Benefitting from other people's misery

 It's springtime in the desert, which means all the lovely desert plants are blooming and I am surrounded by the melodious sound of sneezing, wheezing, and moaning at work.  At home, my toddler has decided to challenge his father for the title of "Are you Serious???" snore master.  However, my sinuses are perfectly happy and even more so, my desert runs are GORGEOUS.  Delicate little flowers as far as the eye can see interspersed with cotton tailed bunnies and desert hares.  I can't decide who I like more; the bunnies with their little white butts scampering into the underbrush or the desert hares with their massive and charming ears.  Guess it's a tie.

No, I think the hare wins.

This morning Dex performed his usual Saturday ritual of crawling into bed with us to snuggle at 5:30. (I know I should break him of it, maybe when he's driving)  Only, as previously mentioned, once he fell asleep the snoring cacophony began.  I took that as my cue to get up.  I wanted to run early today anyway because I knew it was supposed to get pretty warm.  I mosied around the house, made myself some toast, drank some water, checked email, and finally after an hour decided to head out.  I went to grab my ipod and.....damn...dead. I checked the thermometer outside, it was still only 50 so I had some time I decided to give it another hour. 

At 7:30 after I had kissed toddler belly, nibbled toddler toes, and paid enough bills to get the blood pressure boiling; I headed out the door.  I really need an invisibility cloak for the first mile of my run to keep my neighbors from thinking I'm a sadist.  It legitimately takes a solid mile for me to find my form and get the stiff legs warm and happy. Unfortunately, for that first mile I know I look incredibly funny and awkward and like I'm in some sort of unique form of pain.  Truth be told, the only reason I run as far as I do on my runs is because I'm not even really enjoying myself until around mile 3. It takes me awhile to find the "zone" however once I'm there it's worth the ENTIRE run, so that first three miles is actually just an investment.

This morning's run was important.  Last night I tried everything to convince myself to workout even getting as far as the treadmill.  Once I learned the batteries in our Wii were dead (no Netflix) and that my ipod was dead (yes, I knew last night and forgot to plug it in) I said "no dice" which sort of depressed me.  I don't like it when I really don't want to workout and I really, really did not want to. I'm usually either stupidly excited to run or neutral.  It's rare I just do not want to and this week has been that week.  And in my defense,  I'm normally fairly chill about giving myself breaks during the week, but I think because I had only worked out once this week - it was bugging me.  Mentally, I'm used to five solid workouts a week but with the conference and half marathon I just haven't been able to do it.  I really, really don't want to overdo it this week either because I have my other half marathon in a week.  After I've recovered from that, I'm going to go back to low, regular miles.  However, the run today had the needed effect, I feel like myself again.  I'm stinky and good sore - familiar territory.

The other thing I have to remember is how far I've come.  I've only been back in to regular running since October. I had to laugh this morning when I hit the driveway and felt disappointed to see that I had "only" run 7 miles (I really thought it was at least 8)  I immediately pinched myself with perspective - "only" 7 miles?  Really Hodge? Plus, I had FUN this morning.  I hopped off my normal trail and did some desert exploration.  I love that I'm really beginning to know my way around all the land that surrounds our development.  There's a ton of four wheeler tracks and I'm starting to feel emboldened enough to want to explore them all.  At some point they all lead back to or near our development, not like I could accidentally end up in Mexico.

Alright, alright I need to shower and do some cleaning.  One week until Hollywood!  (hope the legs keep behaving)



It's like childbirth, right?

So I ran my first half marathon today.  Overall, I actually enjoyed myself.   By the time I got to the race, pinned my number, and checked my gear it was time to line up.  I put myself in the 2:15 group and got ready.  I was pleased to see my racing friend, James weaving his way through the crowd.  We said hellos, compared goals, discussed nerves and wished each other luck.  The gun went off and no one moved; that was fairly amusing.  There were just so many people it took awhile to actually get a chance to start running.  The pack finally thinned out and we were off, the first half mile or so was just getting out of the medical complex; we then turned left and there it was - a loooong, gradual hill.  Okay..let's do this.  I stayed focused on my music, by this time Blur was done and Eminem was in telling me I only had one shot, fair enough Em, thanks for the pep talk. Normally, my policy is to attack hills, however I worked this hill slowly and focused on my breathing.  By mile 2 I was questioning my decision/ability to get this done.  I was already tired, the shin splint was coming on, things were not going well.  I shook my head to get out of there and chose a fixed point in the distance and kept moving forward.  I also did the thing I always do - I thought of Brian and Dex, by the time I got to the halfway point they would be leaving to come see me.  I told Brian he didn't have to come since it was an hour drive, but I know him, they would be there. Just then a breeze kicked up and I realized while I hadn't been paying attention two miles had passed, I was already at mile 4 and I felt strong, really strong.

 I realized I was going to do this.  At that point I had no doubts that I would be finishing this race.  I tore open my first gel, chugged some water, and set in.  I started thinking of myself as the "turtle" I think that's my running persona.  I really just stay the course, keep the same speed, and focus.  I was surrounded by a lot of fast run/then walk people; that style just doesn't work for me.  I am a consistent and focused runner; I feel like it's just easier on my body.  My mantra was attack the hills, turtle the flats, attack the hills, turtle the flats.  It really worked well for me.  By mile 6 we were still climbing hills and had lost about half the group to the 5K and 6 mile turnarounds.  I was looking really hard for our turn around, I felt if I could go "round the horn" and start coming back it would give me a new wind.  They had us turn down this side street for the loop around and that street felt 10 miles long, I was getting really frustrated, I was tired of hills, I was tired of being on the "outgoing side" and I was really starting to lose my perspective.  I FINALLY reached the horn and I looked up and saw the giant clock and it read 1:07:54.  That's when I realized I wasn't actually going as slow or terribly as it felt.  As I had hoped, it completely energized me and I was ready to go.

The second piece of good news was that there were only a few minor hills on the way down, most of the ride would be downhill.  I felt great and strong and was loving my music until about 8:30.  I had it in my head that I just had to get to 11 and at that point it was a little 2 mile jog.  Getting to that point was easier said than done, at 8:30 I felt the "shut down" creeping up.  I hurried to the nearest water station, allowed myself a break to stop for just a minute, refilled my bottle, ate a gel, and gave myself a 30 second pep talk.  I'd love to say I took off like a rocket, but I'd be lying.  Miles 8 to 10 were rough. Really rough.  But I kept going thanks to Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, and Jay Z. Finally, I saw the magical number 11 looming in the distance at the top of a long downhill stretch no less.  That's ALL I needed.  I took a deep drink from my water bottle and I hit it.  The last two miles were...well....easy?  It was kind of crazy.  I rolled over the finish line feeling really strong, relaxed, and happy.  I realized that out of my 13 miles, there probably only about 3 or 4 mildly unpleasant ones.  I was not expecting that.  I felt awesome....and normal?  Crazy.

After the race I saw James again, turns out he was pretty much right in front of me the whole time.  HOW did I miss the barefoot runner with a mohawk?  I think that speaks to the running tunnel more than anything.  I honestly don't know if I could run races with a partner.  I think I like being able to pick my own pace and do my own thing.  My races are evidently very personal things for me; I think I prefer to keep them sort of individually sacred.  Turns out, I'm a running misanthrope.  James and I chatted for awhile then I went to retrieve my backpack.  I was texting with Bri when I looked up and saw all my friends and Bri and the doodle.  Dexie yelled "MOMMIE" and came running to me; best thing ever.  Poor doodle did not enjoy his race as much as I did, he did strong on the second half but he was feeling pretty fussy and kind of yanked around.  Bri and I decided to meet up for lunch on our side of town; Dexie perked up considerably on the drive and we had a nice chat.

After some lunch, I barely made it home and into the shower before passing out into a deep sleep with my little guy curled up under my chin.  Naptime with the toddler is a sweet reward I don't often allow myself.  I usually use that time to get "things" done; however along about mile 7 in the race, I made the firm decision that Dex and I were taking a nap together in mommy's bed.  Yet another little mental reward to keep one foot in front of the other.

Now it's time to get off my very tired butt and go make some dinner. As I had hoped I am already thinking about the Hollywood half marathon in two weeks, and fully intend to research any other races I could squeeze in before it gets too hot.  13 miles is kind of the perfect distance; it's challenging, so you feel like you've accomplished something.  However, it's not so challenging that you don't also enjoy yourself.

A girl could get used to this feeling......


I think that doesn't mean what you think it means

I had a total toothbrush epiphany this morning.  I have my first half marathon tomorrow and the thing that's been weighing on me more than anything is not the run, or my issues with leg pain, but my running playlist.  I'm fatigued by my 8 miler list and I have been spending all my free brain time for the last week trying to think of "those songs" the ones that have gotten me so excited over the last decade.  So, I've crafted a fairly stellar list with only about 5 or 6 songs to go and it hit me.....I don't love running.  I love listening to music.  Running is just an enjoyable way to make time in my mom/wife/career schedule to listen to freaking music.  As a teenager and then twenty something growing up in Kansas, my favorite thing to do was to make a completely stellar mix, throw it in my car, and DRIVE. I would drive to Abilene and back just to listen to a new mix. (I had a Geo Metro, I could afford this hobby) I loved losing myself in the music and imagination. Hell, if you take it even further; when I was a little girl my absolutely favorite activity was to bring my jambox (damn straight. Jam. Box.) out on the patio - drop in some True Blue, Duran Duran, or mebbe a little Purple Rain and daaaaance.  For like...hours.  Sometimes my little friends and I would dance partyin the front yard of my parent's apartment building.  (It's amazing they were able to keep renters)
Running is the best of both of these worlds.  I get to lose myself in the music, and if you get the right mile split/song, running is just dancing in forward motion.
 I'm a walking (running) cliche, I did start my half marathon mix with Blur's Song 2.

  I'm sorry, if sexy panted Damon Albarn yelling "whoo HOO' doesn't get you going - you aren't a girl.

 After that, admittedly the mix resembles the ipod of a teenage girl from 2000.  I can't help it, I'm a bitch for a hook and even more so when running.  I don't want to wax philosophic; I want to bubble and jump and move. I'll save the Whiskeytown for the drive from Salina to Manhattan. On the mean streets of Oro Valley tomorrow it's all JT and Jay Z.

Wish me luck!


I'm a terrible blogger

I have no excuse for not writing anything for a month.  Life was neither more or less exciting; my thoughts were certainly no less rampant - just didn't do it.

I'm home with a sick little doodle today so I thought that might be as good a time as any to post a few words.  I'm a tired girl, I checked, I'm officially 16 different kinds of tired.  I returned home late last night from a five day conference.  It was actually a really good conference; I learned a lot and had a little fun here and there.  When I got home last night Brian and I probably stayed up too late having a really nice chat (apparently he'd been to Nashville with his robotics team???? I told him that MIGHT be nerdier than a bunch of higher ed people) and riiiiight as we were falling asleep Dex started screaming.  Not just crying or whining, but screaming.  I ran into his room and right as I got to him the little guy vomited; I bundled him up in blankets to get him to the bathroom and he promptly unleashed.....all.....over.....me. Welcome home!  Without missing a beat I got him into the bathroom and over the toilet and started wiping him down with a cool cloth and taking his clothes off. I got him down to diaper and in a clean towel and finally made it into my bathroom to clean off.  Poor little guy was shaken up, so we got him into some jammies and I brought him into bed with me.  Needless to say, there was not a ton of sleeping; I'm counting the minutes to naptime...for both of us.

So, I run my first half marathon on Sunday and then another in two weeks in L.A.  I did a 5K at the convention and ran 6 miles the day after that, but beyond that I haven't done much since last week.  I'm thinking I might try to squeeze in a little 5 miler today and then be lazy tomorrow and Saturday.  I'm kind of jonesing for a nice long run and I plan to spend tomorrow night crafting the two hour run list of perfection.  I'm actually looking forward to Sunday, I don't think I'm going to move any mountains but I think I'll be alright.  I am resolutely going in with no expectations.

The only fun things to report on food are the uh-mazing meals I had at the conference.  I had my first pate on St. Patrick's Day in this Irish Pub in the hotel.  It was pretty good.  I don't think it's anything I could "gorge" myself on - it's pretty rich - but still I enjoyed it. In addition to ye olde chicken liver; we ordered a plate of pickled well...pickles, brined cherries, pickled haricot verts, and homemade crackers.  Insane.  I mean just SO good.  We finished the evening with fall apart corned beef and cabbage.  When the waitress asked how it was I said "I want to rub it all over my face" She said "I SAID THE SAME THING!  The cook thought I was weird"  We agreed he just hadn't tasted it yet.  Every meal at the hotel was absolutely top notch- I haven't really experienced that before.  Definitely an inspiring couple of days; I'm heading out to 17th street this weekend - I want to COOK.

Alright...five days of work to catch up on and a toddler to talk into a nap.


Pillow Talk

The nighttime ritual in the Hodge household is fairly sacrosanct.  Dinner, bath time, super bear/monkey, pick socks, pick books, "you stay for a widdo bit",  and "don't shut door/turn off light".  Most of that is fairly self explanatory, "super bear/monkey" is a naked toddler running rampant through the house in his hoodie towel chanting "supah bare" or "supah monkeeee".  Then we pick out our jammies and without fail he always says "OH! Socks." like he forgets every night.  I then get the two fingers and directive "TWO books" and his little butt scampers off to the family library to select the night's selection while his father and I secretly pray for board books or at least something with less than 15 pages.  The newer part and (quite frankly my favorite part) of the ritual is "you stay here for a widdo bit."  As new parent suckers Brian and I were trained by Dex to stay with him until he fell asleep.  This was not a huge deal for the first year or so of his life, however as the bedtime creeped to a later and later hour this started to be an encumbrance to our ability to get ANYTHING accomplished in the evenings.  I finally drew a line in the sand that the child was going to have to figure out how to put himself to sleep.  To Dex's credit, it wasn't that big of a deal; the compromise that was reached is that we would leave his door open and the hallway light on until we he was good and out.  The tiny ritual I have snuck into the middle of all this is that after books, Dex and I lay face to face and he tells me about his day.  It's pretty much the most awesome thing ever.  However, last night mommy was tired and a little disoriented and forgot about that part of the ritual.  What resulted is decidedly a parenting highlight.

We finished the books (Dex sits in my lap) and he crawled to his pillows and laid down; I started to get up and he said "you stay here for a widdo bit"  Which I did, I laid down with my head in my hands and he said "no, you head go down, like me" and he pushed my head with his little hands.  So I giggled and laid down on the pillow; "like this?" I asked and he said "yes, you're a good boy"  Then for fun I didn't say anything and without missing a beat he stroked MY cheek and said "how was you day?"

Good god I love that child.

We then proceeded to have a conversation about how disgusting his "nee nee" is (his little blankie needs a b-a-t-h) in what states all his loved ones live, (Grandpa, Grandma, Jolie -floreeedah, Aunt Worie - Fornia, Mommy, daddy, Jackson, Stammy-Arizoooonuh)  He asked "where you used to wive?" I said "Massachusetts" He said "I don't wanna live there." Heh. His dad would agree. Finally, I told him it was time for bed, to which he replied "okay I ready if you don't turn off the light"

Of course, Dex.  Of course. 


The Toddler and the Food.

I'm probably not going for a run today;  I woke up feeling like hell.  My whole body has been sore lately which I have attributed to the running, however the tossing and turning last night and the sinus headache today beg to differ.  Since I'm not running today I thought I'd spend the day chipping away at the "to do" list; well, as much as my very tired body would allow.  So far I've cleaned the pantry and freezers, put away all the laundry, and baked Monkey Muffins for a friend's son.

 They are soooo good.  Here's the recipe;

  • /2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the bananas, peanut butter, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in chips.
  • Fill greased or paper-lined miniature muffin cups three-fourths full. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 6 dozen
I used unbleached AP flour and doubled the vanilla and they came out great.  The only thing left on the "absolutely to do" list is finish my presentation for the conference and some personal spa day fun. 

As I type this the doodle bug is sleeping in the room next door; I took a giant leap of faith and put him into his nap without a diaper on.  We've been really successful with the potty training and he had a dry diaper yesterday, so I went for it.  He's getting better and better about going on his own, we still have accidents, but still for a 2.9 year old - he's pretty amazing. He is SO funny in the mornings, he usually gets up around 6, crawls into bed with us, we all sleep until about 7:30.  At about 8 I hear it; the soft "grunt, grunt, snort, grunt" as he struggles his way to the end of the bed, then the pad, pad, pad of little feet, the struggle to get the door open, and then SLAM - Dex has left the bedroom.  Seriously, the kid is incapable of closing a door without slamming it. 

Invariably, getting up and looking for him will reveal a different discovery every time.  Sometimes I find him rooting around in the kitchen for juice and snacks, sometimes he's half naked in his bedroom with this arms pinned to the side of his head as he attempts to put on a shirt, usually he's in the living room pushing every button on the remotes to get 'George' to come on.  This morning, he was curled up at the end of the couch with a "bankie" waiting patiently for me to come and snuggle with him to watch our beloved monkey "ona beeg t.v."

It's alternately funny and amazing to bear witness to his development. Every single day it feels like he's getting smarter and smarter.  He is also getting sillier and sillier and Brian and I have to remind ourselves to be patient with his antics.  He's very goofy and the goofy tends to make commonplace tasks take four times as long.  There are occasions where this can be somewhat mind numbing, but I have to step back and relax and enjoy the moment, because eventually the silly will be replaced by self awareness and I will miss it. 

No matter how bad I've been about cooking during the week, there's something about Sunday that always makes me bake and cook up a storm.  I'm sure there's some old school Norwegian homemaker embedded in my DNA somewhere.  Tonight, I am roasting a whole chicken with vegetables and potatoes; I haven't done this in a long time and I found a gorgeous, reasonably priced, organic bird at Safeway yesterday. Cleaning out the freezers and pantry have reinserted the bug up my butt to be better about cooking.  We have kind of a silly amount of food laying around and there is no reason not to use it.  There are an unlimited number of quick prepare meals online, I just have to be better about forethought. 

Doh...the beast is awakening.  Time to go see if my experiment was successful.  Wish me luck.


Going cold turkey...

I have to confess, I use a performance enhancing drug.  Before every run, I pop two Ibuprofen to avoid the inevitable pain that I typically associate with the giant metal rod in my right leg.  However, invariably the anti inflammatory wears off and I'm left with some less than enjoyable pain in my leg and by less than enjoyable I mean - holy hell that hurts. I haven't seen my super cute Orthopedist in awhile so I thought I'd check in with him just to get an opinion (knowing almost full well what his opinions might be) Dr. K was not a fan of the running on IB plan, understandably. He did his usual poking, prodding, trying to convince me to take up bike riding...etc.  It's our little routine, we've had it for 5 years now.  Once we got past the "No, I'm not riding a bike. No, I'm not interested in taking up swimming"  He came to the conclusion, based on the points of pain (which I cleverly marked with a Sharpie last night after my run) that I am experiencing advanced posterior tibial tendonitis in my right leg and the onset of it in my left.  It was then I dove straight in for full disclosure and shared my new found passion for my minimalist shoes.  He promised me that he is not "anti minimalism" but that it doesn't necessarily "work for everyone".  He explained that tendonitis can go away, but that I probably need to consider different shoes and that I should not be running "under the influence"

I actually really like Dr. K and I respect that he respects that I'm pretty single threaded.  I agreed to kick the IB and consider new shoes.  I then came back to work and given the option between working on my employee evaluations or researching the effect of minimalist shoes on tendonitis; I can tell you that I learned that minimalist shoes have actually been known to help PTT.  The key is (cue the" I told you so's") taking it easy, stretching, and listening to your body.  I understand the listening to my body part is difficult if I'm muffling it with drugs and the taking it easy part is difficult because I am insane.  I made the decision that while I would not rule out a new pair of shoes, I would go ahead and hold out for awhile.  Instead, I ordered a foam roller and looked up some stretches for PTT.

When I got home tonight I resolved to do a quick run, I do really want to try and get as close to 30 miles a week as possible and since Bri was gone all week, I'm a little behind on my running.  I knew it was going to be a tough run because I am tired and a little hungover from my hot husband date the night before and I was resolved to do the run IB free.   I did not set out with a mileage in mind;  I honestly thought about turning around halfway up my block.  It was a tough run, it felt like I was running pretty slow, and my brain and body were rebelling.  About halfway through the run, I found my mind wandering to Dex and his laughter and how much I love being his mother and I realized I had hit the running sweet spot (i.e. where you aren't thinking about running.)  Because I felt great in that moment, I considered doing the full 8 mile run; I'm pleased to report that common sense prevailed and I kept it to four miles.  Turns out, I wasn't running that slow - I still did the four miles with an average 9:15.  Getting faster has its disadvantages; I may have run 4 miles but I only worked out for 37 minutes and I'm WAY too tired to supplement with treadmill.  Oh well...long run tomorrow, it will be fine.

I think I'm going to celebrate the inherent coziness of having Bri home by curling up in bed with my Kindle and getting a full night's sleep.  I'm actually glad I don't have a race or any major plans this weekend.  I may accomplish a lot I may accomplish nothing; I'm pleased to have both options available to me.