Monthly Archives: March 2015

Five reasons why today is a good day to be me

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1.  It’s Friday and I’m not at work.

I am a teacher and am on spring break.  I really don’t think any further explanation is necessary, do you?

teacher spring break

2.  Spring has sprung!

I’m not a fan of winter.  Or cold.  The first snow is kind of exciting, but then I’m done.  This winter seemed to have been especially long because we had NO SNOW DAYS off from school.  Can you imagine this atrocity? The only time we received a good amount of snow was on the weekends.  What good did that do us?  None, I tell you. Of course, we could have had 10 million feet of snow like Boston.  No, thank you.

winter is over

3.  The sun is shining.

I know you may think this is a repeat of number 2, but alas, you would be mistaken.  Just because it is spring in Kansas, does NOT mean the sun would be shining.  We have our fair amount of rainy, cloudy days in spring.  Sometimes we even have SNOW. A couple of years ago we had snow in MAY.  That’s just not right.  However, today the sun is shining, birds are singing and the future looks bright.

future looks bright

4.  It’s March Madness!

Not only is it March Madness, but my two favorite teams play today–The Wichita State Shockers and the KU Jayhawks! I have been hearing some smack about their mascots–the WuShock and the Jayhawk.

house united

I don’t understand this hatred because frankly there are much worse mascots.  Consider Xavier’s blue blob:

09XavierBlueBob

Or let’s take a gander at Delta State’s Fighting Okra:

fighting okra

I don’t want to hear anymore about the ridiculousness of the WuShock and Jayhawk because your view is unfounded.

The only bad thing about this tournament is that WSU and KU are on a crash course to play each other this weekend. If they both win today, then they will play each Sunday and one team will be eliminated soon into the tournament. This match-up has been long awaited by many people in our state of Kansas. I would like to see them play each other, but not in these circumstances. The only thing I can say is let the best team win!

5.  God loves me.

Once again, this needs no further explanation.

So what makes a good day for you?

Who are you rooting for in the NCAA tournament?

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Battle of the Bean 5K Recap–AKA The Death Wish Race

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At the first of the year, I was perusing our area’s race schedule and saw The Battle of the Bean 5K race to be held at the end of February. When you sign up, you join either Team Coffee or Team Cocoa.  Coffee and running all in one event? How could I resist?  My husband volunteered to run as well as a few of my friends and coworkers.

The race was scheduled for February 28.  Being that we are in Kansas, I knew the weather would be unpredictable.  We often have all four seasons in a week, so we knew it could be 60 degrees on race day or we could be in the midst of a major snowstorm.

When the race was about a week away, I started watching the weather forecast.  The forecast was beginning to show a chance of snow.  As the time grew closer, the chance of snow grew greater.  I am not ashamed to admit that I am somewhat of a fair weather runner–when the temperature drops I tend to head indoors to the YMCA track to do any running.  Add in snow and possible wind?  That is a definite NO to any outside running.

simon cowell

I probably would have decided to skip the race and just sleep in that morning, but Mr. Caffeinated Ginger was successful in making running in a snowstorm sound like a fun and delightful experience.  “It will be great! We can do this!  It’s only a 30 minute or so race!  I’ll take you out to breakfast afterwards!”  He had me at the word “breakfast.”

I went to Target a couple of evenings before the race to see if I could find warm running gear to help protect me from the elements. Luckily they had all of their winter clothing on clearance, so I filled my cart with gloves, a hat, thermal tights, a fleece lined sweatshirt, and a gaiter.  What is a gaiter, you may ask?  Well, I didn’t know what it was either when I bought it–it just looked like something I would need.  I actually had to go home and Google its identity.  Truly.  I’m cool that way.  A gaiter is a tube-like piece of fabric that fits around your neck and can also be pulled up over your mouth and nose to protect you from the elements.

gaiter

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a picture of me.  I have more hair.

I know many of you are thinking, WHY would you run in a race that requires you to wear such an accessory?  Trust me–the same thought was going through my mind.

It took me probably an hour the night before the race to figure out what I was going to wear that would allow me to run while also keeping my body parts free from frostbite.  After trying on different combinations of clothing, I decided to wear a short-sleeved dri-fit shirt, followed by a fleece-lined sweatshirt with a fleece-lined running jacket on the top half of my body.  On the bottom half, I decided to wear my fleece-lined C9 running tights with a pair of sweats over the top.  Two pairs of socks would be worn on my feet. The outfit would then be complete with my neck gaitor, running beanie (complete with hole for my ponytail), and headband to cover my ears.  Mr. Caffeinated Ginger swore I was going to roast to death.  This comes from the man who was contemplating wearing shorts to the race.  Talk about crazy!

The next morning we were rudely awakened by our alarm at 6:20 a.m.  We looked outside and sure enough there was already snow on the ground.  After putting on our layers and grabbing our hot coffee, we started the 25-mile drive to the race location.

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When we got to the race location, there were very few people outside milling around–most racers were being smart by staying warm inside the coffee house which was the host for the race. We spent a little time warming up and running a little to gauge the traction on the street.

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In case we ended up frozen like Han Solo was in Star Wars Episode 5, we took one last picture together so that our children would remember us for posterity.

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Then we were off!

I learned pretty quickly that the best way to not slip and break a hip on the street was to NOT run in the tracks made by other runners, but to stick to running in fresh snow.  I really did not have any issues with slick spots.  There were a couple of places that were getting icy, but volunteers were there to warn runners as well as sprinkle sand on those areas.

I started off running the first half-mile with the gaiter over my face.

Battle of the Bean Marti on course

This is me not loving life at the moment.

However, I soon learned that I could not breathe with it over my nose and mouth.  At first I wasn’t sure if my lack of oxygen was due to the gaiter or the cold air, but as soon as I pulled the gaiter off my nose and mouth, air soon returned to my lungs and life was good. Well, maybe not good, but definitely better.

The one saving grace about this race was that the wind was not blowing.  There was a slight breeze when we turned south and west which caused the snow to pelt our eyes a bit, but it wasn’t anything unbearable.

What WAS unbearable were the worthless gloves I was wearing did nothing–I repeat NOTHING–to keep my hands warm. I soon was feeling the effects of the 7 degree temperature on my hands. They turned painful very quickly.  For the first two miles I was sure that frostbite was setting in and was constantly trying to figure out a way to get them warm to no avail. Finally during the last mile they decided to go numb (probably because the tissue was dying off) and I could concentrate on running and not my fingers.

When I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I knew that I would live to see another day.  I sprinted (well, more like waddled since I had on so many layers–think Michelin Man) to the finish line.

Battle of the Bean Marti Finish 2

I was more than five minutes slower than my usual 5K time, but I wasn’t going for a personal best–I was trying to survive to live another day.

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I could have kissed the finish line.

Mr. CF and I went inside the coffee shop where we were offered coffee or hot chocolate (coffee, duh!) as well as food. When we went to get the print out of our results, we were pleasantly surprised that Mr. CF had won second place in his age group and and I had won third place in mine.  Perseverance (and a little crazy) pays off, my friends!

Battle of the Bean with medals

As promised, Mr. CF took me out for a nice hot breakfast which included LOTS of hot coffee.

Marti Iphone pics March 2015 757We then slipped and slid all the way home very slowly as the roads were fairly treacherous and we did see several cars that had ended up in the ditch.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sitting in front of the fireplace watching college basketball and trying to defrost my fingers. (Note to self:  Buy better gloves.)

Is a race in the snow something I would actually pursue because it’s FUN? No. but I have to admit I feel epic and fierce for completing it.

What are the worst conditions in which you have raced?  Do you enjoy running in the snow?

Beware of the Cemetery Rodent

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It’s been said that many times truth is stranger than fiction and that was the case today when I spotted an unusual sight on my run.

My usual running route takes me through our small town’s cemetery.  The cemetery is a perfect place to run–it’s quiet, there’s little or no traffic, and it is just an all-round great place for meditation and contemplation while I try to convince my legs that they are NOT dying and can take me one. more. mile.

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Today was a perfect running day as spring has sprung here in Kansas and not a moment too soon!  It was sunny and 68 degrees with a slight breeze.  Nirvana!

As I wound my way through town and headed into the cemetery, imagine my surprise when I saw this sitting just inside the cemetery gate:

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An empty pet rodent cage.

Apparently someone in our little community decided that Sparky the __________ (insert the rodent of your choice–hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, rat) was not “pet material” and would be better off in the wild.

I admit that I am not a fan of rodents.  I am a dog and cat person.  I could also be a goat person, but Mr. Caffeinated Ginger has nixed that idea.  But rodents?  No, thank you.  However, to take your “pet” from your home and just release it into the wild?  Sounds kind of irresponsible to me.

Then I got to thinking–the only two reasons a person would just release a pet into the wild would be (1) they cannot find another person to which to rehome their pet, or (2) the pet is vicious and cannot live with humans without threat of said humans losing fingers, toes or noses.

My imagination, of course, takes off from there and I start imagining our quiet, peaceful little cemetery being haunted by something like this:

scary rodent

Now THAT is scary.

That being said, I’m not going to change my running route just because there might be a rabid, terror-inducing rodent now living in the cemetery.  I’m much too brave to do that.  However, if you hear screams of horror coming from that part of town one day, please know that it isn’t ghosts that are haunting me, but the reality of the Cemetery Rodent.