Monthly Archives: April 2010

Panhandled

I was sitting on a cement block in the warm bright sunshine streaming down on the city center of Charlotte, NC. The convention center, several yards away, was a black hole to cellular service. So, although I was the only one sitting on that cement block, there were hundreds of others nearby that were also forced out into the beautiful day.

I had to sit there. I am not an important business person with millions decisions that no one but me can make. No, I am just the average Joe who doubles as a working mom. I had to sit there on the cement block because I was waiting for my husband to call me back with an update on one of my children’s urgent health needs.

Sitting still in the city in beautiful weather must make you an excellant target for panhandlers. Maybe my face said, “Kind and compassionate” or maybe it said,” stressed and distracted sucker.” Either way, the man made a beeline for me as soon as he spied me.

It’s not like I’ve never been appraoched by a panhandler before. I have various strategies for handling them. But, I think my latest is my favorite.

See, deep down, I want to feed the hungry, poor, and homeless. I would like to make one day just a little better. That is, if I could trust them. I know about the strung out on drugs kids who create elaborate stories to get money for drugs. I’ve fallen pray to that before. But, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to help those who legitmately need it.

So, the man approached me and I didn’t look away.

“Ma’am, I’m trying to get something to eat. I can’t make it to the shelter tonight. I just need 90 cents to buy a bag of chips.”

Without saying a word, I reached into my purse and took out a Fiber One granola bar. I extended my hand in way of offering the granola bar to him. He didn’t like that.

“Man! I’m trying to get something real to eat!” and he stomped off down the sidewalk.

Seriously?! Dude, you just told me you were going to buy a bag of chips. There isn’t anything real about chips. Fiber One is definately considered healthy when compared to them.

While you might argue that he didn’t realize it was a granola bar and thought it was a candy bar instead, I still point out that he was off to buy “chips”. There is no health advantage there.

I guess I like to think that I was right in offering food in that case. That if he were someone who was truely hungry that he would have taken the offering despite what it was. It not like I offered a partially eaten one.

When my business was finished and i could leave my spot, I felt satisfied. I was willing to help someone truely in need and I think I found a way to seperate those telling the truth from those trying to scam the rest.

When I left the convention center later, the panhandler was still wandering around outside looking for someone to offer him something other than food.

Leave a comment

Filed under personality flaws

Run for the health of it Half Marathon Report

A few months ago I started training for the Run ForThe Health of It Half Marathon. I ran my best time official time ever at 1:56:xx. This past Saturday I Ran For The Health Of It.

I went to bed Friday night in the middle of a thunder storm. The rain was coming down as though it wanted to pound everything back into the ground. I was afraid as I laid there in bed. I was afraid that if it was still raining this deep soaking, pounding rain in the morning that I would not want to run 13.1 miles.

At the same time, I laid in bed full of excitement. I visualized the route and where the water breaks would be. I visualized where I wanted to take pictures to capture proof that I was there and had actually gone 13.1 miles. As a tactical move, I put on my sports bra and favorite tech t-shirt to sleep in. I was already half dressed for the half the next day. The full water bottles and hammer gels were all snug inside my bag resting up for the very important job they would have to do the next day.

As I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, I said a little prayer for better weather in the morning. I felt petty asking for nice weather in the morning when others, like my son who was fighting a serious eye infection, obviously needed my prayers more but it came out none the less.

I woke up before my alarm clock sometime shortly after 6:00 am. I wasn’t really worried about the time. The half marathon was just a ten minute drive down the road from my house. If I slept until 7:00 am, I could still make the 7:15 am start time (because I was already half dressed!) But, what really got me out the door was that there was NO RAIN! Weather forecasters had predicted rain all day. Looks like I had to live up to my end of the bargain by running 13.1 miles post haste. I grabbed a towel for after the race in case it started to rain later or in case I ran into mud.

I arrived in Symerton and found a parking spot near the starting line. I always get a smile reading the town sign of Symerton.

It was quite breezy and chilly when I got out of the car.  I thought that if this half marathon didn’t get started soon that I might not want to run at all.  I made my way over to the trail sign to get proof of where I was and what shoes I was wearing. 

 

Following the wise words of Hammer nutrition, I gulped down my first gel five minutes before starting.  Then I took a quick job up the trail to warm up my legs.  I was very pleased to see that the trail was mostly dry.  It is crushed limestone so I guess it drains well.  I thought this would be an opportune time to try catching a picture of the VFFs running.  Sorry, it’s a bit blurry.  I’m not a professional.

 

After some stretching, it was time to line up at the start line.  I made absolutely sure to have the stop watch ready to go on both my iphone and watch.  (I just remembered to stop the iphone stopwatch.  It was at 74:46:49.4) I wanted to be absolutely sure I knew how long it took me to run this half marathon.

The first mile felt good and I was no longer chilled from the wind, still it was a strong wind coming from the east.  I finished the first mile in 9:28.  That was a little slower pace than I wanted to be going so I sped up just enough to finish the next mile in 9:00.  I was doing ok but I wasn’t sure about holding that pace for another 11 miles.  Mile 2 or Mile Post 13 was the first turning point.   

Right away after the turn I felt that strong prairie wind beating down on me.  The wind was coming from the south and I was running southwest.   This was a problem, at least when it came to my finishing time.  Mile 3 was a 9:30ish mile.  But, honestly, it didn’t bother me too much because I had wanted to go out that day and run strong.  So, if it meant a slower time then so be it. 

Shortly after finishing the 3rd mile, I realized that my stop at the water/fueling station was going to require a trip to the outhouse.  I was comfortable with not quite making a PR but now I was going to be lucky to finish before my 2:03 finish time from the Chicago Half in 2007.  I came up onto mile 4 and made my way to the outhouse.  Lucky for me, for numerous reasons, I didn’t have to wait in line.  I grabbed water and a gel and took off down the trail.  Admittedly, the raspberry was a little hard to choke down but I’m not one to drink a lot on a run so the gel suits me better.   I was sorry that I had not gone back to the bike store to get some more chocolate flavored gels though. 

Miles 5 – 9.5 were pretty much a blur.  I didn’t even pay attention to the watch.  I have pictures of each mile marker but except for the number change they all look the same. 

I’ve read other runner’s reports on their half marathon and marathon and wonder how in the world they remember so much detail.  A long run like this for me is like stepping into a time space continuum.  I know the minutes are going by but the minutes don’t seem as long as a regular minute.  You know, like the kind of minutes you have at work… when you’re watching the clock.  It’s the same feeling I have travelling in a car.  I look back on the trip we took to Ohio a few weeks ago and can’t believe the drive actually took 2.4 times longer than our drive to the In-laws’. 

Back to the half marathon, I do remember that at mile 6… or was it 7?  No, I’m sure it was mile 6… I think…  I decided to ditch my water bottle and drove back later to pick it up.  I hid it in a spot just a few feet from a road crossing. 

Another moment I can recall, I was thinking how nice the trail felt after the rain.  It was softer than it had been the week before.  Running in my VFFs lets me enjoy that running on moss feeling.  On the other hand, it probably absorbed some of my energy making me slower.  Well, at least, I enjoyed the moment.

Finally, I hit mile 9.5 (Mile Post  19.5) where the trail turned and headed back to the finish line.  I took a picture here to prove that I was still wearing the VFFs.

This was one of those times when I could reach back to my younger years and apply my education.  In fact, I was applying Newton’s 1st law, an object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest.   Because, as soon as I stopped to take that picture of my feet by lying down on the ground; I had a hard time getting up and going again.  As long as my feet were turning over, I had no problem going.  It crossed my mind to calculate the friction drag I was creating due to my now inability to lift my feet more than a couple of inches off the ground but I figured I had  better save all my mental strength for remembering how to breathe.   I’d say that my running form was terrible at this point but I don’t think I had a running form to speak of. 

 But with all that effort to build back up my inertia, it never once crossed my mind that I would not finish this half marathon.  I had been given a rain free, mud free day.  I had been given several hours of free time from the family.   I had been given a half marathon.  

 The next 3.5 miles all melted together like a big fondue pot.  The following things may have happened in this order or they may not have. 

I like running on a trail.  The Wauponsee Glacial Trail might be boring but at this point I would not have been paying attention to any scenery.  What I needed was music.  When I’m running on a road, I keep the volume level extremely low so that I can hear my footsteps.  If I can hear my footsteps then I can hear an approaching car.  When I’m on a trail, I have no worries about cars.  I cranked up that music so loud that my brain went off dancing to The Veronicas and The Ting Tings and ignored the fatigue my legs were whining about.

 A later problem was that I thought I had passed the 10 mile marker but hadn’t.  So, I threw a mental hissy fit when I realized that I still had “only 3 miles to go” when I had been thinking that for the previous five minutes.   I had also forgotten to pack my last gel.   It was extremely obvious that I could have used one at every mile marker since the 9.5 mile.  Still, I dragged on.

 Out of habit I looked at my watch.  I think it said 1:47 or so.  I did a quick mental calculation and realized that I still had a half hour to go (even on a good day).  I was way beyond finishing near my previous times.  At this point, there was nothing I could do but finish the half.

 Finally, I had passed the 12th mile and made my way back into Symerton.  So close that I could see the finish line, nay, I could SMELL the finish line.  Ok, it was just me that I smelled.  Usually, I get a last 1/8 mile burst of energy that allows me to finish races with a mad sprint.  There was none of that at the Wauponsee Glacial Trial half marathon.   Amazingly, as I approached the last tenth of a mile, my ipod choose to play “Shout” by The Isley Brothers.  With an exhausted body nearing the finish line, I let that song reach deep inside my soul and thanked the heavens.  I raised my hands and shouted with every shout in the song.  There was nobody at the finish line to shout for me so I shouted for myself.  I think I even jumped over the finish line at 2 hours 17 minutes + or -.  (After all that nonsense, I forgot to check the time)  Here’s a look back at the finish line.

 

Now, you might be asking yourself why it looks so bare in all my pictures.  Where’s the crowd? The timer?  The finish line? My half marathon, The Borgess Run For The Health Of It half marathon, was Kalamazoo, MI while I was in Symerton, IL on the Wauponsee Glacial Trail.  Because my son had just gotten out of the hospital, I did not think it was a good idea to drag him to Michigan or leave him behind in Illinois.  So, I ran a half marathon distance just for the health of it.  I was mighty lucky to be able to run the full distance.  With Mik being in the hospital the weekend before, I had only run two miles over the previous two weeks.  My longest LSD had been only 10 miles about four weeks previous.  I was very satisfied to have been able to go run for the health of it.  All 13.1 miles completed in my VFFs. 

I got home a little later than anticipated but my husband said he was proud of me.  My kids just wanted to know where the heck I’d been.

3 Comments

Filed under personality flaws, running, Vibram Five Fingers

No Half For Me

I am trying to keep the big picture in focus because, today, I am sad that I will not be running the Borgess Half marathon tomorrow.  My son was in the hospital earlier this week and it just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.  Before I would have said “doesn’t feel like the right thing to do” but now I can’t because my feelings want to go running.   Now, I need logic instead of heart. 

Still, it’s a little hard to think about how I said I was going to run the Borgess Half marathon.  I told everyone.  By not going, I feel a little like a poser.  Do those that saw my facebook status claiming I was going to run the half marathon now think I’m a… a…. a liar? I’m a 13.1 mile runner but I have no proof.

I’ve asked a friend to pick up the T-shirt I paid for.  But if I haven’t run the Borgess half, can I still wear it?  Will I let myself wear it?

Like with many things in life, there will be another half marathon on another day.  I need to quit thinking about it before I pack my bag and drive to Kalamazoo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eye Injury, Michigan, running

I’m dishin’ it. How about you?

I’m crashing the dishing party.  Do you want to come with me?  Take a look below to find out a little bit more about me and my blog and then go here http://serenitynow4amanda.blogspot.com/2010/04/dont-you-want-to-be-dishing-it-with-me.html to dish it with other bloggers. 

How long have you been blogging?  Just over a year.  I kept a private journal on my computer for several years before that.  Now it is so far hidden in the depths of my computer that even I can’t find it!

~Why did you start blogging? I was trying to lose weight and I wanted to be down right open and honest with myself in the journal.  I joined Sparkpeople and started to blog about topics related to weight loss.  I’ve always wanted to be a writer so I started this blog to expand on my ideas other than weight loss. 
~Tell me about your blog’s title. Why did you choose it?  We can try to be anyone we want but we shouldn’t forget that we’re still just us. 
~What do you blog about?  This blog is pretty new so it has been mostly about running but I don’t intend to limit myself to just that.  It’s just that running is a big part of my life.
~What is your favorite thing about blogging?  It allows me to be creative and expressive.
~If you had to choose one famous person to become your blog’s next devoted reader, who would you pick?  Right now I’d settle for one devoted reader, famous or not.  But, if I had to chose one, it’d be the Fat Cyclist.  www.fatcyclist.com
~What’s the funniest comment you’ve ever received on a blog post?  I don’t have any comments on this blog yet.  At Sparkpeople.com they let you give goodies to other people.  I’ve received some very fitting goodies to go with my blog. 
Ok, thanks for mingling with me.  I’m off to dish with the other bloggers at the party. 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Scheduling Schedules

I’m going into a mild panic because for about the tenth time this month (Is it really only April 6th?) I have failed to merge all of my calenders.

Yesterday, my husband and children were out of town allowing me some highly desired personal time. I was indeed quite pleased to see that my family schedule meshed well with my personal schedule. It was perfect timing for my 12 mile run.

I spent some delightful time at work looking at the local forest preseve maps picking out which trail I would take. Finally, I settled on a 6.8 mile portion of Wauponsee Glacial Trail. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s as flat and boring as the day is long. It mostly runs through corn fields so there isn’t even any scenery to pass the time away.

Why would someone choose to take such a trail for an out and back 12 mile run? First, there aren’t many choices around here for scenery. It’s Illinois. Second, I have this bizarre theory. During my first half marathon in Chicago, there was a point when I quit running because I could not mentally grasp where I was or how far I had to go even though I had just crossed the ten mile marker. So, I think that if I am able to do all my LSDs on boring, mindless locations (dreadmill) and still have the drive to go further then I should be able to kill the Borgess Run For The Health of It in 2.5 weeks. Or, it’s just a heavy justification for being lame.

Regardless of the location or the scenery(lack of) I was stoked. I was going to run 12 miles in crushed limestone in my VFFs. I was even thinking about going all out and bare for a portion of it. I haven’t done any outdoor barefooting so I am looking forward to learning what I can and cannot handle.

It’s just that a half hour before I left work for my run that I remembered that I had a Cub Scout meeting. A meeting that I remembered thinking worked out well for me because the husband and kids would be out of town. Funny how the exact same set of circumstances worked out so well for two different events. It is understandable that I’d want to schedule each of them, it’s just that I forgot about the other.

In the end, Cub scouts won out because other people are affected by my attendance or absence. It sucks to have to put my running on the back burner but when I’m the only affected party then it is the way it is to be. I’d be bummed if I had to give up being a scout leader too.

So, it’s back to square 6 on the April planning calendar. When will I run my 12 miles? Today is the hubby’s birthday. So, not today. Thursday, we leave on vacation to visit friends in Ohio and won’t be back till Sunday afternoon. I can manage shorter runs on vacation but not 12 miles. Tomorrow? Maybe. Hopefully? With the family back home, I probably will have to run on the treadmill. That is intense mental training! (a.k.a. That sucks!)

Leave a comment

Filed under personality flaws, running, Vibram Five Fingers