30 April 2011

The Very First Race I Entered...

...didn't happen. Not for me.

my high school besties are identical twins... and they are still friends of mine :)

When I was a senior in high school, my best friends and I used to convince each other that not-so-fun things were actually really fun... like going out for the soccer team when none of us had ever played before...

I'm in the back row, next to the goalie who is in all black. My two besties are also in the back row, one next to me and the other is third from the left.

or going out for the field hockey team when none of us had ever played before...

JV, baby :) My buddies made varsity. We sucked so badly. I am back row on the far left... goober-girl.
What you don't know is that our school colors were red and gold... those poly/nylon blend sleeveless shirts were a hideous shade of yellow and our lovely kilts were scratchy red.

or running in the 7.5-mile San Francisco Bay to Breakers when none of us had EVER run before... aside from the running we were forced to do for the above-mentioned teams.

Front row, left... with all the hair... and taller than everyone else :P
My buddies are: second from right, front row and the one with the braces holding up her head.

I think we were using it as an excuse to delay heading off to gymnastics practice (another of our bonding sports... but they were actually good at it, and I was not :P ).  The three of us were not crazy about the new coach, and "training" for the B2B was a legit 'out' of going to practice... for a couple of weeks anyway until the race.  Our "training" consisted of going out to the school track and starting to jog, making it about a quarter of the way around while telling jokes or complaining about various teenager-y things, bursting into laughter that made us literally fall down and roll around in the grass of the football field until we nearly (or did) pee in our pants.  Laughing so hard that no sound comes out. I love laughing that hard. But it is not conducive to training for a long running race.

We signed up to do a Jog-a-thon somewhere in the middle of the training... as many laps as you could do in an hour... money pledged for each lap... money to go to a charity, I forget which one. I think we all ran 5 miles in that hour. We felt pretty freakin' awesome for just doing it... and pretty freakin' wiped and sore because we were totally NOT ready for that.

All the stress from the not training must have compromised my immune system because I got bronchitis within a week of the race. I planned on giving it a shot anyway... 'cuz that's how I am ;-)  But my mom flipped her lid. And since I was still a kid and needed to listen to my folks, I didn't run :(  But my friends did! They said it was awful and that they wished they'd had bronchitis, too. They said I was lucky to have bronchitis. Whew. After that race report, I was soooooo glad I had been sick :P

Ironically, the next time the Bay to Breakers entered into my life was when I had just moved back to the San Francisco area after being away for most of my young adulthood. I entered the race and did not run a step prior to the race. I did all my training on the StairMaster!  lol  I finished in 70 minutes and then raced off to work, where my legs seized up and I was pretty much useless for that whole day and several after it!  (= boss not happy )

Third time's a charm, right?

Here I am... poised on the edge of another trip to San Francisco to run up and over the Hayes Street Hill and then fly through Golden Gate Park (I'd say 'streak', but there will actually be streakers and I won't be running naked). This time I have trained. This time I will be ready. I might not be superfast, but I know I can finish it without losing my job... or, most likely, my breakfast!

I had set a time fantasy goal for myself of one hour flat. That would mean I'd run 8:02 miles the whole way. I am not that fast. I accept that. And someone reminded me that this is the 100th Anniversary running of the race ... there are 50,000 competitors and countless bandits and infinity meddling interested bystanders to contend with so speed is going to be very, very relative :)

Two weeks more weeks of prep... the focus will be on staying healthy and having fun! I want a new experience for this race :)

29 April 2011

When can you say X is IX... revisited

While we were in Paris, Baby X turned IX.  that's nine, in case you don't know your roman numerals ;-)
I vowed to spend a post putting the focus on her upon our return to my photo archives.

Here is my SuperGirl's Happy Birthday post... two weeks late!

I remember vividly the night you were born.
I had started labor that afternoon and was annoyed and needing distraction. I insisted on going to a movie...
"What if your water breaks in the theater?" daddy asked.
"GOOD!" was my reply.
Clearly, I was ready for you to make your arrival ;-)
I went to see The Sweetest Thing starring Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate and laughed my butt off... which makes contractions extra painful as I found out, but I didn't care as much because something was funny.
I had forgotten how much childbirth hurts, even though I had vowed to NEVER forget. 
I would be different from other women... I would NOT forget the pain.
It was a little before 3 a.m. when you came into the world... April 14, 2002.
I finally had a little girl...
my daughter.

You were sweet, easy and happy from Day One.
Everything a mommy could hope for :)

Like nearly every baby, you took a few baths in the kitchen sink!

You loved to hang out with daddy...

and to dig around in drawers.

Everywhere you went, you made friends easily :)

And you slept like an angel.

With an engaging smile on your face, you turned
And continued to be a sunny, happy, joyful girl...
loved by everyone.

A Dora birthday delighted you when you were

Nearly bald for the first few years of life, you were a real curly girlie by the time you were

A globe-trotter at an early age, you spent your birthday in Paris when you turned

In a year of upheaval, you demonstrated courage and strength beyond your years
before the fun-filled day you turned
The Birthday Harley ride...

Later that year, you also learned to ride a horse...

And then a two-wheeler!

Surrounded by friends, you became

You continued to be vibrant, enthusiastic and amazing at

You found your inner athlete and turned
You opened your birthday presents in sheer delight :)

And now you are


Happy Birthday to my wonderful, sparkling delight of a girl :)

You inspire, you ground, you give...

you LOVE.

I love you with all my heart.

Vecchio Venerdì... a future plumber?

Back when he was three years old, Big G wanted to be just like daddy when he grew up. Daddy is a contractor, and Big G knows how a tool belt works...

"I got it, mom!"
as he stuffs tool-shaped puzzle-pieces into his waistband...

"See? I'm a worker..."
you know what's coming, right?

We're thinking he'll be a plumber ;-)

What did/do you want to be when you grow up?
– I wanted to be a movie star. And a mommy. Big G no longer entertains visions of plumbing... he now wants to be a mythology professor. 

28 April 2011

"Mom, how was your run?"

My 11-year old, Big G, has taken to asking me this question after every run. Tonight was no exception.

"It was GREAT!" I said smiling, because it was, in fact, GREAT!

"Anything interesting happen?" He's been reading my blog...

He wants to know if I've raced anymore drunken bums or been scared by anymore hoopty car guys.

Not lately.

But being a mom who doesn't like to disappoint, I thought hard for a moment...

"Well, there were these weird ducks..." I said.

"What did they do?"

"It was a male and a female... kind of like a couple... but they seemed to not know each other yet. She was up on a lawn and he was down on the sidewalk. She was looking over her little duck shoulder at him like she was saying, 'whaaaaaaat?' and he was gazing longingly at her. I think it might be mating season," I told him.

"So was it sort of like two teenagers? You know, where the boy wants to ask the girl to the prom... but he's kind of scared? And she's trying to be all cool or something?" He is getting too smart or big for his britches or something.


"How long were they there?" he asked.

I had to think. I realized they were there for quite a while...

"At least 4 laps," I replied. "Maybe even 5... that's about a half an hour."

And that was the most exciting thing that happened on my run, except...

That I freakin' smoked it!  Woo hooo! Well, as smoked it as I am able anyway ;-)

After my struggling tempo run on Monday wherein I actually did pretty dang well for me, I was curious as to what would come of tonight's maintenance run. The schedule was telling me to hit 10-minute miles for 70 minutes, and I was ready for it.

I ended up doing 6.3 miles in 60 minutes. My splits for each 0.75-mile lap were remarkably close... yay! The fastest was 7 flat (9:20 pace) and the slowest was 7:13 (9:39 pace) but the others were 7:03, 7:04 or 7:05... even as I can hope for :)  I felt smooth and relaxed and great! My hip started feeling tight about 5 miles in, so I made the executive decision to play it safe and finish up a wee bit early.

I am feeling right on track for my upcoming race. May 15th... 7.46 miles of hilly goodness... the San Francisco Bay to Breakers. The good news is... at this point, I know I can finish it! And there is no bad news. How awesome is that?

Père-Lachaise...The World's Most Visited Cemetery

A dubious distinction, to be sure, but this resting place of the notable, noteworthy as well as the regular folk is lovely.  My husband visited it by himself this time... we have been there together on previous visits, and back then hit up all the famous gravesites... Oscar Wilde, Colette, Jim Morrison, Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Honoré de Balzac, Voltaire and Molière... the list goes on and on and on...

This time he was feeling more reflective and introspective, I think. He took some very simple shots that really convey the peace and serenity and love some felt for their dearly departed...

Several shots of the jumbled mass and seeming-chaos of the tombs...

that is actually arranged along careful, narrow paths and walkways...

some more traveled than others...

But he was particularly drawn to war memorials on this visit...
Most referencing World War II.

The inscription on the memorial below says:
Here lies the body of an unknown displaced victim of treason and Nazi barbarianism.

These sculptures just blew him away...

As did this one... another tribute to those who endured the atrocities of the Nazis.

Honoring the Résistance was everywhere...

And this gravity (sorry, couldn't stop myself) was amidst the splendor of Spring... the awakening...
in a most beautiful setting.

Life is precious.

And beautiful.

Make the most of it.

27 April 2011

Jardin du Luxembourg, Part Deux

Spending Sunday afternoon at the Jardin du Luxembourg wasn't enough. And we didn't have Baby X with us. The boys wanted to go back, and they wanted to share the experience with her. So we had to do it again... even though we only had one day left ... noooooooooooo...

Riding the Métro with four kids is an experience, to say the least. You never know how it's going to fill up...

grab the stroller and the kid standing on the seat...

look how it fills up...

there are signs requesting that you stand when things get crowded... the seats flip up and allow more space...

and then it's packed.

But the ride doesn't last forever...

Finally, you get off the train and go above ground...

And walking the tree-lined paths through the park is joyous...

a visual delight for art lovers...

as well as tree lovers!

Though it was a Monday, in the perfect weather there were so many people sitting in the park's chairs, relaxing and enjoying the beauty.

Or playing a game of boules.

We headed to the playground. Remember how I said that French playgrounds are cooler? I showed you a bit of that in Part Un... here's some more... yes, this is that same playground. It is huge and wildly popular... and you have to pay to get in :(  but it is totally worth it.

This time, the older kids decided to try the awesome swing contraption!
You can see Big G in the yellow shirt seated on the swing's seat. The rope is attached to a wheel on a track. You leap off a platform, jump onto the swing and whip around the oval overhead track.

Some of the ropes have the "button" lower and you can stand on it... like Baby X in the turquoise shirt is doing in the above picture.

Q-Man is finishing up the ride, almost back at the platform after whizzing around the track.
They were in heaven :)

I tried to find a better shot of the rope Eiffel Tower climbing structure...

Here Q-Man sits atop the train's smoke stack... this train had three 'cars' and was very popular.

The sand pit was incredible.
That tower-ish thing in the foreground had ropes and pulleys with buckets attached for hauling things up and down. 

The 'big kid' area was huge... my kids were all over the place and it was hard to get pictures of them in the tunnels, on the slides, or going up the ladders.

Then Miss C did a face plant ...
and it was time to go!

As we headed back to the house, we took in all the street art... it is everywhere and in so many forms...


Mosaic wall art...

Colorful window displays of swimsuits!
No matter where you look, creativity abounds.

Even the warning signs are more interesting than ours.

Up next...

Père Lachaise Cemetery. I think that'll be our final stop.

I know, this is getting to be like that slideshow your neighbor shares with you... never-ending... ever...


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