Sunday, September 11, 2011

We're somewhat better off...I think...

Today is the 10th anniversary of the attack on the United States. On September 11, 2001 two hijacked airplanes flew into the Twin Towers in New York, one hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon and one plane that was almost hijacked but diverted by brave brave people on the plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA. We were under attack and it was really really scary.

Aha and I had just woken up for the day and while he was brushing his teeth and I was rubbing sleep from my eyes, I turned on the NBC news (as I always did). What I saw was that it appeared that the World Trade Center was on fire.

"Honey, come here, the World Trade Center is on fire." I said.
"What??", he said?

As he walked in and we stood together in front of our television, we watched the 2nd plane fly right into the second tower.

I wasn't sure what I was seeing. My first thought was "wow...what an accident...". Inside of about 5 minutes, I knew it wasn't an accident.

We were under attack and it was very very scary. My life, along with everyone else's life, changed forever that day. Ten years later, the question seems to be, for the better or not? back up a bit, the 9/11 attacks (as they came to be known) were not the first "where where you when...." event that happened in my lifetime. Fortunately, in my 43 years, there haven't been many but they include in no particular order:

* The Challenger explosion 1986 - in high school english class
* Regan being shot - in elementary school
* The first African American being elected president - on my couch with Aha
* The first woman being nominated for vice president - with my parents
* The Northridge earthquake - lying in my bed feeling it
* The death of:
-- Michael Jackson
-- Jerry Garcia
-- Freddie Mercury
-- John John Kennedy

But 9/11 is the one event in my lifetime that has had permanent repercussions.

All of the sudden, no one felt safe any longer. We were here in California wondering if the terrorists were coming here next. Would it be like the movies? Would there be a takeover and we'd all be killed?

That first 24 hours were errie. All we did was watch television. Those two planes flying into the World Trade Center towers over and over and over and over again. It got to the point where I just couldn't watch it any longer.

It took a long time and eventually, life became what is known now in our house as "the new normal". Travel changed, mailing things changed, our level of safety confidence changed. We could never ever go back.

But now, ten years later, there is a tremendous debate about whether we're better off or not. Well, let's see; thanks to some tool who put a bomb in his shoe, we have to take off our shoes when we go through security at the airport. Thanks to a different tool, we can't take more than the amount of 3 oz bottles that fit in a medium size Zip Lock bag. That didn't piss me off because I am a bag checker...I don't carry my suitcase on if I can avoid it. That's why God invented the belly of the plane, right? What irritated me was that I couldn't bring my coffee, a bottle of water or any drinkable liquid into the airport and through security. But whatever, I'll survive.

You'll notice that I'm not kvetching about the fact that they want to x-ray my carry on bag, that my computer has to have its own little bin to go through the x-ray or that they want to practically have me strip down to my bra and panties so they can see if I'm trying to smuggle something illegal on board (which I never am). I don't even care so much about the new x-ray that everyone thinks is too invasive. If some TSA person gets their rocks off checking out my boobs or nether region, then yeah for them; frankly I'm excited that I excite anyone these days.

What would I care about? Being groped, that wouldn't work, but since I haven't been, mostly because I consent to the x-ray, I'll leave it at - YOU MAY NOT TOUCH MY UNDER THE NEATH PARTS. YOU GET TO CHECK ME OUT VIA X-RAY AND THAT'S IT.

You will notice that I will also not use this space to mention that in nine years of flying Aha has never been asked to show his prescription for his Copaxone (all filled syringes) and when we were going through IVF, I was not asked to show a letter or a prescription for over 20 empty and over 10 filled syringes as well as multiple filled little bottles. Nope, no one wanted to talk about them. Oh well.

Here's the thing - we are better off and here's why.

It hasn't happened again.

People are more vigilant. It was regular people who noticed that a car was parked in Times Square and something wasn't quite right. It was regular people who have helped airline staff subdue all kinds of wacky people that try to get to the cockpit and/or to the flight team.

People aren't getting their machetes on to the planes (really, who needs that on a plane?) and people are more cognizant of who is on their planes and their behavior.

Now, there are plenty of ways we're not better off - the top five spots on that list belong to racial profiling. That makes me so incensed! How dare someone treat a person badly because they are wearing a headscarf!! How dare someone treat another human being badly because of their religion. I could go on for pages and pages, but I think you get the drift.

People will tell you that we're being spied on and that our privacy is being breeched. I am not here to try to change your mind if that's you. That's not the purpose of my blog. You are entitled to your own opinion.

However, here's my thoughts on it. Here's my thoughts on the TSA's ability to seem to go way way way overboard sometimes. Here's my insight into why we slap rules on ourselves when bad things happen.

Change happens very very very slowly. We are only ten years out from that horrible day. We're still working out the kinks of how to protect ourselves from the bad people in the world (in this case, "bad people" = anyone who wants to bring harm to the USA). We're still in a pretty reactionary time. Think about ten years in the context of the fact that we're a pretty young country. Also, think of ten years in the context of politicians are the ones making the decisions. I will save my thoughts on our government for another post. But, they really irk me.

So, we might be a little too over to one side when it comes to protecting ourselves. And we're not so fabulous about laying out perimeters. Finally, we don't seem to be so great at managing the process and checks and balances. We'll get there. The pendulum will swing. Think about how far the other way the pendulum was before 9/11. Before 9/11 you could get to the airport 30 minutes before your flight and be fine (unless you were in my family, we always got there hours before). Now, post 9/11, you need to allow over an hour to get through the aforementioned security screening process. We'll get there. It takes time and it takes mistakes to figure out what we need to do to adjust.

I think we need to spend less time being irked about processes that are keeping us safe and more time figuring out why we treat each other so badly. Why racism still exists in this country. Why people care about who we marry. Why the children in our country aren't getting educated as they should. Why we all can't seem to communicate very well and instead we shoot each other. Spend the time on that and not on why the TSA wants to see your bra. I mean really.

A few thanks are in order on, this the 10th anniversary of 9/11:
Thank you to all of the people who ran INTO the buildings to try to save as many people as they could. Thank you to the men and women of all the Police Departments and Fire Departments who worked tirelessly to save people and clean up the disastrous mess. Finally, thank you to the families who lost their loves ones as responders, first or otherwise. You performed the greatest sacrifice. You supported a person who gave their life in order to help others. They gave the greatest thing they could, their life and while I'm not sure about heaven and hell, I do feel that they have been put in a place where they can be happy. Please know that your family member is still a brave soul.

We'll get there. Be patient. But look at it this way, it's not happened again and that's a good sign.

America - we rock,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Run! Run! Run Dena Run!

Really, after running 13.1 miles, this is a fabulous sign to see on the bathroom mirror. Aha couldn't make it to Anaheim yesterday with me because, let's face it, MS Sucks. Yep, yesterday, MS won the battle of Jay vs It. For two years, he's been with me at the Disneyland Half Marathon. We go down the day before and spend the afternoon together going to the Health and Fitness Expo where we pick up my race number and swag. We have dinner with friends who moved from San Antonio a few years ago (the 'she' of the couple is one of the sole reasons I survived my business trips to San Antonio - which lasted almost a year!); and he sends me off at 4:30 AM the morning of the run.

I'll see him somewhere along the route (last year at Angel Stadium) and he is always waiting at the finish line for me. I've run 7 half marathons (including this one) and he's been at the end of 5 of them. The two he missed, were due to MS. Which leads me to restate that MS Sucks. So when I saw this sign waiting for me in our bathroom; it was all worth it.

More than one person has asked me why I run.

It's an interesting question. My friend who used to live in San Antonio is a brand new runner and she was telling me how boring it was to run on the treadmill.

She is right. Any runner who has had to run more than 3 miles on a treadmill will tell you that it doesn't matter if you're listening to the best book you've ever read, watching the best television show or movie or even talking with your best friend; the treadmill is an instrument of torture. I told her that she needs to reserve the treadmill for bad weather days and run outside. Hopefully she'll take my advice because she's supposed to run the D-land Half next year. and I want to run it with her.

But why do I run?

To begin with - I'll call it what it is. When I lost a lot of weight 3 years ago (46 pounds) I did it by changing my relationship with food (info for another post) but also with running. Running allows me to eat more of the things one shouldn't eat if I didn't exercise. I don't plan to EVER put that weight back on and running will help make sure that never happens.

Secondly, sanity. There is something about those endorphins that help me stay off the roofs of buildings. It won't remove all the blues, but a great many of them.

Thirdly, my mind is really clear when I run. I do some of my best thinking when I run. I wrote the toast my brother and I gave at our parent's 45th anniversary party while running; I wrote the thank you remarks I gave at my 40th b'day party while running and I have worked through many a training class while running.

Fourth, let's face it; if you were to write an essay about my athletic ability you'd be done inside of 50 words. I have ZERO athletic skill and I'm not real comfy with that. Team sports tend to be a disaster for me in that, I'm the one who tends to not be able to: make the basket, hit the ball, make a good serve, swing a club or most importantly, win the game. Thus, running, an individual sport, seems to be the best way for me to go. Don't get me wrong, I have to be careful not to fall each and every time I go out, but at least, I'm the only one who must deal with that event; not a team. Oddly enough, I do participate in one team running sport; the Ragnar Relay and my team seems to love me and love my skill. So as long as they'll have me, I'll run with them.

Finally, truth be told, I like it. It used to be that you couldn't get me to run; anywhere, from anything, nothing. At all. Ever. Both my parents were runners (3 marathons between them) and they used to try to drag me and my brother out to run. We fought it tooth and nail. Now, wait for it, we are both runners. But I do seem to like it. A good running day generally guarantees a good rest of the day. A bad running day, well you can do the math. What do I love best? When it's over. The feeling of, "well, that's done" is fantastic. And that feeling is quadrupled after a half or full marathon. When I was walking back to my el crappo hotel after the race and I was talking with my Mom, she said, "good, that's behind you" and she is right. That almost feels better than finishing. Almost.

Finishing...let's talk about the goal of these races for a moment. Finishing is the numbers 1, 2, and 3 goals for me when I run these races. What my time is for the race comes in 7th or 8th after finishing, finishing, finishing, not bleeding, not injured and upright. Only then do I care about my time (which incidentally was 2:27:38 for today's race). And then, I don't really care that much.

The D-land HM is terrific. Only in a Disney race will you see multiple Princesses (or these women's versions of the Princesses based on still needing to wear running clothes), at least 3 Tinkerbells and a Goofy. Lots of people running in Mouse Ears and various Disney headwear. Yeah for them. I don't run in costume - EVER. Not for me. I'm a purest, running skirt (have dumped my running shorts in favor of them; check them out here), tank top, running bra, socks, shoes and hat. Not injuring myself is paramount and wearing the right clothes is the first step in that direction.

So, I'll keep on running. I'll keep on not dressing up and I'll keep on doing these races until I can't anymore.

Don't forget to stretch,

Monday, June 20, 2011

What is age...just a number, right?

So, something very funny happened yesterday. I think it was funny. One of the people I was with didn't think it was very funny.

I thought it was hysterical.

So, I was sitting outside with two friends who are older than me by say 20+ years (this is only important for the next thing that happened) and another woman was on her phone chatting annoyingly.

The next thing we knew, phone woman says, "there's some old people out here".

I sucked in air such that you would think that I took my last breath before I was to dive 100 feet into the water.

One of the other people I was with, uttered a curse word such that I won't write here except to say that it starts with F and rhymes with duck.

What was funny? What was funny is that we were the ONLY OTHER PEOPLE THERE!!

And, yes, I'm sure phone woman wasn't talking about me. And even if she was....

Now, my friend who was unhappy about being called "old" did eventually get over it (I sure hope they did!) but it got me to thinking...

What makes someone "old"?

Age? Aha says that age is only a number and it's not to be worried about or given any energy to.

Do I think my friends look old? (Must tread lightly here) No - but that takes me back to what old is.

If you're grey are you old? If so, I have a lot of OLD friends! ; )

If you have grandkids are you old?

My Grandpa Julie was old from the moment I was born. White hair, hunched over, smoker's hack --> OLD.

My Grandpa Milton was old but different. Dark hair, big smile but cranky sometimes. --> OLD.

Aha is 12 years older than me and let me tell you - I should look that good NOW!!! After what he's been through = brain abscess, seizure, more brain surgery, divorce, MS and he looks younger than most people we know.

I don't know what old is. Sometimes I feel really old. Sometimes I feel like I've been on this earth F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

And sometimes, I feel like I'm still learning how to be human.

Some people are old souls - you know, this isn't their first rodeo...I have a nephew #1 (on my side) who is a such an old soul - he came out looking like my grandpa julie.

Some people are new souls - this is someone who hasn't been around much - nephew #2 (on my side) is B.R.A.N.D. N.E.W. He is so funny - he's fearless and wants to know about everything. Blank slate.

I think I'm pretty old - Aha is way old (his soul I mean). Interesting.

Well - getting old chronologically is not as fun as I thought it'd be, but to be honest? I don't want to do the teen thing again so I'll take this. I've got awesome friends and family and the world's best husband.

So what could more could I really ask for?

Not much.

Love the one you're with,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Um, have you written a book?"

I was asked that question the other day. It was prefaced by the person saying, "I have an awkward question".

Only in Los Angeles is, "have you written a book" an awkward question. Well, maybe in New York too. But in most 'regular' places, "have you written a book?" would be met with, "a what?".

But here's the thing....

I do plan to write a book.

Or at least, I really want to write a book.

But am I really literary? Literate? Library? Oh wait...not library.

The thing is, as it turns out, I've lived through a lot in my mere closing-in-on-43-years. Aha and I are living with two GIANT things that individually would break up couples. Try having one spouse with a chronic disease that requires that they go on permanent disability and thus are not able to be the financial partner they (and you) planned and the two of you have to deal with unexplained infertility. Now there's a happy marriage! That's a couple that wake up every day with a smile on their faces, excited to face the day and who feel "normal" in every sense of the word.

If you believe that, I've got something to sell you that is invisible. A bridge, my sanity, hope, whatever.

But could that book, propel me into the stratosphere of public, dare I say ("dare! dare!") motivational (yick! I really dislike that word - how about empowering?) speaking?

Maybe it could. Maybe, just maybe, my method of survival (whatever that is, I wonder if it fits neatly into an acronym?) would be helpful to others? At the very least, it could be funny to them, thus giving them a moment of laughter, which frankly, if that did it? It would be worth the price of admission. I really would like that, speaking to large groups about how to stay empowered when the chips are down.

Way down..not down in the "oh-I-broke-a-nail-today-and-my-dog-pooped-in-the-house" kind of way.

Way way way down. So down that the chips are hitting you on the head because they have gone so far down they are above your head.

But what I'd really like to do is give them a sense of hope. A sense of that even though their reality hasn't gone as planned (Uncle A said it would be like this) that they will make it. That they're not alone.

Not alone is the key.

Hmmmmm food for thought.

Oh, food...what kind of food. Maybe each chapter could have food names!

Chapter 1 - Wheat
Chapter 2 - Flour
Chapter 3 - Cake

Well, it needs work.

I'll entertain all chapter suggestions and more importantly, ALL requests for speaking to groups. My fee will be commiserate with the size of the group and/or the subject. ; )

Next blog

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What can you do? You're doing it.

It's no secret that part of the reason I have this blog and that I am active on Facebook is that it is an outlet for me. You see, while I have a most fabulous husband (if you don't know about him, read other posts) he suffers from a disease that makes it difficult (and virtually impossible on some days) for him to communicate with me. Not in that way that he has no voice, but in that the words are spinning around in his brain and he can't seem to grab them and put them into a sentence to conversate with me. Now for those of you that are married or in committed relationships where you cohabitate, you can appreciate how important it is to be able to have conversations - small ones, large ones, important ones, silly ones - with your spouse/partner/whatever. Well, we're in a position where an outside force (Multiple Sclerosis) decided that we'd not get to have that as often as we'd like to. And when I say "not as often" I mean multiple days during a month, easily one day a week, often more.


It turns out that this blog and Facebook serve a purpose that they didn't start out serving. I signed on to FB when my cousin's son sent me an invite many years ago. I thought that if this was something he was into, I would be into it too, simply to get to be part of his world. He was probably in early middle school at the time and I consider myself lucky that he has not only stayed 'friends' with me on FB, but that he and I still have a pretty good relationship, at least I hope we do. Yikes. I hope so. Anyway....

the point being that FB started out as a way to stay connected to my cousin's kids and my nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. What it turned into was a way for me to stay connected to the outside world. Now I know most of you are thinking, that my being on FB is a humongous waste of time.

Not for me.

On those days where Aha is in the throws of a MS exacerbation, FB and this blog provide me the outlet and connection with the people in my fabulous circle of friends and family when I have no connection here.

So, was this what I was going to write about originally?


Mourning was the topic I was going to talk about. I'll save that happy topic for the next day or so.

So when someone says to me, "What can I do?" when I'm despondent about Aha? For the most part, there's nothing anyone can do. No one can make him better. No one can give us back the parts that MS has taken away so, if you're witty on FB or read this blog and comment on it, thanks. : )

I just looked back thinking, "I've already written about this, right?" but couldn't find it. But if you can, try not to mention it. Really, is that necessary?

So...babbling aside, be careful before you bash social networking; it could just be helping someone you know. And maybe someone you know and love. I'm just sayin'.

See you in cyberspace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"I don't know, I can imagine a whole lot"

Here we are - another day and I'm 4 days in having been up at "holy-cow-I-mean-seriously-it's-too-freaking-early-to-be-doing-training-for-anyone" o'clock. But I complained about being tired the other day, so let's move on, shall we?

I am a Star Wars fan. Not the kind that has a costume to wear to the convention (which I've never been to and have no desire to attend) and not one, that if I'd had kids, would have named any of them: Luke, Leah, Chewie, Obi-Wan or Han.

I'm the kind of fan who could easily spend four days watching all six movies over and over and over and over in rapid succession.

Side note: I come from parents who don't understand the fascination of watching something over and over again; and with some things, I agree. For instance, I don't ever need to see The Hangover 2 or Bridesmaids again. They were both very funny and I laughed out loud in both, but not my over and over type. Similarly, watching The Manchurian Candidate or the Lord of the Rings trilogy isn't for me over and over again either. But for movies like Star Wars (and its 5 companions), Ghostbusters, Gone with the Wind, The Blues Brothers, Beverly Hills Cop, Stripes, Auntie Mame, Funny Girl, Godfather I, & II (I can only handle III every 10 years or so) and The Princess Bride I could spend the rest of my life watching them over and over again. It's fun, lucky for me Aha likes it too and it is something to do together. I can't understand why this bores others. Ah well, to each his/her own.

But back to the Star Wars sextet (heretofore known as SW) Now, it's true, I fought even liking the new first three, and maintained that the original three: Star Wars (now called A New Hope - what....ever...), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were the only "true" SW movies. I was even hesitant to own the new first three as I felt as if owning them would imply that I've moved over to the Dark Side (if you don't know what that is, why on earth are you reading this blog???? Go to IMMEDIATELY and purchase all 6 movies and watch them. Then you are allowed to come back and read my blog.) and accepted the new first 3 as the actual first 3 and thus lose my status as a true "original" SW fan.

Well, a few years ago, I bought gave in and bought SW III Revenge of the Sith because I thought, "well, it's an important movie because we learn how Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader". And for a few years, that was it. We owned the "real 3" and then SW III RotS and I thought that was o.k.

Then I found that I was watching SWI-Star Wars & SWII-Attack of the Clones every single time it was shown (usually on Spike). It started to dawn on me that, maybe, just maybe, I'd converted...slightly.

And while there is a HUGE distance in storyline, characters, technology and culture between RotS and A New Hope (not to mention a MASSIVE leap of faith in the story) I may have been brought on board and trained in the ways of a tolerant SW fan.

Now, what is it about these movies that pulls me so. I can only think that for the final three (IV, V & VI) it's all about emotional attachment. I mean, think about it, if these were released today as they are now, they wouldn't survive. But in 1978 and on, they were AMAZING. Completely new technology in movie making. I was 10 when ANH came out and we saw it in the theater. It looked huge to me on the screen. We may even have seen it at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood where it would have been the biggest movie screen anyone had ever seen thus far (far earlier then IMAX) and even more spectacular. It's not like all the characters in IV, V & VI are all that likeable; and poor Carrie Fisher - that hair and that bikini in RotJ. I think I knew those two things were wrong even then.

But, now, they serve a much different purpose for me. They are a calming force. When my life is particularly topsy turvie (when isn't it?) putting these movies on while I work, or am cooking or just zoning in bed or on the couch allows me to really check out (except for the working thing - SWIV is on now...). They allow me to go to a different place and forget what's happening in my real life. I get so into it that I get sad when Ani starts to move towards the Dark Side in SWII and in SWIII when he gets all charred and turns into DV, I am always amazed. While, the acting is a little over the top in all of the films, I don't care. I love them and by the time I die, I will have watched them a gigillion times and I'm really o.k. with it.

May the force be with you,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let's face it, I'm pooped!

So, let's talk tired. I planned to talk communication but frankly, I'm just too tired.

There are so many kinds of tired:
  • Overdid it tired
  • Your kid won't sleep tired
  • Your partner/spouse/bed companion snores tired
  • Sick and tired tired
  • I've run 26 miles tired
  • Enough of this crud tired
  • I've trained online from 1 - 3 AM PST for the last 3 days and my sleep cycle is messed up tired
and I'm sure I could go on for hours, nay, days or months listing all the things that make us tired.

But what really makes us so tired? Is it our own self set schedule? Is it the fact that we're trying to keep up with everyone else in activity, money and/or status?

It's probably all of those. But the larger question is, "why?"

Now, keep in mind, I started this post at 3 AM PST yesterday morning. Why? I was up for a work online training that I was facilitating for Sweden. At 3 AM, you're left to contemplate both your navel and your life and I am no exception. I found myself saying, "What the hell am I doing up at 3 AM waiting to train people in Sweden?" The answer is very simple.

I am doing what is needed for Aha and me. It's my job to take care of us both from a financial standpoint; well the bulk of it anyway. When that's your role, you do what you need to do. You also know what pressure that brings. I don't care how successful you are, it still worries you day and night.

But here's the thing, what if it makes you nutty? What if it makes you seriously nutty? What if it makes you seriously crazy in the head?

Too bad.

It turns out that being an adult is filled with all sorts of things that are very little fun. There's the waking up worrying about being able to be successful that day; the wondering if you're doing the right thing for you and your family (however that family looks). I mean, no wonder we're exhausted.

Did I solve the exhaustion issue yet? No, but if I've given you cause to think about how we exhaust ourselves, then maybe it's all worth it.

I started this post yesterday and am finishing it today after another night (morning?) of training from 1 - 3 AM. I love it when I'm doing it, but wow, am I too old for this middle of the night stuff. The overnight stuff is for the younglings in the training world.

More tomorrow...

Communicate well - without yawning,

Monday, June 6, 2011

Loverde Menu - week of 6/6/11

I've decided that I don't use this blog quite enough to pretty much, I don't know, provide my inner musings. So, after listening to many podcasts of The Story and This American Life, I've decided that for the foreseeable future, this will be my online journal. Read it, don't read it, to be honest, I'm good either way. : 0)

The first thing I want to get into the habit of doing (again) is sharing my menu for the week. I get a lot of requests on Facebook for the recipes that I post and (as my mother taught me), I'm happy to share them. So here goes with the menu for the week. Should you want any additional info on it, let me know.

Monday: Shrimp Risotto with Snap Peas (Weight Watchers Magazine p. 98 May/June 2011) & Caesar Salad (iPad Weight Watcher's App)
Tuesday: Korean Style Crispy Chicken & (Weight Watchers Magazine p. 121 May/June 2011) & Ginger Sesame Green Beans (iPad Weight Watcher's App)
Wednesday: Asian Salmon Salad (Weight Watchers Magazine p. 104)
Thursday: Garlic Pasta with Lemony Scallops (iPad Weight Watchers App) & Spinach with Parmesan Bread Crumbs (iPad Weight Watchers App)
Friday: Out

Misc cooking:
Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate (iPad Weight Watchers App)
Baked Sweet Potato Chips (iPad Weight Watchers App)

So there you have it. A week's worth of eating right, but not depriving oneself. I'm not a big believer in depriving oneself of something to eat right. For then, as most of you all know, all you want is what you deprived yourself of. Why, oh why, couldn't I crave carrots instead of ice cream? Well, in any event, that's the plan.

As you can see all those recipes this week came from either the iPad WW app or the current WW magazine. I lost 46 lbs following the WW plan and have kept it all (almost all anyway - save 10 pounds) off. When I need to (as now) get rid of that last 10 I know that eating right and exercising are the only thing that, for me, will work. So, that's where we are at.

Monday, 6/6 - I ran 4.1 miles and boy was that helpful. I'm in the middle of training an international audience for one of my clients and that requires that I am up and training at 1 AM. The training ends at either 2:30(ish) or at 4(ish) and this will go on all week. So....... I know that running all week will aid in my not going NUTTY!

I have a half marathon that I'm running in July but more importantly, I have a sprint triathlon in September and I must get in the pool to start to train for the half-mile swim in the O C E A N ! ! ! I really need a wetsuit. I want a used one to start. I also need to find out from someone who knows if my cruiser bike is o.k. for the sprint in Sept. So, there's work to be done here.

What else is important yet, total drivel? Well, nothing since this post is about the menu and I got off track (surprise!).

More tomorrow!
Welcome to my daily 30 minute therapy session.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who Talked Us Into This?

O.K. Let's check my list:

1. Extra large Zip Lock bags? check
2. Sleeping bag? check
3. Cottonelle wipes? check
4. Vaseline? check
5. Phone, iPod and/or source of music of some kind? check
6. Starbucks card? double check
7. Five people to spend an uninterrupted 44 hours with in very close quarters and situations? - triple check!

You might think this is a list for someone who is going camping...but what this is a list of is what I MUST HAVE when I participate in a 200.9 mile relay race each year.

2011 marks the second year in a row that I have participated in the Ragnar Relay. Both years it has been a religious experience for me.

To give you a little background, Ragnar was a Viking who had a very colorful life and a subsequent very colorful reshaped life (learn about Ragnar here). But the important part is that he's the symbol for the Ragnar Relay Race Series that is put on in many many cities in the US every year. The lowdown on the Ragnar Relay is you put together a 12-person team of crazy runners (or 6 if you are an Ultra team - Ultra = 6-person team of REALLY crazy runners) who will live together in two "vans" (could be SUV's or actual vans - more on the vans later) for almost 48 hours - 6 people in each. These 12 semi sane people will run 200(ish) miles from one point to another. In our case, Huntington Beach to Coronado Island. What ensues is hilarity and hijinx that leaves everyone laughing and wondering what screw is just a little loose in their brains.

Friday morning, I left my house at 3:15 AM to drive the few miles to my old college roommate's house to get into her car with four other people for this years adventure. Our first job? To be in Huntington Beach at the starting line at 5 AM to check in, get our safety briefing ("Don't get hit") and be on our way with a 6 AM start time for Runner #1 (AKA Moi). They have tiered starting times - the earlier you start, the slower, ahem, the more time you need, ahem, the, aw heck, the earlier you start, the more time your team needs to finish. There I said it. If you start at 6 AM, be prepared for this to be a lengthy adventure. If you team's starting time is noon - well you do the math. : )

Anyway, at 4:02 AM, we pile into the Kia (her car was in the shop) and we move forward in the dead of night to HB. We find 5 minutes in that we need to go back, something was left on the ground. We start out again and before we get onto the freeway, we look at the clock and it says 4:30 AM.

What the heck? How did we lose 30 minutes????? At 4 AM it should take just about an hour to get to HB, but 30 minutes is out of the question.

Well, we begin to hustle and do what we can.

Driving down, we hit a little traffic and we persevere. Now the clock says 4:58 AM and we're not in HB we're about 30 minutes away. Not good. Our 6 AM start time is pretty firm and starting 30+ minutes late will pretty well screw things up.

I happen to look at my phone and see that Mr. iPhone tells me that it is in fact, NOT 4:58 AM, but 4:38 AM.

The car clock is 20 minutes fast.


O.K. so we get there...check in (so much smoother for us than last year, we're such pros!) and make our way to the starting line. You can see how it started off by watching this short video that ABC 7 ran Friday morning here. If you look carefully, I am in the purple jacket starting my watch at the starting line in the dark.

And I'm off!!! I'm runner #1 and that means I run three legs of this relay race: #1, #13 and #25.

Here's how it works, Van #1 (us) run legs 1 - 6, Van #2 runs legs 7 -12, we run legs 13 - 18; Van #2 runs legs 19 - 24; we run legs 25 - 30 and they we meet them at the finish line after they've run legs 31 - 36. The lengths of the legs vary and all of our running paces vary so it could take anywhere from 12 - 39 hours for a team to run the whole relay.

Due to some timing circumstances for our team, I was slated to run legs #1 and #2 to cover for runner #2 who couldn't meet us until late Friday night. So, I ended up running legs #1, #2 and #13. She ran my third leg (#25) so I was done running at 7ish PM Friday night. I ran 15 miles in 13 hours. But it didn't mean I had any less fun!!

So, I'll skip a lot of the details (what happens in the Kia stays in the Kia) but here are some of the highlights:

* One of the benefits of running the Ragnar Relay is that you're not bothered with checking in and out of hotels; you get the benefit of sleeping in either your car, the cement, a wet golf course from 3 - 5 AM, the beach...whatever sleep you can find.

* Occasionally, while your team member is running (like for instance...I don't know, runner #3's first leg) you get to lose track of time and are 25 minutes late to meet them at the exchange (the location where the runners hand off the slap wrist band). That provides a great amount of adrenaline to keep you going!

* In addition to not being bothered with pesky hotels with showers, clean sheets and soap, you also aren't made to deal with silly indoor plumbing. You get to have a very unique relationship with the porta potty. Here is what I learned about them this trip: Always try for the larger one designated for the physically challenged. The upsides? How about you can move around in it without the fear of falling in or dropping anything in (which is NEVER to be retrieved). If it's 90+ degrees out (as it was in Lake Elsinore on Friday afternoon) you are less likely to pass out of heat exhaustion in it. Also, an important safety tip ("Thanks Egon") is to bring either, the Ragnar toilet paper they give you OR you be the poster child for the mini Cottonelle travel packs. Life with porta potties for 39 hours and you tell me that you don't need them. So there.

* You learn to rationalize eating some food that you might otherwise never eat (like a meatball sandwich or a Carl's Jr. burger at 10 PM when you HAVEN'T been drinking all night)

* Your hearing becomes more sensitive to every beep, ping and sound that a mobile phone can make. Each time a phone made a sound, all five or six people in the car waited to hear someone say "that was me" so we'd begin to learn everyone's "sound" (of which I never did...I kept thinking the Kia was going to blow up).

* You get to meet and get to know five of the most amazing people you've ever met. The only reason you don't get to know the other six as well is because while you're running, they're sleeping and while you're sleeping (or something close to it) they're running. The five people in my Van (six actually in that we had a Van #2 person for one leg and overnight with us) are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. They are real, they are loving and they are unconditionally accepting. I truly love them with all my heart and would be there for them no matter what they need. They are now family as far as I'm concerned.

Here's what you won't get:

* Competitive behavior - similar to my marathon 3 weeks ago, the goal was: finishing, uninjured, clothed and not bleeding and to have fun. Quality of time and not quantity baby.

* Whining - when you live with five other people for 40+ hours you will find yourself getting pretty punchy. Two years in a row, we had ZERO whining, passive aggressive behavior, cattiness, or otherwise icky behavior.

* Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Bad Attitude Pants. No further explanation needed, they just aren't there.

Once again, team #342 did not disappoint. I have been looking forward to this activity since the day I finished it last year.

And guess what?

I'm already excited about next year. : )

Run, Drive, Sleep? Repeat.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reading with the kiddos....

One of the most fabulous things I volunteer to do is read to the kids who come to the Los Angeles Public Library in Sherman Oaks on Saturday's between 1 PM and 3 PM. The program is called GAB (Grandparents and Books). Clearly, I'm not anyone's Grandmother (and frankly, I'm not in love with the title of the program) but I'm there for the kids that come in.

Sometimes, my friends bring in their kids and I love when that happens. Last year, I was able to have some of my many nieces and nephews come and read with me and that is pretty special too. But, to be honest, the kids that come with their folks that I don't know are fantastic. These kids don't know me but once they get the courage to come over it's only a few moments before they are totally into it and giggling and laughing with me. I let the kids pick the books that I read, with only a few exceptions taken out by me (I tend to not read the "poop" books). They love reading books over and for the most part, these kids, who are anywhere from 3 to 7 years of age, pretty much walk up to a shelf and take the first book they put their hands on. They really don't care what I read, just that I read.

I wrote a blog post about a time I read at the library earlier in my postings. But today I'm going back after being gone for a week (I really try not to miss Saturdays's when I'm in town) and I'm bringing my LA Marathon medal with me.

The kids make me laugh, they fill my soul and they make me think. The thing they do best is remind me that there is good in the world. Their worlds revolve around school and friends. They come from all walks of life, all income classes and reading levels.

Reading is the great equalizer though. They all come and sit together and listen. They laugh together and they pass around the muppets that I bring (I bring four muppets for them to hold if they are insecure about being in the reading circle). One of the best parts is when they share them with each other. They police themselves and pass them around so everyone gets a chance with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Fozzy Bear.

I'm not sure, to be honest, why I'm writing this. But if it moves any of you to volunteer at your local library, that is great.

Love those to them.

Today's reading day - see you at 1 PM at the Sherman Oaks Library.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best. Run. Ever.

I don't know if you noticed, but, it rained a little bit on Sunday, March 20th. You know, that kind of sprinkle that makes you look outside and think, "wow, that's pretty, I bet it would be nice to be running in that sprinkle."

Please disregard the above paragraph as it was written by someone who clearly hasn't recovered from running in a Noah's Arc version of a torrential downpour. I ran a training run (14 miles) in the rain. I don't know that even people who live in Washington or Oregon train in that kind of rain - intentionally.

Roughly 26,000 of us (including 4 other people I know personally) voluntarily came out to Dodger Stadium at Holy-Crap-It's-Early (otherwise known as Why-am-I-up-this-early-and-not-going-on-a-vacation-early) to run the 26th running of the LA Marathon. 26,000 people, running 26.2 miles in the 26th annual event. You'd think that all of those 26th events would bode well for our run; and maybe they did.

Um, excuse me, the rain was like nothing I'd ever seen in my life. Ever. I know I'm not that old, but that was rain of epic proportions. Biblical stuff; I kept looking for a huge ark to get into (in Hollywood or West Hollywood, you might not have blinked an eye). That rain was bring-the-mountain-behind-your-house-down rain.

I'm telling you, it was damp.

Things you take for granted, you know, like pulling your running pants on and off, became an epic challenge.

But enough about the rain. Why? Because I had no hand in that. It was going to rain, or it wasn't and that was that. Let's get to the more important parts.

Best. Run. Ever.


You know, there are lots of tangible reasons it went well (and I'll get to those in a minute), but mentally, emotionally, I don't know why it went so well. Some of it is luck of the running draw. All you runners know that you have good running days and awful running days. I had an AWESOME running day yesterday. Maybe the big, whatever, decided to challenge me with a torrential downpour but gave me the best running day. Can't explain it.

But enough about the non-tangible part; let's talk about what went right:

1. The right clothing - God bless wiki clothing. Between Reebok, Adidas, whoever made my hat and shirt and my socks I was soaked to the bone but not carrying any of that water with me. I don't know where it went, but my clothing wikked it away from me. By 5 or 6 miles in, there wasn't one dry, or semi dry, part of me but the water didn't weigh me down. Glad that I had short hair (cut that over 2 years ago), I can't imagine that mess after this run.

2. The right music: I am notorious for getting bored with what I'm listening to. I haven't evolved into the type of runner who can run without music, a book or a movie (to listen to) or something. I took care to check my Marathon Music playlist, downloaded a book and a movie and was off. I figured that at minimum, I could listen to Breakfast with the Beatles for 3 of the hours if I needed to and then KPCC for the rest of the time. But the shuffle was my friend. Yesterday's run was brought to you by: Sparks, Motley Crue, The Beatles, The Jacksons, Little Caesar, The Who, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Dick Van Dyke & Julie Andrews, Prince, The Beastie Boys, Queen, The Spencer Davis Group, Van Halen, Will Smith, Oingo Boingo, Amy Winehouse, Lou Bega, Louis Armstrong, Kanye West, John Mayer, Joan Armatrading, Guns N' Roses, Genesis, Frank Zappa, Eurythmics, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews Band, The Blues Brothers, Adam Ant, AC/DC, David & David, Donnie Iris, Dr. John, The Emotions, John Parr, Sonia Dada and Sly & The Family Stone. Evidently, the perfect music list for 26.2 miles.

3. Eating and Drinking - everyone has been yelling at me because I don't eat before or during my runs. I just never had and what was was. For this run, I heeded the advice and ate before (banana, bagel and some peanut butter and coffee) and every three miles I ate a Cliff Block. I don't know if it was the Cliff Blocks or the pre eating, but I didn't hit the wall. I drank at all the water stations but two and paid for those omissions. I began to hit the wall as soon as I skipped them (not in a row) and once I got back on the plan, I was great.

4. Didn't bring my water bottle. See above for drinking plan and besides, I would have thrown it on the side of the road AND I would have drunk too much and too often.

5. Drove the route with Queen first - That was a brilliant plan! This run was in my back yard. There wasn't a point on the route in which I didn't know exactly where I was. I grew up in many of these areas...Chinatown for Dim Sum, Downtown for theater and music and food, Hollywood for theaters and food (hmmm seeing a trend), Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Brentwood and Santa Monica are my current stomping grounds and have been for the last 42 years. Knowing the route and knowing when all those downhills were coming was terrific. I spent the 10 days before the run visualizing the run in chunks and knowing where I was running and that gave me the ability to not get ahead of myself when I was running. When I was in downtown I concentrated on my pace, my legs and getting to the 5 mile mark - out of downtown. When I was in Silverlake and the east part of Hollywood, I settled into a flat run and was very excited when I saw the beginning of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When I got into Beverly Hills (turning down Rodeo) I was amazed that I was already there! Getting out of the VA and onto San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood I knew I was on one of the last 2 streets. Queen is right; knowledge is power.

6. Trained right. I must admit, I trained correctly. I was very anal retentive about sticking to my Runner's World training plan and with the exception of one last long run (turned into 10.5 miles due to the cold I was still getting over) I did what it said. I also tapered down correctly. This includes sitting around and relaxing the day before.

7. Had the support of friends and family. When I woke up at 3 am on race day, I looked at my Facebook page and saw that so many of my friends and family had posted on my wall their wishes of good luck and a blog had been written in my honor (five songs about running) I was very touched. I felt so lucky to have the family and friends that I do.

8. Stayed realistic. I wanted to get in under 5 hours. I followed my pace band (given out at the Expo) and was ahead for 22 or 23 of the miles. I slipped at 23 because, well, my body was done and it was FREEZING (we were ocean adjacent by this point) and my feet hurt; and so my walks through the water stations got longer. I finished in 4:59:06 (that counts for under 5 hours folks). Don't get me started about the fact that I somehow, fell off the LA Marathon's monitoring grid according to the run at 20K and they show that I didn't finish - I DID!!! I'm reaching out to them to fix it.

9. Great volunteers - I would be totally remiss if I didn't thank the volunteers (thousands of them) who braved the weather to give us water, gatorade, etc. They were amazing and a HUGE thank you goes out to them.

10. Having runner parents. The fact that Queen and Big Mur are ex runners meant that they could empathize with all my training runs and with 3 completed marathons between them, they understood everything I was going through yesterday. It was a great run and even better to see them at mile 19 cheering me on and at the end with a warm car and lunch.

11. Have the best spouse ever!!! My husband Aha was tremendous. He tolerated and supported all my training runs, was there to pump me up when I was faulting and cheer me on when I had good runs. He worried when I was out on long runs until I started running with my iPhone and worried less after that. He drove me to my friend's house at 4 am so that I could get a ride to Dodger Stadium so we wouldn't have to go back to get my car at her house after. He took one for the team by sitting outside in the cold and rain (which only made his MS hellacious) and hugged and smooched me at mile 19 and at the end. He made me a sign and there were flowers and a card he made me when I got home. He got me a box of yellow Peeps and signed the card "from your #1 Peep". He sure is and I'm a lucky woman to have him in my corner. He's the best and I love him more than anything.

What an amazing run (ahem, LA Marathon peeps, get off the stick and get me recorded as having really harshes my mellow when my name isn't listed as a finisher...).

Running by all the LA landmarks, but more importantly MY landmarks: ABC Seafood - where my family has had about 1,000 dim sum lunches, the Music Center where I continue to see theater; Barnsdall Art Park - where I went on field trips with elementary school, The Capitol Records Building - a figure of my childhood, the Pantages Theater where I saw my first play with my Dad; the Beverly Wilshre (at Rodeo and Wilshire) where I, Aha and my parents went for a drink to celebrate our engagement; Brentwood and the ocean - the ocean is a significant factor in my life and Brentwood, well, that was the last 4 miles so it was fabulous.

Oh, what did I do wrong?

1. Use up all my dry days by driving around in my convertible. Sorry runners, I think I screwed that up.

Best. Run. Ever.,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Day Before the Day of...

Today is a very strange day. It's the day before I run my first ever marathon. I'm running in the 26th annual LA Marathon tomorrow.

I drove the route with Queen, who used to be a runner herself for 30+ years and felt pretty good about it. It's a lot of downhill once we leave Dodger Stadium. We head through Chinatown and around downtown, around Echo Park Lake and into Hollywood from the east side. We run down the Hollywood Walk of Fame (from Gower to Orange), down Orange to Sunset Blvd. On Sunset we run west through West Hollywood and clubs such as The Whisky and the House of Blues. From there we run past what used to be called The Bel Age and is where Aha and I got married almost 11.5 years ago. From there we run down San Vicenti Blvd and run by The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Next we run over to and down Rodeo Drive - the shopping hot spot in Los Angeles. THEN - through Century City and around the Veterans Administration and back onto San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood. Down San Vicente and onto Ocean Avenue and one half mile from there and I'm done.

Sounds easy right?

I'm not so sure.

I've spent the last 10 days or so, breaking down the route into little runs - downtown is its own run, east hollywood is its own run, hollywood is its own run, etc. I'm pretty o.k. with the little runs all adding up to a large, what-the-hell-have-I-done-run; and until now, I've not been particularly nervous.

Don't be fooled, I'm not cocky; I don't think, "Heck, I've got this in the bag" AT ALL.

It's a really tough thing to wrap my brain around. I have been resting all day. I know what I'm wearing, I'm moderately afraid that it will rain on the run. I'm hoping that all the predictions of rain late in the day leave me with a fairly dry run. But at this point, at 4:23 PM, a mere 15 hours before my run, I am starting to get anxious. I'm starting to wonder, "um, what the heck?" I'm starting to wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew. Is this a case of my eyes were bigger than my feet?

What I really don't want to do is have to tell people that I didn't finish. So you can bet your bottom whatever that I'm crossing that finish line no matter what. I hope not to be last, but let's face it, someone has to be.

I will write again on Monday when I'm back on this couch resting up from what I hope will be one of the most amazing days of my life.

I'll take all those good thoughts please,

Friday, January 7, 2011

You tap it up...I'm pedaling as fast as I can.

So, I have joined the wide world of spinners. Spinning, for those of you who haven't gotten into it yet, is a 45 minute workout on a stationary bike in a room with 20+ other people. The instructor chooses music and guides you through (in this case) three sets of sprint, up and back and cool downs. Sounds easy? Yep, it's totally doable. You use different movements and muscles than in running, so it's a great cross training activity.

Here's the thing, I've now gone twice and the second time was infinitely better than the first. Why?

For one thing, the music was phenomenally better. Instructor #1 played 40 minutes worth of electronic house-type music. It was too much for me and nothing I could follow. Instructor #2 played all classic rock and for this forty-something that was PERFECT! ELO, Queen, U2, Todd Rundgren, The Doors, it was fantastic. The 40+ minutes went so fast, I was barely ready to end when it did.

What was odd? Instructor #1, who by the way, is a maniac on her bike; pedaling so fast I was certain that the bike was going to take flight; was talking the whole time, which is fine, she is supposed to motivate us. But, if you take the dialogue she spoke and removed the spinning and the music and it sounded like porn to me.


Yes, that's where my brain went.


Because she took off out of the gate so fast pedaling her little heart out getting us out of the seat (standing up and pedaling) back into the seat, sprinting, climbing uphill, pedaling downhill I was out of it within the first 5 minutes.

So all I had to think about was her voice.

Ah well, I guess it is up to everyone to determine which instructor is for them. Now if I could just find one closer to my house (17 miles away seems a little far to go for a spinning class) I'd be good.

Maybe Instructor #2 would like to change where he teaches and teach at a gym near me? Doubtful, but a girl can dream can't she?

Thank you Mr. Blue Sky,