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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Phew, it was a long trip! There are many stories to tell and share, yet I think I will keep it short and simple:
  • Driving 2,000 miles and back again is TOO far (we nicknamed the trip: "The Cuba to Canada Cruisade")! Scooter was very good in the car and he mostly slept (he has sprung back from his injury as if nothing ever happened). As for the states we covered, I can say this: Iowa -- boring, Tenessee and Kentucky -- beautiful, but filled with a few characters from "Deliverance," Illinois -- long, Georgia -- they want to sell you lots of boiled peanuts, and Florida? It feels like the blessed land now!
  • We saw, literally, a hundred friends and family members. It was great to see so many people, but I feel like it was a marathon of visiting, eating, drinking, talking, and picture sharing. Every single day was busy with people to see, and it wore me out! But it was also loads of fun (had a little too much fun at my brother's b-day party -- I barfed in his kitchen sink!) and Christmas was great (lots of good loot!).
  • I did my running, but failed to get the 20 in like I thought I might. Running in MN was hard for me: It was cold (although, according to Minnesotans, it was like a heat wave at 30 degrees) so the air kinda burned my lungs, it was windy, and there were hills. One day I ran 6 miles into the wind at 30 degrees (probably less with the wind chill) up and down hills; I felt as though I'd run twice that far! I have my last "long" run tomorrow -- 8 miles -- and then it's a few short ones, and the marathon is 7 days from today!! Needless to note, I am starting to get both nervous and excited (mostly nervous).

Well, I have only begun to make a dent in the unpacking and the house looks like a bomb went off, so I'd best get back to it! Hope everyone had a great holiday -- I'll read your resolutions tomorrow.

Friday, December 15, 2006


First of all, thanks to everyone for the advice and encouragement lately, it has been a big help. Ever since Thanksgiving, things have felt stressful and strained for me, and the running has definitely taken the back seat to some other things. But today, I feel much improved in mood and I feel like renewing my marathon committment.

I feel so much better today than I have in a week! For one thing, Scooter is MUCH better now -- he got his stitches and shunts out today and he's back to his old self, so that's a HUGE relief to both me and my husband. Secondly, I finished everything with the semester, including the issue with the student who wanted his grade changed -- to have this semester behind me is a blessing; it was busy! Lastly, we have all our stuff ready for our trip to MN, and we leave this afternoon. I have to do some last minute packing and some cleaning (I wouldn't dare to leave a dirty house!) and then we're off at 3 pm.

Changing from the full marathon to the half has crossed my mind, but after carefully thinking about it, I think I have to give the full marathon my best try. I'm going to try and re-do the 20 while we're in MN; otherwise, even if I don't get it done, I have done an 18, 16, 14, 13, etc so I feel I've put in some long distances and have tried to be as consistent as possible, and I'll just have to see what race day brings. I can certainly say, though, that this first marathon experience makes me want to do another marathon just so I can do the training better (generally, I do something wrong the first time, learn from the mistakes and then do it much better another time around), but I have resolved to give Disney my best effort possible! So, I have to think positively about it and shed the self-doubt that has weighed me down lately.

Thanks again for the thoughts and comments: I will be out of town for the next 2 weeks, so posts will be sporadic, if at all. Enjoy your holidays!! And I'll talk to everyone again soon!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The 20 That Didn't Happen

This morning, I started out ready for the 20, nervous, but ready. I got on the road at 5 am, just like I'd planned and was fine, but then my stomach was doing this gurgle-gurgle thing in the first mile. At the end of the second mile it was doing this flip-flop thing that signals breakfast is on its way back up. I stopped, leaned over and waited for the barf, but it didn't come. It's been awhile since barfing and running have gone hand in hand, so this was curious.

I started to trot again but my stomach was seriously icky, and then, as if God agreed, the heavens opened up and it started to rain. At first it was a drizzle, then it was a downpour. I turned around and headed home feeling both naseous and defeated.

Total miles: 4.

I feel like poop about it. All kinds of doubt and uncertainty are clogging my brain right now: Can I do this marathon? Am I capable? What does it mean to miss the 20? I've heard many declare that they were unable to run their 20, but were fine; however, I feel like I've missed so many runs in the course of my training, will I be fine?

Good lord, this week has really raked me over the emotional and mental coals.

4 am

First of all, "thanks" to everyone who responded to the post below; your input was valuable and it looks as though there is overwhelming support to let the grade stand. I also counseled with some fellow instructors and my department chair who all echoed your sentiments, so even though I haven't contacted the student with my decision yet, I do believe I will leave the grade alone and allow him to suffer the consequences.

But back to the running...

As per this post's title, it is currently 4:14 am, ugh. I am planning my 20 miler this morning and I want to get it done first thing, so I plan on leaving home here around 5 (currently, I'm trying to wake up a little -- eating some cereal for pre-run fuel and drinking a cup of coffee to help with the "waking up"). So, why am I doing the 20 today and not this weekend? I had to bump it up in the schedule because we leave for our trip to MN tomorrow, and it will probably take us 2 1/2 or 3 days to get there (we're driving -- taking the Scooter dog with us, who is doing much better, thanks for the concern on his part) and so I won't have an opportunity to accomplish the long run this weekend -- and trust me, I'm not relishing the 3 days in the car after 20, I suspect I will be very sore.

I will fill you guys in later today on how it went; cross your fingers for me -- it's a long way to go!

*6 am edit: The 20 did not "go." I will explain later -- right now, I feel like crawling back into bed, pulling the covers over my head, and re-emerging sometime in the second week of January (after this marathon has passed).*

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Survey Says...

Okay, this has nothing to do with running, but I have dilemma and perhaps you guys can help solve it. I have a student who is bothering me to get his grade changed. Here are the facts:

Student profile: Constantly late, often absent, turns in late work, all work was either F or D quality. He is, apparently, very involved in clubs, organizations, and student council, and claims to have been too busy with all of those committments to focus on my class (I'd had a conversation with him mid-term explaining that while it's great to be involved in activities, he's in college for an academic purpose and he'd better get his priorities in order). I gave him a D for the course, which -- trust me -- already felt generous.

His petition: He turned in his last paper after I had already submitted grades (which means it was over a week late); therefore, I didn't fully assess him. He needs a C to pass the course (college requirement for writing courses), but he's not asking for that; he wants a C- or D+ (yes, college has a + and - system) because if he doesn't bring up his GPA, he's out of college (he must be on academic probation).

My stance: He knew through the course of the semester that he was doing poorly, yet I saw no real initiative to improve his grades, his attendance or his tardiness (something that particularly irks me). I think he deserves the D. However, I'm not cold-hearted and I think students do deserve another chance if they are truly deserving or have had some major difficulties in the course of the semester (though, I don't think that being busy with student council is a justified "major difficulty" -- I had a student who was diagnosed with cancer this term and she finished the semester and finished all her work!).

My dilemma: Will standing my ground on his grade cause more problems than it's worth? On the other hand, I do still think of myself as an instructor with integrity (god knows how many more years that will last) and is it fair to change this student's grade when there were other students who worked hard all semester, were on time, were there every time, turned their work in on time? If I'm willing to change a grade willy-nilly, does their hard work count?

These are the troubling questions, my friends. What's the consensus? Do I change his grade from a D to either a D+ or C-? Or do I stand my ground and leave his grade, and subsequently, he will be kicked out of the university?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feeling Better

It was true: After I showered and took an allergy pill (I was getting all boogery), I felt better. Then, I had a good night's sleep and got to sleep in, so that made me feel better. Plus, Scooter really is improved today -- he's eating, drinking water, and is up walking around some, so that improves my spirits.

I guess every once in awhile, I need a mini-breakdown and now that it has passed, everything I was so burdened with last night feels lighter today.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Tonight, I feel *blue* or as Holly Golightly would say: "I've got the mean reds."

I've spent the day watching over and worrying about Scooter. It's disheartening to see my dog, who is usually so energetic and boisterous, barely able to sit up. He has no interest in food or water, and it's weird to open the refrigerator and not have him at my heels. The stress and anxiety have taken their toll today, so this evening I decided to make room for a short run -- figuring it would be a good stress reliever, but in the middle of it, I felt overwhelmed with grief.

It's not just about Scooter -- although he is currently the source of my tension -- it's about four months of pent-up emotional, mental, and physical strain and it suddenly feels quite burdensome.

My family, which was previously so dysfunctional I didn't think it could get any less functional, has been experiencing what I only care to call here a "weird" time. ( I could spend about 200 pages talking about my family, but I have spent much effort and have drunk many beers to try and assuage that gaping wound; I don't care to delve into any kind of depth here, sorry.) And to help keep my mind off the drama there, I have buried myself in this semester's work, and for nearly two months there, I was teaching nine classes (five is a full-time schedule, I accepted six as an overload in order to receive some more pay, and then took an additional class at another university two days a week, and then ended up long-term subbing for eight weeks for two other classes) and even once I went back to my "regular" schedule in late October, I still had the original seven classes that I now am ending the term with.

It's hard to express how many papers I have read this semester.

On top of those two burdensome loads, I have been training for this marathon with its dizzying fluctuation of emotional and physical duress. Add to that the holidays, preparation for an upcoming trip, the end of the semester, and now my injured dog, and, well, it's enough to make a girl feel positively sapped. So in the middle of my run this evening, I found myself weeping (and not the good I-feel-better-now crying but the oh-god-I've-opened-flood-gates crying) and I HATE crying. I know it's supposed to make me feel better, but I actually always feel embarrassed and weak and humiliated when I break down in tears (this is why I try my best to hold them in at most costs) even when alone.

Running usually makes me feel better, but right now it feels like one more weight I have to shoulder, and I feel myself straining under so much heaviness.

Logic tells me that I will take a shower and feel better, and then have a good night's sleep and feel better, and then maybe Scooter will be somewhat improved and I'll feel better, but right now, I don't feel good, and "better" feels a long way off.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Poor Pup

I will spare you the gruesome images that depict his stitches and the shunts the vet had to use in order to help drain the wound -- they're a little grisly and not meant for the general Blogging public.

Here he is, though, looking pitiful in the e-cone so he won't bother his stitches. We took it off when it was apparent that he barely had the strength to stand, let alone lick his stitches. Since coming home, he's mostly been sleeping and shivering, and we have kept vigil over his bed.

Needless to say, I did not run my 14 miles today. Even though I knew my husband could take care of him just as well as I could, I just didn't feel right leaving him. I also thought about going for a shorter run, just to get some running in, but the evening dissolved before me and I was too busy petting him and soothing him.

My heart just aches over his pain. Running will have to wait.


Poor Scooter!

He was injured earlier today at the dog park. As I mentioned in my earlier post this morning, he was gazing at me this morning with a look that said: "Please take me to the park!" So, my husband and I obliged and took him to the park. While there, he was running around, enjoying himself, when he ran into another dog. We don't know exactly what happened -- whether that dog actually bit Scooter or if his teeth just ran into Scooter when Scooter collided with him or what -- but Scooter had a huge gash in his underbelly by his back, right leg. We could see muscle and bone and it was disgusting!

My husband scooped him up and we ran out of the dog park, got in the car and drove straight to the vet, and that's where Scooter is as I type this. He had to be anesthesized (I have no idea if that is spelled right) and they were going to need to stitch on the inside and out. Poor little fella was cut pretty bad and the vet said that it would be a few hours before he would be ready to go home. My husband and I are still pretty worked up and anxious; it was so nerve-wracking that once we handed him over to the vet, we realized we were both shaking.

I think I'm going to take a personal day tomorrow so I can stay home and take care of my pup -- cross your fingers, say a prayer, wish on a star, whatever you do, and send it Scooter's way!

Annual Christmas Party

The home computer has been saved! Thank you Baby Jesus! Viruses have been removed and new anti-viral software has been installed (a note to those out there -- I do NOT reccommend Symantec's Norton: it didn't do anything effective for us) so now everything is back to running like normal, which means I can A.) post from home again, and B.) post pictures again.

So, this is me Friday night -- doing some 12 oz curls (one in each hand for balance -- you don't want one arm getting more muscular than the other). It was our annual Christmas party and Secret Santa exchange with friends, and we had a grand time. Granted, by the end of the night, my husband was wearing the cardboard Bud Light case on his head like a hat, and he broke the host's cooler, but that only means it's a successful gathering! (as long as the host's don't really care for that cooler.)

Both he and I suffered from headaches when we woke yesterday, but because we had nothing planned (for once) we were able to lay around all day and take it easy. Seriously, I didn't even cook yesterday; it was awesome!

Today, on the other hand, I have 14 miles to log and some student papers to grade. And Scooter is buggin' me to go to the dog park (his eyes say: "Mom, please take me to the dog park! I would L-O-V-E to run around for an hour or so."). So, I'd best be off. I'll let you know how the 14 goes!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Are Halos Returnable?

Because I seem to be on an every-other-day good runner pattern. Hopefully I can get my scheduled run in this afternoon, but with the way things have been this week, I can't guarantee I won't choose a nap instead.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Busy, Busy

Heaven can issue me my halo anytime now. After yesterday's stellar performance, I deserve some kind of achievement medal: I finished my x-mas shopping, got all my gifts wrapped, I finished the holiday cards and got them in the mail, I got caught up with class work, was able to get a few tasks done for our upcoming trip, AND: I got five miles in. I didn't take the Garmin along, but the run felt good and I don't need Garmin to tell me that. Today has been busy again (I'm ready for this week to be over), and I'm hoping to get today's run in tonight after my night class. It'll be a late run, but that's the only time today to get to it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Trying to be Good

Okay, I'll 'fess up: Instead of running last night after class, I came home and watched "Last Holiday" with Queen Latifah. Despite being formulaic and predictable, it was good entertainment for 90 minutes. Sometimes, relaxing feels just as valuable as running; however, I truly can't skip running today. I must be good!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thanks for the Garmin advice and the encouragement from everyone! I figured out how to reset the timer -- Junebug was right about holding down the "lap/reset" button. I was just pushing it earlier, and it reset the lap but wasn't re-starting the timer, but holding it down was the right move.

I'm still a little sore from Sunday's 18, but I plan on running this evening after I get home. I'm gonna need the stress relief today. It's nearing the end of the semester for me, and the rush of students and their needs is exhausting. I've been like a machine today: reading essays, meeting with students, answering emails and phone calls, and I can't wait to get home, tie up my shoes and free myself from the stress that the end of a term brings with it.

Not to mention the holiday stuff to get done (gift buying/wrapping, writing cards, planning trips); tis the season to be busy!

P.S. It's funny how this marathon has educated so many in my life about running, not just myself. Today, my mom wrote me an email to let me know that she'd been talking to a runner friend who told her about the "wall" at miles 18-20. She wanted me to know about it -- just in case I hadn't heard of it :)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Garmin and Me for 18

I may seem like I'm being a lazy blogger (not blogging for several days) but my home computer is f*d up, so I couldn't post from home over the weekend.

So, there is much to tell; however, I will focus on just the highlight: my 18 miler yesterday.

I took my pal Garmin with me and we set out in the early evening on the longest run so far. The first six miles went well, and even the first nine (my turn around point) felt pretty good, but once I hit ten, I could definitely feel myself slowing and getting tired. At twelve, I felt like I should be done, but I'd been making decent time, so I kept pluggin' away. At thirteen, I hit the "wall." I didn't want to go any farther and my legs were aching; particularly, my right hip was bothering me.

Those last five miles, and especially, the last three were slow. I would walk for a few minutes and then run for a few minutes, then walk for a few minutes. I was so tired in the last mile that I literally wanted to fall into the grass by the side of the road and be done with the whole thing; but, alas, I pressed on until the end.

Final time was just under 4 hours, which is really friggin' slow -- the last six miles took me nearly the same length of time as the first twelve miles (all that walking slowed me down significantly and by the end, every part of my body was aching). And like the sixteen, I was hurting and tired at the end. Plus, I finished with the same mixture of emotions: relief that it was done, pride that I'd finished, but apprehension that the marathon will be even more (another 8 miles!). I'm just crossing my fingers and believing that the crowd, my own adreneline, and the atmosphere of race day will carry me through to the end on marathon day.

Also, for those of you who own a Garmin, a few queries:

Does it count calories correctly? Because I stored my personal info (age, weight, etc), and I assume it calculates more accurately than I do, but for the 18 miles, it said I bured 2340 calories, and I thought that the average person burned about 100 calories per mile. And by "average" I think most calorie burn rates are based on a 150 pound person and if you weigh less, you burn less, right? I weigh about 115, so I figured I was burning far fewer calories, but could Garmin be right?

Secondly, what can interfere with a Garmin's accuracy? It said, for example, that my fastest mile was 1:17, and I KNOW I did not run a one minute mile.

And lastly, aside from deleting past runs, how can I get the timer, etc to reset at zero when beginning a new run?

Thanks for any help! I'm going to hobble (sooo sore!) off now!