Tuesday, October 31, 2006


It's hard work being a superhero.
The right fuel is everything.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


It's 9:30 on a Saturday morning. I'm lying here in bed and it occurs to me that this is the first Saturday IN SIX MONTHS that I have not gotten up to go out on a long run. I thought I'd miss it more, but maybe I'm still feeling the afterglow.

Or it could be the apocalyptic weather conditions outside. Between the rain and the wind blowing leaves all over the yard, it looks as if the world is falling to pieces....

...from my view of the window, while nestled snugly in my warm bed.

Yesterday was our school's spelling bee. It is, hands down, one of my favorite days of the school year. Pitting kid against kid in a battle of wits. Lining them up and then one by one, exposing their intelligence (or lack thereof) in front of the faculty, their families and the entire student body. Huzzah!

During my morning Band class, I asked how many of the kids made it into the final 30. About 10 of them raised their hands.

"What? That's all? Come ON! How are we supposed to keep up the myth that Band kids are smarter if you're not all in the spelling bee?!"
"We're not supposed to be smart, Band kids are supposed to be geeks," one replied.
"Well yes, of course you're geeks. But you're supposed to be the SMART kind of geeks."

By the final few rounds of the spelling bee, four kids remained and they were all Band kids. And after a grueling 2.5-hour battle, a 7th grade trumpet player reigned victorious.

Score one for the geeks.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


This is an excellent account of what it felt like to be one of the 40,000.

Thanks Lisa!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Just got in a few hours ago. Was quite easily one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

We arrived around 10:30 AM on Friday and took a lengthy shuttle ride to our hotel in McCormick Place. Spent many hours at the marathon expo (which happened to be right next to our hotel) collecting free goodies. In the evening, we took a cab into Little Italy and had amazing pasta here.

Saturday we slept in and had a $60 bowl of oatmeal in the hotel restaurant [note to self: hotel restaurants can be pricey.] We took the shuttle downtown and ended up taking a tour on one of those double-decker buses. It was a total blast! Our guide was hilarious and we got to see so much of the city without getting tired feet.

After visiting the $75 pasta buffet at the hotel for dinner [note to self: see previous note to self] we called it an early night. Right around then, the rain began. I busied myself laying out my gear, fastening my bib, attaching my chip...

We called for a 6:00 wakeup, but I was already up by 5:45. I've learned that eating solid food too soon before a long run doesn't sit well with me, but I had a Luna bar and a bottle of Gatorade, and that was just fine. We headed down to the lobby, out the door and into frigid wind and drizzle. There was a line 40-people long for the shuttle bus which we waited in it for about 15 seconds before deciding to take a cab. Luckily there were two others guys with the same idea and we all shared the fare.

Got to the starting area in Grant Park around 7:00. Lines for the Port-A-Potties were insane, people were milling around dressed in plastic bags, trying to stay warm and dry. I got into the corral around 7:40, huddled in amongst the other 40,000 people - the energy was absolutely AMAZING! And before I knew it, the horn blared and we were off --

-- not quite. It took just over 10 minutes for me to reach the actual starting line (which is why we all have chips attached to our shoes - they record the actual time - or "chip time" - it takes to run 26.2 miles.)

Somewhere during the second mile we all went into a tunnel and runners started peeling off the course and heading toward the side of the road. I wondered what the hell they were doing, then I realized THEY WERE PEEING! Right out there in front of hundreds of people - right on the street under the tunnel!

And as I was marveling over this appaling public display of utter grossness, I realized I had to pee.

So at the next tunnel, when runners started peeling off the course again, I followed them, dropped trou and peed right there. I figured I'd never see these people again in my life - who cares if they see my naked ass?

I felt great right through the half. My pace was comfortable, the crowds were incredible. I'd followed someone's advice and wore a shirt with my name on the front. So the whole time, people along the sidelines were cheering me on by name. And that was more inspiring than I could have ever known.

Around mile 15 the crowds thinned out a bit and things got a little boring. And at mile 18, I totally hit my wall. Luckily they had an aid station providing energy gels, and while I don't usually do well with the PowerBar gels (they make me as nauseous as food) these were a different brand and worked very well. Well enough, in fact, to get me over that hump.

Miles 20-25 were torture, but I kept going - I refused to walk. I heard a guy on the sideline yell out to some people who were walking, "You have the rest of your LIFE to walk! Don't walk now!" - and that was great to hear. I pressed on. And then I saw it: Mile 26. The very same sign I had seen the previous day from the tour bus. And I remembered saying to HIM: "I cannot wait to see that sign tomorrow."

1 mile to go... 800 meters... 400 meters... 200 meters...

I did it.

My official chip time was 4:28:44. One minute, sixteen seconds under my goal time. And no, I never publicly announced a goal time because I had no idea how I'd fare, but in the back of my head, 4:30 sounded nice for my first marathon.

The rest of the weekend was as amazing as the first half. Chicago is my new favorite town: the buildings, the clean streets and sidewalks, and most of all, the people. Everyone we met along the way - they were great. I didn't want to leave.

We met some friends for dinner at Harry Caray's steakhouse Sunday night, where I had the greatest meal of my life, and back at the hotel, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. This morning after another $60 breakfast [note to self: ...never mind] we took one last stroll out in the cold Chicago air before shuttling off to O'Hare.

Words don't do it justice. What an amazing journey it was. And I am a new person.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Okay, so I had a pretty shitty day yesterday. I'm not typically one for drama, but it seemed as if all areas of my life - personal, professional, physical - culminated in a giant stew of crap right around the same time. And it wasn't even a full moon.

I slogged around crying most of the morning. Then I decided to pick my sorry ass up and I went out for my 4-mile run. Which became 5 miles. Then 6. Then I stopped - not because I wanted to, but because I figured I should. If I'd let them, I think my feet might have just kept on going.

And I felt better. My head cleared - literally and figuratively. Things took on a new light, a different perspective. I found balance. And I remembered the main reason why I love to run: it just makes me feel good.

So I'm psyched for this thing. I'm ready. We're leaving early tomorrow morning and getting to O'Hare by 10:30. I'm so happy that HE'll be by my side, there's no one else I'd rather have there.

When Sunday morning rolls around and I am on that starting line, I will remind myself that all I can do is the best that I can do. I've trained hard for six months. I've become a stronger person, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

And as Ursula K. LeGuin so eloquently put it: "“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


As if playing a game - life.
Carefully, we place each card
Hoping, trusting, assuming, building.
In time, we take for granted.
Never imagining things could
Go so far awry.

How in one instance
Every card can tumble down.
Assume nothing.
Remember, everyone else is building
Towers of their own.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


5 days to go and I may as well be consuming Vitamin Water intravenously. I took some Nyquil last night and slept well for the first time in days. Perhaps a little too well, cause when the alarm went off, I had no intention of getting up. Hence ANOTHER day off for yours truly (or should I say, 'yours truantly'?)

Whatever. After six months of training, I'll be damned if a stupid cold is going to keep me down.

On a completely different note, I'd like to say - or rather, BELLOW from the rooftop of the Sears Tower -


Who could've known that on this day 33 years ago, one (amazing) woman's labor would change the course of history as we know it? Or more importantly, history as I know it. Big kudos to MOM (and to DAD as well, as I'm sure he had something to do with it too.)

And to HIM I say: Thank you for knocking on my door. I love you SO very much. Since you've come along, life has just been so damn GOOD. I never knew loving someone could be so easy and feel so right. With you, life makes sense. I wish you the happiest birthday, and many, many more.

PS - Should I tell them all how good you look in your birthday suit?

Monday, October 16, 2006


I am a complete snot factory. 6 days to go and I am drowning in my own mucus.

In other news...

It's remarkable how bipolar I am when it comes to my job. One minute I am at my wits end, certain that I will not be back the next morning. I weigh my options in my head: "Is it really worth the pension? Or should I just pack up my shit and hole up somewhere 'til they forget about me?"

Then out of nowhere, a kid will do something ridiculous - like get stuck in his jacket - and I'll once again realize that there's no other job on the planet which would pay me so well for doing so little work, while keeping me so thoroughly entertained.

This afternoon I had to sit through a workshop on suicide prevention. It consisted of us watching a PowerPoint presentation while two school counselors read the PowerPoint slides out loud to us. Each of us was also given a packet containing a printed version of said PowerPoint slides. After 90 minutes, I came to my own conclusion that the #1 cause of suicide is probably redundancy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


This guy is running 50 marathons in 50 days.

Way to burst my bubble.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Just finished my final "long run" before the big event. I did 8 miles in some rather cold weather - mid 30's when I started out, frost on the lawn. But a gorgeous morning, nonetheless.

Took a trip to the doctor yesterday. I'm not a big fan of doctors, but with 8 days 'til the race and this pesky cough not getting any better, I sold out. He gave me the new 5-day dose of antibiotics and told me to "drink a lot" - WOO HOO! - "of water." Oh.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I'm playing hooky today. Shame on me. But the 6th graders are away on their annual camping trip, the building is quiet and it seemed like a good day to sleep late.

Shame on me.

While I was out running (my 3 measly miles) this morning, I saw a flock of birds lining up on a telephone wire. I guess they were getting ready to head south for the winter. I started wondering how they go about that.

I mean, is there a group leader? One bird designated to make sure everyone's there? A bird who takes attendance and has all the maps and stuff? Luckily they don't have much to pack - that's one less thing to worry about.

Do they go back to the same place every year? Like time-share? How do they know when to leave? Is there a mailing that goes out?

Are there stupid birds? Ones who get lost or show up late for departure? Maybe that's why they were all waiting on the wire.

"Damn it, where the hell is Phil? Why is he always the last one here?"
"Sorry guys - I had to drop the pets off at the boarder."
"Yeah, whatever dude. You're at the back of the V."

I wonder if we went over any of this in Biology class. Maybe I was playing hooky that day too.

Shame on me.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

T-11 DAYS...

First, thanks to everyone for the comments about Delilah. I appreciate your concern more than you know. So thanks :)

Okay - so I am in the middle of my "taper". That's the three week period before the marathon where mileage decreases so that the body may repair and get itself ready for the big day. All the books urge you to taper responsibly and not to freak out or get weird. I guess the authors, being runners themselves, can relate to the neurosis we're all feeling.

Yesterday I did 4, today 6 and tomorrow 3. And I'm worried cause those little runs seemed harder than some of the longest ones. Perhaps it psychological? I hope so.

Also, I have this weird congestion in my chest that makes breathing difficult & keeps me up at night coughing. I think I may go to the doctor - in case it's bronchitis or something. That would really just suck.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


August, 1992.

I'm about to enter my senior year of high school, and I am at band camp - a place called Camp Green Lane - somewhere in Pennsylvania. It's the third or fourth night of camp, and my friend Bob and I are up to our usual antics. This particular evening we'd decided it would be great fun to disconnect the water to the staff cabin. So we're creeping about in the woods when suddenly from behind I hear, "Meow?"

I turn around to see the most adorable cat emerging from the woods. She's a small muted calico - white, grey and orange. And at that moment, I fall in love. I name her Delilah, after the Queen song.

I bring her back to my cabin and she becomes my pet for the rest of the week. At each meal, I carefully wrap up food to take back and she's quite content. When Saturday rolls around, I'm not sure what to do. Bringing Delilah back on the bus is not an option, so I say my goodbye's and we part ways.

A few days later, Bob and I decide to take a road trip. We hop into my 1984 shit-brown Pontiac Firebird and head west, and we find ourselves back at Camp Green Lane. Delilah is waiting for us - as if she knew we'd be back - and she settles herself into the back seat.

Traffic heading home that evening is brutal. And as a stupid 17 year-old, I don't realize that leaving the car's A/C on full-blast while stopped in traffic is a bad idea. Naturally, I overheat. So here we are: two dumb kids and a cat - stuck on the side of the highway.

As it turns out, we had an angel that day. We're not waiting long when a woman in a Jeep Cherokee pulls over and offers us a ride.

"Um... we have a cat, too," I confess.
"That's okay - hop in."

Bob's dad was a dentist, and the woman drives us all the way to his office. The three of us wait for him to finish with his patients. Delilah sits in her own chair in the waiting room, enjoying the adventure.

A few days after I'd brought her home, I take Delilah to the vet for a check-up.

"She's a beautiful cat," he says. "I'd say she's about a year old. Very healthy. Oh - and she's pregnant."


I learn that once pregnant cats pick where they'll build their nests, you really can't change their minds. And while I try to set up comfortable boxes for Delilah's convenience, she instead opts to bear her litter in my underwear drawer. Four beautiful kittens - two boys, two girls - and Lilah is a fantastic mother.

The years passed. I graduated high school and moved on to college, to grad school. To new homes with roommates, friends, lovers. And each time I returned home, Delilah welcomed me back as if I'd never left.

She was a chatty cat with a gentle purr. The fur around her neck was snow-white, and she was very diligent in keeping it clean. She had a toy pom-pom - which we called her 'fussball' - and she'd play with it every night on the stairs, tossing it up and down and chasing after it. If she caught you watching, she'd get embarrassed.

A few months ago, Delilah started to lose weight. We took her to the vet and learned that she had some tumors in her stomach, there wasn't much they could do for her and it was only a matter of time.

This evening, HE and I took Delilah to the vet one last time.

She got angry when I tried to put her in the cat carrier. She even growled - as if to say, "Leave me my dignity. I didn't come here in one of those things." And so she rode to the vet seated on the back seat.

Driving home from visiting HIS parents last night, we got into a discussion about what happens when we die. HE shared with me his beliefs that we are all essentially made up of energy, and although our bodies may be gone, our energy lingers.

After it was over, we were sitting on the bench outside the vet's office. Thinking back on all the years and the many memories of Delilah, I turned to HIM and asked, "Where did she go?"

To which HE replied, "Nowhere."

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I saw a very well-endowed woman out running today. She looked really uncomfortable - as if they might bounce up and hit her chin. And at that moment, I thanked the Anatomy God for my little B-cups -- the same ones I used to bemoan before I became a runner.

I was thinking of the many strange physical phenomena I've encountered during my marathon training. And while being knocked unconscious by my boobs did not make the list, I'll proudly present the "Top Nine" that did...

#9 - The armor-like calluses I've built up on my feet would scare any unwitting pedicurist back to Asia.

#8 - I've consumed enough protein in gnat-form to qualify as an Atkins disciple.

#7 - I can pee ANYWHERE.

#6 - With the help of my podiatrist, I've learned the correct procedure for lancing, draining and dressing blisters (Yay $18 bottle of Betadine solution!)

#5 - I've come to surpass my deodorant's threshold four times a week.

#4 - I've learned that few things hurt more than the shower jet hitting freshly chafed skin.

#3 - My toenails have been become transparent.

#2 - After long runs, my skin is saltier than the upside of a Pringle.

#1 - My snot-rockets are the envy of all who know me.

17 days to go -- what will normal life be like again?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Yeeecchh. Everyone at school is sick -- kids, teachers... I swear, I'd probably stand a better chance of not getting sick if I were working as Head Toilet-Licker in a tuberculosis ward.

I've been pounding the Airborne every few hours, hoping to create an effervescent forcefield of health.

In other news, five gnats flew into my eyes while I was out running today. This kinda creeps me out 'cause I gotta wonder that if five flew into my eyes, how many must have flown into my gaping mouth? I mean, it's a lot bigger than my eyes. And wetter - if these gnats happened to be seeking moisture.

Lastly, I felt I had to share this... Yesterday I was making soup and a grilled cheese for Bean's and my lunch. There was a bit of chaos going on - workmen pounding on the walls and my brother trying to put something in the microwave - and the soup boiled over while the sandwich burned.

"Shit.." I muttered a little louder than I should've.

And Bean - a three year-old with the wisdom of Ghandi - looks at me and kind of shakes his head and says, "That's not a very nice thing to say."

He was right.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The past few days I have been reading a bunch of runners' blogs and discussions on the Runner's World website. I think it's actually starting to sink in -- the marathon, I mean.

Since April I have been training religiously... following the huge Hal Higdon chart on my refrigerator, and seeing the little green X's accumulate as I cross off each run that I complete. I guess for the majority of the summer, October just seemed so far away. And now it's here - and in just three weeks, it will all be over.

And that makes me sad.

Because I've never worked so hard for anything - committed as much time and energy... Every week passes and I surprise myself by going a little farther. Never could I have imagined coming to think of a 10-miler as "an easy run."

It's become such a part of me. And words can't do it justice - can't convey what it feels like to hurt so bad and feel so good.

This program alone is worth getting the new Mac.