You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2014.

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Since July I have had an ongoing commitment to myself to read each month at least five books across a variety of genres and topics. So far, so good. Although I have always been an eager and voracious reader, I realized over a period of years that the life of my mind was in danger of stagnation and that I owed it to myself not only to exercise my body but also to exercise my reader’s mind. I am now fifteen books in, which is more than I read personally all of last year (not counting, of course, the extensive chapter book reading I do with my oldest, age six, or the quick articles and such I read daily). Five books a month is not near what I used to do at my peak, but it is a start. It takes effort to fit in, I find. I have to be intentional about my reading time, just as I do with my running and swimming time. I find that requirement of intentionality makes me appreciate these words and books all the more. A theme in my life seems to be that anything is sweeter when we have to work for it.

For this month’s reading, I happened to choose a timely theme: timely because I am in the middle of training for a half marathon race that is quite important to me. I am headed in a couple of weeks to lay down a year’s worth of work at Long Beach. I’m nervous, excited, encouraged, focused, hopeful, and scared. I decided to use this month’s reading time to help hone my mental preparations for this significant moment in my personal narrative.

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (Laura Hillenbrand, 2010)

My mom and my Aunt Donna were deep in conversation about this one during Labor Day, and I began reading this true story that very night. Unbroken is the story of Louie Zamperini, a delinquent youth who became one of the greatest runners the country had ever seen, who then competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Although training for the 1940 Olympics, he became a bombardier when we entered the war. Zamperini then lived through a tale of war almost too horrific to be fathom: after five weeks stranded on a raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after his plane goes down, he is picked up by a Japanese military boat and detained as a POW. For two-and-a-half years. How he endures the pain of starvation and dehydration adrift on a raft for weeks, and then how he endures absolutely brutal and inhumane treatment in the cruelest of Japanese internment camps is utterly breath-taking. His courage and tenacity—his fight to live and to retain his dignity amidst degradation—had me in tears. This is a story of forgiveness, too, and inspiring is the verve with which Louie decided to live his life after he made peace with his past. I found myself learning quite a bit I didn’t yet know about WWII, as well. This book is one of my favorites so far. Well worth a read. How do we deal with pain beyond human imagination? From where inside of us comes the will to survive?

2. Guide to Distance Running (ed. Bob Anderson and Joe Henderson, 1971)

I’m not sure this treasure from the 1970s is attainable anymore, but Bill unearthed this collection of essays from his office library for my enjoyment a few months ago. There are a couple hundred essays in here, reprinted from Runner’s World issues published from the 1960s up to 1971, from a variety of authors. The essays are sorted into “The Basics,” “Races and Racing,” “Coaching and Training,” “The Reasons Why,” “The People,” “Running Views,” and then there are appendices of World and American running records (at the time in ’71), metric conversion tables, major running periodical lists, and so on. In the early mornings after my runs and swims, I would cuddle up with warm tea in my favorite chair and pick off a few of these essays at a time after kissing Bill goodbye at his car and before Katie and Eric woke up and we got going for the day. I particularly connected with the essays by Kenny Moore, an Olympic marathoner, writer, and U of O athlete under Bowerman. Although the essays were male-centric (female racing wasn’t at all as prevalent in the era these were written), I find that the reasons for running are more human than gendered. Knowing the history of my sport, I think, is one of the ways to honor it. So many of these essays became thought-life during runs this month. How do I make myself better? What does it take?

3. Pre! (Tom Jordan, 1977)

Legends never really die, and it is a testament to Steve Prefontaine that a generation after his untimely death, there is a young woman in her 30s and a mother of two who still feels the pull of his presence from when he was here running around this earth. I am not the only one to recognize something humanly elemental in him, something so gutsy and so compelling. I suppose there must have been something in the way he ran and left it all there on the track that touched on the very act of human evolution and survival itself. Perhaps it was like watching our species fight its way through eons of muck and adaptation to achieve this form. Long ago before I ever stepped foot in a running shoe, Bill used to tell me about Pre. I never fully understood. What does it mean to give it all? What does it mean to go for the run of your life, several times over, with the purest guts most people have ever seen? Now that I run, I get it. What does it mean to be out the door in the early morning hours nearly every day, chasing down that elusive best self? Perhaps it was running Pre’s trail this summer in Eugene, or perhaps it was the act of seeing his rock on the night I ran Butte to Butte, or perhaps it was remembering him as we drove through Coos Bay on the way home, but I got done with this little biography and cried into my tea. Whatever Pre represented—whatever it was that was in him—well, to have it gone from this earth… that’s a reason to weep. He was scrappy, hard working, focused, and absolutely willing to get the pain and stare at it straight on without backing down. That’s pretty darn rare, I think. When I am in the clutch on a training run or interval or in a race, I think about Pre quite a bit. WWPD? What would Pre do? I keep his guts in mind.

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Pre!

4. Why We Run: a Natural History (Bern Heinrich, 2001)

My friend Steve couldn’t have known it, but when he brought this book to me as a gift for having him stay two nights this month for Spartan racing and training, this nonfiction book fit perfectly into my thematic month. I swapped out something else I was going to start and plunged right into this one. Heinrich is an ultrarunner, who came in first in the 100K in Chicago in 1981. This is a beautiful book, a paean to running and to our evolution as a human species. The author is also a naturalist and a scientist—he mainly studies insects and birds—who has been running since childhood. Not only an ode to running, this book also seems to be a lyrical and scientific reflection on humanity itself. What is the primal drive to win? What adaptations do other animals have that we could try to mimic in ourselves? Part memoir, part training guide, part natural history, and part science text, this seems to be a book that every avid runner would not want to miss. Heinrich’s enthusiasm for the art of running inspired me, and more than once I have tried to imagine the staggering resplendence of the antelope he describes turning its legs over more precisely that any machine or other animal ever could. I imagine the birds flying for hours and days with no fuel, migrating and elegantly adapted over millions of years to have a digestive and respiratory system to allow them to do so. I think of the way bees keep cool. I think of the forests through which he trains. Heinrich’s writing pours easily into the brain and feels soothing after a hard run—this was another book I would read in the mornings before my kiddos got up, after my training session. He conveys perfectly a deep appreciation for our sport.

5. The Science of Running: How to Find Your Limit and Train to Maximize Your Performance (Steve Magness, 2014)

The book title says, “the science of running,” and that’s a promise. The first part of this book is heavy, heavy on the scientific whys and hows of running, which has entertained me in my running thought-life to no end. I now spend time picturing my muscle fibers and thinking about topics like violating homeostasis, oxygen transportation, buffering high acidosis, biomechanical efficiency, and glycolysis and how long specifically it takes to reach maximum capacity, etc etc. Here is one small sample of text from near the start of the book: “At rest, the myosin heads cannot attach to the actin because the attachment site is blocked. However, the calcium released frees up the attachment site and allows the myosin head to attach to the actin…”  I love it. I think it honors the sport to know the real science behind how the body performs. The second half of the book is a training manual of sorts, as he gives advice to coaches about how to set up workouts and cross training. Magness knows his history, keeps current, is definitely science minded and questions tradition when it needs to be questioned. This was, perhaps, a bit of a drier read, but I needed it. I read this concurrent to Why We Run, and they balanced each other perfectly. There are ideas and lines from this book that I now repeat to myself and did use to great effect this past week during a gnarly set of intervals. By delving into the science, I have begun to see where and how I can push my body a bit more. I still leave the coaching to Bill, but this book confirms that our plan to start plyometrics after my racing season ends with Long Beach and before the spring season is probably the best idea.

Choosing running-themed reads this month has been helpful during these past weeks of intense training. I’ve had some longer runs and some insane intervals, and the words and ideas in these texts have buoyed me along and reminded me, at heart, of why I do what I do. I am growing ever fascinated with the role of the mind in staving off pain, and I am increasingly motivated to keep challenging and pushing myself. How far can I go? What does it take to conquer myself? How do we handle fatigue? If we dig down as deep as we can go, what will we find in ourselves? How do we become our best? What is the purpose of working as hard as we can? What does it mean to be alive? What is the essence of our dignity?

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I need to choose now a new set of books for this next month. I skew heavily toward nonfiction, it seems, and all of my personal reads this month were in that genre. I do take in quite a bit of fiction with Katie and Eric, and I have an extensive history with it, but perhaps I ought to make it a point not to lose that genre completely in my personal reading.   On the other hand, I might decide to head toward an “education/pedagogy” theme this month.  Or maybe I will just be eclectic again. I am always looking for recommendations. Four of these books were recommendations (the 5th I happened to find in our digital library—Bill had been reading up on coaching), and all of them were huge hits for me. So thank you, Mom, Aunt Donna, Bill, and Steve. You made my month with these!

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Bill warned several days ago that a girl in his class had spent most of the period blowing her nose, sneezing, and coughing all over a paper he collected from his students. Oh boy. But since Bill rarely gets sick (I could count his illnesses since marriage on less than both hands), I thought we might make it through unscathed.

Except.

For the past two years, this first weekend in autumn has brought with it my one cold of the year. Correlation never implies causality, this I know; however, I began to brace myself. I am a baby when it comes to colds. I can go out and run for over an hour with acid build-up in my legs, give birth to babies without pain medication, scrape my abs until they bleed during events like the Spartan, and (now) take needles like a champ; but when I think I have been exposed to cold germs, I turn into just a bit of a nutjob. Colds are more than just a tingly annoyance or a case of pressurized sinuses, to me; no, colds are a psychological menace.

Colds comes trotting into the body with an evil laugh, “Ha ha ha, we are here to disrupt all of your plans!” They chortle, “We are here to throw you off schedule, make you less productive, wahahaha!” They proclaim triumphantly, “We are here to cease your forward movement. We are here to interfere with your training, too, if we can. We have come out of nowhere to divert your body’s resources so that you cannot get anything done.”

Ugh.

When Katie found one of Bill’s snot-tissues under my side of the bed pillows, I thought I might be a goner, but I still clung to hope. Then Eric, who was the next man down, sneezed on me full facial. A day later, I forgot that he was sick (it was light for him) and in a paroxysm of bad judgment on several counts, ate some bites of his spitty-fork prodded waffle. I realized right after I put it in my mouth that this was probably the worst thing I could have done, but I consoled myself, “Well, if I haven’t caught it from Bill by now, I am probably okay.” Ah, the lies we tell ourselves.

By Wednesday I was still in the clear, though, and did a morning run then got ready for my interval session later that night. Wednesday’s intervals were intense. I ran them as hard as I needed to run them in order to make new time goals, breaking personal records at 220, 440, and 880. The two 880s of the workout, especially, were killer. 880s get to me mentally, anyway, which Bill knows and which was why he assigned them. I knew they were coming and intentionally did not ask all day what my interval assignment would be. I went out right as the sun was about to go down and decided to go all guns blazing, no fear. I wanted to break my body, and I did. Getting that pain is the only way to force adaptation. I am gaining speed, as well as mental conditioning.

And then I came home, got some water, and sneezed four times in a row. It was as if my body had waited until the hardest workout of the week was done. Still, I brushed it off: “Probably just allergies,” I told myself. I have several times (in the spring, though) had a sneezy day following runs/intervals if I go too late in the morning or afternoon. I took some allergy medicine and put it out of my mind.

Besides, the next day was a treat: Disneyland!

Faithful readers of this blog have maybe noticed how much time has passed since my last entry. It’s been crazy busy here. We’ve been constantly on the go, and, it feels, schooling/running/reading/extra-curricularing/doing chores every conceivable minute. I have been reminded of the comparison I heard while at Stanford of being like a duck kicking furiously under the water to stay afloat and no one knows how hard we’re truly kicking/working because it looks like we’re gliding on the surface of the water. If we just work hard enough, an elegance emerges and it may even look like it happens with ease; it does not. Or, in my most recent description in my journal: I feel like I have been digging my way up out of quicksand of things to do lately, only to get to the top just about to breathe, when more quicksand pours down upon me again. I know, I know, from lots and lots of experience at this point that if I just keep whittling away and working working working I will eventually get out from under the load of all there is to get done, and I do not mind working hard for long term periods of time, at all… (Because ultimately, that work is rewarding). It’s just when I am in the middle of it, I start to feel the fatigue a bit. In this, life is much like running. It’s what we do when we feel that fatigue that matters. How do we restore depleted energy quickly? How do we martial our resources so that we can keep our bodies working?

Disneyland is a huge boost for me. I think of it as my sub day. My parents offered to take the kiddos last week and let me just have a day off at home, but I knew if I were at home I would just be tempted to keep working. If I really and truly want a day off, I go to Disneyland and bask in the magic there. Knowing that was coming, my body must have rallied from the coming cold a bit. In retrospect, I know I must have had the cold on Thursday but it wasn’t a bother at all, just a couple of sneezes. I had a great day at Disneyland and still didn’t think I was sick so I didn’t believe I was spreading anything around.

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Princess Jasmine was out and about!

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A sure sign of autumn!

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For the first time EVER, Eric reached the 40″ mark at Disneyland! He got to go on Soarin’, Star Tours, Big Thunder Railroad, and Splash Mountain for the first time (there are others, too, but we will do them next time). He had so much fun and loved EVERY one of those rides, asking to do them again and again. We actually cheered at Soarin’ when the lady declared him tall enough, and she was happy for us, too. This trip marked, also, the first time I have been to the park since the 10K at the end of August. It was so surreal walking over parts of the course! So many layers of memories at this special, special place…

But somewhere between Thursday night and Friday morning, it hit. I woke up with our alarm at 4:40 AM. Fridays are run and swim mornings for me, which means a definite early start if I am to be done with all of it by 6:55 AM (when Bill leaves for work). In the dark, clutching my tissue I told Bill, “I have a cold.” He indicated that he thought as much, but was probably just waiting for me to get out of the denial phase and into acceptance. He told me I could miss my running and swimming and go back to sleep. I wanted to close my eyes again so badly… but then, I reasoned, I would just feel psychologically worse and be unexercised to boot. Besides, with no fever there really was no basis to excuse myself, I didn’t feel. Two-plus years ago when I started this journey, I promised myself that I would never again excuse myself from exercising unless the reason was exceptionally valid. During one of my races this year, a guy in front of me had a shirt on that read, “It would take a rocket to make me miss a run.” Yup. Coming from a background of lifelong excuse-making for not exercising, I am very sensitive to this tendency in myself.

So up out of bed it was. It didn’t feel good…until I got out that door by 5:00 AM. I ran my 6 miles and then swam my laps at the pool. I don’t need a nose for either one of those activities, and actually, I felt great while doing them. My legs had recovered much more from Wednesday’s intervals (Thursday’s run was horribly uncomfortable and at a slower pace), and I kept thinking to myself, “Oh yeah, cold, watch me torch you” as I raised my body temp.

Katie also woke up with a cold, too. Neither of us felt horrible at this point, but we decided to keep her home from enrichment classes.

And that’s officially when we declared a Sick Day. We do not declare them much, but the timing of this one was perfect.

The magic of the Sick Day is this: there is no longer any pressure to perform. No feeling of having to be on a schedule. Anything we happen to get done feels like a small triumph, like icing on the cake. There’s no worry about being “a slacker” (a concept in myself with which I have an obsession—it’s a bit neurotic at this point, truly). I haven’t remembered this feeling in way too long a time. A Sick Day is almost a tiny miracle. I feel released, a little bit, from my own expectations of what I ought to be doing.

Katie and I laughed several times about how silly it was that we were enjoying our day so very much even though we were sick. We shouldn’t enjoy being sick, we agreed, and yet it was the perfect sick day. Remember those sick days in elementary school and middle school (I never took a single sick day in high school until May of my senior year when I had mono and the doctor said I had to), when you came downstairs and watched Brady Bunch reruns followed by Price is Right? Orange juice with a straw nearby. A paper bag made into a mini trash can for used tissues. Our sick day was kind of like that, except better in the sense that our cold is not a horrible down-for-the-count cold. We could still have fun.

And we did. We did a “measuring gas” lab and baked bread with Eric, and then the kiddos delighted in discovering and playing with static electricity. I stayed in my post-swimming clothes that I put on after I shower in the locker rooms. I always wash my hair and put on lotion, so I didn’t feel workout-scuzzy, but pleasantly relaxed and ready for a day of hunkering down. Boppa came to take Eric out (they worked on sprinklers and projects at my mom and dad’s house), and so then Katie and I really got down to the business of Sick Day relaxation. We read some of our American Girl series together, we made chocolate drizzled bananas and almonds and tucked them in the freezer to harden, and then we decided to totally vege out. Totally, I mean totally. We started streaming Once Upon a Time. Have you seen it? We don’t watch TV (save an occasional Sprout or Disney Jr. program) so this is completely a new series to us. And can I just say? We binged watched it. Episode after episode after episode. We’re so into it now. Sometimes Katie puts the clues about the characters together before I do… We cuddled and I also worked on sewing a bit of her Halloween costume (sewing and TV are a good match, what can I say).

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The beginnings of Katie’s swan costume for Halloween…

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Sick Day shenanigans and science labs, and cozy honey oatmeal bread fresh from the oven—because Sick Days need comfort!

It was the coziest, loveliest day. We learned, we read, we baked…and it all came together without a formal schedule and without feeling like I had to get it done.

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Katie did make this, though! I usually write out our daily agenda/objectives for the McGaugh Academy, so she took over the slate and wrote her own ideas about what we might do. Love it. “First read, next get something warm then watch Once Upon a Time, lern {sic} a little then read some more.”

I was all set to begrudge this cold every second of its life in my body, but I am actually rather thankful for it. I had to take some calculated steps this week to reconnect with my stores of natural energy: started making time for more journaling and blogging again, even if it comes out as borderline drivel; scheduled Disneyland; and made a return to tea over coffee. As a runner, I like the synergy between caffeine in coffee and my training, but I think I was starting to overdo it again. I noticed that coffee drinking was starting to feel a bit like an addiction again, and anything that feels that way (regardless of calories, whether or not it is causing a problem, irrespective of benefits) needs to be curtailed. Running can be addictive, too, which is exactly why I gave my training over to Bill in December. Whatever feels like an addiction to me, is something I need to self-regulate. So, we’re getting back off of coffee for awhile, I think. I might allow it here and there, but it was starting to become daily again and, more to the point, to feel like I must have it. Anything external that begins to feel necessary, I purposely then try to do without; I don’t want anything external to me to have governance over me. Plus, I read recently that, yes, caffeine helps with running performance, but we start to desensitize to it if we build up a tolerance to large amounts of it. If I want the caffeine boost to be in full effect before races, I need not to saturate my system with it.

So the Sick Day came right when it would do us the most good. We’re kind of taking one again today. Katie felt well enough to play her soccer game this morning, but the rest of this day I think is up in the air. I suspect we might go ahead and watch some more of Once Upon a Time and read and just do whatever it is we feel like doing, because even though our nostrils may be partly stuffy, something about a Sick Day allows us to breathe a little more freely.

“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more.” (Steve Prefontaine)

Shortly before 6:00 AM this morning, I stood with my best friend, my husband, and my coach on the edge of our driveway with today’s training assignment: 12 miles. I track with my phone, my Garmin Forerunner, and a second Garmin our generous friend Michelle gave us that allows Bill to see every second of my run and to monitor elevation, pace, and cadence. Some interesting data is emerging from all of that, particularly with respect to cadence, which I guess is kind of big thing (I am still learning my sport!)… The data makes me hopeful indeed for Long Beach.

Long Beach is exactly one month away. I am ready to lay a year’s worth of hard work and ambition on the line. I am nervous, but I want to test myself. I want to burn for 13.1 miles and come kicking across the finish line with absolutely nothing left to give. Although I will compete with other runners, I am competing in my mind with myself. I am competing with the inevitable pain in my legs, with the voice that wants to stop when the anaerobic state really hits with a couple miles to go, with the runner I was last year. I have done the work all year necessary to beat myself; the next four weeks are going to refine that work.

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Legs fresh off 12.13 miles this morning, before the heat truly hit

What goes through a runner’s mind on a morning like today, standing at the ready on the driveway? Exploring my mind’s capacity to feel, handle, and override pain/discomfort has become an increasing source of fascination for me. I know that by the end of 12 miles (or even the 11.4 I did last Sunday) that my legs will be thrashed. I know they will burn all day with acid, and yet I am eager to run it. In fact, as I sit typing right now, my legs are burning. I know could take some Ibuprofen, but I am holding off. I want to feel them burn, every bit, and I want to wait them out: I view these many hours of leg burn (all day since I came home this morning) as part of my mental training, an opportunity to practice compartmentalizing discomfort all day. Legs and lungs and heart can last for a long time on the roads—it’s the mind that has to go with them. I need my mind to be so accustomed to the feel of lactic acid that there is no fear of it on race day.

This is my last 12 miler before Long Beach. My Long Run Sunday runs will start decreasing from here for the next four weeks. I have to tear the body this week and then let it repair. It’s crazy to know that, and yet to do it anyway. I had to clear up a pulled hamstring last week (my left leg repaired itself on mileage after the Disney 10K two weeks ago; my right leg took a bigger hit, I guess. I finally verbalized it to my coach, which was hard to do because I am not one to complain about aches and pains. I could feel it start to affect the knee on Thursday’s run, though, and so I had to confess. I hated to do it, because I knew confessing would mean missing both Thursday afternoon intervals and my Friday run, and I cannot think of the last run I missed (I run even on vacation, and I set my schedule around track workouts). I sat out Friday but was allowed to go do my Friday swim, and I upped Friday’s laps to 100 to compensate (I usually run and do a swimmer’s mile on Fridays and Mondays; 100 laps on Tuesdays). Fortunately with two days of rest, my hamstring felt fine today. Bill is having me not run tomorrow and will be upping my laps at the pool tomorrow morning instead; he is going to switch me to a Monday rest day for the next four weeks. It somehow works better for his taper plan in a couple of weeks. I don’t question him much about his workout assignments; I trust him completely and just do exactly what he says to do. Even when I have thought he was asking for something outrageous, I found that if I apply myself and shoot for his target, I am able to meet it and generally surprise even myself. I could not imagine a better coach for me. Our intimacy is so complete and I trust him so wholeheartedly with respect to everything. I am excited to see how Long Beach goes this year, under his complete direction for the first time. He was in charge of my taper last year for Long Beach, but I had previously been coaching myself that first year of running. I asked him to take over all of my coaching formally in December of 2013, and so he has had most of the year to work his magic.

We had the treat of having my friend Steve here this weekend for his Spartan Beast (held at Vail Lake). He stayed Friday night, we fueled him up, and then he competed in a 12+ mile obstacle course in 100+ degree heat for several hours. He walked away with the third piece of his trifecta medal, and I am so proud of his accomplishment for the very fact that he has put in hours and hours of training time in order to conquer the strength obstacles. I know how hard he has worked, and we talk often about the philosophy for self-improvement and growth through challenging ourselves that we share. He was fortunate to be able to complete the Beast yesterday; organizers shortened later heats due to the weather and then cancelled the Spartan Sprint that was supposed to take place today. Too many medical incidents… The weather here has been brutal. Steve was finishing his race about 12:30 PM, though, and it was hot enough that the rest of the youth soccer games had been cancelled for the day. He even saw a rattlesnake cross the course, which was out in Temecula’s more wild area. Steve has guts, that’s for sure.

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Friday night fueling! Steve has always been one of my favorite people to talk about life with. We met in 1994 at the first Academic Decathlon meeting of the year in Mr. May’s room. Twenty years… So grateful to be his friend!

 

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Up early and Steve is ready for beast mode! Tire flipping, Hercules lift, log balance, barbed wire, uneven monkey bars…and so much more. Apparently the course started this time with 2 miles straight up hill, which in Temecula is pretty hardcore. If there are “little” hills in Temecula, I am not sure where they are!

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Hanging out before dinner—he was a welcome relief after a week that kicked my booty with homeschooling/activities/all the things. Lifelong friends always recenter the essence, you know?

Still feeling the burn… It will be a restless night in bed, no doubt. Can’t wait to swim tomorrow early to shake out this acid a bit!

Is it even legitimate to be posting summer bucket list items at this point in the year? Probably not! I’ve got a bit of a backlog, but it does appear that we are rolling steadily and quickly into autumn here. We’re on the 3rd official week of school (although we started slightly before that), we’re looking for the least hot weekend to pick apples this month, soccer season has started, and Eric and Katie have decided on Halloween costumes (anyone know how to make a swan costume? On the to-do list this weekend is to figure that one out; fortunately, I have several ideas). Pumpkin has also been broached, though not through the PSL—which I swear to goodness won’t cross my lips until October. And the Long Beach Half is a mere four weeks away.

So summer is beginning to be a memory—a lovely memory—but a memory nonetheless.

Months ago, Katie and I decided to learn a few hand clapping games together as part of our summer bucket list. We actually learned three, well, kind of three. Two for sure. The third one still gets a bit tangled at the end and that is the primary reason we never got around to recording it and posting it on YouTube.

Anyway, we learned “Lemonade Crunchy Ice” first, and Eric recorded this for us at the Rose Haven. You can hear him say, “Yay!”

Next up was “Hot Dog” and Bill captured several takes for us at home. We chose this one.

Our third clapping game is “Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny” and we’re using a tic-tac-toe clap for it. We’ve also been working on “Bim Bum.”

It’s all simple, old-fashioned, connect-with-each-other, no-tech kind of fun. If one or both of us have the wiggles while waiting somewhere, we play one or more of these hand clap games, and the time passes more quickly. Eric isn’t doing the claps yet, but we’ve practiced the rhymes so much that he can chant Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny on his own—often more precisely than we can!

There are dozens of clap game tutorials all over YouTube, if you have interest. Our favorite teachers have been two young ladies who posted years ago through ldsSplash.com on YouTube. Here is their version of Bim Bum. They have several different clap game tutorials. We’d love to learn all of theirs!

Happy clapping!