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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MN Trip: The Non-Running

I figure I'll divide my posts up about our recent trip to MN into "running" and "non-running." That way, it's not one, giant post. Although, I suspect both will still be long, so forgive the length.

The Travel
Flying with Norah was, on the whole, good. She did pretty well on the plane, especially considering we didn't have a direct flight either way. She mostly slept, and while she did fuss a bit, it wasn't for long and it wasn't terribly disruptive. I think giving her some Baby Tylenol beforehand helped a bit.

Also, all of our flights ran on time, and every other matter concerning travel -- parking, shuttles, rental car, hotel reservations -- went smoothly and we had no hiccups. Still, despite how easily everything went, it still made both Friday and Monday very long days. This is Norah and I on one of our flights: In addition, Norah had a tough weekend. For one thing, she's starting to experience some separation anxiety, which is normal for her age, so that means she's extra clinging with Jerry and I. So even though we had tons of family around who wanted to take care of her and hold her and play with her, she didn't want to go to them, which is a complete 180 from how she was when we visited with everyone back in May. For another, she didn't seem to be feeling well and her nose has been running for a week. And lastly, perhaps because of the travel itself and being in a strange place and having her routine upset, she didn't sleep or eat well. In fact, the only way we could get her to sleep was if she slept with us, and even then, her sleep was restless and she woke up multiple times each night.

Plus, Saturday night, which was the wedding, she was supposed to stay the night with my MIL, but Norah was having such a terrible time that my MIL actually drove her back to our hotel at midnight. So, that sucked because Jerry and I had been looking forward to the night without Norah so we could sleep in in the morning, but no dice there.

So, on the whole, all 3 of us were exhausted throughout the weekend.

The Wedding
Was really lovely. I was busy all day Saturday helping to get ready and then getting ready myself -- since I was a bridesmaid -- but the day felt joyful and celebratory, and it was so cute seeing my brother so nervous and anxious for his nuptials. I kid you not that he was dressed in his tux at about 9 am. I had to basically force him to eat a turkey sandwich at noon because I was worried that with nothing in his stomach, he'd pass out during his vows.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful and blessedly short, and the reception was a lot of fun. The hotel where they had the event was beautiful, and we had a lot of fun eating, drinking and dancing the night away. My family all got along well; even though there's no cure for awkwardness, we all managed to have fun together. Plus, it was wonderful for me to get to see some family that I haven't seen in a few years: like my grandfather and my youngest brother.

Here's me and my two brothers: Sam, on the left, just got home from Iraq a few weeks ago, and Matt, on the right, was the groom.
Here's Jerry and I at the reception:
And me and Matt (groom) at the reception:
Also, I managed to be pretty well-behaved and didn't overindulge on the liquor, which was especially good since Norah was returned to us earlier than we expected.

Other Visiting
On Sunday, we got to go see some of Jerry's family and hang out with them for the afternoon, and despite the fact that Norah was a Crab Apple for most of the afternoon, this was probably the most relaxing few hours of our trip. And, the most exciting part of that afternoon? Norah got to have a swatch of her hair dyed pink!
My SIL is a hair stylist and owns her own salon, so she gave Norah a little pink chunk of hair. So, Norah may not have had her hair cut yet, but she has had her first foil! The pink will wash out in a few weeks, but we have gotten SO many comments on her pink 'do.
What can Norah say? She's a cool chick.
So, those are the highlights. We got home last night, and we were all relieved to be back. Now, today it's back to work and back to routine. Which is a good thing!

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Back!

We got home this evening from our long weekend in MN. Overall, the trip was good, and we had a wonderful time seeing so much of our family, but the weekend was also challenging and stressful, so I'm happy to be home!

Also, I did manage to get all my running in, so the streak lives on!
More on everything in upcoming posts. For now, I'm pooped and SO ready to go to bed. But, to tide you over a bit, here's a picture of Norah entertaining herself during our layover in Atlanta: Apparently, it's all kinds of good fun to dump out the contents of Mom's purse!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Bags Are Packed / I'm Ready To Go

All set for our trip to MN tomorrow, but while I'm excited to go, I also feel anxious about the trip. Let me break down the mixed emotions:

I'm excited because:
  • It's going to be Norah's first airplane ride, and even though traveling with her is gonna be more complicated than the old days of just Jerry and I, I'm looking forward to her new experience.
  • I get to see all my family, and some of my family members haven't even met Norah yet: My youngest brother just came home from a deployment in Iraq a few weeks ago, so this will be the first time he sees her, and my grandfather, who lives in Denver, will also meet her for the first time.
  • I get to see all of Jerry's family. I enjoy my in-law family, and it'll be fun to see everyone.
  • I get to see my brother get married and be a part of his wedding. A few years ago, I never thought my brother would be the kind of person to get married, but I guess he just needed to find the right person, and I'm so happy for him. He and his wife-to-be seem like a good fit, and I'm so happy to see him get to enjoy and celebrate that kind of companionship.

However, I'm anxious about:

  • The traveling. Flying with Norah adds a few extra logistics, and in general, I don't fly that well. I am really sensitive to motion and have to take Dramamine to fly. Plus, flying always seems to leave me with lingering vertigo for a few days.
  • Seeing all my family. I love my family, I do, but they're like that TV show "Modern Family" -- but not funny. Just thinking of having my mom and dad in the same room together makes me want to crawl into a cave, close my eyes, and wait until it's over. Granted, that's just me blowing things out of proportion: My parents have been divorced for 30 years and have always behaved with nothing but respect, dignity and poise, yet it is the eternal curse of the child of divorce to cringe when thinking of those two people within close proximity of each other. There are other strained relationships here as well, but it would take too long to explain it all. Just know this: The forecast for me drinking too much is HIGH.
  • Organizing the visits with everyone when we are only in the state for about 60 hours. Needless to say, it involves a lot of driving back and forth, and as of late, a lot of calls that go: "Well, we'll be there between 9 am and 11 am, and then we'll be here between 11 am and 1 pm, and then..." It doesn't make it any easier now that Jerry's parents are also divorced. It feels like we have 4 families to see instead of 2!

But, I'm sure everything will be fine, and if it's not, I'm sure it will be comical a few years from now. That, or I'll drink enough champagne to blot out the bad stuff :)

So, I'll probably be MIA for the next 4 days: Don't cry, I'll be back. And hopefully, I'll be able to report that not only was the entire trip great but that I also managed to maintain the streak. Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mama Goes Masters Virtual Race Report

Last night, I stepped out into the thick, steamy air for my planned four miler for MCM Mama's Virtual Race.

Seriously, it was humid. The temperature itself wasn't too bad, and it was overcast, so that helped as well, but the humidity? My god, the humidity! We've had a lot of rain lately, so the air outside is so humid that, honest-to-god, when I walk out the door, my sunglasses fog over. Not great for running, but at this point in the summer, I kinda feel like high heat and humidity are old news.

I was solo for my run, so I hoped to be able to push myself to be a little faster, and while I did manage to be faster than I am with the stroller, I certainly wasn't speedy. What was funny, though, is that I passed this guy who was walking, and then when I turned around at the halfway point, I passed him again on my way home, and he turned to me and commented: "Whoa! That was fast!" I guess it's all relative, right?

So, here are the final digits: 4 miles in 40:10.

It's certainly not my best "race" performance for a 4 miler, but it's the best I can do right now. Thanks for hosting MCM Mama, and happy birthday!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Are You?

Thanks for the comments on yesterday's post. I know everything that needs to get done this week will get done, and already, between yesterday and today, I've been able to cross quite a bit off my "to do" list, and that's always satisfying and helps me feel a little less overwhelmed.

I don't have much that's exciting today, but as you know, yesterday was my first day of the term, and my students didn't fail in your expectations to have a "weird one or two." Most interesting anecdote? As follows:

After class, students typically stay and speak with me about a variety of concerns or questions, and after my last class, I had a young woman who was standing there with the others and when it was her turn to approach me, she asked simply: "What are you?"

At first, I honestly had no clue what she meant by her question. "What are you?" Was she being practical or existential? With such a perplexing question, I think you'll admire my incredibly astute follow up question: "What?"

She answered: "I mean, what race or ethnicity are you?"

Me: "I'm white."

Her: "Oh, okay." And then she trotted out the door satisfied, apparently, with my response.

Now, here I sit in my office, a full day later, and I am still puzzling over this question. I don't think I've been asked that (except on government forms and job applications), and I have especially never been asked that by a student. I've had students ask a whole rainbow of personal questions, from "How old are you?" to "Are you married?" And I got a whole host of oddball questions and comments when I was visibly pregnant with Norah, but I've never had this one before.

Ahhh, students! They make my life, and job, interesting! "What are you?" Indeed: What am I?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Madness

I feel as though the past few weeks have already been busy, but this week, and then about the entire month of September, is gonna be a particularly busy one.

So, what's on deck?

1. Today is the first day of the fall term. My classes this week will actually be easy to teach, but the first week is always madness in terms of students -- students who want in to already full classes, students from 3 terms ago who suddenly pop up and want to request a grade change, students from last term who want a last minute letter of recommendation, etc. The start of the term is exciting, but it's also just a bit stressful.

2. Getting ready for our trip to MN this weekend. We leave on Friday to spend the weekend in the Twin Cities for my brother's wedding -- which, thinking about this weekend is a different kind of stress (more on that later this week). It's going to be fun, but planning everything that needs to get done for us to be ready and for us to fly (Norah's first airplane ride!) is a bit daunting. The "to do" list includes: picking up dry cleaning, getting my nails done, buying the gift, last minute shopping for a few items, packing, and cleaning. I kinda feel as though I need a personal assistant for all this!

3. Still working on that bathroom, and we're at a point where the countertops need to be ordered and, at some point this week, the tile people are supposed to come and measure and give us an estimate. It's good to begin to see it coming together, but right now, it feels like just one more thing weighing on us.

4. Through all of this upcoming stuff, I want to manage to continue the streak, and I think that thinking of how I'm gonna fit that in over the weekend is also kinda freaking me out. In reality, I know that if the streak ends because I can't find the time to run during my brother's wedding weekend, it's not the end of the world. I do have a sense of priority and I know that spending time with family is more important than running. But, dammit, I'm at 64 consecutive days, and I really don't want it to end now! So, I have constructed a plan for fitting in my runs, but it's probably gonna involve some very early morning running. Oh well, sleep is over-rated, right?

So, that's it. I know it'll all get done and everything will be fine, but for some reason, I woke up this morning feeling a bit grumpy and panicky. Like all of a sudden, I realized there was a crapload of stuff all converging at once. Thankfully, my morning's 3 miler with Norah helped ease my anxiety somewhat, but I'm still kinda wound tight today.

Sorry, for the mind-dump. But I do feel a bit better laying it all out there. And, perhaps, I need to stop drinking coffee now ;)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Of Side Stitches and Six Milers

A few of you asked yesterday what causes side stitches (I'd mentioned they'd been plaguing my recent runs), and like you, I wasn't entirely sure. I was pretty sure it was from shallow breathing, and this makes sense in my case because I am still really congested from the cold I had earlier in the week. And I can tell when I run that my breathing is really affected by the congestion, and I certainly haven't felt as though I have been able to draw really effective, deep breaths while I run.

Anyway, that was my personal conclusion this morning when I ran my 6 miler and again was plagued by side stitches in miles 2-3. I ran through them, as I did in the previous days, and I tried to just focus on slowing down, breathing as deeply and evenly as possible, and I was able to run through the discomfort and finish my full 6 miles. Still, they were slow miles.

For me, this kind of congestion almost always follows even a mild cold, like the one I had earlier in the week. I may only be sick for a day or two, but then, typically, I have massive mucus for a week or two following. I always figure I just have to allow it to run it's course, but perhaps I should be taking something to help thin the mucus -- anyone ever used products like Mussinex? If so, helpful?

Anyhoo...back to my theory on side stitches...so, after my run, I investigated side stitches as any self-respecting academic would: I Googled it. Turns out, my theory was correct! Side stitches while running typically are caused by shallow breathing because side stitches are the result of spasmed contractions of the diaphram. So, to avoid them, you should always aim to breath deeply and evenly while running -- which I do. When I don't have a head full of boogers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Few Things Friday

I had two crappy runs the past two days: A solo 4 miler last night and a 3 miler with Norah this morning. During both runs, I had similar feelings of crappiness, mainly fatigue and side stitches (which, I haven't had a side stitch in I don't know how long). Both runs were incredibly slow and somewhat demoralizing.

I can probably attribute such poor performance to several things: inadequate hydration, poor nutrition, hormones, still recovering from being sick, stress, and the toll of the streak itself. Could be one of these things, but is most likely a combination of them. It's disheartening to have two bad runs in a row, but I'm gonna try to not dwell on them. They got done, and that counts for something.

On a lighter note, for "Foto Friday," I figured I'd share these blurry cell phones pics with you. See, Norah still isn't a big fan of shoes, but she accepts that she has to wear them to daycare. But, first thing she does on the way home? Take 'em off! Yesterday, we weren't even a block away from DC, when I could hear the familiar sound of her undoing the velcro. Then, the "thunk" of one shoe hitting the floor, and a few minutes later, "thunk," the other shoe had literally dropped.
After she gets her shoes off, she starts working on the socks, but we typically get home before she peels them off. I understand her desire to be un-shod: You gotta let them doggies air!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fall Race Plans

After the drought that is the South Florida racing calendar that is May through August, to scan the fall/winter race options is a bit like being on a diet and standing in front of a scrumptious buffet: I want everything!

However, I have to temper my plans and carefully select races that I really want to do; otherwise, it would be tempting to race every weekend, and I think both my family and my checking account would object. So, after some careful consideration and mindful planning, I unveil for your pleasure: Jess' Fall Race Plans -- ta-da!

October 17: A1A 15K
Technically, this is a "training run" for the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Road Racing Club that they host every year to kick start the SoFlo marathon training season, but it's a timed course, you have to pay to register, you get a shirt and a bib, and they provide course refreshments, so I consider it a race. I ran it 4 years ago when I was kicking off my Disney Marathon training, and it was the first 15K I'd ever run, and I believe maybe even the first time I'd run that distance period.

October 31: Miami Beach Halloween Half Marathon
This is a new race in South Florida (last year was the race's inaugural year), and it will be my first time running it, so it will be entirely new to me. The course map looks scenic and the after-race food is supposed to be awesome. Plus, go check out the medal! Pretty dang cool.

November 13: The Key Biscayne 10K
This 10K was my first post-Norah race last year, and I really enjoyed it. Plus, I like 10Ks and there are so few of them around here (it seems like many former 10Ks are getting re-made into half marathons these days), so the chance to run a "rare-breed" race is one I like to take advantage of. Plus, once you read my next race plan, you'll see how this fits into a grander scheme.

November 14: Ft. Lauderdale 13.1
Yup, I am going to try and achieve a mini-version of Disney's Goofy challenge. My version is half the distance of Goofy: 10K on Saturday and Half Marathon on Sunday. When I told Jerry about this plan, he remarked: "So does this mean you're just 'part Goofy'?" Guess so.

November 25: Tamarac Turkey Trot 5K
For me, this is the only 5K worth doing. It's become a Thanksgiving Day tradition for me and I've run it the past 5 years in a row. And how could I not? The course goes right by my front door and the start line is literally a block away. Best race location ever. This year, I think I am going to push Norah in the stroller and try to con Jerry into running it as well (it is our 5 year wedding anniversary afterall, and it's romantic to sweat together, right?). Thus, I hope to make this year's "trot" a family affair!

December 12: Weston Half Marathon
Yeah, I just can't help myself: I have to go for the trifecta of half marathons, so I can round out the year with half a dozen of these bad boys (one of these years, I'd like to race 12 HMs in a year -- one a month -- but to do so, requires a hefty travel budget to fit races in April-Sept and right now, there's no immediate forecast for that kind of travel moola). I've never run this race before, but I have run this course before since I used to run in Weston when I trained for the Chicago Marathon in 2007, so the course is familiar. That's about the only advantage, because otherwise, this course is bor-ing! (Oh, but it is also very cheap: Just $35! A bargain race!)

So, that's the plan, yo. When I told Jerry of my schedule, his response was: "I think you are focusing way too much on running. You should be directing more of your energy toward your fantasy football team."

His opinion.

But if I totally suck at fantasy football, at least I can blame running for taking up my time. Anyhoo...I haven't assembled a training schedule yet, but that's my next task. Doing so is a teeny-bit tricky because I plan to try and continue streaking while training (if I can manage it), but I'll be honest: I'm a mostly "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of girl so I'm not worried -- it'll work out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to School

This morning, Norah and I were up a bit early, so we were ready to run by 7:15. I figured with the extra start, we'd do an extra mile, so instead of 3 miles, we did 4. It was an incredibly sweaty 4 miler (the temp wasn't all that bad, but the humidity? whoa, lordy, it was thick out there!), but it was nice to sneak in the extra mile.

Aside from the morning's run, the big event of the day was the return to school: For both Norah and I. My classes don't resume until Monday, but today was the start of the term for faculty, so I needed to be on campus (and I really needed that office time because I had done zero term planning before today). My return to school means Norah's return to school, so today was her first day back at daycare, and her very first day in "the big girl room" (aka, the toddler one room).No, she didn't wear the above outfit to school today. Goodness, I put her in pants! But a jersey and diaper are perfect for chillin at home ;)

In the big girl room, they sit in little chairs and eat their lunch at a table, they take their naps on little cots instead of cribs, they learn to wash their hands, and eventually learn to use the little toilet (if a toilet can be cute, this toilet is SO darn cute!), they wear their shoes, and they run around and play and do big kid stuff. Pretty exciting for a fresh faced 1 year old!

Admittedly this transition filled me with mixed emotions today: I am excited to start the fall term (my favorite "school time" is this time of year), and I do like being able to drop her off and go to work (where I can go to the bathroom alone!), it was still tough for me to drop her off and leave her. I was fine at the drop off, gave her a simple kiss and hug goodbye, but once I got out to the car, I choked up a bit. I figured it's fine to have a tear or two, and I'm sure every fall is gonna greet me with the same emotions, so I may as well accept them.

Norah? She was fine. She hardly noticed I left her; she was too engrossed in the yummy lunch they'd placed in front of her (I drop her off at noon). And when I picked her up at 4, she gave me a quick smile and wave "hello," but then she returned to the fascinatingly new toy she was engrossed in. Her attitude seemed to say, "Oh, you're here? That's nice. I'm gonna keep playin' with this."

All in all, we both had a good first day back: She slept and ate well while at daycare, and seemed to l-o-v-e the stimulatingly different environment; and I had a productive afternoon getting my course's syllabi ready. I can't believe the summer is already over, but the next few months are my favorite time of year, so there's lots to look forward to: Football, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and...

...cooler weather, which means: Racing season is nearly upon us!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Sickness and In Health

Last night, I took a decongestant around 9 pm, then got in bed with my book. An hour later, I was out. Like, out, out. Gotta love the power of pharmaceuticals: I slept like a rock and because it was Jerry's morning with Norah, I slept solidly until 6:45.

Of course, the downside to taking a decongestant is that while I sleep well, I always wake feel groggy and like my head has been stuffed with cotton balls. Thankfully, the perfect remedy for that is a quick run, so once I'd had my coffee and was dressed, Norah and I went for a 3 miler, and when we finished, I did feel like the lingering effects of the drug had worn off, and in general, I felt better.

I still feel and sound stuffy today, but on the whole, I feel worlds better than I did yesterday.

Do you run when you're sick?

Personally, I usually go by the "neck up" rule, but everyone seems to have their own set of syptoms of feelings that dictate if they run or don't run while feeling under the weather.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finding the Good

This evening, it seemed that there were a lot of factors conspiring against my planned run: It was pouring rain, I have been feeling sick (it's not much, just a head cold, but I still feel a bit run-down and fatigued), and then to add insult to injury: my iPod died. But, I was still determined to get out and run, mostly because we had 2 movies to return to Blockbuster Express, and I had to get the movies back before 7 pm.

At 6:15, the rain seemed to be abating, so I slipped into my running stuff, grabbed the movies and headed out the door. Admittedly, I wasn't in a great mood: Like I said, I haven't been feeling well today, I was pissed that my iPod was among the dearly departed, and it wasn't entirely done raining. Well, my mood didn't improve in the first mile: I got splashed by a careless motorist who splashed through a lake-sized puddle at 40 mph and I got hit by a tsunami of rain water; plus, on my way to the store, I had to wade through ankle-deep puddles while running in a steady rain.

A mile later, there I stood -- dripping and grumpy at the grocery store returning my movies. After my video return, I had a simple choice: Take the easy 1 mile back and just call it good with 2 miles for the day, or take the rest of my planned route and run the additional 2.2 miles that would loop around and also bring me back home for a total of 3.2 miles.

I chose option #2, and just like Robert Frost declared, that made all the difference.

Option #2 took me off the busy street and through the quieter residential area, and in those 2 miles several things happened, none of them significant, but each one meaningful in its own small way: Without the iPod, I allowed my thoughts to just drift and it felt good to mull and dwell on a few things that have been cluttering my brain as of late; my congestion cleared a bit and I could breath comfortably; and the rain slowed to a light, almost refreshing, drizzle.

Those 2.2 miles made me think of the back of this Goldfish package: Cheesy, yes, but it is true sometimes: It can be tough to find the good in a situation that seems frustrating and annoying. But, there I was, squishing through my run in wet shoes and socks, and I didn't feel bad -- instead, I felt good.

Granted, now that I'm home and not running, my nose has returned to being a snot faucet, and Jerry just walked in and informed me that while he was sawing a piece of cabinet for the bathroom, he accidentally knocked a chunk out of our bed...but, I'm trying to see the good. Hmmm...the good here? Well...it's good that Norah can sleep through the sound of a table saw in the next room, right?! Also, I foresee some Nyquil, my book and my now damaged bed in the near future :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Streakin Injury Free

Some of you have left comments in the past few weeks asking how I've avoided injury during my streak (currently at 55 days), or if I have any tips for avoiding injury during a streak. And, honestly? I do not feel qualified to dole out advice on this one, and I'm not sure if my current methods have actually enabled me to avoid injury, or if I've just been lucky. But, what I can give you are a few details about the streak and about me -- personally and as a runner -- that might provide insight into why I've been injury-free so far on this quest.

1. Low mileage. My runs during this streak have been short -- the longest singular distances have been my weekend 6 milers -- and while I did run 100 miles in July, each run was an average of 3 miles. And really, 100 miles isn't much when compared to many of you and your running, especially those of you currently training for fall marathons. However, I am in the process of planning my fall race calendar, so I plan on a slow ramp up of mileage over the next few months, and it'll be interesting to see if I will be able to do both: Train and streak.

2. Keeping it slow. The heat and humidity of summer seem to naturally slow every runner, add pushing the jogging stroller, and it's not hard for me to reel in the pace. While I still do attempt to run at a faster pace when I run solo, for the most part, the runs during this streak have been done at a very moderate pace. So without much distance or speed, my legs don't really need recovery from particularly demanding runs.

3. Age. I'm only 32 and at the peak of my physical prime. This is true for almost all of us: For most, the peak of our physical condition occurs between ages 25-35. So, in my early 30s, my body is not prone to much injury, and is instead apt to perform at its best for the next few years. This means I'm at an ideal confluence of attributes: I have enough age and experience to give me considerable self-confidence and to make sure that I measure my satisfaction with running in personal terms, but I am still young enough to recover quickly and easily.

4. Personal history. I'm not really prone to injury. Yes, a few years ago, I suffered from a painful bout with ITBS, but I believe that was more from inconsistent and reckless running than it was from overuse. And since then (that was 2007), I haven't had any trouble with any injury. (Although, I should also note that I have not trained for a marathon since 2007 and that too may be a significant reason why I have been able to avoid injury for 3 years.) Some of us, no matter our age, just may have innate injury-propensity. That could be because of past athletic endeavors, or it could be because of our unique physiology.

Certainly there may be other intrinsic and extrinsic factors that have been important along the way, but I think these highlight the few that have been most significant for me. Those last two words are what's important here: Every runner has to know his or her own abilities and limitations when it comes to injury propensity or prevention, and we all have to make choices according to that knowledge. Streaking is not for everyone, nor should it be. It has just happened to be right for me, right now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Pros and Cons of a Bathroom Remodel

Right now, this is what my master bathroom looks like:
So, there are a lot of obvious cons to such a remodel -- I mean, c'mon, I have a table saw sitting in my bedroom -- but I am trying to focus on the positive, so I figure I can list a few pros to the situation:
  • Interesting conversation piece. Who doesn't want to talk about toilets?
  • It means I only have one bathroom to clean.
  • And because the constructions spills into our bedroom, it's pretty pointless to clean in there as well.
  • Norah thinks showers are fun.
  • Picking out all new stuff. In some ways, it's a pain trying to decide on every detail, but in other ways, it's also kinda fun looking at tile, fixtures and new tubs.
  • The end product.

I'll keep you updated as the construction moves along, and in a few weeks, when everyone wants to line up to take a bath in my new tub, you'll have to pick numbers.

In the meantime, while Jerry is getting his workout in chipping up tile, I have been doing the usual: running. Yesterday, I snuck an afternoon 3 miler in between thunderstorms -- we got approximately 18 feet of rain yesterday -- and it really was the only 30 minutes of the day that it wasn't raining. Tonight, I plan to do something in the range of 5 miles. Now that I don't have night class, I have my evenings free and that means I have the opportunity to run sans Norah and the jogging stroller, and I'm looking forward to doing something a bit longer than the standard 3 miler that I always run with Norah in tow.

Lastly, I know I have largely been absent from regular commenting on your blogs. What can I say? I've been busy, but I've also been taking afternoon naps. But in my brief break before the start of the fall term, I hope to get back to some regular reading and commenting. So the crying and hair pulling can cease.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Norah!

It's hard to believe that August 10th is Norah's 1st birthday: Every cliche that people tell you about the time flying is true -- it goes way too fast, so it's tough to believe that it's already been a year. A year ago, I had a small baby who seemed to be no bigger than a loaf of bread; today, I have a walking, talking toddler who is pushing her own "babies" around in a stroller! In this sense, I can't help but think: Can it be possible that it's only been a year?

I mean, look at how much she's changed and grown:

1 month
2 months

3 months
4 months
5 months
6 months
7 months
8 months
9 months
10 months
11 months
12 months
But, I have to say that the other cliches are true too: Having a child is one of life's greatest joys and this has certainly been a wonderful year with Norah. She's such a sweet, easy-going girl, and it has been so fun to watch her grow, develop, explore and discover her world.

Of course, parenting is not all joyful. At times, it has been challenging, difficult, tedious, and frustrating, but in all ways, having her in my life has made my existence richer and more fulfilling. Sure, she's pooped on me, puked on me, sneezed in my face, made a mess of my house, put a dent in our bank accounts, and woken us up at all sorts of terrible hours of the night, but when she laughs or gives me a hug or one of her trademark wet kisses, all of those small difficulties become meaningless. And even though I know there are lots more challenges ahead of us, I look forward to the years we have in front of us, and I can't wait to see what kind of person she'll become.

So, happy birthday Norah! I love you very much!

And the Winner is...

As you may remember, a week ago, I posted a giveaway opportunity for my "Running Drawer Leftovers" and today I randomly picked the winner using the random number generator from Random.org. So, without further ado, that person is:


No, I didn't pick myself; that would be counter-productive. It's Jess from Run Girl Run!

So, Jess, email me at tygress422@yahoo.com with your mailing address and I will look forward to stalking you! No wait...I meant "sending" you your winnings...yeeeaaahhh, "sending" not "stalking"...

My other important, breaking news can be expressed in 3 bullet points:
  • I ran 3 miles this morning. At this point in my streak, I'm basically a well-oiled running machine.
  • Tonight is my last night of summer class!
  • Tomorrow is Norah's actual birthday. Expect a rather sentimental post marking the occassion.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Rest? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Rest!

Today's 4 miler ushered in my 50th consecutive day of running. I honestly don't have any plan for how long I plan to continue streaking, but all I can say is this: Once you start streaking, it's kinda hard to stop.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Norah's B-day Party

This morning started at 6 am when my alarm went off and I got up, had a cup of coffee and went for a run. I knew it was gonna be a busy day and that I wouldn't feel like running this evening, so I wanted to make sure I got it done early. I was glad I did because after that, the morning consisted of party-prep, and then the afternoon was party time!

Here are some pics from the celebration:

It was a great party, we had a wonderful time, Norah has some very thoughtful and generous friends and family, and now it's 7:15 and everyone, but me, is asleep -- Norah's in bed, Scooter crashed out in his bed after everyone left, and Jerry has fallen asleep on the couch -- so I guess that as I was the first one up, it's appropriate to be the last up to go to bed!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. My toe feels much better. I would say it's 99% healed. See? Ignoring things does fix them. So, Norah and I ran 3 miles this morning and the toe felt fine. Still waiting to see whether a bruise is gonna form or not.

2. Tonight is the last night of one of my night classes (my other class ends Monday, Aug 9th), and I'm pretty ready to be done. Students just have to take their final, which I can grade via scantron, and then we're finished. I should actually be home by 8 pm tonight -- wahoo!

3. Norah's 1st birthday is next Tuesday (August 10th), but we're celebrating by hosting a b-day party for her this Saturday, the 7th. Thus, the gifts from family, who live out of town and won't make it, have been rolling in the past few days (needless to say, this has made Scooter a hot mess since he hates the UPS, FedEx, and PO trucks and delivery people -- he has exhausted himself defending me against them). Look at this pile of loot already! Makes me glad that we decided to just buy her 2 small things and then make a significant deposit in her college savings because it looks as though she's gonna have enough to open!

But, I don't even know if I want to give her any presents since she bit me earlier.

It was shortly before I put her down for her nap, so she was getting a little fiesty, but what started out as a hug ended in her chomping down on my shoulder and it REALLY hurt! In fact, for a second, I thought she may have broken skin (she didn't, but it may bruise). She's bitten me before, but those were more like little tooth-testers; this was the real deal -- maybe she's been watching Shark Week when I haven't been looking? -- and I told her that if she wasn't nicer to me, I might keep all her presents for myself!

Biters don't get birthday presents.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wordy Wednesday

My toe was feeling much better this morning -- still a little tender but not nearly as swollen or red -- and because Norah woke up at her more normal time, we were on the road by 7:40 for our run. So today, I wanted to make sure I did 3 miles. And that we did. Felt good to get a run done that felt like a "real" run, and the toe felt fine during and after, so that's good too.

I still can't quite figure out what it's dealio is -- is it bruised? is it infected? I don't know -- it's a Toejury Mystery. Either way, it seems to be on the mend, and that's what counts.

Lastly, in non-toe related tales, I have to share this Norah pic with you guys: Lately, she has begun to mimic me in nearly everything: She wants to eat what I eat, do what I'm doing, and wear what I'm wearing. So, no, she doesn't want to wear her own sunglasses; she wants to wear my sunglasses.And, who needs pants when you've got a pair of shades?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Of Two Milers and Toe Talk

This morning, Norah slept until 7:40! Well, actually, she got up at 6:15, but Jerry convinced her to go back to sleep and then she slept until 7:40! Which was awesome for me, but bad for timing our run. It was a quarter to 9 before we were ready to run, and with a still-sore toe, I decided once again to trim the run down to a 2 miler instead of 3.

The 2 milers help maintain the streak but they don't do much in terms of producing a satisfactory run. So I haven't yet felt this week like I've really run, but hopefully as the week progresses, the necessary timing and toe-healing will fall into place and I'll be able to run a little further and the runs can then feel a bit more meaningful, instead of merely supplementary.

On the toe front, some of you mentioned in your comments yesterday that the toe-injury, which from here on out shall be dubbed the Toejury, may be the early signs of a bruised toenail. And you're certainly right: That could very well be the case here. I've had blackened toenails before and have lost the other big toenail before, but it was several years ago (like back in 2006-2007) that I last had a toenail jump ship, so my memory of that experience is not so crisp, but in that memory, I never recall having my toe swell or be quite so painful preceding the nail's discoloration.

We'll see. That's partially why I'm keeping the polish off right now, so I can monitor it better. But, it certainly looks odd. I had a student last night ask why I had one toe un-painted, and I simply said, "Because something's wrong with that toe." No one asked any follow-up Toejury questions, so I took that to mean they were enthralled with the poetry we were studying and had no time to think of my Toejury. So we discussed paradox instead.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Toe Woe

Saturday evening, before I headed out for a 5 miler, I noticed that my right big toe was a little red and swollen and was a bit tender to the touch. I shrugged it off, put on my socks and shoes and ran my 5 miles. Then, on Sunday, I noted that the toe still felt tender and was a bit uncomfortable. Still, I ran 3 miles last night and it didn't cause me any pain, so I thought nothing of it. But, before going to sleep last night, it seemed to throb a little more than it had before, and then at 2 am, I awoke and it was truly painful.

So, this morning, I gave it a good inspection, and had Jerry take a look. I even went so far as to take off the polish (my last resort) to see if there was something wedged beneath my nail. Nothing. Neither Jerry nor I could spot a sliver or scrape of any kind, yet my toe looked like it was irritated and possibly infected:When Jerry left for work, I was almost certain I would be headed to a doctor soon after to have it examined. But then I thought about it, and my best guess is this: Saturday I walked into our newly destroyed bathroom barefoot and there were certainly shards of broken tile in there. Tile is like glass, so a small sliver may have pierced my toe and while it may not have been enough to cause me any pain, it may have been enough to let a little bacteria get in and the skin is inflamed because of a minor infection. Now, what's a doctor gonna do? There's no visible shard or sliver to remove, so an MD would probably just administer a prescription for a general anitbiotic, like amoxycillin.

I'm not anti-antibiotic, but I think sometimes the body can fight things off on its own, so I decided to take a "let's see what happens" approach. I took 2 Advil, and it felt better, and I figure I'll just monitor it in the next few days. Trust me, if it gets gross, and if my toe looks as though it's threatening to fester and rott off, then I'll go to the doctor.

In the meantime, yes, I still went running this morning. I only did 2 miles because I figured it wouldn't hurt to be conservative and not irritate the toe too much, but I wanted to do something -- thus, Viva La Streak! 44 days now. I can't let a little toe infection impede me now, can I?
Truthfully, I am ashamed to admit such a superficial truth to my "pain" here, but I think I may be more bothered by the fact that I now have 9 pretty painted toes and 1 naked one than I am by the tenderness and slight swelling. Like my flip flop tan line?

*If you missed yesterday's post on the giveaway, go check it out and leave a comment if you'd like a chance to be entered to win.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

My Bathroom's Demise is Your Unexpected Surprise!

Last week, I noticed that the wall next to the shower in our master bathroom was "squishy." I told Jerry to take a look and, sure enough, that part of the wall had water damage. No problem, he figured he needed to replace about 6 inches of sheetrock, re-putty, and paint. A few days' worth of work. So, yesterday morning he tells me he has about "45 minutes worth of work" to do in there to finish up, but then about 15 minutes later, he calls to me: "Can you come here a second?" And this is what I found: Ummm, clearly this is gonna take more than 45 minutes, isn't it?
Turns out, upon further inspection, the ruined 6 inches of sheetrock were just the tip of the iceberg, and water must have been dripping down behind the tile, because while the tile looked fine on the surface, Jerry discovered rotten sheetrock behind it and some mold on the cement behind that. No bueno.

So, we figured, hey, if we're replacing that tile, why not just re-do the entire bathroom? Yeah, that's how we roll. Actually, we had planned on remodeling this bathroom -- just not quite yet; we'd actually hoped to remodel our guest bathroom first because it is in more dire need of it, but sometimes life just doesn't work out how you plan it.

The downside to this is the timing -- a big project that just falls into your lap always feels more stressful than a big project you had been planning for. But the upside is that we have the money for it, and the end product will be a new master bathroom! Just may take awhile; turns out, remodeling with a kid around isn't very easy.

However, this remodel works to YOUR advantage as well! Because, this morning, I had to clean out the bathroom cabinets and drawers (good lord, there was a lot of stuff in there for such a small room!), and I got rid of a lot of expired aspirin, etc, but I also discovered that my "running drawer" had some superfluous items, items that I haven't used at all, and I figure I'm not gonna use them. Thus...a giveaway!
The giveaway includes: 1 Honey Stinger gel, 2 Clif Shot gels, 1 bottle of Nuun, 1 Peppermint Cooling Leg Gel by The Body Shop, 1 Peppermint Leg and Foot lotion by Burt's Bees, 1 shoe wallet, 1 Bengay patch, 1 Nike sport towel, and 1 pair of Nike shoelaces that say "Shut Up and Run."

The items are one packaged giveaway, so if you want one item, you want it all. If you'd like your shot at winning Jess' "running drawer leftovers," you need to do just one thing:
  • Leave me a comment in THIS POST indicating that you want it.

That's it. No need to be a follower or to become a follower or to be my best friend on Facebook. Just leave me a comment on THIS POST telling me you want it. All comments desiring this giveaway must be left by midnight, August 6th. That's this upcoming Friday.

Then, early next week, I'll randomly choose a winner, and I'll notify that winner here on the blog and will then request further contact info from the winner. So, you want this stuff? Tell me so.