Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Day Before Thanksgiving

This morning, before much of the world was active, I ran 2.5 miles in the cold, northern wind. I figured I better, since Thanksgiving indulgence always starts a day early in my book. This probably was a wise decision, given my caloric partaking from the day.

We started the day by concocting chocolate acorns. I may have eaten a few of those.

Next up, the boys ate a lunch that was modeled after Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. In case you haven't viewed this one recently, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy prepare a meal for their friends of the only foods that they know how to make. The resulting Thanksgiving cuisine is popcorn, buttered toast, jellybeans, and pretzel sticks. This, of course, sounded like culinary heaven to my children from the moment they first laid eyes on it. They begged since the first viewing on November 1st to have just such a lunch, and I delivered on it today.

They couldn't figure out why BJ and I wanted chicken tortilla soup for lunch instead.

 When possible, I always enjoy spending some time on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with a new baking project. As I've long been infatuated with the smooth voice of June Christy singing "Shoo Fly Pie," I thought perhaps I ought to just make a shoo fly pie. And then I looked at the ingredients. And it looked disgusting. Molasses just isn't my thing. The nice thing about the song is the next part though---the part that says, "and apple pan dowdy." Well, I'd never heard of "dowdy" before this song, but it sounded a lot more promising than a molasses/brown sugar/baking soda pie. Plus, it afforded me the once-yearly use of my skills in peeling an apple into one long, curly strip. So apple pan dowdy I made!
 If you like smooth tunes, this song is for you.
Shoo Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy - June Christy by June Christy on Grooveshark
"Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy 
Makes your eyes light up,
Your tummy say "howdy,"
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!"

Long, unabashed gazing as it cooled

Even this guy couldn't get enough of "that wonderful stuff."


Saturday, November 22, 2014




That race was hard. BJ's first words to me when we met at the finish line were, "Could that race have been any harder?" Indeed, half of it was a simultaneous double whammy: running uphill into a stiff 20mph wind.

I clocked in at 31:44. This doesn't meet my time goal, but now I have something to keep working toward. I'm mildly disappointed, but I'm determined, and I will get there sooner rather than later.

A few thoughts:

1. I don't think I disappointed Ben, and this race was for him.

2. I've improved my 5K time tremendously in just a few short months. At the end of August I ran the Moore War 5K in 40:53. I was extremely disappointed with this effort and began training in earnest at that time. One month later, at the end of September, I ran the Swazi 5K in 36:08. This was nearly a five-minute improvement! Over the past few months I have trained hard, run several miles a week, eaten more healthily, lost 18 pounds, and shaved off over four more minutes to get down to 31:44. I'll take it.

3. Today I finished 9th out of 35 women in my age group (30-34). Out of 205 total women, I finished 61st. I call that respectable for today, but not my end goal.

You can count on me to keep on keepin' on. The race bibs belong to Mindy Sauer until I can finish that time goal, with Ben in heart. I look forward to more races, and I hope for health in the weeks leading up to the races, which is something I can't say I had with this one!

Here's to you, Ben!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Listening Ears

If you keep your listening ears open around our house, you're bound to hear some amusing things. These are a few of my recent favorites.

"Mom! Van wants a beer!" George bellowed to me as Van was putting his hands on a box of BJ's home-brewed beer that was carbonating in bottles.

Silas: Mom, do we have any string?
Me: Probably. What do you need it for?
Silas: I want to make a zip-line from my top bunk down to my dresser.

"George, don't lick my car. I'm not sure when it was last washed, but it's not in recent memory," said BJ during yesterday's snowstorm.

Silas has an affinity for Peppermint Patty quotes, probably because I do too. Lately we have been watching lots of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Yesterday he sidled up to me and whispered unexpectedly in my ear, "Let's not play lovers' games, Chuck." This may have been rivaled only by his previous Peppermint Patty display toward Tex, when he sailed past Tex out the door one day and nonchalantly stated, "Tex, you're not coming. You're not allowed to go places except Bark in the Park, you sly devil you!"

In a conversation about the resident mouse in our garage:
BJ: I saw Mickey again tonight. I'm beginning to think that my relationship with Mickey is entirely too cordial.
Me, laughing:"Oh?"
BJ: Yeah. I mean, we say hello to each other. Exchange pleasantries.

Silas to BJ, regarding a letter to his grandparents: "Dad, you write the letter and I'll draw the pictures, because you're good at writing and I'm good at drawing."

A few days ago, a friend of mine and I were remarking about how dangerous life is with small children. This she remarked upon after having let her young son go unattended for a mere sixty seconds before finding him wielding an ax from the woodpile. Similar hair-raising events are regular around here. The other day I was changing Van's diaper and I heard Silas goad in the boys' bedroom,
"Jump from a really, really high distance, Georgie!"
I let out what seemed a slow-motion "Noooooooooooo!" and hurried to their room just in time to see George hurl his thin little 27-pound body off of Silas' top bunk and all the way down to the floor. He landed perfectly and laughed, the little stink.
He's about to jump off that too. I just know it.
Kids will be kids!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mind Over Matter

I think I'm in need of help from my athletic friends.

Nothing about running is easy for me. Some runners can put down three miles in their sleep, but I just can't. I'm not a natural runner, and I have to work hard for every mile that I put behind me. I need some help with this.

My goal is important to me. I want to run the Chill Your Cheeks 5K on November 22nd, and I want to do it in 29:59 or less. I want to do it for Ben. I set this goal months ago, and though I am making progress toward it, I still feel a million miles away from it. It is important to me to accomplish this goal during this race the week before Thanksgiving, as I am so grateful for Ben's life, the impact he has had on me, and the ridiculously good fortune I have in the opportunity to raise my own three lovely boys. The memory of Ben is completely worth my effort.

Ben, on right, with twin brother Jack, last fall before being diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor
So here's where I am: I can run a mile at a 9:50 pace. I can run 2.25 miles at a 10:00 pace. Today I ran 2.5 miles at a 10:10 pace, but I had to pause for two walking breaks (one for one minute, one for two minutes)--so that wasn't so great. These times are respectable in my book, and they will render me an overall personal time record in a 5K if I can maintain this kind of pace (my previous record is 33:50). Obviously, however, they aren't the 9:40 pace that I need to maintain over 3.1 miles to clock in at my time goal. On the other hand, though, none of these times account for race-day adrenaline that I will undoubtedly feel on November 22nd.

I definitely need to step up my efforts in these next two and a half weeks before the race, an action which I am committed to doing. Several months ago I joined the Y and have been diligent about going and cardio training, mostly running. I have been watching what I eat, and I have trimmed up. I have lost 13 pounds since the end of August, and I have undoubtedly gotten faster and exercised longer. The thing is, I don't really think it's my body holding me back. I think it's my mind. I need to figure out this fight.

I know that mentally I can talk myself into doing some hard things. I kept myself strong during the natural labor of a 9-1/2-pound baby. I carried myself mentally through the last four miles of a 6.2-mile run in April, never slowing to walk throughout the entire thing. I ate a strict dairy-free, soy-free diet for nearly a year, with no slip-ups, because I wanted to help George with his allergies when he was a nursing baby. Mentally, I'm really not a total pushover.

But there's just something about running that seems so much harder. For instance, I can get on a treadmill and tell myself, "You're not stopping, no matter what, before two miles." And the truth is, I'm in the kind of shape that my body can certainly handle a two-mile challenge. Yet just two weeks ago I stopped short at 1.5 miles, gasping for air, feeling like a failure. I just couldn't will myself to go on.

I really need some help, athletic friends. Regardless of what your sport is, I want to know how you do it. How do you power through when the going gets tough? How do you tell yourself not to stop? To go faster? To push harder? To not quit just because you feel like you need to (when you know deep down that you don't really need to)? Did you read a book or a blog that inspired you? Did you see someone do something that made you think, "I want that"? Realistically, I know the odds are against achieving my goal in just two and a half short weeks, though I know I eventually will achieve it. I just keep telling myself, maybe--just maybe--though, and I find myself getting hopeful. Maybe, maybe, maybe I can do this. Any pointers, friends?

On a side note, I have never run on a treadmill prior to these last couple of months, but I find that I really like it after all. When the going gets tough, I can put my hands on the little bars in front of me, close my eyes for minutes at a time, and meditate on special people in my life. Many of my friends and family members are the focus of my concentration during my treadmill runs, and I am all the richer for it. I have so many wonderful reasons to run. Mind over matter.