair mode, coupled with the horrifying sense that I had done something so awful it was beyond words, when a miracle happened.

Our bell director, who was sitting next to me after the debacle, leaned over and said, "That little mix up? That was not your fault. It was because of blah blah blah."

9. Euphoria!!! Not my fault!!! Don't care what happened, it wasn't me!!! Want to kiss bell director. Restrain self.

10. Had been trying to find a replacement bell-ringer for Sunday, Dec. 9, so I could run the Blue/Gray Half-Marathon with David and Susie. Called a million (or several) potential replacements, left messages, no go. Monday night I came home from bell practice to a message that a bell-ringer from another choir would be happy to substitute for me.

11. Yay!!! Now can run 1/2 marathon on Sunday!!!

12. Oh shit. Now have to run 1/2 marathon on Sunday.

13. Bell-ringing is a lot like running. I'm not so good at it, it makes me a nervous wreck, it requires practice, there's lots of numbers involved, they both use the word "tempo" and you can't (usually) stop until you are finished.

14. It's a short ride from despair to euphoria.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thirty Days

When I'm old and gray (um, old-er and gray-er), I'll look back on this November and be able to conjure it up in great detail.

Is that a good thing?

To expand just a bit on yesterday's post, my DSL connection has been dodgy lately, with me calling EARTHLINK just about every day and EARTHLINK having me go through the same routine every single time, even though we both know that the problem is that my DSL modem is 5 years old. So I've been calling EARTHLINK (located somewhere in Asia) every night and every night they forced me through the same idiotic routine of checking cables, unplugging this, resetting that, computer off, computer on. All of which would work for five minutes. Then I'd have to call them again. So that's been fun.

The new modem is now in the mail.

Back to last night: I met up with David, his lovely wife Mrs. David, her sister and sister's S.O. (who drove down from Jersey) in Baltimore for a fantastic and enormous dinner in Little Italy. Baltimore is about 45 minutes from here and there was no way I was allowing David to set foot in the great state of Maryland without seeing me.

Although I was a bit hesitant about going out with two couples. Cuz it's always fun being the fifth. But my fears were groundless. From the minute we met, it was as though I'd known these people my entire life. I laughed til I cried. And ate way too much. Which I am now regretting as 10 miles awaits me. And I'd better get off my ass and off the computer and out on the trail...alright already David, I'm going!

But the rest of this fascinating story: So last night I HAD to post so I could win FABULOUS PRIZES and of course? My DSL was down. I tried my usual practice of "borrowing" a neighbor's wireless but the $#@! had turned it off!

So I did the modem reset dance a few times and got a wee window of time in which to post that fabulous photo of David and Mrs. David.

So now you know.