Friday, November 30, 2007

In the Name of Science

The world is truly an amazing, unfathomable place. Every day, scientists are learning more about the natural wonders it contains, and its complex and multi-faceted workings.

Similarly, I continue to be amazed every day at the stupidity* of the human race. Even though the "Creation Museum draws thousands" through its gilded doors, to hear "two angelic characters who declare, 'God loves science!'", I'm having a hard time coming up with a truly monstrous personal story about the sad state of humanity. I'm sure I've seen plenty, but apparently I'm blocking them all out.

So instead, I give you The Darwin Awards. Truly superhuman feats, worthy of banishment from the gene pool. Below, just one of the many Darwin Award arguments for why humans should NOT be considered a highly developed species:

(26 August 2006, Leicester, England) Darren's death was a mystery. The 33-year-old was found slumped in the hallway of his house, bleeding from stab wounds to his chest. Police initially assumed that an assailant had attacked him, but they could find no supporting evidence. A year later, the inquest revealed why Darren can stake his claim to a place among the winners of the Darwin Award.

Darren had called a friend, but minutes after he hung up, rang back to ask for an ambulance. The front door was ajar, and Darren was found lying near a bloodstained lock-knife he had purchased whilst on holiday in Spain. Forensics investigators saw no indication of a struggle, and the coroner reported that the stab wounds seemed to be self-inflicted. However, Darren had shown no suicidal tendencies.

His wife, who was on holiday at the time of the incident, cleared up the mystery, and revealed why our subject will go down in history as a Darwin Award winner. As she was leaving for the holiday, she remembered Darren wondering whether his new jacket was 'stab-proof'.

That's right. Darren had decided to find out if his jacket could withstand a knife attack. Did he choose to test his jacket while it was draped over the back of a chair? No, our man decided that the best approach would be to wear the garment and stab himself. Sadly, his choice of armor proved less resistant to a sharp blade than he had hoped.

The coroner reached a verdict of accidental death by 'misadventure'.

*BlogFriday Word: Stupidity

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Frugal and Personal Gift-giving: Couple-gift Style

I've already complained at length about Christmas commercials, so I won't go into the whole rant again. I do just have to say, though, that the number of car commercials this year is frightening.

This year, I think that Keith and I are going to try something different. We've talked about getting fewer presents for each other (maybe only three or so, and keep it under a certain dollar amount), and then getting one larger present for "us" instead. In this case, it would mean getting a gas fireplace installed in our living room. As we discovered last year, our fireplace is too small for roaring wooden fires, so we've only been able to burn those fake logs. And that's not the same thing at all.

So if we can't have wood fires, I'd rather go ahead and get a ventless gas fireplace installed that could actually help heat the house a bit. Other benefits include turning it on with a click of a button, and a complete lack of clean-up afterwards. This has been on our house to-do list for probably a year, but of course since it doesn't actually cost us money to NOT do it, we ignore it.

The other week, I was talking to a co-worker about presents and she mentioned that she and her husband (who have been married probably 30 years +) typically get a "house" gift that is pricier, but that they both would enjoy. I was drawn to this idea, but also had some reservations. Sometimes it can be hard to think of several really great gifts that Keith will truly appreciate, and I feel like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel at the end. On the other hand, I would hate to completely stop buying gifts that are strictly from me to Keith, and are things that he and he alone would enjoy. Things that hopefully convey the sentiment that I think he's a wonderful, intelligent person with many hobbies and interests that should be encouraged.

I'm hoping that the hybrid of a few personal gift and one larger couple gift will be a good mix of both worlds. Personal and thoughtful, yet frugal and simultaneously extravagant. Is it possible for one holiday to contain so many sentiments? We'll find out.

Or I'll call the gas fireplace installation guy, find out the entire process would be 5 times more expensive that we're expecting, and we call the whole thing off. And then I get all of Keith's last-minute gifts at Walgreens around the corner. Which is totally frugal and personal.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Alright for a Monday

Mostly, I work with nice people. The one co-worker I'm going to pick on now is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. And I mean that.

BUT, whenever people ask him how he's doing, he responds, "Alright for a Monday!" and laughs. Because it's funny, see, when you say that on any other day of the week. Right?

He's been using this response consistently for the past few MONTHS. How he doesn't comprehend that it loses its appeal (which was dubious to begin with) after a few short, select uses, I don't know. Normally he has an okay sense of humor. But this ... this verbal twitch isn't even slightly related to humor. It's so far away from actually humorous, it's like if humor were to exist in a parallel universe where Tim Burton is considered normal. It's like humor on Opposite Day. It's something David Brent or Michael Scott might say, to give you a better idea of just how terribly unfunny it has become.

(That's what she said.)

I've been thinking lately of how to take my blog entries and turn these ideas into longer essays, suitable for actual (aka paying and with some basic quality standards) publication. It's turning out to be much harder than I imagined. But I think I might be able to get 2,500+ words of a sort of "day in the life" combining all of the annoying habits of my various co-workers into one day.

And then I'll promptly break out a bottle of wine and drink myself into oblivion, to try and forget how much I hate people. Even nice people with irritating habits.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Man vs. Potato

I don't understand why it's so hard for me to make a decent baked potato. In the past few weeks, as the weather has turned colder, we've been eating more baked potatoes and sweet potatoes. Sometimes as a side dish, or sometimes smothered in chili and cheese. I love baked potatoes! When you want a meal that warms you to your toes, but you're looking for something more substantial than soup: a baked potato hits home.

Except, of course, that I CANNOT properly bake a potato in our new house. I don't understand it. We've tried the microwave and the oven. On multiple occasions. Every time, we end up doubling the cooking time or even more, and even so the potatoes are still hard as rock and uncooked in the middle. What's going on? Is it really that hard to bake a potato? Other dishes cook just fine, so I don't think our oven or microwave is at fault .... Is it possible that the potatoes sold in Northeastern Ohio are of a particularly dense breed, impervious to the typical cooking techniques?

Of course, now it's become a THING. I refuse to be defeated by a mere carb-loaded vegetable. I WILL figure out how to cook a baked potato in a decent amount of time (that is, less than 2 hours. That's not too much to ask, is it?). If there's one thing I learned growing up about cooking, it's that if a dish is meant to be cooked at X temperature for 20 minutes, then just turn up the heat and you can be done in 10 minutes! Oftentimes this "tweaking" of the recipe results in blackened, unrecognizable messes and a quick call to the local pizza delivery place. (Which may have been my intent all along?) But I think that, in the case of the stubbornly uncooked potatoes, it might be an ideal situation to put this theory to work. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Car Thievery On My Mind

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time probably remember the stolen car incident that happened right about this time last year. It's safe to say that November 15, 2006, was one of the worst days in my entire life. More than just losing property, it was the feeling of having the veneer of safety and security in your daily life cruelly ripped away.

But the car was miraculously recovered, and I gradually moved past the incident. At some point, I even started expecting to see my car in the parking lot after work, instead of holding my breath and anticipating an eerily empty parking spot where I'd left my vehicle that morning. I thought I had moved on.

Except, I'm still working in the same building. Every weekday morning, I still drive down the street where my car had been parked when it was stolen. Sometimes I take a moment to look at the spot where it was stolen from, sometimes I don't even think about it. But either way, it's still right there.

And then yesterday morning, the building was abuzz with talk of multiple cars getting broken into over the weekend. By the afternoon, I'd heard that another car had been stolen. It made me feel helpless and once again convinced that when I left the building, my car would be gone.

Here's the part that really bothers me: If I had my car stolen, and continued to do everything the same as before, then some might argue that I deserve to have it stolen again. "Deserve" may be a little strong, but at the very least, I shouldn't be surprised to see the same outcome.

But I don't do everything the same. I bought a Club (although I'm not convinced of its effectiveness, it makes me feel like I'm being proactive). And most importantly, I now pay a not-insignificant monthly fee for the privilege and security of parking in a fenced, gated lot behind the building.

You would think that makes me feel better. And occasionally it does. But not when the gate has been CONTINUOUSLY OPEN for the past 5 days, as has been the case for the past week. So I think the car thieves and vandals may have realized it's not all that secure. But what else can I do? I like the people I work with. I don't really want to find another job. I also don't want to be constantly worried that my car will, once again, ride off into the sunset without me. Everyone tells me a car has never actually been stolen from the fenced parking lot. But there's a first time for everything, isn't there?

Here's hoping I don't discover that I'm the first when I leave work today ....

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Brain: For Sale

Sunday afternoon, Keith and I met a prospective client at a local restaurant. One of those that isn't quite fast food, but isn't quite sit-down either. You place your order at the counter, wait for your food, and also fill up your own beverage cup at a station that is in the dining room portion of the establishment, so all customers can be responsible for their own drinks and refills.

Why am I telling you all this? I'm not really sure. To set the scene, I guess. So we're talking to this small business owner about what his site needs, and I excuse myself to go over to the other side of the dining room and refill my drink. Once I'm over there, I notice a man on a laptop, typing away. As this establishment boasts free wi-fi, this isn't an unusual sight.

What is unusual, however, is that he's covered the back of his screen with a piece of paper that says, "Blogger at Work ... and available for hire." I was quite intrigued. My immediate reaction was to go up to him and ask what kind of a response he gets to this impromptu advertising. Does he just hear from other bloggers like myself, or have some freelance writing opportunities actually come about due to his unique signage?

I stopped myself from starting up that conversation, though, since I did have to get back to my meeting. But ever since then I've wondered.... what made him decide to do that, whether it's been effective .... and an even bigger question that I've been pondering for a while: Can you make a living as a blogger? Or, more aptly, can I make a living as a blogger? I know some people have done it with a huge amount of success, and other use their blogs to supplement their incomes.

I just want to write for 30 minutes every morning, on any topic that enters my head, and get paid a lavish salary for it. Is that so wrong?

Friday, November 16, 2007

An Annoyance and a Friendly Reminder

I'm a wuss: I'll be the first to admit it. The problem is that I'm a pretty healthy person, for the most part. My diet is okay to somewhat healthy, I work out a lot, I get nearly enough sleep most days. My only vices are an occasional glass of red wine and Halloween Oreos.

You would think this is a good thing. And most of the time it is. My body and I have an understanding. I give it sufficient fuel, etc., and it chugs right along. I don't have any serious, chronic health problems and I don't get sick very often. Mostly I take my health for granted, because it's so reliable.

But of course, the problem arises on the rare occasions when I do get sick. When my body forgets about our agreement, and makes me miserable. I think that because I'm so used to being healthy, even a cold seems like more than a minor annoyance*. I get frustrated very easily when I can't do all the things I normally do. Like breathe. Or look at food and not feel nauseous. You know—the simple pleasures in life.

Can you tell I'm feeling a little under the weather today? I feel persecuted, unfairly made to suffer, and just plain miserable. But I'm sure as soon as this passes, I'll forget all about it and take my good health for granted once again. Because it's pretty hard to be grateful for the same thing every day, right? And truly appreciate it, when it's the norm.

Good thing I get sick every once in a while, so I can remember to appreciate my typical good fortune.

*BlogFriday word: Annoyance

Thursday, November 15, 2007

But when am I supposed to twiddle my thumbs?

Way back in March, I wondered whether it was good idea or not to start a web design/development business. Was there room for yet another one of these on the Internets? I didn't really find a good answer to that, but in all fairness it had been a somewhat rhetorical question. By June I was claiming to be "full speed ahead" and in July we were nearly open for business. We had a name, a website, had become an incorporated Limited Liability Corporation, and had even spoken with an accountant to ensure we got all of the small business tax breaks possible.

But here's the thing: I didn't really expect much business at first. I figured we'd putz around, working on our website, designing forms and dreaming up marketing campaigns. I could do more research on web design and software ... I just thought there'd be lots of time.

Like many, many things in life, it hasn't worked out according to plan. We've actually been much busier than I expected. First we did a few sites for free, to build up a portfolio. Then a woman in my writing group needed her nonprofit's site to be overhauled, and she hired us. (Our first paying client!) Then a student of a co-worker of a friend wanted consulting help with learning how to blog, which I happen to have a bit of experience in;) And then the nonprofit director who liked our work recommended us to others, who called to ask for quotes ....

Not all of these potential clients are going to turn into real business. I know this. But even so, it's moving much faster than I had anticipated. We haven't even managed to finish our site yet, because we've been so busy working on others'! Don't get me wrong: I know this is a good problem to have. I have been very pleasantly surprised and shocked at what a quick reaction we've gotten. I think that answers my original question: can the market sustain one more small web design/development business?

But, being me, I can't ever be purely happy about something. Joy is always a little tinged with sadness, because I am human and constantly yearning for what I don't have. It's wonderful that our side business is actually taking off. I can now say "We're starting our own business," with a straight face, and actually believe it.

I kinda miss reading, though. I like to read. And to knit. And write. And to do other things that don't contribute to the bottom line. Maybe this just means that I'll be satisfied if our business continues to grow ... and secretly pleased if it drops off a bit, and I get more time to myself. So I'm never entirely happy, but I'm never entirely unhappy either.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mistaken Movie Identity

As misanthropes, my husband and I will usually choose a quiet night in any day over "going out" and risking interaction with other people.

However, as a thrifty couple, we're always trying to find ways to entertain ourselves at home the cheapest way possible. Short of restricting ourselves to empty cardboard boxes and twine, we get a lot of books and movies out of the library. A bonus is when one of the big movie channels has a free preview weekend. Keith checks every once in a while and, if he finds a preview weekend, we record any and all titles that interest us.

Strangely enough, we've found one problem with this technique. Several times, it's resulted in a case of mistaken movie identity, where we see the movie title, record it, and then found out that it was NOT the movie we were picturing at all.

I first remember this happening in early 2005. We often try (with varying rates of success) to see all the Oscar-contenders for best movie before the awards are announced. For 2004, Crash was one of the movies we hadn't managed to see yet, but recorded it off a movie channel. Crash (2004) is about how everyone's lives/choices affect everyone else. The movie we accidentally watched, however, was Crash (1996), which focused on characters to whom car crashes and resulting injury is a sexual fetish. NOT the same movie. NOT AT ALL. Actually, it was quite alarming.

This past weekend, we accidentally watched The Zodiac (2005), not to be confused with Zodiac (2007) sans "The." This time, they were both about the same topic—the Zodiac Killer who killed several people in Northern California in the late 1960s, and has never been caught. Because it dealt with the same topic, we were probably halfway through the movie before we realized it wasn't the one we thought.

"Where's Jake Gyllenhaal?" I finally asked. I mean, not that it was the only reason I was watching the movie. But it was a bonus.

Once we realized he would not be putting in an appearance, I accepted it and enjoyed the rest of the movie. I'm pretty sure it had the same ending.

Friday, November 09, 2007

My Dietary Kryptonite

Everyone has a food weakness, right? A particular dish that is their culinary nemesis, their dietary kryptonite.

For me, it's Oreos. And for some odd reason, Halloween Oreos are the worst. I cannot resist their siren call! When I open a pack, I keep eating until the entire pack is gone. Last time, the two of us managed to make the 5,000* calories package last three whole days, and I was immensely brought of our restraint.

So last Sunday, what did I do when I saw the Halloween Oreo display? My mind screamed, "Danger! Danger!"** and yet I found myself reaching toward the display and lovingly placing a package of Oreos in the cart.

"Halloween is over," I reasoned. "This will be my last chance in a whole year to buy these special holiday Oreos." I stroked the package. "And I just ran a half-marathon! I have calories to spare."

But here's the deal: I haven't paid attention to what I've been eating for the past couple months because I've been running so much. But now that the big day is over, I'd been planning all along to eat better, since I won't be expending nearly as many calories. So here I was, on the first day that I was supposedly going to start eating better, buying more Halloween Oreos.

Even worse, we found a display of Christmas holiday Oreos with red and green creme centers next to the milk. And they're only available once a year .... I'm in trouble.

Is there a dietary equivalent to preparing for a half-marathon? To keep me on track and honest for my nutrition? I think it's called the "high school reunion." Too bad I don't have one of those for another 4 years or so.

* That's a completely un-researched estimate.
** BlogFriday word: Danger

Thursday, November 08, 2007

One Step at a Time, My Friends

Well, it's been 4 days since the half-marathon. The post-finish glow has worn off, and the soreness is just about gone. Slacker that I am, I haven't run once since the race! But at least we'll do a 5-mile race on Thanksgiving, so I have one more upcoming race to keep me honest.

In the comments on the half-marathon post, Bren asked how one would get started in running. I'm glad he asked, because I want to say right now: If I can do it, anyone can do it.

I didn't start running until my mid-20s. I had played soccer in school, but to me, running after a ball and playing on a team sport is an entirely different experience from running just to run. It takes a lot more mental perseverance to get out there and run, I think.

So I started running as a way to lose weight and get in better shape before my wedding. I can still remember when 2 miles felt like a really long distance, and I could never make it through without walking. The first time I ever ran 5 miles, I was absolutely amazed that I had gone that far. I would never have imagined it!

The only difference between then and now is that I kept doing it. And (with a lot of help from my more-experienced runner husband) I kept setting running goals and working toward them. Even though it took me 3 years to reach my original goal of finishing a 5k in under 30 minutes, I got there eventually.

So, quite simply, the way to start is just to put one foot in front of the other. Repeat.

On a more technical side, here's some of the online training plans I've used to prepare for different race distances:
Runner's World: Your Ultimate 10k Plan
Runner's World: 5 Weeks to Your First 5k Training for the Half-Marathon

For the half-marathon training, I used the mileage build-up and then the novice plan. With almost any of these plans, if you're not concerned about improving your time you can drop the speedwork—just put in the miles. For early-morning workout inspiration, I would also highly recommend getting a spastic dog who jumps out of bed at 6 am, ready for a brisk run. But that's a personal preference.

I hope you give it a shot, Bren. I will always be glad that I started, and I intend to keep running for many years to come. Good luck!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Half-Marathon Success!

We did it!

My in-laws rolled into town on Friday night, and we spent a leisurely night eating a healthy dinner, talking, and watching TV. On Saturday Keith, my mother-in-law Karen, and I went for a short, easy 2-mile run around the neighborhood. After that we stopped into a sporting goods store for some supplies (sport beans and shot blocks for nutrition during the race, and a watch with splits for Keith). Then we wandered over to the hotel for the packet pick-up and pre-race pasta dinner.

I was surprised to find that I was more excited than nervous about the race. (aka the 2007 Inland Trail Half-Marathon). I knew that I had trained a lot. I knew that I should be able to go the distance. The only question in my mind was whether I would meet/beat my time goal of finishing in under 2 hours and 30 minutes. Granted, this was a big question. But I felt up to the challenge, and ready to meet it head on.

Even the morning of the race, I felt like I didn't have time to get nervous. We got up and dressed and out the door of my sister and brother-in-law's house, who graciously allowed us to crash there the night before the race and even watched Beckett during the race. Keith greatly enjoyed playing Guitar Hero the night before the race, to take his mind off things.

We showed up to the finish line, and were only there for a few minutes before we headed out to the buses to be shuttled to the half-marathon start. For the marathoners, it was an out and back race, so the half-marathoners were starting at the halfway point and running back to the finish.

Once off the buses, Keith and I shoved our pants and sweatshirts into a bag to leave on the bus. The morning air was cold and crisp, and we were chilled in our shorts and long-sleeved shirts. There were more runners than I had anticipated. At this point, I always look around and decide that everyone else is fitter than me, and had trained harder. Young or old, skinny or fat—they all look like formidable opponents to me in the pre-race jitters.

The night before, Keith and I had planned out my strategy of running 10:30min/mile. That should be a sustainable pace for me, but give me plenty of breathing room so that if I slowed down towards the end, I could still meet my time goal. But as usual, the first mile passed way too quickly, in 9:30. After that I slowed down and watched Karen and her friend Joni fade into the distance. It was hard to let them get so far ahead, but I knew I couldn't sustain that pace throughout the race.

From that point forward, it was just putting one foot in front of the other. My dad, mom, and younger sister joined Keith's dad in encouraging us at several points throughout the race, and it was great to have an enthusiastic cheering section. I decided to listen to a book on my MP3 player, to stick as close to my usual running routine as possible. I told myself I was just out for another training run ... except a lot of people happened to be running the trail at the same time. Wearing racing bibs.

I passed a few people; I got passed. I admired the beautiful fall foliage and expansive fields along the trail. I slowed down a little, and then I sped back up. By about mile 9, I knew that I was going to breeze by my original time goal. To finish in under 2:30, I needed to be running about 11:20/mile. Instead I was averaging about 10 minutes per mile, and still felt like it was a sustainable pace. Even better, I had Karen and Joni in my sights. I hoped I had enough time to catch up to them before the finish.

Toward the end, I started to lose track of the miles. As I came up to a mile-marker, I thought it should be mile 12, but then had a moment of doubt. I had passed mile 11, right? What if I thought I only had one mile left, but it was actually 2? At this point in the race, that would be a huge difference.

Luckily, I was right the first time and it was mile 12. A little further on we turned off the trail and onto a road to run the final few minutes to the finish. Turning onto the road, I mentally groaned. It was uphill! If you were driving in a car, you'd never notice this slight, short incline. But at the end of a race, it seemed like a mountain.

I passed Karen on the uphill, but Joni had already turned on the speed, and there was no catching her. In the end, the three of us finished less than a minute apart, all at 2 hours, 13 minutes, and some seconds.

Our cheering section was there to meet us and congratulate us. So was Keith, looking fresh as a daisy since he'd finished ages ago, in 1:49:27. I was tired, but elated.

In my experience, it's not often that a goal lives up to one's expectations. It also feels like, in day-to-day life, you don't have many opportunities to set a goal, train hard to meet it, and then have a definitive moment to prove whether you've succeeded or not. After finishing the half-marathon, I felt exhausted, and sore, and even a little queasy. But the most dominant feeling was of great accomplishment and pride in my efforts. My sister said that I inspired her, and that was a wonderful thing to hear. How often do you get the chance to inspire people?

So here I am, back on the futon, nearly 12 hours after finishing. I've polished off liters of Coke, countless Reese's peanut butter cups, and many gooey slices of pizza as my reward for the race. I mean, feeling of self-love and accomplishment are great and all, but I still wanted fabulous, calorie-laden treats, too. I'd earned them!

The soreness is starting to set in, and I think I'll be hobbling around for a couple of days. But it was definitely worth it. Congratulations to Keith, Karen, Joni ... and me!:)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Taking Unproductivity to the Next Level

I've been a complete and total slacker at work this week. This is a problem*.

I tell myself often and at length—in between checking my Google reader feed and reading random wikipedia entries—that I should really start, I don't know, actually doing something. And yet, my brain refuses to focus. Why am I so distracted this week? Is it:
  • The race coming up this weekend?
  • Too much going on with the side business?
  • The recent cold snap has frozen my synapses?
I'm having a hard time pinpointing it. If it's either of the first two reasons, I should be better next week because the race will be over and I think we'll be mostly caught up on the side biz (fingers crossed). And that would be a good thing, because there's plenty to be doing at work. Piles of plenty are overflowing my inbox and oozing across all flat surfaces.

If the third item is the source of my unproductivity, then I'm in serious trouble. Early November in Ohio means the cold hasn't even begun to set in yet. Typically it doesn't get really cold until January and February.

Anyway, what was I saying? I had a theme for this post, but I can't be bothered to remember what it is. Maybe I should see what's going on during Layer Tennis.

* This week's blogfriday word: problem

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm Famous in Porkopolis!

It was a day just like any other.

After work on Monday, I went for a run—one of my last before the half-marathon this coming weekend. When I returned home, Keith and I were in the kitchen, chatting about our days.

"Guess what came in the mail!" he said. He ran out to the living room and returned with the first mailing about the Flying Pig Marathon for 2008.

We have a lot of good memories associated with the Flying Pig. I've run the 10k and 1/4 of the marathon as a leg of a relay team. Keith has run the half-marathon, and his mom has run everything from a marathon relay leg up to the entire marathon. It's a great race, with lots of support, and part of the course winds through our old neighborhood, just a couple of blocks from our old apartment.

For the next few minutes, we perused the flyer. It's the 10th anniversary race in 2008, so there's even more events and hoopla than usual. There's 4 separate 5k events alone! In 2006 they had over 15,000 participants over the course of the weekend, so I'd imagine they're expecting even more for 2008.

Finally, we open the brochure all the way. It's a large sheet of paper that's been folded several different ways to get it to a smaller mailing size. On the last side, I'm reading more details about some of the events when I'm distracted by a photo from last year.

"Hey, that girl's wearing the same shorts as me!" I think. Then my mind starts to process. "And the same shirt. And her hair is ... wait. She looks an awful lot like me. Am I imagining this, or is that my picture in the brochure?!?"

I toss it to Keith for confirmation. I don't tell him what he's looking for, just to look at the picture. He looks at it a minute and starts laughing.

I know precisely when, during last year's 10k event, that picture was taken. It was within the first mile, and Keith and Karen had come to cheer me on. Unfortunately, they were looking in the exact wrong direction. So, with energy to spare so early in the race, I started jumping up and down and waving my arms to get their attention.

Apparently I got more attention than I bargained for, because the picture is of me looking off to the side, waving my arms like a crazy lady. I never in a million years would have guessed that could land me in the race brochure.

Once I get past the fact that I'm whiter than the purest driven snow and gesticulating like an eejit, I decide it's pretty cool. I'm in the brochure! I guess this means I'm really a runner. Which is good reinforcement, just before my longest race yet. Wish me luck on Sunday morning!