• Wallowing in despair

    I’m skipping this week’s Friday Friend feature, not because I’ve run out of friends’ blogs to promote, but because I’ve been full of angst and despair. So, pardon me while I complain for a few bullet points. I promise to end this blog post on a cheery note.

    • In 36 hours, 12,000 people will be running the Portland Marathon. I, runner #2381, will not be there. My t-shirt, tree seedling and all sorts of other fun things are waiting for me, but a certain stress fracture in my leg ended all of that. I’ve watched my biggest goals for the year crumble to dust. It’s hard, because now I’m watching all the tweets and Facebook posts and blogs from people who are so excited to run on 10/10/10. I was one of them. The running nerd in me is crying.
    • My neck is mad at me. The last time it did this was six months ago, and it knocked me out completely for four agonizing days. I lost six days of running in what was supposed to be one of my highest training weeks leading up to a marathon. My big May race subsequently suffered because of it. At least this time I can function, but I think it’s going to cramp my weekend plans.
    • Writing is a struggle. A story idea finally started coming together and I was actually writing, but it’s not easy. I stalled yesterday, and today I’ve made absolutely no progress. Perhaps my waves of optimism and self-doubt cancel each other.
    • My quest to start a new life in a new place is going too slowly for my liking. I want to be there NOW. I want the move to happen NOW. I hate being in limbo.
    • As a direct result of the previous item, and the running injury, I can’t book plane tickets and make plans for Christmas and New Years yet. I’m anxious to get things squared away while I can still find reasonable airfare rates, but I have to prioritize things. Vacation, even if it does include seeing immediate family members, cannot be my top priority right now.

    OK, no more wallowing (for today). I said I would end this blog post on a good note, and I will. Since I probably shouldn’t tell my new favorite joke (don’t want to offend anyone), I will instead post this photo and say, “Aww, I was a cute baby.”

    Flat-footed and reading a book. Yep, that sums me up.

  • Leg jury is still out

    I went on another half-mile test run today to see if my stress-fractured tibia hurt at all. Like Sunday’s test run, it did not hurt. But I was ever so slightly aware of it, which I think means it needs a little more time off. If my leg is completely healed, it should feel normal; if I feel anything, it probably still has a few extra blood cells lingering around, finishing the healing process.

    I’m not letting this discourage me, because I KNOW my leg is almost better. I am NOT going to risk damaging it further, because a little more time now will mean all the difference in the future. In the meantime, I’ve realized how much I’ve slacked off on stretching and most exercise, so that laziness stops today.

    I looked back at my logs from summer 2008, when I got a metatarsal (foot) stress fracture. (It was the other leg, so they’re not related.) I thought that had taken eight weeks, but in counting the weeks again today, I realized it took a bit less than 10 weeks before I was out running again. Then, including a couple weeks of really struggling to get any mileage in because I was so out of shape, I had eight weeks until the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon. That was a hilly course and I had no hill training, but I ran what was then a PR (personal record) for me, then added on miles to total 17. Seven weeks later — 15 weeks after coming back from injury — I ran my first marathon. That time wasn’t even my slowest marathon time.

    This Sunday will mark 10 weeks since my tibial stress fracture. If, and this is most definitely just an IF, I feel perfectly fine to start running again, that would give me 12 weeks until the third marathon I had planned for this fall/winter. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s enough time. While I’d lose the non-refundable registration fee, I haven’t paid for the hotel and airfare yet. The airfare isn’t a lot, because it would be a stop on the way between holiday plans and I found a fairly good deal, but other things (hotel, car rental even if I can split it with friends, meals, other random stuff) add up.

    So I don’t know yet if I’ll run that marathon. I wouldn’t be looking to beat my current record, since I just don’t have enough time to train for that. But the race happens to be in a state I’ve never visited, and it happens to be on Jan. 1. The nerdy side of me really, really wants to run that 1/1/11 race, especially since I had to cancel my dream 10/10/10 marathon. Additionally, the last couple years I’ve had some very crappy New Years, so I think a marathon would be one of the better ways to start off the new year.

    Conclusion: I don’t know! If my leg continues to feel fine in normal activities, I will probably let myself test it out again Saturday. Meanwhile, I’m going to stretch and bike, even though I grumble about it. I did ride 16 miles yesterday for an average of 16.5 mph, so at least that’s something.


    Oh, and I fixed it so that people can actually comment without having to find the super-secret login page. I hadn’t realized how ridiculous it was. Feel free to comment!

  • Weekend Wrapup: Marc’s 40th

    If a friend turns 40, you’ve had lots of time to clean your house, and you’ve been talking for eons about throwing a party, what do you do? Why, you throw him a party! So that’s what I did this weekend. After all, how many times does Marc Lutz the cartoonist turn FORTY? It was a busy weekend for lots of people, other others just flaked out, but that’s OK. I probably went overboard anyway, so I was left with lots of pizza (mmm), snacks (not what I need!), and wine (yay!), despite my best efforts to send most of it home with people.

    We wound up with a good group of people, and they made it a lot of fun. They tolerated the awesome black decorations that Marc’s wife, Melinda, helped scatter around my house:

    They played “Pin The Tail On The Marc” (admire my stellar PhotoShop skills):

    Yes, that's me.

    They ate. They drank (Jasmine supplied the wine!). And they ate the cake made by Marc’s wife (Marc helped decorate it):

    The cake was almost directly beneath my smoke detector, which somehow didn’t go off despite ALL those candles:

    And the guests humored me by reading some of the research I’d done, printed out and left around the living room. On the day Marc was born, a loaf of bread cost 24 cents. A nice house on the good side of town was going for $17,000. Sputnik launched that day.

    When they left, I posted to Twitter and Facebook, “I have party hats on the front lawn and empty wine bottles in the kitchen. Party must have turned out ok!”

    So, happy birthday, Marc! Here’s to another four decades of cartooning.

    Tomorrow I hope to test my leg on another short run, so I’ll blog about that.

  • Half a mile of hope

    Eight weeks ago, I ran a 20-mile training run, at the end of which my leg was killing me. Almost seven weeks ago, I made my last attempt at running, then went to the doctor and got the dreaded tibial stress fracture diagnosis. The only way to heal such a stress fracture is to avoid any hard-impact exercise — such as running.

    And so, despite the inevitable downward spiral into a pit of endorphin-lacking despair, I ceased all running. The pain gradually and steadily lessened. A couple weeks ago, I started talking about a test run, but I was still feeling occasional twinges of mild pain in my leg and knew it wasn’t ready. I’d already put in weeks of recovery, so I wasn’t about to jeopardize my progress.

    A few nights ago I put on my running shoes and walked around the house. A month earlier, my leg protested the instant I tried wearing my running shoes, but this time it was OK. I even tried hopping up and down a few times on the injured leg. It didn’t seem to mind, but I wasn’t sure if maybe I’d felt a tiny twinge. I told myself that if nothing hurt, I’d run a maximum of  half a mile on Sunday or Monday.

    Today, Sunday, I put on my running shoes. Then I proceeded to wash all my windows (yes, took the screens off and cleaned them, too). The walking and standing on tip-toes felt fine. So I strapped on my Garmin GPS watch, switched it from biking to running mode, and set out down the street.

    After a short warm-up walk, I began to jog, telling myself to go slow but let it feel natural. After exactly a quarter of a mile, I stopped and evaluated — did it hurt, did it feel weak, were there any twinges? The funny thing is that the only thing I noticed was a bruise I’d given myself falling off my bike while trying to learn new pedals. It’s near the stress fracture area, which is a ridiculous coincidence. I pressed all over the area of the stress fracture and honestly asked myself if it hurt. It did not. So I ran the next quarter mile and obediently followed my plan to stop at that point.

    Four hours later, I don’t feel any pain. I’m actually trying to be a bit of a hypochondriac, because in this case it’s so much better to err on the side of caution. To that end, I’m not going to run tomorrow but instead get out on my bike. If I don’t feel anything amiss, I will let myself go on another test run Tuesday. Even if I pass that test with flying colors, I’m NOT going to let myself plan for the future until Wednesday, at the earliest. I love running too much to mess it up.

    Oh, and do you think it helped that I wore my Operation Jack t-shirt today?

    With Sam, the Operation Jack founder, at the end of his 7-hour run.

    (No, I’ve never run for seven hours. I volunteered, as I mentioned in this blog post, and Sam blogged here.)

    Meanwhile, tune in tomorrow for my weekend wrapup that might just include photos of a blindfold.

  • Friday Friend: Deanne

    As soon as my friend Deanne started a blog, I knew she’d be my next Friday Friend feature. It launched a week ago with the hilarious URL of AnnoyedCrazyWoman.blogspot.com. Deanne’s my best friend around, and I can’t wait to watch her blog develop, because she’s funny. The bracket around her license plate reads, “Don’t annoy the crazy woman.”

    She’s currently focusing mainly on her weight loss mission, but I don’t expect it to all be about that, since Deanne also has a funny, energetic kid and a goofy fiance. I predict bits of wedding jabber, gripes about jobs and who knows what else. It’s worth checking out.

  • At least the carpets are clean

    If you’re in the middle of a heatwave, what’s the best thing to do? If you are me, apparently the answer is, “shampoo the carpets!” It sounds like a good idea at first, because the heat will make the carpets will dry faster. However, that only works if you leave the doors and windows open so the heat comes in, which is less than ideal. Duly noted for the next time.

    As I type this, a certain feline is still occasionally throwing himself against the other side of the garage door, apparently thinking that if he whines, scratches and makes enough noise, the door will open. I locked the cats in the garage (how cruel of me; they have towels, food, water, litter and lots of things to explore in there) about four hours ago, which was an adventure all on its own. They knew something was up, because I’d been moving furniture into the garage. When they weren’t looking, I closed the bedroom and bathroom doors, so the cats couldn’t hide very well. Then I tried to coax them into the garage.

    “Coax” is not a word that works with cats. I rattled their food dish and they came running, then skidded to stops at the garage door and refused to move. I picked them up and put them in the garage, but of course they leaped over/under/around/through me to get back in the house. We went around in circles, with me resorting to herding them with the vacuum cleaner. That only worked so well, because everyone knows you can’t herd cats. I finally thought I had them both in the garage when Mickey broke free and ran straight for the sliding glass door. He knocked the whole screen out and took off into the backyard.

    Cue the anxious yowling of a 7-year-old cat who’s never gone outside. He circled the backyard along the fence, then decided it was safer back in the house. I put him in the garage again, and this time he hunkered down in a corner. One down, one to go. Mousie literally put his paws on the doorjamb of the garage door and held on for dear life. After several break-away escapes and one mild war wound to my arm, I somehow got the cat in the garage and closed the door with a huge sigh of relief.

    Then I realized the carpet cleaner was in the garage.

    After another round of tag with Mousie, I was once again victorious. The actual vacuuming and shampooing really wasn’t that bad, and it didn’t take as long as I’d expected. But now I’m sitting in a warm house waiting for the carpets to dry. As I debate whether to close the windows to keep the heat out, I hear the scratching of a determined cat who thinks I’m cruel for keeping him away from damp carpets. This is one of many reasons I’m actively looking for new homes for them — I want less drama and more simplicity in my life.

    At least the carpets have a bit less Cat in their fibers.

  • Writing snippet: The smackdown

    She moved in slowly; circling, evaluating. Then she took a step backward, waiting for the perfect position. Slowly, quietly, she shifted and began raising her right hand, ready to wield the deadly weapon. She took a step closer. And then she brought down her right hand. There was no noise, other than the thud of contact.

    The fly was dead.

    (Written July 12, 2005. I found it in a file of random bits, which I saved as “Sketches.”)

  • Weekend Wrapup: Biking Lake Camanche

    What do you do if you haven’t run for seven weeks due to an injury, you haven’t biked in a while because you have a (mental) pedal issue, and you live in a pancake-flat place? Why, you go ride up and down a bunch of hills, of course!

    My running buddy, Rick, invited me on a bike ride around Lake Camanche, about 45 minutes east of the town where we live. (If we want any kind of hills, we have to drive.) I immediately said yes, because I would much rather have fun company, and I knew it would actually get me some desperately needed exercise. So we set out Sunday morning, and we were on our bikes at 8 a.m. It was going to be a scorcher of a day — 93+ degrees outside in October?! By about 4 or 5 miles in, I was toast. I’m not used to hills, I’m incredibly out of shape, and the result was that I couldn’t see and my stomach was queasy. After about 10 minutes that I don’t remember very well, I rallied and we pedaled onward and upward.

    Welcome break after riding up HILLS.

    What goes up also comes down: The fastest speed I saw on my Garmin was 37 mph, a new record for me. That was incredibly fun and made the uphills worth it. I live at about 50 feet above sea level, and we started around 200 feet, climbing to around 750 feet. Here’s the profile of the 24-mile ride:

    Rick always says that he labors along running while I slow down for him and do more talking so he doesn’t have to. I don’t quite buy that. But at any rate, the roles were more than reversed Sunday: I was laboring painfully up the hills while he was occasionally riding in circles or slowing down to wait for me. I vowed to greatly increase the frequency of my biking, and then I want to go back and ride Lake Camanche again (maybe adding on another 10-mile part) to see if I made any improvements.

    Our reward was a detour to In-N-Out. Oh, and this:

  • Friday Friend: Aron

    I couldn’t decide which friend to highlight for my second Friday Friend installment (introduced last week), but then Aron celebrated her 500th post on runnersrambles.com, so my decision was made. Why not link to one of my favorite runner’s blogs?

    I’ve been following Aron’s blog for quite a while, and she has since done things like qualify for the Boston Marathon. We met in person at a trail race last spring, which worked out well because we happened to park near each other at another trail race a few weeks later. Then she was sweet enough to invite me to a Bay Area run/meet-up, and even invited me to a couple! I can’t always make them, but the drive is worth it because they’re a great bunch of gals, and it’s so fun to run in new places with nice people.

    Another bonus: Aron’s one of the most consistent bloggers I’ve ever seen, so I know I can always look forward to a new post from her. So, congrats on the blogging milestone, Aron!

  • Mt. Shasta

    Since I’m not feeling inspired, I’m just going to post a couple photos of Mt. Shasta. I grew up at the foot of this 14,162-foot mountain located about 45 minutes south of the Oregon/California border.

    Here’s the morning sun over the mountain just north of Weed, a view I saw thousands of times:

    Sun over Shasta

    And here is the mountain from further south, near the city of Mt. Shasta:

    Mt. Shasta

    Not bad for a camera phone. (I took more photos with my real camera, but sorting through those is still something on my to-do list.) Notice how blue everything looks? That’s because there’s no pollution.