Confessions of a Reformed Marching Band Geek

Seriously. It’s a Mermaid.

I was feeling like being a good wife last night so I took Mr Grumpy for a fish fry (one of his favorite Friday activities). We thought about sharing a dessert, but decided that they didn’t have anything we wanted so we went to Starbucks instead (have you tried their cheesecake brownies? Fantastic).

I don’t usually sit at Starbucks. I’m either there working or grabbing some liquid awesome for the road. Tonight we decided to sit and enjoy our little treat rather than take it home. I was looking at their lit logo in the front window. That’s when this conversation occurred.

Me: Do you think those are her arms or her fins?

Mr Grumpy: What are you talking about?

Me: The chick on the Starbucks logo. Are her arms fins or does she just have a strange split tail fin?

Mr Grumpy: It’s just waves like the ocean. She’s not part fish.

Me: Sure she is (as I jump up to show him where her fins are). LOOK!

Mr Grumpy: No there’s a crown…

Me: AND FINS. Duh. Look at her!

Mr Grumpy: You’re weird.

Me: She’s totally a bipodal mermaid!

Mr Grumpy: That’s not even a word.

Me: Sure. She has two fins rather than one. Like us. We have two feet.

Mr Grumpy: You mean bipedal.

Me: Exactly! A bipedal mermaid.

Mr Grumpy just laughed and gave me a kiss. See? This is why he loves me!

Totally borrowed from AT HER. SHE'S A MERMAID!

(borrowed from


And the Answer Is….


Mr Grumpy and I had talked about it during the week and he was all “if you want to run it, that will be fine”. When I talked to my friends they were all “it will be awesome! We could train together. It will be awesome”. When I talked to my chiropractor she was all “um, is that what you really want to do?” I was completely torn. Part of my brain was totally in. It would be great to run 26.2 in Chicago. It would be great to run with my friends. It would be great to have a cheering section larger than one person. It would be great.

Except for the training in the summer. I seem to have a very narrow temperature comfort zone. Ask Mr Grumpy. He’s pretty sure it’s only two degrees. I’m sure it has to be AT LEAST five. He’s so grumpy! Anyway, while the drinking fountains are available in the summer (they shut them off during the winter so they don’t freeze. This was a serious issue while training for Disney because I would spend every mile OBSESSED about where I was going to refill my water), it wasn’t enough to convince me that summer marathon training was something I wanted to do this year.

All of that being said, I may still train with my friends and either volunteer at the race like I usually do (I work the mile 3 water station with a local running group. We have to be there early, but it’s totally worth the loss of sleep) or be a part of the Whiskey Runners Cheering Squad (that’s the name of our little group. We don’t really drink whiskey. We drink coffee, but Coffee Runners just sounded wrong on so many levels).

So no Chicago Marathon for me this year. Unless I have non-registration regret and I decide to run for a charity. I’m sure someone would let me trudge through the marathon for a little fundraising if I really want to be there. As of right now, that’s not really settling in. Now to find some awesome half marathons to use that $175 (plus all of the marathon wear I would have purchased at the expo) I saved!

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To Run or Not To Run, That is THE Question

So today is the day. Opening registration for the Chicago Marathon. It will most likely sell out by the time I go to bed tonight so I need to decide in the next four-five hours if I am going to brave the distance again (when I adamantly said that I would NEVER be doing this again while gimping my way back to the car after Disney). My friends (who have never run a marathon) are going to do it and when it comes to races I am a sucker for peer pressure (see, not caving with drugs or alcohol or other crazy things in high school or college pays of by caving to peer pressure for crazy things like this when you’re an adult).

Part of me wants┬áto run Chicago. It’s flat. The weather is usually not optimal (which I already know so I can sort of be prepared). I know the landmarks and other quirky places along the route. Mr Grumpy knows the city so he could find more places to stop and cheer than last time. I have a new water resistant fuel belt so my phone won’t fitz out along the way. I could do this.

Part of me says it’s too soon. My leg is just starting to feel back to normal. Training during the summer is difficult (although the fountains are on so I don’t have to obsess about water quite so much). There is a shorter required finish time (I finished just over the limit for Disney and was barely ahead of where they were pulling people off the course). Granted, I have more time to train (if I start now) and could do some speed work to get that up, but it would have to be a significant change to meet the requirement.

I don’t know. I hate when I’m so wishy-washy about races. Maybe I’ll wait for Mr Grumpy to get up and let him decide. It’s my usual course of action when I don’t know what I want to do about something. Then again, he doesn’t have to run it. Sigh. I’ll get back to you later about the final decision!


Back in the Saddle…er…the Treadmill Again!

So it’s been a month since I finished the Walt Disney World Marathon. It is also one month until my next half marathon. It has been s…l…o…w…going getting myself back into a regular running routine. I had “tweaked” my hamstring during marathon training so I decided to take some time off to focus on strength work and let my leg heal. My goal yesterday was 4-5 miles. I made it 3 before I decided that I had other things to do. Seriously, this is why I shouldn’t run on the treadmill. It is WAY too easy to get off and do something else. Like grade papers. Or clean something. Or do ANYTHING other than run and go nowhere. I could have gone outside, but I didn’t feel like putting on all of those clothes for about an hour of work. It appears to be the problem with distance runners. If we’re going to put on all of those running clothes and tape up our knee (or any other body part that needs a little more support), it had better be worth it. Maybe next weekend will be more interested in running outside. Or I’ll just watch more Hot Fuzz with the trivia track and give my treadmill the workout it deserves!

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Super Bowl Crazy Talk

OK. So I have two degrees in music. It makes me a little more picky about my musical selections at sporting events. In a facebook conversation about Sunday’s halftime show, we launched into a debate about the best concerts we’ve attended. Here are ours.

Billy Joel. The first time I went to see Billy Joel in concert I went with my mom. It was kind of the part of the deal to get to go. She’s not really a fan (she only listens to Classical or Easy Listening type music) but went all the same. The second time I went with Mr Grumpy. It was a joint concert with Elton John (who we like fine, but didn’t appreciate live. Too much pomp for us). It was on Billy Joel’s birthday which would make me want to have an easy evening. He said “you paid a lot to be here and I want to make sure you get your money’s worth” and he did. It was awesome!

The Barenaked Ladies. I thought we’d only seen them once, but Mr Grumpy reminded me that we saw them as part of a Christmas show as well. Who else makes up songs about the audience on the spot? It really feels like you’re hanging out with them and sharing some music. How great is that?

Weird Al. The first time I saw Weird Al was when I was in high school. The marching band went as a field trip (No joke. We didn’t have enough money for traditional band camp so we made up our own at home and went to the concert as a consolation. Totally worth it). This was the height of “Like a Surgeon” and “Eat It” so it was awesome. The second time I went with Mr Grumpy. Still awesome for me, but I think he began to wonder about his judgement in marrying me a little during the show.

Huey Lewis and the News. OK. This one comes with some explanation. The first time we saw Huey Lewis was with Chicago. Chicago was OK, but Huey was fantastic. They were having a great time and we were too. Mr Grumpy and I saw them again last year and it was not the same show. He was there to promote his “new” album (which had been out for quite a while and wasn’t that good), but we really weren’t happy until he sang the old stuff. He left out some favorites which made us sad. It could have been a great show. We were also the youngest people in the audience if you didn’t include the kids who came with their grandparents. There’s something wrong with 50 year old women screaming and storming the stage for Huey Lewis if you know what I mean.

Mr Grumpy is telling me that I need to mention Styx, The Who, and Peter Gabriel in this list. I told him it was about what I thought was an awesome concert and he told me I don’t know anything about good music. Jerk. Since then he has added Better Than Ezra and Tragically Hip. They might have been fine, but they performed in venues which make me nervous. I’m just not cool being someplace where I’m not sure I could get out if there was a fire. And where drunk people touch me. And where I stick to the floor.

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Interview Jitters

I had an interview on Tuesday. It’s not my first, but I’d love for it to be my last. I’m a competent professional. I speak at national conferences with ease. I present at state and regional conferences on a regular basis. I talk to parents, potential clients, and students about what I do all the time. With no problem. Competently. Honest.

I get into an interview situation and you’d think I hit my head on the way in. My hands shake like a leaf. My voice quavers. When I sing, I sound like a nanny goat. I can’t find my words. I stumble through my explanations of things. I find myself fidgeting, using my hands WAY too much to emphasize my point, and letting my ADHD flag fly wildly. Ugh!

This may be a little different. I’ve worked with students from this school in the past. The teaching technique they want to use, while new to them, is not to me. I finally feel like I have something to offer them that they want. This is different to past interviews where I have felt like they had something that I wanted. Here’s hoping it makes all the difference. That and my topic is something I just taught at a different facility with a little tweak to meet their needs.

Maybe the planets will align for me this time. A girl can hope!

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Snow Day…or Not!

I started a new post on Monday. Mr Grumpy argued with me about what I was going to talk about. I was going to do a little more research on it so I could be a little more factual, but then I decided that I was too tired and had too many other things to do so nothing happened. I may get back to it over the weekend. Or not. Sorry!

It snowed yesterday. The first real snow of the year which, of course, means that no one remembers how to drive. I live on a fairly busy street in our little town. The first plow came through around 8:00. My neighbor had been out shoveling for a while by then. My neighbor across the street has a massive snow blower. I really think it is more than the average snow fall in Chicagoland requires. He uses it for every measurable snow. I was shocked not to hear it yesterday morning. When I went out with the full expectation to chisel my car out to go to work, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was maybe an inch of snow. Really neighbors? Did we need to shovel for that? It will probably blow away by morning. Nuts!

Anyway, I brushed the snow off my car and went on my merry way. Sort of. The non-highway roads were fairly snow covered when I left around 8:45. Not super slippery, but enough to be cautious OR TO CRAWL if you were everyone else out there (with the exception of the dimwhit who was cutting people off on the little stretch of 5 lane road near the post office. There wasn’t really enough space for you to cut that guy off and you were going a little fast. Thank your lucky stars you weren’t clipped causing you to run into me. I would NOT have been happy). Argh! At least the roads were clear by the time I was done with my first client and I could get around fairly easily from there.

The best part is that now that this is out of our system everyone will return to their normal jerky driving selves. Maybe.

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Marathon: or a Crazy Episode of Survivor!

Well I made it. I finished my first marathon. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was enough to earn an awesome medal and the right to wear all of the marathon wear I purchased at the expo. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1. Even Disney can’t control the weather. It was HOT. I mean steamy hot for the entire weekend. Sitting on my friend’s lanai, it was great. Running, not so much. All of my training in cool weather meant nothing there. I was warm before we even started. The fuel I brought with me only added to my distress as my body wasn’t ready for it in the same way it was on a chilly Chicago run. I’ve never been so happy to be handed a bag of ice at the finish!

2. My Garmin battery does not last more than 6 hours or so. I charged it up over night. It read 100% when I left. It stopped when I got to mile 22. Those were the longest four miles EVER to the finish.
3. My tunes don’t last that long either.
4. I need more songs on my running MP3. I thought I had PLENTY of music. When I run at home, it rarely repeats. This includes 5+ hours of running. I wasn’t as lucky during the marathon. It went into repeat fairly early and by mile 18 I was tired of the songs I brought and went with just the voices in my head. This is not usually a good plan, but I needed a break. Next time, more song options!
5. Ice and a cold pool can be my friend. I’d always heard of friends taking an ice bath after a long run or a race, but I never fully understood why until last week. We stayed with a friend who had a pool in her back yard. The last few miles it was all that I could think about. I was going to take off my evil shoes and walk straight into her pool. It was more like gimping and I needed help being able to lower myself to the water’s edge, but that icy water was the best thing I’d experienced all day!
6. Having a cheering squad (or person) can really help. When I ran my first half my training was similar to this round. I had an injury mid training which pretty much put me behind. It was really hot (but that one was in August, so it wasn’t surprising, but just as miserable). The difference was Mr Grumpy wasn’t there to cheer for me. I drove down with friends for the half, but they were faster than me so I told them to leave without me. I limped back to the train station (I was too cheep to get a cab), took the commuter home, and licked my running wounds alone. This round I told Mr Grumpy he was going to be there and he was going to cheer for me. It made a HUGE difference. I knew generally where he was going to be and had my phone with me (which was not always helpful as it over heated as well, but at least the battery didn’t die until I got to the car) so I could find where he was. I signed him up for runner tracking so he knew where I was. There were many miles where the only thought that kept me going was knowing that he was just ahead and I had to meet him there. I wish there were more people and more opportunities for him to cheer for me, but I was grateful for what I had!
7. Purchasing “I Did It” shirts at the expo before the race may or may not be a good plan. Disney was running out of marathon wear on only the second day of the expo. I really wanted a marathon jacket to commemorate my first time. It took a while to find one in the right size, but I finally found one. I also found a t-shirt proclaiming that I did it. I snatched it up quickly and happily paid for my purchases. For the entire race they haunted me. If I didn’t finish I couldn’t wear any of those jackets or shirts because I’d be a fraud. I HAD to finish so I could justify what I bought (see where the cheap thing continues?)! I guess it worked since I finished, but I’m not sure it was the best motivation!
8. Be happy with finished. I went in with the goal of finishing under my own power. I think I was only on fumes as I stumbled, zombie like, over the finish line, but I did it. I looked at my time and knew it wasn’t anywhere near where I was hoping. I didn’t even technically finish in the allotted time for the race (luckily that timer started after I crossed the start). I was not picked up by the “loser bus” and they gave me my medal so I’m taking it as good. I was completely bummed about my finish time. Until I talked with some nice ladies at the airport. They reminded me that we aren’t used to the heat and that we could probably take a good 30-45 minutes off our time in the next race. Then I remembered that when I moved from hot/injured races to cooler/healthy races I did take off that much time. It makes me feel better. A little.
9. The airport can be a place of unity. This was a destination race for us. The last time I did a destination race we drove so we didn’t see fellow runners along the way. Before that we went to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Half, but I don’t remember seeing anyone at the airport. This time the airport was FULL of runners! We all had on our jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts, race shirts, and medals (OK, I only had on my “I did it” shirt. Well, and other clothes, but that was all of the marathon wear I had on. I thought about wearing my medal, but I decided against it at the last minute. I could have taken it out of my bag and put it on, but I didn’t really need any additional weight or unbalance for the day). It was great! We all talked about the heat, compared battle scars, and congratulated each other. I think I need that after every race!
10. Scheduling a half two weeks after your first marathon is not a good idea. I had kicked around the idea of a half this winter, but didn’t make a commitment because the one I usually run was the same weekend as the marathon. There was another scheduled and a friend and I decided that it could be fun. My training was going well at the time and I had an 8 mile recovery run on the schedule so I thought-why not! Bad choice. I’m still working on getting my legs loose enough for a recovery run, let alone a half marathon. We’ll see how this week goes, but I’m thinking no.
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Marathon Prep: Packing

OK. I have to admit. I swing wildly between super organized and complete chaos. For some races I have my clothes, bib, shoes, Garmin, tunes, inhaler, water, everything out the night before. It does makes the mornings easier. For far more, I am racing (no pun intended) to get everything together and hope I don’t forget anything.

Destination races are worse. My running friends jokingly call me a running clothes diva. I don’t consider it diva-ish. I just like to be comfortable. I like them to fit how I like it on that day (some days my bigger running shirts are my friend). I like to be comfortable temperature wise. I like when they don’t get in the way of what I need to do. When I’m at home, I can change my mind at the last minute, bring a bag of “extras” for in the car in case I change my mind, or if I’m running in the area, call Mr Grumpy to bring me more clothes (which he hates, but loves me and does it anyway).

When I need to be elsewhere this becomes more complicated. For example, I’m running the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday. It’s supposed to get up to 81 degrees during the race. It will probably be 50-60 when we start which is A LOT warmer than it has been in Chicago (it was 10 for my last long run). I pulled out my favorite summer running wear for the weekend, but still packed some short sleeved shirts and capris. You may think I’m crazy, but here’s where my destination psychosis comes in.

Last May I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon. Mr Grumpy and I grew up there so it was a nice “hometown” race for us. It happened to fall at the end of our little vacation trip to Tennessee. I checked the weather in both states and packed accordingly. Until a warm front came through. When we got to Cleveland it was HOT. I’d packed long sleeved shirts, long pants, jackets’ and gloves. I ended up breaking the Cardinal Rule of running (no, not new shoes on race day or wearing the shirt from the race). I bought a new shirt at the expo and wore it (with a pair of capris which I happened to pack) to the race. Luckily, a company I know was at the expo so I was sure that it would be fine (I’m wearing that same shirt this weekend).

So packing is quite a chellenge for me. As if finding everyday clothes isn’t difficult enough, I have to figure out the running stuff too. Arg!

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Crazy Vacation Post: Unsolicited Marathon Advice

For those of you who have read more than one of my posts, you know that I’m running my first marathon this week. Am I starting to freak out? Maybe a little. Do I need advice from EVERYONE as to what I need to do? Not really.

Unsolicited Advice #1: So I’m on the plane on our way to our vacation destination. The guy behind me mentions that he’s running the Disney Marathon next month. I mention that I’m running it as well and that it was my first. He asked how my training was going (so far, not too weird). I mentioned my tweaky hamstring and that I’d had to pull back on my training to let it heal some. He asked how my last 20 miler went. I had to admit that I didn’t get that far due to an injury. He then proceeded to tell me that I should have had at least one 20 miler (if not two) and really should have a 23 miler under my belt before a first marathon. I assured him that I was aware of that, but felt that it was better to be HEALED before I went than STILL INJURED with good miles. He went on to tell me that he trains marathoners and new runners and he would never let one of his runners start a race they weren’t ready for (good thing he’s not MY coach. I’d never run a race again). He then when on to drill me about my stretching and rehab (thanks. I have a DOCTOR I’m working with on this). Awesome. Luckily I have a twitterverse of cheerleaders who told me to ignore the running nutjob from the plane. Not easy, but done.

Unsolicited Advice #2: I thought I’d be safe while listening to a time share sales push. Not so lucky. If you missed the story of the time share debacle, be sure to read the vacation post on how bad 90 minutes can be. This woman was the picture of gloom and misery. She was overweight and complained throughout the session about how much her knees were bothering her (I’m no supermodel so don’t take my comments as a statement here other than to give you a picture of where this advice is coming from). She asked where our next trip would be and we mentioned going to Orlando for the marathon. She became animated and launched into a story about how she owns a yoga studio and that I should be adding Hot Yoga to my cross training routine. Without it, my training would be incomplete. I should really check it out while I was in town and get in as many sessions as possible between now and the marathon (OK. She didn’t say it exactly like that, but my pained head heard it about like that). I smiled and thanked her and got out of there ASAP.

Unsolicited Advice #3: My husband’s family joined us on our “vacation alone” for the week (see the first post of this series for more details on THAT). A family member has run one marathon (as far as I know) and a few other little races. I was telling her about how excited I was about the medal (I have a picture posted on my fridge for motivation). She told me that she doesn’t really care about the medals and either gives them to the kids to play with them or throws them away (mine are all displayed on an awesome rack in our stairwell. In chronological order). When I mentioned that the race gives us seven hours to finish so I wasn’t really worried about finishing, she told me how her sister finished her last marathon about and hour and a half later than she anticipated (implying that I wouldn’t finish in less than 8) and then stated that the worst thing that would happen would be that I wouldn’t finish. WHAT? Not finish?! Yeah, I’ll crawl across the finish line before THAT happens!

Unsolicited Advice #4: By Tuesday night I was less than willing to mention the marathon to anyone ever again. I had ordered some running things from a company in Arizona (see picture below. It explains so much) just before we left. She offered to ship it to the resort rather than our house so I could get it and enjoy it sooner. Awesome! When I went to pick up my package from the front desk I opened it to make sure that everything was there. The gentleman at the concierge desk noticed the shirt I ordered and asked if I was a runner. I admitted that I was and my marathon plans. He was actually really nice about it and invited me to come run the Arizona Marathon next year (it’s in February. It’s really hilly. I live in Chicago. We can’t even pretend to train for that). He also told me he knew the nutjob from #2 and that she lost her yoga studio (he said she wasn’t very good at it) along with several other businesses over the past few years. It made me feel a little better.

Marathon weekend will be here before we know it. If I don’t keel over from the stress…or the continual advice!

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