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Birthday Summary Haiku

February 8, 2010

Being forty-two
is like being forty-one
one year later on

If your kids are good
they will swap the cake numbers
to say “24”.

When your husband gives
you chocolate covered cherries,
that is truest love…

’cause he hates cherries
and so you know he won’t be
stealing yours away.

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Snow Day

January 7, 2010

Today was a snow day for Fayette County schools…  the first one of the school year, and probably one in a long line that is forming now. In fact, school had already been called off for tomorrow as well, by late afternoon today. That’s because here in Kentucky, snow is not just snow. It’s an event! A weather phenomenon unlike any we have seen or heard of! With white stuff falling from the sky!

Now, when we woke up this morning to put our youngest son on the bus (we thought), there was no snow on the ground, other than the light remnants of a dusting we’d had a day or two ago. And it was cold… yes it was cold. It has been cold here lately, the kind of cold that has many people making jokes about global warming and how they wish it would come to their neighborhood.

But we had no snow. We had the anticipation of snow. Snow! But nothing had happened yet.

And under these circumstances… Fayette County likes to call off school in a pre-emptive fashion. Because the weathermen said there would be snow! Maybe as much as TWO to FOUR inches!

It did finally snow a bit, and at least it turned out to be enough for the neighborhood kids to do some sledding in our yard. You could still see the grass through the snow in a lot of places, but at least it wasn’t the pathetic amount of snow we had last season. Here are a few photos… click any for a larger view:

[We have a nice hill that runs down our driveway, right into our backyard. Safe for sledders!]

[Brent has no shortage of sweet girls to chat with.]

[Really, we are lucky to have a great bunch of neighbor kids on our street. I’m bummed that Aaron isn’t in this shot… he was inside at the time. But maybe you can spot Brent in the back with his tongue sticking out. Maybe.]

And… at the end of the long day, after all the running in and out and snow boots on and off and water tracked all over the floor… I had this ready for supper! Homemade sourdough bread and chicken noodle soup. Mmmmmm Mmmmmm Good. 🙂

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New stuff.

January 4, 2010

I have just opened up a new blog… actually it’s all my “JogBlog” posts, imported into one place together, so that I can keep a blog that is dedicated to my jogging endeavors. Please check it out at “Cow To 5K.” There is a new post from today’s workout at the top! Eventually I’ll probably delete the JogBlog posts from this site, to clean things up a bit.

I did my best to explain these exciting changes to Brody, but this was the only reaction I got from him:

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JogBlog: Graduate School

January 2, 2010

I’ve been basking in the glow of “graduation” for a whole day now, and it’s been really nice hearing all the kudos from people since I completed all 9 weeks of Couch-to-5K. But I can’t get past the fact that I haven’t reached the full 5K distance yet with my running, and that is something I still want to do…

…SO, I am planning to work hard on increasing my distance this month, so that by February 1 I will be able to jog the full 3.1 miles. This would be a great thing to achieve in time for my 42nd birthday on February 7. 🙂

I intend to begin my studies at Dooalot Graduate Jogging School on Monday. Wish me luck!

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JogBlog: Week 9, Day 3 (!!!)

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, everyone!

Are you awake? Did you stay up all night and watch that guy with the last name that sounds like a lunch meat jump his car across some water onto a barge and set some record? Yeah. He had to get up to 93 mph on his approach in order to do it… something like that. He had 900 feet of lead-up space to gun his car fast enough to make the jump and not crash into the water. And he did it!

Today I did not jump any rivers, and I definitely did not go 93 mph, but I did accomplish one thing: I completed week 9 of the Couch-to-5K program. Nine weeks, 27 workouts.

I won’t even go into the details of the run today, except this synopsis: it was COLD… I jogged… I hate the big hill… I forced myself not to stop on at least two occasions… I felt pretty good on a couple other occasions… I cleared two miles and thought, if it wasn’t so cold and so hilly around here, I might run farther… I encountered My Personal Mental Block which rises like a wall before me at about 2.5 miles… I stopped jogging and after checking my time I saw that I had indeed run a little over 30 minutes… and thus ended Week 9, Day 3.

My running pace is, has been, and seems to remain for the immediate future, almost exactly 5mph.

And now, even though I am by no means the valedictorian of my C25K graduating class, I would like to deliver a very special commencement address to each of us who are moving our tassels from one side of the mortarboard to the other… and it is entitled:

Things You Should Know About Jogging, Especially If You Are A Cow.

  1. There is no shame in jogging slowly. Take it from me, the one who is blistering the asphalt with a hot 12-minute mile. That crackle you hear is not the sound of eggs frying in my footprints… it’s more likely the sound of my joints. But hey… I’m doing it. And thanks to the well-conceived structure of this training program, I’m doing it for about 30 minutes at a time now. A far cry from where I began, when jogging 60 seconds was a challenge.
  2. Don’t look at the top of the hill. I learned this first from my experience with riding my bike in the Kentucky countryside around my home. If you look up the hill to see where you have to get to, it can be disheartening to the point where you might quit. But, if you keep your head down and focus on the pavement immediately before you, you won’t see the incline and it’s easier to forge ahead.
  3. Find a running buddy. Or three or four. I admit that it can be hard to find someone to physically run with you, whose schedule and pace are similar to your own… and for the most part, it’s probably easier for me to run alone. BUT… find someone else who runs that you can talk about your workouts with. And in the case of C25K, it’s easy enough to go online and find several others who are doing the program on the same schedule as you. Even though we’ve never met, it’s been fun keeping up with Vicki, Elizabeth, Celeste, and others who are all in the Facebook C25K group. Also, if it weren’t for them, there would probably be nobody reading this little blog 🙂
  4. It’s OK if it’s not your favorite thing. While I do enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after a jogging workout is over, I’m not ready to say that running is my new favorite pastime. But, it’s something I can do, that I know is good for me, that doesn’t require special equipment or gym memberships to accomplish. Some days I like it better than others. I wonder sometimes how much more enjoyable it might be when the weather is warmer in the spring or summer. I can’t wait to find out.

I’ve had several people ask me, “Laura, you’ve completed Couch-to-5K, what’s next for you?” I would answer “I’m going to Disney World!” except that I already did that last year. So here’s a more accurate answer: I don’t know! I’ve “graduated” from the training program as far as jogging time is concerned, but I’ve still got a little way to go before I attain the full 5K distance.

For now, I plan to continue jogging at least 3 times a week, in hopes of increasing my speed (yeah, right) or my endurance (more likely) to the point of jogging a full 5K without stopping.  If I accomplish that, then I might look into “Gateway to 8K,” or something similar.

Or, I might just bask in the glory of being a 5K runner for a good while. And what would be wrong with that? Because, as you may recall, 9 weeks ago I couldn’t jog one minute without wanting to stop for a nap. And it was embarrassing, having to make sure that there were pillows and blankets strewn about the park, so that I had plenty of places to pull over and doze.

NOW I just need the one pillow, and I can keep it in the car. Much less humiliating!

___

Congratulations to all my fellow C25Kers who are graduating today or this weekend. A HUGE shout-out goes to Vicki Capone, a cyber friend whom I met on Facebook, who lives back in my old stomping grounds of Montgomery County, Maryland. She graduated today by running a 5k with an amazing time of 32:29! Thanks for being a faithful blog reader, Vicki, and congrats on posting such a great time on your race. I think I hate you. 😉

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JogBlog: Week 9, Day 2

December 30, 2009

We’re in the home stretch!

I didn’t completely finish the workout today. But, I came pretty close and I’m not too concerned with coming in a little short. For one thing, I spent 3+ hours this morning putting away Christmas decorations at my church. This involved — and I’m just estimating here — something like 1.2 million trips up and down two flights of stairs (one to the second floor, one more up to the attic). And those trips up and down were done bearing seven Christmas trees, six cinder blocks, fi-i-i-i-ive million bows , four hundred flowers, three thousand lights, two wooden tables and o-o-one Baby Jesus. 🙂 Amen.

So anyway, after my three-hour workout at church this morning, I didn’t feel too badly about crediting some of that sweat as time served this afternoon.

My husband wanted to jog with me again, and so did Brody, so we all headed out of the house at about 2:45. I decided to try running the neighborhood again, but this time I thought we’d take a different route that we have walked many, many times in the past. The mileage was about right, and even though I knew there would be a lot of hills I decided it was worth a try.

The beginning was the same as on Monday, with a couple good-sized hills early on. As we continued with the new route, we got to add another even bigger hill (down and then UP) before turning and leveling out somewhat. I just listened to the music, noting when each song finished and estimating the time remaining in the run.

We jogged past the house of someone we know, and I hoped that they were not looking out the windows just then. If they were, I’m sure I’ll hear about it soon. Something like “hey! I saw you guys walking past our house the other day… or maybe you were jogging. Were you walking or jogging?”

On some of the quieter streets, I jogged on the sidewalk while Glenn jogged a few feet away on the asphalt with the dog at his side. I got a good look at Brody while I was running and I am sorry to say that he was barely trotting. Not breaking a sweat. Just sort of speed-walking along while we were huffing and puffing and trying not to keel over.

I knew we were past halfway, probably into about the 18th or 19th minute, and we were on a straightway with a very slight uphill incline… and I told Glenn I needed to walk a minute. I’ve pushed through worse, but right then I just wanted to walk briefly. I am sure I walked for a minute or less, caught my breath a bit, and started jogging again. So there was a mini-fail in there somewhere… but again… lots of stair climbing this morning. For three hours. Is all I’m saying.

So we kept jogging, and I had an choice of direction at one point… one way would be a little longer and would for sure get us the mileage we needed for a full 30 minute workout, and the other way was a little shorter and I knew we might be cutting it close (ending the run a shade early).  I chose the shorter route today. In my mind, I had just resorted to walking once, I was tired and still thinking about all those stairs from this morning, and I just wanted to get back to the house and be done. Not in a giving up kind of way. Just an “I-don’t-want-to-do-anything-extra-today” kind of way.

We turned onto a street where, when we walk this route, we usually race each other for the distance of one certain block. I contemplated sprinting at that spot, but again…. STAIRS. The memory of stairs.

We turned a corner and jogged past the house of another family that we know well. I’m pretty sure there was no one home at the time, looking out the windows at us. At least I hope so.

Finally we are ready to turn onto the main road through our subdivision. At this point we are at the top of a long hill, so I got to enjoy a little relief while coasting down for a few minutes. We are maybe half a mile away from our house. I can tell from what point I am at in the play list that we are going to finish a little short of 30 minutes. I do not care.

Now… the finish. Before we can get back to the house, where I can finally sit down and relax and stretch a bit and only go up and down stairs if I choose to, we have to go UP one more hill. And this particular hill is one that I hate. I hate it even when walking, because it isn’t very long but it is fairly steep. It’s a hill that I have tried conquering in different ways over the years: walking slowly, jogging, and even sprinting (to get it over with quickly?). But each of those methods usually results in me keeling over at the top, trying to catch my breath long enough to yell “HEELLLLLP” to whomever will listen. AND to make things even more fun, the way you get to this hill is that you are already jogging up a little incline, and then you have to turn 90º and face the monster. I think there is almost nothing worse than climbing a hill, starting to feel tired, and then having to turn and continue to climb up more of a hill. Are you with me?

So we get to the turn, and I head up the hill, and I’m jogging very slowly and steadily. I’m looking down at the sidewalk so I don’t see how far I have to climb. I’m wondering if I can jog slowly enough to survive the hill and stretch this run out for the full 30 minutes… I’m maybe 1/10 of a mile from the house, but it seems so far away…

Meanwhile, Glenn and Brody have gone onto the street and are trotting up the hill at a nice, even clip. It could be because they didn’t spend their morning schlepping boxes up and down stairs. Or, it could be because they don’t care about me. I can’t guess.

I finally reach the top, and turn toward my house… just 3 houses away… going a little bit downhill now… realizing that the music isn’t going to be over when I get there… just wanting to be home… .. watching as Glenn releases Brody’s leash and lets him run like a greyhound toward the kids who are playing in our front yard… and then I reach our driveway!

Whew!

I check my iPod and see that I’m about two minutes away from the end of the music. Which means about a minute and a half away from the actual 30-minute mark. And if you factor in my brief walking sojourn, I’m guessing that I jogged a total time of 27:30.

Good enough.

One more day left in 2010, and one more workout for me to complete the ninth and final week of Couch-to-5K. I’m still not reaching the 5K distance, but I know I can jog about 30 minutes at a time, which is a far cry from where I was at the beginning of November! Now I can either work on getting faster, or jogging a little longer to reach the 5K distance.

But right now, it’s time to sit down. Or lie down…. somewhere that is a good distance away from the nearest flight of stairs.

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JogBlog: Week 9, Day 1

December 28, 2009

Thanks to Elizabeth, Celeste, Judy, Kathy, Susan, Joy, Angela, Brigitte, Laura, Randy, Tim, Kate, and anyone else I’ve missed who left a comment here or messaged me on facebook or through email after my less-than-inspiring workout on Saturday. You guys are great! Thanks for the encouragement.

We had a light dusting of snow last night, and it was COLD this morning… I think about 20º, with a high barely expected to hit freezing.

My husband wanted to jog with me today. He is always very encouraging to me about my jogging, and he also is one of these people who can just get up and jog however long you tell him to, without any training or preparation. I know. He has been sitting patiently in the wings for many weeks while I slowly progressed through the C25K program. He had a little foot injury some weeks back that kept him from jogging while he rested it and made sure it wasn’t anything serious. But today he was ready to jog with me again… and I was glad to have the company, especially after Saturday’s disappointment!

I did a couple new things today. First, I decided to try running the neighborhood streets instead of the park, just for a change of scenery and to keep the mind fresh. As much as I love the park, I have wondered if part of my trouble sometimes is too much familiarity… and associating certain parts of the track with certain things, good or bad, that might get me off my game. So today I thought I’d risk the unfamiliar, not to mention a sure increase in the number of hills I’d be climbing, and just hit the streets.

Second, I created a new custom play list to go along with a 30-minute run. I didn’t include warm-up or cool-down songs… just songs to listen to while I jogged and to help me know when time was up. And today I wanted an all-Chicago play list! So, here it is, with times listed after each song:

  • Beginnings  6:26
  • Make Me Smile  4:28
  • Dialogue Pts. 1&2 5:00
  • Old Days 3:33
  • Saturday in the Park  3:55
  • Another Rainy Day in New York City  3:01
  • Feelin’ Stronger Every Day  4:14

Total time, according to iTunes, is 30:35. So, whoohooo! Bonus time if I get all the way to the end!

A note about the play list… these are not necessarily all the most fast-paced or peppy songs, but over all they are upbeat, and most importantly… I like them and want to listen to them. They can definitely help me pass time. They seem to work well with my regular running pace.

So we started out and we had Brody with us again. Poor dog had no idea what boredom he was in for. We agreed that we didn’t need a full 5-minute warm-up, so we briskly walked about 3 or 3 1/2 minutes to the end of our street and then started jogging. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when it’s cold like this I just want to get running. After all, it’s not like I exactly blast through the starting gate when it’s time to start jogging. The cool-down is something worth taking more time with, in my opinion…

Now, I’m dealing with an entirely new topography today. So we start out heading down a hill for maybe 1/10th of a mile, and then sure enough, we head UP a pretty sizeable hill right off the bat. My neighborhood is full of hills. It’s great for walking. I wonder if there is some way to pit the size of all the people’s calves who live in my neighborhood against the calves of other neighborhoods around here. I bet we’d win.

So we’re down one hill and up another, and then we head down AGAIN so we can immediately start climbing a second, longer/bigger hill. I’m glad that it’s early in the run, but I’m already hating these hills and getting tired.

Brody is trotting along with Glenn, watching and wondering why he only gets to go cow-speed when he really wants to go dog-speed.

As we crest that big hill there is a turn at the top of it that we need to take. Funny how when you drive these roads in the car, you don’t notice the hills so much. I would have said that this part of the road after the turn was relatively flat… until I was running on it. Now I realize that we haven’t crested that big hill at all, we are still climbing, just in a different direction! So the first 1/2 mile or more is largely uphill.

It is cold and there is wind. My legs are cold through my running tights. Note to self: get another pair of tights! My face is cold and I’m hoping that my lips don’t get too chapped.

We are running on a sidewalk in an area that has been cleared out for new construction, but there are only a couple random houses in the process of being built right now. It’s a bleak and muddy landscape, and there are no trees or anything to block any wind. Then we reach a place where we get to jog downhill for a little bit, which is good because I am still struggling a bit to get into a groove.

We approach a fairly quiet intersection, and Glenn asks which way we should go (we had discussed a couple different possibilities before starting). I choose the direction which involves the least amount of interaction with other people or cars. No need for everyone to see me loping along and possibly giving up if it gets too tough! At this point we are in the midst of song #2, and I know that at the end of the third song we will be more than halfway through our 30-minute run. I’m glad for that, but at the same time, that halfway mark still seems a little distant. Glenn says I’m doing great, and I reply with something like “uughhhh.”  It seemed the proper word choice at the time.

We make another turn that will take us on a nice level stretch of road for a while. I am thankful for the chance to catch my breath and find a nice rhythm… we are heading toward a dead-end that I think is going to be come very close to being the half-way point of our run. And sure enough, as we run out of road and turn to head back, the third song is wrapping up with the repeated refrain of “we can make it happen, yeah… we can make it happen… we can make it happen, yeah… we can make it happen…”

OK, 16 minutes down and we’re on a stretch of level road! Suddenly I think that I just may be able to pull this off today. As we approach about the 1 1/2 mile mark, I ask Glenn how he’s doing and he says it doesn’t get any worse than this… which was a slightly odd way to say that the hardest part was behind us.

Brody continues to trot along. I have a feeling he is not the least bit tired.

We turn back off the level road and now we are heading downhill. The wind is at our back. And for a few minutes I am sort of on cruise control… moving forward without too much effort. It’s nice, but it won’t last forever.

The intersection happens to be a little busier when we pass through the second time. We are able to stay out of the way of any cars successfully until we are just crossing to the other side, and a lady is waiting to turn left at the intersection. Clearly, she needs to just turn and get out of our way before we reach her. That would be such a simple solution. I wave frantically to signal her to please turn. TURN LADY TURN. I mean, we are jogging right toward her, we have made eye contact, and she can see us clearly through the windshield. If she would just go ahead and turn we would not even have to break stride.

Mysteriously, she waits… maybe she didn’t know that me waving my hand and pointing in the direction she was turning meant that she should GO, GO NOW, PLEASE GO BEFORE I GET THERE… but she waits and waits and then finally she turns. Thank you!

We head up another little hill now, and I look over at one of the under-construction houses and see that some workmen are there, and they have started a fire. Giant orange flames are shooting up and they are standing around it. I don’t know if the fire is related to some work they are doing, or if they just built it to get warm… but I would have enjoyed jogging over and standing by it for a while just then…

although I will say that my hands were feeling kind of warm at that point, so that I actually took off my gloves and stuffed them in my pockets. It was still cold and windy, but my hands were getting hot in the gloves. Funny how that can be.

Now we are heading downhill… down the same long, huge hill that almost killed me when we were just getting started. It’s nice to feel like I can speed up a little bit for a while. I’m still no speed demon, but there are times when I feel a little lighter on my feet than others.

We’re just about to the home stretch now. As the last song (appropriately titled, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day”) begins, I let Glenn know that we are close. But now we have to face one more good-sized hill before we can finish.

For a brief moment, I consider stopping a little early. Maybe just do 25 or 27 minutes instead of 30. Seems close enough. But I really wanted to press on and finish the whole workout today.

“And knowing that you would have wanted it this way… I do believe I’m feeling stronger every day…. yeah yeah yeah!”

That last hill. It’s a killer. It’s not what I wanted to do. I look at the sidewalk as I forge ahead. I know Glenn and Brody are right behind me. I know if I just make the top I get to turn and hit a little level spot….

The song is starting to wind down. We hit the level part of the road. I’m ready to be done. I know the whole song all the way to the end will give me an extra 35 seconds of running past the 30 minutes. But I don’t really know how much of the song is left. I don’t want to cheat.

We turn onto our street. We have just passed the point where we began jogging in the first place. I know the end has to be close now. I’m listening to Chicago repeat the chorus… “feelin’ stronger every day… you know I’m all right now… feelin’ stronger every day… you know I’m all right now…”

And then the music fades off. Glenn is a few steps behind me somewhere. I want to yell out that it’s the end but I’m a little out of breath just then. It takes every bit of my energy to raise my arms above my head as the last notes of the music disappear. I stop jogging. I turn to look for Glenn.

He’s jogging by with Brody. He says “are we done?” and I say YES and he says “you didn’t say anything!” and I tell him I raised my hands over my head, that was the best I could do.

Then I tell him to WAIT UP so I can grab onto him and maybe he can drag me up the rest of this little hill we are on as we head back to our house. 🙂

I’m breathing very heavily, and maybe… just maybe… I might want to puke, just a little tiny bit. But that passes and then I’m just panting like normal.

My breathing recovers over the next 50 yards or so, and as we get closer to the house Glenn lets Brody off his leash so he can run ahead of us to where our son is playing in the front yard.

And the dog takes off like a bullet down the street. With all the energy in the world.

Show-off.