Sunday, May 30, 2010

Joanna Lite

What happens when I am unemployed (technically) and ordered to "Lite Duty," i.e., can't lift anything over 20 pounds or engage in strenuous exercise? Oh, breakfast is still eaten at Panera on Saturday morning. Oh yes. But the week gets filled with none other than those crafts projects that had been on hold.

The first project was the babe's Christmas stocking. He's 2. It was time. I'd given myself 6 months to finish it. I am, after all, the woman who once took YEARS to finish a scarf for my Mom (a vaguely fancy one, but a scarf nonetheless). And it took me less than a week! A week!! It still needs to be sewn up (it was knitted flat rather than in the round) and I still need to duplicate stitch his name onto it, but neither of those things should take too long. Plus I don't exactly know how to do either very well and need to call in help again.

And of course, old pictures found their way into an album at long last. These are from February 2008 and had been printed and on my scrap desk for almost as long. I put this together on Friday and finished it with The Beastie last night over popcorn and ice cream. She and her husband just bought their next house, in far, farawayville. I'm thrilled for them, but...

I am not ready for the continuation of goodbye-themed blog posts. I am moving in less than a month. Other people keep leaving (Meg left, The Gangsta leaves Tuesday, MB leaves later this week). And yet I remain in denial.

June is going to be big. We'll be packing up the home we've loved for 5 years and moving to a new state and a new town and settling in. It could get emotional, logistically complicated, and/or hectic. Buckle up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Buffalo Trace and.....EPIC FAIL

Buffalo Trace Trail Run (5 mi.)

Yesterday morning was my first ever trail race! If you'd put me in a black & gold uniform, I could have easily been convinced I was reliving a high school cross country meet. It felt just like it. Running on a hilly path on mowed grass trails. This one was a bit muddy, but that was half of its charm. The course was five miles long, through the same park we run every Saturday. We always run the bike path and I'd actually never been on the trails, so it was a fun switch up.

It was crazy foggy when I left my house. At the parking area I saw RunningFirst and The Gangsta (Music Says it Best). You can see behind us how foggy it was. We walked over the start area and got settled in.

RunningFirst, Damaris (The Gangsta), me, pre-race

I'd never run a truly local race. The feel of it is so different! It was much smaller (188 finishers), no timing chips, very relaxed. I really enjoyed it. RunningFirst took off way fast, but I suspected I would eventually catch him, which I did around mile 3.75. We chatted for a while before he sent me on ahead to the finish. Allison TORE IT UP, winning third place in her age/gender division with a time of 42 minutes and some change.

Allison with her Buffalo Trace trophy

The Lifesavers came to cheer for us, and on man did they ever! We must have seen them 3 or 4 times throughout the course, including the finish. It felt really weird to be out running on a Saturday at the park without Meg. WEIRD. We all missed her. My finishing time was 46:48. Not as fast as I think I should be doing; I've seen slacking since the Illinois half and was just out for fun. Or that's what I'll tell myself, anyway. :)

Our group post-race: me, Lifesaver, Allison, The Gangsta, Mrs. Lifesaver, RunningFirst

After the race we went out to breakfast and basked in the sun. It was such a beautiful day. We came home, disassembled a futon to give to The Gangsta, and then.....

The EPIC FAIL began

When Mr. Joanna, the babe and I got home from breakfast, I said I wasn't feeling so hot. I didn't think much of it. One of The Minnesotans had a cold and I thought I picked it up from her. By 3pm I suspected I was coming down with something more flu-like. By 5pm I'd confined myself to the bedroom/bathroom, engrossed in my misery. By 6:40 I was on the phone with the patient advisory nurse at the hospital, who told me that since the pain started before (and likely therein caused) the nausea, I should go to the ER immediately.

By the time we were halfway across town I was more or less in tears from the pain. The babe kept saying "Momma hurt? Sowwy. Sowwy." I told him it wasn't his fault. I think he associates apologizing with painful situations rather than with blame. It was adorable, although I really didn't want for him to feel responsible. Mr. Joanna dropped me off at the ER so he could go home and get the babe to bed. I was in all-out crying mode at this point, and just cried through registration and triage, even accepting the wheelchair to go the 10 feet between the two. They immediately took me to a room, where I practically begged for anyone to do anything to make the pain go away. The nurse put an IV in me and went to get a doctor to prescribe Demerol for the pain. It was probably less than 10 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Once the nurse injected it into the IV, it was probably less than 6 seconds before my hands were tingling and the pain was completely gone. It was incredible. I felt loopy and fine.

While hanging out, pain-free, I called Ears to ask if she could take me home when all was said and done. She said she could, but that she would also come and sit with me in the ER so I wouldn't be alone. Around the time she got there, the doctor asked if I would consent to a CT scan. Long story short, I did, I drank the radioactive Gatorade, and they put me in the giant donut-esque machine.

About 30 minutes later, back with Ears in the ER room, the doctor came to tell me I had appendicitis and they were prepping the OR for me. That a surgeon would be down shortly to go over the procedure with me, and it would be removed that night. I'll be honest, I was a little scared. I got changed into my super-fashionable hospital gowns, hugged Ears, got back on the bed, and was rolled down the hall to the OR.

In the OR, I didn't really think about why there was a mask on my face. I thought we were chatting and setting things up and it would be a few minutes. Wrong. The next thing I knew I was waking up the recovery room with Mr. Joanna next to me (Ears had gone to stay the night at our house with the babe, because she's amazing like that). I'm told my speech wasn't too coherent for a few minutes, though I was trying really hard to keep it together. One of the first things I asked was how soon I could run. I was heartbroken when they said two weeks. Two weeks?!? Are you flipping kidding me?!? But to be fair, I couldn't run right now if I had to, so I guess it's a good estimate. I have three small sets of stitches and some other gory details I'll spare you of.

After I could talk reasonably and could get up to walk around a little bit, they discharged me and we came home. I slept until 11ish this morning, then got up to, of all things, help Mr. Joanna get ready for our open house. He was amazing. He simultaneously prepped the house, watched the babe, and took care of me. He's amazing. We got the house ready and left to hang with some friends. I can't believe we still held an open house. Ridiculous, but it needed to happen.

So, I'm on a lot of drugs for the next day or so, can't bathe or drive until Wednesday morning, and can't run or lift heavy objects (including my son-sad!) for two weeks. Looks like I'll have plenty of time to make headway on the babe's Christmas stocking, which I finally started (with some help from Dorie) on Friday.

Last thing--mileage update. I realize I'm a bit behind on this:
258.5 + 4.2 + 2.0 + 5.0 = 269.6 miles (how do I keep getting screwed up by a tenth?!)


After the dust settled from graduation weekend, the reality of life ahead came rushing in, in the form of Meg's departure. A day I'd been celebrating/dreading for a long time. Celebrating because it means she has accomplished something huge and could move on to the next stage in her career. Dreading's Meg. Moving away. But alas, it could be avoided no longer.

On Wednesday I was scheduled to help her pack up. This entailed loading a moving truck at her apartment, driving it to a Pod-like company's loading site, and transferring everything from the truck to the pod. AKA, a lot of moving things around. Like the rock star that she is, Meg had already moved most of her things into the truck by the time I got there. I was brought in for my muscle (ha!) to help with the bigger items.

Meg rolling through town in the moving truck

After we went all Tetris on the Pod. I'll be honest, I was a little skeptical when we first cracked it open, but we got it all in there. Go us!

Still fresh (yes, that's sarcasm) after schlepping duties were over

Post-packing we went out for some dinner and drinks. Since her apartment was empty she stayed with us for the evening. I tried everything I could think of to delay her departure in the morning, but ultimately she had to go. There may have been some tears shed. Elliot saw this and said, "Momma, no!" I love when little boys become protective of their mothers.

We're already on the lookout for a good race to meet up at next year, possibly in the spring. Anyone have a spring race they love? Until then, I'll be lamenting the 1500+ miles separating us.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Graduation Edition

I apologize for leaving you hanging for so long. Believe me when I say it's been a whirlwind. A mostly good one, but a whirlwind. My last week of work (last week) was hectic, then the glorious insanity of graduation weekend started. Welcome to JoannaRuns: Graduation Edition.

Friday evening
Family arrived into town on Friday, bringing our household to seven adults and two toddlers. With Kdot's help, I had planned out meals for the entire weekend and everything ran smoothly, thankfully. A bit of a circus, but a smoothly run one. With a very generous and sentimental gesture from Pepper.

Saturday morning
A comedy and a tragedy. The comedy: Meg and I ran in our "look at us we're doctors" hoods (for about a tenth of a mile) just because we could. The tragedy: it was Meg's last long run before her move.

With RunningFirst, we tore through the first 2.4 miles. I'm guessing it was about an 8:45 pace. Meg's knee started bothering her, so she walked for a while and RunningFirst and I ran another two miles or so. It was a good two miles. Plotting about our fall marathon. Running to keep from freaking out about moving a toddler to a new town. And gorgeous weather. But that was all there was time for, at least for Meg and me. We had places to go...

Saturday lunch
For me, I had my little boy's birthday party to come home and help get ready for. I carried the cake in, so I don't have pictures, but Salt & Pepper (my mother and MIL) and Kdot have promised to share theirs. So check back for that. It was fun. Kdot made some awesome food. The babe looked so surprised when we started singing to him. And gift bags and tissue paper and Thomas are awesome. Naturally. I learned the meaning of the word "obsession" when he opened his new Thomas train set from Pepper. I can't believe he's 2.

Saturday afternoon
When we moved here from the east coast, I brought a bottle of my favorite wine, always with the idea of drinking it with my brother upon my graduation. After I moved here, I amended that idea to say "drink it in a cornfield with my brother." Why? Because I'm surrounded by corn and it sounded like fun. So that's what we did. O.D.P. and I walked to the nearest cornfield (2 whole blocks), stood between rows of sprouting corn, and drank a bottle of wine. Until it started raining anyway, at which point we retreated to my front porch.

Saturday evening
My White Sock (graduation) Party!! I've been looking forward to this party literally since I started my PhD program. And it was everything I wanted it to be. My family, my West Virginians, my runners, my church family, my co-workers and friends all got together to eat cake and celebrate. And my Dad told the story that inspired the party's name. Again, back away slowly if you can't roll JoannaRuns-style, because this is about to get eccentric in the way only academics can pull off. Here's the story, paraphrased, told from my father's point of view:

When I was in graduate school, I would go sometimes with a friend of mine over to the student union for lunch. This was in the era where wigs were all the rage in women's fashion. There was a not very bright woman who worked at the union who we called the Wig Lady for all her hairdos. Well, the Wig Lady had a crush on my friend. She would get nervous and flirt with him. One day she was rearranging plates on one of the cafeteria carts and in doing so accidentally spilled cold coffee and cigarette butts on the man at the neighboring table. Flustered and embarrassed, and thinking she'd burned this man with the coffee, she turned to my friend and said, "Can you help us?! We need a doctor, I've burned this man!" My friend turned to her and asked why she thought he was a doctor. "You're wearing white socks," she replied.

O.D.P. and I were 6 and 5, respectively, when we first heard this story, and we didn't get it. We thought it meant that only doctors wore white socks. And so for the rest of our youths, we both avoided wearing white socks. Sometime around my 19th birthday, The Beastie (aka The Bestie--she's requested a blog name change, and this is me granting it) escorted me to the athletic sock aisle of our local Wal-Mart and strongly suggested that I invest. Apparently, I looked ridiculous running around campus in black cotton socks with my running shoes. I called O.D.P.; he'd only been brought up to speed on the sock issue a week before.

But now, since I am finally a doctor (albeit PhD rather than medical), I can wear white socks with a clear conscience. And so I threw myself a White Sock Party.

As I said, a beloved few of my West Virginians made the long trip for the party. Sadly, I don't have a great picture of The Original Bestie (I have two best friends, which is sometimes confusing. There's The Original, who I grew up with, and there's The Beastie, who I met in college) or Will. But I do have a good picture of Sherwood, who has never appeared on this blog but has played a big role in my life as a runner. We ran cross country together in high school. She motivated me. She inspired me. She also generally kicked my a$$.

Sunday morning
My hooding ceremony! I was hooded by my advisor with my father (because he's also a PhD) attending. It meant so much to me to have my Dad by my side at this huge moment in my life. I sincerely doubt I would have become an academic without him. That's my advisor in red, me in the middle, and my Dad on the right.

Mr. Joanna, the babe, O.D.P. (brother), Kdot (SIL), The Princess of Detroit (niece), Salt (MIL) and Pepper (Mom) were all there as well. And I could not have been happier.

Well, until I was made even several lovely graduation gifts, including a Garmin (!!) from Mr. Joanna and Salt.

Sunday afternoon
More graduating, this time at the University-wide ceremony. Most PhDs in my field don't attend this ceremony. But I did because I've been in college for over a decade and would walk all day if they'd let me. Also because I wanted to walk with The Beastie and her husband, who were also participating in this ceremony. (Admittedly not the best picture, but I'm having internet connection issues preventing me from downloading the other renditions of this picture)

It's hard to explain what it meant to walk with The Beastie, but I really want to try to explain.

In May of 2003, we posed for the picture below as we graduated with our undergraduate degrees. L-R: Ellyn, me, The Roomie (my college roommate), and The Beastie. We'd all lived in the same hall of a dorm during our freshman and sophomore years. When this picture was taken, I knew that I was moving South and The Beastie was moving to the Midwest. We'd planned to talk on the phone one night a week to stay in touch. We both thought then that we would be lucky to see each other a few times a year. There was no way of knowing that after I finished my Masters degree, I would matriculate to the university where she was studying. There was no way to know, in 2003, that we'd spend five of the next seven years living about 4 miles from each other. There was no way to know that we'd seen only the beginning.

We've been through a lot together, personally and academically. And so it was a blessing that I could share the stage with her at our graduation this weekend.

Monday morning
Was insane.
7:45am: drop off the babe at daycare.
8:10am: return regalia to campus
8:30am: pick up rental truck from Home Depot
8:50am: arrive at White Sock party venue to pick up rented tables
9:15am: return rented tables to vendor
9:45am: return truck to Home Depot, incurring a nasty blood blister in the process
10:05am: return home to say goodbye to O.D.P., Kdot, and The Princess of Detroit
10:30am: get on the road to return my parents to the airport
3:30pm: return and drop off thank you gift to our Sunday afternoon babysitter
4:15ish: return home, pick up Salt, and pick up the babe from daycare
5:30pm: go out to dinner to relax

8 loads of laundry, taking out the overflowing recycling, etc.

Helped Meg move out. And that deserves its own post.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

...I think I'm angry still

Name that tune! Anyone?

Hint: it's from the late 90's. Anyone?

Why the post title? Simply put, we're undergoing enormous life changes and have a lot going on. Some elements of this craziness are irritating, and the stress of it all makes me a little less resilient than normal to the things I would normally see coming and brace myself for. Such is life. While stress is detrimental in most ways, it's often actually a good thing for running. Take today. I had an awesome 4 mile run. I felt like I could have run forever. It was fast and glorious.

Except for the brief on-course entertainment by the I.T. Band about halfway through.

(Sorry, that's a terrible joke. And not even original. And those of you who don't run probably don't get it.)

Anyway, twas an awesome day for running. On deck:
1. all-out mile scheduled for Wednesday. Never done one before--wish me luck! Shooting for a 6:59. Can I do it?!?
2. long-run next Saturday early morning, probably 6 miles
3. Trail race the 22nd

mileage: 254.5 + 4.0 = 258.5 miles

Warning: this is about to get super eccentric. Back away slowly if you can't roll JoannaRuns-style.

I spent all day yesterday at a crop (scrapbooking get-together). I wanted to share one of the layouts I made because it involves two of my friends (the Minnesotans). In September of 2007, Mr. Joanna, the Minnesotans and I went to an ornamental grass festival. You heard me right. An ornamental grass festival. Why? Because it was something to go do. Because it was outdoors on a gorgeous day. Because it was in a small town none of us had been to. So we went. I just got around to scrapping this yesterday, and in honor of the fact that it was a completely ludicrous thing to attend in the first place, I made a completely absurd page for it. This is not, by any technical or artistic standard, a stand-out piece. But it is ridiculous, and that was the point. Can you say bedazzled Gothic lettering? Yeah. That just happened. See below or check it here. I should probably have added ribbon to the bottom, but was running out of time and didn't think of it.

Obligatory note on Mother's Day

I had a lovely Mother's Day! Mr. Joanna and the babe bought me a blue glass vase and....wait for it...Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. "Volume 2 focuses on a mother-child relationship. What?" Riiiiight. Remember when I told you we watched Inglourious Basterds on Valentine's Day and The Hangover on our last anniversary? I think I'm sensing a trend here. Totally inappropriate movie viewing (not like that! jeez!!) in lieu of sappiness. I know. I just lost a Chick Point.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Upcoming race decisions

So I have a little of this & that to update y'all on.

First post-race run
Today was my first post-race run. Confirmed: the legs are still a lil' tired from race day. But it felt good to get back out anyway. An easy 2.6 miles around the neighborhood.

251.9 + 2.6 = 254.5 miles

A new race pic from Saturday!
Ears sent some new race pics my way this afternoon. I love this one with every bit of my heart. This is my son in his full-on cheer pose. This is accompanied by a "chhhhhhhh" sound, and I'm told was also often paired with "Go, go go!" Love.This.

Upcoming races
While discussing upcoming races today I was accused today of being an addict (I'm looking at you, Tim). I'm going to chose to wear that as a badge of honor. These are the upcoming races I've decided on and registered for:
Buffalo Trail 5 miler, May 22 (the Roomie will be proud of me for finally doing a trail race)
Lewis & Clark Full Marathon, October 3 (it is so on, RunningFirst--and I'm hoping The Gangsta joins in too)
US National Half, November 7

Let me know if you're planning on being at any of these events!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Expo pic & product review

Quick follow-up post.

First up, the expo pic I promised. The more I think about it, I don't think there is a pre-race pic to post. I think I hallucinated that one into existence. My bad. Expo:

(l-r: Mrs. Lifesaver, me, The Gangsta, Meredith, Coach Dolores, Meg. Love these ladies!)

Second, the product review. At the recommendation of Morgan over at Redhead Running, I tried the Bondi Band. I was searching for a reliable running head band that wouldn't pop off the back of my head. The rubberized Goody ones are ok for short runs, but I've had trouble with them for anything that would fall into the "endurance running" category. So what did I think of the Bondi?

Worth the money. It wicks. It doesn't come off. 13.1 this morning and it did not budge. Sure, it makes me look a little like a pirate if it isn't folded over, but it works. Plus, it comes in a wide array of colors. I also really like that the bottom of it is sewn together so that it isn't crazy wide under your ponytail/hair. I will be ordering more! I was advised that the solid colors work slightly better than the prints due to a difference in fabric, so I'll be sticking with solids. Go rock some cute headbands, girls!

Race recap

I just got home and got cleaned up from the Illinois Half-Marathon. What a morning. I'm going to try to get this recap down before I forget any of it.

About 6:45am Meg and I parked and walked toward the start area. We ran into Mr. Lifesaver and The Gangsta and chatted with them for a few. Everyone was feeling pretty good. All pre-race rituals had gone as planned. But after a few minutes the inevitable pre-race nerves sent us to the porta-potty line. Then as soon as we were finished it was time to line up.

We had the sweet irony of lining up right in front of a very loud woman talking about how her running partner likes to talk a lot while running and she doesn't, and eventually tunes the partner out. We might have moved away from her, but the starting corrals were packed to overflowing. Finally the one and only Katherine Switzer told us to get on our marks, get set, and go (Katherine Switzer!). And we were off.

We decided to run with the 2 hour pace team. We actually started a little ahead of them and, I thought, would stay ahead of them for a while. Maybe half a mile in they passed us and I realized we were off to a slower start than intended. It didn't help that my right shin was mostly numb for about two miles. But, by the end of two miles the shin was loosened up and we'd settled into the pace. Us and a street crammed full of other 2 hour (4 hour full) hopefuls. There was a lot of elbow bumping and accidental kicking. At the 2 mile mark we were at 18:22, right on pace. And bonus--I thought we'd only gone 1 mile. That second one just happened. Woot!

We saw our awesome cheering team (Ears and Mr. Ears, Mr. Joanna and the babe) between miles 3 and 4. We were sweating like insane people in the humidity (thank you, huge storm last night) but keeping the pace pretty well. Between miles 4 and 5 we started letting the pace team slip away and frankly, we were both pretty miserable. By mile 5 I wanted to quit and walk the rest of the race (but did not say this out loud). Miserable. Then around mile 5 our cheering section came through for us again and we kept going.

Around mile 6.5 we came through a big water/Gatorade stop that we'd planned to hydrate at. By this point I had taken to dumping water over my head to keep from overheating. We got through the water stop, saw our cheering section again, and started the 1 mile trek toward the Meadowbrook Park loop of the race (miles 8-9.75). Coming up a hill around mile marker 9 I just stared at the shirt of the woman in front of me, and mentally just let her pull me up the hill. Once I got through that the race got a lot easier for me. The humidity had partially burned off and we enjoyed considerable shade through this section. At mile 9.75 we came through another big water stop, where I drank Gatorade and poured more water over my head (which a lot of people were doing at this point), and we turned up Race Street.

Around mile 10 we saw our cheerleaders for the last time. They are amazing. Driving all over to keep cheering us on. Amazing. I have the best friends anyone could ask for. I kept telling Meg, "let's get up Race, just get up Race." We finally got to Pennsylvania and were barely around the corner before we saw Coach Harley (who ran a 2:37 at Boston--I think he might secretly be a gazelle) wearing sparkly green shamrock antennas and cheering us all on. Incidentally, his sister was the speaker at last night's Team dinner. Pretty amazing people.

At mile 11.5 we split from the marathoners and turned toward finishing the race. We ran west toward the stadium for what seemed like forever, and then we could see it: the last turn before the stadium. We skipped the last water stop and just pushed forward. Into the stadium, onto the field, under the clock, and finished.

Official time: 2:07:30. We got a new PR for Meg, and one that I'm insanely proud of her for toughing it out to attain. There may or may not have been a few tears shed at the finish line, for a lot of reasons. Exhaustion, for one. But more importantly, because this was not just about running. This was about the fact that we've used running as a survival mechanism while she went through Vet school and I got a PhD. This was about a friendship that started through running and has grown so far beyond it. I am not ready for her to be 1800 miles away.

We wandered through the finishers' area for a while and stretched, then walked past the food stations as quickly as possible and exited the stadium. It took us a while to find people, but we did finally find out how everyone did.

Mr. Lifesaver turned in an absolutely incredible, record-shattering 2:17:15 with Meredith.
The Gangsta set a new PR--but wait for her race recap for details and time. I'm not going to spoil it for her.
Coach Paula ran a 2:26:41. I don't think it's a PR for her, but a good time nonetheless.
AM also met her sub-2 goal squeaking in with a 1:59:56.
RunningFirst made the hard but wise decision not to run this morning. I'm counting on this to motivate him to run his heart out at Lewis & Clark this fall.

Before heading out, Meg and I got a post-race picture. This might be my favorite of us! I need to get the Expo and pre-race pics from The Gangsta, so hold tight for those and for a product review of the Bondi Band (as seen below)!

mileage: 238.8 + 13.1 = 251.9 miles