Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sesame Street Torture

As most parents with small kids, I'm familiar with the torture of musical toys. Even if they play Mozart, it's always in a tinny, high pitched annoying way. I read an article yesterday about the declassification of ten songs that the CIA used in interrogations and I got vindication on something that I've long suspected: the Sesame Street theme song is on the list.

That theme song will crawl inside your head and live there for hours, if not days. I can't think of anything better to break someone's will to withhold information. The only thing worse than that would be just Elmo's laugh on repeat. I don't understand how that red puppet has such universal toddler appeal when his laugh is like rubbing Drano on your teeth.

Some of the other songs on the are obviously picked to keep someone awake. I don't know who picked Metallica's "Enter Sandman" as a song to enhance sleep deprivation, but I like their sense of whimsy.

The one song on the list that I can't believe is torture is Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" because I freaking love that song. I know all the words and I would happily sit and listen to it on repeat. I hope NSA is adding that to my file right now so they know to skip over using that one.

I could think of a few songs to add to the list.

Nickelback "Photograph"

Len "Steal My Sunshine" I hate this song almost as much as I hate cancer

U2 "Sunday Bloody Sunday" Even just typing out that title got this song stuck in my head.

Beastie Boy's "Intergalactic" I like this song, but I'm not sure I could make much longer than two times in a row.

What song would you add to the list? My husband's suggestions are for Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" and Sarah McLaughlin's "In the Arms of an Angel."

On a non-torture related note:

Rachelle is doing a fundraiser for Colton's Army, a fund for a kid with cancer. She's going to climb up 1,311 steps  for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and to help her raise money, she's doing an awesome giveaway on her blog. Just a $10 donation gets you an entry to her contest and even if you win nothing, you gave to a great cause! Her goal is $2,500 and she's almost there, let's help her get to goal!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Survey Says

I'm sure most people have participated in a race before, but the segment of the population that has organized a race is much smaller. As you can imagine, it takes a fair amount of work and like anything else that requires you to interact with people, you can gather some funny stories.

The key thing to always remember when running an event is that you'll never make everyone happy. That being said, sometimes the complaints you get are hilarious. My favorite complaint was one I got before the race even started. The night before the race, I got a string of increasingly irritated emails from a runner who just realized the race didn't come with a medal. In fact, he wouldn't have even traveled for the race if he had known there wasn't going to be a medal.

Luckily for Medal Dude, I had a small amount of medals left over from last year's race. I didn't have enough to give to all the finishers but if it would make or break his day, he could have a fucking medal. Even though he didn't finish the full distance, he came and found me to get his 50K medal when he was done. I gave it to him with a smile, because I wanted people to have a good experience. I sent out a post-race survey, and I got one comment that said "The race medal was a poor quality."

For background, we only gave medals to finishers of the full 50K distance last year and the shorter distance people just got candy. This year everyone got a race travel mug, but I guess you can't wear that around your neck at work on Monday.

The best post-race criticisms are obviously things that I can change. For example, some people got lost trying to find the race start because the Google Map direction on the web page took them to the wrong park entrance. I can fix that (sorry to anyone who had a rushed start because of this!) and I want to make things better for the race next year. I'll be the first to admit that the course was in rough shape with all the snow, but I absolutely adored all the specific instructions to "clear the course of snow" or "try to tamp it all down before the runners get out there."

I do like the idea of having the race in the fall at least one year so people can see that our park and trails are actually really pretty and fun, not just icy misery. 

I did learn something interesting at the race: Gu Brew is a very divisive drink. I've had it before and it really didn't leave a lasting impression on me, but a lot of the racers acted like I was serving rat poison.

Next year it will be just Gatorade!

Everyone could agree that the aid stations and volunteers were amazing, but it's a pretty even split on having an out and back on the pavement after every trail loop. Some people enjoyed the break from the snow, while others just wanted to not run past the finish before being allowed to finish. For us working the race, there was nothing more entertaining than seeing the reactions from the runners when we reminded them they had to run 0.4 mile up the road to the cone and come back before they could finish or stop at the aid station.

I had so much fun making the post-race survey and seeing the results that now I want to just randomly survey groups of people. 

Do you have strong feelings about Gu Brew?

Have you ever written a survey?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Frozen Heart 50K and Disease House

It has been a crazy busy weekend! A lot of local races were canceled this month for the severe cold weather and snow and I could understand their reasoning, mostly when I was out marking the course for the Frozen Heart 50K! The windchill was negative 8 and the snow was thick and unbroken. It took us forever to mark the course because the ground was frozen solid and the flag markers wouldn't go in. We ended up using the snow to hold them up, which meant we had to crouch down and build tiny snowmen every quarter mile or so. While I felt like it was crazy to be out in that weather, I knew race day would be warmer (still not above freezing, but closer to it) and ultra runners are both tough enough for those kind of conditions and smart enough to cry uncle if needed.

Our own little tundra in MD

Ice skating was not advised

Just like running through the sand at the beach, but cold and less fun

We had a remarkable 25 race day registrations. I don't know what part of 9 degrees and 5-7 inches of snow on the ground makes someone hop out of bed and say "I'm gonna romp through the woods today!" but I'm glad they came. We had a good sized group of people at the start and they all seemed to be in good spirits about heading out into the snow.

They all look so warm and happy

I couldn't control the trail conditions, but I could make sure the runners had everything they needed when they came into the aid stations. Just like last year, my volunteers went above and beyond to provide awesome food.

This is the homemade baked goods table

Here we have the candy and chips

Two kinds of hot soup!

We also had hot coffee and hot chocolate in addition to Gu Brew and water for the runners. It was great to see the runners come in with steam rising off of them and then they would leave looking much warmer and ready to tackle another loop. The best part of the aid station was probably the propane heaters. I was able to rent this big one from a local hardware store and it was a great place for runners to to hang out and warm up after they were done.

I took a turn too early when I was marking the course (the snow really covers up visual landmarks!) so the runners had to do a short out and back on the road to make up mileage. Of course it would have been nice to not make that mistake when marking, but it actually made the manual race timing much easier because we could see the runners coming and the volunteers could stay by the heaters until we saw someone start the out and back.

The second aid station did a fantastic job supporting the runners (they even had music going and dance parties).

So cold yet so cheerful!

It was a good thing we had the aid stations covered because by 1pm it started sleeting. I guess nature wanted to make sure people got the full Frozen Heart experience? Despite all of the bad weather and hard trail conditions, some people still made it look easy.

His bare ankles made me feel cold
The guy in the picture was our overall winner who did the 50K in 5:01, which is seriously impressive! I should point out that the second place guy made him really fight for it and they finished close together.

It wasn't an easy race for anyone but everyone was in great spirits, frozen hair and all. I can't believe that some of the runners did their first 50K in those conditions! After that, their next (dry) 50K is going to feel easy by comparison.

The race was a great success and we raised a nice chunk of money for the Semper Fi Fund. I'm not sure I'm going to be the race director again next year (it's so much time and work!) but I don't have to decide on that for a while. I might be more tired than needed because when I got home from 11 hours out in the cold, everyone in my family was sick! We ended up waiting to go to the walk in clinic until Sunday morning due to the ice storm but it's a good thing we brought everyone. My husband has strep and both kids have strep and double ear infections! I'm the only healthy person in a den of disease.

My husband is an easy patient, but the kids have been pretty miserable. It's their first ever ear infections! I've never had one but it seems awful. At least they are eating again today.

How do you feel about snow running? Personally, I hate it. I was fantasizing about owning a flamethrower when I was breaking trail to mark the course.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mind Blown

For Cordelia's entire life, her GI system has been off kilter. We've taken her to multiple specialists and tried elimination diets, strict food journaling, and all kinds of testing. At the beginning of this month, her specialist at Hopkins gave us the green light to reintroduce some foods since he didn't believe she had any allergies, but a structural issue was likely causing her issues.

The first food group we trialed in was wheat. She hadn't had any wheat in over six months and I've never seen anyone so happy to eat pasta. 

Nothing happened for the first few days of bringing back wheat. This was good news because it meant she could keep it in her diet! Then we had one really bad night with over three hours of crying. I didn't know what was wrong, but my mind jumped to blaming the wheat. The morning after that awful night, she finally went in her diaper (it had been over 24 hours) and seemed to feel relief. I braced myself for her usual "Something ain't right here" diaper, but that's not what I found.

For the first time in her life, Cordelia had a normal poop. 

We figured it was a fluke and also the scream fest before the poop wasn't promising. Apparently it was just really uncomfortable for her that first time because since then, she's had normal poop with no drama. That's right people, gluten healed my kid. I think so anyway.

Five days ago we started a dairy trial and that's also going well. Cordelia is eating normal kid stuff like macaroni and cheese and granola bars and her GI system is seemingly OK. Obviously we are confused but happy. 

We are going to give it a few more weeks and see if everything continues on like this. We're not going to complain if we don't have to take her up to Hopkins anymore but it's all just so weird. I've never heard of anyone healing their GI issues by adding food back into their diet, especially after failing to find relief with an elimination diet!

All praise the healing power of white flour?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An eye for an eye?

Snow days are already all about family bonding time, but since we like to take things up a notch, we added pink eye to the mix. Late last week we got an email from Faith's school that several kids in her classroom had pink eye, so it wasn't a shock when she came down with it. High contagious and unpleasant, but not a shock.

Giving this child eye drops is a cardio activity. I don't really blame her because I hate eye drops too. I was lucky that my husband was working from home so he could help me give her eye drops, but I'm on my own now and it's...interesting. I'm probably mentally scarring her.

Other than forcefully administrating eye drops, we've been doing fun snow day things like chasing the dog outside and making snow angels.

Pink eye don't care

We got about 8 inches of snow, which presented quite the challenge for our height impaired family member.

Dig me a path you peasant 

Since I know everyone is dying to know my opinions about all things, let's talk about the two movies I watched recently. The first one was our Valentine's Day movie, which I was allowed to pick and clearly I should NOT be allowed to pick. I wanted to see "Fury" and normally I enjoy war movies. This movie wasn't poorly done, if we're assuming their goal was to impart the feeling of futile hopelessness of war.

The other movie I watched was when I was organizing all the race registration materials for the Frozen Heart 50K and I found it hilarious. Granted, I was only paying half attention, but I'd recommend "The Other Woman" for some giggles. You might even be able to convince a guy to watch it with you.

You're welcome everyone

The movie is the equivalent to one of those trashy chick lit books. The "other woman" character of Cameron Diaz is the smart lawyer chick who falls for Jaime Lannister in a suit. Of course he's married and after she finds out, she does the logical thing and befriends his wife. Then they make friends with yet another mistress, Boobs McGee up there, and decide to get revenge on the cheater. As part of the plan, the wife adds estrogen pills to his morning green smoothie.

His nipples make me giggle

What was the last movie you watched? 

Have you ever had pinkeye? It's so fun.

Monday, February 16, 2015

White Death From the Sky

There is a beautiful scent of panic in the air.

If you live in bumfuck Canada and you call this kind of weather "Monday" and you're rolling your eyes so hard right now, that's OK. We earned it. In our defense, no one here can drive for shit in the snow or ice and we don't have enough plows so clearing out takes a while. For perspective, the last snowfall we had was about 2 inches and it shut down everything, including the base.

This snowfall is different because for the first time, I'm in charge of answering people's concerns about race conditions for Saturday's Frozen Heart 50K. Luckily for them, I'm an expert at consoling people.

The race is still going to happen, but conditions are going to be unpleasant if we really get that much snow. It's not going to get above freezing until race day and there is more snow in the forecast for race afternoon, so the runners will likely be ankle deep in ice slush for hours.

Since I wanted to go for a trail run under the guise of being a good race director, I ran a loop of the race course (10.5 miles) on Saturday morning. I've been running about once a week for about a month and a half now but this was the longest distance I've gone so far. It felt good and we took picture breaks.

Peanut is not a fan of the selfie

Frozen lake

Ice skating/running should be a sport

The best part of these pictures is how you can see the annoyance that Peanut feels whenever we pause. She doesn't come to trails to mess around, just run. She won't even stop to relieve herself! She just holds it until we get home.

The rest of the weekend has been celebrating Valentine's Day and exciting things like grocery shopping. Actually, it was exciting this week because the kids are a little under the weather so I went by myself. I even used coupons and got food that makes complete meals, it was pretty crazy. Oh, and I got herpes for Valentine's day.

The cute kind

The kids got diarrhea and the common cold. I'm pretty sure these toys are way more amusing for adults, but the kids were excited about it. They like throwing the herpes at the dog. Hopefully it will still be as funny when we're all snowbound for a few days!

What's your favorite snow day meal? I have a slow cooked pot roast going! I'm so excited to be allowed to cook with garlic and onion again, plus we are having biscuits for the first time in over six months!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's such a beautiful holiday

Back in my younger days, Valentine's Day was both intriguing and slightly horrifying. Remember when they did that flower delivery thing in schools? You'd just sit at your desk and deal with the embarrassment of not getting one or the embarrassment of getting one.

The only time Valentine's Day was really fun was in elementary school when everyone gave candy to everyone. I get to relive that by assembling all of Faith's Valentines to give out to the other kids. This year she's giving out organic fruit snacks instead of candy because I don't want to horrify the other parents at the fancy hippie school.

Personally, I'm not doing anything for Valentine's Day. We don't normally do anything and this year my husband will be returning from a trip to the west coast so he'll be tired and jet lagged. It's not like going out on the actual holiday is fun anyway.

My actual weekend plans are to get everything as ready as I can for the Frozen Heart 50K! Part of that is going to Target on Sunday to pick up a bunch of clearance candy to hand out at the race! I was hoping for dry weather on the forecast for next week before the race, but it's not looking so good on that front. I hope all the runners bring their sense of humor again this year!

Back to Valentine's Day, I just have these two things to share with you:

Both occasions call for flowers?

Not what I usually mean when I say "fundies"

What are your Valentine's Day plans?