Friday, February 29, 2008
My sucky job My character-building experience defiant brats spirited individualists beaucrocy structured consistency hot flashes power surges weird kid future inventor effin' cold brisk February sucks spring's coming I've got a big a$$ I'm bootylicious stupid meetings down time
Feel free to add your own.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I went for my first run after the ultra. I've been sick, blowing and choking on flem all week, and that's including the 12-hour sudafed and Robitussin. All week. Even my students are pretty astonished at the counging, considering one of them gave it to me. There isn't enough Purel in the world to protect from the germ factory otherwise known as public school.
So, I went to a local trail with Baboo today to do a little run. I sure didn't feel like running, but I was getting kinda depressed so I figured I should at least go for a run. I figured I could hike energetically even if I couldn't run.
It went kind a like this: run, run, cough, cough, gag, HHHHAAAAAACCCCCKKKKK, run, run, cough, cough, gag, pfffooottt! HHHHAAAAAACCCCCKKKKK, run, run, cough, cough.... over about 4-5 miles of trail. It's a great trail, and I can't wait to get out there and really run it. It's got uphills and downhills and sand and it's just this jewel hidden away not to far from where we live. It goes on forever, along the river and has lots of twists and turns too. It will be great training for the Grasslands.
I'm also working on my PD dossier. It's nearly done. It's due February 29th, at midnight. It's 3000-4000 words on how I can prove that I know what I'm doing as a teacher. More on that political BS later.
It was good to be running again. Or hiking. Or whatever it was I was doing.
Possibly filed under training
Saturday, February 23, 2008
About I-don't-know-how-many years ago I offered Mini-baboo a cell phone (he desperately wanted one) if and only if he brought his grades up to Bs and above and kept them there, and damned if he didn't recently pull this off.
Of course, he's about to turn 17, so this might have happened anyway; that seems to be the time when the hormone-driven insanity cools, but FOLKS, know that I've made ALL KINDS of bribery type promises to all my kids in the hopes of getting one of those bumper stickers that says, "MY CHILD IS AN HONOR STUDENT AT..." before I finally just bought one that says, "I LOVE MY KIDS...WHETHER OR NOT THEY'RE HONOR STUDENTS."
But I did make all those promises and then relaxed, knowing I'd never have to pony up the dough, or drivers training, or cell phones....because they had the same attitude about grades that I had when I was in high school, "hey, no worries, 'tsall good, I'll graduate! Stop worrying!"
"Hey, mom, I've been kinda thinking - I haven't really made up my mind yet, but I was wondering - could I, you know, instead of a cell phone, could I have a gym membership instead?"
But then, he preceded to try to further sell me on the idea! "you know - I would go down there to work out, and just so you'd know that's where I really am, I'd call you from there while I was there." As if I need to be sold on this idea. Still, I was cool about it. Okay, well, whatever. Just let me know what you decide. Then it occured to me to put a little instant gratification into the mix: 'Cause, you know, if you want a phone I'll need time to investigate plans and find the best one for you...but if you want a gym membership instead, well, we could probably do that right away.
So, not long after we were in landing in New Mexico after coming back from Alabama, and the captain told everyone they could turn on their cell phones, and I said, just OH, so casually - like I didn't really care about the answer - So, hey, speaking of cell phones, did you ever decide on what you wanted to do about getting a cell phone or gym?
Possibly filed under parenthood
Thursday, February 21, 2008
You know, most of the time when I tell people I teach 9th-graders, I get that Oh, my God" look that should really be reserved for people who are in the trenches in some far-away sandy country. Some people even suck air through their teeth.
And I always say, "Oh, it's not so bad. They're just kids. You just have to not take their behavior personally."
Of course, when some little sociopath throws your car keys in the trash, it's kind of hard to defend them. Or not take it personally.
Yes, that's right. My fault, I admit, for leaving them within reach. And you know what? the kids all knew I was looking for them. Some were even helping me look. Among them was at least one kid who knew where they were, or maybe s/he threw them in on the way out.
My afternoon classes are interesting; a interesting potpourri of kids with academic, emotional, legal and psychiatric issues. Several students are not allowed to leave class for any reason without an escort and the rest have to go to the bathroom one right after another after sucking down their lunch-time Red Bulls. So, in the middle of class I've taken to just taking the entire class to the bathroom, like in kindergarten. I count them before we go, before we leave the bathroom area, and after we get back.
And it was right after this that I set my keys down on a table instead of putting them back in the locked filing cabinet where I keep my things, and poof! there they're weren't.
Once class had ended, and I sent them home, I got to thinking about how hard it would be to explain a large ring of keys, including car keys, to your parents. I got the idea of looking in the trash, and there they were: near the bottom under paperwads in the pencil shavings. I picked them up, and shook them off and went to my message appointment.
All the way there, I was listening to Amy Winehouse, just kind of shaking my head in amazement and then mumbling to myself, "m****erf***er" at the kind of kid that cannot conceive of how their behavior affects others.
And people ask me why I run.
Oh, and guess what, I am now officially Marathon Maniac #831!
As if it needed to be "official."
Monday, February 18, 2008
Soooo, aside from the pithy comments, what was it like?
There were those long, 4 or 5 miles toward the end when I wasn't sure that I was going to finish.
About two miles after I left the aid station at mile 22.4 (which my Garmin claimed was mile 19.8) I reached for a gel, but all I found were pockets of empty wrappers. Gels would have meant continued running with confidence and feeling good. Empty gel wrappers meant stumbling along, out of fuel and mumbling to myself.
The next aid station around mile 26 was unmanned, with water and watery gatorade and a family of three on horses who were staring, astonished, at the people who kept stumbling, one-by-one, out of the woods and across the small river that ran in front of the unattended gatorade dispensers and asking "what mile is this?" because they had NO idea what was going on. "Mile? Mile of what?"
I filled up on watery gatorade but of course, it didn't have nearly the calories that I needed. I cheered myself up by reminding myself that every mile after 26 was the furthest I'd every gone on my own two feet in my life. But mostly, I stumbled along another 4 miles or so mumbling over and over again,
Oh, I'm in trouble. I'm in trouble. Trouble trouble trouble. I don't know where I am. I don't know how far I've gone. Am I even on the right path? Where's the next aid station?
Have you ever had a coke?
I don't even like coke. I almost never drink it. But I loved it that day. I gulped it with relish, there at mile 28 at the Black Warrior 50K.
All - in - all, here's what I did well, and what I could do better next time:
- I did well with lots of gels but next time, carbo-pro.
- I carried tp with me, guessing that I might have to avail myself of the woods. Next time, I think I'll bring wetnaps instead. I drank, drank, drank, drank.
- I never got dehydrated. Go, me. I carried two Nathan quick-draw bottles. As an added bonus, when I slipped on the mud and fell, the bottle broke my fall and may have prevented a sprained or broken wrist.
- I brought sports-slick in my drop bag, but next time, I think I'll carry it with me.
- Race-ready long-distance shorts rock. I wore them over some regular running tights, and in them I carried gels, tp, my Garmin, an inhaler, and my ipod. For my next marathon, I'm going to get a pair of their fitness shorts which are meant for "people who chaffe".
- My injinji socks and Brooks adrenalyn shoes kept my toes dry, baby.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
- My time: about 8 hours, :26.
- My average pace: 16:20 min/mile
- Miles traveled: >31
- feet of climbing on this course: 9231 (according to Baboo's Garmin. MY garmin, disappointingly, claims that I only ran about 28 miles.)
- Stream crossings: more than a dozen
- Super mucky areas that had to be skirted or just slogged through: about 50.
- Number potties on the course: 0
- Number of bushes to potty behind: 0
- Number of fallen trees that had to suffice instead: 3
- Tree roots I tripped on because they were buried in the leaves: 11
- Times I said "stupid tree roots": 3
- Number of times I said, "f***ing tree roots!!!": 8
- Number of people who started the 50K: About 90.
- Number of people behind me when I finished: 6.
- Ounces of watered-down gatorade I drank: over 200.
- Number of gells I consumed: 16.
- Number of snickers energy bars: 1
- Mile where I hit the wall and started mumbling to myself and staggering a bit: 26
- Ounces of coke it took to light a new fire under my butt at mile 28.4: 12.
- Number of Sweet Baboos waiting for me at the finish line (along with Mini baboo): 1
(there could only be one.)
The prize for finishing: You get to stop running.
How I will reward my wonderful feet, for carrying me all >31 miles: Cute, comfortable shoes and a pedicure.
How I will reward my legs: a message.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Shhhhhh. Be vewwy, vewwy quiet. Baboo is very, very sick and I have put him to bed with cough syrup, valerian, and assorted other remedies. In a moment, I will turn on his favorite travel buddy in the whole world: an electronic noise-maker. He likes the channel that sounds like crickets. I'm crossing my fingers that he feels better tomorrow for this thing.
Currenly, I'm in Moulton, Alabama ready to run the Black Warrior 50K tomorrow morning. Here is what I've laid ou out, based on my training and the prediction of "misty" conditions in the morning with low in the mid/upper 30s and a high in the low/mid 50s (F):
- Race ready long-course shorts, worn over brooks' running tights.
- Brooks' Adrenylin 4 trail running shoes with REI gaiters attached
- (what else?) insanely sexy Injinji crew-length socks.
- Brooks vapor-dry hoodie with built-in mitties and media pocket.
- LS wicking T-shirt
- Moving comfort Maia bra.
- Garmin heart-strap and wrist computer.
- Ear-warmer head band, with built in headphones.
The morning pre-race meat will be 3-4 servings of quaker "oatmeal to go" squares, for a total of about 1000 calories, and some gatorade to wash it down with.
Tonight's meal: A pizza. Medium. Veggie-lovers, from Pizza hut, and some leftover Valentine's candy from Kmart. (Hey, I'll be burning between 3500 and 4000 calories during tomorrow's 31-mile trek through the Black Warrior Forrest. Just LEt it GO.)
More tomorrow, friends. Time to don the breathe-right strip and my own special pre-race dose of benedryl and valarian and zonk out. Toodles!
Possibly filed under pre-race jitters
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Today I ditched a mandatory training at work for a test that, as it turns out, we aren't going to give. I chose to spend my time instead calling parents of kids who have Fs, making photocopies, writing a test, and planning lessons. They were all like, "THIS TRAINING IS MANDATORY" and in capital letters in several "friendly reminder" emails, and then told me afterward that it didn't matter that I wasn't there; it wasn't that important anyway since we aren't giving the test.
Meanwhile: I've turned in my credentialis to another school district to see if they'll have me. I have to try another district before I leave teaching for good.
Here's my day: 30 teenagers every day who have already failed Algebra once, and are forced by law and their parents to take it AGAIN, NOW. No, NOW. It's a lot like, well, I don't know what it's like, but you get the idea.
I try to be moderately entertaining and get my point across but then admin comes up with training that we don't really need and threats that it is MANDATORY and I start to feel like I'm not a very good teacher because I don't use CPS clickers every single day: Friendly Reminder!
For instance, they like to take advantage of my training in counseling to send me kids that just got expelled from other schools, or released from jail, but three years in a row they've turned down my request to get "Crisis Intervention and De-escalation Training" that is offered to other staff members on in-service days.
I also spoke today to the clinical director of a community mental health agency where I used to work part-time. Last fall I was feeling pretty burned out and decided to clear my plate of all non-work stuff to figure out what to do with my life, and took a leave of absence from the counseling center even though, whenever I've worked there, I felt smart and efficacious. I feel like I've done something important, instead of overworked, abused, and down-trodden. The director tends to wax a bit toward mushy, but it was nice to hear things today like, "you're a part of this place " and, "you know you always have a place here." He thinks I'm a good therapist.
I always think deeply about thing on my long runs - I figure things out that have been bothering me. It's weird. It's like I have all this solitude and it affords me the quiet time that I need to mull over ideas that daily distractions would otherwise render impossible. It's especially true when I run along the bosque trail - out in nature, suddenly things seem clearer.
When I started this whole thing 3 years ago it was with one idea in mind: I wanted to be thin. More specifically, I wanted to be willowy. I wanted to be thin and gangly and long limbed and look super fit. The way athletes are "supposed" to look.
So I had this testing done recently and it says that I'm very, very fit, but only in a good week can I squeeze into a size 10. Most of the time, I'm a twelve. Not willowy. Not thin. But very fit.
There are only two times as an adult when I was "thin": The first was when I was 18. My high school sweetheart had committed suicide and I was an emotional wreck. At such times of despair and grief I lose my appetite, and I stopped eating. I was scheduled to have some surgery done, but at the pre-surgery meeting the doctor told my mother if I lost just one more pound before the surgery, he wasn't doing it. I weighed 118 pounds, about 50 pounds less than I weigh now.
Not healthy. Not fit. Not happy. But thin.
The other time was when I was around 35. I'd lost a lot of weight by limiting my eating and hiking a few miles each day. Then I stopped exercising, but also severely restricted my eating. I weighed 130 pounds, 35 pounds less than I weigh now. A picture of myself at that weight does not show a healthy woman. I was pretty happy about fitting into a size 8, though. But I was weak. I couldn't run; I could barely hike. I had no muscle tone.
I was happy. I was thin. But not fit.
It's almost like happiness takes up some palpable room in my body alongside the muscle, and the only way I can be that thin is to sacrifice fitness or happiness.
So, I was running along the bosque today and I suddenly heard a voice inside my head - I mean, I'm not psychotic or anything - but this thought popped into my head: Can I accept the hard work it takes to be healthy and fit, even if it means I will never look exactly the way I want to look?
Can I be satisfied to know that I'm fit and healthy, even if I look "ordinary" on the outside, I don't embody my idea of what an athlete should look like?
Can that be enough?
You know, whenever I run 15 or 20 or 25 miles I look into the mirror afterwards and always suprised to see a soft, 40-year old body. I'm stocky, with a little round belly that floats in the bathtub and full thighs that touch well along their length. No obvious musculature.
At those times I wonder, when will I start looking like an athlete?
As I thought that I tripped over a root and looked down at the ground, catching myself, and that's when I caught sight of my shadow.
Oh. I get it now.
That's me down there.
And I'm an athlete.
So, I guess, I'm what an athlete looks like, at least this athlete.
And yes, that's enough.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
The 5K run goes out into the desert and back on a sandy unpaved trail, and I averaged a 10:19 pace, which is closer to the 10 minute pace I keep hoping to break every year. I was sucking wind, too, boy. Woo. WHOO. woo. WHOO. I gave it my all. I managed to inch past Helen for a brief, glorious 30 seconds or so and then she blew by me and I never saw her again. Left me in a cloud of dust, she did.
(Rationalization number 1: She's been doing this much longer than I. She's also much skinnier than I am.)
On the 30K bike, I averaged nearly 15 mph, which is pretty good considering I haven't been on my bike in nearly 3 months.
There was this one girl I was trying to catch because I thought she might be an Athena but as I worked harder and harder to catch her I really did feel like I was about to throw up, so I backed off.
(Rationalization number 2: she turned out not to be an Athena, and she's 10 years younger than I.)
Gotta have those little rationalizations if you want to stay healthy.
I'm still working on the one for the 65-year-old guy who soundly kicked my butt.
Oh, and I got to wear my cool new LG ROCKET aero helmet, which I LLLOOOVVVVVE. It passes the best test of all: I forgot I had it on.
I did it in 1:46:18, and was first Athena.
Mini-baboo got 1st place in the under 20 division, and Sweet Baboo got 2nd place in the 40-44 males.
Considering I ran 23 miles only 6 days ago, I'm happy with the results, but I've got a lot of work to do! So far in the series, I've got 17 points.
Here's my 2007 report on this race, which I did in 2:04:26.
Here's my 2006 report on this race, which I did in 1:58:28.
Tomorrow, a brisk 15-mile trail run north of Albuquerque.
1 week to the Black Warrior 50K.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I met up with Sweet Baboo and we went down to the UNM Exercise Physiology Lab to get our Vo2 max and Wingate testing done. This was Sweet Baboo's holiday present from me, and idea that Bigun helped me come up with when I was wondering what to do for the Baboo. Pirate, meanwhile, suggested I do it with him because 1) It would be fun, and 2) "You know he loves all that togetherness $hit."
Now, the UNM Exercise Physiology Lab does this far cheaper than nearly any gym will, and because they are a public institution, they cannot advertise. However, it's great for them because they make a bit of money off it, and their graduate students studying exercise science get to practice with real people. I'll bet, if you are near a major university with an exercise science graduate degree, that they can do it for you, as well. Check around, if you're interested. We got a slight discount because Baboo is an adjunct faculty member there, but for the two of us it was right around $200.
So here's how Wingate testing goes: You get on a stationary bike and pedal like crazy for about 30 seconds. During that time, the resistance is increased until it is nearly impossible to pedal, but the testers are yelling GO GO GO GO GO GO. It's like a bike race where the finish line is at the top of a nearly vertical cliff face. A graph appears that shows your power output and shows the progression from beginning to end, the ratio of which determines whether you're a fast-twitch or a slow-twitch kind of person. In other words, are you in for the short sprint or the long course? Sweet Baboo is--well, you'll just have to read his blog, won't you?
So, for the Vo2 max. In this test they put a mask on your face so that they catch every exhalation, and measure your heart rate and respiration, as well as the content of your respiration. So it is that if you are exhaling more Oxygen, that means you're burning more fat, and if you're exhaling more carbon dioxide, then you're burning more carbohydrates.
So, you start slowly on a treadmill and then work you way up to a challenging, but manageable pace. You're working hard but you can keep it up for a little while. While this is going on you're wearing what looks and feels like a clear gas mask that has a mouthpiece the size of a lemon and a spit catcher, since you can't swallow or spit. Your mouth goes dry and occasionally, they ask you to point to a chart to indicate relatively how you feel (very hard, somewhat hard) that you're working. You indicate with hand signals if they need to speed up, slow down, or keep the level the same.
Then they start tipping up the incline until basically you are not able to work any more and signal to stop the test. They can do this on a cycle or dreadmill; we chose the latter. It takes between ten and twelve minutes, and you basically work to your maximum ability, hence the name. It's not like I would imagine a 2k race would be, if you put the finish line at the top of a very long ladder.
Watching Baboo was a pleasure. I don't often get to watch him work out. The scientist running the computer had him running about an 8 or 9 minute pace while giving out orders to the tech. I looked over her shoulder and said, "Oh, that's his marathon pace. You're going to have a long wait for him to wear out, " so she sped him up and then started tipping up the incline until he was gasping audibly and finally signaled to stop the test. My results were similar, although, as one might imagine, much slower. (I wasn't being cruel. You're supposed to work to failure.)
I don't remember all my numbers and they're going to provide us with oodles of data and graphs and such, but my results are this from the tests:
- Baboo is a mixed-type athlete, while I'm more of a fast-twitch sprinter type.
- I'm in the 92nd percentile of fitness in the general population, with the same approximate fitness as the average college phys ed major. (no wonder I can chase those 8th- and 9th-graders down.) and so is Baboo, so relatively speaking, we're at the same level and percentile of fitness for our age and gender. Not that it's a contest or anything. I'm just sayin'.
- My max heart rate is between 170 and 175, which is nearly 20 beats below where it was 3 years ago. Far out.
- My vo2 max places me in the "very good," approaching "excellent" range for my age.
- Baboo is a freight train, and I am the little engine that could. And I can. And I do.
And all this in about 3 years of working out.
Possibly filed under Hey lookit me I'm can run
It was a bit uncomfortable for a moment here and there, but to be honest, I'd rather have a mammogram than get my teeth cleaned again. Particularly since my dental hygenist is a swarthy Russian woman who apologizes somewhat insincerely as she stabs and tears at my gums with metal picks. And then suggests vodka when the dentist comments that his wife goes gets tense and spends too much money I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP. But anyway.
The mammogram took all of 20 minutes and involved, yes, having the chesticals compressed between a plate that was coated with fiberglass and so not cold at all. They took about 8 views.
The mammogram person said it isn't unusual for first-timers to get called back for a second look because they're trying to establish a baseline and sometimes there are cysts and such that create little spots, so not to freak out of I get a call.
Possibly filed under hey lookit me I've got boobs
Saturday, February 02, 2008
I've got about 2 weeks left until the Black Warrior 50K. Today I ran 23 miles, my last long run. I hope it takes. I get a twinge in my right knee when I run. It doesn't slow me down or anything, and it stops hurting within an hour of when I stop running. It just basically says, Hi, I'm your right knee. Don't forget that I'm here. Maybe it's arthritis. It's been exactly the same for the past 2 years, without getting worse. Knock on wood. My run felt especially slow and heavy today. I think the taper will make all the difference.
This week I attended my first Pilates class, because I'm having, um, some issues with the ultra running. As in, I feel like my uterus is about to fall out. What is it with my lady parts anyway? Why do they hate my new active lifestyle so much; why do they try to thrwart my attempts to be sleek and healthy? Sigh. So, I went to my doctor, but it was during the holidays and so I met with his new physician's assistant to get a referal to the lady doctor. Not because the doctor is a lady (she is) but because she takes care of lady parts.
So what seems to be the problem?
Well, uh, I'm training for a marathon. I do these long runs, and recently I've started feeling some pressure
Yeah. Like, uh, I feel like my parts are going to fall out.
Blink. Blink. Your parts?
Yes. I feel like my uterus is about to fall out.
Oh. Okay....um, well. I think we can get you a referral...
So, I've got an appointment to talk to a lady doctor about such things. Meanwhile, Pirate ordered me to go to Pilates class which she swears will strengthen my pelvic mucles, (I haven't mentioned this, but for diet and exercise purposes in 2008 she is the boss of me.) So on thursday, I went to my first class, and I have to say, I love it. I just love it. For one thing, I'm forced to sit down and focus my thoughts inward, and sit still for AN HOUR. For someone who's been officially diagnosed as, OMG YOU'RE SO FU@#ING HYPER! and that, more than once, to sit still and just be. It's very nice. And Pirate is right, I definitely feel the work on the lower abs and pelvic floor. I think it will help my running, and all the other stuff, too. Maybe my uterus will stay right where it is.
Other lady stuff: This Wednesday I'm going to go get my first mamogram. I've been putting it off for 3 years. I was kind of freaked out when I saw a video of one being done. However, since I've started endurance sports things scare me less. I mean, if I can leap into the Ohio river at the crack of dawn and push through for 17 hours then having my chesticals squashed between two glass plates for a few minutes shouldn't be a big deal, right? Besides, It's time. I mean, I haven't any family history of breast cancer, but you never know. Time to grow up and stop being such a weenie.
After that Sweet Baboo and I are getting the some fitness testing done. We're going to have our bodyfat percentage determined by being dunked in water on a scale, or something like that, and something called a "Wingate" test and I don't know if that's how it's spelled, and some other stuff that I forget about just right now. I'll write about it.
All right. Time to start reading blogs...