Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Race Report: Crimestoppers Run for Justice September 13, 2011

Fact.

I should have gotten a Purple Heart for this run. After calculating how long it would truly take to get to my sister’s house on Saturday morning, I realized I had to wake up at 4:30 am. Just the knowledge that I had to wake up at 4:30 kept me awake until 11:00 pm Friday night. My body works in mysterious way. I got up, jumped in my running clothes, downed a cold slice of pizza (what?!) and hit the road by 5:00 am. When I got to my sister’s exit, I called her to let her know I was close. “OK, cool,” she said. “Oh, and I read the starting time wrong, we don’t have to be there until 8:30 instead of 8:00.” She pretty much couldn’t have said anything that would have wounded my heart more in that moment. I grieved for the lost 30 minutes of sleep, but made my peace before I got to her door.

The great thing about being early is that you don’t have the panic of finding parking, finding the starting line, finding the port-a-potties before the race. You just wander. Calm and free. As we were walking up the sidewalk, my sister commented that there weren’t many runners. It was true. It looked as if the local running club showed up, maybe a few family members but that was it. Easily less than 100 people. I was feeling inadequate. These were serious runners. I am… not. Yet. I told my sister she didn’t have to wait for me. She’s been running for years. She would be fine with these people. An older woman heard my strategy and said she would linger back with me. She was wearing a knee brace. Behind us were a group of blind runners. That’s right, blind runners. Some had escorts, some ran independently. Talk about motivating. Those folks had no fear.

We were walking up the sidewalk as the Kid’s Fun Run finished up. A group of ladies were blocking the sidewalk. The first of the two kids racing ran past. I checked for the second kid. She was a few yards back and running near the center of the road. I stepped off the curb to slide past the ladies blocking the walk. In a fury, one of the ladies reached out and grabbed my upper arm. She jerked at me. I pulled my arm away as her nails dug in and scratched me. Seriously, what did she think I was going to do? Run out and trip the kid? I turned my head and shot her a look that stopped her group cold. “I was just going around you,” I said in a growl. Crimestoppers, I would like to report an assault.

All was well once the race started. Knee Brace Lady and I traded positions for the first mile or so. I walked up the hills, ran down them. (What?!) We made our way up 4th street, across Cherry, then down 5th. Halfway down 5th Street, I noticed I was being passed by very lean men moving very quickly. I seriously thought they were just random people running — because I’m clever like that. When we came around the corner and headed back up to 4th Street, I was feeling pretty good despite having walked more than I would have liked. A sign said three miles. Something seemed off, but I wasn’t going to fight it. I followed the Lean Guys. We were nearing the starting line. Suddenly a race official stuck out his arms and yelled at me, “This is for the finishers!” I think I looked stunned [because I was]. Two other race officials were nearby. “Go around this way to keep going, Honey,” one said. I stopped for a moment and said, “So what? I don’t look like I could finish in 20 minutes?” I gave them a “pssshh” and ran on. The old guys laughed. The Finish Line Nazi did not. [In case you are wondering, the fastest man finished in 16 minutes. The fastest woman finished in 19 minutes.]

My little bolt of defiance gave me a burst of energy. I wasn’t thrilled to do the loop again, but at least I was halfway through. The second loop was pretty quiet. I ran alone. I walked alone. My sister doubled back and met me on 5th Street as I was coming down. She ran part of the way with me, then cut through the park to wait for me at the finish line. When I was making my last turn, one of the ladies from the sidewalk group earlier cheered me on. “I like your headband,” she said. “Thanks, it’s from Active Bands,” I told her. Apparently that was more chatting from me than she approved of because she said, “Keep going, you aren’t finished.” I looked back to nod at her [and secretly roll my eyes] when I caught sight of the Knee Brace Lady. I waited for her. “I’ll run with you,” I told her. Sidewalk Lady yelled, “Run! You can beat her! She’s wearing a knee brace!” I’m not making that up. I repeated to the Knee Brace Lady, “We’ll cross together.” And we did. In 41:45.

Race History:
Crimestoppers Run for Justice 5K: 41:45 minutes
Tour de Lila
[15 miles]: 70 minutes
Run Wild at the Zoo 5K: 44:04 minutes

Currently Reading: Stuck on The Happiness Project. I don’t know why I can’t get through this book.

Training Log: Yesterday: Walk/Run, 2.6 miles, 36 minutes; Today: Spin, 16.6 miles, 45 minutes

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Birds, Hamsters, Horses… All in a Day’s Work September 7, 2011

Filed under: Business — Teri @ 7:44 pm

Livin' the dream.

My blog quiets down during the school year because I can’t write about my job. I have to find other topics. The problem is that I’m generally consumed by my job from August to June. I’m quiet because I’m morally and legally obligated to stay quiet. And I’m exhausted — mentally exhausted, the worst kind of exhaustion. I’m just tired enough tonight to throw caution to the wind and speak of the thing that must not be spoken of.

A big part of my job, especially at the beginning of the school year, is about helping parents who just can’t get organized. It’s truly that simple. They let things slide, they don’t think ahead, they just don’t think things through. I find this client to be the most exhausting to work with. I’m not good at hand holding adults. I’m better at telling folks to (wo)man up. Give me a crying 6th grader any day. You have a point to progress from with a crying 6th grader.

I am an ardent believer in the social work principle of self determination. Self determination means that, ultimately, everyone has the right to live their own life. You want to live in constant chaos because planning ahead seems like too much work? Fine by me. Actually, not fine by me, because you are going to end up in my office, daggone it. And when you end up in my office, I’m going to lay out a plan for you. I’ll ask if you are on board. I’ll encourage you. Then I’ll make like a momma bird and kick you out of my office nest to fly free. It gets disheartening when you think you have someone set on the right path and you find out that they didn’t follow a word of your direction. That’s right, direction. I don’t give advice. You want advice, call Dear Abby.

The bad thing about self determination is that it’s like leading a horse to water. You stand back and think, “Well, are you going to drink or not?” When the horse just stands there, you nudge him in the hindquarters whispering, “Drink the water, drink the water!” Sometimes the horse drinks, sometimes the horse wanders off to the pasture and returns a few days later still thirsty. You lead the horse back to the water. This time you say a little more loudly, “I’m not coming back to this stream, DRINK THE WATER.” Sometimes the horse drinks, sometimes you think that you need a drink as you watch them walk away.

I do break the rules sometimes. If I’ve been working with a client for a while (read: years), I take liberty with the familiarity. I will put that client in my car, take them where I think they need to be, put paperwork in front of them, point to the place where they need to sign and then stare at them until they submit to my will. Sometimes you gotta get the hamster off of the wheel.

You are probably imagining me as one of the (poorly represented) social workers on Law & Order. The writers of Law & Order hate social workers. Their social workers are gruff, uncaring, sarcastic. I can lay on the sarcasm with my co-workers, but I try to spare my clients. Being sarcastic with a person in crisis is like farting into the wind. You won’t be heard.

In truth, I’m a nice person. I want my clients to live good lives. And I carry their stories and worries with me. Outwardly, I’m direct. Inside, I agonize over every detail. Every year I’m getting better at separating myself, but I’m not there yet. The blog, the 5Ks, the freelance writing were all purposefully put in place to¬† build a life outside of social work. I just need to drink the water.

 

Race Report: Tour de Lila September 6, 2011

Head cow said to the other cows, "Nobody move. That girl ain't right."

I was about eight miles into the ride when I realized a cow was staring at me. Actually, not just one cow, but a field of cows. They had stopped grazing and seemed to hold their breath as they watched me chug down mouthfuls of water. I suppose I was a sight. I was alone on a country road where forty-some-odd bikes had already ridden through. I was red faced, dry mouthed and was working on a hateful disposition. Moments earlier Z had been riding behind me. After too many “we need to catch up!” and “use your gears!” I told him to go ahead of me. Instead of drafting, he took off. Insert the hateful disposition right there. As I caught my breath, I noticed an old farmer was watching me from the barn. Deciding I was too pitiful to be a threat, he moved along with his Saturday morning chores. The cows, though, they were suspicious. Why was this chunky girl trying to ride a bike down their road? Why didn’t the skinny men in tight pants wait for her? Is that milk in that bottle?

The Tour de Lila was the first bike ride Z and I had participated in. We loaded our bikes and headed to my mom’s house the night before. She stuffed us with spaghetti and meatballs. She gave us the big bed so we would be rested. The ride was 15, 25 or 50 miles. I was told it was a family ride. In truth, the only “families” that showed up were professional riding teams from the local bike shops. They all headed out on the 50 mile ride on their $5,000 bikes. As I watched them roll out, I thought that they really did look like the guys from the Tour de France. Z and I were signed up for the 25 mile ride. We were riding our mountain bikes. My spin instructor, Justin, assured me that I could easily do 25 miles. As I stared into the deep brown eyes of a cow, I thought, “I’m a fool. There is no way I can do 25 miles. This isn’t freakin’ spin class. There is wind out here!” Z had doubled back, so I ended my water break. We were almost to the point where a decision had to be made — turn left and go 25 miles, stay straight and go 15. Up ahead [he left me again], Z signaled to turn left. I stayed straight. I figured if I was going to ride alone, I might as well blaze my own path. The local bike shop guy came by in his van to see how I was doing. Good, I said. Keep going, he said. The 50 milers passed me too. They cheered encouragement. I was doing a respectable job (meaning I hadn’t fallen off my bike), when the first hill came. And it came with a vengeance. It’s true, I don’t entirely understand how to use my gears. I thought I had the general concept, but in practice, I was failing miserably. I got off of my bike and walked for a moment. The bike guy in the van was back. “Are you OK?” Yes. “You sure?” Yes. “Bike OK?” Clearly he did not think I was OK and wanted me to stop being delusional. “I’m fine. That hill almost killed me.” He looked concerned. “I’m fine,” I said and got back on my bike and peddled off. There were three more major hills, but I didn’t get off of my bike. At one point I looked like I was barely moving, but I was on the seat with my bike in the upright position. Small victories, people.

The irony is that when I finished the ride, I felt good. Good and energetic. I finished 15 real road miles in an hour and 10 minutes. The bike shop riders were averaging about 22 miles in an hour. In spin class I can finish 25 miles in 50 minutes on a base ride. I probably could have done 25 miles for the Tour de Lila. I know now I could have done 25. Next time I’ll have a little faith in myself.

Currently Reading: The Happiness Project is still sitting on my bed stand and Sarah’s Key is in my bookbag waiting to be read. I really haven’t read anything since I went back to work on August 25th. According to Stephen King, if you don’t have time to read, you have no business writing.

Training Log: My training has been off the rails since the beginning of August. Next 5K is this coming Saturday. I absolutely get the NO EXCUSES, JUST DO IT! philosophy, but I also get that I have to show up at work and do household chores and finish my freelance articles and shower and sleep. I’ll figure it out, because I think two blogs saying “I did it, but it wasn’t pretty” is enough.