starting over

starting over

It’s been a while.

A few years, actually.

So it’s time to start over. Kinda.

I pondered deleting the old entries, but decided against it. They are my thoughts then – and while I’ve not read back over them, I’m sure much still applies to some degree. So they will stay.

But I will start anew.

I’ve learned things since I last posted. Things about the world – some of which I wish I hadn’t learned. Things about myself. Some things have changed radically, others have come full circle.

I’ll address some of these in later entries. Promise!

For now, I’ll start with my title… Why those three characters? Like Belle, I want adventure in the great, wide somewhere. Like Hermione, I love my books and learning. Like Mulan, I’ve become a semi-reluctant martial artist.

Perhaps a strange trio to some minds, but there you have it. Some Disney, some Harry Potter. Some introversion, some action. Lots of questions. All heart.

And all a little me.

For past readers, welcome back. For new readers, welcome!

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Let my Gluten/Wheat-Free life begin!

Let my Gluten/Wheat-Free life begin!

Or at least my Gluten/Wheat-Free life for a couple of weeks while I experiment with going GF/WF to see if perhaps that allergy test was right.

Ok, let me back up since I realize I never blogged about the whole start of this thing. Last August, when I was at the beach with my parents, I noticed I was a little wheezier than usual – something I attributed to the nasty air filter that hadn’t been changed in a while. I also noticed that my chin was burny and itchy a lot of the time, especially after eating, and that it was kind of broken out. I figured that might have been some weird sunscreen reaction and new face cleaner seemed to clear it right up. I didn’t really think anything else about it.

Until I got home, went for a run one morning, came home and made my peanut butter banana smoothie that I usually drank. Within about 15 minutes of drinking it, I noticed that I was getting wheezy and my chin was doing the burny-itchy thing again. The only common denominator in what I’d eaten then and at the beach that I hadn’t had between the beach and that moment was…PEANUT BUTTER. Googled allergic reactions to peanuts and bingo…it seemed to fit.

So I got an appointment with an allergist and immediately cut peanut products out of my diet. The allergy test didn’t show a reaction to peanuts, but my doctor said that they didn’t always pick up allergies, but given my reaction, avoidance was best. The tests DID show a wheat allergy. Which I didn’t buy into. I’ve eaten stuff with wheat in it my whole life and never had a problem. My doc said if I wasn’t having reactions, it could be a false positive so not to worry about it. (Other things that showed up were milk and eggs…ditto in that they haven’t shown any issues.) There of course was the possibility that I truly AM allergic, but the reactions have been so mild I’m just used to it as “part of life”.

Life was continuing on as normal. I’ve read stuff about GF diets, but most of them said that unless you’re celiac or allergic to wheat you probably wouldn’t get any benefits from it. Still, for some reason this weekend, I started wondering about doing a GF/WF experiment just to see. I decided to clean out the stuff I’ve got with wheat, and then replace it with GF/WF stuff just to see how I reacted. Starting yesterday.

Well, breakfast was a Luna protein bar before my run – that’s gluten free anyway, but I eat them because I like them. Breakfast was rounded out with grapefruit juice, water, and coffee. Totally GF/WF. Then lunch began the clean out: Trader Joe’s chicken drumettes (which are breaded), and Trader Joe’s Mac & Cheese (uh, DUH). Veggies and dressing also – all GF just by nature. Well…

Yep. Within 15-20 minutes I started getting wheezy. And guess what one of the wheat allergy symptoms is (when not celiac, which I’m not as I don’t have the intestinal issues)? Wheezing.

Thankfully Trader Joe’s has a great return policy. So this morning I loaded up the whole wheat pasta, the cereal, and the meatballs (with bread crumbs and therefore not GF) and took them back to return them and get GF foods. Mission accomplished. One thing I’m noticing is that I think this will help me eat better period as while it’s not impossible, it’s a lot harder to find GF/WF junk.

So the GF/WF experiment begins today. I’m going to be a lot more conscious of my wheezing and stuff to see if my theory (and the allergy test) is correct. Also note how I feel. Yay!

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Pride and “Brave”

OK, so there isn’t a huge tie between the two – other than they both occurred for me in the same weekend. But maybe there’s more of a tie than you’d think.

For me, Pride 2012 kicked off with the Front Runners New York Pride Run on Saturday morning in Central Park. It was definitely hot and humid, but I felt like it was slightly better than last year temperature-wise. Apparently not. Oh well. I still managed to do slightly better than last year by a few seconds. Yay!

After, it was the after-party at Boxers. I definitely felt like last year’s was better – this year’s was just kind of “let’s hang out at the bar”. I stayed for a while, but not really long.

Then I went to see “Brave” – but more on that later.

I spent Saturday evening and early Sunday morning debating who to march with in the March. I could go with my church, who I’ve marched with the past few years or I could march with Front Runners, which would be a new experience. Both had their potentially positive aspects. And both had their negative aspects. Ultimately I decided to march with Front Runners…and as much as I love the friends I do have in Front Runners, as I’ve said before it’s hard fitting in. I’m slower, and I don’t sprint. So that meant I wasn’t participating in the staged “races” along the route. It’s a larger group to be marching with, and gets the crowd a bit more involved, but I still felt as if I was marching alone much of the time. I found myself wishing I’d gone with my church group. My Front Runners family is great…but it was almost too much for the weekend if that makes sense.

Of course there’s no guarantee how marching with church would have gone either – the people who participate can vary a bit from year to year and that affects the vibe of the whole experience. I definitely missed hanging out with people I knew were marching.

So my thinking right now is I’ll go with the church group…but who knows. So much can change between now and then. And I’m sure my mood (I’m in one of those “I feel blah and unhappy and can’t pinpoint why” troughs right now) isn’t helping my assessment of the weekend.

But “Brave” was definitely the highlight of the weekend!

I’d been anticipating this movie since I heard about it for a variety of reasons: set in Scotland, a Disney/Pixar movie, finally a totally kick-butt “I’m going to be my own person and not wait around for some guy to win my hand” Princess…plus the previews I’d seen looked great!

And I have to say, it didn’t disappoint me.

Was it predictable? Yes, a bit. But it’s a children’s movie – not an adult psychological thriller. The writing is appropriate for a children’s movie. (I honestly think sometimes reviewers forget the audience movies they are reviewing is geared for.) But it’s touching and a lot funnier than I anticipated it being. There are some scenes that are scary – it’s rated PG after all, not G.

But the message and the lessons learned are great. And I love the fact that for Merida, happily ever after doesn’t involve giving up everything about who she is (ahem: Ariel) or becoming dependent on a guy (or anyone…I’d be as “Stand up for yourself and your identity girl!” if a princess was a lesbian and gave up her identity/depended on her female partner. Please note: I am NOT saying anything about Merida’s sexuality. The only relationships depicted in the movie are familial ones with her mother, her father, and her triplet brothers; and the princes are simply there as part of the tradition that Merida is rebelling against. No reason other than she wants to be her own person is given.). In Merida we have a strong, independent, athletic, and yet still loving and family-centered princess. We need more like her in the princess universe!! Please!!!!!

This is definitely one that will be on my re-watch list. And my must own list.

So overall it was a good weekend. I wish some things had been different, but ultimately I think they were what they were for a reason, and I may not see it now, but I’m sure it’ll come clear at some point.

100 Things About Running Entry #9

100 Things About Running Entry #9

Running for charity!

If you remember back to my post about Boston, I had mentioned that I one day planned to participate in that race for one of the charities.

I still might, but not 2013. And probably not 2014. (And who knows how long they’ll keep those non-qualifying pace slots even available.)

Because a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision.

I am running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the American Brain Tumor Association’s Team Breakthrough!

Chicago had initially been on my list for 2013. My friend Rick and I had talked about it and that was the year we were going to run it. Then he decided to run it this year. I resisted and didn’t sign up. And it sold out. But as in most major marathons, there were charity slots available. I was set on Chicago being in 2013, and didn’t really look into the charity option.

(To explain the 2013 thing, I had planned to run NYC in 2012 since I had guaranteed entry through the NYRR 9+1 program in which as a NYRR member I ran 9 races and volunteered at one in the year 2011. But then they bumped up the price to where it would have been $227. My line in the sand for a non-destination (for me) race was $200. You might say “It’s only $27!” but I had to draw the line somewhere. And clearly with the number of people rejected through the lottery they aren’t hurting for money or people who want to run it. I’m just not one of them.)

And then I got an email from ABTA about the slots that they had available in Chicago. Read it, but didn’t act on it immediately. But I guess it stored itself in my head because a few days after receiving it, I had a series of dream about my childhood friend Philip.

Philip and I were pretty much inseparable from the time we moved to Tennessee when I was almost 3. The summer I was turning 5, we took swimming lessons together. We carpooled with either my mom driving us or his mom driving us. The day we jumped off the diving board, Philip got really sick right after jumping off. Lessons got called that day, and his mom took me home and took him to the doctor. They were sent to the hospital and he was admitted after tests showed a tumor in Philip’s brain. In the attempted treatment, he developed an aneurysm and he died. Since then, brain tumors have been a cause close to my heart.

Putting all three things together – Rick deciding to run Chicago a year early, me receiving the email from ABTA, and the dreams about Philip – it seemed like the universe was sending me a message.

And so I signed up.

Yes, I have to raise money, and I’m working on that. It’s not nearly as much as I’d have to raise were I running Boston or NYC for a charity, and it’s not so much that I was uncomfortable committing to it, but it’s still a challenge. I know probably the majority of the people reading this don’t know me, but if you’d like to support me, no amount is too little. My participant page can be found here if you want to see it and/or donate.

My training starts tomorrow (5/14), and while I’ll probably address some things on here, the majority of the training will be tracked on Running With Mickey, my running blog. Please feel free to follow along there!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

100 Things About Running Entry #8

100 Things About Running Entry #8

“It will change your life forever.”

I kept hearing that as I was training for my first marathon. Variations (however slight) on the theme of “When you cross that finish line, it will change your life forever.”

I heard it during pretty much every podcast of The Marathon Show.

I heard it every time I watched Spirit of the Marathon.

I read it in Marathoning for Mortals.

I heard and/or read it so many times, I think I had the finish line built up to be this mystical thing where as I crossed, the sky would open up and a bolt would come from on high, instantly making me a clearly different person.

So when I crossed the finish line at the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon and the sky didn’t open up and there was no bolt from the blue, I tried to figure out what I’d done wrong.

Sure I had a feeling of accomplishment. I had gone 26.2 miles. I cried – that actually got me quicker attention when I went to medical for simply preventative ice for the knees – with the realization that I’d done it. But I didn’t really feel any different. I was still me.

And to be honest, as I reflected on it, I started to question if I’d done it “right”. I mean, my stomach was acting up for the whole first half until we got bananas, and I wasn’t able to run as much as I’d wanted to. Maybe the whole “life changing” thing only happened if you’d done it closer to how you’d trained.

Now, deep down, I did realize this was silly. Things always happen. Rarely if ever does anyone have a race go exactly as they’d planned. We’re all adjusting on the day of and even moment to moment during a race. But I wanted to have some kind of epiphany, something where I could clearly say “This is where I changed.”

When I talked about this on my running-centric blog, several friends reassured me that they hadn’t had the lightning bolt moment either but just a slow realization about things. So it was seeming more and more like the change was more like something that revealed itself over time. I have seen my training paces (generally) come down. And my endurance has been better – a six or eight mile weekend run is (relatively) easy-peasy now.

But I still didn’t really feel different.

I’m sure that my result at Broad Street last Sunday is also in part thanks to my marathon training and the muscles and endurance I built up doing that.

But still, I felt like my old self.

And then this week was my observation – where my assistant principal comes in and observes me teach a lesson. For a variety of reasons, these always make me nervous. I mean they make everyone nervous, but they make me especially nervous. Probably because they haven’t always gone great. I’ve typically gotten a “conditional satisfactory” whatever that’s meant or in a few cases even had to redo a lesson. Largely because I overcomplicated it and tried to do far more and higher work than I needed to. This time I kept it simple and stuck to the basics.

And a funny thing happened as I was doing final preparations. I realized that while I really wanted it to go well, I wasn’t the nervous wreck I typically am. I had a plan. I had contingencies in place for different things that could happen. I had boiled it down to the basics.

In short? I realized I’d taken what I’d learned from my training – have a plan, have plans for what happens when the plan doesn’t work, keep it simple stupid – and was applying it to my lesson preparation.

And most amazing, I actually heard myself say to someone at the store on Thursday night (I work parttime at the Disney Store):

“I ran 26.2 miles! I can do this observation thing!”

It may not be that bolt from the blue I had anticipated, but crossing that finish line has changed me.

I know I can do whatever I set my mind to – I just have to put in the work and trust my training/preparation. I love Kathrine Switzer’s quote at the end of Spirit of the Marathon: “You triumphed over the adversity. That’s what the marathon is all about. And therefore you know there isn’t anything in life that you can’t triumph over after that.” So true!

And if I forget, I can just look at my RoadID dogtag, the quote side. “There will be days I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I have.”

Does the finish line change your life forever? Yes! It may be more subtle than you’ll ever expect, but once you cross it, you’ll never be the same person you were.

(Oh, and that observation yesterday? Satisfactory! Not even conditional!)

100 Things About Running Entry #7

100 Things About Running Entry #7

Broad Street Run!

So Sunday was finally it! The Blue Cross Broad Street Run was here!!! All of my training was about to come to a head.

Goals…
Going in, my base goal was the same as for any race I run: finish and have fun. My “I can live with it” goal was to finish in 2:15. My “reach goal” was to break 2 hours – that was big as it would put me with an average pace of sub-12 minute miles, something I hadn’t yet done in a race longer than 4 miles.

The set-up…
In a “crazy runner” effort to save money, I made the decision to pay the $20 fee for day-of pick-up and take MegaBus down early Sunday morning. Well, the one early morning option was scheduled to leave NYC at 1:15am and get to Philly at 3:15am. Not exactly ideal, but by doing that and skipping an overnight stay, I essentially gave myself at least one race registration fee. So I did it. The bus was a little late leaving, so it was a little closer to 4am when we got to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. I went in and got changed into my running gear – pink SkirtSports running skirt and my Team Breakthrough tech shirt, socks and shoes – then wandered to find a table to sit and read for a little. My plan was to start walking towards the subway’s Broad Street Line so that I’d get there at 5 or a little after. (I’d been given a card to show for free admission to the line since I wouldn’t have my bib yet.) Packet pick-up was to start at 6, and I wanted to be there early given how chaotic some other things had seemed through the whole preparation process. Well, I managed to hit one of the express trains, so I was there WAY early. One other woman was with me, so we hung out until pick-up opened. I ate my Luna bar and drank my Starbucks double shot while we waited. Got my bib and got it all situated, then got my bag ready to check. Took it to a school bus where I was given 2 wristbands – one for me and one for the bag. The bag was then put on a school bus in a seat based on its number. Then I headed to the Pink corral, which was way in the back. I think I’d read somewhere that there was going to be a certain time to enter the corrals, but people seemed to be going in anyway. I didn’t see anyone really checking bibs going in, but then again, being in the last corral it’s not like we were in a corral too fast for us. (Well, unless you shouldn’t have been in the race with a 15 minute mile pace requirement anyway.) I chatted with a few different people – funny how a runDisney mylar blanket makes a good conversation starter! – and nibbled on a ginger chew. My friend Johnny from FRNY called me and I went over and chatted with him and his partner for a few minutes before they headed to their corral. It was almost time!!

The race…
The race was scheduled to start at 8:30, and I can only assume it did. There were no speakers in the back corrals, so I have no clue what all happened before the race. The green corral – which was kind of in the middle – had been staged on a side street, and once they moved out and up we in the back three (gray, yellow and pink) finally started moving forward. And a little after 9 we finally got started. This was by far the largest race I’ve been in – around 40,000 people were registered – but I never really felt crowded in. Sure there were some places that got narrower than others, but even there I never felt pressure to go faster or slow down. Crowd support was great, even for us in the back. People were out on their porches or sidewalks cheering us – even church congregations were on their church steps! It’s a net downhill course, but there are still some ups, some of which are pretty long and gradual. Still, I kept plugging on with my 4/1 run/walk interval. On the longest uphill, I did walk a little more just to try and conserve some energy. The fluid stops weren’t as bad as I feared on spotting the first few tables at the first one. As long as you went towards the back tables you were fine. Those who stopped at the front tables were having to stop and wait for water to be poured. As I got to the Mile 9 marker, I looked at my garmin to see where I was with time, and after some quick mental calculations I realized that I could make my A goal, even if it was just barely. I’d have to push, and I didn’t have a lot left as I’d pushed hard through the rest of the race as well. I’d done what I could to stay cool (it wasn’t hot hot, but it wasn’t cool either once we got going) – dumping water on my arms, head and back – but there was still a toll taken there as well. So Mile 9…time to buckle down. And the biggest fights my brain and heart had with my legs. Every time I’d drop to a walk, my brain was screaming “Come on! Move!!” The people cheering us in definitely helped…but it was hard. When I saw the 1/2 mile mark, I checked the garmin again and knew I’d have to run it in if I wanted to break 2 hours. And run it in pretty hard. I just kept moving forward, pushing hard so I’d know that I’d done everything I possibly could. I got across the finish and beeped through the unused segments to end the workout. As I was walking towards the medals, I got up the courage to look at the history and find my time, knowing that there would be some difference as the beeping through took a little longer than usual.

1:59:43 on the garmin!!!!!

I knew at that point – especially having been on the front row of the Pink corral and having started the garmin a split second after crossing the mat – that I’d done it. I’d broken 2 hours!! I was totally spent, but thrilled.

After…
I got my t-shirt and my food bag, then got my bag from the bus and headed to the line for the shuttle bus to the subway. That was kinda crazy, made moreso with Philadelphia having a team in playoffs with a game yesterday afternoon. Still, I managed to get back to the 30th St Station and get changed into clean, dry clothes. Then I went across the street to Slainte for cheese fries and a black velvet. I should have probably gone with the burger or something with a little more protein as later on while I was wandering around being tired and just feeling off after deciding I’d try to walk to Independence Hall…which was further than I’d thought from the map. I got tired and the little distance back to the station just kept growing. I finally got back and got some diet coke…and a donut to get some sugar (the protein thing hadn’t occurred to me yet). Then headed out for the line for the bus back.

Overall…
I had a great time! I would like to do the race again…but we’ll see what they end up doing with registration next year. I do think I’d probably splurge on a hotel room the next time. It was rough being on so little sleep…moreso afterwards than before or during. But I had a great time!!

And official times are in…

1:59:21!!!! 11:56/mile average pace!!! My best in a race over 4 miles EVER!!!!

100 Things About Running Entry #6

100 Things About Running Entry #6

or Why I’m NOT Running the NYC Marathon

I know. It’s a big one. Possibly on more bucket lists than even Boston. It seems like everyone wants to run it (at least judging by all the angst on FB and various running forums today as it’s supposed to be announcement day for those who got in via the lottery – though apparently emails may not go out until tomorrow it’s looking like now). And if you live in NYC and run but show no interest in it, you’re sort of looked at as some kind of alien from another planet.

I know this because I’m not running it this year. Or probably ever.

I could have. I’m a NYRR member and last year I ran my 9 races and volunteered at one. Heck, I even ran at least one “extra” race because I got qualifying credit for one I wasn’t able to run – due to the Christmas blizzard, they gave credit to anyone who’d registered for the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run…and I was stuck in Orlando, so there was no way. By virtue of those two facts (membership AND 9+1) I had a guaranteed entry for 2012.

But the bottom line is they flat-out out-priced me. You have to draw a line and stick to it. My line was $200. Had I registered, I would have shelled out $227.

Granted, $27 isn’t a huge amount in the great scheme of things. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and for me $200 was it.

Would I have run NYC in 2012 if the cost had been under my bar? Yes. Part of me would have liked to have run it for a few reasons. First, I do think it would be a neat way to see the city. Second, the peer pressure in my running club is enormous, and you can sort of feel like an outsider if you’re not running it or haven’t run it. Third, I do love New York and living here. But as I said, I had my line, and I’m sticking to it.

Will I spend more going to Disney? Yes. Unless I somehow rack up enough airline miles to fly for free and stay with my sister or a friend, I will be spending more. BUT I get a vacation out of it. Ditto if I run San Francisco or Big Sur one of these years (I’ll talk about those in other posts). Or any other race that will require travel. I’ll be able to have a little vacation. (Chicago will be happening in 2013…and that’ll be another one that will just be airfare and race registration as I’ve got enough friends there I can definitely crash somewhere.) There are other marathons I’m looking at (such as the Donna) that are cheaper and in the case of the Donna actually does good without having to pledge a certain amount to a charity. ALL the money collected for it goes to help fund breast cancer research!

New York is somewhere I can literally run almost the entire course. My running club does a “Blue Line Run” which covers the last 20 miles of the marathon. About the only section I couldn’t do on my own is the bridge that opens the race. And while I’m sure it’s amazing if you’re on the top deck, with my lack of speed and my luck I’d be stuck on the lower level where…let’s just say if urban legend holds true you WANT to be in the center (not good for a run/walker like myself) to avoid getting wet with stuff that’s NOT water.

I am 100% content with my decision to not run it. I know there are people – many of whom applied through the lottery and didn’t get in – who don’t understand how someone could have guaranteed entry and not use it. But I have to be true to myself. And while I love the city, I just don’t feel a burning need to pay over $200 just to run it. I’m not a freak or an alien…I just have different priorities than some people. I don’t criticize them, and I’d hope that they wouldn’t criticize me. (And believe me, I know there are a lot of people who don’t get the draw of running Disney. That’s ok. As an old professor of mine used to say, “That’s why god made chocolate and vanilla!” Hee!)

It’s all about choices and priorities. And ultimately, it’s about running…and isn’t that what binds us runners together? The love of running? Regardless of where we run. 🙂

To those who are running it, good luck! And hopefully I’ll see you at Mile 24 (where my running club is in charge of the fluid station…and also has a cheer section)!