Monday, September 27, 2010


Like every other blogger in SoCal, I'm going to bitch about the heat for a bit.

It was 113 in La Mesa today.

It is no longer (officially) summer.

It's supposed to "cool off" to 93 tomorrow.

After an unusually cool summer, I guess we finally have our heat.

But really, 113 is sorta ridiculous.

Actually, the heat started this weekend. Lucky us, this is the weekend, we decided to do our 10 mile run, so to avoid the heat, heat, we decided to run early. By 6:30, Walter and I met up with Mik and Kat. Betty decided to start even earlier than we did.
At 6:30, San Diego Bay was beautiful...but you can almost see the heat over the city, can't you?
I don't have a lot to report about the run other than to say that running on the harbor is not painful. There are plenty of visual distractions. There are opportunities to run on asphalt along the way, which seem to make my knees happy.

I do have some concerns about the effect that my current "run two times a week" plan reality will have, but for right now, it doesn't seem to be having a HUGE effect. I maintained a pretty good pace for the first 9 miles. I won't lie, the last mile was pretty ugly, but by then it was 8:30 and the sun was already starting to beat.

It doesn't take much sun to suck the life right outta me.

Anyway, I did 10 miles in 1:50 (10:57 pace). If I can hold onto something close to that in Long Beach, I'll knock almost 10 minutes off my PR, but I can't get too concerned about that. The big effect may come this weekend, when we attempt a 2 hour run (11 miles). It'll be our longest run before Long Beach.

After the run, we went to a breakfast fundraiser for Sports for Exceptional Athletes. It was kinda cute. The athletes served breakfast (even if the breakfast itself was pretty iffy). We didn't stay long because it seemed like EVERYONE had stuff to do, including Walter and me. Our plan for the day was to go to Temecula for some wine tasting and then that night we had tickets to see Kathy Griffin at Pechanga on Saturday night.

Now, I know that Kathy Griffin isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I think she is very funny.

Walter and I met up with Daisy and Machu Picchu (I swear, I am not the one who makes up these names. That's Betty's doing) and as funny as KG was, Daisy may be funnier. Our dorkiest moment probably came when we were trying to do cool FB/Blog pix. I don't know how "the kids" do it. I cannot, for the life of me, take a "cool picture." Every time I attempt that cool pouty look, I end up looking like Donald Duck...definitely, not cool. Daisy and MP tried to coach me suggesting that I do a pout, and not a duck face with wrinkles.


I pray that Daisy has deleted the photo-evidence. I haven't seen them posted on FB yet, so I may be safe. They really were hideous. However, the women in front of us were completely entertained by our attempts to photograph me looking sultry, which is really a really difficult look to pull off when you're laughing so hard, you're almost crying.
Waiting for KG to start (me, MP, and Daisy). Yes we are HAWT!
It's not the pouty look...and at least I have MOST of Walter's face in the viewfinder
The crowd at Cathy...the guys in black were some of her "gays."
Hope everyone is having a fabulous week. I'm going to try to make it around to your blogs, but it's a crazy-busy week for me, so I'll do my best.

Oh, and it's still hot!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You parent some, you run some, you laugh some...

You parent some...
  • The other night, DramaGirl emphatically told me that I "JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW HARD IT IS TO BALANCE ALL MY RESPONSIBILITIES!!!!!" 
  • To which I calmly replied, "really? I mean REALLY?"
You run some...
  • On Saturday, Mik, Kat, Walter, Betty and I ran. Walter and I ran 9 miles (each, not combined). Then for the first time in AGES, we went to World Famous for breakfast and mimosas!!!
It would have been a much better photo if taken from the OTHER direction, which would have shown the OCEAN behind us and not the parking lot...GAH!
Oh...there's the ocean! Another foggy, cool, perfect running weather morning
  •  All in all, it was a great run. Walter and I took it easy, my goal was to maintain/average about an 11 minute pace. Garmin said...11:02.
  • Tuesday night I ran on the 'mill...not so pretty. I guess I shouldn't run after a Carne Asada Torta and Sangria. The numbers are still to the right on my Daily Mile entry. Not terrible, but it was painful.
You laugh some
  • After the run we returned to the car and we were parked next to THIS
Betty was impressed!
We are pretty sure this guy was a Laker's fan...It was the cell phone cover that really convinced us.
  • OK...maybe we shouldn't have been so entertained, but this car was REALLY over the top in decals, purple and gold, purple tail lights, KOBE license plate cover, (KOBE license plate!), Lakers or Die vibe. It was an impressive display. Don't ANY of you say anything about it being DramaGirls first date... DON'T YOU DARE...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Some Thoughts on Running...and Reading

I started running about five years ago, and when I say started...I pretty much mean that before that, I really did not run.

At. All.

I was a true couch potato. In fact, even before I started running in late 2005/early 2006, I had also canceled my gym membership because I hadn't used it for FIVE YEARS! Yep...I was one of those people, paying for a gym membership that I never used.

Somehow, much to the surprise of almost everyone who knew me, I caught the running bug and have never really looked back.

So, I suspect I am like many "late-blooming" runners who harbor a secret fear that their old "non-running" self will re-emerge at some point and take over. Certainly, it is for that reason that WHENEVER I have a couple of days when I just don't feel like running, and then I DON'T RUN, I freak out a little bit.

The irrational part of my brain screams, "EEEEEIIIIIIIIEEEEEE OH NO! YOU'RE NOT RUNNING TODAY AND YOU WON'T RUN TOMORROW AND THEN YOU'LL NEVER RUN AGAIN AND YOU'LL GET OLD AND FAT AND LAZY... AHHHHHHH!!!!!!" whereas the rationale part of my brain says, "Relax, it's only one day. You are a runner now. You are an athlete. You will always be active and will continue to run for as long as your short legs will carry you." 

Then rationale brain rolls eyes at irrational brain's freak out and has a glass of wine.

Sometimes I am even a "good runner" because over the last five years I've learned some things about running, and I even do them without really thinking about it. In other words, there are times when I run fluently, and when I run fluently, I...
  • run the pace for the distance I'm running 
  • know what the correct pace feels like (even without my Garmin).
  • slow down when I'm breathing too hard.
  • relax my shoulders.
  • slightly lean forward and work with gravity and not against it.
  • shorten my stride when going up hill.
  • breathe into my belly and not into my throat.
When I do all of these things, I run faster and without much effort. I am pretty much convinced that my five years of knowledge and experience with running has led to this kind of "running automaticity" and it is what is behind my recent speed increases. Honestly, it couldn't possibly be the amount or even kind of training I've been doing lately.

I've been running with Walter a lot this summer. For the most part, he is faster than I am. He's a dude. He has greater lung capacity. He's stronger. His legs are longer. Yet, I still think I run better than he does. I've enjoyed sharing what I know about running with him. I remind him to relax, to shorten his stride when we go up hills and not just charge up them (what he wants to do), to breathe deeply, to slow down, to lean forward.

He tells me that he "forgets" to do these things when he runs. He knows he should do them, but it's not automatic for him...yet.

I've been thinking about these things the last couple of days.

As many of you know, I teach developmental reading and writing at the local junior college. I teach adults to read and write better so that they can be successful in college.

I'm going to be honest with you here. I'm really good at it. 

Adults who get to college and can't read or write well have picked up some bad habits along the way. They're not fluent readers or writers. There are many, many things that they know to do, but don't do them automatically. In fact, most of them doubt their ability to even learn how to read and write well.

They are really a lot like I was when I started running. I had some bad habits. I wasn't fluent. The first time Betty suggested that we should run a marathon, I told her she was crazy and that I could NEVER run that far.

Learning to run has really helped make me a much better teacher. 

Much like a fluent runner, who doesn't think much about how to run, I don't really have to think about all the things I do when I read, or when I write.  When I'm writing, I don't think about which words to use in which order. I don't think about verb tenses, or prepositions, or commas, or spelling, or clauses, or phrases, or subject-verb agreement, or any of those things. I just write and as I write, I typically go back and re-read what I've written and make changes or corrections so that what I've written will (hopefully) make sense to someone else (and, as you no doubt can tell from reading this blog, sometimes I miss a few things). 

It's far more difficult to think about what I do since reading is so darn invisible. Meg and Mik, both of whom teach kindergarten, will tell you that watching a kindergartner learn to read is a miracle because at first they say outloud EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT AS THEY READ, but eventually they crack the code (learn about sound-letter relationships) and it all starts going on in their little brains. It's pretty remarkable.

Unlike writing, we can't see reading. Our blogs, however, provide a pretty good model for what reading looks like. Our blogs are sort of a record of our collective thinking. We read each other's blogs and make comments; we ask questions; we connect something we've read to our own lives; we make comments; jokes; suggestions. That's what good readers do when they're reading well. They're having a conversation with what they're reading. Just like the conversations we have with each other.* 

But we don't really THINK about having to do all these things, we just do them. 

Being good at something can make it hard to teach it to others. I've been lucky in the last five years in that I've had a LOT of knowledgeable people who have explained, shown, and taught me how to run, and I've tried to copy it and make it my own.

That's what I've been trying to do as a teacher. I try to show my students what I think about when I read and when I write. I try to get them to notice what they think about when they read and write so that when they're struggling they can think about what they should be doing.

Mostly I tell them to never doubt that they can become better at reading or writing. I say things like, "Look at me. Do I LOOK like the type of person who would run a marathon? I I can run a marathon, you can read and write."

Becoming a runner and learning to run has made me a much better teacher.

So, tomorrow, I'm going to go try to apply what I know about running to a 9 mile run. Sometimes I'll run with fluency and automaticity. Sometimes I won't and I'll have to remind myself to do the things that I know I should be doing.

I bought this t-shirt at a local yogurt place last night. An organization called Traveling Stories is selling them. Proceeds go to help build libraries in The Sudan. 
* I'm always a little surprised when I meet a blogger because you all rarely sound like the voice I have in my head for you.  

Another reminder: Java Joggers is doing a fabulous Ryder Sunglass giveaway. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The (Lost) Plan

The Long Beach 1/2 Marathon is in one month. In a runner's world, that's four long runs away. My goal is always to do one 10+ mile run before a 1/2 marathon. There's something about getting over that 10 mile mark that helps me to get beyond that mental-wall that tells my body after 10 miles to stop running.

When training for the last several 1/2 marathons, I really haven't been able to get a good 11 or 12 mile long run in before race day, and overall, I know that the lack of a good long run really hurt my performance in the last 1/3 of the race, but this time I am determined. Last weekend, Walter and I ran 8 miles, We've got 9 planned for this weekend, 10 for the weekend after, and then we'll back off to 8 miles the week before the race.

A very good plan. No?

The bigger problem are the mid-week runs. Let's just say that mid-week runs have occurred sporadically this fall. My teaching schedule (yeah...I'll use that old lame excuse) has really interfered with my training. M-Th I have 8am classes, and while I know that many of you are dedicated to the early, early, early morning run, it's just not in me to run at 5am, and that's when I'd have to get up in order to be on campus by 7. Most days, I do not get home until after 5pm, and then the whole fix dinner, kid's homework, attend to mid-week laundry and housekeeping needs begins, and thus an afternoon run gets pushed to the back burner. And lets be honest. I'd MUCH rather watch DVR'd episodes of Mad Men, or True Blood, or Top Chef than run on the 'mill at 9pm.

Most weeks I've managed to get in at least one and sometimes two midweek runs, but last week it was only one other 4 mile run on the 'mill.

In other words, NOT a stellar training regimen.

And worse yet, last night, even though I could have run after work (Walter was willing to start dinner. It was still light out, I was home early enough), I opted out. I didn't even have a good reason. I just wanted to sit on the sofa and watch a movie with Turbo.

I don't feel like it's a completely lost mojo issue but my attitude about running yesterday has me somewhat unnerved today. Except for when I was injured last summer, I've run pretty consistently for the last four years. When I was injured, not running just KILLED me. Yet yesterday, I pretty cavalierly chose to just not run for no good reason. I just didn't want to.


I'm thinking this was just a one day thing and that I'll get a midweek run in tomorrow and Friday before our next long run on Sunday.

That's the plan.

PS...Java Joggers is doing a fabulous Ryder Sunglass giveaway (am I one of the only bloggers who never gets cool free gear and and offer to do a giveaway?)

Anyway, check it out here

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Newest Heffer

You may have noticed that Clarence has been conspicuously absent from this blog of late.

On Friday, she did the toughest workout of all. She had a baby.
Welcome to the world Gennie*...isn't she beautiful?
Maybe Clarence will post a comment about the birth, but in listening to her birth story, I'd say the highlights were:

  • Tracking the length of time of and in between contractions using an iPhone Ap designed expressly for that purpose (yes, there is an Ap for that)
  • Puking in a planter in the hospital as she waited to be admitted. (yes, she was admitted shortly thereafter).
  • Being absolutely stellar and giving birth to a 9 lb, 1 oz beautiful baby girl (no C-Section...she pushed her out. I for one am beyond impressed at that effort!)
So, welcome to the world Gennie*...our newest hefferette!
Auntie Alice doesn't hold too many babies...but I rather enjoyed this...can you tell?

* Edited :-)...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Trifecta

This weekend, I did a sports trifecta, most of which involved sports OBSERVATION, and precious little actual sports PARTICIPATION (unless betting on horse races counts as participation....but I bet not).

The one solid sports participation event took place on Friday when I briefly ran on the 'mill. Last time I ran on the 'mill, I became dizzy and nauseous when I stepped off. I chalked it up to the heat (my termostat in the house read about 80ยบ that day). So, yesterday, I cranked on the airconditioner and started running on the mill. For the most part, I took it easy for the first mile (about 11 minute pace), sped up for the second mile (10:45 pace), then because after 20 minutes on the mill, I am bored out of my skull, I sped up for the next mile even more (10:20ish pace), then backed off for the last minute or so (11:00 pace).

I thought I'd get off for a minute and get a drink of water, and once again, when I stepped off the mill, dizziness and nausea returned, so much so that I had to sit down.

So, I'm left to wondering why... I've run on the 'mill for a few years. Is it the heat? Is it a lack of circulation in the house? Is it my speed?

I am far too old to be don't EVEN GO THERE!

All I know is that after 3 miles, I was DONE... I was also in a hurry because I was going to meet Betty and Mik because we were going to the Del Mar Racetrack to watch the ponies run. On Friday's the first post is at 4pm and the last race is followed by a concert. On Friday we saw the English Beat (one of my favorites...I am SUCH an 80's girl!).

First stage of the Trifecta - The Racetrack
Betty drove, which is significant because, as regular readers will know, I usually drive (my control issues) and also because Betty drives a very fine Swagga-Wagon.

I convinced Betty we should valet park the Swagga-Wagon. Best moment? The driver's side window is broken and won't go down, so Betty had to open the door to give the parking guy money and get the valet ticket.


But before the concert, there were the races and margaritas...BTW, Del Mar Racetrack does serve the best margaritas. They're prices (about $15 a piece), but well worth it.

 "Mirror in the bathroom...." (which is sorta life foreshadowing) .... I guess it was sorta like drinking $20 bills...
We made some bets, watched horses in the Paddock, learned that perky tails are supposed to be a sign of a fast horse.

Then Betty and I made a Trifecta bet in the 5th race, and boxed it (at least I think that's what we did). All I know is that two of our horses came in first and second, so we won $62.00.

Cha-Ching...that paid for four margaritas!!!!
Don't we look like winners?
Soon the rest of the herd arrived...more margaritas, more bets, more laughs...
From the left: Cindy, Mik, Mona, Betty, Me, Daisy, Elsie, and Alberta sad
And then The English Beat...
Mik, Betty, and I managed to get toward the front

"I confess, I confess, I confessssssssss...."
Second sad moment...Betty's sunglasses got stepped on
Does dancing count as training for a 1/2 Marathon in less than five weeks?
Apparently we found the ladies room that nobody else knew about...
Second Stage of the Trifecta - The Padres (dem bums)
At the track, Elsie gave me a birthday gift... some books (heffer-themed) and some Padre tickets.

Go ahead and note the date and time...
So, on Saturday, we went to the Padres game.

It's remarkable that the Pads are still holding onto 1st place in the NL west seeing as they'd lost 7 in a row, but mostly I think that says something about the division.

We hoped that Saturday would bring an end to the losing streak

We were wrong. They lost again. 

Despite that it was a fabulous day for a baseball game. Betty and her husband joined us. I didn't take any more pictures of me and Betty, I figure I did enough of that the night before.

Nice seats (and I'm not talking about the players)
Third Stage of the Trifecta - The Aztecs (S. D. S. U. Aztecs FIGHT!)
Walter and left in the 8th inning (just as the Padres were going to make sure they lost) because we have season tickets to SDSU football games this season. We've wanted to do this for awhile, so this year we finally did.

I like going to college football games. They're pretty casual (in San Diego they are anyway) and relatively inexpensive as compared to professional football and The Chargers. I soured on going to Charger games a few years ago. I got tired of the crowds, the profanity, and the drunks. All those things may exists in college ball, but  it's probably mostly in the student section and we don't sit there.

Funny aside. The student section is called the "Student Sec "Scion." It made me laugh.

The view from our endzone seats.
At least the Aztecs won - 50-0 against Nichols State? 

Nice way to finish out the trifecta-sports-weekend.

Today, I'm posting this with one ear to the pool. DramaGirl is hosting a birthday pool-party bash for a few friends...including a few BOYS!!!! (Three of 'em who were smart or brave enough to show up).

Hope you're all having a fabulous last weekend of summer. Shout outs to those of you who ran races or are running this weekend. 

I plan to get in one good, long, run tomorrow morning. 7-8 miles. I can see by the counter that I have 41 days to get ready for Long Beach. Time to start upping the mileage!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

15 Years Later...

15 years ago, I had a baby girl. Most of the time, it seems like it was just yesterday that I would rock her to sleep in my arms, sing silly, made-up songs that I can no longer remember, and be amazed by the funny little things she would do.

Today, that baby turns 15.

15 is a funny age, just like 3 was, and 7, and 11...maybe it's something about the odd numbered years that I seem to notice. Just like when she was 3 and 7 and 11, there are moments when she makes me want to tear my hair out. Since she was born, she's been so strong willed, so certain of what she knows (and what she believes I don't known) and so able to see the loopholes to get what she wants.

Most of the time, I am in awe of the fine person she is and is becoming. She has such a bright future in front of her. I can't wait to be part of the wild ride...even while part of me wishes time would stand still for just a little bit.

DramaGirl and Turbo - I think she's about 4 here.
Of course, thirty seconds later, there was this... 
And somehow this morning there was this beautiful young woman leaving for school.
And thirty seconds later there was this...
Happy Birthday DramaGirl!