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Monday, July 29, 2013

Square One

Yesterday morning, Jerry took the kids to the park and to run some errands so I could have some time and space to clean the house.  I just needed to be able to really clean things because it was driving me nuts, and I wanted everyone OUT.  So, he got back with everyone -- and the house was sparkling for that small window of time before they all returned! -- and he had decided to pick me up a treat: A Dunkin Donuts Iced Latte.

Dammit, Jerry!

He was being nice, and apparently, he didn't understand I was trying to quit it entirely (he thought I was going for "cutting back"), but I was faced with either drinking it and breaking my 10 day no-DD-streak, or essentially pouring $3 down the drain.

I like to stick to streaks, but I also HATE to waste money.

I drank it.

And, it tasted like shame.

So, I'm back to Day #1 of no DD.  And now Jerry understands that, under no circumstance -- even if I beg and plead for him to swing through a DD drive thru -- should he be a darling husband and bring his wife a treat.  Cuz starting over is tough.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Flesh Wound

I am pretty vain about my feet, and I usually treat myself to regular pedicures.  But, this summer has been very busy and I've had little time for those luxuries.

Long story, short: My heels are as thick as hooves.

So, as any grosso would, I pick at the layers of dead skin as I mindlessly watch tv in the evenings.  Turns out, I dug a little Grand Canyon in my right heel and now it's killing me, Smalls.

The irony here is that now I REALLY can't go get a pedicure so they can take that cheese grater thingy to my heels to slough off the thick calluses because anyone with a forebrain knows you can't get a pedicure with an open lesion.  That's just asking for an infection.

So, I'm dutifully applying Neosporin and limping around on it.

Of course, it hasn't kept me from streaking: Unless that foot falls off, I'm still running. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dunkin Detox

A few years ago, I began to treat myself -- once or twice a week -- with a small iced mocha latte from Dunkin Donuts.  Then, I began to go more frequently, and THEN, they put a Dunkin on campus (about 100 feet from my office), and my occasional habit become an official addiction.

This summer, I figured I'd try to scale back to more moderate consumption, but alas, my efforts at moderation have been in vain.  Maybe one week, I'm successful at limiting myself, but I always go back to a-latte-a-day in the next week.

So, it was clear to me that only one course of action would work for me: Cold turkey.

At the end of last week, I decided to cut myself off, and I'm now on Day #5 of no DD.

Don't misread me: I'm not giving up coffee, or caffeine, I'm just forgoing DD.  Two reasons: Cost and calories.

The drink I get isn't expensive, but when purchased on a daily basis, it adds up.  I've been rationalizing the daily treat's cost by justifying that I don't spend much on myself, and this is true, but perhaps I'd get more enjoyment from spending money on something that lasts and not something I consume.  I've calculated that I can save myself about $90 a month if I quit the cold stuff.  And, I think I'd like an extra $90 in my pocket.

The other, perhaps bigger incentive, is to save myself the calories.  Again, the "cost" isn't much in the grand scheme of things (220 calories for the drink I get), but again, when added up, it probably isn't doing my waistline any favors.  It's easy to justify extra calories such as this when streaking -- "I run every day; I eat what I want!" -- but, really, if I ever want to lose those last 5 lbs, then gulping down whole milk and sugary syrup everyday isn't going to help me.

From obvious experience, I'm putting the whole 21 Day thing to the test here in breaking myself of this habit.  So far, so good.  But, man, it takes just as much willpower to quit a habit as it does to form one!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day #200

Saturday was day #200 in my running streak.  I ran a short 3 miler, and as I drew near to home, on the corner, I spotted Jerry and the kids who had come out to meet me for the last quarter mile of the run.  Norah was dressed in her "running clothes," Caleb was in regular clothes, and both kids were barefoot. 

Having them run toward me was the best thing I'd seen that day.

We met up and they ran with me for the last stretch of my run, and then, eager to run some more, we went a little farther and then turned around for home.  As a 2 year old, Caleb often looks like he's about to careen forward as he's running (still a top-heavy-toddler), but he's getting more balanced and loves to run as he declares: "Me feet supa fast!"  He hasn't figured out what to do with his arms yet, so they just sort of flap loosely at his sides.

Norah, however, gets the concept of bending her arms at the elbow and tucking them in a bit, and since she's better balanced, she doesn't look like she's gonna nose-dive into the pavement at any minute.  Plus, Norah is getting surprisingly fast, and a few times, I had to run in earnest to keep up with her.

Afterward, since we were "so sweaty" (Norah's words), we took a dip in the pool.  It was a nice way to mark the day in the streak.

July has been a bit of a trial on the streak: Like everyone else, I'm sweltering out there, and I seemed to have lost some mojo.  Still, I'm getting the runs in -- most of them short and slow -- and am hoping it's just the season, and like the season, I'm hopeful that this lackluster feeling will pass.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Kiddos

I figured it's been a while since I've dedicated a whole post to talking about the kids.  So, to indulge that urge:

It's my theory that kids reach a peak level of cuteness at 2, which seems contradictory to 2's typical bad-rap, but I think 2 year olds are pretty much the cutest.  They're still kinda babies, but with increasing verbal abilities, more physical dexterity and agility, and a kid's expanding understanding of the world.  This all equals total cuteness.

Caleb, therefore, is at Code Red Cute right now.  Don't get me wrong, he is also a goblin, but at least he's an adorable goblin -- which is maybe even worse.

He can now scale almost all playground equipment and manages most obstacles with prowess as he follows in Norah's shadow.  He talks a lot, doesn't listen to us, is stubborn as a mule, is swimming like a fish (he recently started jumping in and swimming to me on his own; it's pretty impressive, really), and can harass his sister and Scooter like a pro.  He also recently moved up to a big boy bed because he was leaping out of his crib, so that now means we get regular 2 am visits, and he decided that, as a 2 year old, it's now his job to get picky about food and making bedtime a chore.

He's also prone to biting and hitting.  I don't know if it's a boy thing, or just his personality, but you have to watch out for those teeth and his propensity to smack you with a toy (he has two toy swords, both of which are forever "put away").

Still, do you see that little dude handing me my 4th of July beer?  THAT is why I had kids -- so cuties could hand me coldies.

Jerry and I were just recently talking about the difference a year makes (for both kids: this time last year, Caleb was taking his initial steps; now he can climb rock walls), and with Norah, there's been a lot of maturation.  She's getting to be such a big girl now, a sweet big sister who is, more often than not, very patient, kind, and understanding with Caleb (even though he returns her kindness by biting her).  She listens to us so much better now and we can reason with her so much better now.  She understands complicated concepts, like delayed gratification, and is eager to pull her share around the house (she actually loves being assigned "chores").

Granted, she's still an almost-4-year old, so we still have tantrums and fits of rage (especially directed at her frustration with Caleb; today, I overheard her tell him, "You're really giving me a headache!"), and no kid is perfect.  3 was kinda a rocky age for her (as it seems to universally be; 2 gets the bad rap, but so far, in my experience, 2 was sorta-tough, but 3 was a shitticane of tough), but she seems to be coming into her own now as a full-blown kid, and it's fun to be a part of.

Also, this summer has been nice since being at home, I took away her afternoon nap, and bedtime stopped feeling like waterboarding for me.  My opinion of her rose considerably when I didn't have to spend an hour with her every night bargaining and pleading with her to go to bed.
Now, I get to do that with Caleb.
She's eager to go to VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) this fall, and I already feel the familiar heart-twinges at seeing her slowly growing up.  (In general, thinking of going back to school on Aug 19 gives me the heart flutters; we've been enjoying such a carefree summer.)
Over the weekend, we all went to see "Despicable Me 2" in the theater (Caleb's first successful theater experience!), and Gru has this freeze gun ("Freeze ray!"), which I keep thinking about: I'd like to freeze these kids at this age forever right now.
Of course, if I even tried, they'd both lipstick-taser me.  I know it.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Taking a "Rest" Week

Toward the end of June, my left ankle began to make some complaints.  It's what'd I'd consider an ache more than anything, a dull pain at the most, but still, combined with some general running fatigue and once again a failing Garmin, my enthusiasm for running and for the streak was waning.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't want to quit streaking -- today will be day #188, which is officially more than halfway through the year -- I can't stop now, can I?  No, I didn't want to quit running, but I definitely needed some kind of break.

Since last week was busy anyway -- my SIL was visiting all week and we packed our days with fun times and it was the 4th, which was, as Norah described, "the best day ever!" -- I figured it was a good time to scale the mileage back to the minimum.  So, last week I only ran 20 miles.  Not that I've been running any BIG mileage this summer, but downsizing to 20 miles did feel like a significantly easier week, and I think it helped the ankle feel a bit less grouchy.

Still, I have a watchful eye on it.

If only all my joints could be replaced with bionic ones!  I'd never have to rest again!

Plus, I'd probably be a superhero or something.

Monday, July 01, 2013

For Every Uphill

Over the weekend, we went to visit my dad, who owns a vacation/future retirement home in Central FL.  For those unfamiliar with Central FL, the landscape is very different from South FL; in fact, driving through this part of the state, one would assume they were in Georgia or Alabama, not Florida: There are lush, green trees with cascading Spanish moss, there are pastures and orange groves, and, oh yeah, there are hills.

The rolling kind.  But, still: HILLS.

In South Florida, the only hills we have are in the form of bridges or re-purposed landfills.  Therefore, I rarely, if ever, run hills.

Much to my running disadvantage.  I know all the benefits of hill repeats to boost strength, speed, and endurance, but to do hills, I have to drive somewhere inconvenient, and one of the reasons I love running, is that I can walk out my door and go; if I have to commute somewhere to run, I better get a medal at the end of it.

So, over the weekend, my runs took place on some scenic roads that featured these foreign landscapes.

Saturday morning, I was chugging along, admiring the lovely houses and the rural neighborhood, but couldn't ignore the hard work of huffing and puffing up these hills.  At one point, I was putting forth what felt like my hardest effort, yet I felt like I was stuck on a treadmill going no where.  I glanced down at my Garmin and was dismayed to see that on the uphill, I was slowing to an 11+ min/mile.

The reward, however, was reaching the hill's crest and then enjoying the easy descent.

But, there wasn't much by way of flatness, so as soon as I reached the road's valley, it was a journey back up.  Lordy.  It was a short run -- a little more than 3 miles -- but I felt like my exertion was really getting challenged with this run, and I began feeling exhausted; this was too much work!  I was ascending one hill and, feeling crabby about the climb, considered walking (or...maybe just turning around).  Then, a saying that I'd overheard at a race a few years ago came echoing back: "For every uphill, there's a downhill."


It was hard work going up, but then there was the flooding relief of conquest followed by the ease of running downhill.  Granted, there were more hills in the run, but it wasn't as though the entire run was straight up the side of a mountain without any hope of reaching the top.  I needed to re-adjust my outlook, and the above saying did just that.  It's not all that unique, and I'm sure runners have heard it before, but like many simple mantras, it felt profound.

Plus, the obvious metaphor was something I needed to be reminded of.

I finished the run feeling exhilarated both because of the literal and figurative change of pace, and I felt pleased at my own personal revelation.  Running is full of these small, teachable moments, and it's just one more reason to keep lacing up every day.  Plus, if I stacked up all these running related epiphanies, I'd have my own little hill of inspiration and burgeoning discoveries about life, growth, and character. 

Enough, perhaps, to form a legit mountain of metaphors.