Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Show Your Mettle...er...Medal

I don't want to say this running thing has come full circle as that might indicate that I've come to a stopping point, but I do feel like a few dots were connected this weekend.

About a hundred years ago (or maybe just two), Mark (who was Wasabi Boy of the friend variety at that time) ran the Gobbler Grind, his first half marathon.  I was very happy for him (and a little jealous of him and a little lonely for him).  A few weeks later while I penned a New Year's Resolution post, I was inspired to declare my intention to run a half as well.  And Casey chimed in that I should shoot for Hospital Hill.

So I did.  I ran a half. At Hospital Hill.

This year while I was training for the full marathon, Casey kept me apprised of her increasingly severe addiction to running.  The day she announced she'd hit the 13 mile mark, I suggested she and I run the Gobbler Grind.  It would be a great excuse for us to reconnect after more than a year and a reason for my legs to keep going post-marathon.

So she returned to her old stomping grounds on Saturday with her two youngest in tow. The magical friendship that links our families has no regard for time.  While it had been more than two years (and several inches) since the kids had seen each other, the reunion was nearly seamless.  She and I fell into our own  comfortable rhythm too, excitedly discussing the next day's run.

We picked up our race packets, made dinner and enjoyed a nightcap with Mark (she approves).  The bedtime ritual was almost exactly as complicated as expected.  The kids showed no signs of slowing, but we knew we needed our sleep.  Play ceased temporarily while air beds were assembled...and one subsequently broke (the blower on my aerobed now sounds like a metal spoon spinning in a garbage disposal). The kids didn't care and we were growing weary enough that we didn't sweat the details either.  Kisses were distributed among the children and Casey and I quickly wrapped up our evening conversation (about 45 minutes -- our fastest time ever!).  A few hours later, my youngest took over my bed and hers commandeered the couch. The alarm clock was hardly as jarring as the pointy toes in my ribs, so I gladly rose to meet the day.

Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts made for a fine breakfast, as well as every runner's best friend, coffee.  Before long, we were out the door and on our way.  I was very excited to share her first half.  

Her mom and nephew saw her off at the starting line, and Mark greeted (and photographed) us periodically along our journey.  The first several miles were somewhat frustrating with narrow paths and no pace groups.  Lots of weaving stole much of my energy, but I held out hope that I could top my fastest half, if for no other reason than the lack of dramatic hills on this course.  Casey's goal was to cross the finish alive and faster than at least one other participant. 

While it holds no statistical significance, I did beat my time by fourteen seconds.  Then Casey finished alive and preceded a good portion of the pack.  I found Mark and Casey after the race -- two of my favorite people, two of my favorite runners, and two wonderful reasons I love running.

I'm pretty sure these two inspirational folk have a races left in their legs, and I hope they'll keep encouraging me to keep on truckin' just as they have in the past.   Running is by far my favorite source of sanity in an otherwise ridiculous world of homework and parenting and insomnia.  And while I'm not yet ready to give up  the homework, parenting and insomnia, there aren't medals given out at those finish lines.  Heck...I don't even think those have finish lines.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sticky Dates

Mark and I have a standing date of sorts.  Every other Sunday evening, we share dinner with his father.  Most often, we invite Geoff to Mark's place and we cook a meal, but tonight, he invited us to his.  He made a lovely meal of chicken baked with apples, green beans, and for dessert, a spectacular [gluten-free] sticky date pudding (*). It was out of this world.  In my caramelized sugar fueled food buzz, I said I might even give up chocolate having been introduced to such a magnificent concoction.  Mark brought me down from my ledge very carefully and  I'm alright now.  (If you have already ordered a Deluxe Chocolate Dreams jewel box from Harry & David for my xmas gift, please know that I will gladly receive it.)

But...sticky dates.  Funny that should come up today.

Mark and I have been together for a year.  Maybe as of tomorrow when we cemented our exclusivity.  Maybe as of two weeks ago when I sheepishly asked for his hand in renewed friendship.  Or maybe our friendship is the marker for our anniversary, which we could say started the day we broke up as a romantic couple the first time. Or maybe we should mark the date of our first kiss.  But what about the day our gaze first met over a loaf of freshly baked bread?  Or perhaps the moment we became official on facebook... (Yes, I do know every one of these exact dates, mostly because I remember what I blogged about on each of these occasions -- even the break up one, which had nothing to do with any sort of a break up...pride can be a bitch, you know)

I don't think I'm one to get up in arms about anniversaries, (though I could be mistaken).  Would I even know or care about this if I didn't keep my Mountain in reasonable order?  Possibly.  I guess what I'm getting at is that while it doesn't so much matter when we got together, it does matter that we're together.  The last twelve months have been the most challenging of my life scholastically, but by far the happiest personally.  Mark makes it very easy to be in love with him.  He's sweet and sincere.  Handsome and helpful.  Trusting and trustworthy.  Honest, responsible, gentle, intelligent, silly, competitive, fit, sensitive, strong, I could go on... 

So I'm taking this short break from homework to wish my sweetheart a happy anniversary...or not.  The date is somewhat sticky, after all.

* In my upbringing, "pudding" meant adding milk to a powder from a box, mixing it for a bit, and if we were really feeling crazy, we might add milk to powder from an envelope, whip it for three minutes and create a wonder of chemistry and physics called "Dream Whip."  (I'm not complaining -- this was quite a treat, but as the science junkie that I now purport to be, I have to wonder what on earth that stuff was). 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pulling My Own Weight

 This morning, I found this note tacked to my closet door:
Dear Jennifer, 
You're not training for a marathon anymore.  Please stop eating like you are.
Your Jeans
There was another in my dresser drawer from my sweaters.  The profanity was so outlandish, I fear being fined by the FCC if I were to publish it.

I've spent most of my life mildly annoyed by my weight.  I guess it must have been the exact day that puberty hit, I left behind (or perhaps I merely ate) the skinny (I do mean skinny) girl I'd been for the previous fourteen years.  The transition from a firmly padded bra to generous underwires was almost instantaneous.  My "friends" jokingly called me "Skinny Jenny" because, well, compared to the other cheerleaders (sigh...alas, I am not allowed to rewrite history), I was not. (Let me assure you, I'd happily go back to that size, but never, never those days).

I'm not fat.  I know that.  But I'm not trim either.  And I'm frustrated that despite exercising five to six days every week for the last year, my adipose stores have remained virtually stagnant.

What do I blame?  Food.

I love food. I love reading about it. I love cooking it.  I love eating it.   Food is so cool!  And mostly I love good food.  Healthy food.  Tasty, loaded with vegetables and exotic spices food.  But that doesn't stop me from eating -- or perhaps I should call it shoveling -- gross quantities of less-than-stellar quality convenience foods into my mouth at times. November's excuse is school.  The holidays will inevitably take the blame next month.

Call it stress eating.  Call it lack of will power.  Boredom.  An oral fixation.  You could even occasionally call it hunger.  I cannot seem to get a hold on my eating.

So I'm becoming a dietitian?  Seriously?  Talk about a case of, "Physician (dietitian - hey, they rhyme!), heal thyself."  As far as I can tell (and I assure you, I mostly still don't know precisely what I'll be doing when I grow up), I will be counseling patients who are verging on diabetes or coping with morbid obesity, telling them what to eat and when, convincing them that it will enhance their quality of life if they can make better food choices.  Then when they leave the room, I will stuff cheddar cheese flavored rice cakes down my throat like there's no tomorrow, justifying each bite until I'm dusted with crumbs, then chastising myself as I hide the empty bag under a couple of layers of trash.

I'm not winning any metabolic beauty contests either.  While it's clear that forty is the coolest age ever (though I'm guessing forty-one might outdo it), I know that each and every day my systems take one step closer to hibernation.  All of my spinning, running, lifting and stretching efforts won't stop the inevitable clock from ticking away at my ability to consume large amounts of food and remain only somewhat bothered by my mass.

So what's this all leading to?

I'm going to blog a sincere attempt at weight loss.  Ten, maybe fifteen pounds...we'll see.  I'm going to tell you numbers on scales and tape measures, heck, maybe even calipers if I can find someone willing to pinch my backside.  I'm going to use this education to which I'll be financially indebted for all eternity to assess my ideal body weight, my perfect protein portions and my just-right carb counts.  I'm going to put myself to work, making fun of myself along the way.

I wish I could say I had the time to get this rolling right now, but it will be at least a week before I can get my ducks in a row and my muffin-top (and I don't mean the tasty kind) measured.  Photos, ups and downs, food diaries, I'm going to try to be open here. 

Ahhh, public humiliation -- it's apparently my specialty.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Friendly Skies

After last year's Hell on Wheels, Mrs Diggs and I were unsure of how we would outdo ourselves (yes, it is a competition).  We discussed it on and off through the year and started getting nervous in August when we realized our holiday was just around the bend.  At a formal meeting of The Ladies Diggs in early September, I elected to show her a recent thrifty treasure -- a skirt set that reminded me of an air hostess in the sixties.  The concept for 2010 was born.

We each worked to piece together our costumes -- scarves, hats, shoes and more.  A couple of weeks ago, she sent a photo of her nearly complete costume and I grew excited.  I wasn't sure if it would make a bigger impression than two middle aged ladies rolling about a neighborhood on skates, but I could see its potential.  Pretzels were at the ready for distribution (I was surprised to be unable to find small packages of peanuts), as were a few small bottles of wine.

Then Mr. Mrs Diggs (sorry, Jack, that might be your new blog name) threw out the idea that a drink cart would really top things off.  This suggestion was rather last minute, and Mrs Diggs nearly dismissed it for lack of equipment on hand.  Mr. Mrs Diggs then reminded her of a small transport that holds her laundry supplies.

And we were well on our way to one-upping ourselves.

So while Mrs Diggs and I cackled our way through getting dressed (wigs can be rather funny), Mark and Jack assembled the cart. Sodas (including Tab), Old Milwaukee (it's vintage, right?) and some tiny liquor bottles were added to the mix.  Cups...ice...we were ready to roll. Mrs Diggs' youngest was the only trick or treater accompanying us -- my three were with Mr. X (my first post-divorce holiday disappointment) and her oldest went with school friends.  A few photos were snapped and we were on our way.

Mark, having never witnessed the magic that is the Mrs/Ms Diggs Halloween tradition (except as evidenced in photographs), accompanied us for a few blocks.  That was plenty of time for word to get around the neighborhood that two stewardesses were serving "refreshments."

By the time we made it to the hub of the precinct, we'd tickled more than a few funny bones and satiated our fair share of palates.  We even earned a tip!  The consensus among our thirsty patrons was that we were the best dressed adults that evening and that we should definitely make a return in 2011.

As the din in the suburb quieted, our drink cart lightened.  The last few ginger ales were passed out among a conglomerate of pre-teen boys dressed as cheerleaders.  To quote Mrs Diggs, "An empty beverage cart means it was a successful flight."  Outdo ourselves next year?  I can't imagine how.

But because history tends to repeat itself, I'm sure we'll come through with flying colors...