It’s been quite a day. On Friday night, I asked – no, demanded – that my husband and I get in bed by 10:30 p.m., because I had a long run to do in the morning and I was determined to be done before the sun started blazing down at 8:30 a.m. (He’s a stay-up-late kind of guy, and I find it hard to fall asleep if I know he’s going to be in a couple of hours later, making noise like a bull in a china shop.) Gracious guy that he is, he agreed, and we were asleep before 11. Score!

The alarm went off at 5 a.m. and I got up. This was the earliest I’d ever gotten up for a long run. In the past, I’d only trained for half marathons, and they were usually in the winter, so I was able to train in October and November, when temps are cooler and you don’t have to get up before the sun. I was a little nervous about running in the dark, but I fueled up, grabbed my Mace and I was good to go.

I wore my headlamp for the first 30 minutes or so. It was weird because the moths started circulating around the light, and a few of them came dangerously close to flying up my nose. I tried to get a pic, but it wasn’t very good:

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What this pic does not show is that I also ran through a small wooded area and – because it was dark – caught a spiderweb full-on in the face. This is usually the stuff of nightmares for me, but I guess I had some adrenaline going on or something, because I waved around like a wild woman for a few seconds and then kept going.

Anyway, it was totally worth getting up at the crack of dawn. Temps were (relatively) cool and the weather was breezy. I could have run much faster, but I slowed way down and was able to run the whole 8 miles at a consistent pace. I think. I’ll have to check the Garmin later. (You can’t see it, but I am wearing my new Jam Transit wireless earbuds. More on those in a day or two.)

I returned a little after 7. Normally I’d take a shower and then crash, but I had committed to being in a fashion show for a Democratic women’s group. (Lots of fun, but I didn’t get pics – I hope someone will send them to me soon!) So I spent a couple of hours on that, and then it was on to a housewarming across town for a friend. By the time we returned home around 4 p.m., I was exhausted. I took out my contacts and crawled into bed, checked email and then put my head on the pillow. The next thing I knew, it was 5:30 p.m.

It was a good day, but a very tiring one. Plus, I have some delayed-onset muscle soreness from Friday’s strength training, so that’s making things tougher. Looking forward to resting and recovering on Sunday.

As a gardener, sometimes I feel like I’m always concentrating on what hasn’t yet happened with my plant projects … the pansies that haven’t germinated, the salvia that hasn’t rebloomed since being cut back, the alyssum seed that I haven’t yet sowed. So today, I was determined to appreciate something. I went out and cut a fistful of zinnias from the plants outside. They’re the “Cut and Come Again” variety, so they benefit from being pruned anyway.

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They look lovely on the kitchen counter. It’s the little things in the garden that can be so nice, especially with the infernal heat that’s put just about every plant into sleep mode. I’m a happy camper today.

perry and simmonsThe Internet – or, at least, my version of the Internet – has been apoplectic for the past couple of days over the Rick Perry indictment. People seem to swing to the far end of one side or another. Awesome, we got him! No, this is bullshit, it’s politically motivated!

I have been, for the most part, silent (though I did “like” the awesome Richard Simmons pic that you see here, mostly just because it’s Richard Simmons). And it’s not because I don’t care, because I certainly do. It’s because we don’t have all the facts yet. Just a few of the things we don’t know:

  • How far had the PIU’s investigation of CPRIT gone when Perry axed the funding?
  • Did Perry really try to offer Lehmberg another, more lucrative job if she’d resign and leave the PIU to a Repub?
  • Why didn’t Perry call for the resignation of other public officials who have been caught driving drunk, like Mike Krusee, Tim Cole, and Naomi Gonzalez?

And I’m sure there’s probably more that I haven’t thought of, because it’s late and I’m tired and the kids are running around upstairs like coked out elephants. Point being: I can’t tell you if it’s bullshit or not. Hopefully this will make it to trial and we will know more then. I think it’s unlikely that Perry will serve hard time a la Don Siegelman, but I also think that this is pretty much going to sink the Rick 4 Prez campaign that he’s been working up. Thank god for small mercies.

 

I don’t remember what motivated me to start growing 150 pansies from seed. Oh, wait, yes, I do. Several months ago, as the summer temps were just beginning to heat up, I saw a packet of pansy seeds on clearance at Walgreens for, like, 30 cents. I bought them and, for some strange reason, stuck them in the console of my car, where they cooked for a good 6 months. Then it got to be August and I started thinking, hey, it might be nice to have some flowers in the front yard this winter. Especially since I have had zero success getting anything to flourish in the weird raised beds underneath the trees in the front yard. But I remember they had pansies growing under them when we bought the place in 2012.

So pansies it would be. But the cheapo packet I had only had about 20 seeds in it, and I was pretty sure they were no good anyway, seeing as how they’d spent the summer suffocating. So I started looking into ordering some online, and before I knew it, I had 100 more seeds, including some nice fall-ish colored ones, some fancy ones, and even some black ones, because hey, who doesn’t want black flowers in their front yard? Even though I’ll probably regret it when Halloween is over.

But the intricacies of growing pansies caused me quite a bit of trouble. When I was a kid, “growing from seed” meant placing some dirt in a styrofoam cup from the snow cone stand, placing a seed inside, and setting it in a sunny window until it sprouted. But when you’re talking about growing pansies, things aren’t quite so simple. For one thing, they are as fussy as hell – especially in the heat. So this meant germinating the seeds indoors, in an AC-controlled environment. They also like it very, very dark before they will germinate. So this meant placing them in boxes and shopping bags, and covering them with blankets.

But the fussiness has paid off. I’m about 12 days into my project, and things are growing. Sort of. I’ve got about 25 seeds that have poked their heads above the dirt. Which leads to another reason pansies are fussy – as soon as they sprout, you have to go QUICK QUICK QUICK and get them under some lights. But outdoor sunshine won’t do, because it’s too hot. So I had to devise some way of getting light on them. I’m unwilling to spend the $500 it would cost to have a really cool multilevel light system, so I had to make do with a $15 shop light, a couple of fluorescent lights, and a chain attached to the clothes bar in the guest bedroom closet. See?

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You will notice that I have built makeshift pots out of newspaper for some plants and used empty yogurt cups for others. I’m cheap, what can I say?

So now, we wait. I have dreams of a front yard bed that looks something like this:

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But more than likely, it’ll probably be closer to this:

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As long as they’re not dead, I’ll call it a win.

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Hopefully not how I will end my race.

So, I have been wanting to run a marathon for about as long as I have been running. So, about five years. I had big plans to run the Tyler Rose, the Houston Marathon, the Big D … if it was 26.2 and within a few hundred miles, I wanted to run it.

However, dreaming about a marathon and actually doing it are two very different things.

In my early years of running, both my boys were young and their preschool schedules made it hard to knock out training runs of more than five miles or so. Then I ran the Dallas half, and a few halves after that, and then IT band syndrome decided to take up residence in my right leg and never go away. Then, as I was trying to deal with that, I twisted my ankle at Hayden’s birthday party (long story) and ended up spending the next few months playing with resistance bands and antigravity treadmills at physical therapy.

But it’s 2014. And I am probably jinxing myself by saying this, but all the pieces seem to have fallen into place. I have the ankle fixed and the IT band thing taken care of (the key? strength training 3x/week), and my long runs on Saturday have increased from a scant 3 to a sizable 8 (well, it will be 8 this coming weekend). So – with great trepidation – I plan to register for the Dallas Marathon, taking place Dec. 14. That’s the place where I ran my first long-distance race, so it seems fitting that I should go back there for my big to-do.

I’ll be using the Hal Higdon Novice 2 program, since I do have some distance running under my belt. (Seriously, what beginning marathoner hasn’t used Hal Higdon? I think it’s like a rite of passage.) The program calls for me to do a half on or around the week of Oct. 13. I really should run The Showdown, since I can literally walk to the race site, but its killer hills have me worried, so I may target The Colony Half instead.

But enough with the boring, DFW-centric talk. The point is, I’m now officially in training. Here’s to staying injury-free and not losing my mind before December.

duhpinningSo, I am on Pinterest. I’m not an influential pinner or anything like that, but I do have this one pin that, as of today, has been repinned 2,853 times. It will go dormant for a while, and then someone will dig it up and it’ll get repinned for a few days. It’s in the middle of one of those “revivals” right now. And every time I see the email notification telling me “Your pin has been repinned!”, I have mixed feelings.

You see, I wrote this a few years ago, right when I was finishing up my hard work on Weight Watchers. I love WW, since it is the program that finally took me from just bitching about my weight to actually shedding it. But the meticulous counting and measuring that comes along with doing WW can really mess with your mind. (There’s a post about this very subject on Food Riot.) I won’t say I went off the deep end, but I did watch the scale obsessively. One pound up from goal? I drastically decreased my food intake for the next few days until the numbers moved back down. Cake? No chance in hell. I can feel those obsessive emotions when I re-read the text in the pin.

In the years that followed my composition of this pin, my attitude changed. I began running enough that I didn’t have to worry about how many ounces of chocolate I had eaten, or how many fries I had stolen off my kids’ plates at Burger King. I started weight training, and the muscles I was rewarded with are like little magical round-the-clock calorie burners. But most importantly, I STOPPED MAKING DAILY SCALE VISITS. I still check in every week or so to make sure things haven’t gone off the rails, but if I’m a few pounds up, I don’t worry. In fact, as of this morning I was 2.5 pounds over goal.

I don’t regret making the pin. And I don’t have plans to delete it. This take-no-prisoners, you’ve-gotta-work-for-it attitude was what kept me going and enabled me to shed the 20 pounds I so desperately needed to remove. Perhaps it will help someone else, too. If I were to make a “words of wisdom” pin today, it would probably say something like, “PRO TIP: Running Now = Hamburgers Later.”

Yep, I’m a blog slacker. But I have a good reason! I took the aforementioned trip to Albuquerque, and then took a trip to Colorado, which you can read about on my other blog, and then took a brief break back in Texas, during which I experienced some major ugliness courtesy of county party politics. The day after that ugliness, I headed out to Alabama to spend time in my hometown. I added it up and figured out that I’ve been out of town approximately 60% of the weeks this summer. My blog suffered. My writing suffered. But my SOUL revived. Need proof? Check out the photos. (Forgive my husband – he cannot seem to focus on the right thing when he uses my Nikon.)

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The past few weeks have included a trip to New Mexico and a political convention. So, as you can imagine, there hasn’t been much time for blogging. While I figure out how to catch up, I’ll just post the absolutely newest news: Today I became a Tin Man! Early this month, I decided to follow a challenge by oldguyrunning on Instagram, which involved running about 23.3 miles each week in June, for a total of about 93.3.

It was not easy. I was traveling extensively in the second week in June. And for most of the month, I was saddled with summer-vacationing kids all day, which meant I ran many of my miles on the treadmill. But I fought the good fight. I plodded out miles in hotel gyms, woke up early in Albuquerque to hit the streets, and finished up (today!) with a hot-and-humid-as-hell 6.3-mile slog, made all the harder by too much drinking and not enough exercise over the two days prior.

It paid off. This evening, oldguyrunning sent me my finisher’s certificate. Victory is sweet. If you want to play along and participate in July’s challenge, you can sign up at his website.

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I’m a bad blog updater. So I’ll keep it pithy:

On May 17, I participated in the Lovejoy Country Run. Didn’t place, but I did manage to set a PR, besting my time in the 2013 Allen Eagle Run by 11 seconds:

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I’ve also been keeping busy with the kids, who are finishing up their last week of school. We had field day on Friday:

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And, VACATION! I’ll be in The Duke City (aka, Albuquerque) in a couple of weeks with my mom and sis. We won’t be staying through the weekend (so no racing), but I do plan to get some miles in around the UNM campus, and in Nob Hill, around the house we’ll be staying in. We rented this place from VRBO. So cute!

vrboabqIn July, I’ll be on vacation, too…and participating in the Colorado Running Festival in Frisco, running their morning 10K with a 1200-foot elevation gain. This means lots of hill training over the next few weeks! (Yes, I know I said I don’t race over the summer. I’m making an exception because I’ll be outside of the hellhole that is Texas in summer!)

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Political stuff is still going, too – more on that later. It’s shaping up to be a busy summer!

Passing silently: respectful or unhelpful?

I was very interested to read these dueling opinion columns in Runner’s World about passing people during races. I don’t know why passing people is such a sticky subject for runners, but it is. I’ve always had the opinion that some people are going to be faster than me – and thus will probably pass me – and some are going to be slower, and I’ll probably pass them. That’s the great thing about running: ANYONE can be a runner, whether you’re Meb or … well … someone like me.

That being said, when I began running, I quickly learned that passing can be a sore spot for some people, and so I now choose to do it silently. If the field is packed and I get fairly close to someone I’m passing, I might call out “on your left,” but I don’t give encouragement. I also try to keep my mouth shut when I pass people on training runs, too. I still continue to be surprised by how many dirty looks I get when I pass people – even people who are walking. I guess they think I should stop and walk behind them? I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still in the business of giving encouragement to my fellow runners. After I finish a race, I’ll often stand on the sidelines and cheer in those behind me, and I’ve been known to come up and congratulate runners who’ve done especially well. That all happens after we cross the finish line, though.

In personal news, I completed 20 miles last week (second week in a row, yay!) and I’ve been doing some running with my local chapter of Moms Run This Town, which has been fun. Still contemplating my next race.

Photo courtesy Peter Mooney via a Creative Commons license/Flickr