Sunday, September 13, 2009
I love it when a plan comes together.
Last weekend, a number of Disney Distance sparkers came together in Disneyland for the race weekend. It wasn't always fun, but it was memorable!
MAPLELEAFMOM, IZZYBUBBLES, DANIMITE2 and I had dinner in a restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It was a lovely way to begin the festivities.
Of course, as much as we enjoyed the food, it was the bling that was the weekend's real motivation, and DANI was ready!
Unfortunately, the Beirut - Frankfurt - Boston - Washington - Charlotte - Los Angeles routing over a few days had left me stiff and gimpy. My injured knee was acting stroppy and giving me doubts. At the Expo, I discovered an ace bandage wrap that was soaked in lineament or something equally stinky. DANI almost passed out from the sinus-clearing smell, but it really did wonders for the knee.
Saturday - the 5K
We warmed up with a gentle 5K. Unlike the congenial atmosphere of the Princess race in March, there was loads of pushing, shoving, elbows, and uncouth language, even though it was billed as a "family fun run". Dani and Della could have jetted off and been done in five minutes, but they stayed with me as I tested my knee and worked out the kinks. We enjoyed company and conversation and finished in 51 minutes, or about a 16:30/mile pace.
A long time friend and her mother had visited me in Tunis earlier this year. I was surprised to learn that my friend had been inspired by my running and had run four marathons. "Mom" got all excited while she was visiting and decided to do the Disneyland 5K. She did great, and we all went out for a fun-filled character breakfast afterwards.
Two old friends of ours who live in LA also joined us. Neither of them is much interested in anything that requires physical exertion, but being good sports they oohed and ahhed over the cute little 5K medals. Mila announced that a half MARATHON was simply out of the question - she was going to invent the Half MILE race. We'd run around her block, she'd give us medals, and then we could all have a BBQ.
The Disney Distance Spark team met on Saturday for pre-race food and laughs. IZZY and Della (MAPLE) made light of their height difference.
Yeah, we were all smiles then. Little did I know ...
Sunday - Race Day
DANI and I goofed off before the race. My knee was feeling better, and I was feeling pumped for the race. We lined up in the front of Corral D because there is a pace requirement for Disney races, and I didn't want to risk getting taken off the course.
The race began well enough. I ran the first two miles at a 14:30 pace. Then the problems began.
Mile 3 - blisters. By the end of the race, I had a blood blister on one toe, blisters across the bottoms of my feet, and along the outsides. When I later went to see a doctor, he was surprised at how deep they went, much to my discomfort. I didn't quit, but I stopped running and just tried to walk fast enough to keep ahead of the pacers.
Mile 6 - I saw the pacers for the first time. They assured me that I was still ahead of pace -- but not by much. I redoubled my efforts and limped faster.
Mile 8 - The pacers told me I was now behind pace. However, they did not remove me from the course, so I kept going.
We ran through the Magic Kingdom early in the race and were then out on the streets of Anaheim. The local people came out and livened things up with marching bands, cheer squads, funny signs, a mariachi band, and even Polynesian dancers! (I thought of you, HELEN!) The volunteers were incredibly encouraging and friendly and kept me on the course when my body was begging to quit. In fact, truth be told, I was hurting so much by mile 8 that I was secretly hoping the pacers would take me off the course. I was too proud to quit, but I really didn't want to keep going.
In Mile 9, we ran through the big baseball stadium. (Is that Honda Stadium?) They packed it with thousands of boy scouts, etc. When we entered the arena, they announced our names and fun facts about us, and we ran the field, our pictures were on the jumbotron, and the crowd cheered and screamed like we were winning. I got a huge cheer, but I think it's because I entered with a 73-year old man ... who later passed me! Energized by the crowds, I tried picking up the pace -- and my left calf promptly began to spasm. The right soon joined.
Both calves spasmed through the rest of the race. I hobbled onwards. in Mile 10, the pacers told me that they needed to open up the road, and did I want to come off the course? I looked from them to the two police officers blocking the road and took off across the street, with the cops both screaming, "That's right! you go, girl!" The pacers sighed and made a point of slowly tying their shoes and other things to delay catching up to me.
I cried and trudged through a couple more miles. In Mile 12, the pacers came up to me and asked if I could finish. I simply hadn't come all that way to fail and asked to stay on the course. They let me.
I was hurting so much that I completed that final mile at a 27-minute mile pace. I couldn't even run across the finish line. I was so exhausted and in such pain that I seriously wondered how I was going to manage to get back to my room.
Imagine my surprise when I saw IZZY, DANI, and MAPLE waiting for me! They'd finished ages earlier but had kindly hung around, waiting for me! The medics iced the more problematic leg, the ladies guided me to the medals, and I tried to stop crying long enough to pose.
I honestly don't know what I would have done without them.
Just one of the many
Once I'd decided that I would, in fact, live, it was time to celebrate. DANi and I went out for a fancy dinner. I'd burned over 3200 calories on the course, so I felt entitled to eat pretty much anything I wanted to. (But I didn't eat dessert!)
Here I am, celebrating by trying to turn the "Cal" in "California" into "Cat"!
I wasn't done having fun with Sparkfriends yet! I flew from Los Angeles to Washington because Hogwarts friend BEXTRESS was getting married on 09/09/09.
JUSTKIMBERLY and I conspired to crash her wedding. JKIM met me at the metro, and we GPSed our way to the right courthouse. We had some trouble finding the correct building and room, but we made it, and boy was BEXY surprised! When we strolled in and announced ourselves (by Sparkname, of course), she looked utterly gobsmacked!
Look at that beautiful bride with the cute dimples! That's our BEXY! Then JKIM, BEXY, her new DH and I all went out to breakfast.
This trip was really hard in some ways, but it was also tremendous fun to see IZZY, DANI, and Della (MAPLE) again, as well as meet JKIM and BEX and the Disney Distancers in person. I consider myself lucky to know so many terrific Sparkers in real life now, and I've already begun scheming as to how to meet others!
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Wow. It's been three weeks since MacDuff and I arrived in Beirut. The time is flying by! I arrived and sort of jumped right into the work, but MacDuff and I are trying to find a good groove.
MacDuff is adjusting well. He is such a little trooper. He sleeps in when I get up to work out. Then we go for a walk when I get back. He keeps busy during the day, napping on his various chairs and sunning himself on the balcony until I get home for another walk.
As some of you know, MacDuff has already had to go to the vet. He has benign growths which the vet says are hereditary. Somehow, he cut one, and it got infected. Its right on his tushie, so he runs in circles, trying to reach it. He also looks ridiculous because he played in a pricker bush and got the prickers emeshed in the fur on his face. I couldn't bring myself to hurt him, so I just cut them all out. Now he looks sort of like a white fox with a sore butt.
My apartment is fab. It's very umm ... 70s. I call it Mr. Brady's Bachelor Pad, because it looks like where Mr. Brady would have lived if he hadn't married Mrs. Brady. I picture him with his curly perm, in a polyester leisure suit, throwing wild fondue parties!
How to describe it? It's a loft, and it's pretty much one large space. I have four balconies, one off the bedroom, one off the kitchen, and two off the main room. Once it cools down, that should be super fabulous.
Here are a few pictures.
I took thee pictures from my bedroom. Wild, huh? Go, Mr. Brady!
Like the show, my place only has one tiny little bathroom. *LOL* It's a powder room with a shower stuffed into it. Ah well.
Here's MacDuff surveying his new surroundings on one balcony, and I took the picture from another.
The views from the balconies facing the sea:
The swimming pool is practically next to my office:
It's wedding season, so almost every evening, MacDuff and I sit on the balcony and watch the celebratory fireworks.
Let's see ... what else? Well, when I arrived, my blood pressure skyrocketed to 180/100. So I adjusted my meds but also hired a personal trainer. We meet at 5 a.m. because it's the only way I know our meetings won't be preempted by work demands. I hate getting up at 4:15, but it's a great way to start the day. Also, there are no secrets here. We're all under armed guard and reporting our movements, so it's hard to keep anything to oneself. As the only fat woman here, it has actually worked to my advantage for people to learn my habits, as it seems to have negated the fattism I iniitally encountered.
So there you have it. I get up, work out, walk MacDuff, go to work, work all day, come home, walk MacDuff, and go to bed. I eat lunch and dinner at work because of the hours, and making healthy food choices remains a toughie for me. Unlike Tunis, there is all kinds of fast food here - Burger King, McDonalds, Appleby's, KFC, etc. The driver picks up the orders. I should be sending him out for salads, but I've noticed that when I'm tired and stressed, I get hungrier. And the salads aren't doing it. I'm still evolving a routine, but I'm trying to incorporate more snacks inbetween meals to keep my hunger in check.
Also, the Lebanese are enthusiastic social eaters, so to preempt forced eating, I told everyone straight up that I have diabetes and numerous food allergies. It has greatly reduced the number of sweets waved under my nose!
The heat and humidity are unreal, but my colleagues assure me that this summer is one of the hottest ever, so i hope to see more pleasant weather soon. Oh, I hope! I have FIVE air conditioners in my house, just to keep comfortable!
So there you have it. I'm still in a state of flux, dealing with things like the fact that my stuff is still stuck in Tunis, but overall, I'm grateful to have a good job and groovy digs!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I have to dash this off, so fasten your seat belts - the transfer was a rough ride.
When I last blogged, the company had lost my medical receipts and expenditures. Both were found and credited! Yay!
And the packers had taken all my clothes. Sadly that bit is unchanged. I won't see my clothes until October.
So on Friday, MacDuff and I headed to the airport to begin a three-hour flight .... a threeeee-hour flight *cue Gilligan's Island music*
Mac Duff was booked. Smiling people greeted us and told us everything was great - just pay the excess baggage, and even gave me a discount.
We went to counter one. Stood in line. Got to the front. Oops, sorry, this queue is for something else. Go stand in that one.
Stood in that one. got to the front. She decided to go to lunch at that point and told us to go stand in a third queue.
Stood there. She announced that the fare was three times what I'd been told - literally hundreds more. I didn't have the money, and she wouldn't take cards.
Off to find an ATM. Out of order, Found another one. Got more $$. Returned to queue. Waited again. Got to front. Paid. Got receipt.
Went back to initial queue. Found out receipt was incorrect. Sent back to last line. Now 1 hour and 40 minutes has gone by, and I'm in danger of not making the flight myself. Refused to politely queue. Pressed to the front, got it sorted.
MacDuff loaded. Headed through security without incident.
Flight delayed. Concerned about connection. Told if connection missed, everything would be taken care of.
Take off 90 minutes late. As I board, AFTER I am ALREADY on the airplane, I am pulled aside and personally searched. The bastards. During the flight, I'm told that air crew phoned ahead and flight being held for me.
Arrive in Amman. Flight not held. No other departures that night. No arrangements made. Nice woman told me to "sit over there" and wait for it to be sorted.
A half hour later, see nice lady leaving for night. Run after her. Airily tells me she's off for the night and to talk to her boss.
It's now 9 p.m. Tired. Hungry. Worried about MacDuff. Find boss. Boss happy to help. Books me a hotel - free. Ask about luggage. Surprised. Says can get luggage. What about MacDuff? MacDuff has to stay in airport. Oh, they'll take care of him?
Blank stare. The dog has been crated for over 10 hours, and they want to hold him with no food, water or comfort break until he's loaded the next morning, flies to Beirut, clears customs and is unloaded, some 14 hours from now.
Hours of negotiations. Money changes hands. As I'm leaving the airport, with four men flanking men, a security buttwad decides to search my suitcase and paws through my stuff with all the men watching. Finds my teddy bear, Bully. Strained mental powers to will Bully to bite him. Special magic powers let me down. No joy.
Midnight. Luggage and dog go to hotel. Hotel won't take dog but will allow him to remain outside, in his crate. MacDuff shaky and super stressed. Long walk. Accidentally walk into military range directly next to hotel. Minor altercation with guard who is stunned to learn I speak Arabic and allows MacDuff to pee on military grass.
Unable to leave MacDuff alone because little boys whose parents are nowhere to be found terrorize him the moment I walk away. Luggage spends night in hotel room. Cat and MacDuff spend it outside the hotel, on the pavement.
5 a.m. Cat, dog, and luggage return to airport. Stupid *&$#@ Royal Jordanian never booked MacDuff. Cargo not pressurized. Major drama. Almost miss flight. Another humiliating personal search. Clear security. See, of all things, a Cinnabon. Believe it to be a hallucination. In fact, real. Buy cinnabon from nice man and eat it.
Arrive in Beirut. Met by expediter. Immigration is a breeze. Luggage arrives. MacDuff arrives. Customs a breeze. Transportation is waiting. Dropped off at new home.
MacDuff wobbles out to the grass, does business, drinks a liter of water, and collapses on the sofa, unable to even muster interest in his new surroundings.
Our new place is a tad unusual but has personality, and we are very grateful to be "home"!
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Good-bye, Tunisia and hello, Lebanon!
The packers were here today. The house is a disaster, but we've made great progress and should have the rest of the house finished tomorrow, a day ahead of schedule. I was chatting with a friend, whinging about my day, and I told her about the "spark moment" I had earlier.
This morning, as I packed up clothes in eight different sizes I suddenly had a moment of clarity. I've been doing this job for 7 years. I was already losing the weight battle even back then. When I started moving around, I always brought along the smaller clothes (because of course, I was going to need them.)
Fast forward eight moves.
I'm buying bigger and bigger sizes, have never worn entire closets full of clothes, and I'm now toting clothing in everything from size 8 to 26 around the globe! No wonder I have so much stuff!! Part of me watches these shows about decluttering and getting rid of things and thinks I need to let go, but this other part of me thinks it's admitting defeat and giving up on myself and my dream.
So I looked at SIX closets of clothes this morning. Six. And I made a decision: when I leave Beirut, the ONLY clothes that will travel with me are the ones I can wear, even if it means throwing away bejillions of dollars worth of clothes. Job after job - packing up the same clothes that I am still not wearing just hurts me, and I do feel like such a failure each time I have to box up the "someday clothes" yet again.
I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Hi everyone. I know I haven't been online much. I thought I'd jot a quick update while I had a few moments.
So I was a complete prat and spilled soup on my computer. As a result, the punctuation and numbers didn't work. I took it to the computer guy at work to see if he could help, and he cheerfully broke it completely. I didn't even know for a while because the city did road work and cut my phone line! (still don't have it back, either.)
But my lovely family has chipped in, and for just a few knuts and sickles, I've got a new Dell on the way! (I had no idea they enjoyed hearing from me so much! *LOL)
In other news, I'm under a huge amount of pressure at work, although I think I'm maintaining my equilibrium. I need to deliver a project that will score a 71. The last time we tested, it scored a 40. It took 18 months to get to the 40, and we have six weeks to get it to a 71. So don't expect to see me online a lot between now and then.
Silly me. I thought I was getting a long holiday when I completed the job here in Tunis, but the Beirut group wants me right away, so I wil l transfer there this summer. I'm a little stressed about the move because my things sat in London long after they were supposed to ship here. Now they've finally shipped them, and I'm racing the clock to get them here, unpacked, sorted, and decide what to ship to Beirut and what to store.
What else? My co-workers continue to astonish me. One of my least physically attractive colleagues took it upon herself to tell me that my skin is ugly because I'm in the sun too much. (I have a butterfly rash from the Lupus.) I think my face reflected my thoughts, which were along the lines of, "Who are YOU talking to, Hag?" , because she immediately backed off.
Ironically, some of my meanest colleagues are themselves quite easily hurt. I actually had a sweet conversation with a nemesis the other day. She was hurt that my future boss (yes, one of my nastier colleagues) said something unkind to her. We actually bonded over it, although I don't trust her any more than before. I think the unrelenting stress is taking a toll on us all.
Ooh, and I tried making homemade pizza last weekend. Not all that healthy (Who is Rachel Ray trying to kid?), but it did taste good! I also made summer pudding and have been enjoying it bit by bit every evening.
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