What are we talking about today?

Normal topics suspended for the A to Z Challenge. It's all books from April 1-30.

If you're here from the A to Z Challenge hoping I'll comment back if you comment first: Sorry to disappoint, but that probably won't happen. I work full-time and I grad school full-time, so I can't give the time to blog commenting that I would like. I'll visit after the end of the semester, I hope.

24 February 2010

Write your own Olympic Commentary

There is a game on Whose Line is it Anyway? in which the players watch a movie clip with no sound, and they provide the dialogue. I enjoy playing a similar game with the Olympic events, because sometimes the commentary is too much. However, I do have to say that the Winter commentary is so very superior to the Summer commentary, possibly because they are spread more thinly at the Summer games. But I would like to make one teensy, eensy request of our Winter friends: Please don't deliver every line of the call in a shouting voice. You may shout when something exciting happens, but otherwise, your microphone will pick up your normal speaking voice just fine.

So, I tend to be kind of grumpy at the commentators. I know in my head that in order to be a successful journalist, one must sell one's soul to Satan. I know that they aren't paid to sit there quietly, and I should expect to hear the persistent voices throughout the event. I know that they are experts and can make the Games more enjoyable for me by telling me what is going on. I know that any of their millions of viewers can turn on the TV at any time, and that's why the man just said the same thing for the 100th time this half hour. I know all these things, and yet... sometimes I just have to hit the mute button.

Play on, Olympians.

23 February 2010

Lent

So in the midst of basking in my post-marathon glow (you didn't really think I could post without mentioning the marathon, did you?), Ash Wednesday happened. As so often comes up in my poorly-timed life, I hadn't completely planned ahead, so had to hastily pull together the fragments of Lenten possibility that had been floating around in my brain since New Year.

And while I don't share my chosen "fasts" publicly, I will say this: Decreasing my Facebook time is on the list. I have a few specific actions in mind to accomplish this, and the reason, of course, is that it takes up far too much of my time and attention. On the one hand, it does combine the ease and speed of email, chat, and blogging all into one user-friendly webpage. But that doesn't change that fact that it sucks hours from my life, hours that could be better spent on pretty much anything else.

And yet-- and yet, it has not been easy. Facebook is my go-to Internet activity. I catch myself loading the page, only to force myself to close it because I've already been there and done everything that I intended to do for one day. I keep sneaking extra moments to see if anyone has answered a message that I sent, or to see if the "clever" comment I made on a friend's status was well-received. Sigh.

I think a year will come that I'll have to give up the Internet altogether, just to break the habit of spending all my spare time finding out what the rest of the world is up to. In the meantime, this small step is proving difficult enough.

22 February 2010

Back to Earth.

I've been able to claim the title "Marathoner" for one week. And what a week it's been.

Non-runners, who don't know how horrible my time really was, have been oohing and aahing over every sore muscle and the tales from every last mile.

Runners, who don't care how horrible my time really was, all want to know if I've caught the bug. (Yep. Can't wait for my next one.)

I've been hugging people all over the place (if you missed it, sorry-- I'm done!) and showing off my medal to anyone who will listen. Not to mention forwarding my race pictures to everyone at the office and generally making a nuisance of myself to everyone around me-- I'm sure some of them were hoping to be freed from hearing "marathon" from me every thirty seconds. (I think that's just my repayment for having to hear "football" every ten seconds for six months out of the year.)

I wanted to go running this evening, but I was a bit put off by the freezing temps. I don't have anything on my running plan this week, so it was just going to be for fun. But, it will be warmer later this week, so I'll get some miles in before March arrives.

It is a bit of a departure for me to want to run this badly so soon after a race-- after both my half-marathons, and especially after Austin last year, I wasn't eager to get back to it. But I've recovered so quickly this time (slow race + massage will do that to you!) and I've been feeling great since Wednesday, and I'm desperate to get back out there. Guess I really have caught the bug.

So, this marathoner is ready to see just how fast she can run a half-marathon in Oklahoma.

20 February 2010

After 26.2

The finish line at Austin is directly in front of the capital. I've never in my life been so happy to see the number "26" (yeah, it was like an episode of Sesame Street), but that's when I sped up, rounded the capital building and ran as hard as I could up the finish chute. The announcer didn't say my name (Boo!), but I pretty much crossed the line by myself, so all 5 cameras in the vicinity were pointed at me, as evidenced by my official race photos (which, by the way, you can see here).

Oh, and I was crying again. If I was dehydrated at all on Sunday, it was more from crying than from sweating, I can pretty much guarantee you. And as I was running up the chute, I couldn't breathe because I was crying. So, for future reference: Crying+Running+Breathing= Impossible.

I crossed the line and collected my medal. And that was it. Six months' worth of training for the two seconds it took to cross the line and say "Thank you" to a volunteer. I wanted to ask if I could cross the line a couple of more times, just to make it last longer!

So, got the medal, got my t-shirt, got my gear check bag (which I didn't need at all, because the weather was so nice), got a bottle of water, a banana, and a Snickers Marathon bar. (Warning: those are gross. Buy Clif Bars instead.)

Chad, Mike & Sharlan were waiting for me at the end of the finish chute, and when I hugged Chad, I started crying again. (On the upside, I shouldn't need to cry again for about six months.) We headed for the car, and in addition to eating my banana and gross Snickers Marathon bar, I also fished out my Clementines from my gear check bag. (So I guess I needed it a little bit.)

Then I started my round of phone calls: My mum, Linda (whose driveway I've been parking in for training runs for six months), my sister, Sherry (who was intently watching the race results to see if I'd finished), Wendy (who didn't answer), and Sarah (who had a screaming-good 1/2 marathon in Austin).

And I had a really unpleasant ice bath at the hotel. It's too bad that ice baths work so well; I'd love a reason not to do it, but it's so effective that I hate to skip it. Eeek.

19 February 2010

Friday Countdown

The Countdown is getting a bit sparse. Apparently, all the major events in my year already happened. Time to think up some new ones!

Prairie Dog 4-miler: 22 days
First Day of Spring: 29 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race (Half Marathon): 36 days
Easter: 44 days
Oklahoma City Half Marathon: 64 days

17 February 2010

During 26.2

So, I'll just try to remember things in order.

I think I already mentioned my tendency to cry at the beginning of long races, right? Well, I did.

I was admiring the many and varied shops that we were running past. My favourite? "Lucy In Disguise with Diamonds."

The first spectator to read my bib and call me by name was at about mile 4. I was amazed, because it never occurred to me that a) anyone could read my name on my bib (I guess I was moving pretty slowly), or b) that they would want to shout it. But she did, and she turned out to be the first of many.

I had a "tough cookie" get in my way-- and here I thought I was the only one who couldn't run in a straight line. I high-fived a giant lemon-- I never did work out what they were promoting. I got behind Chad, then caught up with him again. I was walking with Chad, but ran up a hill, because I thought walking up it would be more depressing. I would have danced for joy when we finally go to the Powerade, if it wouldn't have been a waste of energy. (There was a cute little boy volunteering at the Powerade station, who offered me an entire bottle, which I turned down in favour of a small cup. I think he was disappointed.)

So, after the split from the half-marathoners, I started crying again. Geez. Don't worry-- that wasn't the last time.

There was a girl called Maggie running near me. How do I know she is called Maggie? Because she brought her own cheering section. One guy met up with her at an aid station, and there were two more people waiting at the end of the next block. And they spelled out her name with their arms. But that wasn't all-- she had more people, with signs, a couple of blocks later. And that was the last I saw of Maggie & her retinue.

A little girl was sitting on a curb with her mum, and waving the way small kids do-- just turning her hand back & forth; you really had to look at her to see that she was waving at all. But her eyes lit up and she smiled so hugely when I waved back at her.

A runner handed me a heart-shaped pretzel. Some spectators gave me one of those huge soft mints, which promptly got me worrying about inhaling it. I bit into it so that I didn't have to worry about choking.

Good signs: "Posterboard: 50 cents. Parking: $7. Seeing you kick the pavement's @$$: priceless." "Is he lonesome/or is he blind/this guy who is following/so close behind?" (broken up into four signs, a la the Burma shave ads) "Easy Sunday 10K from here (near mile 20)." "If your feet hurt, it's because you're kicking butt!" "Runner (bib #) lives here." (I thought that was pretty cool). And my favourite: "Mile 26". :)

Near mile 20, there were spectators handing out beer-- and from the way they were acting, I'd say they'd been sampling the product for quite a while. I passed them by for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is: beer is gross at the best of times, and 20 miles into 26.2 is NOT the best of times.

Another spectator was giving out orange slices. I would send her a thank-you card, if I had her name & address.

We ran through UT campus-- and I'm pretty sure we went the loooooong way through. I thought we were never coming to the end.

Oh, and did I mention there were some hills? In fact, at one point a volunteer at an intersection said to me, "Top of the hill! Great job!" I said, "Thanks," but was thinking "Hill? There was a hill? What hill?" I actually turned around to look & saw that he was right, I had just come uphill & hadn't even noticed. Can I tell you what a great feeling that was?

Coming soon: The End.

15 February 2010

Before 26.2

I'd better write this now before I forget all of it!

First of all, yes, I'm sore. Really, really sore. I-can't-get-up-from-the-couch sore. I'll roll off onto the floor, crawl to a sturdy chair, and lift myself up with my arms. It's a bit silly, really. Earlier, I took too big of a step and knew it immediately-- and my quadriceps had their revenge. Ugh.

So-- Chad & I were among the last across the start line. Not a problem, since we had chip timing. But before the start... we saw Jill, from the running club (technically, she saw us) and said hello. I saw a guy dressed as William Wallace (presumably), complete with sword. Because of the way the street slopes and the fact that we were at the back of 14000 runners (not to mention that I'm crazy-short), I had to jump to see the pyrotechnics on the start line when the gun went off. And, I called my mum.

Apparently, my mother did not get the memo that I was running a marathon. The conversation was something like this:

Mum: Hello.
I: Hi!
Mum: What are you doing? (A reasonable question when I call her at 7:45 on Sunday morning.)
I: I'm standing at the start line of the marathon.
Mum: What?
I: I'm about to run a marathon.
Mum: You are?
I: Yeah. Chad's running the half-marathon.
Mum: Oh. How's the weather?
I: Good. It's supposed to be really nice today.
Mum: Well, that's good. So how far are you running?
I: 26.2 miles.
Mum: Wow. Well, have fun!

Sigh. I'll have to tell my mum about race distances some day.

Anyway, once we were safely across the start line, I started crying. (Just out of nerves/happiness, not because my mum doesn't know how far a marathon is.) Seriously, I should teach a class on how to run while crying, I'm so good at it.

13 February 2010

On the Eve of becoming a Marathoner...

(Reposted from Facebook)

So, I've been composing this little entry in my head for a while; ever since I began my taper for the marathon which, as I write this, is just over 18 hours away. (Oh. My. Word.)

My running career began when I was 12 and thought that running track would be a fun way to hang out with my friends. (I was right about that.) Even then, there was no one who didn't know that I was easily the slowest person on the team. To put it another way, the fast people would be finishing the 800 just as I was entering the first curve of my second lap. And yet... and yet, those same people were still standing near to cheer in the slow people as we finished. Some of my coaches had a hard time believing that anyone could run that slowly, but again, I rarely heard anything but encouragement.

(In gym class, my classmates took pains to tell me that I run like a duck. And quack behind me in the halls for my entire freshman year.
Thanks, guys.)

I didn't run competitively in high school (and I rarely ran recreationally), but I picked it up again as an aim student (and Keely confirmed that I do, in fact, run like a duck, although she refrained from quacking), then had an on-again, off-again relationship with running until three years ago. (Three years! Wow!)

I took it up again, found that I liked it, and then (and here is the secret to my sticking with it) we joined the West Texas Running Club. The club puts on monthly, totally-non-threatening, gives-you-something-to-train-for races. I love it.

Anyway. That was all background to the sappy part. I never would have stuck with this, I never would have striven for improvement, I certainly never would have thought about running a marathon without all the support and encouragement I've received from all sides. Running really is a non-team team sport, and I have a GINORMOUS number of teammates.

Chad got me into this mess in the first place. :) There are many people in the running club who are so encouraging, even (especially!) when they finish 30 minutes ahead of me. We've been blessed beyond measure by Shannon & Wendy's friendship; it calmed my nerves considerably to see a familiar face at our first race. (And Shannon graciously refrained from saying "I told you so" after I went out MUCH too fast only 10 minutes after he warned me not to.)

There are other runners at South Plains and at work who have helped with advice and encouragement. But I readily admit to being even more uplifted by non-runners, mostly on Facebook, who make me feel like an Olympic athlete when alll I've done is a slow 3-miler. Especially so are the people who have said I'm an inspiration-- me, an inspiration? I've never heard that in my life about anything. And suddenly this uber-slow, runs-like-a-duck (Chad thinks so, too) overweight girl has become a mostly-slow, still-runs-like-a-duck, normal-weight running girl, who gets by with a little help from her friends.

I couldn't have done it without your help. And so, on the eve of becoming a Marathoner, I say thank you. Rest assured that during the long miles tomorrow, I will be thinking of you. And thanking God for you.

12 February 2010

Friday Countdown

I really meant to post this week. Oops! No worries, race report coming on Monday. :)

Vancouver Olympics: Today!!
Austin Marathon: 2 days!!
Ash Wednesday: 5 days
First Day of Spring: 36 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race: 43 days
Easter: 51 days
Oklahoma City Marathon: 73 days

05 February 2010

Friday Countdown

Vancouver Olympics: 7 days
Austin Marathon: 9 days
Ash Wednesday: 12 days
First Day of Spring: 43 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race: 50 days
Easter: 58 days
Oklahoma City Marathon: 79 days

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