New hat, new slogan


Bought this at the Disney expo tonight. Seems like exactly what I need to remember.

Of course Rob had fits of laughter when I tried to paraphrase it and what I said was something to the effect of “one of these days I’ll be able to do this, but not today.”

He said, “Only you would turn it into a negative statement….” Gotta love brothers-in-law.

Off to bed…3:30 comes early. And I’m going to have to turn THAT negative into a positive!

Winging it

Still. You haven’t been training and you can punch out 13.1 miles? You’re amazing.

The above sentence was part of a larger email conversation with some friends this week.  It was a work conversation but somehow it came back to running.  And my friend’s mistaken belief that I’m amazing.  Well, I am. Amazing (and humble too! Ha!).  But not an amazing runner.   Probably it’s just that I am amazingly delusional.

Okay maybe delusional is a strong word.

You read stories (if you read running magazines) about people who decide on a whim to start running and they wind up running 2 miles a day for 2 weeks and then they pound out winning times in half marathons.  Or I’ve heard of people whose longest runs were 8 miles (maybe) and they just totally rocked a marathon with paces I never have approached and probably never will. Seems that the more I read about running and people who take to it – the more I hear of people who are just flying down the roads even as newbies.

But I realize that most of those stories are of people who fall into one (or more) of three categories.  Either they have had previous athletic experience (high schools sports or the like) or they are those blessed with incredible DNA.   Or maybe they are really really motivated, active people.

Me?  I’m just ordinary.  Just your run of the mill middle aged woman who took up running cause she likes shiny medals but who does not have athletic genes or any high school sports awards (other than a varsity letter in badminton – which is a sport but albeit it not a showy, challenging one) and whose motivation level depends on how many cookies she’ll be rewarded with at the end of the given challenge.

In other words – I’ve not turned out to be one of those people who took up running to discover that there was a hidden Ironman inside just waiting to burst forth. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best along with some small miracles.

And I do sort of look out for those miracle moments.

In response to my friend’s comment about being amazing, I said: I once swung randomly at a ball in putt-putt and got a hole in one.   I live life expecting random good things to happen to me when I am underprepared.  (it helps to know that prior to that incident, I once skinned both my knees playing putt-putt.  But that is a long story for another time)

Running 13.1 miles is obviously not the same as a putt-putt hole-in-one.  I get that.  But sometimes you just realize that while you might be winging it – maybe something good will come of it.  Certainly not award winning paces.  But maybe not bad ones either.

And winging it is really not a great description of what I think Saturday will hold for me.  I am a runner.  I do run.  My training plan fell apart but I still ran. And I’ve run Disney 2x before.  I have a good mental grasp of what it takes to finish those 13.1.  I know where my favorite parts of the course are.  I know how I feel (mentally and physically) generally speaking at about the halfway point and at other mile markers.  I know what it’s like to round thru the last part in Epcot when the freaking finish line seems to not be where it should.  I know how much I hate going up the ramp when the green solider from Toy Story yells at you.  But I also know that thus far I’ve been successful at looking down from the overpass after that and seeing MANY people still behind me.  I know which port-a-potties to avoid (the ones in the grassy areas with lots of bugs in the grass) and I know what it’s like to meet my family afterwards. I even know how to get to the medical tent (but that will NOT be necessary).  I know that I hate yellow Gatorade so I’ll wear my fuel belt but I also know I’ll give in and drink some of the darn yellow Gatorade anyway.  (WHY can’t races use orange Gatorade?  Hello??)

But I also know I am so blessed to have two legs and some (not lots but some) stamina. And I know I will be going into this with family members who are most likely going to yell at me and push me past some of my own limits.  But they’ll also be cheering with me to the end. And I know that I’ll be happy to have done the experience again because I like to run.

So yeah – all in all that seems pretty amazing, I guess.

Getting psyched!

Happy New Year!

I often tell myself that if I were to be a baseball player, I would be a starting pitcher – who would probably not have a lot of complete games.  I’m so much better at starting things rather than ending them.  When I was a college student, I was great at starting the semester – fresh notebooks, new pens, neat handwriting, copious notes and study plans.  And then somewhere along the way I’d find myself limping into the last weeks and finals with nary a pen in sight and only a handful of illegible chicken scratch notes to study for exams. And I’d wonder where and when I lost my oomph.

I know my blog suffered in 2013 from that lack of closing.  I ran throughout 2013 – and I even ran three 5Ks (in July, Sept, and Oct). I had lots of ideas of what I wanted to write and share….but it never really came together. And thus it seemed this blog was going to suffer the fate of so many others.  Yet, here it is a new year.  A chance to “start” all over again. And maybe have a better closing 12 months from now.

And there’s no better way to start a new year than to go for a run. A long run – with medals at the end.  And Disney characters along the way!

This Saturday I’ll be running my third Disney Half Marathon (my fourth half marathon overall). And my sister requested a blog post so that it “becomes real”.  Here you go, Stacia!

The Disney race weekend has truly become quite the family affair for us.  When my husband Steve ran his first Disney in Jan 2011, he “merely” ran the half marathon and our kids and I cheered him on at the end. The next year, he ran the marathon while my sister and her husband joined me in running the half.  Actually Rob ran well ahead of us – but Stacia and I finished together.  Last year Steve chose to do the Goofy while Rob and Stacia and I stuck to the half.  So all four of us crossed the half finish together while my parents and kids cheered us on.

This year we are all running this half again – and we’ve added two cousins and one uncle to our merry troop!  My uncle (Paul) and cousin (Nicole) have run the 5K before – and they decided to up their game this year.  My other cousin (Mary) has finally gotten her knee fixed and ran circles around me this year.  And my parents, our kids, and my aunt will all be cheering us on at the finish.

And what an interesting group we shall be.  My training has not been what it should have been.  (Lots of short runs – not so many long ones.) And I think that’s possibly true of everyone except Steve and Mary.  Steve ran his first Space Coast Half Marathon just after Thanksgiving.  And Mary has been racing like crazy. But the rest of us have had our share of busy-ness this fall.  Again – closing out the year less strong than we perhaps wanted or planned to.

But it really doesn’t matter. I’m psyched anyway. I get to spend a few hours (hopefully less than 3!) with some really cool family members.  And the weather will be warm (a plus for everyone winging it down here from DC and NJ during this frigid weather period). And we’ll be running Disney!  And we’ll get a medal and t-shirts.

Disney is not a great race to try to PR in – namely there’s just too many people. But given that it was my first half – I got the PR. And last year (while I never quite blogged about it) – I did shave some time off my PR. I remember the moment it dawned on me that I could have a new PR and I just kicked it during mile 11.  (Okay well then I slowed down again – but I really pushed for those last miles.)

But the strongest memory I have of running last year is not that last kick….but the fact that I was running with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my husband. And they all stuck with me – slow running me. I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have some awesome family members.  Ones who will stick it out for the long haul and be by your side no matter what. I think I might have gotten weepy around mile 6 as I was considered that fact. But that didn’t last long as Stacia probably yelled at me to hustle and stop crying.  That’s what sisters are for.

Anyway – I am sure this won’t be my fastest half marathon. But it will be fun. And it will be a great way to start the year.

Here’s to starting strong – and finishing strong as well!


Saturday Run minus one

I ran 3 miles this morning.  Not fast as it’s 200% humidity here in West Central Florida.  But Wendy and Sunita and I slogged it out.  Then Wendy went to the Y for a class,  Sunita ran on for another 5 or so, and I headed home.  But in those three miles, so much felt okay but there was a definite bit of sadness too.  You see, it was the first time in a long time that our Saturday morning group hadn’t been initiated by an email from our fearless leader, June.  And she won’t be joining our runs again for awhile.

You see, today June and her family are starting their adventure of driving to Alaska, their new home.  And frankly, I’m not the only one who is sad.  Most of our little neck of the suburbs is quite upset about the move.  Namely cause June is great fun, but moreover because she is better connected than Kevin Bacon.  If you live here and don’t know June or know someone who knows June, you’re living under a rock.

When she hosted a “girls night in” good-bye party last week, the street was so crammed with cars, I figured her neighbors were happy she was moving soon.  Tons of people filled her house – from Girl Scout leaders to YMCA members to college professors to runners to medical professionals to preschool teachers to preschool parents and every combination of all those labels.  June knows everyone, everyone knows her, and she introduces people to each other.  In fact, the reason I even know who Wendy and Sunita are is that June invited all of us to run with her at one time or another.  Every time someone else walked into the party, I thought “June knows them too? Oh, of course she does.”   In fact, she already has a handful of FB friends in Alaska!

When she “announced” her move to Alaska via Facebook about 1.5 months ago, I immediately texted her:  This is a joke, right?

She assured me it wasn’t – that her husband who works for a federal agency had gotten a promotion.  My response:  Really?  Alaska is a promotion?

Now that I have seen her breathtaking pictures from their trip to find a house – I take that statement back. My apologies to Alaska.  Truly.  (But seriously Alaska – that whole dark all the time in winter is not cool.  Just saying.)

June’s news kinda stunned me.  So much so that my son asked me why I was crying.

“Well, I just found out that June is moving.  And I’m going to miss her.  She was the one who got me into running in the first place.  She’s the one who yells at me when I’m slow, she’s the one who gets people out of bed at dark o’clock on Saturdays for runs, she’s the one who knows about all the races, basically she’s like a personal coach to me.”

My “embedded-in-geek-culture” 9-year-old looked at me seriously and said, “It’s like she’s Yoda and you’re her Luke Skywalker.  But every master has to leave at some point and you have to be your own Jedi.”

So wise, young grasshopper.

I’m not sure I’m much past the padawan stage of running yet.  Some might argue that having run a bunch of 5Ks and three 1/2 marathons kinda speaks against that.  Yet, I’m not fast, I’m not very good at training, and I really need people to yell at me to get out of bed on Saturdays.  Really.

But I can hear June’s voice in my head, “Jenn, you know you can do it.  You want that medal and you can PR. You just need to move it.  Breath. Come on. Move it.”  I even tried to have a running streak (at least one mile a day) thanks to her.  I lasted 12 days.  She lasted over 115 days.  And she created a small Facebook group for us to motivate and keep track of our streaks (otherwise known as the “guilt-ing group”).  Oh and there was the dreaded push-up streak….of which we will never speak again.  🙂

I wish I could calculate the number of miles I’ve run with June.  Or behind her actually.  (I’ve run some races with her – but never side by side.)  Or the number of times June  yelled at me to start moving.  Or texted me at 6 am to get me out of bed.  But what I do know is that how ever many there were, those miles (even the ugly slow ones) have meant a lot to me.  Whether the miles included simple chit-chat, or parenting stories and advice, or debates about races to run, or training tips, running with June was encouraging and up-lifting.  And when I think about it – I’m just jealous of those Alaskan runners who she will probably bring together to create another loosely affiliated running “club”.  They are getting an awesome lady to add to their ranks.

Today’s run was good – we chatted about June, about races, about other running clubs, and even marijuana growers in WA state (don’t ask).  And I know that the women who June has introduced me to will help keep up the miles and the motivation.  But we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to June.  Thanks to FB, no friendships ever really lose contact anymore. And we can’t wait to hear about her miles of adventures in Alaska.

Thank you Junie B…’ve made a runner out of me.  MIss you already friend.





Say “ah”

You might want to put down the drinks while you’re reading this one….  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Three weeks ago, an old porcelain filling broke and fell out into my hand.  They put on a temporary crown and yesterday morning I was getting the permanent one “installed”.

Now, to say that I hate the dentist is inaccurate.  I actually like my dentist a lot.  He’s very nice and competent.  But I hate dental procedures.  I have a strong gag reflex and I’m not a fan of the whole “holding-your-mouth-open-for-hours-on-end-so-they-can-poke-you-with-sharp-sticks” thing. When I am really stressed, I have dreams that my teeth are falling out while I speak.  On top of that there’s that flaw-intensifying mirror right over your face, so yeah I’m not a fan of dental things.

But today was to be quick – three easy steps:  1) Take off temporary crown. 2) Glue on permanent one. 3) Thank dentist and head to work.

Somewhere between step 2 and 3 my day took a left turn.

He had placed the new crown on and instructed me to bite down on one of those cotton rolls for 3 minutes.  Then he was going to scrap off the extra cement and we’d be done.  So I sat and read a trashy magazine for 3 minutes.  I felt drool pooling in my mouth, but my stomach turned at the idea of swallowing cement. I chose to let all the saliva get soaked up by the cotton.  The tooth/crown was the very back tooth on the top.

The hygienist came over and said, “Open up” – with her fingers all set to grab the cotton.

I opened up and….that drool soaked cotton roll, which was sitting right at the back of my jaw slid to the right and popped straight down my throat.

Cotton Roll right into my throat, where one talks and breathes.

I JUMPED out of the dental chair gagging and choking and trying to cough it up.  The sounds I was making are hard to replicate in words.  Imagine a momma bird flapping around to hack up food for her little birds, but with less feathers, fewer worms, more flapping, and more panic.  Suffice it to say, you’re probably lucky you weren’t one of the other patients within earshot of my hacking and choking.

I don’t know what the hygienist did but soon the dentist was at my side, trying to calm me down while looking for an appropriate tool to shove down my throat.

“You can breathe, you are breathing, it’s cotton, the air will get through” is what he kept saying.

I kept trying to signal for someone to whack me on the back or something.  And I may have slapped the dentist somewhere in there.  He got me to sit down and he tried to look down my throat, but the urge to not tilt my head back was too great and I jumped back up and tried to cough and dislodge it from my throat.

And at about that point, the dentist yelled, “Call 911.”

So, if you’ve never had a dentist yell “Call 911” during your dental appointment, let me tell you, I don’t recommend it.  In fact, try very hard to NOT get into a situation where that phrase is ever necessary.

Thankfully the call was cancelled because just about that time my will to live (or gravity) helped to push the cotton down and my throat was cleared.

About a million years after the whole cotton ordeal started (or roughly 1.5 minutes, take your pick),  I yelled out, “I swallowed it. Oh my God. I can breathe.”

I fell back on the dental chair and took some deep breaths and wiped away some tears.  And I’m pretty sure the whole office (staff and patients) heaved a big sigh.  Of course I think they might have all wet their pants before that – but we were all breathing again which was the important part, especially for me.

As I was sitting there collecting my thoughts (which mostly consisted of “I almost died in the middle of the dentist office”), the dentist and I weren’t sure whether to laugh or be horrified.

“You weren’t even numb, I could imagine if your mouth was numb….but this….”

“I know – but there was a lot of spit. Oh my God.”

“Hm, I think you should probably go to the ER anyway.”

“Excuse me?”

He proceeded to tell me about two directions down your throat – the stomach or the lungs and said something about lung abscesses three months down the road.  My brain started screaming as I was still trying to clear the nasty feeling in my throat.

I very calmly asked if I could call my husband, and if the dentist could please check the crown. We seemed to have forgotten it in the whole ordeal.

With my new tooth cleaned off, a sample cotton roll in my purse (for doctors’ information), and assurances that the dentist’s insurance would pay for the ER visit, I waited for my husband.  He showed up quickly but a little confused and worried.  He called my primary doctor, but got dumped to voicemail.

“Well, you aren’t going to develop a lung abscess in the next three hours…”

“Are you suggesting I go to WORK?”

“No, no, I’m just trying to figure out what to do.”

“The ER, now!”

The intake desk guy didn’t seem to understand what I had told him, because when the triage nurse called me up, she asked, “So you are here because you’re having throat pain?”

“No, I’m having throat pain because I was at the dentist and I swallowed a cotton roll.”  And I held up the sample one the dentist had given me.

cotton roll

And that was the first of several identical looks I got at the ER – the look that is both horrified and humored all at the same time.  Like you want to giggle but you don’t want to offend the person and at the same time you want to run and cancel your next dental appointment asap.

As they were getting me to an ER room, I was frantically trying to get an email to my students from my cellphone. Steve was helping but the connection to my webmail was slow and at one point it almost sent my class the following:  “Class cancelled. In ER. Not going to make it.”  After about 10 mins it finally let me add “to class” and I hit send.

After vitals and such, they took me for an X-ray and Steve left for work.  He couldn’t cancel his classes and we both figured this was going to take no time at all.  Ha.

In the X-ray room, I had to explain to the two technicians why they were photographing my insides.  Again with the horror and humor and comments of “I hate going to the dentist.”  Meanwhile, I hugged the X-ray machine and wondering if these pictures would show the awesome weight loss (20.5 pounds so far) I’ve achieved with Weight Watchers this year.

Back in my ER cubicle, I read a book and checked Facebook as I waited for a doctor and my X-ray results.  Had posted the following with a check in at the local hospital: You know those days when you go to the dentist for a crown and then the cotton roll in your mouth gets wet with saliva and then slides and lodges in your throat and you think you will choke to death at the dentist and then as they are calling 911 the cotton slides all the way down and the dentist says you should go to the ER to be sure it’s on it’s way to your stomach and not your lungs? Yeah well that’s the kind of day I’m having. 

The comments and jokes from friends were pouring in.  Including an offer to rewrite the lyrics to “Cotton-Eyed Joe” to make “Cotton-Lunged Jenn”.  A runner friend asked if I was going to still be able to run. A friend who writes amazing comic books sent me a message asking what the bleep was going on and did I now have any superpowers.  I suggested a new sidekick: Cottonmouth Girl.  She can shoot cotton balls out of her mouth and tangle up criminals in them.

Meanwhile our church’s children’s director had seen FB and was texting me asking if I was okay.  As I was responding to him, a friend who also works in children’s ministries with me was rolled by on a gurney.

“Maureen???  What are you doing here?”

“I fell off my bike taking the kids up to school.  You?”

“I swallowed a cotton ball at the dentist.”

“Oh my goodness!”

So I amended my text to include that now two people from church were in the ER and someone probably needed to pray over us.

As I sat there, I fretted that this was the day I chose to wear my brand new skinny pants (2 sizes smaller than usual) and was upset that only the hospital staff would see them and thus not be impressed.  Just in time, my friend, Lea, showed up to sit with me and did the appropriate oohs and ahs over my weight loss. Then she took my picture for FB.

er shotShe was soon joined by Darren, our children’s director, who came to check on Maureen and me.  They both laughed so hard at my story that a man sitting with another ER patient overheard us and came over to our cubicle.

“Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear.  Did you swallow a cotton ball at the dentist?”

“Yep – it looks like this.”  I held up the comparison sample.

“I work emergency medicine all the time.  Never heard of this – quite incredible.”

“Thank you.”  Cause really – what else do you say to that?

Finally the doctor showed up and I had to explain all over again.  He seemed amused but not troubled because I was breathing okay.  There was a lengthy description of how breathing works and the low odds that I won the “stupid things in my lungs” lottery.  But he still had to check the x-rays, which he assured me wouldn’t be helpful because cotton probably wouldn’t show up on x-rays.  Of course.

This consultation did not earn me a discharge – but I got moved to another area so more urgent patients could use my bed.

Darren eventually had to go check on Maureen again and then head back to work.  Lea was about to leave when a nurse came in and asked for my information.

“Okay we need a CT scan.”

“I had X-rays though.”

“I have orders for a CT scan. Let’s go.”

As I lay on the scanner bed, I tried to not think about all the episodes of House where the patient would code or seize while in the scanner while Chase and others were discussing their sex lives.  I just stared at the ceiling and wondered if Lea was right that they’d have to put something down my throat to fish it out, “like a sword swallower”, she said.

When I returned, my cell phone was totally dead.  Lea saved the rest of my day by running out to my car to get my briefcase and phone charger.  She left me surrounded by my laptop and various cords as I surfed the hospital’s free wi-fi.

And then I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

I surfed on FB and kept adding updates.  The TV in the room was set on the Food Network, which only served to remind me that the only thing I had had to eat since 8 am was a piece of cotton.  And for some reason I kept burping.  For the record, cotton does not have a bad aftertaste.  I contemplated whether it would absorb all the high cholesterol I apparently have.

Around this time I realized that I had to pee. The cup of chai before the dentist appointment was now pressing on my bladder.  The next time a nurse walked in, I asked where the restroom was.

“Oh, you need to go?  Do we have a sample from you?”

“Excuse me?”

“A urine sample.  We might need it.”

“Um no.”

“Okay well let me get you a cup.”

I carried my briefcase and purse and clean catch cup down the hall to the restroom and pondered whether they could test for cotton in my pee.  Or whether they were going to have to operate and therefore they needed to check if my bladder was up for the challenge.  And then I had to explain to the other nurse why I was now handing her a cup of pee when she was assuming I was going to be discharged at any moment.

I went back to waiting and FB surfing and two streams of panic started to overtake my brain.

First there was the “are they going to have to dig around in my lungs?” panic.  And all associated fears such as – will Steve make it back in time to hold my hand – did I tell my kids I love them when I dropped them off at school – what will they sing at my funeral – will Steve remarry soon – how soon is too soon.  Yeah my brain works that way.  Especially when all I’ve had to eat all day is a cotton ball.

Then I started to look at the clock and panic about getting my kids from school and getting to the parent-teacher conferences.  My phone was now mostly charged but the cell signal was weak.  I was limited to FB and email and some texting via wi-fi. Friends offered to help and Steve was done and able to leave work early.

Finally a pulmonologist came to examine me and ask questions which set the first stream of panic into a complete ocean of fear.

“Okay so how old are you?”   “Any kids?  How old?”   “Are you pregnant?”  “Do you have regular mammograms?”

He looked at me and finally said, “I’m asking these questions because the CT scan showed some grainy sections on your left breast.  And those are things we don’t tend to see in breasts at your age.”

“Oh – I know.  There are several fibrous areas that my doctors are watching carefully but they are not a problem.”

“Okay.  CT scans are not the best way to examine breasts. But I was concerned.  But you must remember that I do not examine breasts on a daily basis.”

And with that comment, I almost bit my tongue in half to stop from laughing.  I swallowed a cotton ball and now the lung doctor was telling me my boobs were the problem.  Who goes to the hospital with a cotton ball in their throat and gets diagnosed with breast cancer?

He did finally get back to the matter at hand and tell me that things looked fine and I should follow up with him next week and I would be discharged finally.  It was nearly 3 pm and I had gotten there at 9 am.  It was definitely time to go.

I called to assure the dentist office (“Um hi, this is Jennifer – your most memorable patient from this morning.”) and assure my mom (“I’m fine I’m fine.”)  Stopped at church to pick something up and had the whole staff gathered to shake their heads at me and ask if they should cancel their upcoming dental appointments. Then I got the kids from my friends’ house.

My daughter wanted to know why I was at the dentist all day. When I explained to her and her brother what had happened, my 9 year old son got excited in the way only a 9 year old boy can.

“Mom – can I put on rubber gloves and cut up your poop to check for the cotton ball??”

We shelved that idea and raced to meet Steve at school. My son’s teacher was in tears of laughter when she saw me.  Apparently some of my friends had alerted her that I might not make it to the conference.  In fact a friend had told the whole story to the entire 3rd grade staff.

After the conference I ran into that friend and she suggested that next time I go to the dentist, I bring an unused tampon to bite on instead – it has a string to grab!  (Note – GENIUS idea.  Someone get on this immediately.  Dental tampons!)

Later we were leaving my son’s karate practice and I was complaining that I still had not eaten and it was now 6 pm.  My son piped up to ask me, “How many Weight Watchers points are cotton balls anyway?”

Needless to say, I am fine.  As fine as one can be after swallowing cotton.  I have tried really hard to suppress the memories of when I was choking and chosen to laugh.  But, I’m not at all sure that I’m ready to schedule my next dental cleaning.

My recommendation – next time you go to the dentist, bring along some super absorbent tampons with extra long strings and explain what happened to me.


Prayers for Boston

Today I had planned to write a long blog post about my third Irongirl 5K yesterday.  I was going to write about the joy of running as a mom/daughter team with my 7 year old daughter.  I was going to tie it back to the (still not written about) Disney Half back in January where I ran side by side with my sister and my husband and my brother-in-law. I was going to wax eloquent on the joy of running with those you love.  I was going to express how proud I was to hear via texts about split times that an old high school friend and her sister had successfully completed the Disney Princess this year.

And I was going to consider how amazing an inspiration Dick and Rick Hoyt are in all their races – including today’s Boston Marathon – their 31st time running the course.

I wanted to write about family.  And running.

And then as I headed home from a quick grocery store trip with the kids, we heard the horrible phrase on the radio:  This news is breaking from Boston…..there have been two explosions at the finish line of the marathon.

And I wept.

I called my husband. He checked online that the one person we knew at Boston today was finished – he had finished an hour earlier. We prayed that he and his wife had left the area of the finish line.

The kids and I got home and we gathered together to sit and pray.  Then I made sure they had things to do away from the tv and the news. And I hopped on Twitter, and FB, and turned on the news, and I sat in horror.

Today my daughter proudly wore her Irongirl medal to school.  And by evening, there were at least three deaths (at the time of this writing) that had occurred at the finish of the storied Boston Marathon.  Today I bragged about my daughter’s running to some of my students.  This evening, there are families torn apart and surgeries being performed to save lives.  This morning I was still riding high on yesterday’s effort and endorphins.  Tonight, I quietly cry as I work to tear myself away from updates and Twitter news.  It’s too much to take in.  Even the amazingly written pieces (such as this one by Ezra Klein) are almost too overwhelming to consider….it’s too much.

But I can’t forget the original premise of what today’s post was going to be – that running involves family. The running community acts like a family (and many races become family events for people).  And that running family tends to pull together in ways that demonstrate humanity at its finest.  I read reports that runners ran straight to hospitals to donate blood today. And EMTs and first responders RAN towards the explosions and the victims.

So tomorrow I will demonstrate my solidarity with the running community. As per a growing number of FB posts by runners, I will proudly don one of my race t-shirts tomorrow. And I plan to wear a piece of tape with “Standing with Boston” written on it.  I will wear it not to show that I run – but to show that my saddened heart is with those runners who finished and who were stopped before the finish, with the spectators, with the volunteers, with the race organizers, with the victims, with those Bostonians who cherish their city and it’s traditions, and with those first responders and medical personnel who have had to see and fix horrible things today.

As a slow runner, I have never had dreams of meeting a BQ – a Boston Qualifiying time.  But tonight and tomorrow – we are all a part of Boston and it’s running traditions.  And we are all Americans who stand with our fellow citizens in their time of grief and horror.   And as runners, we will run on – especially for all those who never will again.

Many many prayers for all those in Boston today.


When convos go wonky….

A friend and I were having a conversation several days ago about some of the wackier FB threads we’ve been a part of over the years.  And we admitted that as a result, we both selectively edit what we are willing to post because of backlash we might get from people.  People get rather huffy when you don’t change your profile picture to support homeless chickens or celebrate siblings-in-law day or whatnot.  And others get mad if you post links to topics that they disagree with or comment on deaths of famous people that they don’t actually like.  And in general – sometimes people forget that FB is a nice way to connect not a way to lecture people and take things way too seriously.

It reminded me of one of my favorite Jon Acuff pieces about what he calls the “Jesus Juke”.  Essentially it’s when a conversation totally takes a left turn towards an uber religious serious tone when that was not the original intent.  Jon’s piece (and the term) was prompted thanks to a tweet he posted about a bodybuilder doing pushups in an airport terminal.  While most of the responses he got were along the lines of “how funny” and “post pictures!”, one person’s comment took that left turn:  “Imagine If we were that dedicated in our faith, family, and finances?”

Acuff’s ponderings on it are exactly on point (quoted from his blog):  “I was fine with that idea, I was, but it was a Jesus Juke. We went from, “Whoa, there’s a mountain of a man doing pushups next to the Starbucks at the airport,” to a serious statement about the lack of discipline we have in our faith and our family and our finances. I don’t know how to spell it, but in my head I heard that sad trumpet sound of ‘whaaaa, waaaa.'” Acuff is much funnier than I am.  So be sure to read his whole piece.

But it got me thinking about all of the other “jukes” that occur on Facebook.  Whether or not you’re religious, you’ve experienced the “juke”.  People like to juke everyone else about finances, kids, parenting, social skills, eating, politics, happiness, depression, jobs, the economy, …. whatever.

Thus, a FICTIONAL FB thread popped into my head.  No, it’s not based on reality at all.  Other than a warped sum collective of all the realities of all the FB convos you’ve ever seen.  And no, I did not really post this and my friends did not really respond this way…..but probably somewhere on someone’s timeline someone has…..And if you are my friend on Facebook – again – no  – these are not based on you.  So don’t unfriend me.  🙂

Bottom line – let’s just keep things in perspective peeps.  And laugh more – especially at ourselves.

You The kids and I had a great conversation today about sharing and being kind.  As a result we decided to pay for the meals for those in the car behind us at the drive thru.  What a great feeling to help people in unexpected ways.  #blessed
Friend Aw so sweet.
Mom Did you get my package I put in the mail to you? Give my grandkids kisses.  Grandma wishes she could take them out to dinner.
Old College Buddy Remember when we used to go through drive thrus and not pay back in the day? Guess you’re making up for it.  Ha ha.
Nutritious Friend Really?  Fast food?  That wasn’t being very kind to those people at all.  You should have given them directions to the farmer’s market. Everyone needs fruits and veggies. Not pink goop.
Mommy Friend Why don’t I ever get behind people like you at the drive thru?  Do you know how nice it would be to have someone else pay for my kids’ chicken nuggets?
Political Friend I hope it wasn’t “Brand Name Fast Food”.  You should be boycotting them.  Do you know how they treat chickens?  It’s horrific.
Political Friend #2 Rather than pay for other customers you should have given the money to the cashier.  They make NO money and are forced to work long hours with no healthcare.
PTA friend Why did you go to the drive thru?  Today was Spirit Day for our school at the local pizza place.  If you had spent your money there, the school gets a cut of the profits.  Next time check the PTA calendar!
Mother In Law You’re going out to eat?  I thought I bought you that slow cooker and a recipe book so you’d be feeding my grandkids homecooked meals.  Tell my son to call me.
Fitness Friend Fast food??  You better show up at boot camp class tomorrow and work off those French Fries, girlfriend!
Apparently Druggie Friend Dude, I could totally go for some awesome french fries right now.  Got the munchies!!!
Clueless Friend who doesn’t read the other responses That’s awesome.  We’re all so lucky to be friends with such a kind person.
Husband Did you get me the sandwich I wanted?  See you at home later!
Fiscally Challenged Friend I wish I could do that.  We are still trying to pay off our credit cards.  Maybe I should have you take me out to dinner!  I deserve that free meal more than some random person.  Who knows, that person might be a criminal or something!
Church Friend Good job!  Next time though, give the cashier a paper with a Bible verse on it and our church service times to hand to the other car.  Maybe Matthew 25:35!
Non religious Friend OMG, you don’t have to be religious to be kind. And really if you give me a free burger, does that mean I have to go to your church?  No thank you.  I’ll eat elsewhere.
Feminist Friend Did you get the kids meals? I hate when they ask me if the meal is for a boy or a girl.  I always say “it’s a child not a gender!” Our kids should not be getting color- or gender-matched toys.  Anyone can play with any toy they want to.
Random Friend Oooo…..Did you get one of those new deluxe wraps?  They are DELISH!
You No good deed goes unpunished….especially the ones you mention on Facebook.

I am naive and I’m okay with that.

As I cleaned up the kitchen this morning, I put in the DVD of School House Rock for the kids to watch……“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill…”

I should be finalizing my long overdue post about our Disney races.  I should be stretching and doing some running work.  I should be grading papers.  I should be wrapping birthday presents for Steve. There’s a lot of “shoulds” that any one could choose from.  I figured most pressing was that I SHOULD be able to find my kitchen counters.  And floors.  And island.  And maybe my bathroom floor.

But my mind is far from housework.

I’ve been pondering the last week or so of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am naive.  Or I’m an optimist.  Or some combination of both. Either label will do. Because I happen to always believe that good will prevail. Always.  Every time.

The short version of the story is that it’s come to light that our county is in the process of permitting a developer and come in and build a big box store (probably Walmart) plus five outparcels (such as fast food stores) AND up to 300 apartments on a piece of property.  The issue isn’t “promoting” economic development.  And for me the issue isn’t really about “Walmart.”  I know people who don’t shop there – and I respect that.

The issue is that this piece of property happens to front on a very congested road right next to the local high school, the public library, and another shopping center.  It is across the street from three residential streets and just down the street from the YMCA and the entrance to a huge neighborhood with several subdivisions, a little league ballfield area, and two public elementary schools.  All locations that are busy with families and children. They are proposing entrances and exits (probably without stop lights) onto this already crowded roadway AND onto another road which has been deemed a “roadway failure” by the county itself.

Those of us who travel this route daily understand why we have to leave our houses 30 mins early to get to ballet or karate or church. Looking at this plan, we may have to start helicoptering in and out of the neighborhood if we want to get anywhere at all.  Long story short – the stupidity of this plan is evident to any local resident.  But apparently not to those who run our county.

Since the moment I read the first news story about this, I have been on a mission to get everyone mad.  To get everyone to write to our county commissioners.  To get everyone to call the county planning commission.  To get everyone to be fully informed.  And to get everyone to express the stupidity of the plan back to the county people and ask for them to fix it. NOW.

And yet they won’t.

We get double speak.  We get tons of calls and emails about the “process being followed” and that “the zoning was changed and this is allowable”.  I even emailed the school board to remind them that just a few months ago 11 high school students were injured when two school buses collided on this road.  The school board’s email response to me was to say “Once it’s built, we’ll have conversations with the shop keepers if necessary.  Maybe we’ll get a turn lane put in if necessary.”  Dear God, these are the people that keep getting voting onto the school board despite me voting against them each and every time???

The point being that the county’s current stance is to repeat until they are blue in the face that “this is the process we are doing, nothing illegal, and the developer has the right to do this.”

And yet I’m actually proud of this.  Because I’d like to think that my grassroots campaign to email and FB EVERYONE I KNOW is the reason that some of the county email inboxes have blown up this week.  They could have been having lazy lunches and coming up with other idiotic bureaucratic red tape that gets them what they want without considering what the people who live here want. But instead – they were fielding calls and emails that I helped jumpstart.  They even had to come up with a public statement that I think they never expected to have to research and write. Yeah, I’m patting myself on the back just a smidge.

And yet there has been no solution as of yet.  They just offer to let you talk to the county attorney so he can tell you the laws and why they are following them.  And they say, “sorry no public meetings cause this is all just hunky-dory.”  They are missing the point.

Things can be perfectly legal and yet be DUMB ASS ideas.

It’s legal for me (a resident over the age of 21) to sit on my couch and gobble up all the fast food and guzzle down all the Boone’s Farm I want all afternoon (as long as I don’t drive somewhere afterwards).  But frankly – that’s a dumb ass idea.  And you know it.  And so do the county people – I hope.

And thus I press on.  I do.  I intend to email and call until someone in the county stops telling me about zoning laws and starts to tell me what THEY are going to do to CHANGE this stupidity.  Until then – what I am going to do is challenge them to CHANGE it.

Why?  Because I’m naive and optimistic.  I’m a child of the 70s and 80s.

I spent a lot of time in the 80s playing with kids at someone’s house while our parents organized the PTA and others to protest the closing of our elementary school.  T-shirts were printed, meetings were attended.  My parents were on the phone with people all the time. They were probably in the news but I don’t remember that.  I do remember sitting in the basement of someone’s house while the parents organized upstairs.  We kids were watching “Red Dawn” – which seems perfectly appropriate.  WOLVERINES!!!!  Sadly, Landing Elementary was closed, sold, and turned into houses. Probably some kids living there now have no clue that we played tag, held spelling bees, learned how to draw in perspective, memorized multiplication tables, started schoolyard fights and crushes, and held field day events in what is now their backyards.  So goes progress.

But I press on.  Despite the “loss” my parents’ group suffered, I maintain that anyone can fight the good fight and good will prevail.  That is what I learned throughout my childhood. Look at the influences I had:

I grew up on School House Rock and learned that anything you learn can be put to song.  And that our government is FOR the people and not a bunch of monarchs.

Daniel-san defeated the bad guys (on one foot) in the Karate Kid movies.  One foot, people!

I rooted for the Goonies and wept openly when they found the treasure and saved their homes.

Rudy got carried off on everyone’s shoulders.  (Yeah I’ve loved Sean Astin long before he helped Mr. Frodo.)

And heck yeah, I’m not declaring love for Hugh Jackman when I yell “WOLVERINES”.

The Death Star DID get blown up – twice.  Sure the rebels had to freeze their butts off on Hoth and deal with the dopey Ewoks – but they hung in there and prevailed.

People work hard and get things done together – yes Laura’s sweet big sister Mary went blind, but even that nasty Nellie got her comeuppance every now and again.

ET makes it home without becoming a government experiment. Bicycles are the only way to outrun the government.

The Nazis didn’t close their eyes but Indy was much smarter than they were.  (No I’m not equating the local government with Nazis – far from it.)

Wesley was only “mostly dead” and thus came back to defeat evil and rescue Buttercup.

You can take your DeLorean back just a few minutes earlier and take out the terrorists and rescue Doc.

And don’t forget – Ferris was able to trick Mr. Rooney.  (Okay maybe not the best example but still)

*if you don’t get these references, you might have missed the 70s and 80s – and you might need to rectify that with some Netflix now.

The point?  Good always prevails.  I believe it.  I have faith in it. I live my whole life this way.  I have high expectations for people.  This is not about politics (cause I don’t discuss my politics with most people) on the left or the right. It is about the basic expectation that we act and behave in accordance with good.  I expect that people will understand stupidity and fight against it – within themselves and in others.  And yes I have fallen way short myself.  I am not perfect. But I work on my faults.  I set higher expectations for myself when I stumble.  How else are you going to get up and keep stumbling forward?

I expect that, sigh, one day there probably will be a Walmart on this piece of property – but I’m not going to make it easy for them. I expect I will never set foot in it.  I expect that I will keep pressing on the county leaders to change what is wrong and corrupt within their system.  I expect myself to keep speaking up and fighting for my community.  I expect myself to rally others to the cause and to find a better voice than mine, to find a more knowledgeable person than myself.  Because somewhere out there is a Mr. Miyagi who is wise.  Somewhere there is a Doc with a superflux capacitor to fix this.  Somewhere there will be the next leader who will help prevail over injustice.  Maybe Batman will come along when we need him.  Or maybe Sean Astin is free.

Either way – I know that I’m doing what is right.  And sometimes what is right gets knocked down – but right never walks away.  Simply dusts itself off and stands up again to fight another day.


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Designed by the awesome Calmixx. Visit his website ( and “like” him on FB. He’s a good friend.



The turtles have landed…


The turtles are here, the turtles are here! Stacia and Rob are here…and they love their new t-shirts.  Steve’s particularly proud that the idea in his head has been made real.  I’m an instant fan of the t-shirt store around the corner from us.  Awesome job Big Frog!

Just how slow is Team Turtle gonna be?  Well, I didn’t get in enough long runs, Rob’s still a dragging a little from being sick, and then there’s Mother Nature – who has apparently decided that a warm streak is exactly what Orlando needs this week.  Ugh. Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 8.34.42 PM


Alas – Stacia and I will not be jumping up and down trying to keep warm in the wee hours of the race. We’ll probably be wringing sweat from every nook and cranny. Thankfully we won’t actually be wearing turtle shells.

As we are wrapping up the evening here at Chez Turtle, I asked the group what last comments they wanted to put on the blog for posterity. The only response I got was from Stacia.  And that was, “Hey, get the cat off my bed.”  I’m assuming that is not some great metaphor for how to pace yourself or how to know when to hydrate. I think it’s a comment on the fact that she’s allergic to the cat, but I’m not quite sure.  I’ll just translate it as such: “I am so freakin’ excited to run Disney again with my sister that I can not contain my joy and excitement. This weekend is going to rock.”

And with that, this turtle is crawling in the shell for some rest…..

There they go again….and again….and again….

streakAccording to our high school lore (otherwise known as the best this 42-year old brain can remember), there was only one pep rally in the four years I was in high school.  (Okay maybe I’m wrong – but there’s only one I remember.) I was a freshman, sitting up in the gym bleachers watching cheerleaders and dancers doing some routine.  All of a sudden, the doors to the outside opened up and in ran two (or maybe 3?) guys in underwear (and maybe trenchcoats?). They had what looked to me like giant fire extinguishers from which they sprayed marbles (or gumballs?) all over the gym floor.  I don’t recall any pyramid of cheerleaders tumbling down in slow motion, but I do recall a lot of immediate chaos and rumors later on that the boys (one of whom was my friend’s brother) were sent to jail or Siberia. I don’t remember any more pep rallies.  And thus, I was introduced to the idea of “streaking”.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s – so I do recall a couple of streakers interrupting baseball games. And I’m pretty sure Richard Simmons entering any room is considered streaking. But as an activity, it’s always ranked right up there (along with sky diving) as something I have no interest in.

And yet I’ve started a streak this year. Fully clothed, mind you – although there was much debate as to whether that would invalidate the streak.

My friend June (otherwise known as she-who-runners-should-fear) somehow got it into her head that she and her runner friends need to run (at least) a mile a day this year.  Yup. One mile each day. Or more if you are training or racing or what not. But at least one mile.

We officially started this past Monday. We have a small Facebook group of us who keep checking in each day and keeping everyone accountable. Of course the other ladies post things like “did my four miles and then did 2 cardio classes and saved 4 children today”.  I merely point out that I ran and then I post silly pictures and slogans reminding us all that the mile counts – whether the pace was 6 min or 16 min.

This is a great idea. Of course I say that now – two days before I run 13.1.  June won’t let that count for 13 days of running 1 mile. (We all asked – and begged – and got yelled at.) So we’ll see how that mile on Sunday feels – maybe I’ll circle the parking lot at the finish line while waiting for Steve to finish the marathon.  (I’d hop in and run the last mile with him – but that would take too much effort – and I’d probably get arrested by a Disney cop.)

Meanwhile – it really is a great way to start a new habit. Cause that’s what’s at the heart of New Year’s resolutions – changing habits.

Of course I wrote this instead of doing my mile…..dang it.  I better get out there…. What are you going to do different each day this year?