Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Balls

Abby likes to throw things for Ella. She isn't very good at it yet, but Ella isn't too picky. Most of the time the object being thrown makes it, oh, 1 foot away from Abby. Unless it's a plastic ball and they are standing on the wood floor. That's the best.

Anyhoo, the other day Abby and I were out in the backyard, wandering around when Ella brought over a ball. Abby immediately picked up the ball, but refused to throw it. It was way too cool (in adult lingo, disgusting) for throwing. After waiting around for a while, Ella realized she wasn't going to get what she wanted from Abby, so she went and scrounged up another ball from some dark corner of the yard and brought it over to me. Abby spotted it and a look of astonishment crossed her face. "What?! There are TWO of them?" She ran over and absconded with the second ball before Ella or I could do anything about it.

Ella was clearly distraught by all the ball hoarding that was going on. She followed Abby all over the yard, willing her to toss one of those balls (or to at least accidentally drop one so she could give it to less selfish party).

Abby totally ignored the intense stares being directed at her, instead focusing on the laborious task of keeping the balls in her hands while at THE SAME TIME walking. Ella tried to be a bit more obvious, exerting her will in closer proximity.

Although this new tactic forced Abby to take note of Ella, she was recalcitrant. Finally, Ella resorted to pleading. "Please, kind baby, won't you throw my ball?"

And that did the trick. Directly after this photo, Abby tossed both balls at the same time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pinckney Half Marathon

I ran my first trail race yesterday. It was a half marathon out at Pinckney State Park. I love Pinckney for many reasons: 1) it is nearby (only 15 miles from our house), 2) it has 17 miles (or more) of gorgeous trails, and 3) it has a perfect swimming lake for post hiking/biking/running cool downs. So when the fates aligned such that I was in fair running shape around the time of the race, I decided to do it.

To give you some perspective for this race, trail running and road running are two different animals. Trail running is so much more engaging than road running. On trails, the miles fly by because you are concentrating on avoiding tripping to your death on roots and rocks and because the scenery changes so often. On roads, I am often bored out of my mind and just want to hurry up and finish running (unless I have company, in which case it's a lot of fun). On the other hand, trail running requires more strength than road running. You'd be amazed how much thigh-burn those rolling hills can induce--one after another after another (see elevation profile below). So while the miles fly by, you end up running a slower pace than you might run out on the roads.

Going into the race, I had a personal goal of finishing under 2 hours. I also had a "secret," more ambitious goal to finish in 1:50. My final time was 1:52:06 and I came in third in my age group, 12th overall for women, and 54th overall (out of 601). As usual, I have mixed emotions about the race.

From the Negative, Super-Competitive Sus: I missed my "secret" goal by 2 minutes. Those two minutes are eating away at my soul. I blame my calves, which started cramping at mile 12 and resulted in a 10 minute mile 13. Stupid legs. Why can't they be stronger? And then there was my friend Brent--one of those crazy people that can barely train for something and then go demoralize people who have trained a lot-- who flew by me at mile 11 with an encouraging yell of "Let's do it Sue!" Sigh. He finished a minute and a half ahead of me. And there was a woman following me for the first half of the race that passed me at mile 8 when I stopped for water. I kept her in sight until mile 11 and then she was gone. She's probably the one that got second place. And last year the time for first place in my age group was 1:59!! Why couldn't the fast people have stayed home this year too?

From the Enlightened, Fun Sus: The conditions for the race were perfect! I had been checking the weather forecast all week and the prediction went from 10% chance rain up to 100% chance rain and thunderstorm warning. I went to sleep the night before the race (a fitful sleep, filled with anxious dreams about forgetting my timing chip or losing my car key) to the sound of rain pouring down. But in the morning the rain had stopped and it didn't rain at all during the race. It was a bit under 60 degrees, the perfect temp, and the rain had packed down the sandy sections of the trail just enough but hadn't been enough to fill all the mud holes. And it's so much fun to run with people who just plain love running. The lady that ran with me for the first half of the race and I joked the whole time about how I needed to learn to time my passing better so that we weren't always sprinting past people up hill. And I won a mug! A giant mug perfect for coffee in the morning. And, even though there was the threat of major cramping, I managed to avoid the worst of it and should be able to run normally soon. I didn't even get a charlie horse last night (I think I owe that to my friend KT for giving me her electrolyte drink after the race).

I think the Enlightened, Fun Sus has the right idea.

My post-race shoes. Don't they just make you want to get up and go out and run right this instant?
P.S. I'm wearing flip-flops today.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Alex Crashes

The phrase "he crashed" could mean any number of things, ranging in seriousness from "his energy level dipped below the optimum level" to "he was in a car accident." So let me clarify. Alex crashed his bike during a bike race (another racer cut in front of him and he caught his front tire on that guy's back tire). On the scale of seriousness between an energy low and a car crash, you might assume that a bike crash is smack dab in the middle. However, I submit to you the following facts and analysis suggesting that a bike crash is nearly as serious as a car crash. I've broken the analysis down according to the major factors that contribute to the "seriousness" of a crash: damage to equipment, bodily harm, and post-crash mental health. Within each category, I compare Alex's crash with the typical characteristics of an energy crash and a car crash.

Equipment damage:

The crash resulted in a ruined front wheel and a bent right shifter lever. He also tore up his leg warmers, his socks, his shirt, and his bike shorts. This amount of damage is more than typically occurs during an energy crash. (I mean, I can imagine some really complicated scenarios involving his friend Chad where this is not true, but it's probably rare.) Whether the damage is less or more than is incurred during a car accident is less clear. Since Alex became a bike fanatic, I have learned that many bikes are much more expensive than some cars. In this case, however, Alex's bike is not expensive enough (a fact he often reminds me of) to push the cost of repair over the average cost of repair for an automobile.

Bodily harm:

Alex came home with several bruises, some heavy road rash on his hip, a pretty badly gouged elbow (see below--note that I took this picture one week after the incident), and, the most serious injury, a really sore and swollen wrist. This most definitely exceeds the average amount of bodily harm resulting from an energy crash, but might actually be on par with, if not more than that resulting from a car accident. Consider that Alex was traveling at 25 miles an hour. A person involved in a car accident at that speed might get some whiplash or a cut from a broken window, but not much more (on average).

Post-crash mental health:

Alex suffered post-crash depression and anxiety (wow, I should have been a doctor!). For one, the thought of getting back on a bike and riding at 25 miles an hour with less than (sometimes much less than) a foot to spare between himself and 30 other bikers (see photo 1 below) was clearly daunting. I guess we'll find out how well he has recovered when the next race rolls around. Perhaps even more affecting was the disappointment that he didn't get to finish the race because up until the crash, the race was going phenomenally. He had been in a break away for most of the race (see photo 2 below) and was feeling great. When the crash happened, there were only 2 laps left, and he was in position to be in the top 5 finishers! I doubt that the average sufferer of an energy crash is mentally affected for much more than a half hour. A victim of a car accident might be more affected, but especially if the accident is a 25 mph one, it is unlikely to be much more severe than that experienced by Alex.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Look Ma...

No feet!

Sigh. Looks like I'll be finding a new home for all the gadgets on the entry table.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rocking the Chair

My Girls