Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Demi and Ashton Wed

Demi Moore (who has the same birthday as me-- Novemeber 11!) reportedly wed her boyfriend of two years, Ashton Kutcher, in a Kabbalah ceremony over the weekend.

However, there is now speculation that the "ceremony" was a prank for Kutcher's show, Punk'd, where he plays practical jokes on stars.

Whatever the case, I wish these two crazy kids all the luck in the world.

Now that's out of the way, I'd like to say for the record that I'm including them in my "Sure to be Divorced/Broken Up" List, which did include Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney until recently.

If you're curious, here's some of the other star unions I've got on my Watch List:
-Britney Spears and Kevin Federline
-Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
-Paris and Paris
-Hillary Swank and Chad Lowe
-Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez (sorry, I know it seems like Real Love, but look at her track record)
-Beyonce and Jay Z
-Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachley (although I barely know who either one of them is)

Also, I'd like to apologize for the lack of postings of late. It is Birthday Eve here for Son No. 1, so we've been in the thick of preparations. Those of you with children will understand.

Running News

My training for the RunLondon continues apace, for the most part.

I ran 6 miles Sunday, only to be overtaken in the park in the last mile by a gazelle-like friend. I felt like shouting after her, "I've done six! How many have you done?" but resisted. The only problem was my back, which hurt quite a bit and is related to my previous problems with my hip. But I did two hours of pilates on Monday with My Most Excellent Teacher, so that seemed to help.

Now I'm wrestling with the decision of whether or not I want to carry my iPod with me during the race. I'm beginning to suspect that having music might slow me down. My friend Susan, who is an Ironman Triathelete (amazing), competes without music because she says it's important to be in the flow of your own performance. I'm beginning to think she's on to something, because I don't want to be distracted by a song I hate as I approach the finish line, which is what happened to me last year at RunLondon. Watch this space.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Spot the Difference: A Jordan Special

You will ony find the above hilarious if you happen to live in the United Kingdom and know who the hell Jordan is. For my international readers: Jordan became famous for her talent (read: EE breasts, or whatever they are) on Page 3 and is euphimistically called a "glamour model". She married a few weekends ago in what I believe to be the most garish, pink and over-the-top ceremony at a castle outside London. OK!, a British magazine, reportedly paid £1 million deal (that's $1.8 million, sports fans) for exclusive rights to publish the monstrosity, I mean, ceremony. You have to see the rest of the pictures to believe how truly awful it was. Apparently, she was aiming for classy. She failed.

Thanks to my friend Kirstin who supplied the photo.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

My Grade as a Mother

One of the most frustrating things about being a mother who isn't working another job (notice I didn't use the heinous phrase "full-time mother". There is no such thing as a part-time mother) is a lack of annual review. When you're working in your profession, you can count on an annual assessment of how you're doing and in what areas you need to improve.

However, a mother never gets any feedback or guidance from the people she's working for, or, if she does, it's more along the lines of, "You forgot to bring my P.E. kit to school" or "I don't have any clean shirts to wear."

Last week, the Evening Standard columnist Allison Pearson asked her six-year-old son to rate her job as a mother on a scale of one to 10, with 10 the best. He gave her a two. When she asked him "bitterly" (I don't blame her) why she didn't get a one, he told her that once she let him have something she initially told him he couldn't.

I was curious how I would rate, so I asked my own (nearly) six-year-old son how I would rate on a scale of one to 10. After mulling it over, he said, "A nine!" Even though I was thrilled with my score, I asked him why I didn't get a 10. He said, "OK, a 10 then!"

Now, I don't know if it's his American tendencies to grade inflate or think big when he gave me that score, but I'll take it.

We're Running in the Rain

The weather in Greenwich has been putrid today-- gray skeys, heavy rain (on and off) and cold, so of course, my personal trainer and I went out for a run.

It should be said that I wasn't too thrilled with the idea. My personal trainer, on the other hand, was more than happy to head out as he was suitably equipped with an Incredibles rain poncho AND an umbrella-- making running in the wind a challenge. I was soaked, still sore from yesterday's hill work and not at all enthusiastic, but on we went anyway.

To make matters worse, I was having operational difficulties with the personal trainer's chariot. It was off kilter, so I had to keep both hands on the bar to keep it straight, which was a drag, because usually I only need one hand. This only added to my bad attitude.

However, we staggered through the required 20 minute run. According to my Nike training schedule, I should have been off today, but as I took off on Monday, I switched that run to today. It's days like these when you think you should get extra credit for the effort.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Frida Kahlo in London

My Personal Trainer and I headed out to the Tate Modern this morning to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. (yes, yes, sports fans, this meant we missed our morning run).

The most interesting thing I took away from the exhibit was how the Cult of Personality was in force, even then. Kahlo, who married, divorced and married Diego Rivera, was known for her surrealist pictures, but also for her traditional Mexican dress. She always wore it, first to impress Rivera, but eventually I think it became part of her "thing" and people expected it of her.

You think of the 1940s and 1950s as being a more simple time, when artists were judged on merit alone, but my sense is that in her case, that just wasn't so. She was known as much for her marriage to Rivera and the drama associated with it, as for her art. Interestingly, they had two self portraits of Kahlo and Rivera side by side and when I compared them, it seemed to me that technically Rivera was a better artist. My friend Caroline, who was with me and is an artist herself, agreed.

My Personal Trainer seemed to like the exhibit, for the most part, but near the end I had to feed him raisins to keep him quiet. I also found myself shamelessly asking him, in a Middle Class/ aspirational kind of way, what color this or that was. However, when there were other people standing near us, I stacked the deck in his favor because I only pointed to those things that were blue, which is what he thinks every color is these days. So the strangers think he's a genius, while I secretly know better.

The exhibit runs until October 9.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Milestone Moments

We achieved a couple of notable milestone moments this weekend with both Son No. 1 and Son No. 2.

First, Son No. 1, who is 5 11/12, has become quite a good speller. We know this because we were using the classical parental subterfuge of spelling out something so the children wouldn't know what we were talking about. My husband said to me, "You know, there's still some W-O-N-K-A B-A-R in the frig," when Son No. 1 pipes up, "There's a Wonka Bar in the frig? Great!"

So now it seems we're going to have to revert to using a foreign language. Bummer.

In other news, Son No. 2, now 2 1/4, seems to have made a successful move into a Big Boy Bed. We thought it was time to move him into the bottom bunk. After No. 1 had a sleepover using the bed on Saturday night, we moved No. 2 into it last night. He settled right down, and amazingly enough, did not use his new-found-freedom to play in his room for another hour. He even settled down for his nap today with no problem. Now time will tell is the successful transition was a fluke or a genuine success.

Well done to both!

More Running

I'm really getting back in the swing of things with my running. After much procrastinating-- and when I say much I mean it-- I finally got out yesterday at 4:30 p.m. While it is true that I should have been busy preparing Sunday dinner, I drafted my husband into the job so I could go out. I was impressed that I got out there at all, given that I like to get it over with first thing in the morning. But I knew that I wouldn't be running on Monday or Tuesday so I finally got it in gear and hit the road.

The thing I forgot about going out without my personal trainer was how simply LOVELY running alone can be. For all the times when people said to me, "Wow, pushing the buggy must be hard work," and I said, "Oh, it's not that bad, you get used to it," I take it back. While it is true that you do get used to it, I only realize how hard it is to push a 30-pound two-year-old when I'm out on my own. It was great and so much easier. Conditions were less than optimal: my Ipod ran out of juice after the first mile and it started to rain, but I still had a great time and a good run.

I'm following the Nike training schedule to get ready for RunLondon October 16. I needed to be out there for 45 minutes yesterday. I came in two minutes under that, but I was pleased to figure out after the fact that I covered about 4.5 miles, so that's good. My goal for RunLondon, like my Blog Buddy Michelle, is to finish under 1 hour. While I'm going to have to step it up to do that, at least I know I'll have to speed it up only a little for yesterday's pace to finish in that time.

The funny thing about saying that I want to finish in under an hour is that when I was in high school and running track and cross country, that time would have been EASY for me. (Doing it in under 50 mintes- or 8 minutes per mile- would have been more of a stretch, but doable.) But those times were 20 years ago, so it's probably not fair to compare. It's just funny how old age and time sneak up on you.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bush: "What Went Right and What Went Wrong"

"I'll lead an investigation into what went right and what went wrong," President George Bush said Tuesday, following criticism of the government's actions in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Who: The Committee Charged with the Hurricane Katrina Investigation
What: The First Day of Meetings
Where: The White House
When: Sometime in the future
President Bush: "OK, let's start with what went right. Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?"

Like millions of other people, I have been horrified, dismayed, shocked and disappointed at the U.S. goverment's mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. It is unbelievable to me how wholly incompetent the federal government responded to the disaster. When watching the scenes from New Orleans, I had to keep reminding myself that this was the United States of America, not some far-flung country with questionable infrastructure and a corrupt government.

The whole point of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to coordinate the response to disasters like this one. In a BBC News Special last night, they ran video of President Bush praising FEMA DirectorMichael Brown, to whom he bestowed the nickname, "Brownie." But how in the world can he seriously say he's doing, "One heck of a job." I'll say he's doing a heck of a job, just not in a good way.

Before joining the agency four years ago, Brown, an attorney from Oklahoma, had no experience with emergency relief. [In reading the New York Times profile of him, I have discovered that he and I share a birthday. Weird.] From 1991 to 2001, he was commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, and was in charge of rule enforcement at its horse shows. How does that experience prepare one for emergency relief?

Someone needs to be accountable for this disaster, and at the top of my list would be Brown. (At the very top of my wish list would be President Bush, but I think that would just be greedy). It's the same lesson I try to teach to my sons: you have to be held responsible for the things you do wrong. The same should be true of the government official at the top of the organizational chart in charge of federal emergencies.

Adding insult to injury, Barbara Bush, the former first lady and the president's mother, said on NPR's Marketplace Tuesday that some of the hurricane survivors might be better off. After meeting some of the survivors in Houston's Astrodome she said, "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. So this is working very well for them." [Read the full New York Times story about what she said here]

In what way is losing all of your possessions, having to flee your home and losing contact with friends and family, "Working very well for them?" Many of these survivors may have been poor, but you could argue that makes whatever things they did have were that much more precious.

George Clooney has just donated $1 million to the United Way's hurricane relief effort. If you'd like to be like George, or impress George, or know someone who would, Amazon is accepting donations for the American Red Cross. Unlike FEMA, they seem to be managing the crisis quite well.

Running Update

For those of you interested in the running stuff, here's an update:

My personal trainer and I have been out hitting the pavement for the last two days. Now that school is back in session, it's easy enough to get back in the habit of going out for a run after dropping Son No. 1 off at school. However, I have forgotten how hard it is to push a 30-pound two-year-old. It's also probably more difficult because he's getting bigger, but I'm not getting significantly stronger.

While we were in the U.S., I did manage to go out quite a few times by myself for some short runs. However, I haven't really done anything challenging since the British 10K in early July, so it's time to get back in the swing of things, especially since I've signed up for the Nike 10K on October 16. I also have set a finishing time goal for myself, so I find myself working extra hard to improve. (Usually I think, "Isn't just being out here, pushing the boy, enough?")

The runs have been going well, but it should be said that my personal trainer isn't as enthusiatic as he once was about being in the buggy. Complicating matters is an improved ability to talk, so now he says, "No run! Walk! Park!" accompanied by appropriate hand gestures (pointing to the playground he'd rather be in). So far, I've gotten away with promising a trip to the playground AFTER I'm done, but I don't know how long this deal-making will work.

I'm still having aches and pains in my back and hip, but either I'm getting used to them, or they're slowly getting better. I'm hoping it's the latter.

RunLondon, the Nike 10K, has a special significance for me, because it was this race last November that really got me running seriously again. Just before that race, I found out that I had a place in the London Marathon. I remember finishing the race and being extremely chuffed that I hadn't stopped when I thought, "And in April, I'll have to run 20 more miles after that."

This year, I'm hoping I'll be able to run faster, given that I have run 20 miles beyond 6.2. I'm also starting to FINALLY feel recovered from the marathon, so that should make working harder easier. If all of that training for the marathon doesn't help me improve my time, nothing will. Roll on, RunLondon!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

I know it’s been a shockingly long period of time since I last posted, but I’ve been busy. When I say busy, I mean it.

To wit: since July 28, my family and I have flown 10,271 miles, visited with 58 friends, relatives and their offspring, set foot in six different states, slept in eight different beds, swam in seven different places, climbed 110 steps in the Statue of Liberty, toured one World War II submarine, fed one giraffe, rode two roller coasters, watched “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” twice, saw more than a dozen F-22 fighter jets, watched the Pittsburgh Pirates lose at baseball, hunted for alligators with a flashlight and held one Emmy award.

But if I when I recount this list to our son, now aged 5 11/12, and ask him what he liked doing the most, his response was, “When we had lunch at McDonald’s.”

So now I know. Next summer, all I need to do is take him to McDonald’s; that will make my life so much easier. This, I realize, is a by-product of never taking him there. When we do go, the experience supersedes anything else, no matter how exciting.

We returned to school today, though, so MarathonMum will be resuming her regular posting schedule. Those with eagle eyes will have already noticed that most of my posts previously had been done between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. GMT. This golden time is naptime, but during the summer, precious naptime time was taken up by Son No. 1, so there wasn’t much I could do. Plus, I was busy doing all of the above.

I’m sorry to all of my fans who were disappointed with the paucity of posts for the past six weeks, but sometimes, you have to go out and live your life, not just write about it.