• 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.

  • Weekend Wrap-up: Shark, etc.

    As has become my sad habit (due to the stress fracture of doom), this weekend involved no running. This means you’re not being subjected to a report of how many miles I traveled, etc, etc. Instead, I went to the Lodi Grape Festival with friends who got free tickets. It’s basically like a county fair, minus the livestock, plus huge murals made of grapes. And we had this:


    Along with a helping of odd cuteness:

    Shorn alpaca, perhaps?

    And there were the carnies, of course, who somehow always manage to assemble rides and operate games involving darts without leaving a trail of mayhem behind them. The funny thing is, I heard two security guards got into a fight there, not the carnies.

    Sunday involved lunch with the gals, and then a dresser cleaning spree. I was quite surprised to discover that I had 70 pairs of socks and 61 pairs of underwear. Those numbers have since been reduced, and I plan to go through them again later as I try to Downsize My Life.

  • Friday Friend: Sam F.

    Some bloggers do themes on certain days, such as Three Things Thursday and Friday Favorites. Well, I’m going to do Friday Friends — similar to Twitter‘s Friday Follow, where people list some of their friends. I’ll highlight a blog or website that belongs to a friend, or that I think is worth sharing.

    I’m starting with OperationJack.org, a non-profit run by Sam Felsenfeld, father of an autistic son. In 2010 he is running 61 marathons (it started as 60 marathons, but he’s an overachiever) to raise money for autism research. All profits go to Train 4 Autism. When he’s not jetting off every weekend to run 26.2 miles or more, he’s working full-time, and he’s a doting husband and father of three. I follow him on Twitter, where his Friday and Monday updates are usually concerns about squeezing in time for his kids and wife, or flying home in time for the family’s Sunday dinner. I’m not sure how he manages to blog every day and keep up with a whole bunch of people online.

    I met Sam (yep, my picture’s in there) in September, when he was doing a seven-hour run in Portland. Yep, he really is as funny, crazy and cool in person as he is online. He’s doing just about anything to raise money, and his heart is clearly in the right place. I know people with autism, and they are some of the smartest, sweetest people I’ve ever encountered — but we definitely need to figure out how to prevent autism, because it’s so sad to see them struggle when they shouldn’t have to.

  • My tibial stress fracture

    Warning: This is a long post. It’s all about the stress fracture in my right leg.

    It started as a tiny twinge, a little pain that seemed connected to some tendon issues I’ve been working out since last fall. So I kept to my carefully constructed marathon training plan. When I stopped at a drinking fountain around 15 or 18 miles into a 20-mile run on Aug. 8, it felt worse. When I stopped for good at the end of the 20 miles, I was struggling not to limp. I ignored it and had a fun meal with a bunch of Bay Area running buddies.

    The pain got worse, and I knew something in my right leg was mad. The next day, Monday, was a rest day. Tuesday was a normal run with my running club, but I only ran a couple easy miles due to the pain. Things were not right. I stayed optimistic, giving my leg some rest because I was in a recovery week and could ease off the training. The pain didn’t go away.

    I was convinced it was a tendon issue, but I broke down and went to the doctor (a rarity for me). My insurance had just changed to Kaiser, which I was less than thrilled about, but they got me an appointment the next morning, and I had the obligatory x-ray, though I knew it wasn’t going to do anything. I was right; the doctor called me that afternoon to say the x-ray didn’t show anything and that she was referring me to an orthopedic doctor — a routine I know well due to my lifetime of foot/leg issues. Here’s where I became a fan of Kaiser: I saw an ortho doctor the next day, and he ordered up a bone scan for that afternoon. With my previous HMO, that would have taken eons to get authorized.

    The morning of Aug. 19, I went to the “nuclear medicine” department, where they injected dye into a vein (after several failed attempts at FINDING a vein). They informed me I would not glow in the dark. I beg to differ, on account of my pale skin, but that’s beside the point. I returned a few hours later, and they put me in an MRI-type of machine to take what it basically a long x-ray. The dye makes certain blood cells stand out, so if they’re trying to heal a microscopic crack in a bone, they’ll show up as a big cluster. I’d done some research on this, and knew that if I had a stress fracture, it would look like this (taken from this site):

    You can see the bone there, and then that big black spot is the stress fracture. I was still convinced that was not what I had, because the pain wasn’t restricted to one place. Two years ago I had a metatarsal stress fracture (toe bone in the foot) in the other leg, and I could pinpoint the exact place it hurt.

    So I waited through this long x-ray-type process. This was not helped by the fact that I had to lay on my other hip, which I’d banged up falling off my bike while trying to learn clip-in pedals. (Don’t ask.) Along the way, I learned that the lab lady had run several marathons but doesn’t run anymore because she doesn’t have time. This excuse always seems false to me, because the busiest people can still make time for the things they truly want.

    Anyway, the picture were finally taken and the lady said a radiologist had to read them but probably wouldn’t get to it until the next morning, a Friday. That meant the orthopedic doctor likely wouldn’t get back to me until Monday. I asked if I could see the scans, since they were right there on her computer screen, and she said yes.

    I took one look and burst into tears. Now, I cry about two or three times a year at most, and I hate it. But when I saw that big, black, ugly SPOT on my leg, exactly where it hurt, I knew what it meant. The lady said she couldn’t tell me the results, but the look on her face said I was right. I stumbled out of the room and through the long Kaiser building, hiding my tear-covered face. Even then I knew that people get far worse diagnoses in that same building, but I couldn’t help it. I knew I was out for at least eight weeks, but sometimes these things can take months to heal. The ortho doctor confirmed my own diagnosis the following Monday.

    I was set to race a half-marathon in nine days. I’d been gearing up and training diligently for the Portland Marathon, and training was going well enough that I really could see a sub-4-hour marathon in my future. I would stay there with old friends, and the nerdy part part of me was so excited the race fell on 10/10/10 (yes, I registered for it solely because of those two reasons). And I’d been one of the lucky ones to get picked in the New York City Marathon in November. Not only were my fall running plans gone, but I’d lost $360 in non-refundable registration fees, as well as my bid to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs club by completing three marathons within 90 days.

    Today marks four weeks since I saw that ugly black spot on the scan of my leg, and almost six weeks since the pain started. My leg feels much better than it did a few weeks ago. The inevitable emotional roller coaster ride, triggered by endorphin withdrawal (that happens when you’re used to running 30-45 miles a week), is over. But I still long every day to be able to run. I see people running and I get sad. On my recent trip to Portland, I wanted so badly to run along the beautiful trails, and through a rain shower. I get frustrated over something and want to go run to clear my head.

    But it will get better. Perhaps this mandatory break is what my tendon wanted, too. I will run again, and I will love it that much more.