Monday, November 28, 2011

"Is it Christmas Yet?"

"Is it Christmas yet?"  That is what the Little Guy keeps asking lately.  Every time now we do anything even remotely related to that festive holiday, I get that question.  Okay, he's only four years old.  I realize that Christmas is still a fuzzy concept - and time an even fuzzier one - but it is already getting old.  For the first time ever I find myself NOT wanting to do anything even slightly Christmas-related after Thanksgiving.  That means no tree for four weeks while we anticipate the holiday, no decorations inside quite yet, and I am even dreading bringing out the Christmas calendar on December 1.  I just don't think I can deal with a whole month of "Is it Christmas yet?"

In the meantime, E. is walking around singing Christmas music non-stop.  She loves to sing, and she has two groups she is practicing for: her school Christmas concert in a couple of weeks and church, where she's actually been singled out (along with three other children) to sing a verse with microphones next week. It's all very exciting.  For someone so young, she really can belt out the tunes when she wants to, and it comes across even to me as curmudgeonly when I have to ask her not to sing so loudly.  In my defense, however, she sings her best and brightest (i.e., loudest) as she is supposed to be going to sleep at night.  Sigh.

Yes, I have the tacky plastic candy canes.  If I
could decorate our house a la Clark Griswold, I would.
Even though I am trying not to play up the Christmas season yet, we did get our Christmas lights up outside.  I have to admit that when we first moved to Wisconsin I didn't quite understand why it was an accepted practice here to put up outdoor Christmas decorations in mid-November.  At first, I thought people were just really into the holidays.  It took me a couple of years to realize that they were just being smart.  Putting up Christmas lights embarrassingly early when it is still in the 40s is so much more enjoyable than putting them up in a more reasonable timeframe when it is in the 20s.  I get it now.  So, now I too am out there during the last bit of mild weather decorating the house six weeks before Christmas.  It will be the same story after the holidays, too.  Christmas decorations will remain up well into the new year until a decent "warm" spell comes along.  At least I no longer put staked-in decorations into the ground.  One year, I literally was unable to take down a plastic tree decoration until April because it was so completely frozen into the ground.  Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Santa Scamper One-Miler - 2011 
Start of a Christmas Tradition?

Santa Scamper 2011 - Ready to go!
Last week, Andy and I ran our town's one-mile Santa Scamper with the kids for the first time ever.  That was quite an experience!  A good one!  We started the evening with dinner at one of the kids' favorite play-cafes.  That gave us a chance to find some decent parking, have food, and wait someplace warm for the run to start.  Andy and I had decided early that he would run with E. and I would run with the Little Guy.  E. was really excited to run.  She was pretty motivated by the idea of the dilly bar afterward.  The Little Guy said he was excited, too, but then on the walk to the start, he really dragged his heels and got grumpy on me.  He claimed he kept having to yawn and whenever he yawned he had to stop - because he couldn't walk and yawn at the same time.  Trying to move him along only made him more mad.  As it was, though, we did make it to the start with about two minutes to spare.  Then the gun went off.  Andy and E. were off and running.  The story I got later is that it went great for them.  E. ran the first half mile straight through and then had to take a short walk break.  All told, she only took two short walk breaks, and they finished the mile in about 11 minutes.  Very exciting since this was her first mile race.  E. told me later she found it really cool to be passing adults along the course, and now she claims she's ready to try a two-mile run.

The Little Guy did great, too.  He did continue his yawning trend, though.  Every time I looked over at him it seemed his mouth was hanging open in a great gaping yawn.  I don't know if it was that he was really that tired, or if - like a dog - he has a tendency to yawn when he is nervous.  I'll have to keep an eye on that.  In any case, he trotted along for most of the mile, taking walk breaks here and there as he needed.  We finished up with a great burst of speed at the finish and came in at around 15 minutes.  Not bad for a newly minted four-year-old!  I am so proud of both of my kids for doing the run with us.  I know it was so special for Andy and me to share something with them that we have loved doing for many years now.   I hope we continue this tradition for years to come!  I know E. is already looking forward to next year.  The jury's still out on the Little Guy.

Parade Time

After the Santa Scamper, we crowbarred ourselves into a spot along the Christmas Parade route.  The kids finished their dilly bars, put on their snow pants to keep warm, and settled in to enjoy that tradition as well.  Grandma was actually in the parade for the first time ever as part of a group she volunteers with, and they were the first float that went by.  The kids got a kick out of seeing her there, and then it seems we spent the next half hour looking for "E.'s" high school band.  I am not quite sure why, but she was very keen on keeping an eye out for her future school.  As it turns out, they were one of the last bands, so we had a bit of a wait.  In the meantime, though, we saw a lot of neat floats, including the huge hot air balloon basket truck that shoots flames into the air.  A huge hit at the parade, this beast warms up all who are around and knocks out the automatic street lights for a few minutes because it is so bright.

Running - Sort Of

Unfortunately, I haven't done too much in regards to running since last week's Santa Scamper.  Andy and I did the Wednesday morning run once again last week the day after the one-miler, but unlike the week before, it was a crappy run - honestly speaking.  I think the "awesome" run from the week before really set off my shin splints - or whatever they are, because I have been dealing with that issue ever since.  With last Wednesday's run, it's hard for me to know if I was just hurting that badly or I was just not digging having my 41st birthday - probably a little of both.  (It's a weird feeling to admit now that I am in my 40s.)  I didn't run again until Sunday when I ran with the Sunday morning group.  That went pretty well, although I was definitely slower than normal.  I wore my compression socks and tried to keep my form good.  There was a little bit of fall-out with my left shin, but it wasn't as bad as it had been.

Today I managed to get out for a four-mile run, and it went pretty well.  I got smart this time and ran the first mile and a half into the wind, then was able to enjoy the push back towards home when I looped back.  I ran the whole way and probably did about a ten-minute pace.  I was trying not to do anything stupid.  After getting home, I stretched really well and then did an ice massage on my shin for five minutes.  I'll be curious to see what the fall-out is with my shin later.  I am getting to the point where if I don't start to see improvement, I'll have to switch to the elliptical for a week or so.  I need to get this under control.  I am supposed to be feeling good between training "seasons."  Right now, it's a bit of a downer, because I was hoping to build off of the marathon training and keep up some good off-season mileage during November and December.  Instead, I am nursing an injury and looking at starting marathon training in January with very little base.  Ah well.  One day at a time.

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