Saturday, December 21, 2013

"They Don't Believe, Which is Kind of Sad"

Merry Christmas Kiddo’s!

I took my kids to great wolf lodge, an indoor water park, for their “Big Christmas Gift” from me.  They loved it.  I loved it (to a point).  As a unit, it was so special to just spend time with them.
I feel like our little 4some is so darned busy that we never get to just hang out and bond, which is why I selected this gift and then didn’t really invite anyone to join us.  And we did bond.

Great Wolf was amazing – it was beautifully decorated with trees and snow (In the LOBBY!).  They had a brass band playing  (In the LOBBY!).  We saw Santa, went to story time, and did other Christmas “things” like bought an ornament and played in an arcade.... er....

The Waterpark itself was good.  Lots to do.  All the kids found their favorite slides and did them repeatedly.  For the most part, they spent time together on each other’s favorites, and there was very little fighting or arguing. 

Sadly, the two “BIG” slides that are family attractions there weren’t running.  The one was dry, and the other – The Tornado – had a broken conveyor belt.

In order to ride, you had to haul a 4 person raft about 5 stories up – I’m serious. 

I test lifted one, looked at my 13 year old  It was work.  We were breathy by the time we got to the top, but it was fun to work with her.  And we had a stellar time.  There was no line, we just marched up dropped the raft in and went.

and grinned.  So, off we went.

(best water slide I’ve ever been on in my life)

 When we got off the ride, laughing hysterically, we walked back to our seats to regroup.  As we were celebrating our triumph, of carrying that raft so far, we looked up at the stairs.... and saw two girls 1/3 of the way up, stuck with a tube.

“Awe Mom, those poor girls are too little to carry that raft.  Where is their Mom to carry it for them?”

“Dunno honey, but let’s go help them out.”

So we went up and I picked up the raft and we carried it up for them.  And they insisted that we ride down with them – btw – WAY BETTER RIDE WITH A FULL RAFT.

Then, we took an hour off and hung out and played and rode other rides.  We heard a girl ask her Mom if they could ride Tornado, and the mom said, “I’m not carrying that raft up those stairs”.

At that point, C and I made an observation.  We had a perfect view of the Tornado stairs, and we watched a trail of riders go up.   There were NO MOMS carrying rafts up the stairs.  It was Teenage Boys, Dads and an occasional gaggle of Teen Girls.

“Um, I don’t think the other mom’s are strong enough to carry the raft...”

“I think you’re probably right.  Or, they don’t believe they are strong enough, which is kind of sad,” I responded.  “Wanna ride again?”

“Oh yeah!”

Friday, December 13, 2013

In Memory of Heidi Hussenfuffer Russell

We got Heidi in January of 1999.  

She was a bit of a rebellion on my part.  My then Husband had desperately wanted a big dog, but after a failed rescue attempt involving a Great Dane named Zakha, I arrived home one day with a palm sized Jack Russell Terrier pup who I promptly named Heidi.

Nov. 2009
All of my pets always get literature names.  Heidi, the sweet little helpful girl from a beloved childhood book seemed the perfect name for this cute little puppy.  I knew nothing about the breed, and perhaps that was a good thing, because it never occurred to me that Heidi Russell would be anything but sweet when she grew up.

We raised her into a sweet little dog, teaching her to go into her crate with the command, “Lock & Load”.  She played self fetch on the stairs, and constantly amazed us with her genius.  Now, if only she would have used that genius for Good instead of for Evil.

Thousands of dollars in vet bills taught us to never leave the diaper bag where she could reach it.

Thousands of dollars in vet bills taught us that it can be “too quiet”.  For that matter, maybe Heidi was instrumental in the success of our parenting as she taught us to be super vigilant with our toddlers.

She was dubbed the Jack Russell Terrorist, and yet, we loved her.

She talked back when scolded, and absolutely didn't protect the house from intruders.  She stood mute while a man tried to break down the back door... But would bark herself hoarse protecting us from squirrels, rabbits, and UPS men - all clearly up to no good in her doggy opinion.

Heidi could perform simple math and remember where objects were hidden for months.  Upon over hearing a conversation that ended with, “Well, I think Heidi’s ball is upstairs on Dad’s bed” she promptly ran upstairs, and returned with a bright blue racket ball.

There were so many silly and amusing things about the dog, that it’s almost possible to forget the many (MANY) times she got into things or caused physical destruction to our home.

She became a pet of the neighborhood, the beach, the extended family, and took immense joy in sharing her cuteness with anyone willing to throw a ball.  
And throw a ball again.  
And again.  
And ... again.

Still, she was more sibling to my children than pet, and when she presented with signs of a stroke on Wednesday morning it broke my heart, knowing that a chance of a recovery was unlikely.  By Thursday we knew it was hopeless.

Heidi went to heaven on Friday morning.  It was bitterly cold.   She will be missed.

Heidi Hussenfuffer Russell – November 29, 1998 – December 13, 2013

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Things Other People's Kids Do are NOT CUTE on the internet, but I'm boring you anyways

"Mom?", said my 7 year old in a very serious tone.

"Yes B'nut?"

"When is Black Friday?"

"The day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday."

"So, let me get this straight.... Black Friday is a holiday that is right after Thanksgiving?  Like, it's a holiday," and she held up two palms side by side and stared at them with furrowed brows, "right next to a holiday?  Two holidays in a row?"

"Black Friday is not really a holiday for anyone except Store Owners who don't have to work at their store."


On an unrelated note, if you are going to shop on Non-Holiday Black Friday, Please consider shopping local.  There is something deeply satisfying about exchanging money in a small business where it will actually go directly to the person who's dream it was to run a retail shop in your town.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To hug or not to hug; no question at all.

To Hug, or Not to Hug.  That is a question for people all the time.  And for others, no question at all.

Before I start, let me preface this by explaining that I am a well-known anti-hugger. 

I couldn’t stand to be touched for years.  I thought that my touch phobia was brought on by motherhood and the constant clinging that I associate with being the parent of a small person or three.

I am certain that there are mothers who will agree.  It’s a bit disconcerting when you lose your body to a Klingon.  When you finally start to have control again, the appeal of being touched has diminished.  Certainly, if there’s a defining moment in adulthood, it’s when you mutter to yourself, “If I could have one wish it would be to get to go take a shower, alone, and maybe even pee without company once this week.... just once.”

I took some pride in my anti-hugging campaign, and it became sort of a thing.  People would threaten to hug me and I would grimace, cringe, or duck out and avoid the contact all together.

To top it off, runners are touchy people.  They seem to enjoy nothing more than hot sweaty gross hugging.  After a run.  On the street.  At Marathon Training Team.  During the run.  In Starbucks.  Runners are weird, and huggy.

 It wasn’t that I didn’t like the person who was hell bent on engulfing me in their hug, it was that a hug did not sound like a safe or even reasonable option. 

And all this seemed fairly innocent until my husband and I divorced.  Without going into gritty and unnecessary details, I’ll try to explain that my ex and I had a tumultuous relationship.  There were times when it was full of passion, but for the most part, it was full of angst.  We were, ironically, laughing about it this week when we were exchanging the children.  Never a day went by when we didn’t have some kind of heated exchange of one kind or another.

During the divorce process I went to see a therapist.  Anyone who is strong enough to process a separation without a therapist is truly stronger than I can imagine being, or they have friends far more tolerant than I ever expected of my friends.  I relied on my Therapist, and found hours of sense and reason in her small warm office.  One day, during one of these appointments, I was telling her a story about something that happened in my life and she said, “Well, that explains the PTSD symptoms you’ve been exhibiting for the past 6 months.”


“Yes.  You know, the anxiety at loud noises, the ‘waking’ dreams you are having that are actually repressed memories, the physical symptoms of illness when you are exposed to a stressor, and the touch phobia you describe in exquisite detail... there’s more than that, but it’s PTSD.”

As though having it explained to me unlocked a door, I was suddenly flooded with repressed memories.  I broke out in hives, threw up in class, freaked out when my former upstairs neighbors fought, and in general, had a little break down.

My therapist was thrilled.
Yeah, right?
But my symptoms got better.  And better.

Until I accidentally hugged someone one day.  It was so odd.  But its how I knew I was better.

Within a few months of being released from therapy, I was on hugging terms with all kinds of folks.  People who’d been trying to hug me for years, my children, my Good Dr, my friends like Catalyst J, MCM Mama, and others...

I hugged a waitress I didn’t know recently.  I hugged my massage therapist after a particularly violent deep tissue massage.

And I am coming to grips with it... I am a hugger now.

I am GBA GF, and I’m a hugger.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

About Time

In my travels I have raced quite a few races, and I’ve run a few as well.  

Each has distinct characteristics and the differences are as palatable as being a Runner versus a Jogger.  

Runners are serious. 
Joggers are jogging... 

One of my deepest fears is that I’ll be on a badass tempo run cranking out a 7:14 average one foggy morning, I’ll get run over by a car, and the newspaper will read: 

“Henrico Jogger Struck Friday Morning”.

Imagine.  Me?  A jogger?

Racing is something that runners get – When I race I am out there to beat (someone).  Usually, in my case, that someone is MYSELF.  Contrary to popular belief, I am not out to kick anyone else’s booty. 

Unless I’m in first place with less than a mile left to run.  In that rare condition, nothing I’ve written applies and I am out to beat EVERYONE.
Or if I am REALLY stressed.  Then I may decide that everyone wearing a red shirt is my prey.
Or if I am PISSED OFF.  Then I will hunt down anyone wearing a red shirt.
Or... redshirt...  it’s not my fault.  Red shirts make it easy, you know?

Running a race is less serious, however. 

That’s a fun event.  I’m certainly out on a racecourse with a bib#, but I might not be out there for me.  Or I might be using the race as a training run.  Or I could be having an off day, or getting over pneumonia, or any number of things that would lead me to just run instead of running at the edge of death.

I love running at the edge of death.  I love pushing my body to the end of my limits and listening to the air whistle as it forces it’s way out of my lungs.  The use of my cadence to dictate when the air is pulled in and expelled is like a drug.  I live for the mantra, “you didn’t run all this way to give up your race now”.

But Saturday I was not going out to run at the edge of anything.  For one thing, I didn’t exactly train.  I ran a bit, and tacked a few longish runs into my life periodically, and I didn’t taper as much as I took an entire week off from running.
Iron J, MCM Mama, GBA GF pre-race in the rain

This year was The Year of N+1.  My bike was my focus.  So Saturday I went out to run The Richmond Half Marathon with no expectation of EPIC.

My friend, Iron J, and her husband The Officer wanted to break 2 hours.  I wondered if I could keep up with them.  So the three of us set out to run a half marathon together in the rain.

Sadly, it became evident that he wasn’t going to be able to hang at the pace.  IronJ and I kept pulling ahead, simply because we were feeling amazing.  We would drop back and check with him, coach him, cheer him on, but to no avail.  It wasn’t going to be his day.

We looked back at some point and he just wasn’t there.

You know, Iron J...?
Yeah... I know... we can maybe still get it.

And so we kicked it into gear and tried to shave 4+ minutes off the second half of the race.  Not gonna lie.  We came damn close.  Damn close.

“GBA, how do you feel?”
“Well, this feels like Race Pace, not Chat Pace”

The joy of the day was NOT in my chip time, garmin time, or race time. 

This was not about time.

The satisfaction of the day was in the start corral with MCM Mama.  It was in the time spent on the course with Iron J & The Officer.  It was in sharing his ridiculous PR (I think about 15 minutes?!) and in the fun of running negative splits with Iron J as we hunted down a pack of (blue?) shirts. 
GBA GF & Iron J
It was realizing that Iron J is back in true form and ready to train again.  It was in seeing The Good Dr, my spectator, on the course, and knowing I am loved.  It was in the raindrops that soaked me at the start line, and the raindrops that soaked me at the finish line.

It was in remembering what it feels like to be a Galactic BadA**.

Could I have run a sub 2?

Oh yeah.

But did I need to run Sub 2 to prove to myself that I could run that fast, and potentially miss out on the chance to run with my friends and share the day?

Oh Hell No.

Saturday was about way more than that.

~savor the run~