Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm ready, how about you?

Sure feels like a good day to turn over a new leaf, start a new page, wipe the slate clean, yadda, yadda, yadda. Yeah, I know it’s the last day of 2008, not January One, but heck. We’ll get a head start on the rest of the pack.

I’m already regretting my decision not to run any races next year. PQ posted a photo of her Indy medal and I want one! It’s tentatively on the schedule for 2010. I was listening to music in the car last night mentally figuring out which tunes were the right beat for my running pace. She’s Having a Baby by Dave Wakeling was one surprising fit.

I informed my husband that I was definitely planning to run a full marathon in 2011, for my 60th birthday. I think he turned three shades of white. He was hoping my taking a year off would quell the urge to run more long-distance races. Hah! This is working just like depriving me of food: if sugar’s on the forbidden list, I want it even more.

He and I have walked outside the past three days during some unseasonably balmy weather. Today? I doubt we’ll be out there. Winter is roaring back with whipping winds and temperatures back down in the 40s (with overnight temps in the teens – brrr!).

If 2009 is anything like 2008, I might jump off a bridge. My father had more than his share of serious illnesses (and called us yesterday with this news: “The culture came back; I have MRSA.” But it’s still 2008, so it doesn’t get counted for next year!), my husband’s mother was hospitalized twice and my best friend died. I watched our retirement account shrink as my waistline grew, and I didn’t set a PR in Richmond. The good stuff? Three healthy baby boys, born May 12 and thriving.

I need to actively search for the good stuff, every day, and I think I’ll resurrect Project 365, with that as a loose theme. While I always tried to take interesting photos, by mid-March I was just going through the motions. Perhaps having a purpose will help me stick with it in 2009. (And I’m not going to make myself post a new photo every day, since I know alreadyrightnow that I won’t be at my computer from January 2 until January 12.)

Happy New Year’s Eve. I’m not the party-going type; I’m turning into my grandmother, who never missed a year-end ball drop at Times Square via television. Actually I’m worse than my grandmother: I think I’ve gone to bed early every year since the calendar switched from 1999 to 2000.

Because, really, it’s just another day. But so full of promise. A good night’s sleep is a great way to get a good start.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A day at a time

If I thought about all the things I need to do in the next few days I’d probably just go back to bed. The only way to manage is to do what needs to be done in the next half an hour, and then the next and then the next.

I’ll be going back to Indiana on Friday, this time for my friend’s funeral. She lost the fight Saturday night, but we who are left comfort ourselves knowing she wouldn’t have wanted to live as she had the past few months.

Nancy and I “met” online 10 years ago, through a weight-loss list for followers of the Atkins plan. A series of conversations revealed we had much more in common than extra body weight, and our friendship was forged over our knitting needles.

Her diagnosis (cancer of the pancreas) came last January, a week after her husband retired from his pediatric practice. She did everything she and her doctors could think of. In September she was declared free of cancer. I still remember taking that joyful phone call.

A month later, she called to say the cancer had returned, there was nothing more medicine could do for her and she might have six months to live. She wanted seven, so she could meet her adopted granddaughter, who is due to arrive from China in the late spring.

She got two.

How cruelly ironic that this elegant, witty, wonderful woman battled her weight for the past 40 years, only to end up on a feeding tube, unable to eat solid food unless it had been pulverized in a blender and served with a spoon.

I’m sure going to miss her.

So. This week I get ready to travel again, from West Virginia to northern Indiana and then to Tennessee for a week. By the time I get back home, January will be nearly half gone.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Clean for a day

It’s over.

The food orgy that typically accompanies Christmas is, finally, over. And since my husband and I didn’t decorate our home or exchange gifts this year, the food orgy was Christmas.

On Christmas Eve we went to church and then to an open house with, um, lots of food. I spent the better part of Christmas Eve day and Christmas morning preparing and cooking, um, lots of food. My husband’s mother joined us for our Christmas meal at 2 p.m., where we ate, um, lots of food.

After the last crumb of pecan torte had been whisked away at about 3:30 p.m., I declared a day of fasting. I didn’t want to look at, think about or, God forbid, eat food for 24 hours.

I went 26 – and actually felt hungry as I was preparing a simple stir-fry of leftover pork and vegetables with rice.

I now feel normal – not stuffed, as I have for the past, oh, who knows how many days? I’m ready for normal all the time. And since we don’t party on New Year’s Eve, I think I’m well on my way.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Rule: Never leave home without your knitting

The meeting I help facilitate at the prison ran a little late last night. We had a gratitude meeting, in which everyone in the room got to say who she was and what she was thankful for. Last year the group was smaller and everyone’s gratitude fit into an hour. This year? Well, I’m thankful that more inmates have found our meeting, and I hope we volunteers help them as much as they help us.

At any rate, I left the compound at about 8:15 – five minutes after the local authorities closed the only bridge to the main road I need to take to get home. Four cars had skidded into the guardrail, a testament to the dangerous road conditions, and a salt truck was “on the way.”

I finally started for home at 10:05. That, my friends, is one hour and 50 minutes of knitting time. If one had had one’s knitting. Triplet Sweater #3, however, was sitting beside the computer at home, where I’d been working on the ribbing while reading e-mail earlier yesterday afternoon.
What to do, what to do? I’d just come from an AA meeting, so I was feeling pretty good, but boredom was settling in quickly. I had my iPod with me, but I recently dropped it and broke the screen and, while I can still listen to music, it’s difficult to see the last column of cards in a Solitaire game and impossible to play Scrabble.

I also had my cell phone, so after I called my husband I talked with my son and texted a friend. Even though the nighttime minutes were ‘free,’ there’s only so much one can say, especially on my antique cell that likes to drop calls as often as it likes to stay connected.

Obviously I made it home, and without incident. I learned that a major highway near us was closed for quite a long time, after more than a dozen cars were involved in accidents.

And I learned to always, always pack my knitting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

12,000 miles

My out-of-state and/or unplanned trips in 2008 took me 12,000 miles out of my way. Give or take a mile or two.

Good thing gas didn’t cost $4/gallon for too many weeks.

(I bet you thought that title was how many miles I ran this year, right? Heh.)

Really, though, all of those miles were necessary, and I would have paid the price of fuel no matter how high it went.

My husband retired a year ago. We had a couple good months with one pleasure trip we’d planned while he was still working. After that, between his mother, my father and, more recently, my good friend in Indiana, we’ve been praying hard for someone to recover from illness and injury.

Now we know what people mean when they say ‘retirement wasn’t what we expected.’

When you flub a shot in a friendly game of golf, you can take a mulligan – a do-over. I think I want to take a mulligan for 2008.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming

Christmas, that is.

Christians around the world are hurrying and scurrying this week to finish shopping, wrapping and mailing Christmas gifts and cards. As the old saying goes, Christmas comes but once a year. And it’s always the same date.

I’m “behinder” this year than I’ve ever been, I think. I made my Christmas cards this year, and they’re still not assembled. Our families are scattered over four states; half the gifts had to be mailed. I finally made it to the post office yesterday. Let’s hope everyone else was more efficient than I.

We’re heading north today to visit the triplets (and their parents; once grandchildren come, children are suddenly less important. Good thing they know that!). I’m repeating the knitting performance I did for their baby shower – I mailed their blankets a couple weeks after the party. Only one of their sweaters is complete. One is nearly so. One has only two sleeves.

Sigh.

In my defense, I’ve been on the road a lot this year, especially lately. You can’t – or shouldn’t – knit and drive if you’re the driver. I’ve lost a lot of knitting time sitting behind the wheel of my car.

But still … I’ve known Christmas was coming for a year now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Riddle me this, Batman

When I applied for health insurance last spring, I was quoted Price X for the monthly premium. I completed the application, was approved and got the first statement – for X+$75. When I called to find out why the premium was so much higher than they’d originally quoted, they said it was because I was taking Wellbutrin, an antidepressant.

They said after I’d been off the drug for six months, they would reduce the premium. So I called my doctor, asked him to make a note that I was taking myself off it and now, six months later, it’s time to file for a rate review.

I have no problem jumping through their hoops to get a $75/month raise. What I question is this:

Why is it more cost-efficient for the insurance company for the patient to not take a beneficial (and cheap) drug? Seems to me if the doctor and the patient agree that the drug could be helpful (in my case, Wellbutrin also suppresses appetite), there would be more risk to the insurer by not taking it. Surely obesity and depression are health issues that should be treated, rather than ignored.

But that’s just me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I could have told them that

Princeton University’s Bart Hoebel, Ph.D., has been studying sugar addiction, concluding that sugar works on the brains of rats as morphine and heroin do.

I’ve previously been sugar-free, once for as long as five years. Each successive time I’ve tried to cut it out completely, I’ve not been able to. That alone leads me to believe in the addictive qualities of C12H22O11.

When I quit using sugar before, I quickly and easily dropped 30 pounds. I haven’t duplicated that success on any successive attempt. I think if I saw some pounds vanish, I might be able to continue eating a sugar-free diet. Since I don’t, I figure ‘what’s the use?’ and continue on my merry – and sweet – way.

My sugar consumption is limited to candy and cookies. When I eat pie or drink soda, it’s always the sugar-free variety. My Coffee-Mate Hazelnut Creamer has no added sugar. Sugar-free candy has a laxative effect on me, so my candy bars are the Real Stuff.

It’s not like I’m chowing down on Milky Ways all day long, either. I can go for weeks at a time without chocolate and then suddenly the craving will hit me as if I were an addict, jonesing for a hit.

Thank goodness I don’t have a $500/day habit.

If Dr. Hoebel wants to expand his research to humans, he should give me a call.

Monday, December 15, 2008

An inspiring holiday activity

For the past four or five years, I’ve been invited to judge a Christmas decorating contest at Alderson Federal Prison Camp. Each of the eight 125-bed housing units is issued a small budget for supplies, which the inmates supplement with cardboard, poster paint, natural materials and found objects to transform their living spaces into a winter wonderland. The winning unit gets a pizza party.

Today’s the day.

In addition to decorating, they write and perform a skit based on each year’s theme (provided by the warden). Guaranteed tears.

In spite of the many challenges I’ve dealt with this year, I have much for which to be thankful. These women remind me every Tuesday night (when I go there to volunteer), and at Christmas – an especially difficult time for them – they manage to pull out all the stops and express extreme gratitude for their lives. Most of them are grateful to be locked up, instead of on the streets, as they recognize this “time out” as an opportunity to work on themselves and change their behaviors.

Anyway … it’s time to go. Have a good Monday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where I'm supposed to be

I know I'm where I'm supposed to be, really I do. But I must admit I'm looking forward to the time when I'm supposed to be home, because then all my family members and friends will be well!

I got a phone call as I was driving to Indiana and learned that my friend had been evaluated by hospice and they determined that her level of care was greater than an unskilled caregiver could safely and comfortably provide. My husband is a doctor, but all that means is that I can ask intelligent questions when I'm talking to a health-care professional.

So my friend has been in respite care all week and my responsibilities are taking care of her sweet little Bishon and visiting her as much as I want. I think I've been useful in at least one feeding tube situation at hospice.

It's been a good visit, with equal parts laughter and tears.

And plenty of food, unfortunately. What I've learned about myself this year is that when stress levels are as high as they can get, I don't eat anything. But when they're at the current level – I'd say a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 – anything goes, the carbier the better.

Ah, well. This, too, shall pass.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Heading out again

I’m heading out for another short road trip, this time going north to Indiana to visit a dear friend who is quite seriously ill. Not sure if I’ll have the time or inclination to blog while I’m with her. Right now I plan to be home next weekend; that plan is subject to change, depending on her condition and if I’m still needed there.

I hope all your holiday preparations are going smoothly, that you’re finding bargain prices on the perfect gifts, that the parties are fun and you don’t worry too much about the food.

Life is short. Enjoy it while you can.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Good luck and have fun

Wendy, Jess and Adam are running half-marathons this weekend. I hope they all have a great time, stay safe and meet their goals.

While I’m at it, I’ll wish myself good luck and a good time for today, as I’ll be spending this afternoon going over the river (and the mountains) and through the woods to visit part of my family for Christmas.

Sometimes it does take a bit of luck to make the drive. Frequently there are solar-powered signs warning drivers of HIGH WINDS AHEAD, or DANGEROUS FOG.

If you’re traveling this weekend, be sure to buckle your seat belt, drive within the speed limit, watch out for the other guy and NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING!

Don’t I sound like a public service announcement? Heh.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Three squares

In prison they call it three hots, but since my breakfast is usually cold cereal, three squares is more descriptive.

Yes, I’ve finally reverted to my youth and picked up the three-meals-a-day habit again. Before my dad got sick, I usually ate one real meal daily – dinner – and grazed my way through the pantry from about 11 a.m. until bedtime. Dinner was served because my husband likes it; I certainly wasn’t hungry for it.

The grazing material was pretty healthful, but obviously wasn’t what my body needed. Yogurt, trail mix, low-fat cheese, fruit – all part of a balanced diet, but I never felt satisfied and was always looking for something else.

My dad (who is going home today – hooray!) got three calorie-controlled, sugar-free, low-sodium meals a day in the hospital, and he lost weight the whole time he was there. He’s so convinced that this is the right thing to do that he’s going to request menu plans before he leaves today, so he and his wife can continue doing the same thing at home. (He also requested – and it was approved – outpatient physical therapy. I’m so proud of him!)

Daddy didn’t raise no dummy. Without consciously deciding to, I’ve been eating three wholesome meals each day since I got home. I brush and floss immediately after dinner, and don’t snack in the evening. I’ve walked 11 miles on the treadmill in the last four days. This regimen has now resulted in a 3.5-pound loss. Since Sunday!

I have some challenges coming up – more travel (and probably no blogging) next week and, of course, Christmas and New Year’s. But once success smacks you in the face, you really don’t want to fight back. If three squares and a daily walk is what I need, then I’ll do it – gladly.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mystery solved

Thank you, Greenmama, for identifying the friendly sea bird I met last week. Or was it the week before last? Time flies when you spend most of it in a hospital. The beach is at Indiatlantic, Florida, across the intercoastal from Melbourne and south of Cape Canaveral. I was astonished to see people sunbathing and surfing, as if it were the middle of summer. I assumed they were on vacation and were determined to show off a tan when they returned home, no matter how cold it was in the sunny south.

Thank you, too, to those of you who have left good wishes for me and my dad. I love comments – who among us doesn’t? – and feel I need to do some ’splainin’ about why I comment so seldom on your blogs.

Commenting, for me, is a s-l-o-w process. As a member of the dial-up-to-log-on set, nothing happens in a hurry on the internet, and getting a comment window to pop up is an agonizingly tedious process. Please assume that every time you publish a post, Debbi has left a supportive and enlightening comment, sure to brighten your day and ease your burdens. Because that’s what I’d like to do, but if I did I’d be parked in front of the computer all day.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve eaten wisely, walked seven miles (on the treadmill) and lost two pounds. I’ve said previously that my dad has been a wonderful example for me of how I don’t want to age. Saying ain’t doing.

He’s on a calorie-controlled, sugar-free, low-sodium diet, which sounds absolutely awful but it certainly works. (He’s lost about 75 pounds since June. Granted, a lot of it is fluid, but the number on the scale still looks pretty sweet, whether it’s fat or fluid that’s being shed.) If he can do it, so can I.

And if I don’t, I know what lies ahead for me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Where to begin?

Last time I posted I was on the Space Coast of Florida, shuttling between the hospital and my dad’s house. “Felix” – aka John – was improving but we still couldn’t figure out the low blood pressure. In addition to the low BP, his heart rate was mostly in the mid-40s.

I’ve talked to more health care professionals in the past week than I have in all my previous years, I think. After several conversations, I learned that in addition to digoxin, Dad had been taking another heart drug called Cordarone, and he had practically every side effect listed in the product information sheet for that drug. Once they took him off both those drugs, improvement was swift and dramatic.

Cordarone is long-acting and will stay in his system for about 10 more weeks, but already his heart rate has made it to the 60s. He was released from ICU to a regular room last Tuesday and was released to a rehabilitation hospital Wednesday. Dad, his wife and I had turkey and trimmings together at the rehab dining room (Dad calls it the mess hall).

It was one of the best Thanksgivings we’ve ever had.

I made it to the beach one afternoon while I was in Florida, and took about 20 pictures of this bird. No one down there could tell me what it was, other than it’s “some kind of crane.” Anyone know? He wasn’t shy at all and, in fact, was pretty aggressive with someone fishing on the beach.

The most exercise I got all week was walking from the parking lot to the hospital entrance. I made sure to park as far away as I could after the first couple of days. I made up for the lack of exercise by eating very little – some days all I had was breakfast. It’s quite amazing how little appetite I had while I was there.

Hope to get back to a more normal routine soon. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep in my own bed.

Nighty-night.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bloggers, meet Felix

I'm posting from my dad's home computer, which has spotty internet service. When it connects, though, it's fast! Fast and unreliable works for me, at least this week when I haven't had much time to park my ass in front of a monitor.

Dad's still in ICU, but - as the title of this post implies - making a pretty good recovery. Turns out he has pneumonia. In someone with compromised health, pneumonia is life-threatening. The first system that shut down was the renal. His kidneys no longer produced or filtered urine, and all the normal medications he was taking started building up in and poisoning his system.

So, pneumonia followed by medication toxicity on top of heart problems and you've got the geriatric trifecta. The health care team figured it out pretty quickly, got his kidneys working again (three rounds of dialysis) and started him on three different antibiotics.

The lingering problem is low blood pressure. He's on an IV medicine to keep it in the normal range, but they want him off of it. When they try to wean him off, his BP drops dangerously low. Next step is a temporary pacemaker, the theory being that if his heart rate were higher (it's now in the 50s, they want it to be 70-80), his BP would rise as well. The temporary one will be in place for 24 to 48 hours, to see if it does what they want it to do. If so, a permanent one will be the next step and he should be good to go.

He has sooooo many problems, nearly all are complications of Type II diabetes, which is, if not completely preventable at least mostly preventable and certainly treatable. I'm not sure if he thought he was invincible or what, but it's all catching up with him now. Even if the pacemaker works, he has ongoing foot and leg pain that is excruciating and prevents him from doing so many things he used to enjoy. Just before this hospitalization, he joined the "Scooter Generation," walking the dog while riding on one of those cool little scooter chairs.

I hope he'll be out walking the dog again soon. Even if it is on a scooter. Your good thoughts and wishes and, especially, your prayers are working. Thank you all.

Love,
Felix and Debbi

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Made it ...

to Florida. My dad isn't doing well at all. It's hard to fight everything at once, and it seems that his heart, lungs and kidneys have all given up at the same time. He woke up for a little bit last night, but he's confused and very sick. The doctors say everything is reversible, but we need more time. More time ...

Thanks for your comments about the half. Finishing IS better than not finishing or not starting - thanks for that reminder, Marla. And seeing my dad and all his preventable health problems makes me more determined to do the right stuff to protect myself and defy my genetics.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Better with age?

Not so much.

I’d really, really hoped to PR the Richmond race. Didn’t happen, not by a long shot. Total time was 2:51:40 – more than a minute/mile slower than my first (and best) half-marathon in April, 2007.

I weigh 20 pounds more than I did a year and a half ago. I’m sure that’s the – um – bulk of the reason for the less-than-optimal performance. Training didn’t go as well as it could have either.

Here are the splits (sorry for the crappy screenshot):

I forgot to turn the Garmin off at the finish line, so that purple-shaded last lap isn’t correct.

I recommend the race, if you’re in the Richmond, VA, area next fall. The course is lovely, winding through some beautiful old neighborhoods and the biggest hill is the long one going down as you approach the finish line. The promised music-every-mile didn’t happen, but the weather forecast might have had something to do with that.

The forecast was much worse than the actual weather. I’d taken arm warmers and a hat (I never run in a hat), and I bought gloves at the expo. Turned out to be a warm, humid, windy morning but the predicted thunderstorms had already blown through by the start of the race.

Both of my running companions finished, as well – my husband’s cousin’s wife’s 16-year-old daughter had entered as well, and we crossed the line together. Her mother was 20 minutes behind us, happy to finish and on a runner’s high the rest of the day. They both made the race a lot more fun for me than it would otherwise have been.

I was 31st out of 52 in my age group – and I was very happy with that.

Now on to the rest of my life. My husband wants me to “retire” – I don’t know about that, but I do know, from experience, that race training and weight loss are mutually exclusive, at least for me. So weight loss is now my primary focus. Clean eating and consistent exercise are the order of the day, and the exercise will most likely be walking. I promised I wouldn’t train for or run another race for a year. That oughta be enough time to a.) lose the weight and b.) convince him that I can run a full marathon – a venture to which he is comPLETEly opposed.

The rest of the rest of my life involves quite a bit of travel to see very dear people who are very sick. One is my dad – I’m heading back to Florida Tuesday (taking two days to get there) and will stay for at least a week, although it’s kind of open-ended. The other is in Indiana and, depending on my dad’s situation, I’m supposed to be with her the first week of December.

Blogging will be spotty for the next couple of weeks, but I’ll try to post occasionally. Thanks for reading, whether I’m here or not. Your encouragement has always meant so much to me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

Damn.Link
The forecast for Richmond Saturday morning looks pretty bad. Eighty percent chance of rain, slight chance of thunderstorms, 99 percent humidity … earlier this week it looked much better, all sunshine and roses. Can we turn back time?

Whatever. We’re leaving at noon to wend our way east and won’t be back until Sunday night. No blogging during the interim.

I dreamed I ran the race in two parts. I did 10 miles on Saturday, then came back and finished the final 5K on Sunday. Total time was 2:10. Which is IMPOSSIBLE, people, for a middle-aged slowpoke like me. There was some kind of hospital triage unit I had to go through in order to run on Sunday, and I was really proud of myself for figuring out what I needed to say in order to get through the proper channels and back out on the course. Weird dream.

I’m running with my husband’s cousin’s wife, who averages 13-minute miles. Since that was the dismal pace I ran last Sunday, we should have a good time. I’m just glad the election is over; we cancelled out each others’ votes. (Need I say more?)

Seriously, I hope to do much better than a 13-minute pace and I hope she doesn’t mind my leaving her behind. Heh. I think I just jinxed myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One more training run

A five-mile speed drill today marks the end – let me say that again: THE END – of race training. The half marathon is Saturday morning. I have previously been psyched beyond belief to run a race. This time? Not so much.

(You can track results at that link; my last name is McNeer. Unbelievably, there is another Debbi(e) McNeer running that day, but she’s doing the 8K.)

Right now when I say “THE END” I think I mean it. I may be all out of races. Of course I reserve the right to change my mind. I’ve already told my husband I want to run a full marathon when I’m 60.

Believe me, I won’t spend the next two and a half years training for it.

Today is my miracle birthday. My bio-birthday is May 25 (and don’t you forget it!), but I really started living 18 years ago today. The backstory is here; it’s so much easier to send you to that link than to rewrite the details.

It’s just wacky to think I haven’t had a drink or a drug in 18 years. Most of the time I don’t even think about it, but it’s good to relive history and remember not only the how, but also the why.

Especially the why.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rethinking my goals

The Richmond Half-Marathon is this coming Saturday, and I’d hoped to finish in 2:30.

Somehow – especially after yesterday’s abysmal 11-miler – I don’t think that’s happening. In fact, I’ll be glad to cross the finish line Saturday. Period. I might be limping along with the middle-of-the-pack marathoners, actually.

Perhaps a bad long run the week before a race is a Good Thing. When I learned to fly, I wasn’t allowed to solo until I’d recovered from a bad landing. I didn’t know that when I was taking lessons – my flight instructor only revealed it to me when I hopped out of the plane after executing three perfect solo touch-and-go landings.

So 11 slow, painful, crappy miles on Sunday might be just the thing I needed to get out of my system before next Saturday.

Someone tell me I’m right. Please?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obnoxious-ness

As a formerly obsessed knitter (production has fallen significantly in the last couple of years), I know what it’s like to be obnoxious to a fault about one’s hobbies or interests. Running falls into the same category. That must be why I blog about it – I’ve worn out my face-to-face welcome and am reduced to assaulting the few strangers on the internets who happen to stop by.

Indulge me in one last comment on the political season, please, and I will return to the knitting and the running next week. I promise.

I’m a reformed Republican who voted for W twice although, in my defense, I only voted for him the second time because it was his mess and I thought he should clean it up. Since he didn’t, since he – incredibly – made an even bigger mess, I felt compelled to turn my back on him and his ilk. (I’m truly sorry for my transgressions, and grateful for the many campaign workers I met who have forgiven me.)

There are other reasons why I feel the Republican philosophy is no longer a good fit for me. Six years of volunteering in a federal prison will make you think twice about sentencing reform, for instance. Also? A dozen years of living in an economically depressed part of the country that repeatedly votes against its own interests – need I say more? If I do, just think about “God, guns and gays.” And, of course, race. My husband and I have occasionally entertained the thought of moving just because people are so not like us.

Anyway, back to being obnoxious. The biggest reason I’m proud to call myself a Democrat is because we’re so nice. I’ve been working to elect Obama since the primaries, and not once did I receive an anti-Republican e-mail, cartoon or bad joke. I never saw a Democrat shake his fist at a McCain bumper sticker.

During this political season, I’ve made several car trips ranging from Ohio to Florida. Because my Ford Escape sports several Obama bumper stickers, I felt it was imperative that I drive politely. I strictly followed the speed limit and, in fact, topped out at 55 mph most of the time in order to conserve fuel. (The exception was when my dad was in a coma. That was a very quick trip, all things considered.)

I smiled and waved when McCain-Palin supporters passed me, even as they flipped me off or made gagging motions. I walked away when someone tossed a racial epithet at me. I refused to engage in any kind of back-and-forth with those whose minds weren’t going to change.

I saved my rhetoric for the on-the-fence voters – I particularly remember a checkout worker in our local grocery. She noted that I was supporting Obama (because I obnoxiously wore a campaign button everywhere I went), and asked me why. Instead of reciting my reasons, I asked her what her issue was. She said she heard a lot about the middle class, but not much about the working poor.

I don’t know if I changed her mind, but I do know that when I left, she was thinking about it. What could McCain have in common with her, with his seven homes and 13 cars? Do the rich get poor, really? They have connections and assets the working poor can’t even imagine. The Republican reign has dramatically increased the divide between the haves and the have-nots. I’m pretty sure that had something to do with the outcome of the election.

My daughter has been worried about me, wondering what I’m going to do now that the campaign is over. My husband and I have been working on health care reform for many years, and I’ve been an advocate for sentencing reform for many years, as well. I still have a few pounds to lose. I want to paint the interior of my house and remodel the master bathroom. I have a couple of freelance graphic design projects to do.

Life goes on. Next up for me is the Richmond Half-Marathon. Training has sucked the last couple of weeks, but I did eight miles yesterday and survived.

I’m looking forward to the future. In sooo many ways.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today’s the day: VOTE!

Democracy is …
the conviction that there are
extraordinary possibilities
in ordinary people.

~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

My daughter is worried about me. Today being election day here in the U.S., she’s wondering what I’m going to do with myself tomorrow. And for the rest of my life.

I’ve been busy since the most recent blog break began: busy with family illnesses (my dad is being released from the hospital again today, my mother-in-law continues to improve), with family fun (spent Halloween with my youngest granddaughter) and with many new friends working hard to elect a President.

I’ve helped make hundreds of campaign buttons, posters and signs; worked in our local Democratic headquarters; knocked on doors and made phone calls; put myself in situations that were uncomfortble because, for the first time in my life, it really matters to me who gets elected. And I believe my vote counts.

By uncomfortable, I mean I’ve been asking strangers if they’ve registered to vote. If they’re undecided, I ask what their issue is. I’ve done this in red-state West Virginia and in the toss-up states of Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. If they’ve already voted for Obama, I thank them.

If McCain got their vote, I still thank them. Because, while voting is important, it’s even more important to be civil and polite and respectful of individual rights and opinions.

(By the way, McCain may have his Joe the Plumber, but I have Tom the Exterminator. And Greg the UPS Driver.)

My husband and I are having a party tonight. We’re expecting a couple dozen people and a big celebration. We’ve made party favors (of course!), printed electoral maps, made tons o’ food and cued up the victory music.

Let’s hope we get to use it.

Everyone at the party gets a clipboard (with an Obama sticker), pink and blue highlighters (to fill in their electoral maps) and a bottle of M&Ms labeled thusly:

Speaking for myself, I can use a little medicine today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taking a break ...

Life around here is kinda crazy, and I need to take a blog break for a while. I can’t keep up with reading all of yours, let alone update mine and sometimes backing away is saner than trying to do it all.

Did I say that? I must be growing up. Heh.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Many, many thanks

To all of you who sent your good wishes and kept my dad in your thoughts and prayers last week – thank you so much. He has a lot of strength and will and heart, but I know prayer works and yours meant (and mean) so much to me. He’s happy to be home now, and I hope to visit him next month when he’s not in the hospital.

My mother-in-law is going home from her extended hospitalization this morning. My husband and I aren’t quite sure what we’ll do with the extra time we’ll have not worrying about a sick parent. His mother will continue to receive physical therapy for her fractured arm on an outpatient basis.

Yesterday my husband reached a major life milestone – he got old. (That’s what he says; he is sooooo not old.) He’s now 65, but is the youngest 65 I’ve ever known. And healthiest. His weight is normal, he walks six miles every day (6.2, actually) and the only factor limiting his reach for perfection is that he smokes cigarettes. He has smoked since he was 16; I doubt if he’ll ever quit. As he says, the damage is done. He’s one of those people who doesn’t even have a smoker’s cough. I certainly wouldn’t wish dire consequences on him, but I do wish he could put it down. Think of the money we’d save!

My training program gets back on track tomorrow. I ended up having to just skip last week. (I did an unimpressive 2.7 miles in Florida, and that was the total mileage for the week.) Instead of 16 weeks of training, it’s now 15 and I don’t anticipate that it will cause any problems in – ahem – the long run. Heh.

Only three weeks until election day. Are you registered?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

He is, perhaps, a cat

I’m thrilled to report that my dad has been improving rapidly and steadily since Tuesday afternoon. Monday was touch-and-go, but the doctors decided Tuesday to stop sedating him, remove the breathing machine and see what happened. What happened was miraculous, if you ask me. He went from total sedation to complete consciousness in less than half an hour, and by the end of the day he was flirting with his nurses – a sure sign that he was on the mend.

This is the second time this year he’s come back from the brink. The earlier situation, in June, was due to septicemic shock, and I think everyone thought that’s what this was, as well. Turns out he was drowning due to pulmonary edema – he released 14 liters of fluid in two days.

The list of Things Wrong With Dad continues to grow. In addition to diabetes and the attendant leg problems, bad knees, sleep apnea and obesity (he’s lost almost 70 pounds since June), he now has heart problems and COPD. (If you smoke, please stop. He stopped smoking when cigarettes went from 20¢ to 21¢ a pack, but is still paying the price.)

The good thing is that everything is treatable, for now. And he has the absolute best attitude about life – his, specifically, and life in general – of anyone I know. He’s so grateful for his wife (who is so good for him), his family, his church and his friends. Nothing seems to get him down; he lives a life of gratitude.

A couple of funny things, keeping in mind that he’s a lifelong Democrat: On Wednesday, he called his county’s Board of Elections to get an absentee ballot, just in case he’s not able to get to the polls. And he’s wearing my “Obama-Biden” button on his hospital gown.

Until tomorrow. He gets to go home!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Does it ever cool off in Florida?

Well, I said I was going to keep up with the laundry in case I had to make a quick trip south, but I neglected to do that and will have to use my dad's facilities while I'm here.

He's been having pretty good days, but very uncomfortable nights. Sunday night they moved him from a regular medical floor into Intensive Care. His wife called yestserday at 7:30 a.m., I left West Virginia at 9:20 and I saw him about 12 hours later.

I may have violated the speed limit getting here. And I certainly wasn't conserving fuel.

When I stepped out of the car at the hospital, I was immediately struck by the thought that my blue jeans were probably too heavy to wear in this climate. How long does it take you southerners to adapt? We can see our breath when we walk outside in the early morning in WV; about all I can see here are palm fronds waving in the sea breeze.

We don't know what's wrong with my dad. It's not the systemic infection we first feared; it appears to be heart-related and right now it doesn't look good. His breathing is being assisted and he's sedated, but is, as the nurses say, appropriate when they turn him or try to wake him.

Which is to say, he can squeeze my hand, but doesn't know I'm there. Please keep dear old Dad in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days. He needs a lot of help.

And so do I.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Too busy for words

Being a daughter, wife, runner and political activist takes up a lot of time, lemme tell ya. (That “lemme tell ya” phrase was typed in my best Sarah Palin voice.)

My dad remains hospitalized and he says the doctors aren’t sure what they’re going to do. He’s not critical, as he was in June, and I don’t need to be there. Yet. They’ve done exhaustive testing and discovered both infection and atrial fibrillation. The knee replacement may need to come out after all, but they have to address the cardiac issue first. And through it all, Dad says whatever they do they’d better be finished by November 4 because he has to vote. In case they aren’t, he’s applying for an absentee ballot.

Obama’s Campaign for Change at first decided not to spend much money in West Virginia, then upgraded us to a battleground state and we are scrambling for campaign materials. Shipment of materials is expected ‘soon.’ A surprising number of people visit our county Democratic headquarters every day begging for bumper stickers and yard signs. I can’t do much about the latter, but I spent all yesterday afternoon working with another woman to print, cut and laminate a variety of window signs and bumper stickers. Badge making machines and supplies are being shipped; we’ll be cranking out political buttons on Tuesday.

Yesterday morning’s race training was an eight-mile tempo run. The usual warm-up and cooldown with four 10:18 miles alternating with half-mile jogs. I can run a 10:18 quarter mile, probably, but the best I did for a full mile was 10:35. And I was DYING! But at least I was out there. I only have to fit an easy three miles in this morning.

Last night my husband and I had friends over to watch the debate. According to CNN, Biden won 51% to 36%. I want to know who the 36% were. Palin had a good time steering the conversation away from the issues the moderator brought up, and back to her rehearsed talking points. And it was maddening watching her do that. Perhaps that’s good debate strategy, as one Republican pundit remarked, but I wasn’t impressed.

In between all of that, I’ve done most of the normal stuff that needs to be done to keep things running around here. We’re not starving or eating fast food, we have clean clothes and the dog hair hasn’t piled up too thickly along the baseboards. What I’ve obviously slacked on is computering – very little e-mail or blogging has happened this week.

Today is more of the same: running, taking care of my mother-in-law’s bills this morning (she and her broken arm are still in the hospital), baking cookies to take to a political event tomorrow, making more signs, laundry, cooking, cleaning.

Have a good weekend. Hopefully I’ll be back on Monday.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So, so close

This morning’s “easy” run was to have been two miles at a 12:32 pace. Since my goal pace is considerably faster than that, I thought I’d try to step up both speed and distance, and do three miles in 36 minutes. In the end, I did neither.

Total distance: 2.5 miles. Total time: 30:42.

Before I’d gotten a quarter of a mile down the road it started raining. So my first decision was to only do two miles. But since that first quarter of a mile was a walking one, I decided I had to end with a quarter-mile walk, as well. Symmetry, I guess.

And once I’d finished 2.25 miles, I realized I was so, so close to making my 12-minute-mile goal that I just went ahead and tried. Didn’t miss it by much. I’ll blame it on the rain. Heh.

My dad’s back in the hospital again, and it might be the same system-wide infection he fought off in May. Some of the symptoms his wife described were eerily similar. I’m not, so far, making plans to go to Florida, but I think I’ll make sure the laundry is caught up and the house is semi-clean for the next few days.

Just in case.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Home for a rest

What an activity-packed weekend we had! I’m tired, tired, tired. The only thing on my agenda for today is laundry. Thank goodness for modern technology; the washer and dryer really do all the work. (Don’t tell my husband that; he always seems impressed when I report that I did three loads of laundry. Clearly, he never does it.)

The babies are adorable! So sunny and sweet. We heard one or two of them cry once or twice, but mostly they just look at you and smile. I have a no-baby-picture rule on the blog, or I’d show you just how darned cute they are. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Grandpa is totally smitten.

We walked with them late Saturday afternoon. They have a triple jogging stroller that turns heads wherever it goes. One little boy saw us approaching – Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and three babies – and said, “Oh. My. God.” He couldn’t have been more than four, and we lost all composure as we walked past him.

(At a very fast clip, I might add, and Mom says she slowed the pace considerably since the old folks were tagging along. She takes the “jogging” part of “jogging stroller” very seriously.)

I got my nine miles in Sunday morning. That might have been the first time I’ve ever run in the dark. I’d hoped to run Saturday, but the family checking into the hotel at 2 a.m. across the hall from our room obviously didn’t care about the Quiet Time after 10 p.m. rule. Sunday, though, the alarm went off at 6:15 and I actually got up, dressed and was out the door by 6:38.

Sometime between the seventh and eighth mile, my phone rang. Another first: I’ve never talked and run at the same time. I stopped the Garmin and took the call, but forgot to click the start button again for another mile or so. I’m pretty sure I ran more than nine miles. Time was lousy, but distance was more important.

Now it’s time to get back to resting.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Plan B

It’s always good to have a back-up plan, when you wake up late and it’s pouring down rain and the morning is overscheduled and a nine-mile run just ain’t gonna happen.

Everything we do at home today has to happen before 10:30 a.m., when we have to leave the house to do everything else we’re doing today. I woke up at 7:30, and a nine-mile run takes two hours when you include driving time to get to the flat road and back. That leaves only an hour to shower and pack for a weekend trip. That may be enough for you, but it’s not enough for me.

Besides, cramming a week’s worth of running into four days is an invitation to injury. Ask my knees. I iced the left one Monday night; last night I switched the ice pack to the right one. A day off will be good.

I checked MapMyRun for likely routes near Worthington, Ohio, and found plenty from which to choose. So my Garmin and my running gear will get packed after all, and I’ll take a little time away from the triplets to sweat.

Their dad is the one who inspired me to run my first race. I’d been walking and jogging on my hilly road, with no purpose other than to control my weight. A month after my husband and I got married in Las Vegas, we had a family celebration at home. My husband’s son was training for a marathon and had a 20-miler on his schedule the morning of our party.

And he did it.

Just got up, got ready, headed out and came back to move furniture, help with setting up the party, mingle with our guests and put everything back where it was supposed to be afterward.

Obviously, I was pretty impressed. He was training for the Columbus Marathon; I registered for the Country Music Half-Marathon soon after.

Somehow I don’t think anyone will miss me if I take off for a couple of hours to run.

Have a great weekend. Back on Monday.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

How cool is this?

No, literally, I mean how cool is this:

The next three days are going to be downright chilly here in the Middle of Nowhere. And we may even get some rain, which we can really use. Yesterday we saw places where you could walk across the river and not get your feet wet.

I’m cramming all of this week’s training runs into four days so I won’t have to worry about getting any of them in this weekend. We’ll be visiting the triplets (and their parents), and I doubt there will be time for a nine-mile run Sunday morning.

Today is an easy two-miler, which I will stretch to three because I just think two miles is hardly worth it. I have to drive two miles to get to a flat road that’s long enough to run two miles on. Might as well make it worth the gas it takes to get there, right?

I weighed 177 – again – this morning. Nice to know that eating pasta and rice and cereal, oh my, this week hasn’t made me balloon up to 200. Is it wishful thinking, though, to have hoped I might lose a couple, considering I’ve either walked or run 24 miles since last Thursday?

Apparently, it is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Zoom … ka-boom!

Imagine my suprise as I set out on my seven-mile tempo run this morning to find this, at about the end of the first mile:

At the tippy top of the photo is a train moving along the tracks. The two empty coal cars (and an additional one not pictured) you can see braced against those trees were, until last night, moving along those tracks. The entire hillside is covered with coal.

It didn’t slow me down, though.

My goal was to jog a 15-minute warm-up and a 15-minute cooldown, on either side of five 11-minute miles. That would have been 85 minutes. While it didn’t work out the way I planned – still haven’t learned to pace myself – I actually beat my target time. Woo hoo! Or, rather, zoom-zoom!

Splits, anyone? 12:24, 11:05, 11:35, 11:56, 11:51, 11:55 and 12:52 – for a total of 1:23:41.

This has, so far, been my best week of training. I feel confident, strong, capable and running is fun. For all of those things to be true at the same time is pretty cool.

Now, though, it’s back to politics. (Big political news today, in case you’ve been avoiding your cable outlets.) Or dinner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Zoooooom!

Okay, y’all know I’m not the speediest of runners. I blame it on my short stature, advanced age and extra weight. But the combination of two months of training and much cooler weather seems to have helped my pace tremendously. I used to struggle to run a 12:40 mile. Today? Not so much:





I did a total of 6.8 miles, most of it walking, but I was supposed to run two miles today at a 12:32 pace.

I think I smoked it. Heh.

If I can keep that up for 13.1 miles (BIG heh), I’ll not only PR in Richmond, but I’ll also make my goal of finishing in 2:30. In order to PR, I have to run in less than 2:38:24.

Eating a more normal diet is very helpful, and it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s psychological or physical. If I think I can run more efficiently if I have rice with dinner and a banana with my morning coffee, then that’s good enough for me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The halfway point

Yesterday’s four-mile run (supposed to be at a 12:39 pace; I did it in 47:15 – an 11:49 pace) marked the end of eight weeks of race training. Eight down, eight to go. (My left ankle is fine; I thought I tweaked something in my left calf, but that appears to have been Something to Make Me Worry Unnecessarily.)

The next two months are quickly filling up with trips and activities. Good thing I’m not training for a tri – it’s harder to find places to swim than it is to find places to run.

I felt great yesterday, and can probably credit my change in diet. Having a banana about an hour before I headed out was a Good Thing. Do South Beach dieters ever get to eat bananas? (Apparently they do.)

My husband came home from a short trip yesterday, meaning I had to cook dinner. I find when he’s gone that I don’t cook much, if at all. I think the only time I used the microwave last week was to heat a cup of coffee, and the only time I used the stove was to make popcorn. Other than that, it was cereal, fruit, deli-meat wraps and one trip through McDonald’s for chicken nuggets. If it weren’t for the iced coffee I ordered there, I’d think I was a toddler.

Mileage ramps up significantly this week – and I really feel ready. Hope your weekend was restful and your week doesn’t throw you any curves.

Friday, September 19, 2008

For your listening pleasure

I haven’t seen anyone mention iTunes’ new Genius feature yet. This is not to be confused with the genius tech people who will transfer all your files when you switch from Windows to Apple. No, no, no, this is something I’ve been wishing for since I got my very first Shuffle.

I should preface my remarks by saying I rarely listen to music when I run any more. I stopped when I had about six weeks left in training for my first half-marathon. The rules said you weren’t allowed to wear headphones, so I thought I should be prepared for silent runs. Turns out I prefer running sans music – one less gadget to deal with, I suppose. Also turns out that lots of runners break that rule. Who knew?

But I do pop the iPod into its little adapter thingy when I drive. To me, driving is boring and tedious and tiring. I do not love hitting the road. And living where I do (the Middle of Nowhere) means I have to hit the road to do anything – even my running routes are located near rivers that I have to drive to.

Anyway, with iTunes Genius (you’ll need the free software update to iTunes 8) you highlight a song in your music list, click on the Genius icon and it creates a playlist of up to 100 compatible songs (the default is 25). That doesn’t mean if you highlight “Baby Got Back” you’re going to get 100 hip-hop songs. The majority will be of that genre, but Genius trolls your music collection to find other songs that fit well with your highlighted selection.

This has been great for revisiting songs I’d forgotten I had, and also for listening to some of the free iTunes offerings that I’ve downloaded and then never played.

It’s also great for making a drive to town less, um, tedious.

One of the running playlists I compiled a long time ago included Bob Dylan’s “Thunder on the Mountain” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Elvis Presley Blues.” As an experiment, I clicked on the Dylan song to see if Genius would include the Buffett song. It did! I might have to recharge the Shuffle.

I’m sold. And if you’re the kind of person who loves wizardry and magic, you probably will be, as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ruh Roh

I never was a Scooby Doo fan. I’m from the Bugs Bunny/Chip ’n’ Dale/Tweety Bird (“I think I saw a puddy tat”) generation. But when I experience an “uh-oh” moment, I immediately think – and sometimes say – it in my best Scooby Doo voice.

If you’d tagged along on my walk/run Tuesday morning, you would have heard me. I can’t remember the exact moment, but somewhere along the 7.25 mile-route, I twisted my left ankle. It’s still a little twingy – is that a word? – so I’m postponing today’s four-miler until tomorrow.

Thank goodness for easy weeks, eh?

I wrapped it in an Ace bandage and hobbled around yesterday doing what I normally do. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) was called for, but Compression and about an hour of Elevation was the best I could do.

It’s definitely not a sprain, and is much better today. The swelling is gone, as is most of the pain. If I weren’t in training I’d probably test it. But I sure don’t want a major setback with just eight weeks until race day.

My South Beach experiment has blown up in my face. What? You didn’t hear the explosion? You missed the flames erupting from the blown-out windows? While I can lose weight and still train eating meat-and-salad, meat-and-salad, meat-and-salad, I can’t do anything else. And while I don’t have a fulltime job or children to look after, I do have a house that is, as my mother used to say, “ready to walk.” And a mother-in-law who is still in the hospital and a President to elect.

Heh.

Carbs = energy. Without carbs, I sleep nine, 10 or even more hours per night. I drag my ass through my day and sleep like I’ll never wake up. I’m tired when I rise in the morning, tired when I run, tired when I hit the sack at 8 p.m.

To celebrate leaving the Beach, I had a cup of Shredded Wheat with strawberries and milk for breakfast. (Carbs ≠ donuts, Belgian waffles or coffee cake. Does anyone eat coffee cake any more? My mother used to make the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box and invite the neighbors over for coffee and cake at least once a week.)

I guess my major weight-loss push has been pushed back to, um, the holiday season.

Oh, joy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A little knitting update

I’ve finally decided that, yes, I will make sweaters for the triplets for Christmas. My other three grandchildren live in warm climates and rarely need sweaters, but the littlest guys live in Ohio, where it gets c-c-c-cold in the winter. I’m using the Trellis pattern; that little shawl collar looks so manly to me.

The yarn is good old machine-washable and -dryable Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Any mother of triplets would appreciate an easy-care fabric. I’ve amassed quite a large quantity of the wheat color, so that’s what I’m using.

Unfortunately, I sliced a fingertip on a razor the other day and the bandage is getting in the way of my knitting. I’m hoping to remove it today and really get to work on Sweater #1 today.

This week is another easy one for running. I love how the training program throws a couple easy weeks – low mileage, no speed drills, just go out and run for the fun of it – into the mix. Each of this week’s three runs is just four miles, at a slow – 12:39 – pace. I know I’ll run faster than that, and probably farther, and probably do four days, but that’s more for weight loss than for race training. I’m going to try to get back to the weight bench again this week, too. I did one session last week, and while one is better than none, it’s not enough for results.

I wish I could be a grown-up about this stuff. I’m more toddler-like – whining that I don’t WANT to!

That’s quite a mind picture, isn’t it? A 57-year-old overweight toddler. Heh.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hot, hot, hot

The weekend weather, that is.

We went to the hills of Kentucky for a retreat, something we’ve done for the last nine years, and I don’t ever remember it being so hot, humid and uncomfortable. The park where we stay has hiking trails and a lake and a lovely front porch with big rocking chairs and I think the only time I was outside was when I absolutely had to be.

Oh, and Saturday morning for my long run of the week.

It was supposed to be eight miles. I did seven, letting the hills and humidity make up one mile, since the most logical route was an out-and-back from the lodge to the main entrance. Besides, I stretched my two-miler the previous day to four, so I knew my weekly mileage was covered.

My pace was supposed to be slow, and it was – 13:12 – much slower than I was supposed to go. The killer hills were brutal, and I ended up walking a lot. There were two very good miles, though, where I felt great and ran fast (11:17 and 11:55). I was dripping wet, soaked with sweat and gasping for breath when I got back to our room.

The retreat part of the weekend was inspiring, uplifting and just what we needed. It was nice to get away. And it’s good to be home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Stay safe

Wishing everyone who lives in Ike’s path traveling mercies as they get out of his way, and a safe return home when the time is right.

I need to get a short run in this morning and then I’m heading for the hills for a little getaway. Looks like it’ll be raining all weekend – if it were race day, I’d be running in it, so I guess my long run will be a little soggy this week.

I did a total of six yesterday; the initial walking mile was pretty quickly done (for me), then four fast-ish ones (11:07) and then a final cooldown mile. After 4.5 miles I started feeling sick, and had to walk the rest of the way. My final time wasn’t pretty, not pretty at all.

During the fast part, I find myself glancing at the Garmin to see that I’ve been running a steady 10-minute mile for what seems like quite a while. It seems improbable to me that I can run that fast, and my mind takes over, shooting negative messages at me. My breathing becomes more labored (if that’s possible), my legs start aching, my feet feel like blocks of wood and BAM! I’ve hit the wall.

I’m not sure if the Garmin works tucked into a pocket or not. Perhaps it would be more useful to steel myself against looking at my wrist, rather than hiding the darned thing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

’Tis the season

I’m in the midst of a political debate with a Republican friend who lives in Texas. I realize I’m not going to sway his thinking, and yet I get sucked in, defending my beliefs and – sometimes – attacking his. So it was a delight to see this quote from SparkPeople this morning:

It’s not the strongest of the species that survive,
nor the most intelligent,
but the ones most responsive to change.
~ Charles Darwin

(Disclaimer: I’m not using SparkPeople for journaling my food, but I still get their daily quote and recipe e-mails. Further disclaimer: I’m not using anything for journaling my food. Sigh.)

I happen to think that because the McPalin machine doesn’t have good solutions for what ails the country, they have stolen taken over the Obama “change” message as their own, assuming we the people will believe whatever they say.

Not me. And since this isn’t really a political blog, I’ll wrap this segment up by saying I’ll be glad when the political season is over. Because then the knitting season begins!

I have a head start on some Christmas gifts. Still haven’t installed the zipper on my younger granddaughter’s sweater, but the knitting is done. I need to make a pair of mittens to match a cap, also for her. I made one pair but they’re waaaaaay to big for her teeny little hands. And a couple of days ago I finished a Mr. Flurry for her. She lives in the south, and likely won’t be making any snowmen of her own, so this squishy toy will be a fun substitute. Want to make one for a snow-deprived child you know? You can get the free pattern here. (You’ll have to register to downoad the pattern, but registration is free and then you can download hundreds more free patterns.)

I’m not sure if I’ll knit anything for the triplets. I like to knit, but three of the same thing is a little, um, tedious. Then again, knitting is knitting, and I like to knit.

Did you think I’d forgotten today is weigh-in day? Oh, no, not me. I’ve kept an eye on the scale all week, staying the same as last week, until today, when the two pounds I gained are miraculously gone again. I’m back to 175, and I haven’t a clue how it happened.

Perhaps if I’d been using a food/exercise journal, I could clear up that mystery.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ahem.

My dad, a longtime Democrat, says:

“You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
And you can put McCain in the White House, but it’s still a Bush.”

Thanks, Dad!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Not feeling very inspired this morning

I need to run two easy miles today – two measly miles! – and I Just. Don’t. Wanna. Do. It.

Wonder how Nike would like that for a slogan? Heh.

I walked yesterday (a rest day) but at the .9 mile mark I started feeling sick. Again. I had tossed my morning eggs about an hour before I started walking; don’t know why. I had to turn around and get home. In addition to feeling nauseous, I was sweating profusely – far more than a less-than-one-mile walk would warrant.

Have any of you noticed that I’m not writing about weight training any more? Could be because I’m not doing any weight training any more. And it’s not that I don’t have time, or that running interferes with weight training, or that I injured a bicep. Oh, no, not at all. See the last six words of the first paragraph.

Wah, wah, wah.

The weather outside is frightful – rain and thunder – so my measly two miles will have to get done in between showers, I think.

I’m off to spend some time on iTunes. Shauna has a great post about fight songs today and, as you can tell from the title of this post, I could use a little inspiration.

Monday, September 8, 2008

No. Really. I am still here.

It appears that when life gets stressful, I clam up. That’s probably a Good Thing, as I tend to be impulsive and might write something I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for at a later time. The better part of valor is discretion, a tenet it’s taken me many, many years to adopt.

First things first: Happy birthday to Wendy! I’ve been trusting her running advice (and more) for way more than a year now. Just because she’s flipped over into that “don’t trust anyone over mumble-mumble decade” doesn’t mean I’m going to stop now. Click over and give her your good wishes. I’ll wait.

So. It appears that, for me at least, the Penguin is right: It’s difficult to lose weight during race training. He doesn’t say it’s impossible, but he does point out that losing weight is one thing and race training is another. Different goals demand different strategies. I’ve found it verrrrry difficult to stick with a South Beach eating plan while following my training schedule. Doesn’t matter if it’s physical or mental – the fact is, I’m hungry more often and vegetables just don’t appeal. (I’m back up to 177, after the party and eating a lot of restaurant and hospital cafeteria meals last week.)

My mother-in-law has been transferred from the far-away, big-city hospital to what I like to call Tiny Hospital. It’s a 12-mile drive and she’s getting adequate care, but I’d like to see more emphasis on physical therapy and getting her up and out of bed than has happened so far. I’ll chalk it up to being transferred at the end of the week – small hospitals tend to clear all but the seriously ill out on weekends, and they – like most medical facilities these days – are short-staffed.

A little more housecleaning: The group photo I took at our Obama party did end up on the website. It's part of a slideshow and takes for-freaking-ever to download on dial-up, so I didn’t do it. But someone did for me, and says our photo is at the 4:13 mark. (I don’t know if the slideshow has been updated since the day I tried to view it.) You can see it here. Eventually.

The most popular item in the party goodie bags was the “Retired. Inspired.” bumper sticker. Hey, we’re old! What can I say? It hasn’t been too popular on CafePress, but then I’m not sure how to compete with the other 18 million Obama items for sale there.

I missed one run last week, and was two miles short of my weekly mileage goal, but felt good on the long run yesterday. My pace is supposed to be 12:39, but I’ve been shooting for 12-minute miles at this stage and I was darned close yesterday: 12:07 for more than six miles. I gave up when my husband drove by to see how I was doing and offered me a ride. The long run wasn’t quite as long as it was supposed to be, but my legs were toast and riding the last 1.7 was Just. Too. Tempting.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Still here, just barely

Consider this a placeholder. Life is far too busy these days to post properly. In fact, if it weren’t so foggy and wet out this morning, I’d be trying to mow the lawn before we go to the hospital. Pretty soon I’ll have to bale it.

At any rate, my mother-in-law is still in the hospital with a broken arm, and my husband and I are spending several hours per day visiting her (and driving to and from the hospital). There have been some complications, nothing life-threatening but definitely worrisome.

I’m keeping up with the essentials: a daily shower, coffee in the morning, food and water for the dogs, laundry (although it doesn’t get folded), and running on the days I’m supposed to. I miss just hanging out at the computer for hours on end every morning. Heh.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The best-laid plans …

Just about all I’ve talked about for the past couple weeks is party, party, party. Then the morning after the party, you all get … nothing! Well, there’s a reason for that.

Yes, we had the party, and yes, it was a big success. Our family room is the perfect size for a dozen people (we could have squeezed a few more in), and the guest list included the cream of the Democratic crop in our little county.

We failed to include the elusive Unknown Factor as we planned the event. Sometime very early Thursday morning, my husband’s mother fell in her bedroom and severely fractured her right humerus. Her housekeeper didn’t find her until noon.

My husband, of course, spent the day and most of the evening at two hospitals, and my mind was definitely not on the party. My mother-in-law was initially taken by ambulance to our local emergency department and then transferred to a larger facility for the surgical repair of her arm yesterday afternoon.

She did very well with the surgery, spent last night in ICU for observation (due to her age and other medical conditions) and we expect her to spend a couple more days on an orthopedic unit before being transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. If she qualifies.

Because my mother-in-law is right-handed, she used her right arm to break her fall. (Note to self: Practice falling with left arm extended.) She apparently fell face-first, as evidenced by the two huge shiners and other bruises/lacerations on her face. I asked the nurse to keep mirrors away from her.

Back to Thursday night – we carried on without my husband, and he did make it home in time for Obama’s acceptance speech. The group photo I took was pretty boring, but at least everyone’s faces are visible. When it’s on the Obama website, I’ll let you know. (They are putting together a slide show of the hundreds of photos submitted to them.)

Here are a couple random shots of party food/things, not people:

The centerpiece on the buffet table

‘Yes We Can’ (and generic, patriotic) cupcakes

Obama logo fruit pizza

One of the best parts of the party was the two times everyone here burst into spontaneous applause. One, of course, was after Obama’s speech. The first was after Al Gore’s speech. The comment was made and agreed upon that if Gore had been that good a speaker during his Presidential run, he might have won the last election. (Yes, yes, I know he did … you know what I mean.)

Today is FOOTBALL! Villanova at WVU at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. We’ll be home from the hospital in plenty of time, and since it’s not an ESPN- or network-televised game, we’re going to splurge and order it on ESPN Gameplan.

Because we deserve it. And we’re worth it.

Y’all have a great weekend. Don’t labor too hard.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Upping my average

Today being Thursday, I stepped on the scale for the official weekly weigh-in. All those other days don’t count – it’s just information. Heh. Thursdays are for real.

175. Down another pound. When my body is cooperative, my typical weight loss is about half a pound a week. Metabolisms slow down as the years go by, so any of you youngsters out there reading this, take heed. Figure out what works for you now, get-r-done and avoid the lifetime struggle.

Easier said than done, I know.

Anyhoo … my average weight loss at this very moment is .533333 pounds per week.

The party is tonight! I am – amazingly – on schedule with the cooking and cleaning and Martha-Stewarting. Still have to figure out the photo shoot. Someone who shall remain nameless suggested having five people (I assume she meant guys) paint their chests, รก la football fans, with the letters O-B-A-M-A. I reminded her that these guys were, um, old. One is on oxygen. I seriously doubt any of them would be willing to display – well, you get the idea.

This same reader also thought maybe we could play Obama Twister. My husband goes on Medicare in two months and one of our guests will be going to her 60th high-school class reunion this fall. Really, guys, we’re old!

Which, when you think about it, is pretty cool. We’re a roomful of geezers from a seriously red state, retired and inspired by a young, progressive, forward-thinking man who is from a completely different culture and background. His ideas and ideals, though, are ours, and we’re all committed to making his Presidency a reality.

My husband and I were so very proud last night. We figured out that the network to watch is C-Span – no chit-chat, no commentary and we felt like we were right there on the convention floor during the roll call.

Tonight? Maybe I’d better make a Kleenex run.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What speech were they watching?

Sorry this is turning into a quasi-political blog lately.

My husband and I care very much about the outcome of the coming Presidential election, and since the Democratic convention is going on, that’s what’s on our minds. We flip back and forth between MSNBC and Fox, figuring we’ll get the partisan viewpoint from each side of the broadcast aisle.

I was at my prison volunteer gig for much of last night. When I got home, my husband urged me to stay up to watch Hillary. Based on the commentators’ build-up, he predicted I would be happy with what she was going to say.

(I’m not a Hillary fan, I don’t care for her stage presence – that head-bob bothers the heck out of me – and it’s difficult for me to listen to her strident voice. Thus, my husband knew I would need some convincing.)

So, I stayed up to listen. The way our family room is arranged, I can sit at the computer and not have to look at the TV. I was not swayed by crowd reaction or by her facial expressions. And I thought she said all the right things to get her supporters to vote for Obama. So did MSNBC.

Keith Olbermann: “A grand-slam. Out of the park.”

Apparently, Fox wanted something different.

William Kristol: “Tepid.”

It’s laughable, really, no matter whose side you’re on. (I’m on Keith’s side.)

Okay, back to the running and the knitting. Knitting first: I’m almost finished with the body of my in-the-round, looks-like-it-will-be-too-small pullover. The sleeves will be knit separately, joined to the body at the underarms and then the bodice will be completed as a raglan with a V-neck.

Someday.

The running: My husband and I went together for his 10K walk yesterday. When we do that and I need to throw an easy run into it, I end up doing seven-ish miles. I was supposed to only run two miles, but I felt really good and ran 3.5. The first two were continuous, then I walked a mile and then I ran another one. Each of the running distances were at a sub 12:30 pace. I know, I know – not fast at all. But I feel more and more confident about continuing to improve my time and being able to finish the entire 13.1.

On today’s agenda: Cooking, cleaning and ironing t-shirt transfers onto a couple of shirts for my husband and I to wear tomorrow night. Can’t have a party without new clothes, can we? Heh.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's all about the food

The dieting portion of this blog is temporarily suspended. Continue reading at your own risk.

If you’re going to throw a party, be sure to have good food and plenty of it. That’s my daughter’s philosophy, and I think it’s pretty good advice.

The members of the group who will be here Thursday night are middle-aged and older, so I think mostly traditional appetizers are in order. We’ll have Swedish meatballs and those little sausages cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce, along with artichoke dip, hummus with vegetables and crackers, a bowl of cinnamon-spiced nuts and a fruit pizza.

Cupcakes are on the menu. Cupcakes sure seem to be popular these days – Google Blogsearch came up with 1,181,447 hits and amazon.com is selling a boatload of cupcake cookbooks.

Mine are plain old chocolate, and will be decorated with the words “Yes We Can” on top. I think some will be iced in blue and some in white, with red lettering.

I’m also making pig candy. I first had this at one of my daughter’s Oscar parties several years ago. The serving plate was empty in mere minutes. If you’ve never made it, it’s super-simple and absolutely delish!

We don’t drink alcohol, but will have soda, tea, coffee and lemonade for thirst-quenching.

So there you have it. I’m leaving all the inspiration for the speech (wasn’t Teddy Kennedy inspiring last night?); the food is part of the background.

I received a packet of material from the Obama for Change headquarters yesterday, including a sign that our group is supposed to pose with. They want party photos to use on their blog. I’m trying to think of some creative way to pose our guests so our picture will actually be posted.

I thought maybe I’d have everyone stand on the stairs and shoot it from below, but the light in the stairwell isn’t so great. I also might stand on a ladder, just to get a different angle (I bet a thousand other photographers use that trick). I also thought I might have everyone make a silly face, but this crowd might not get into the spirit of silliness. (My fairly prim-and-proper husband would probably die if I suggested it, actually. Wouldn’t want that.)

Must. Think. Harder.

Any ideas? I wish you all could be here!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Almost party time

Have I mentioned that my husband and I are having a party to watch Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night? I’ve lived here 11 years, and other than our wedding party (held at his mother’s home) and our annual 4th of July family reunion, I can think of only one other “party” we’ve held, and that was for a group of knitting friends.

My husband really wasn’t part of that equation.

Anyway … we’re excited and I spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on our office/family room. After much trial and error, I think I found the solution to hanging 12 photos, all the same size, so that they a. don’t fall and b. are equidistant apart. Sticky-back Velcro works like a charm. Of course, the frames (simple, black, wooden, ordered online a couple weeks ago) are very lightweight. During the initial stages of trying to use actual picture frame hangers, three frames fell, resulting in broken glass. I bought cheap Dollar Store document frames to replace the glass. It’s been two days now and every photo is still on the wall. It’s so exciting to walk up the stairs and see that the whole display is still intact.

I turned to Martha for patriotic decoration ideas, and ended up making tri-color, three-dimensional paper stars and some little red/white/blue drink umbrellas. I think they’ll enhance the buffet, and we might even stick some in cups of lemonade.

(I also found this cute little way of presenting gifts of cash; my older grandchildren appreciate cashmoneybucks more than “stuff” these days. That Martha is sooo clever.)

Fifteen stars are scattered across the wall space above five windows, along with four “Yes We Can” posters. (You can snag lots of Obama printables here.)

We also have goodie bags for our guests, filled with swag: posters, bumper stickers, buttons, a t-shirt transfer and a mix CD of protest songs. This was my favorite part of the party prep, and I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks.

Now that the room is ready (please pray that the satellite doesn’t go on the fritz this week), it’s time to start on the food! Mmmmm! (I’ll write about the menu tomorrow, if you’re interested.)

With all this busy-work, have I had time to run? Why, yes, yes I have. Last week was an easy week – three runs, two three-milers and a four-miler, all at a 12:47 pace. I aced the second and third ones, which gives me a lot of confidence that continued training will result in faster times and improved endurance.

Cooler temperatures wouldn’t hurt, either.