January 28, 2009

My alarm goes off at 5am every day.  Usually this prompts me to get out of bed.  Recently, however, my subconscious has grown a pair and decided to take charge.  So somehow without being fully aware, I turn off the alarm and reprogram it for 6am.  This is VERY BAD for my day.  It’s really a shame that my subconscious can’t check in with my consciousness to see what the plan is for the day before doing this.

Needless to say, I was eating my breakfast on the drive to the pool today and balancing my coffee between my knees.  Thankfully I was able to borrow the car so I wasn’t doing this on my moped!  Every morning when I drive the seven miles to the pool, I count the exercisers out there flashing in the darkness.  This morning there were thirty one of them!  We have a locals-only half marathon here in May and there are a lot of initiatives this year to get people out for it, especially since it’s the 100th anniversary of this particular event.  Apparently the intiatives are working because the runners and walkers are everywhere!  I was very proud of my little country being so athletic this morning.

I had a great swim.  Things are mostly good with my training but I can never get over how SLOW I feel in January.  I just want to be fast.  And I want to be fast NOW.  But too much too soon resulted in injuries last season so I am trying to be smart this year. 

Today is my last week day of working retail for a while although I’m hoping to have secured a regular Saturday gig there.  I got the long term sub position at the Catholic School so now I will have to be on my best behavior for three whole months.  I’m going to Minnesota to visit my better half and my dogs next week and the teaching job starts when I get back.  It’s very exciting to know that I will have the same routine every day for a while and this should relieve some of the financial stress.

I hope everyone (both of you) have a happy training week and stays healthy.  Warm (literally) wishes from the Island.


January 24, 2009

Today I was working at the triathlon store, so I knew I had to get my workout done before spending a day on my feet.  Last night I was telling GB that I had a drill/run/strength combined workout that would require flat roads and a place where I could do strength exercises in a less-than-public place.  Since I live at the top of a very steep hill, my neighborhood is out.  Thinking like someone who is living in Minnesota, GB suggested the beach.  So this morning I put on my shorts and running shoes and jumped on my moped to go to the beach.  On the way it started raining and I pulled over, considering leaving it until after work.  Thankfully I talked myself into getting it done and went to the beach.  It sprinkled but didn’t really rain, so my choice was a good one.

I was so glad GB had suggested the beach.  The sunrise was incredible and it was one of those multi-layered cloudy days where the rays of sunshine poke out the bottom as the sun comes up.  It was a really great way to start the day.  And I decided to up the ante by jumping in the ocean after my workout.  The water was cool, but not terribly cold.  Locals simply do not swim here in the winter, so the few people on the beach watched me with guarded curiosity.  Then as soon as I exited the water, and older man made a beeline for me.  Since I was swimming in January, he assumed I was not local and took the opportunity to educate me about the local weather.  I didn’t bother to tell him I was born and raised here and thanked him for the information.  He was most concerned about me riding home in wet clothes but I assured him I’d survive.  Since it was almost seventy degrees out!  So anyway, work was work, but the slightly sticky, beachy feeling is still on my skin and I am still revelling in what a wonderful start that was to my day.

I can’t wait until April when GB comes to visit so we can do fun things like that together.


January 19, 2009

I am hereby making it illegal for anyone to talk in the shower after swimming.

Yesterday I had a great run (which to be fair, was longer and faster than it should have been but thankfully my body is letting me get away with it today) and a good ride too. I even got a little sun on my face which is a much appreciated bonus. This morning I went to the pool and put in a solid hour while the steam rose off the water and the sun came up. Afterwards, I found myself in an awkward situation. In the shower.

The showers at the pool are unfortunately open and non-private. It takes all the nerve I have to get in and I try to get out as quickly as possible. I’m just not big on public showering. But when you have to go straight to work, it beats smelling like a bucket of chemicals all day. So this morning I jumped in the shower as quickly as possible and much to my chagrin the mother of someone I went to school with decades ago also got in. I was shampooing my hair and minding my own business when she started narrating her shower: “And now I have to put soap on, and now…the hard part. It’s always difficult to wash the soap out of my crotch…”. I froze in panic. “Oh no you did not. Please tell me you did not just reference your private parts in the shower”. But on she went without a care in the world. Except of course for the issue of her crotch. Then she started squirming around trying to soap her back. She said “I have such a hard time reaching my back”. I wasn’t totally sure, but I thought she was trying to get me to help soap her back. I’m all about helping out the elderly, but that takes things just a little bit far. So, soap in my eyes, I fled the shower for the safety of my towel while the shower narration continued.
I had to laugh at myself after the fact but will nonetheless time my swim on Wednesday so that I don’t have to endure another rendition of “Once Upon A Shower”!


January 17, 2009

This week is Race Week here on the island.  There are a series of running races that draw athletes from various corners of the world.  Last night was the mile race which basically goes up and down the main street in town.  On the way out it is slightly hilly and there are two 180 degree turns, so it is not known for being and easy course.  There is some pretty big prize money for any elite that can break 4 minutes but so far no-one has done that.  It’s a fun event and the streets are lined with people out to cheer on all the runners – there are heats for kids too, so the event lasts a few hours.  Last night the top elite men ran 4:20-ish.  It was pretty amazing to watch them blow by at that speed not looking like they’re even exerting themselves!

Today is the 10k but I will be neither racing nor watching since I’m working at the triathlon store again.  I was there yesterday too and had a fun day seeing lots of triathlete-inclined people that I haven’t seen for years.  I will say that it is very difficult for me to work there without wanting to spend my entire paycheck in the store!!  So far I have been very restrained and let’s hope that keeps up since I am working there again on Monday.

I had a little training hiccup this week caused by some overzealousness on my part during recess.  They boys were playing soccer and it’s not like I’m just going to stand by and watch.  So I played  And I guess I played hard because my hips have been really sore for three days now.  Fortunately I think it was caused by the lateral motion and contact nature of soccer so I seem to be okay on my bike and running.  It’s just the every day activites like standing and sitting that seem to cause pain.  I wish I could say I have learned my lesson but truthfully, lots of kids stopped into my classroom earlier this week to tell me that they were impressed by my soccer skills.  I cannot resist the kids thinking I have athletic prowess.  Perhaps it’s a leftover yearning from my scrawny, uncoordinated middle school days when I wanted to be fast and tough and was neither.  Fortunately I don’t think I have caused any real damage, I just worked over my hips a little.

Tonight I have a run after work and some time in the gym to follow.  I have really been enjoying running during these past few weeks and am hoping this continues!  I hope everyone (both of you) has a great day and stays warm.  Last time GB and I talked on the phone there was a 90 degree temperature difference between here and there!

Lonely in Paradise

January 14, 2009

I miss GB like crazy.  It’s great being in paradise and all, but not nearly as much fun when my better half is hundreds of miles away.

Today was not, however, without its excitement.  I was at my little Catholic School again with my little 6th, 7th, and 8th graders again.  The novelty of having a substitute is sadly wearing off and the cheers of excitement when they see me have tapered off quite significantly.  Especially since I gifted one or two students with an all expense paid trip to the office yesterday for rather unfriendly behavior towards others.  Anyway, word is getting around.  I am not all giggles and smiles.  This substitute teacher means business.  That said, a number of the students brought me chocolates today.  I’m not sure if that was a clever attempt to soften me, or if these students are a little behind the curve and still think I’m cool for some reason.  Nonetheless, I am richer in chocolate now than I was at 7am today.  The funny part was that having worked in the past with some…rather…tough students, it has been a long, long time since any student has tried to give me a gift that wasn’t life threatening.  So when these innocent little middle-schoolers were handing me their chocolates I started backing up nervously because I wasn’t sure what was going on.  Anyway, I soon figured out this little gift giving ritual and before long it was like taking candy from a baby.

The other interesting phenomenon I would like to discuss this evening is the rolling bookbag.  What, exactly, are 11-year olds carrying around these days that require WHEELS to mobilize???  They’re like a bunch of little old ladies coming into my classroom with their wheely bags being pulled behind them.  Is there some new law against lifting over 5 lbs that I’m not aware of?  Are we trying to produce a softer generation of children??  And somehow when I ask them to take out their text books, many of these wheely-bag pushers have FORGOTTEN their books.  Again, I ask.  SO WHAT IS IN THE CANVAS GROCERY CART THEN???  Needless to say, the chocolate will soon be in short supply if I continue to point and laugh at them when they come in to the classroom with their geriatric educational aids.

I had a great run tonight.  I’m not sure why I spent my first few runs hiding out on the treadmill in Paradise, but I have braved the roads for my last few runs and have been duly rewarded.  It occurred to me tonight as I was running along the ocean, that I have spent altogether too little time near the water since I have been back.  This week I will make it my goal to get a little intentional ocean time.

Tomorrow I am teaching the wheely-bagged children again after an early morning pool swim, so I have lots to look forward to.

Bathroom Tiles

January 10, 2009

Well I have now spent three days substitute teaching at a Catholic school.  I am not Catholic and I daresay I am not even close.  However, I will say I have been thoroughly enjoying myself.  The kids are amazing, albeit a little energetic and I have yet to see another staff member or teacher in the hallway without them introducing themselves and welcoming me.  I even had a five year old offer to help me find my way when I was lost on my first day! 

Thankfully the art teacher returned to health and I am no longer faced with kids asking me about art techniques I have never encountered.  Yesteday I found myself in the math room which was a new and exciting challenge.  The 8th graders were supposed to go over their homework on the board and since I wasn’t able to find the answer key, I was frantically doing the problems in my head as we went so I could give them the right answers.  Luckily my math skills seem to at least extend to the 8th grade level!  The 6th and 7th graders were a little nutty yesterday.  It was very windy here and I’m told that the kids in Paradise are similar to horses in that they get crazy when it gets windy.  While this makes some sense, I cannot remember if that was true of me when I was younger.

After three days, I already have a favorite.  There’s this one little 6th grader who reminds me almost exactly of myself at that age.  He is always filthy for a start.  His white uniform polo shirt is always brown and his face is usually caked with dirt or lunch.  His shoes are always untied and his big brown eyes are usually covered by his bangs.  This kid seems completely incapable of walking into a room without falling down at least twice.  He is forever dropping things and his butt seems to be magnetically opposed to all chairs.  I swear, I was just like this and so whenever he falls into the room, I feel a strong sense of connection and identification.  I want to tell him that while the sitting doesn’t get much easier, and the spilling of the lunch will not likely go away, there is hope that one day he’ll be able to walk into a room and only fall or trip once.  And that the inevitable result of his clumsiness will be the development of a great sense of humor.  We energetic klutzes have to be able to laugh at ourselves.

There is a long term substitute position opening up at this school next month and I am hoping, hoping that I get it.  It has been tremendously healing for me to be working at a place that is so friendly and non-competitive.  After my last heart-wrenching job where the kids needed and took more than we could ever give, being around kids with less demanding issues is turning out to be a really expansive and restorative experience. 

On Monday I again expand my professional skill development by working at a small triathlon store where I will likely have the opportunity to connect with some of my old triathlon acquaintances, and then on Tuesday and Wednesday I’m back to Catholic school math again.  So far I have been busy with the various jobs that pop up and I’m hoping this will continue.

Yesterday I had a really fun bike ride in very windy conditions.  It was awesome (if not for the bike) to be sprayed by the waves as they washed into the road.  Last night I had my usual cramps episode and spent some time fainting and bowing to the porcelain god.  Eventually I summoned up the strength to yell out for my mother who came quickly and made some hot packs for me.  Eventually she and my father carried me from the bathroom floor to my bed and I fell heavily asleep.  I am still a little weak and greenish in the face this morning, but at least I know this beast well and know that I haven’t picked up a bug or something longer-lasting.  Although my mom was really sweet, I really missed GB.  There’s something about having someone around who knows the routine and doesn’t think you’re crazy when your fever is so high that you want to make out with the cold floor tiles in the bathroom.  GB always seems to know exactly what I need in these situations.  I’m sure it’s a little scary to watch if you haven’t seen one of these episodes before and my Dad is eyeing me suspiciously today which I think is his way of non-verbally voicing concern.

Anyway, that is over now until next month and I am recovering on the couch.  I was hoping to get a ride in today but I’m not sure that’s realistic so maybe tomorrow.  Thankfully it happened on a non-work day so I can recover on the couch without any worries.  Today I am very grateful for non-pain.  A beautiful thing indeed.


January 7, 2009

When I came back home to live with my parents for six months and made the decision to do “odd jobs” to pay the bills, I’m not sure I had quite realized how odd things would turn out to be.  As an example, on Monday I was happily filing charts in a doctor’s office.  Today I spent the day looking after an 18-month old.  And tomorrow I am teaching art at a Catholic school!  GB emailed me tonight and called me “Good Sister Monet”.

Anyway, today was awesome.  18 months old is a really cool age and possibly the age closest to the age I often act.  Consequently, I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to at work today.  I wanted to play outside with the bikes.  I wanted to run around the yard barefoot.  I wanted to play “kitchen”.  I also wanted to do puzzles, read books, take a nap, and dance a little to the music.  So it was pretty much a perfect day all around.

I have a feeling the same may not be true of Catholic school….

HOWEVER, let the record state, I am thrilled to be going to work every day and I think the substitute teaching gig is going to be more frequent than I had dared to imagine. 

Training is going well.  I felt a big shift yesterday and today my body seems to be remembering what all this training is about.  I had a great 45 minute run on the treadmill this morning (don’t ask why I’m running on the ‘mill when it’s sixty degrees out!) and an awesome swim on Monday morning.  I also have some sore core muscles from strength training.  I enjoy the beginning of the season where my body is sore all the time.  That way I know I am improving.

GB and I are in frequent email contact and seem to be surviving with only two phone calls a week.  I say this, but I recognize that it is only the second week!  I am so excited to fly back home for a week in February and spend some quality time with GB and the dogs.  Being apart sure makes us appreciate each other!

I’ll no doubt have something to say tomorrow night after my day as Sister Monet!