28 June 2012

The Ellimpics

Not a typo.

I've been thinking...

Injured athletes need something to feed their competitive spirit and drive. My new love-by-necessity for the gym machines and rehabilitative activities spawned an idea...

There should be a 'Games' for us.

This is different from the Paralympics. We injured athletes will ostensibly recover from whatever is ailing us. We are not disabled. We're just a bunch of endorphin-deprived, stir-crazy, temporarily-down-on-our-luck, frustrated and hurting individuals who are largely unaccustomed and extremely resistant to training plan revisions, let alone finding ourselves without a race (or tangible goal...something besides 'running pain-free') to look forward to.

We push the limit foolishly, ignoring our bodies' signals because competition feeds us. And if it isn't the competition that feeds us, it is wanting that measuring stick ... that baseline ... that benchmark ... to gauge our improvement. Or maybe it's just compulsion. When we hurt, the tendency is to hurry up the healing process so that we can get back out there. We try too much too soon over and over. It is such a tricky cycle.

But what if...?

What if there were an Alter-G 10K? Or an elliptical 6-hour Distance Challenge? Or a StairMaster 100? An Ellimpics? *note: the word 'limp'...signifying that these Games are for those who limp* We would have the opportunity to feel achievements without reinjuring or risking chronic injury.

Maybe these things already exist. If they do, sign me UP.

It is looking more and more like I will not be running in San Francisco at the end of July. I don't think I can safely get my actual running mileage up high enough that 13.1 will be productive. I would rather give my body the opportunity to be comfortable and strong for Hood To Coast. I have always been much more of a team player than a solo artist, and so saving myself for Nuun's Team Morning and (more importantly) not being in pain is infinitely more appealing to me than risking it all to struggle through a half-marathon.

I've been crushing my cardio workouts and doing lots of climbing. Physically, I feel great...strong and limitless...unless I run. It has been amazing to push the envelope with regard to climbing. The help it provides as I work through some of the most challenging life issues I've ever faced is unparalleled. Having my friend take me to a wall that had me shaking my head the day before as I watched someone else climb it and then announce to me that I was going to do it... in the split-second before a freak out happened, I looked at her and said, "Okay. What's the worst that can happen? I try it, I fall, and you catch me." She smiled and nodded. And I did it.

Challenging my fitness on the machines has been so expanding as well. Last night I arrived at the gym 45 minutes before closing. It had been a emotionally draining, borderline-crushing day, and I knew I needed to do this for me. I had no idea what I was going to be up for. In the past when I experienced inner turmoil *understatement* I have allowed myself to get distracted while working out. When I jumped on the elliptical, a little voice said, "Whatcha got?" I don't really know how I did what I did on that thing, but man, I wish I could do it running. But I can't. I am so grateful that I can do it somewhere.

I left the gym feeling emotionally buoyed and pleasantly, physically spent. The clarity and restoration I got from 39 minutes on the elliptical was akin to the benefits of running. It's time to stop lamenting that I cannot run very much for now and embrace the gifts I have, enjoy the outlets I can utilize, and celebrate what I can do.

I left the gym feeling hopeful. And limitless.

25 June 2012

GymWatch II: HellRaiser

And here I was, thinking that the smells were the worst of my problems...

Cast of Characters

Angry Old Man...

Imagine the hair is white.

Green Shirt Guy...

But no apple, no shirt logo, no sunglasses. Sub in gym shorts.
Annnnnd...probably not Brad Pitt.

Super Sweaty Woman:

Yeah...for real.


Converted industrial-space climbing gym's cardio area...elliptical trainer section, to be precise.

Early evening on a very hot, late Spring day. Little ventilation or natural air-flow.


Opens with Super Sweaty Woman (SSW) transitioning from StairMaster to Elliptical Trainer. After spending 20 minutes warming up on the SM with her heart rate hovering between 130 and 135, she is ready to tackle the meat of her workout over on the ET.

She climbs on and gets started. The plan: increase intensity every 10 minutes for a total of 40 minutes. The first 10 go very well...heart rate ranging from 140-145. In the middle of the second 10 minutes, she realizes that heart rate at 150 is demanding. And she is really, really hot.

Noticing a fan on the pillar 8 feet away, she begins to fantasize about the cool air blowing over her hard-working, sweaty body. Realizing that the fan is aimed at no one, she begins to strategize how to get it aimed at her...without stopping her workout. 

Enter Green Shirt Guy (GSG).

Perspiration-soaked and disoriented, GSG walks over and positions himself directly in front of the blowing fan...sucking in as much cooling goodness as decorum will allow. He appears helpful in addition to sweaty. SSW decides to give it a shot...

SSW (in a loud-enough-to-be-heard-over-the-fan-but-not-shouting voice):  Yo...Green Shirt Guy!

GSG (lifts dazed and sweaty face to see who is talking to him...once he realizes he is wearing a green shirt): Huh?

SSW (smiling...but it probably looks more like a grimace): Do you think you could angle that fan over toward me once you're done with it?

GSG (nods and manages a word): Sure...

Once he's feels sufficiently cooled, he angles the fan toward SSW and gives the look that inquires "how's that?" She gives him a double thumbs-up and a huge smile. He smiles back and starts to walk away...

Angry Old Man (exploding...and when did he show up on the immediately adjacent machine?): JESUS CHRIST! I JUST MOVED THAT FAN OFFA ME WHEN I GOT ON! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?

SSW (sincerely apologetic): Oh, wow...I'm sorry! I'm just so super hot. Maybe we can angle it so that it isn't on you at all and I get just a little sliver of air movement? I don't need it full on me.

As she speaks, GSG tries to politely adjust the fan in just such a way and then begins to leave.

AOM (pissed off beyond all rationality): Nevermind...nevermind...I'll MOVE. JESUS CHRIST! *mutter mutter mutter mutter*

SSW: No...for real...we can adjust it! You don't need to move! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to cause such a problem...I was just hot and still have 25 minutes with my heart rate over 150. Don't know if I can make it with out some fan relief!

AOM (very loud and palpably hostile still as he changes machines): NO. I can't believe this. I'm MOVING. I don't want THE FAN! You. Are. An. A**HOLE! This is BULLSH*T!

Upon which GSG turns abruptly on his heel, strides purposefully back to the fan on the pillar and gives it a sharp whack, sending the cool air blasting full on both AOM and SSW.

GSG (lecturingly, while pointing at AOM): You both have an equal right to have it or NOT have it. An equal right. She as just as much right to have it as you do to NOT have it. I'm not choosing sides.

AOM: Oh... F*CK YOU!

GSG (bending closer and getting quiet): No, man... f*ck you.

GSG spins around and exits stage right. Continues working out in a different part of the gym.

AOM, very flustered, collects his magazine, stumbles off his machine and follows. But leaves the premises.

Who knew such a simple request could raise such hell?

I was kind of shaken by the experience but did manage to continue my kick-ass workout. Finally, I'm learning how to prevent outside "upsets" from affecting my mental sharpness and resolve when it comes to my workouts. I'm not always successful at it, but this time I was :)

In other news, my hip was sharply hurting after one little mile last night. I kept thinking that it would chill out once it warmed up (sort of contradictory, isn't it?), but it didn't. I was sad. But smart. I came in after 1.7 miles.

I may not run in the SF First Half-Marathon on July 29th. Only time will tell...

22 June 2012

Vecchio Venerdì...who's yer granny?

Giving Queen Elizabeth II a run for her money...

c. 1975

Not really sure why I had an affinity for dressing up like a little old lady during my preteen years. Thankfully, this was a brief phase. Sure wish I had a picture of me in my lime green bouclé Chanel suit...it was stunning. Well, it was bright anyway.

In other breaking news...

I climbed a 5.10d and a 5.11a last night. That's progress.

My weekend holds a little running, family time, additional cardio, some more climbing and a visit to the real Granny...the one who gave me the gadgets :)

Wishing a wonderful weekend to you all!

21 June 2012

Why last night was more like '89 than '93 ...

Last week I pulled a Pat Riley. I was making some big talk about a Three-peat. And much like Pat Riley's hopeful-three-peat team...the '89 LA Lakers...we didn't quite get it done. No tears were shed, though. We were killed by the clock. Places to go, things to do independent of running up and down Moeser. Like everyone who fails when attempting a big goal, we have a really good excuse reason.

I never get tired of seeing the elevation profile when I run this motherf*cker...

note: up twice and then some :)

RoseRunner and I decided that actually running all the way up two times plus charging up the bitchiest part of the hill a third time constitutes badass rockstar status, and we look forward to next week when we will be like the '93 Chicago Bulls. I'm not sure which of us will be Charles Barkley and which will be Michael Jordan...maybe she'll be both and I'll be Scottie Pippen or Phil Jackson. Or just a fan waving a giant foam finger. I can't decide. Most likely we'll just be us...two people who like running up insanely steep and long hills.

 You can see my effort in this...

And as I was scrambling to keep moving upward and onward without my heart exploding out of my chest, she was chatting away and doing awesome butt-kicks. She is such a strong runner; it is super motivating for my old(er) lady self :) This time we saw other people running, too! There was a group of 4 guys seriously motoring up and down. We, on the other hand, took the down part nice and easy.

Here is an overlay of the experience...skyrocketing heart rate accompanying hill climbs...

My hip seemed to handle the load pretty well. It is sore and stiff today, but I can walk and sit with minimal discomfort. I am glad it's a no-run day, though :P Today will be heavy on the stretching and rolling. Tonight will bring the elliptical and some rock climbing. I still need to incorporate more actual running into the routine to get ready for this half-marathon in 7 weeks. I am trying to figure out what the minimum requirement is for a successful, uninjured and non-injuring 13.1 miles. Any guesses? Any advice?

And because this post needs a good picture, here is Miss C's demonstration of how to properly eat chocolate chip pancakes...

20 June 2012

Scientific evidence and family-size volatility...

Last year's visit to the Chabot Space and Science Center was shrouded in fog and, befitting a space museum, a total blast...

...and I wrote a whole pictorial poem about it.

On this year's visit, we were treated to beautiful blue skies...but lots of screaming. I still haven't quite recovered from the ordeal. It was sort of like the Apollo 13 mission...kind of failed but no fatalities. On the plus side of things (I guess), the outing provided yet another set of experimental data in support of my scientific hypothesis that when all four of my kids are involved in something it is always far more volatile than when one is absent. It is akin to adding fluorine to a compound, but our family volatility isn't kid-specific. I have almost collected enough supporting data to publish my findings...to what end, I do not know. I should have learned this lesson a long time ago, but denial is the most powerful force on earth...even more powerful than gravity.

Things started out with bang. Well, lots of noise anyway.

Miss C pitched an all-out fit in the parking garage. Something about not wanting to hold hands? As if. She stopped for about 7 seconds to catch her breath when we emerged from the structure only to recommence as we started to cross the road to the entrance because, of course, we needed to hold hands again. The peaceful serenity of the Oakland hills was shattered by her ear-piercing shrieks.

We entered and collected our tickets. It was freeeeeeee because our family has a membership at the Bay Area Discovery Museum which has a reciprocating one-time deal with the Space & Science Center :) The older kids wanted to see the surround-screen movie about the Mayan skies. Miss C was keen on the theater...until the lights went out and things looked like this...

It was over for her when the lightning started flashing and the booming voice started narrating. Fortunately, she didn't scream. She simply buried her head in my chest for about half the show and then quietly said, "Let's go." So she and I left the theater. No harm, no foul.

A brief skirmish ensued once the older kids emerged from the theater following the show. Some computer thing with Mayan calendar things that you move around with a button thing to make something. Elbow jabs, foot-steppings-on, shoving...toss in a few terse words... and...

hey! look over there! Smoke!!!!

Dry ice never fails to amuse. Until the 7-year old with sleeves that are 6 inches too long starts 'making weather' by flapping his sleeves around wildly and manages to whack his older brother once or maybe twice and then the screaming starts again. *sigh*

hey! look at that! gee, this astronaut was pretty short!

Q-man is lined up evenly with the feet of the astronaut suit and comes up to its shoulder. To my scientifically calculating eye, this indicates a height of approximately 5'2" on that astronaut. Of course, taking this photo generated fighting. Of course. I am chagrinned to admit that I was involved this time. Something about who was going to take the picture. Grow up, XL.

hey! look at that! they have freezer section!

We agreed that even though the toothpaste tube of pork and vegetables sounded pretty gross, these strawberries looked grosser...

Last time we were here we were lost in our giggle fits about the toilet...which was so asinine because of course they have a toilet. Imagine if they didn't...wait, no. Let's not imagine that. Anyway, we missed the cool custom plunger! Even space toilets get clogged. Imagine if it overflowed with no gravity...wait, no. Let's not imagine that.

So things were pretty fun in the freezer section. Lots of laughs about the gross-looking food (that I am sure is actually very tasty) and the human waste disposal unit complete with appropriately yellow pee-funnel, cozy poop-chute, and specialized plunger. Lest we get too comfy, however, time for some screaming...

The two-headed spaceman was a brilliant idea...in theory. How Big G managed to snap the pic before the blood was shed is still a mystery. Fortunately, the platform behind the suit has railings on either side or bones might have been broken as well. A mid-week visit was a smart move because that minimized the disruption-of-other-visitors'-enjoyment factor.

Another conceptually fun moment...three-foot tall space creature with really long arms, feet with no legs, and huge boobs... turned unfun when he fell over and then blamed his brother for it and they both started...you guessed it...screaming.

We concluded our visit in the Universe Room. I don't know what it is really called, but my kids call it the Universe Room. There is a lot of info about galaxies in here. And the black hole table thing. A lot of places have these...you roll money into them and kids love it. This one had a collection of balls... wooden, plastic, metal...all of which return to the player via an opening at the table's base, which is awesome because that way you don't spend all of your parking meter change. There are lots of balls... enough for everyone. Or so one would think...

Everything's great here because all the balls are in play.

Diving for the balls, heedless of personal safety.
That poor little girl had to witness the mayhem...she seemed unfazed...

...until Miss C got sick of trying grab from the bigger, faster kids and 
tried to wrest the ball from the poor little girl's hand.

Time to go.

We needed to cross the road to the parking garage again...which, again, necessitated holding hands. My little girl ran away from me and hid in the bike rack.

Which was cute.

I have to call the museum visit a success despite all the screaming...and the little bit of blood. Granted, I was a wet rag crumpled in the driver's seat all the way home, but all four kids were in great spirits talking a mile a minute about how fun it was. I let myself be buoyed up by their now-fun energy, and by the time we got home I felt almost normal. Of course, once we walked in the door...

They started screaming.


19 June 2012

You'd think I was some kind of attention-monger...

Of course I am...I write a blog, people.

An announcement was made today...

We found out our specific teams and leg assignments for the Hood to Coast Relay...you can click that image to see who is running what with whom :)

Upon selection to the Nuun team, we were asked to submit our top three preferences of runner position (there are 12 possibilities...I actually submitted 5 choices) in the hopes that everyone would be accommodated. I am feeling incredibly fortunate for I was given my first choice!


Yes, the same as last year! I have the same sentimental attachment to this set of legs as I did last year...and if you missed that dissertation, click on the words...word?... Glam-O-Rama above and you will be taken to the story, in addition to an initial analysis of the legs I will be running.

Leg 12

Leg 24

Leg 36

Finding out what legs I will be running and whose lap I'll be sitting on for 30+ hours has definitely made it all seem more real. August can't come soon enough! I am beyond excited to be spending quality time in a van with a some new faces and some old friends while racing from the top of Mt. Hood to lovely Seaside, Oregon :)

Is it too early to start packing? Probably...

An awesome and hilarious evaluation of Vans 1 and 2 by Jason Effmann can be found here... click!
(Note: the click takes you to Van 2...because it's the best. You need to click the "hood to coast" label in the sidebar and hunt for Van 1 because it was squirrelly when I tried to link it...but that's Van 1 for ya).

17 June 2012

Another Dad Post

Last year, I put together a tribute to the dads in my life. This year, I am rerunning that post because it really says so much about these special guys... and I found myself unable to do it with a new twist this year. And they really deserve public acknowledgement for all that they do and have done. 
Here's to you, dads...all the dads out there...

Happy Father's Day! 

My dad was a really young guy... always. Some might say maturity was not his strongest suit. And some might say the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. But he was just about the funnest and most loving man one could ever hope to meet.

He was only 21 when I was born and only 51 when he passed away. You can read more about that here. In those 30 years that I had with him, I always knew I was loved and emotionally supported by him to the nth degree. There was never any doubt about it.

One of the biggest points of sadness in my life is that he never got to see me finally at ease in my life. He didn't get to meet the man who became my husband and the father of my children, his grandchildren. And he never got to play with his grandchildren. He would have been an amazing grandpa... probably an even better grandpa than he was a dad :)

He was just a kid.

My stepdad has gotten to be the awesome grandpa! He was more like a big brother when I was a kid... a big brother who could pull rank!  He is younger than my mom... and she was really young when I was born... so he and I are not all that far apart in age.

He is the most loving and attentive grandpa. 

He will go to great lengths to ensure the kids have fun!

So I have had these two fun-loving guys holding the 'father' image in my mind as I was growing up.
And I am so grateful to have and have had them both in my life!
Happy Father's Day to my awesome dad and stepdad :)

Then, one day...

I met a man who had six children...
He had six children because he loves being a father.

Some might say he was insane for having SIX kids... and some might say I was insane for marrying him.
But I knew that there was something nearly magical about him and something truly special about a big family. And having grown up an only child, perhaps I was a little delusional and insane...


love is blind.

Here he is with his seventh (our first)... Big G.

He adores babies...

and they adore him.

Teaching his boy to be a manly man :P

His eighth child... Baby X...
like putty in daddy's arms.

 Q-Man was his ninth child ... and his fifth son... 
he has his eyes.

Still smiling with ten kids!

As the older kids grew up and went out on their own, it became increasingly difficult to get a 'family' shot... this is so old and, sadly, is one of the most recent...
My favorite father with eight of his children
Christmas in Paris, 2002.

Happy Father's Day to my favorite fathers!

with love,


15 June 2012

Fun Five


Dinner last night was at Fenton's (did you see the movie Up? well, Carl and Russell's fave ice cream place is a local spot...Pixar is very close by). Sundaes all around...I took a 'pass' knowing that at least one kid would not be able to finish. Three people had vanilla ice cream. Three people had whipped cream. Two people had marshmallow topping and two had chocolate fudge. One person had peppermint ice cream, and one person ate all 4 maraschino cherries. I was the cherry-eater. Yeah, dessert for dinner. Sometimes you just have to say, "What the heck?"


After eating sundae remnants, I met up with RoseRunner and did hill repeats. Ha. We ran up a hill and then repeated...once. So up the hill two times. Doing something twice = repeat.

this one...it's my favorite

Next week, we're shooting for a three-peat. You know what that means? Yep...three times.


I climbed with Tarzan again this week. And we got in trouble. Well, actually he got in trouble. He was doing dangerous things, and the gym manager ran over and spanked him...verbally. It was pretty freaky. He was 'speed' climbing, and I could not keep up with him on belay. There was way too much slack in the rope. If he'd fallen, he could very well have cracked his head open...for real. Meanwhile, my instructor-turned-friend was over to the side beating on her chest and silently doing Tarzan yells to the point where I was stifling laughter so hard it hurt.


My longest workout in months occurred on Wednesday. Two hours of nonstop cardio, HR zone 2...or maybe zone 3. I'm so old that the HR thing gets me kind of confused. It felt pretty amazing, but I sure wish I could run outside for that long. I really miss being outside! Away from Gaggy Perfume Lady next to me on the stairmaster who started coughing and sputtering extensively mid-workout. I was trying to figure out if the coughing was from her own perfumery or because maybe...ummm...I was the one who was stinking? Well, if it was me, I surely got karmic payback when Patchouli Girl hopped on the elliptical next to me at the very end of my workout. Who the f*ck wears patchouli anymore? Stoners back in the 70's used that potent biz to cover up the smell from all their pot-smoking. I'm guessing that I now probably know who has access to weed should I ever need to score some.


Today is the last day of school. This is the first time I can recall being excited about it since I was in school myself. I usually dread having all the kids home all day for days on end. Days turning into weeks. Weeks turning into months. Whining refrains of "I'm bored." Bickering ceaselessly. When I put it that way, it starts to sound so unappealing :P  Okay...the good parts... no homework! No need to get to school on time! Leisurely days :)  

Now I just need to come up with some fun activities that four kids between the ages of 3 and 13 will all enjoy. Lots o' luck is what you're saying, I know. 

Looking forward to another kick-ass weekend and wishing one for all of you as well :)

Nuun All Day

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As a Nuun ambassador, I received some product samples last week... and I am loving the Tangerine Lime! It's not overly sweet and the flavor has a slight tartness to it that is very refreshing...especially when chilled. Here is a review of the product by Triathlete Magazine if you want another opinion. 

If you want to give Nuun All Day a try, or need to stock up on regular Nuun, you can use the promo code bloggerslovenuun to save 15% on your next order!

12 June 2012

A Kick-Ass Weekend Was Had

*warning:  there are lots and lots of pictures*

At the end of my last post, I swore I was going to have a kick-ass weekend. Seems like often when one makes such a proclamation, things blow up in one's face and the kick-ass-ness turns into an ass kicking. That did NOT happen this weekend. I did, indeed, have a kick-ass weekend :)

It wasn't anything exciting or earth-shattering or extraordinary...just hanging with my kids.

Friday after school we went to an end of the school year party. Same amazing place as last year... remember? Only this time Miss C wasn't drinking white-out; she was stepping in dog crap :(

View from the pool deck.

The little side pool next to the big main pool.

Miss C was enchanted by the enormous freshwater fish tank...
she did leave her shitty shoes outside, of course.

On Saturday we went to the Albany Waterfront Park. Once upon a time, this place was a dump. Literally a dump. There are remnants of this everywhere...huge slabs of concrete slapped all around, piles of busted up mortar and bricks, rebar sticking up here and there in the path. It's a kind of dangerous place. But it also has offered itself up as a canvas of sorts to artists. It's a fun place to take the kids...as long as they are mindful of the jutting rebar and broken glass.
 These photos show the main path, some of the concrete slabs, an amphitheater created from broken stuff and the little beach that is more or less safe for swimming...especially if you're a dog.

 The "Big Art Show" might be the scattered works of art that line the main path...or that might refer to the big structure at the end of the path. I'm not sure. But the path itself is marked by hearts!

The "theme" of this structure changes from time to time. The last time we were out it was painted up like a deck of cards...hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds. This time it was just psychedelic. The kids love climbing in and on it. It creeps me out, so I just observe from the side.

Then, after three days of no formal working out, I was able to squeeze in 100 minutes of sweaty-awesome cardio at the gym before hanging out at the pool with some kids and then chilling in the backyard with the cutest three-year old I have ever known...

"Let's play kitties!"

"This is my kitty face..."

"Can't catch me! Can't catch me!"


Trapping (stufffed) kitties and then letting them go.

Nothing earth-shattering, no compelling storyline, just life. 

Which just so happened to be pretty kick-ass :)


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