Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You Call This A Summer?

It's been cold (65F or so) here in London this summer and I, for one, am sick of it. Summer should be hot. Summer should be sunny. Summer should be like, well, summer. This is no summer.

It's bad enough that school didn't end until last Friday. As an American, summer should be an awfully long stretch of school-free time. Six weeks of summer vacation does not constitute a "long stretch."

This spring, the newspapers were full of stories saying this was going to be the hottest summer on record. Hottest for whom, I'd like to know. Penguins??

Since Monday, it's been overcast and rainy here. While this is excellent news for the new turf we laid in the backyard, it is terribly bad news if you're five and two and aching to spend a nice sunny day running around your local park.

Our Lithuanian cleaner, whose command of English isn't great, summed up my feelings about this weather exactly: "This is bullshit," she said today.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London in the news (again)

Some of you may have heard that there were some minor explosions at three Tube stops and on one bus in London today. Again, we are all safe. Details are still quite sketchy. For up-to-the-minute updates, check the BBC News site.

We have decided, however, to employ a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy concerning these recent developments with our five-year-old. As no one is sure when/if these terrible events will stop, I see no need to make our son nervous about going on the Underground or worried about his father, who uses it every day. Because the explosions were minor, we think it's best to leave it and have him worry about the things that are important to him: i.e. when he'll be able to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" or what he will do on his last day of school, which is tomorrow.

The two-year-old is completely oblivious. Lucky him. His most immediate concern is, "When will I eat my next chocolate chip cookie?" I wish my most immediate concern was the same.

Help Me Decide

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

To Run or Not To Run?

The new issue of "Marathon News" landed in our front hallway with a thud yesterday.

As soon as I had it in my hot little hands, I ran inside, ripped it open and perused it to see if there were any pictures of me in this year's race. While the issue was bereft of MarathonMum pictures, it did contain the ballot to enter next year's London Marathon.

Now, had the magazine arrived Monday I wouldn't have even entertained the thought of doing the race next year. Monday marked the fourth straight day I decided I'd go out for a run (even dressing for the activity on Friday and Monday), only to talk myself out of the endeavor, using one lame reason or another. But on Tuesday, I told myself Nicholas and I would go for only 20 minutes-- 10 minutes up the Thames and 10 minutes back. But I was enjoying the beautiful morning, jamming with my tunes, and running with such a nice rhythm that I actually went for 37 minutes. It was a great run.

I weighed the pros and cons of doing it next year.
For: I've got experience now and know what to expect
-I can learn from the mistakes I made in 2005
-Enjoying the experience of feeling like an Olympian for the day
-I can try to beat my time, which I was quite disappointed with
Cons: I've got experience now and know what to expect
-Three months on, my body STILL isn't fully recovered (back and hip still hurt)
-My personal trainer (Nicholas) will be that much older and heavier, making weekday training much more difficult
-No one ever asks you HOW MANY marathons you've done, only IF you've done it

I told Tim at dinner last night that the magazine/ballot arrived.
"I hope you threw it away," he said.
"So should I take that to mean you think I shouldn't do it?" I asked.
He pointed out that I was still suffering from this year's marathon, and also how much I wasn't around on the weekends, given the long Sunday runs I had to do. "You also got a little bit obsessed," he added. [Me? Obsessed?? Is that possible??? Does that finally explain why I've kept the name MarathonMum for my blog? {Actually, the reason I've kept the name is so that I can shamelessly continue to mention that I did the marathon}]

Now, when my mother reads this entry later today, I am quite sure that I will be able to hear her yelling, "NO! NO! NO!" from the other side of the Atlantic. There are probably lots of other people who know me and love me who also think doing the marathon again is pure folly.

I still haven't made up my mind about what I'm going to do, but I'm leaning against sending in the ballot. It would be nice to just support the other runners and enjoy the day next year. On the other hand, there's still that little voice inside my head who is saying, "Come on! Do it again!!"

Watch this space.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm a Televangelist!

I took a "Personality Disorder" test on the web site OKCupid! and it turns out that I ould make a PERFECT televangelist! Watch out, Tammy Fae. It's a fun test and worth checking out. To do it yourself, click here

You are 28% Rational, 57% Extroverted, 14% Brutal, and 57% Arrogant.

As the Lord as my witness, I swear upon the good book that you are
indeed the TELEVANGELIST! Characterized by extreme arrogance,
self-assurance, and extroversion, you would make a very charismatic
leader (or a very despotic one). On top of that, you are also more
intuitive than rational, predisposing you to a more spiritual or
emotional outlook on life. Thus, you are thoroughly irrational. You
also tend to be rather gentle and considerate of others' feelings.
Clearly, you would make the perfect televangelist. Emotional,
extroverted, arrogant, and gentle, you annoy the hell out of people who
have to listen to the feel-good, intuitive shit spewing from your
mouth. Not only that, but people may look down on you as a
self-centered asshat. So while you are gentle and genuinely care about
others, it is quite clear that you still care about yourself MORE. Why
is your personality flawed? Because you are too damned extroverted,
emotional, and arrogant. So preach your irrational message, brotha-man!
I assure you, no one will be listening!

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more INTUITIVE than rational.

2. You are more EXTROVERTED than introverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more ARROGANT than humble.


Your exact opposite is the Spiteful Loner.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hippie, the Starving Artist, and the Robot.



If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you
could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42%
Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is
close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well.
Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can
determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored
near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 4% on Rationality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 58% on Extroversion
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 4% on Brutality
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You scored higher than 70% on Arrogance
Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on Ok Cupid

Monday, July 18, 2005

What Am I?

As my family and I prepare for our annual trip to the U.S., I find myself thinking about what determines nationality.

My husband and I moved to London in late 1998 assuming it would be a three-year assignment. Now, two sons and nearly seven years later, we’re still here. Some people, both here and in the U.S., seem amazed that I still have my American accent, but an accent is a difficult thing to lose after 30 years. British acquaintances will describe me as “The American” when they can’t remember my name. I am American and I will always be American.

But my two sons are a different matter. They were both born in the United Kingdom. Neither has spent much time in the United States. They both hold U.S. passports, since they have American parents, but I don’t think I could call them American.

But I couldn’t call the boys British, either. They don’t have British passports. They don’t have any other relatives in this country, nor do we have any ancestors from here. They have American parents. However, this is the place that they were born. London is home, and America is a foreign country to them.

We do what we can to reinforce American traditions to our sons. We enthusiastically celebrate Thanksgiving. I make sure to tell them about Ground Hog Day. We talk about the importance of Memorial Day. We mark the Fourth of July, even though the explanation is a little bit tricky. (“This is the day that Americans celebrate the fact that they didn’t have to live under British rule anymore.” When I saw the quizzical expression on my five-year-old’s face, I added, “We live under British rule, but that’s by choice and we can leave at any time.”)

Living in Britain, it’s difficult not to get caught up in British sayings, traditions and ways of life. We eat “bangers” not “sausages.” We put “rubbish” in the “bin,” not “garbage” in the “trash.” We celebrate Guy Fawkes Day in November. We enjoy a nice roast for Sunday lunch, which takes up most of the afternoon. We had goose for Christmas this year, and then we opened up our Christmas crackers.

Soon after he started school this year, my 5-year-old son told me that I was misspelling my own name. “It should be M-U-M, not M-O-M,” he said. But I refuse. It’s fine if he wants to call me “Mum”, which he does when his British accent is particularly strong, but I just can’t bring myself to call myself “Mum.” I would feel like a fraud, and every American fibre of my being would revolt.

I’ve decided that my sons are neither American nor British. While there are some superficial differences between the two nationalities, American and British people have many of the same good qualities: Courage, tenacity, intelligence and honesty. I can only hope that as they grow from boys into men, they will draw on their experiences and history from both countries to represent the best of the U.S. and the U.K.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Stiff Upper Lip

The mythology surrounding the British stiff upper lip is absolutely true, I have found this week.

Less than a week after four bombs exploded in central London, life continues, much as it did before. The news may be focused on finding the perpetrators and identifying the victims, but for many Londoners, we have acknowledged the bombings, discussed the aftermath, and vowed that life will not change because of some cowardly terrorists.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a stiff upper lip as “An attitude of determined endurance or restraint in the face of adversity.” No picture illustrated the definition, but if a lip were to be included, it would most definitely belong to a Londoner.

London comes by its collective strength honestly. One newsreader said this weekend, “London, like the rest of Britain, carries on in spite of its wounds. Scars will heal. Evil will never win.” However, the narrator was speaking not of the terrorist bombings on Thursday, but of the bombings during World War Two, 65 years ago.

This is a city that survived a five-day fire in 1666. This is a city that survived bombings by the Nazis during World War Two, when parents had to evacuate their own children to the countryside so they would be safe. This is a city that survived random bombings by the Irish Republican Army in the 1980s, when no one knew when or where the next bomb would be.

London has been battered before, but never beaten. People are getting on with their lives because they believe that by doing so, they are defying the terrorists. Londoners believe if they were to stay off the Underground, or change their life in other ways, that would be capitulation to the terrorists, because that’s what they want us to do. So we carry on.

“The people responsible for this bombing understand evil, but they don’t understand us,” one person wrote to the Daily Mail.

The London bombings showed me British resilience and courage, but it also drove home something else: people are tested in all sorts of ways every day.

During one of the calls I made to tell friends and family we were safe, one good friend told me that their 21-month-old daughter was having seizures and they didn’t know why. My brother in Panama City, Fla. called to see if we were okay just before he had to evacuate due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Dennis. When I called my cousin in Atmore, Ala. on Sunday to tell him we were fine, he was waiting to see what destruction Hurricane Dennis would bring.

So while London’s bombings were tragic and terrible, they were just one type of test people around the world had to endure last week. But wherever they are, people should use the British stiff upper lip as a fine example of steely resolve in the face of adversity, whatever or wherever that may be.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Terror in London

LONDON -- Now it seems as though it is our turn to feel the wrath of al Queda.

Less than 24 hours after being named host of the 2012 Olympics, London was rocked by bombs throughout the city’s center on Thursday, leaving people scared, angry, shaken and nervous. The terror completely eradicated the utter euphoria the city felt after winning the Olympics just a day before.

I first learned about the bombings in a most 21st century way—through a news headline e-mail. Just as I finished reading it, thinking there had been some mistake, my husband called telling me he was safe (his office is less than a mile away from one of the bombings) and urging me to put on the news.

In those first harrowing minutes, nothing was certain, except that there had been several bombs throughout the city. The BBC newsreader lists the Tube stops: I have been to all of them, for one reason or another. The fact that I thought about going in to the city to do a long-needed errand wasn’t worth considering.

As I sit and watch the news unfold, my body begins to remember its reaction to 9/11: my hands start shaking uncontrollably and I feel sick to my stomach. On that day in 2001, my husband and I sat in front of a television in Chicago while our nearly two-year-old son ran around saying “Sirens! Sirens!”

Now, nearly four years later, I was sitting in front of a different television with a different two-year-old son running around, but with the same sick feeling. Again, I think: “What sort of world am I bringing my son into?” But this time, after the bombings in the U.S. and Spain, there seemed to be a certain inevitability to the terror. It was never a question of “if” al Queda would bomb London, but “when” and “how.”

When I was a summer camp counsellor, I spent much of my day doing head counts of my second-grade group to make sure everyone was present and accounted for. On Thursday, I did the same thing. I did a mental list of everyone we knew who worked in the city and tried to call them. However, with the mobile networks overloaded with millions of people doing the same thing, the task was difficult. We now know that everyone in our immediate circle of friends is safe, but it is only a matter of time before we learn of a friend-of-a-friend who was caught up in the terror.

With the sky gray and rain falling occasionally, the weather seemed to match the ominous mood. I heard sirens in the distance, as ambulance and fire crews were diverted into central London. Helicopters flew overhead. The streets were empty, as the police commissioner urged people to stay where they were.

In the midst of this, I had to walk over to our local Royal Park to see my 5-year-old son play in his school’s sports day, an annual end-of-school event with fun and games. The children hadn’t been told about the bombings, and they ran and laughed, oblivious to the terror just a few miles away.

Later in the afternoon, when I picked up my son from school, I tried my best to explain what happened. In 2001, he was too young to understand the events. But on Thursday, he could read the newspaper headline we walked past, “Terrorists Attack London – Many Dead” and see the hundreds of people filling our local streets, walking home after the Underground and bus services were shut down.

I told him that some bombs had exploded, and Daddy was safe, but lots of people died or were hurt. The only thing he said was, “I hope none of our friends lived on the street were the bombs were.” Amen.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Explosions in London

For those of you who are worried, everyone on the MarathonMum team is safe. I will post more later.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

London Wins! London Wins!

London will host the 2012 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced Wednesday.

MarathonMum says, in an American accent no less, "We rock! Hooray! This is awesome!"

The announcement was just like any great Olympic event because London just edged out heavily-favoured Paris, with a vote of 54-50.

MarathonMum has much to do before the big event, including training Andrew to be in a sport that a 13-year-old boy could be competitive in, finding a bigger house so all of our friends and family who are so inclined can come and stay with us, and finding some marginal event that I can compete in (I'm thinking archery).

This is great. I am so excited.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

MarathonMum (me), Michelle and Laura after the British 10K Sunday. Posted by Picasa

Meeting my Blog Buddies

"Blog buddies? What in the world are they," you ask.

Blog buddies (I should trademark the term, I see it catching on), are my 21st century pen pals. My Blog Buddies Laura and Michelle also ran the British 10K on Sunday, so we decided to meet up at the race. Laura and I started the race together, and we met up with Michelle once we were all done. (I should note that Laura beat me in the race-- well done Laura-- because I just gave up trying to dodge around all the walkers and runners that were slower than us to keep up with her.)

Like all meetings of pen pals, 21st century or otherwise, you know lots of things about these people, but you haven't spent much time together. So it's a little bit strange, and could even be awkward. Once we did meet in person, we hugged each other like old friends and didn't stop talking for several hours.

We found out during our post-race lunch that we had many things in common: we all did the London Marathon, we're all foreigners in Britian, we're all tenacious, we'd all like to be faster runners, we all have close families and none of us take ourselves too seriously.

The race itself was rubbish (too many people, no water at the finish, poor markings, I could go on) but the rest of the day was fantastic. We are now trying to decide what race we will meet up at next.

This great day just prove the serendipitous nature of friendships: whether its at high school, through work, by the school gates or via the Internet.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Centre of the Universe

London seems to be the centre of the universe at the moment, with Wimbledon continuing, the (best) Live8 concert tomorrow, the start of the Summer Sales and the Olympics bid decision next week.

We've got a jam-packed weekend planned.

It's an all-American women's final at Wimbledon tomorrow, with Lindsay Davenport playing Venus Williams. I'd like to see Lindsay win-- she might not be the most exciting person, but she is an amazing player and very classy. Go Lindsay!

I will be watching the Live8 concert from the comfort of my sofa (boo!) but with an ice-cold beer in my hand (yeah!). The winners of Live8 tickets learned yesterday that alcohol will be banned at the event, which suddenly made me feel not so sad that I didn't win tickets. Also, as previously predicted in MarathonMum, given the number of artists performing, they'll each be playing no more than four songs.

The start of the Summer Sales is also a big deal in the city. Now, my American friends-- they live in the land of perpetual sales-- are scratching their heads and wondering what the big deal is. But here, we have two sales a year-- one right after Christmas and one in the summer. So this is it for bargains. I've gotten used to it, and in fact, I'm not convinced that Americans get bargains if things are on "sale" all the time. Tim hit the sales on Friday, and I will be attempting to get a few things tomorrow.

Finally, in the lead up to the Olympics decision on Wednesday, there will be a 10K race in the heart of London on Sunday morning. Now, I am slightly worried about what my performance will be, given my Marathon periformis problems, but I did run six miles on Thursday and it went great, so maybe it won't be the disaster I fear. Even better, though, is that I'm meeting up with two of my fellow bloggers whom I "met" while we all trained for the London marathon. Laura and I plan to run together, and Michelle is going to meet up with us after for some celebratory pints.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

London 2012 - Back the Bid

Olympic fever seems to be contagious at the moment, since the International Olympic Committee will announce on Wednesday which city will host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

London is a finalist to host the games with Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow. As you can see from the photo below, our family (well, Andrew and I, anyway) would really like to see London win. Sure, our taxes would go up, and there would be all sorts of hassle associated with the games, but it would just be SO COOL if the Olympics were in London, as I've always wanted to go.

If London wins, Greenwich itself will be the host venue for the equestrian competitions (at our local Royal Park), gymnastics and basketball (at the old Millennium Dome), meaning I could walk to the horse events (if only I had any interest at all in them), or hop a bus-- or run if I were by myself-- to the other two events at the Dome.

Last Saturday they had a "Back the Bid" event at Greenwich Park, where Andrew got to try out the Olympic sports of rowing, judo, football and bicyling. We had our fitness tested, which gave me yet another opportunity to casually mention that I ran the London Marathon. The tester complimented me on my fitness-- I was excellent or good in all categories-- so I thought it was only right that I tell her why. They also had a parade, which Andrew and I had made flags for (see picture below). We even got our Back the Bid t-shirts, which we both wear with pride. Andrew, in fact, loved his so much that I had to convince him it was time to wash it after he'd worn it for two straight days.

According to the British press, Paris and London are the joint favourites to host the Games. Madrid is considered to be in third place and New York and Moscow aren't in the running, apparently (sorry, American and Russian friends).

Needless to say, I am ardently following developments related to the awarding of the Games. I hope London wins.

London 2012 - Back the Bid! (Register your support at