Sunday, January 8, 2017

Healthy Cooking

One of the things we're trying to do this year is eat healthier by cutting out as much processed food as possible. This means that we either have to give up, find replacements for or make our own for some of our frequently eaten foods. This last week embarked on making our own waffles and bagels and ice cream.

Now waffles are fairly easy; people make them all the time. The only thing I needed that I didn't already have in my pantry was a waffle iron. I subscribe to the Alton Brown philosophy of kitchen gadgets - I try to not have too many single-purpose items. I occasionally look at the Cuisinart waffle/griddle/panini maker on Amazon as this incorporates my desire for both a waffle iron and a griddle - I have no read need for a panini maker. I will be all ready to buy it and then I read one bad review and I worry that I'm just going to end up hating it and I move it in to my 'keep for later' part of my Amazon cart. Good news is my sister has a waffle iron and so I just borrowed hers.

Frozen waffles are one of the primary breakfast items for the kid and while my homemade ones still have some sugar in them, at least they don't have as much sugar as the store bought ones. I buy blueberry (or blueber as they are called in this house) frozen waffles from Trader Joe's and they already don't have preservatives or artificial colors, so in the grand scheme of things, they aren't terrible. But the homemade ones smelled wonderful and looked great. I even took some frozen blueberries and added them to a couple of waffles so they'd be even more like the store-bought ones. S helped me make them and he seemed pretty excited. Way more excited than I was back in college when I worked in the cafeteria at Augustana and got stuck working the Belgian waffle iron for awhile. I would stand there reading a book waiting for someone to decide that today was the day they wanted a waffle. I didn't have to make the batter. I just had to scoop some on to the waffle iron, let it cook for a minute or two, flip it, let it cook for a couple of more minutes and hand it over. I've got to believe that the waffle iron had some sort of beeping system when it was done otherwise I'm sure I would have been making burnt waffles - of course that would have stopped people from bothering me when I was trying to read.

Luckily, my sister's waffle iron does beep when it's done so I knew when to take them out - no burnt waffles. Unluckily, S decided that he didn't like the blueberry waffle. We gave him a regular one, and he didn't like that one either. We've had this reaction before. We make something from scratch and he decides it's just not as good as the store bought food. But the next day we tried again and this time he ate it, so hopefully that continues because we only have a few left of the Trader Joe's frozen waffles and if he decides he doesn't like homemade waffles (a) we won't be needing to buy a waffle iron when my sister wants hers back and (b) S is going to have to give up waffles for breakfast.

Unfortunately for him, one of his other breakfast staples are bagels. The Trader Joe's raisin & cinnamon bagels have even more sugar in them than the waffles. Mr. H. also eats a bagel each morning, so figuring out an alternative to store bought bagels is important. At first we figured we'd just eliminate bagels all together, it seemed ridiculous to actually try and make bagels. I contemplated finding a bakery that makes their own bagels and grilling them about the ingredients. But then I looked at a couple of bagel recipes and it looked pretty easy. So today we set about making bagels. As the photos show, we did manage to make them, we even made some with raisins and cinnamon. It remains to be seen if S will actually eat the bagels. I do not have high hopes because frankly they look nothing like the bagels he normally eats and if we know anything about the way a child feels about food - it is all about what it looks like - unless it's candy. If it's candy it can be the most disgusting looking candy ever and they'll put it in their mouth. 

He had no problem eating the homemade ice cream we made however. Yes, I already had an ice cream maker. I know what I said about single-use kitchen gadgets, but this is different. This is for ice cream. Actually, had I had my Kitchen Aid stand mixer when I was buying the ice cream maker, I would have bought the attachment that goes with that rather than a stand alone one. But I didn't, so I broke my (fairly flexible) rule for an ice cream maker because it makes ice cream! Anyway, while I am trying to cut sugar out, I know that I'll want at least some sweet things and I'd rather have the kid eating homemade ice cream rather than crappy candy or other junk for dessert.

Of course, it's not just waffles, bagels and ice cream. We have plans to make pizza from scratch next weekend - including the sauce, as well as making pasta sauce - which I have never done. I don't know  how far we'll take this. Maybe I'll be churning my own butter soon. Of course, I can't have a cow, so I'm going to have to settle for store-bought milk. But I can have chickens....just kidding, that might be a step too far.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cozy Cups

Yesterday I went to pick up my son from Pump It Up - which by the way is located in the most inconvenient place in the world, Halstead and North and Clybourn (that's him making it almost all the way to the top of the climbing wall). After battling my way through the traffic and finding a spot to park and then figuring out what room him and his friends his class were in, I chatted for a few minutes with some of the moms and was asked if I would like to join them for pizza. I declined because Tuesdays is my knitting night and just to make sure they know that I don't think of myself as a cool hip person who knits, I added a self deprecating remark - because I'm old. 

Now of course, lots of people knit and not in that cool ironic hipster way, but because they like to knit. I've thought about giving it up, not because I don't enjoy it, but because I don't do a whole lot of it and it takes time and I always seem to never have enough time to do the things I want to do so why add another item? To top it off, it's not like I usually knit for myself. I usually knit for other people - such as recently I knit my running crew cup cozies. I needed wanted to get them done to give for Christmas gifts, and while they don't take that long individually, I needed to do nine. And so therein lies the problem. My hobby that's supposed to be relaxing has become a chore - one that I enjoy, so less of a chore - but something that needed to get done. 

Cups all cozy.
To recap, I like to knit, but feel the need to make sure people know that I know it's a 'stupid' hobby, and it sometimes becomes a chore when I put pressure on myself to finish things. I have thought of giving up knitting all together. I could get rid of my yarn and needles, and the ball winder and all the other bits and bobs that comes along when you've been knitting for a while and spend more time reading, or writing, or exercising, or cooking or one of the other things I like to do but feel like I never have enough time to do because I'm doing all the other things that have to get done. But you know I wouldn't. It wouldn't matter because there's always dishes to be washed, and floors to be mopped (mine for example have needed to be mopped for the last several weeks, instead I just keep telling myself I will mop them tomorrow and never get around to doing it). 

But...but, I did actually enjoy making them. And I got cups to put them around and then I put cookies that S. and I baked inside the cups. And unless all my friends are lying to me, they liked them. And that's why  I knit, and bake Christmas cookies - because it means spending time with my family and doing something for someone else, even if it is just a cup cozy. Plus, if I quit, I wouldn't have a reason to go knitting on Tuesday nights and I'd miss my knitting friends.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

2016 Chicago Marathon

Night before race!
My plan for running the marathon this past Sunday was to finish. Given my not so stellar training this summer, I wasn't expecting too much. I was going to run in the 10:20 -10:30 range for as long as I could. I knew that the chances of me running running a 4:30 or getting under last years time of 4:31:08 were pretty slim. So, like I said, I was just going to go out, run for as long as I could and slow down or walk if I needed to to finish.

Leading up to the race I didn't really feel like I was going to be running a marathon - it just seemed like another 'long run.' I didn't have that nervousness or doubt. Sure, I wasn't sure how well I was going to do, but I knew I could cover the distance. Saturday morning I did a two-mile shakeout run with the girls. I've never done a day before marathon shakeout run. It was fun and relaxing. Afterwards we hung out and had donuts and coffee and talked about all the stuff one talks about before a marathon: what we're wearing, what the weather is going to be like, where and at what time we were going to meet up. 

The rest of the day we just hung out. Baby H. and I watched 'Monsters vs. Aliens' and we went to Target - nothing too exciting. One of the running ladies hosted dinner and we had some great pasta and meatballs with everyone. After dropping Baby H. at my sister's house for the night, we headed home. Though I had been feeling fine, now the nerves started to kick in. My back was hurting and I was feeling really bloated. I retired to the couch with a heating pad hoping that it was temporary.
Making sure we're ready to run!

The morning started the usual way. We got up, ate, got dressed all that stuff you do before a race. I wasn't feeling bloated nor was my back hurting anymore so that was good. Since Mr. H. wasn't working the CARA VIP area before the race, we didn't have to rush to get downtown, which was nice. After many 4:30 a.m. alarms, having to get up at 5 and out the door by 6 really doesn't seem that bad. 

Once downtown we hung out at the CARA VIP area, and I met up with the other 10:30 group. There were a few first timers that were nervous, and a bunch of us that were at least pretending not to be nervous - or forgetting how hard this was going to be. It's weird, you think you'd remember that feeling of hitting mile 20, 21, 22 and the way your body just aches and longing to be done. But you don't. Even now I don't really remember it. It must be how I am able to do this every year. Anyway, we hung out until it was time to go, Mr. H. and I said goodbye to each other as he headed to corral B and we made our way to corral G.

Waiting for the race to start.
And then we stood around. We joked, we took pictures, we listened to Born to Run. Before we started, Laura said she was going to stick with me because I said I was going to run 10:30s. For the first 5k we stayed pretty much at that pace clocking a 10:27. A couple of our group had already lost us as they went off much faster than that. By 10k we had lost the group that was behind us. Our second 5k was at a 10:12 pace and the next 5k at a 10:11 pace. 

As usual, the first 10 ,miles seem to go by so quickly. Laura looked for friends through the Gold Coast. We saw a running buddy at the turn around at Addison and then I saw several groups of friends as we made our way back up Broadway and Clark. 

The distance on both of our watches was off because being downtown always messes with the GPS, and I of course forgot to turn off the auto lap on my watch. So each mile we looked at the time on our watches, calculated what time it should be if we ran a 10:30 and tried to keep ourselves on pace. Realizing we had a few fast miles, we slowed down a bit and ran the next 5k at a 10:21.

Somewhere around mile 12 I think I noticed I was chaffing under my arms. I asked Laura to remind me to get some Vaseline the next aid station. As luck would have it, a woman was bringing out a fresh batch of Vaseline (if you'v never seen how they hand out Vaseline during a race it's pretty weird. They have pieces of cardboard with big globs of it that you can just scoop up. Sometimes there are tongue depressors stuck to the boards for applying it. Apparently some people aren't familiar with what it is and I've heard stories of people trying to eat it - ugh). Anyway, I grabbed a glob, spread some under my left arm pit, tried to get a little bit under my right one (which really wasn't bothering me at the time but I figured better safe than sorry) and went on my way.

At the half way point I was feeling pretty good, and happy that we had been able to keep an average pace of 10:17 - on pace to hit a 4:30. But I wasn't letting myself think about that. I know that the real race doesn't start until mile 20 and that's what I was telling myself - I just needed to get to mile 20 and then I could asses how I felt. Meanwhile Laura and I continued to have fun, dance to the music as we went through the charity block party and laugh at the great posters. As we headed East on Jackson Blvd. a runner came up yelling "I'm loving Chicago" to the crowds. We asked where he was from, Tennessee maybe (totally can't remember), and told us that Chicago had the best crowd support. I couldn't agree more.

Between miles 15 and 19 we sped up again, averaging a 10:11 pace btween 25k-30k. I blame how boring Ashland and 18th street are at that point. We made it to mile 20 and the aid station that directly follows it. Up until this point, Laura and I had been discussing what we were going to do at each aid station - if we were going to gu or get water or Gatorade. This was a gu station (most likely the last) and I didn't think I could handle anymore Gatorade. We had been only walking as much as we needed to to get water. I started to take my gu, but I couldn't really stomach it so only got a bit down. I grabbed one of the bananas, took a bite, had a couple sips of water and started off again. Because I had walked more than I had been, I lost Laura. I probably could have caught up to her - I saw her colorful capris ahead of me - but it was time to let her go.

I feel silly saying this, but I knew Laura could run a sub 4:30 and I didn't want her to miss that by staying with me. I had told her earlier that if she needed to speed up then she could, and she kindly said the same thing to me. We agreed we were happy at a 10:30 pace, but clearly we had been going faster than that, and I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep it up. So I didn't work to catch up knowing that I needed to slow down and she most likely didn't. The next six miles were pretty much running from aid station to aid station. From kilometers 30-35 I slowed down to a 10:30 pace on the nose. I allowed myself to walk a little bit longer through the water before starting off again. But as I rounded 35th and turned onto Michigan, those walks got longer and longer. The next 5 kilometers I had slowed to a 10:59 pace. 

At mile 24 I had looked at my watch and, if my math is right, which if you know how difficult it is to do math while running long distances you'll know that's a big if, I was still within striking distance of a 4:30. I just needed to run the last two miles at a 10 min pace. Was this within the realm of possibility? Who knows. Probably not. But for a few seconds at least I was going sub 10. But yeah, my body and mind was like, nope, that's not going to happen, and so I tried to figure out if I could still PR. There's a whole minute and eight seconds after 4:30 that would mean a PR. I didn't let myself stop for the second to last water station while I was trying to figure all this out knowing that if I came close I'd be mad at myself for giving up without at least trying. But as I hit mile 26 and the final aid station, I knew it was not to be. And I was actually relieved. I would still run, but I wasn't going to kill myself for a time that I wasn't going to hit.

In the end I finished at an overall pace of 10:23 - better than the 10:30 I said I was going to run and way better than the finish I expected. Happily, Laura did just as I suspected and finished in 4:28:11.

All of our group had pretty good runs, and several, Laura included, had whopping PRs and went under 4:30.

Mr. H. and me goofing off after finishing the marathon!
So all-in-all a much better run than I had anticipated. It's easy to second guess myself - could I have gone faster? Should I have pushed myself more? But in the end, I did what I did and I'm proud of that. I have been much sorer than in previous years and I'm taking that as a sign that I pushed myself as hard as I could. Of course, there are lessons to learn from this training season, and I have lots of time to think about that. Sometimes I wonder if I should stop running so much. I enjoy it, I enjoy the camaraderie and racing, but it takes up a lot of time. Something to think about.

For now, I'm happy that it's over. A bunch of us are running the Country Sole Half Marathon on October 22. It's a long story about how I ended up running this race which I'll save for another day.

Oh, finally, one other piece of news - Mr. H. had a GREAT marathon. Not only did he PR, but he qualified for Boston by several minutes with a finishing time of 3:08! I'm so happy and proud of him and can't wait to go to Boston in 2018.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Marathon Training 2016

I wanted to cry on Sunday. Actually, I did cry on Sunday. First, I ran on Sunday instead of Saturday because we were unable to find someone to stay with the boy on Saturday morning. The good news is one of the other Saturday runners turned up on Sunday, so at least I had someone to talk to for the 18 mile run. I’ve been better this last week about getting my mid week runs in and doing my stretching and strength exercises - and when I say better that means that I’ve been doing them occasionally rather than not at all. So the good news is my piriformis, which had been hurting, felt pretty good all week. 

The first half of the run was OK. I was feeling a little winded or sluggish or something. In addition to not getting as many mid-week miles as I should have, I think one of the reasons I have been having bad long runs is that I’m not fueling enough. So I made sure to take a Gu before the run, and then at 5 miles and then at 10ish miles. But that third Gu didn’t give me the burst of energy that I wanted and by the time we got to mile 12/13 I was done. We were back at North Ave. and I told my running partner to go ahead without me. She had been slowing down with me, even walking when I wanted to walk, and giving me encouragement. It helped, and it was sweet, but at this point I was feeling defeated and just wanted to be alone. I told her I might take a cab back so she didn’t worry and went into the bathroom.

After making sure the group left, I called Mr. H. to let him know that it was going to be a while before I got home. He offered to hop into a cab and come get me, but I said no. I was going to sit for a while and then run walk back to Montrose. I’d make it, it would just take some time. This is where the tears came in. I told him I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. The last several weeks I have been off, and I keep waiting to have that one good run to make me feel better. Since I don’t run with my phone, I had borrowed the hydration station worker’s phone, and she was nice enough to ask if I was ok and reminded me that some days your body just doesn’t want to do what you want it to do. I get it, I just seem to be having a lot of those days.

So I walked down to the water, took my shoes and socks off, and waded out into the lake. It was nice to cool off and just relax for a bit. Sitting there in the water I ran through all the things that have been going on - being sick, having an injury, stress of work and buying a house and the million other things that come up and thought that maybe marathon training is too much. Maybe it's time to give up this pastime. Eventually I started walking back to Montrose. I walked for a mile or so and then finally decided I could run. I don't know what pace I was going those last couple of miles, I didn't bother looking at my watch. When I made it home, I was tired and defeated.

Now that it's a few days later I'm still tired and defeated, but I managed to get through a five mile run today. We'll see how tomorrow's nine mile goes. I haven't given up yet - not totally anyway - but I'm not predicting a PR this year. At this point I just want to finish marathon training and finish the marathon. 

So that’s where I am. Not where I want to be, but as they say, life is a marathon, not a sprint. And nothing is more of a marathon than marathon training. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

My little earthquake

This morning I felt the earthquake. Did you know there was an earthquake this morning? There was. It was in Pawnee, Oklahoma, which is north of Oklahoma City. It happened a few minutes after 7 a.m. I felt my bed shake, and I thought it was a truck, but then the bed didn't stop shaking, and I didn’t hear the rumbling of a truck. Then it did stop, and I didn't really think anything else about it, until I got on to Facebook a minute or two later and there was my aunt who lives just outside Oklahoma City saying that she was just woken up by an earthquake, and I thought ‘woah, seriously, did I actually feel that?’ 

I kept waiting for people to start reporting that they felt it in Chicago, but no, no one was doing that, and so I made a joke on my aunt’s post about how I either felt the earthquake in Chicago or I am so in tune with my family in Oklahoma I feel it when they are shaking. 

I didn’t really think that I had just imagined it and it was pretty coincidental for me to feel shaking at pretty much the same time that there is an earthquake in Oklahoma, and so I searched for other people saying they felt it in Chicago. Did you know there are website that you can go to that lists out all the earthquakes (over 1.5) all over the world? I mean, of course there is. And so yes, the Pawnee earthquake showed up, right about the time I felt it, but I already knew that. Then reports started coming in that people felt it in North Dakota, which is pretty far north, but also much further west than Chicago. And my friends on Facebook began to question if I really felt it, asking if maybe it wasn't a garbage truck or perhaps a disturbance in the force (both viable options). 

By this point it was after 8 and I needed coffee. So I bribed the child with a donut and got him out to Starbucks. I wanted to ask everyone I passed on the street “did you feel the earthquake?” When I went into Starbucks I was a little let down that one of the usual Saturday morning baristas wasn't there because I could have asked him, he at least kinda knows me. Anyone else would probably just think I was a weirdo - I am a weirdo, but still. I saw a neighbor - but we’re waving neighbors, not cross the street to say hi neighbors - and plus he had his headphones in, so I didn’t ask him.
Oddly, my sister is in San Francisco. So while there’s a good chance she will feel an earthquake, she wouldn’t have felt this one. My husband is out running along with a good portion of my friends, so I have few people to ask if they too felt it. Returning home, my downstairs neighbor was in the yard and I asked her if she felt it. Nope, she was up, but didn’t feel anything. 

Maybe it was a truck, or I was asleep and I dreamt it. How could I be the only person in Chicago to have felt that? But finally, finally, there were reports of other people in Chicago saying they felt it. And maybe we all felt the same garbage truck, but at least I know I wasn't imagining things. 

It’s a funny thing to be waiting for someone else to confirm that no you are not crazy and yes we believe you. It was like it didn’t happen if I couldn’t share the experience with anyone else. Of course, if literally no one else in Chicago said they felt it, then I probably didn’t feel the earthquake and it was a silent slow, but shaky truck. But others did feel it. No one I know, which is kinda disappointing for some reason. I want that sense of a shared experience of knowing that we both went through the same thing. And unfortunately (though of course, very fortunately for me), the experience my family members went through isn’t the same. Because mine is much less exciting and traumatic - though thankfully all of my family is okay. My aunt and cousins and other family in Oklahoma, they know they went through an earthquake. They had no doubts. My little bed-shake was probably what Regan first experienced when she was initially possessed. A minor shake, a truck going by, nothing to worry about. Certainly not a demon possessing my soul - and definitely not an earthquake.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ravenswood 5k

I do love this run. It's my neighborhood run. I love living in a neighborhood that has a run. It's so much fun to just walk to the start line, see my neighbors and other running friends, take a jog around the hood and then watch my son in the kid's dash before heading back home for breakfast and a Prince dance party.*

For the first time, since I've been doing the run at least, Ravenswood had a t-shirt rather than a technical tee. Now that t-shirts have become these ultra soft, fitted pieces of clothes, I find myself wearing them a whole lot more. There was a time when i think I had two t-shirts in my drawer. Now I have so many I have two piles - plain ones and ones with stuff on the front of them. I regularly make decisions about what shirt I want to wear. Is it a Monkees kind of day or is it a CARA Six Series kind of day? Do I want a plain shirt because maybe I want to look a little nicer or is it after work and I'm just changing into something more comfortable that I may or may not end up sleeping in? This is why it's not a good idea to have too many t-shirts; you have to make decisions. And now I have another one to add to the rotation. Good thing it's cute.

Packet pick up was easy as always and I liked the inclusion of our names on the bibs. My son was also happy that he had a much higher number on his bib than either of his parents. These things are important to a 5 year old.

The morning of the race we walked over with my mom, who would be watching S while we ran, and my sister, who would also be running with her daughter, and headed to the CARA tent. On the way there I did a few warm up blocks and realized that my left hamstring was still sore from the Saturday 12 mile long run with the half marathon training group even though I am not actually training for a half marathon. Sore enough that I made sure to roll it out and ice it when I got home on Saturday, which helped, but apparently didn't solve the problem.

Staci, me, CJ - Photo courtesy of Staci.
Once at the tent I met up with Staci, my sister's daughter showed up, I said hi to a bunch of people and then we headed over to the start. We were able to find CJ close to the 9 min mile marker and so snapped a few pre-race selfies. I knew Sara was around, but due to logistics, we missed each other, so for the first time in several years, we didn't run this race together.

I looked at my splits from this race last year, and my first mile was 9:30ish, mostly due probably to having to weave through people at the start. I also looked at my 5k PR which was not from Ravenswood but from last year's Good Life 5k. I ran that race in 27:44 last year. So if I wanted to PR, I would need to keep my splits under 8:56. Staci and I were both noncommittal on how fast we were going to run, but I think we were both pretty much on board with an 8:50ish pace.

We spent minimal time weaving at the beginning, and we got into a rhythm fairly soon. We weren't chatting too much, but we were on the lookout for the Mayor since he lives along the race route. Apparently he ran the race (supposedly, there doesn't seem to be any record of him in the results) so he wasn't on his usual corner or Berteau and Ravenswood waving. Though my leg was hurting a bit, I was OK with it for the time being. First mile: 8:49.

When I looked at the first mile split, I thought, woah, I feel like I'm going too fast, which might be because we sped up a bit after that. The first quarter of mile 2, we were doing about 8:30. But then I started to slow down, and by 1.5 had gone back down to a 8:50. I walked through the water stop (which had Nuun instead of Gatorade, an interesting choice, and apparently the hydration of choice for all Fleet Feet/RAM races going forward) and with Staci gone, I decided that my leg had had enough. Second mile: 9:26.

Now I had never fully mentally committed to PRing in this race. But every race is a chance to PR - or at least try, otherwise I wouldn't push myself at all. And there is part of me that thinks maybe I could have run through the pain since it actually hurt more the slower I went. But once I made the decision to slow down, there really wasn't anything to make me speed back up. Mile three: 9:43. Final time: 29:08; 60/222 age group; 438/1647 gender; 1200/2984. Well off my 5k PR, but over my finishing in the top half of my age group and gender general goal.

My leg was pretty sore the rest of the day, but seeing S win his 50 yard dash took my mind off of it. He was super happy and kept telling everyone how he won his race. Also, Mr. H. did PR, and my sister beat her daughter (in the race, which isn't always a given when you're running against an 11 year old) so all in all, not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning. Now for a few rest days to see if I can work out my hamstring and not let it derail my marathon training.

*Prince dance party not an annual tradition, but may become one from now on.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Partying like it's 1999 - not 2016

There's this thing called impostor syndrome. Basically, you downplay your accomplishments as being just luck, or not real, anything other than what they actually are, the result of hard work and perseverance. Unless you are an impostor; then it's the result of you understanding that you cheated your way to the top. One hopes that at some point Donald Trump will come to terms with his own imposter syndrome and drop out of the presidential race, but that's besides the point.

And the point certainly isn't that Prince was in way an impostor. No, he was the real deal. A true artist in every sense of the word and our world will be a little less funky without him in it anymore.

No, I am the one feeling like an impostor. I have felt like an impostor in many ways at various times during my life. I know I have written about how I often don't feel like a 'runner' because I'm not the type of runner that one thinks of when they think of a runner. This is something that several of my other 'runner' friends and I have discussed. We don't run fast, or at least not as fast as the people who run faster than us. I think if you run faster than me, then that makes you a 'real' runner. Of course, I don't feel like the people who run slower than me aren't runners. And so one would think I could figure out that if slower than me runners are real runners, then I must be just as much of a real runner as they. But no, I apparently hold myself to a different standard. In reality, I have run three marathons and a whole bunch of other races and I can call myself a runner if I want to and if there is someone out there that thinks I'm not a runner because I'm not fast enough then they probably aren't a runner because runners aren't like that.

I could go on the same way about writing. If I'm not writing enough, producing enough words, well then I shouldn't be able to call myself a writer. There are things that I feel you must achieve a certain amount of success at before one can be that thing. I'm not sure how true it is. It's not like I'm trying to pass myself off as the answer to this nation's problems and get elected to the highest office in the country or anything. If I were doing that, without having any real reason for people to believe that I would be able to handle, say, an international crisis or a natural disaster because my background is primarily being rich and going bankrupt a few times and saying things that people seem to want to hear because I'm 'telling it like it is', well then maybe I was just being honest with myself when I felt like an impostor - but you know, that's not me.

But I am questioning if it is OK for me to be sad that Prince has died; that another light has gone out. It's not like I was the biggest Prince fan in the world. I have listened to, and loved, and sang and danced to much of his music. Though I'll admit that after Diamonds and Pearls and (Love Symbol Album) I haven't really listened to much of his newer music. And a quick search through my iTunes reveals not one Prince song in my library. However, I do know that down in the basement are at least two Prince CDs (I know I have Purple Rain and Batman down there somewhere). And I do know that I had at least one, Purple Rain, maybe 1999, album when I was a kid. I remember Purple Rain coming out at the movie theater and making a pact with my friend Becky that we would go to see it together. She went and saw it without me and that is why to this day I no longer speak to Becky (that and we went to different schools after 6th grade and never saw each other again). But is that enough? Is it enough that Prince was one of those artists that shaped my childhood? That his death is a reminder of my own mortality. The artists that I grew up listening to are suddenly not only old, but sometimes even dying. Maybe I just haven't shown enough devotion to him to actually be sad.

For the record, not one person is questioning my veracity in being sad that Prince died. No one is saying - Hey Melanie, you weren't really a Prince fan, take down that silly Facebook post. I mean, maybe someone is, but they haven't said it to my face, or to my FB page. But there is part of me that thinks maybe I don't have the right to be upset. To the point that I've found it necessary to sit down and write about it on the internet. How self indulgent can I be?

Of course, if there was anyone who appreciated self indulgence, it had to be Prince. And while I'm sure he had his human foibles just like the rest of us, I like to imagine him waking up each day and saying - fuck it - I'm going to do me and everyone else can just deal. And if that meant that people thought he didn't have the right to do this or that, then he just didn't care, because he believed in himself (please don't ask me to bring this back to how DT clearly doesn't care if people believe he has the right to do what he wants to do and how that is somehow different - I can't right now, but just believe me it is - let's just say: Prince = good, DT = not good).

So I'm going to keep on doing me. And that means when Lin Bhremer plays Let's Go Crazy and tells us all to turn up the volume and sing and dance, then I'm going to, and S and I are going to listen and dance and sing to a great musician and be happy he was able to make music while he was here on this earth.