Sunday, March 22, 2009


A year ago, I was running up to 8 miles, had increased my speed, and was training for the first inaugural Marine Corps Half Marathon in Fredericksburg. I was cooking and incredibly proud of my achievements. I am a mom of 8 children. I homeschool. I can do it all! Pride doth go before a fall...

It all started with a way too familiar pang in my shin. It moved to a regular throb. Then came the "it hurts to walk and let's not even contemplate stairs."" No, really, Son, you do want to carry me up the stairs. I mean, come on, you pick me up and move me when I'm in your way, why can't you move me when I am in MY way?" Back to physical therapy I go... Yep, I have done this before, so apparently I am a slow learner. :)

So I call my friends at physical therapy...their first words to me were, "So here is my repeat offender!" I spend two months with my therapist who then decides to hand me over to another therapist...someone who says, "Oh! The injury is in your leg, but your real problem is in your hip!" Hmmm...they did have to move around a few times with 8 pregnancies.
The long trek back to running health took months that included my not running at all...In the midst of all of this, my son's health deteriorated, I started driving a few thousand miles a month to doctor appointments, and I had no time or emotional energy left to run...which means.. Yep, that 9 minute mile is gone. Long gone.

I read somewhere that the first nine runs are the hardest. If you make it through those first nine runs, you will be a runner for life. Really. I lace up my shoes, put on my cute little running skirt (that used to fit much looser!), and strap on my handy dandy Garmin that will tell me how fast I am zipping along...Did I say zipping? Hmmm...The only thing zipping along is the air as it leaves my gasping lungs. Up the dreaded hill I crawl, making the mistake of looking at that handy dandy Garmin and it suggests that I am zipping along at startling 12 and a half minutes per mile. Maybe I should walk, it would be faster! I stumble forward, thinking, "It will get better. It will get better. It will get better."

Here we are three weeks later. I actually conquered 3.9 miles on Wednesday at a zippy little pace of 11 minutes per mile. Not fast by any measure, but better than three weeks ago...and I didn't feel the to inspect my sanity at the half mile mark. It has been nine runs...and I am actually running! Not fast...and it certainly isn't pretty...and that cute little running skirt isn't nearly as loose as it used to be, but it's looser than it was three weeks ago. Maybe they were on to something? Nine runs core is stronger (thanks, Steve, the amazing physical therapist!), my leg isn't hurting, and...I'm running!

Ah, but have I learned my lesson? Will I stay injury free? Am I a really slow learner? Stay tuned....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Running with Jackson, the beagle

For those whom I totally confused with the previous post, Jackson is William's ten month old Beagle. Well, after last week's event between Jackson and Benjamin, my 8 yo son, we were in a quandry as to what to do. We had always stated that we would never keep a dog that had bitten someone. However, nothing is ever that easy when you are in the middle of it. Beagles are not generally aggressive. Headstrong, yes. Aggressive, no. So what really happened? With no witnesses, it's impossible to know.

So, we decided to have someone evaluate him to see if they could provoke a similar response. I called a friend, Amber, with lots of dog training experience to do just that. She saw nothing that gave her concern. I called another trainer (who helped train the previous trainer) who had several recommendations, one of which was to give him lots of exercise. Aha! I can do that! I wanted a canine running partner anyway!

Ha! Beagles and running. Well, they love to run, but they love to run after something...something with fur and a really good scent...and I don't mean Shalimar! If it's a dead scent, all the better! Definitely not my scent of choice. Since I don't generally smell dead (at least I try not to smell dead), I have hair and not fur, I am really not all that attractive to this beagle. So, a lovely little training collar is used to make my presence known and, more importantly, to make said beagle realize that he is not alpha and doesn't call the shots...or the pace!

So, Jackson works with said trainer, he runs a few miles with my 15 yo, Andrew, and now it is my turn. Amber works with me, showing me what to do to encourage good running partner behavior. Got it. I practice at home. I even run a few tenths of a mile. Cool! This is working!

So, today, KT and David came over and off we went for a nice slow three miles. Slow is the operative term. I have Jackson fully under my control with his training collar and leash. Kt gives in to Savannah's tail wagging and sad eyes, attaches a snoot loop and leash to her, and we are off. Off our rockers!

We get maybe a tenth of a mile down the road, and my shoulder already feels like it has been lifting weights for half an hour. I have to constantly pull on Jackson's leash to remind him that he is supposed to follow, not lead! The dead rabbit in the middle of the road is way more interesting than my attention-getting tactics. He finally settles into a rhythm. Then we hit the first hill. I slow down but Jackson is so not interested! He decides that the former pace is much more desireable. After stopping to make him sit, I get his attention again, and off we go.

Now for the the top of the hill, a bird has the audacity to wing itself across the road, right at Jackson's eye level. What is this stupid bird thinking? Doesn't it realize that this dog is a force with which to be reckoned? Apparently it decided to tempt fate...and we were off to the races.

How is it that a 40 lb dog can actually make a grown woman feel like she is in a cartoon as she is being literally dragged down the road, both hands holding onto the leash, and pulling with all her might! It was like being on the back of a sled and a team of huskies was pulling me across the frozen tundra! I wanted to yell, "MUSH!", but figured that if I did that, I might end up in North Carolina. While Caty is hysterically laughing at my comical adventure, I am looking at David, going, "Uh, could ya help me out here?" Fortunately, he did not find it nearly so comical and added his much stronger muscle mass to the effort of stopping this run away sled.

Needless to say, I have decided that my 6 foot son whose biceps are twice the size of mine will have the distinct privilege of running with said beagle while I enjoy his lab who adores placidly trotting along beside you... The beagle gets exercise, I get a lovely running partner, and all but Andrew are happy. :) Sorry son. Rank doth have its privileges!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ben and the dog

It was one of those moments.... It was Caroline's 7th birthday. I was cleaning house all morning, anticipating the arrival of friends and family for dinner. I finally was drying my hair when one of the kids says that Ben is crying. I asked them to send Ben to me when someone said, "Andrew needs you now." Andrew is my Joe Cool, unruffleable 15 year old. For him to need me now sends this shiver down my spine.
Sitting there on the porch in my rocker is my 8 year old...bleeding profusely. Andrew, who is holding pressure, moves his hand and I see...a mess. (For those who don't like graphic descriptions, I will spare you!) I immediately bark orders as I go to get my shoes on. Someone find Ben's shoes and get them on, find my bag, get the ER bag (yes, we have an ER bag thanks to Caroline and Will!).
What would we do without the Brooks's? There would be NO birthday, that is for sure. Randy had shopped for me on his way home from work the previous night, Erlene had wrapped the presents, and all I did was write a check. They totally saved the day. So, Erlene gets another call from me asking if she could possibly take Caroline to Costco to get a birthday cake while I hang out at the ER.
Six stitches and a few gray hairs later, we eat a birthday dinner that was saved by Chelsea who won't even eat most of what she helped prepare, ate birthday cake and ice cream purchased by Erlene, opened gifts purchased by Randy (Erlene's husband), and celebrate the good gift of children while being very thankful for the Lord's mercy toward our son and His provision of amazing friends!