Saturday, February 25, 2006

talent search results

My daughter finally got her results from taking the SAT as a seventh grader through the Duke Talent Identification Program. Reading 560, math 540. Annoyingly they don't send any information on how to interpret results for a 7th grader taking a test designed for 11th and 12th graders, but I was able to find online last year's information sheet. Her combined score is in the 95th percentile for 7th graders who took the test (who are a very select group). What she is more impressed by is that she scored in the 72nd percentile for college bound seniors in South Carolina, as a 7th grader.

I always was told as a child not to brag, so I'm feeling uncertain about whom I can tell. So I decided at least I would brag here.

I got out for a two hour bike ride this morning--got about halfway before the rain started and even then it was very light. I was determined to get out today because yesterday I fell asleep instead.

Friday, February 24, 2006

it is the weekend already

But we have yet another rainy Saturday predicted. Spring is teasing us--I'm ready for some really nice bicycling weather. I guess I should try to get out on my bike at least for a short ride this afternoon.

In my environmental history course we are reading Roderick Frazier Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind. What I'm struck by so far is not so much the ideas, which I had some sense of already, but the role of art. If you look at my notes on the Hudson River School, or Wednesday's notes on early preservation ideas, or even today's notes on Yellowstone and the Adirondacks, you may get a quick visual sense of the impact that art must have had on American ideas about wilderness.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

better, finally

I swam this morning and it felt wonderful after three days off from all exercise because of my cold. This afternoon I had a meeting with our new priest that was cancelled--he had no idea that it would take him 3 hours to drive 120 miles home from the diocese camp in Aiken. The choice is to drive three sides of a rectangle on the highway or take back roads through quite a few towns. So I used my unexpected free time to go running despite a misting rain. Actually, I think I was inspired by the mist, which was like the weather for the half marathon, because I ran fast. I learned from the half marathon that I can safely push myself more than I thought.

I had missed the news that Betty Friedan died at the beginning of the month, until I saw an obituary in the Economist. I like the reflections on how the world has changed. "I never knew a woman, when I was growing up," Friedan writes, "who used her mind, played her own part in the world, and also loved, and had children." There were in fact some: Lillian Gilbreth, Ruth Patrick, Margaret Mead, and others, but women were told they had to choose. Thank Betty Friedan for the idea that we can have it all, even if it isn't easy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

bad cold

I got so much healthier when I brought my blood sugar under control that I haven't had a cold that lasted for more than 2 days in over 2 years. But pushing myself too hard has caught up with me and now I'm in day 3 of a cold and still feeling rotten. I went to the doctor today because the inhalers I use to keep from getting a chronic cough after a bad cold were prescriptions from 2000 and 2003--the pharmacist said definitely not good any more.

I haven't seen this family practitioner since he diagnosed me with diabetes in Oct. 2004. I started going to a gynecologist and asked her to be the one to manage the diabetes, since all this doctor seemed to know to say was to tell me to lose weight. The interesting thing today is that he chose not to say anything about my weight loss and diabetes management; instead he made conversation about the article featuring me that was in the newspaper a few weeks ago. I would have liked to brag about my good diabetes numbers, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that this doctor and I have worked out over the years how to keep me from going into a chronic cough (apparently a reactive asthma). The year I strained one of the joints between my ribs and my breastbone and it hurt so much to cough and I kept coughing for weeks made me take prevention very seriously.

I asked the doctor about when to go back to swimming, but all he had to say was judge by whether I had my energy back. Our pool uses salt in the water and less chlorine, so it probably won't hurt my sinuses.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


My husband was told my son's basketball game was at 4 pm yesterday (actually I suspect he was told the Friday schedule, not the Saturday schedule). My daughter and I showed up in Greenville at 4 only to learn that the game was at 7 pm. Since it would have taken us almost an hour to drive home, we went and hung out at a bookstore. I started reading Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner, and ended up buying it.

I wouldn't have bought the book if I hadn't spent some time reading it, as it is about the kind of mothering I feel vaguely guilty about not doing, such as trying to plan the perfect birthday party (in our house the key rule was no home birthday parties because we can't clean up the house in time). It turns out it is very reassuring to read a book about what is wrong with the model I felt guilty for not following. The author's analysis (at least as I see it 60 pages into the book) is that women who grew up believing the feminist battles were already won assumed that everything depended not on social change but on making the right private choices for themselves and their families and therefore gave those choices unbearable weight.

Saved by feminism yet again. When I began to read feminist writings in college I realized that I was trying to be one of the guys and I needed to learn to think more positively about women and about being a woman. I was on the tail end of activist feminism but I was very aware of the battles fought and of the danger of internalizing discrimination. I haven't participated in the social culture of parents mostly because I had too much else to deal with, both externally and internally. But feminism at least kept me from feeling guilty that I was happy to go back to work, didn't want to stay home with my children.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Race pictures

Sunday, February 12, 2006

a finish picture

is here.

I have fairly sore muscles in my legs. But no knee problems and less than usual hip soreness. I swam gently today to stretch out my legs and core muscles and the water felt good.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Race Report: Clemson Half Marathon

Short version: 3 hours, zero minutes, 11 seconds--I'm very happy. Placed 90 out of 93. Temperature was holding at 38 degrees F with a steady mist, about 1/10 of an inch of rain in the 4 hours around the race.

Long version:

I ate an early breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and then had an apple with sunflower seed butter on my way to the start. I decided to wear warmer fleece running tights and a jacket over a long sleeved shirt, though below about 50 degrees I almost always run in a vest and adjust for different temperatures by which long sleeved shirt I pick. I thought about double socks, but I decided on thin socks because I didn't want my feet to get too heavy when they got waterlogged. I wore a cap with a bill in the vain hope of keeping the rain off my glasses. The start was less than 5 minutes from my house and I only got there about 5 minutes ahead of time, which turned out to be a good thing--people looked awfully chilled.

mile 1 11:03
The start was on time. I'm surprised to see in the official results there were 93 racing--it seemed like fewer. I forgot to start my GPS until a couple of minutes after the start, and it still measured 13.34 miles for the race, so it seems to have read a bit long. The course was certified, so I tend to believe it more than a GPS in the rain, with a wooded section. Even with a hat my glasses had a lot of rain on them so I realized I wasn't going to be able to read the GPS, I would just run by feel. The first mile was a smooth downhill and I could see the back of the pack ahead of me.

mile 2 12:45
There were two women behind the back of the pack I began slowly gaining on. They stopped longer than I did at the aid station at 2 miles, and they dropped behind me. I think they must have cut the course, because I passed them again about mile 11.

mile 3 12:05
mile 4 12:56

I got frustrated about not being able to see very well through wet glasses when I stepped in a puddle and my shoes got soaked. I started dreaming of asking my husband, who was supposed to meet me about mile 4, to get me dry wool socks. My daughter was going to take pictures, but I also wanted my husband to check in with me during the race because I had decided not to carry my fuel belt but wanted to be able to change my mind if the aid stations started running out of supplies or packing up. I looked at my watch at the mile 4 rest stop and was very happy with my time, but there was no sign of my husband and daughter.

mile 5 13:19
mile 6 13:50

There were a couple of short hills I walked in these sections. I came up with the plan that I would look at my watch at 9 miles, and if I was under two hours then I had a chance of making my dream goal of 3 hours and I would push hard.

mile 7 14.29
mile 8 14:12
mile 9 13:53
Most of this section was in the botanical garden, with much worse hills (which I walked parts of) than in the first part of the course. It was an out and back, and I saw maybe 10 people ahead of me, all by at least a mile, and one man, powerwalking, behind me. My husband and daughter didn't meet me until I was getting close to mile 9, and they didn't have with them the vest I wanted to change into (as I felt too steamy in a jacket with sleeves). I had asked them to bring in their car a whole lot of stuff that I might want, and then they couldn't figure out how to park close to the course. I felt angry that they didn't have what I wanted, but in fact my clothing choices had worked out well and the aid stations were still well-supplied. When I got to mile 9 I looked at my GPS to check the time and it said 1:59. So I made the commitment to go hard, though my legs were definitely hurting by that point.

mile 10 13:20
mile 11 13:15

These were on a stretch of road and dike where I usually run. I knew that I was going to have to walk some hills the last two miles, so I tried to speed up in this flat section. I passed the two women I had passed earlier and gave them some help with the course. One was injured but the other decided to keep up with me.

mile 12 14:29
mile 13 14:06
.34 mile 4:27

The steep downhill coming off the dike really hurt, even at a walk, and the woman who was keeping up with me passed me. My husband and daughter met me there and I did change into my vest. The last mile was mostly uphill and I kept pushing. The woman who had passed me was having more trouble with uphill than I was so I passed her again. I didn't want her to beat me when I thought she had cut the course. As I was coming up the field to the finish the carillon clock started striking 11, and then I saw that the finish line clock said not quite 3 hours. So I ran really hard, and the time I saw on the finish line clock as I finished was 3:00:10. There was a muddy section just after I got my chip off; a man said several people had fallen in the mud. I thought a face plant sounded appropriate, but I avoided it. I was really really thrilled to have done three hours, that was my dream goal but I had expected to be a lot slower than that.

The award ceremony was starting and my daughter and I stayed. Most of my masters swim team did the race and I think we all placed first, second, or third in our age groups. One is in my age group (50-55) and met her goal, which was to beat two hours in her first stand-alone half marathon. I was third in my age group, as there were only three, and I got a beanie saying Clemson Half Marathon on one side and Award Winner on the other.

Nutrition was a cup of water (maybe 6 oz.) every two miles, three Fig Newmans in the first three miles, and then a Hammer Gel at 4, 6, 8, and 10. I took two Succeed electrolyte caps, one at 4 and one at 8. That seems to have worked fine; I didn't feel hungry or thirsty at the end. My GPS says I burned 1535 calories.

getting ready

Ok, it is 38 degrees and raining .072 inches per hour with an accumulation of .32 inches since midnight. No wind. The weather report calls for periods of rain possibly mixed with snow. I've put so much time and energy into preparing for this race that I can't imagine not doing it. Fallback position is that I run 10 k and then quit, as I'm preparing to do olympic distance triathlons this year, which have a 10 k run. It could be really lonely--will any other slow people show up? My husband and daughter were going to powerwalk the 5 k but not in this weather. The start is at 8 am.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I got overwhelmed by too much to do at the beginning of the week (not to mention traveling home from Baltimore while suffering from the stomach flu), and got into a very negative place. I realized then that my task now is to learn to accept the negative feelings inside me. It is only in the last 5 years I have learned not to be overwhelmed by them (and crash into feeling everything is ruined) but instead just ignore them and they will go away. The next step, it turns out, is to accept them, love even that part of myself, instead of ignoring them.

Gradually this week I have gotten back to a more positive place, and today's good news is that the candidate who was our first choice has accepted the job. I'm happy because I really felt comfortable with him and also because it means the search is over--otherwise I was going to have to arrange for another candidate to come in. But as part of that commitment to accepting my negative feelings, I want to write about my fears about tomorrow's race. If weather permits--they are predicting rain and snow for tonight and the race is at 8 am tomorrow. I won't run if it is raining hard--I might for a shorter race but three to four hours in the rain would be too long.

I did write about fears before my first triathlon last May, but I had rather forgotten them since. In May my fear was that I would feel badly if I came in last, and what helped me most was the idea I read that even if we are last behind us is a whole cloud of people who didn't have the courage to start the race. I never have come in last, even last July when I was injured, but I'm not afraid of it this time. I will be proud just to finish.

I'm a little afraid of not being able to finish. What if that odd sore muscle (or the abdominal muscles I strained with the stomach flu) really starts to hurt? Because of the long distance I did my last long run 10 days ago and haven't run since Monday (though I swam TWT) and my sense that I can run seems to been disappearing fast.

What I'm most afraid of, though, is feeling I don't belong. I don't expect to be able to finish within the 3 hour cutoff, though my experience from two triathlons is that these race organizers are very friendly about that. The experience of my last long run would say it could take me four hours, though I usually am a lot faster in a race than in training and hopefully I will see the benefits of having rested beforehand. I know someone who is walking the half-marathon, and he may be faster than me. I don't feel badly about being slow, but I'm hoping people will be friendly and supportive. There are only 101 people signed up for the half marathon, and some may give up because of the weather even if tomorrow turns out to be better than predicted, so it could be pretty lonely. The people I know who are running are all much faster than me.

I was trying to think earlier: what is the positive value of my fears? If I weren't afraid, I wouldn't realize I am being brave. Discovering that I can be physically brave is one of the things I have gotten out of this athletic journey. My fears prepare me for what might go wrong, though I do more of that than I need to. My fears are a way of gearing up to do something hard, a kind of anticipation and a way of building up energy. Fear and excitement go hand in hand.

I was annoyed by something that gave me the impression that a former therapist thought that my main problem was fear. I don't think fear is for me a stumbling block, just a part of the path.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I wrote to a friend:
The first question is, what do I mean by healing when I say I have been surprised to find that healing is possible? I don't mean putting the broken vase back together as good as new, and I don't mean becoming the person I would have been if I had not had a painful childhood. To me, healing is putting all that I am together in a positive way. It means reaching a point where there is no longer a child inside me suffering all the time. Not because I left that child behind but because that child has gotten what she needs and can be happy. For me, part of the experience has been that those unmet childhood needs can be met now by a therapist who loves me. To my surprise, that does fill the hole inside me, not as if it never existed but making it into a beautiful lake instead of a gaping wound.
Today I heard a story that somehow fit with that for me:
During the Thirty Years War, theology professors spent a lot of time speculating that the second coming was at hand and Jesus would soon return to earth. One of his colleagues asked Martin Luther: "If you knew with absolute certainty that Jesus would return tomorrow, what would you do today?" Luther replied: "Plant a fruit tree."