Monday, June 21, 2010

I Really Did It!!

Yesterday was a huge day for me as I ran my first 5K race.  It was the Father's Day 5K run.

It was a day for achieving goals. I'm all about baby steps and breaking down your goals into small pieces.

Goal #1 - If you're going to train for a 5K, you're going to have run one. Register already! 
Goal #2 - Actually get out of bed and go to the race course.
Goal #3 - Finish the race.
Goal #4 - Try to run it in less than 50 minutes.

I didn't register for the race weeks in advance; I registered Friday night for the Sunday race. I needed something to get me to the race and it wasn't a car ride. I needed to feel accountable to someone. So, I asked my friend and co-worker, Kelly, if she would be available Sunday morning to come to the race - cheer me on and provide advice. (Kelly is a runner/marathoner.) She was very supportive and enthusiastic and asked if it would be okay if Nathan (her main guy and another friend and co-worker of mine) also came to the race. Absolutely!

So, when I woke up Sunday morning. instead of playing my usual mind games and talk myself out of something, I focused on the fact that Kelly & Nathan would be there. I had to be there - no excuses!

When I got to the registration table to pick up my bib, I saw my name on the sheet of runners. It suddenly felt very real and it seemed strange to see my age listed on there as 50. I just don't feel 50. And then I realized that at the age of 50, I was running my first race. HA!

Kelly & Nate showed up and kept me walking and distracted until the race started. It wasn't a big group of runners, being the day after Grandma's and at the same time as the Stillwater marathon. I was thankful for that. I think I would have felt overwhelmed with a large group! 

When the race started, I was trying to figure out my pace. I did most of my training on the treadmill, so I wasn't sure how to determine if I was at the pace I wanted, about 4 mph. I ran and I walked and I jogged and I walked and I speed walked and I walked. I was talking to myself the entire time - not out loud as I'm sure the rest of the runners would wonder about me. 

The race was around Como Lake in Saint Paul. Almost twice around the lake is the 3.1 miles and it is a wonderful place to run - spots with shade and mostly flat with only one area with a slight incline. Now that I know about it, I'm going to have to go there at least once a week to do more outdoor running. 

I was so nervous about the race, that I completely forgot about my fear of running in front of people who can see me!  (Harry Potter's invisibility cloak would be an ideal gift for me.)

I kept the pace pretty well through most of the race. There was this 82-year old racer there doing it as a speed walker. Got a bit stressed when he passed me. For about a 1/2 mile we were playing leap frog. I was like, "Oh, no, I am not going to get passed by an 82-year man!" He was a motivation for awhile and then I realized this guy does all these races and is most likely in better shape than me.  

When I was lapped by the real runners (and winners) and I was okay with that. When I got lapped by them the second time, it was a bit of blow. Then I realized they had already finished and this was just their cool-down lap. My cool down lap was walking to my car to drive home. 

Many people have told me that having people cheer you on during a race provides great motivation. Now I understand. Having people cheer for me as I was coming around the first time made me kick a bit harder - I was motivated to get out of my walking mode and back into the jogging mode.

At the end, again having people there cheering for me, I kicked up the pace and got ready to cross the finish line. As I was coming in at the finish, I could see the official clock. I broke into a huge smile when I saw 43 minutes on the clock. No way! I was going to finish in less than 50 minutes, less than 45 minutes. I crossed the finish line at 43:28. 

I had imagined that I would cross the finish line and drop over or go all jelly legs. I didn't. I wasn't even out of breath. I just wanted to know where the water was! Got a bit of water and then a banana sounded like the greatest treat that God ever created! Luckily, they had plenty. 

During the race, I kept looking behind me and I didn't see anyone. Was I the last one?? I thought there were some walkers that would be behind me, but I couldn't see anyone. About a minute after I crossed the finish line, more people started crossing the finish line. "I wasn't the last one." Kelly just laughed and said, "Of course not."

Several people who knew it was my first race (I suppose because I was telling everyone) came over to congratulate me and one woman wearing a half-marathon t-shirt said, "see you at more races."
Today was also my first hit of the dopamine that runners talk about - my 5K runner's high. Kind of liked it. 

Wait, I have to go backward in the story here, not just pre-race, but pre-leaving-my-house. I had laid out the clothes I would be wearing the night before. (I never do that for my regular days!) I wanted to be able to get dressed and be ready to go. 

I put on the outfit and then determined I didn't like how it fit. Seriously? It's 10 minutes before I need to leave and I'm trashing about my fitness clothing. I found a gray top to wear, but it was wrinkled. For one brief second, I thought about ironing it. I'm about get it sweaty and I was thinking it would look bad? 

So, of the four goals that I had set for myself, I got all of them! I would like to do a couple more 5Ks this summer and perhaps start thinking about a 10K later down the road. My friend Lisa left a message on my Facebook wall asking me I wanted to do the TC Marathon 10 mile this fall. Baby steps, Lisa, baby steps.

Marathon? I don't think I could keep my concentration that long. With my ADD, I'll lose interest and just go wandering off...

If someone would have told me when I was turned 40 (when I was at the highest weight and the most unhealthy I had ever been) that I would be running at age 50 (when I never had before), I would have laughed. If they would have said, I would do a 5K race, I would have insisted they do a drug screen. 

It was just so damn cool!
(my first race t-shirt!!)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Saturday at Target

I've just returned home from a semi-unplanned trip to Target. It wasn't the original destination of the trip, but like the siren's song attracts sailors, the lure of Target just sucks me right in.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Target. It is an outstanding Minnesota-based company and when I lived in Houston in the mid-1980's, I would go into a Target when I was homesick. And I look rather fantastic in red.

Now Saturdays at Target are equal parts shopping, trying the samples and people watching (although if you want high-end Saturday samples, you go to Byerly's). I didn't try any samples because when you're journaling "if you bite, write it," samples will mess you up. In the true tradition of Target, I went in for the basics (milk, meat, veggies) and walked out having spent $75. (My check-out clerk, Adam, told me that every third person he rings up says the same thing to him.)

Nearly every time I go grocery shopping, a rant goes through my head, "Why doesn't anyone package things for single people?"  I'm making spaghetti tonight, so I wanted pasta sauce. I wanted to find a small jar since I don't make pasta that often and the remaining sauce usually becomes a biology project in my fridge.

Then there is the toilet paper issue. Not only am I single, but my home lacks storage space. What ever happened to the four packs of toilet paper? The smallest size I could find was a 12-pack of the double rolls (equal to 24 rolls of paper!).  This whole issue is why most single people do not have Sam's Club memberships. 

Target was a hopping place. There was a large group of people picking out Father's Day cards - guess they won't be mailing their cards. The highlight of today's expedition was a mom with her two young daughters. It truly put a smile on my face. The girls were about four and six and they were so excited to help their mom shop for the lasagna they were making that night. The kids weren't whiney or misbehaving, just enthusiastic. While working with the older one, the younger girl starts wandering down into the freezer row. Her mom is calling her name to come back, but she's looking at every thing around her and was in her own world, happy as can be. ( may have recognized myself in that child)

While Adam the clerk was ringing up my $75 worth of goods, the women at the checkout behind me commented how this Target is her favorite because she used to work here, only the Roseville Target she worked at was torn down and rebuilt, but it was special all the same.  I turned around and asked her if it is a requirement that everyone who lives in Minnesota must work at a Target at one time or other in their lives? 

But of course, I couldn't stop there. I had to add that when I worked at Target, they didn't have scanners and you had to punch in the numbers on the price tag (Adam looked confused at that point - 'what's a price tag?'). AND not only did we have to punch in the numbers, BUT back then Target keypads were set up like telephones, not like a traditional 10-key! My "10-key by touch" skills were pretty wasted by Target and I lasted only a couple of months.

I didn't have to pick up a Father's Day card at Target.

Remember my Couch to 5K Challenge? It is a nine-week program to get you ready for a 5K race. Although I started the challenge back in early April (more than nine weeks ago), I haven't gotten past Week Five. I've been running (even running outside!), but not very consistently. The original plan was to run a race on the 5th of June, but that got canceled when the race itself was canceled. Then I was looking to June 12th and the Lederhosenlauf 5K that was serving beer & brats at the end of the race. Unfortunately, I was telling myself that I wasn't ready and kept putting off running my first 5K. 

Tomorrow, I'm registered to run in the Father's Day 5K around Como Lake. I have my friends Kelly and Nathan coming to cheer me on and take pictures (as proof!). I don't have a time goal since it's my first - my goal is just to finish before they start dismantling the finish line.

The race is marketed as a chance for fathers and their kids to run together. I figured it was a good choice because my dad isn't here anymore. 

My dad died of congestive heart failure complicated by diabetes. My Grandma Harty died of congestive heart failure complicated by diabetes as did her mother. 

I have three generations of reasons why I'm running this 5K.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Last night (Thursday night), I was all set to write a blog post that would demonstrate my anger at some petty and insincere people who are just a bunch of elitist snobs. I would burn them! 

But after I arrived home and switched on the news, Frank and Amelia started telling me about all the tornadoes around the state. I forgot about the blog post and focused on my thoughts of home. The news reports were saying that funnel clouds were being spotted all around Albert Lea in Freeborn County. 

The place I consider home. I may own about 1000 square feet of worn out carpeting in Saint Paul and have a job in the area (sure can't say metro), I'm still an Albert Lean at heart. And at times, a rather homesick one.

 (photo by Arian Shuessler/The Globe-Gazette)

In its usual frustrating style, the news was coming in bits and pieces. Between the reports on TV, I was keeping watch of my friends back home via their posts on Facebook.  The immediacy of the web was a gift last night.

While at work today, it was hard to focus and I was constantly visiting the Albert Lea Tribune website. I knew that one person had been killed and many more injured.  Did I know any one of those people? But I was 100+ miles away and feeling anxious - wishing I could be there.

The Tribune posted an article this afternoon that contained a friend's name in the teaser copy. A quick rush of adreline hit me just seeing a name I knew. Fortunately, the language was the present tense and Terry was talking about the devastation all around him in Alden (just outside of Albert Lea).  

Late this afternoon, the Tribune added a flash gallery of aerial photos of  Freeborn County that were taken Friday afternoon.

As the images cycled through of farm after farm demolished, I began to notice something interesting in many of the photos. Beside the outbuildings ripped off their foundations and trees uprooted, there were cars

Lots of cars. Lined up in a parking lot fashion.

Not cars overturned or damaged, but the cars of the neighbors and friends of those affected, who had shown up to lend a hand. Amidst the near obliteration of the landscape in the photos, you saw the community. 

I would be there if I could, but all I can do right now is pray for all those who lost homes and particularly for those who lost a mom, a wife and a friend.

The nasty blog post that I had planned on writing isn't going to happen. At least not right now. As ticked off as I was when I walked through my front door last night, the storms reminded me of what was really important. 

And a blog post about petty people would have made me the petty one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm finally a Mommy Blogger!

There seems to be only two types of bloggers - Mommy bloggers and everyone else.  I'm in the "everyone else" group due to my severe lack of biological children. But with today's post, I get to move into the Mommy blogger category because today, my blog post is about my Mom. (Work with me, here....)

This Friday, my 83-year old mother will be joining the digital age when she gets internet access in her independent living apartment. OMG, my mom could potentially be on Facebook soon.

I doubt she'll be friending anyone in immediate future as this is the same women who required me to visit two weekends each year: the beginning of daylight savings time and the end of daylight savings time. It seems that I was the only one of her children who had the technical training for resetting all the digital clocks in her house. (oh, and don't lecture, I visit my mom more than twice a year.)

I know this will be an educational opportunity for me because I talk techie all the time and make assumptions that if I know it, everyone else must know it, too. I've already learned how much I take for granted in just trying to explain some Web 2.0 basics to my mom.

Recently, I was explaining how I left a note of sympathy on my home town newspaper's (Albert Lea Tribune) obituary page.  I explained, "I wrote a note to the family about my memories of their mom."

To anyone reading this blog, that would be simply enough. But how could someone who has never used the internet for communications, only to view things, understand writing on a website that doesn't belong to you? It took a bit of time to either explain it or get her flustered enough to stop asking questions - I'm not sure what the real outcome was.

Mom called me last night to discuss the selection of her email address. Could she really use whatever she wanted? More or less, yes. You tell them what you want for your user name (oops).

Explaining the "@" part and how she only chooses the part before the @, was a bit more tricky. "It's called an ampersand and it means 'at."

She wanted to know, "How did you get to have 'family' in your email address?"

"Mom, I didn't choose that part of my email address, I have 'usfamily' because that's the name of my provider." (drats!) 

So, ask yourself - ten or fifteen years ago, would you have understood this? 

This will definitely be a learning experience for me. And perhaps a very drawn-out learning experience. I'll just consider it fodder for having more Mommy blogger posts. (So I can be more like the other kids...)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

People, let me tell you about my best friend...

I've had the same best friend for 40 years and I'm quite proud of that fact!

We met in the fall of 1969 when we were in third grade at St. Theodore's Catholic School in Albert Lea. Mary and I were two of the eight girls named Mary in that class. (And people wonder why I go by my middle name?)

It was my second attempt at third grade and as traumatic as it was at the time, if I hadn't stayed back, Mary and I would most likely not have become friends. It took me about 38 years to figure that out and at my surprise 50th birthday party, Mary thanked my mom for holding me back in third grade. It might have been the first time my mom even realized the impact of that choice.

(So there's another positive to having ADD!)

I don't know many people that have had the same best friend since grade school. Albert Lea is a smaller community, so even though Mary and I went to different schools in 5th & 6th grade (Catholic school was shuttered after our 4th grade year), the friendship maintained. From 7th grade until graduation, we were back together again in the same schools. 

I'm sure many of our friends wondered if we were fused at the hips. 

It would be disingenuous if I didn't admit to a fight in college that was so nasty, we didn't talk for a couple of years. The topic of the fight? A guy. What a mistake! But it also made us realize the value of our friendship. When I talk to young ones about their best friends, I always warn them about the "guy" issue and to promise each other that they would never fight about a guy!

*I did create a voodoo doll in the likeness of this guy and stick pins in it regularly. Because of this fight, I have no photos of the two of us (Mary & I, not the guy) prior to 1983 cuz my evil twin destroyed all the pictures!* 

Today, we live hundreds of miles apart from each other (She's in Atlanta & I'm in St. Paul) and we may not have time to talk for weeks, but when we are together, it's like no time has passed since our last conversation.

Mary comes home to Albert Lea twice a year -the Christmas holiday time and the week of the Freeborn County Fair. Those are two of my favorite weeks and are required vacation time.  When I was a kid, the week of the county fair was always the signal that summer was almost over and we would be back in school soon. Now, instead of dreading fair week, I look forward to it!

I've been so blessed to have a friend who knows all my weakness and strengths and loves me anyway!

Who is your oldest and dearest friend? Do you know anyone who has the same best friend since 3rd grade?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where are the celebrities and Spill-Aid concerts?

A friend of mine recently posted a comment on Facebook that really got me thinking. She asked, "Where are all the "Save the Gulf" concerts? Where are all the TV benefits with celebrities and musicians giving heart-felt speeches about those fisherman, wildlife, beaches, etc.?"

Where are they?

I know the media is talking about the oil spill. Watching "Morning Joe" recently, they kept showing a video clip of a bird struggling to breathe and so coated in oil, you couldn't even tell what type of bird it was. I couldn't watch it. It was painful and just sad to see an animal struggle like that.

When I lived in Texas in the mid-1980s, I would travel down to Galveston and spend time on the beach. It was an incredibly peaceful place for me. But, I could see off-shore oil rigs in the distance and there was always a tar ball here and there on the beach. I'm not a big fan of big oil, so I would be disgusted by the tar ball, but thought that an occasional tar ball wasn't a huge environmental risk.

The disaster that looms now in the gulf is overwhelming to comprehend. It's been happening now for 56 days. (The counting of the days is reminding me of the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979/1980) Plumes of oil are being found 150 miles away from the oil leak site. No one can say for sure, how much oil is escaping from BP's containment cap.

It has occurred to me that the reason we're not seeing these celebrity fundraisers is, unlike Katrina and 9/11, this is a disaster was caused by a corporation. While it doesn't lessen the horrible impact on the economy or the economy, the expectation is that BP will be paying and cleaning up. I don't know if that is even realistic.

I've seen the public relations ad campaign that BP has started running and it just serves to anger me more than improve my opinion of BP.

I learned yesterday that BP had over 700 citations for safety, pollution and other violations - in just the last 3 years. Tony Hayward said that it wasn't an excessive number and they have been improving since he took over.The other Big Oil companies (such as Shell & Exxon)? The individual count for their violations weren't even double digit (yes- less than 10!)

How do you know when Tony Hayward is lying? His lips are moving.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A bit distracted

I wish I could say that I've been distracted. I've been busy, but not so much that I couldn't have written something. I can't even say that I couldn't think of something to write about - again, not true.

I'm floored that it has been two weeks since I last posted. Here's a quick catch-up (glorified excuses for being lazy):

On Thursday, May 20th, I joined with a group of Minnesota Bloggers at Nye's Polonaise Room in Minneapolis to talk about blogging and support @MollyInMinn with her campaign to "End Child Hunger." (Molly's blog, The Snyder 5, was part of a campaign through ConAgra to raise awareness of child hunger here in the U.S.)  The event itself was great. There were about 40 or so bloggers in attendance. I love having conversations with other bloggers to learn about how they started blogging and what keeps them going. Additionally, I got a chance to get caught up with my friend Molly from seriously, who had only been blogging for three weeks.

In the spirit of Nye's, Molly Snyder hopped right up on the bar and thanked everyone for coming and thanked the many who had brought food for the local food shelf.

Two days later (May 22), the bloggers came together again to help raise money for "End Child Hunger" through a 20-family rummage sale. The sale was held at the Highland Park Picnic area, and although I may have been quietly skeptical that people would find us, we had a lot of people shopping at our sale. Everything was priced to move - from $0.25 to $2.00 for the high end stuff. It gave me the opportunity to sell some of the stuff that I was getting rid of in my decluttering challenge. (But since I only had done one day of decluttering, I didn't have much) 

The day started out sunny, but a bit chilly, but by 10ish, the dark clouds were rolling in and we had a downpour of rain. The picnic shelter was large, but the roof was in two parts (as you can see above) and there was a small opening between the two sections, so the rain came into the sale area. 

We had a couple of kids who helped see the fun in rain and reminded us that thunderstorms and rain can be awe inspiring, not awe-full.

The rummage sale raised about $900 for the charity and everyone had a great time! 

Last week (May 24-27) was long hours at the office to get as much work done as I could since I would be out of the office all of this week. (More later) I didn't get any of my running done - I was too tired - and my 5K is June 12th! 

Memorial Day was spent in my favorite place - my hometown of Albert Lea and doing something I really enjoy - running the show! Well, sort of... I helped out two friends who have graduating seniors with their open houses. Mary Jo's was on Saturday. Since I had done one for her two years ago, as well as several other parties at their house, I knew what to expect. She had a great group of friends helping out and, although I was officially "in charge," I really didn't have to tell people what to do, they had their assignments and knew what to do. It was a beautiful day outside and everything was easy!

That's Mary (not the host Mary, but another Mary), Darci and I with fresh fruit and chaffing dishes ready to go...
Sunday's open house had a few more challenges. We had a sudden rainstorm hit about 90 minutes prior to the party - and we had already set up the tables and chairs outside. The wind was nasty and at one point, the rain was going sideways. It only lasted for a short time and we were ready to roll again. Jill (the mom/host) is one of the most creative people I know (as are her daughters) and they had the most interesting theme to their party - CANDY! 

And the candy was color coordinated to the party colors, as were the dresses worn by Jill and her two daughters (Sam, the graduate, and Ashley, next year's graduate); they were pink (Jill), yellow (Sam) and green (Ashley). I like a person who doesn't miss any details! 

There were M&Ms, jelly beans, pixie sticks, suckers, chocolates and PEEPS! (I love Peeps!) The guests were instructed to make up goodie bags for themselves to take with them. They weren't just sugar loaded, Jill set up walking tacos (chips, meat, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream and salsa) to feed her guests. And continuing the color theme, most of the serving containers for the walking tacos were pink, yellow & green. 

The rain held off during the time of the open house, but within minutes after it was over, the rain started again.  But it left us with a gift - the most amazing rainbow that arched completely across the sky. Then it morphed into a double rainbow. Very cool!

During my free time this past weekend, I broke through a huge barrier - I ran OUTSIDE! Albert Lea has amazing running paths that hug the lake and I was determined to get out there and use them. So Saturday and Sunday morning, I got up and ran. They weren't impressive runs, but the point was to learn that I could run outside. Now, I just have to learn to pace myself...

It was a great couple of weeks and right now, I'm in beautiful Seattle for a conference. And my hope is to get some posts written while I'm here! That's if I don't get distracted...