Thank You Alice. Thank You Running.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night.  First, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was so excited to be meeting my friends at the track at 5:45 in the morning.  It was like Christmas Eve!  Next, I couldn’t fall asleep because Emily woke me up.  Sigh.  After that, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up in the morning for lack of sleep.

But I did get up, and right on time!  I was pumped to go for a run, see how my foot felt, and meet up with my awesome friends, Amy & Chrissy.

When we arrived, the sun was already just starting to peek over the horizon, which was awesome yet a little weird because I haven’t been out on a morning run since the days when it was still dark at that hour.  Watching the sun come up on my first day back was icing on the cake, big time.  According to the weather forecast, there had been a chance we’d have to bail due to rain, yet temperature was perfect and the sky was gorgeous – and I felt like God was smiling down on us.

I wish I wouldn’t have been too dumb to take a picture of the day’s
first sun rays through the clouds so I could add it HERE!

My friends were doing speedwork, so we did a mile warm up together.  I felt like I started sweating by the time I was on about my third step, and I was sucking wind big time.  However, it was NOT as difficult as I expected.  I am proud to report that my first, post-Alice mile was completed in under 10 minutes.  And I’m thrilled to say that my foot doesn’t hurt at all!  I had been terrified that I’d wear Alice for three weeks and something would still be wrong with my foot.  But it feels GREAT.  

Alice *sans* my foot!  Thank you, Alice, for your service!  I think I'll keep you as a memento* and friend.

Alice *sans* my foot! Thank you, Alice, for your service! I think I’ll keep you as a memento* and friend.

In all, I ran somewhere between three and four miles, but not consecutively.  I was hot, tired, and absolutely drenched in sweat – an oh-so happy.

The joy I experienced during my run – and after when I realized that I was pain-free – is making it easier to deal with the fact that the Pittsburgh Marathon is this Sunday, and I officially won’t be there.

I sold my bib to a guy from WV who just set a goal to run two half marathons in one month.  From our brief Facebook exchanges, it sounds like he has a story similar to mine: Just started running within the last couple of years, lost a bunch of weight, setting stretch goals, etc.  I’m happy about that – that my bib won’t go to waste (and I’m at least getting some of my money back!) and it’s going to someone with a good story.  And even though I’m “over it” on one level, I’m bummed that I have to wait at least a year to be a “Runner of Steel.”

Pulled this out of Runner's World last FALL, just after I registered.  It's been above my desk for months.

Pulled this out of Runner’s World last FALL, just after I registered. It’s been above my desk for months.

But bummed is fleeting.  Bummed I can get over because I learned something during this three-week, forced hiatus, and it really hit me this morning.  I am more grateful for running today than I was a month or two ago.  I had gotten to the point where I was taking it for granted.  Although I was running fairly consistently, I just wasn’t truly committed to it.   And I wasn’t really enjoying it, either.  On one hand, I was setting semi-ambitious goals for myself.  On the other hand, I was just going through the motions, just doing enough to get by in my training.  As a result, if I hadn’t gotten hurt when I did, I bet I would have ended up with a more severe injury in the long run by trying to cram in too much, too quickly.

So I’m moving on.  I’m making plans for the races I have coming up over the next few months.  And I am going to stick to my training plans – unless for some reason I can’t.  If something hurts, I’m going to rest.  If I get sick, I’ll cut myself some slack.  If I’m genuinely sleep deprived, I’ll take a day off.  Then I’ll re-chart my plans accordingly, without trying to catch up, by objectively accepting wherever I am.

And more than anything, I am going to experience and fully appreciate the many joys of running – from seeing my friends, to the beat of my feet across the ground, to the feelings of accomplishment for the hard work and the improvements that come with it – to the lack of bicycle grease.  (Although I do think I’ll take that bike out for a spin from time to time, too.)  I was afraid I’d feel frustrated by the setback in my fitness after three weeks off, but I’m actually really looking forward to rebuilding my strength and endurance again – because I get to run.

——–

P.S.  Weird Alice side-effect:  Even beyond being unable to run, my biggest complaint about Alice was that I was supposed to wear her all the time.  So many days, I just wanted to kick my shoes off at the end of the day.  However, when I tried to walk around barefoot this morning, it felt weird.  So I’ve been wearing my old pair of running shoes all day!

*According to Merriam-Webster online, a memento is “something that serves to warn or remind” [emphasis mine].

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Not an Average Runner

Last summer, I was fussing about registering for a race or when I was going to plan my next run, and I was accused of making too big a deal out of running – that my friends and I like we are pro athletes or something. (Aheam.  We…may…be guilty of this.  Sometimes.)  My accuser said that my friends and I were “just average runners.”

Well, I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I say there is no such a thing as an average runner.  And looky, looky, I’m not alone:

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I have a fistful of graduate credits in applied statistics, so I know logically that there are averages in anything and everything.  But I’m not speaking in strictly mathematical terms.  But let’s get some basic definitions and statistics out of the way.

Average is a measure of central tendency and can be calculated mathematically in terms of mean, median, or mode.  More generically speaking, average refers to the middle or typical value among a set of data.  So let’s consider this description of average and look at some stats on people who exercise.

According to this source from 2008, only 16% of people (over age 15) in the U.S. participated in some sport or exercise on the average day. That’s about 50.25 million people.  Runners account for 7.1% of that 16% who exercise routinely, or about 3.5 million people – only 1.1% of the entire population of the U.S.

Sadly, these statistics indicate the average person doesn’t exercise at all.  Further, these numbers show that the average exerciser doesn’t run.  So right out of the gate, runners are decidedly not average.

But would we determine what represents the “average” runner from among the 3.5M?  Would we keep them all in one group, or break it down into subgroups based on age, gender, etc.?  And what is the actual measure we would use – speed or distance the runner is able to achieve?  Or would we have to look at speed at a specific distance?  And if so, which distance?  Could we simply say that “the average runner” runs X miles a week, regardless of pace?

For example, you could calculate the average time it takes for a marathoner to finish.  (Bonus statistic: Only .05% of people in the U.S. have completed a marathon.) That would point to some folks who represent the average marathoner.  You could do the same thing for every standard race that’s run on the track or the streets – overall average, plus averages by subgroups.  Considering all those possible measures, each runner would be likely be above average on some and below average on most.

In spite of the fact that the runners that I know are pretty anal about their running numbers (e.g., number of miles run each week, miles splits for each run, race PRs), I say those averages above have no meaning to runners.  Here are some anecdotes that help explain why I say there is no such thing as an average runner.

  • On the whole, we runners don’t compare ourselves to others.  Yes, yes, we may refer to someone as being faster or slower than we are, but only in a strictly fact-based way.  We focus on 1) what we have in common, a love of running, and 2) competing with ourselves, striving to improve in whatever way we each choose – which may be running faster, running further, or simply running more consistently.  There are no “averages” to calculate among our varied goals.
  • In February, I watched a large woman (by which I mean very tall, but also not particularly slender) celebrate her 50th birthday by running her first 5K.  Was her finish time above or below average?  Probably below, depending upon how you calculated it, but I don’t think there’s anything average about that.
  • I know women who, several times a week, tell their asthma to go screw itself and take off for their runs.  Not average behavior.
  • A very good runner friend of mine ran her first full marathon just six months after having her second child.  She was also still breastfeeding said, second daughter.  NOTE: But not during the race. 🙂 Overall, her time was below average for that race.  But if there were a category for female racers, in their 30, running their first marathon, six months after having a baby, she probably would have placed first.  Top 5 at worst.  Average, schmaverage.
  • This winter, my friends and I routinely met at 5AM in freezing weather to get our runs in.  Did we run faster or further than average?  I don’t know, but I do know that this behavior is considered out of the ordinary even among many runners.
  • We’ve all now heard the stories about the Boston marathoners who ran two additional miles, directly to the hospitals, to give blood after the bombings.  Granted, Boston marathoners are not average runners by anyone’s standards, and I don’t need to explain why.  But I know giving blood even on a day when I haven’t run wipes me OUT.  I can’t imagine recovering from 26.2 miles (or in many cases 25.5) down a pint of blood.  So NOT average.
  • Plodding along week after week knowing that you are a slower-than-most runner takes more guts than being able to keep up with a faster bunch.  The slower runner may be below average on pace or distance, but they’re above average on heart.  Not. Average.
  • The fastest runners I know are the ones most likely to offer encouragement to the newest and slowest among us.  I honestly can’t speak to the behavior of athletes in other sports, but I’m guessing that this is atypical in the fitness world in general.  Which is, again, decidedly not average.
  • Or how about the truth in this statement that has been circulating in the wake of the Boston bombing: “…marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city like New York or London, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.” (Source.)  What’s average about that?
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Caption reads: “This Kenyan elite runner tries to pass her water to the dehydrated Chinese runner who she saw suffering. This delayed her for some time and instead of coming in first, she came in second, also losing $10,000 USD in prize money.”
Does anyone average give up $10K to help a fellow athlete?

Finally, I say runners are not average because  we do not care whether or not people think we’re average.  And we don’t care that most non-runners think we’re crazy.  In fact, we’re able to make fun of ourselves for our “addiction” to running and the quirks that go along with it as much as anyone else can.  Take for example, the popularity of “Runners, Yeah We’re Different,” a series of ads run by Addidas (warning: bare bum showing in the very first image).  It’s funny stuff and we know it.

We’ll make fun of our ugly feet (we’re kind of proud of them).  We do “extreme” things like sit in a tub full of ice water to recover (so that we can go run again).  Yes, we over-share (with each other) about running-related bodily function mishaps. And we run along, unconcerned with how average or bizarre other people think we are.

I Dream of Repeats

And strides, and LSD, and tempo – and being chased.

Literally, I have been dreaming every night about running.  Each dream is different, but night after night, I have been running in my sleep.

Last night, I dreamed about running alongside someone else.  I don’t know who it was, but we were running fast, with another pair of runners on our tails.  When I first woke up, I thought we were being chased by bad guys, but I think we were actually racing them to get to something valuable before them.  I’m reading a series of books about a super hero chick and her friends who are always trying to stay a step ahead of the bad guys, so I think that also influenced the dream.  Anyway, we were running way faster than I can in real life (which was fun), and I was going so hard I’m surprised I didn’t wake up sweaty and out of breath.

dreams

These dreams reassure me in a strange way.  While I’m awake, I have been missing running like crazy.  Everything about it.  Getting together with my friends, the fresh air, being up and active so early in the morning, the rhythm of my footsteps pounding over the pavement, and even all the sweatiness.  But in the back of my mind, I’ve also been a little nervous that being forced to take this break would make it hard to start up again and that I might be tempted just to stop.  After all, I did quit running for six months in 2011, the year I first started running.  I could see it being easy to take this foot issue as an excuse just to drop it yet again.

When I re-started running last year, after that six-month hiatus, it kind of sucked.  I could only run about a mile at a time and that was frustrating because I wanted to go further.  And I knew that I could have gone further had I not been a lazy bum for six months, so that made me angry with myself.  At the same time, it’s when I re-started in December 2011/January 2012 that I think I really became a runner.

For one, in spite of how hard it was to start anew, I kept at it.  The benefit of my experience from the year prior was knowing how quickly you can make gains if you just keep at it.   And I did.  I went from barely being able to run a single, slow mile to finishing my first, sub-30-minute 5K just a few months later.  I went on last year to finish three 10Ks (two of them in under an hour) and my first half marathon.  Not bad for the girl who had been sitting on her ass just 12 months prior.

These fitness gains added up to something else: I could finally start to keep up with some of my friends who were more experienced runners.  And being able to run with friends opened up a whole new world of camaraderie.  Instead of just talking about running with my runner friends, I got to experience running with them.  (I also got a little spoiled.  I now find it harder to get myself out to run alone like I’d done for months when I was starting.)

Unlike my 2011 running stint, my running experiences of 2012 seem to have sealed the runner in me.  Running became less of something that I did and more something that I am.  And my dreams have been reminding me of this every night.  I know that I can’t give up something that I’m missing so much that my subconscious is filling in the blanks for me, right?  I figure, if I don’t start running again – and running consistently – running will just haunt me in my dreams until I lace up.

My three weeks with Alice are almost up.  Unless something unexpected happens, I intend to meet a friend at the high school track early Monday morning.  I figured it was a good place to start.  For one, I have someone to meet, so that will get me out of bed on time.  Also, I won’t have to worry about keeping up on a track run like I would running through town with a group.  Finally, I thought the softer surface of the track would be a good place to test my foot.  If I still have any trouble, the track will be more forgiving than the roads.

So as much as I am not looking forward to how slow I’m likely to feel or to how short my initial runs will be, I can’t wait to get back out there, start re-building, and begin training for some races later this year.

But for the next three nights, I’m sure I’ll keep dreaming of running.

RunGirlBubble

If You Have to Ask

My friend Vicki has this quote (it’s inscribed on her Road ID), “If you have to ask “Why?,” you’re not a runner.”  She tells me she stole that quote somewhere along her way.

Personally, I would go so far as to say that if you have to ask “Why?” not only are you not a runner, I’m not going to be able to explain it to you.

Here are a few of the questions I’ve encountered lately.

Why Not Just Join a Gym?

I was talking with a friend about my foot issue and the associated problems with trying to stay fit while unable to run.  Please note that I love this woman, and (as I understand it) she would jump on the running bandwagon were it not for foot trouble of her own, of a more permanent nature.  Also, she’s been killing it at the gym with a personal trainer lately.  I mention this because she’s not just some lazy, non-working-out babe who thinks I’m a whack job for running.

She asked me how often I race (~once a month) and how much race fees are (~$20 to $65 or more depending upon the size of the event and distance of the race).  She pointed out that the cost of those race fees would more than cover at least a basic gym membership.  The implied question was wouldn’t that money be better spent, then, on a gym membership?  She said I’m basically paying someone for me to exercise, anyway, so why not spend that money on a gym?

I started to babble, but I’m sure my answer didn’t make any sense.  At least to her.  If you have to ask why I wouldn’t forego racing to spend the money on something else, then you’re just not a runner.  And if I try to explain, it’s not going to make sense to you.

Now I know that runners don’t necessarily race, but the ones I know do race, at least occasionally.  For me – and I think most of my friends – having a race as a goal and a deadline provides a framework for setting training goals.  It helps me answer some important questions, specifically:

  • “How far do I need to run today (or this week)?”  And,
  • “How fast do I need to run today?”

Personally, having a race on the horizon is what makes me stretch myself.  Otherwise, I’d probably just plod along at the same old pace or same old distance.  And that would be both boring and ineffective.

But there’s more.  Even with more self-discipline and a gym membership, I’d still want to race.  Races are something I look forward to.  It’s a big fitness and social event – even if you don’t personally know anyone else there.  Also, even though I’ve never gotten to participate in a “big” race – one with an expo, entertainment along the route, etc. – I still love the anticipation that mounts prior to the gun.  The crowd gathers, I run a little warm up lap, I find my place among the runners at the start and wonder how I’m going to perform, how I’m going to feel throughout  the race.  Despite the fact that there’s not a lot at stake when I race, it’s super exciting.  I’m not likely to win anything, and even if I did, few people would care.  My performance won’t earn me a college scholarship, or even get my name in the paper.  But it’s the closest thing I know that you can do as an adult that recaptures that competitive feeling you got as a kid participating in sports.

In short, a race the goal and the reward all at the same time.

Just SOME of the friends I ran The Great Race with last fall

Just SOME of the friends I ran The Great Race with last fall.  (Don’t ask me what I’m doing with my arms.)

Why Would You Run at 5:00AM?

I meet up with my friends at 5:00 several times a week to run.  I get a lot of “You guys run at what time?” – as if the person suspects they heard me incorrectly.  People ask both why I would and how I could do such a thing.  I’m pretty most don’t get my answer – that it’s the only time I have, and I simply have to run, so I take advantage of it.    I wish I could convey to them how squeezing a run in before most people are awake readies you to kick the day’s ass in a way I’ve never otherwise known, but I think it’s something you have to experience to believe.

Why Do You Keep Running Through the Winter?

If simply running at 5AM isn’t enough, doing it in freezing temperatures really baffles people.  They’ll ask why we don’t just take a break, or do something indoors, until the weather gets warmer. But runners don’t hibernate.  I can explain that, after the initial shock to the system wears off, that running in cold temperatures is actually rather exhilarating, but no one seems to believe it.  Some of us are even convinced that sucking all that cold air actually helps us fend off respiratory infections that plague many people through the winter months.  Further, I would personally rather run in 17 degrees than 60+, but heat is my particular kryptonite and that doesn’t apply to everyone.  If you have to ask why, you’re not a runner and you’re simply not going to understand why heading out in ouchy-level temperatures is actually way less painful than having to re-start yourself in the spring.  (And exceedingly less painful than running on a treadmill!)

Why Are You Still Planning to Run Pittsburgh [After Boston]?

Okay first, no one is asking me since I had to bale due to my foot.  And the question doesn’t come out like that exactly, but it’s the gist.  My friends are being asked why they’re still planning on participating in the Pittsburgh marathon on May 5th.  If you have to ask why runners will show up to run the Pittsburgh marathon (or half) after the tragic events that took place in Boston, you obviously haven’t trained for something for 4-5 months.  You’re not going to understand how tossing all that work aside for the illusion of personal safety is simply not an option.  Also, refer back to the business above about 5AM runs in the cold.  We’re just not that easily put off.  We can be stubborn beyond all reason.  We endure all kinds of crap to get our runs in and to enjoy our sport.  Also, as much as the running community (and everyone else) is absolutely crushed by the injuries and loss of life that resulted in Boston, I think there’s also an undercurrent of anger and defiance flowing through the running community.  As seen on t-shirts and various internet posts: We will run on.  We’re not going to start cowering in our basements on treadmills because a couple of dumb othertruckers decided to mess with one of running’s biggest and most celebrated events.  So if you’re asking why because you don’t understand it, no answer we can supply is going to make you understand it.

The answer is simply because I’m a runner.

What other why questions do people ask you about your running?

——————————–

I started this post earlier in the week, but as I’m finishing this, authorities in Boston are on the hunt for suspect #2 in the bombings.  I’m praying for the safety of people in the area and that the guy is nabbed ASAP – without any additional harm to others.  I’m relieved that we now know at least a little more about why this happened – and that it wasn’t carried out by some weirdo who had a grudge against runners.  Not that that makes it okay, but to know that runners in particular weren’t being targeted is reassuring news for people expecting to run in an upcoming race.  I know the events will result in heightened security at big races and other events that attract crowds, but I think racers will feel a little more comfortable as they prepare to race soon.  Because they will show up, regardless.

Eliminate Tolerations, Fitness Edition

Did you know that “eliminate tolerations” is a huge tip among life coaches and other advice gurus for better managing life and stress and for goal achievement?  If you don’t believe me, just GTS (Google That Sh!t), or see what I mean here, here, or here.

So what is a toleration?  Pretty much what it sounds like: something that you put up with that gets in your way and eats up your time and energy.  It may be losing your keys all the time because you haven’t created a routine place to put them.  It could be any number of things taking up space in your head that you’re not dealing with – an appointment you need to make but have been putting off, a household project needing to be done, or a messy desk.

BeforeCheesyFB

For years, one of my tolerations was “no time to exercise.”  I finally woke up to the fact that I did have time to exercise, it was merely unappealing time.  Specifically, I could make time early in the morning.  Like o’dark hundred early in the morning, and this girl likes her sleep.  But I faced it and eliminated the toleration of not exercising, and my life is way better for it.

One of my current tolerations is diastasis recti, or separation of my abdominal muscles.  Among other causes, it often results from pregnancy, particularly in women who’ve had more than one child – I believe the 9+ pound second one is what really did me in.  It’s a toleration because I didn’t do anything to fix it for years.  About a year ago, I learned how to correct it using the Tupler Technique, the only proven, non-surgical way to close the separation.  I just haven’t been doing it.

Diastasis Recti, before and after.  I want to become an 'after.'

Diastasis Recti, before and after. I want to become an ‘after.’

It’s a toleration because it limits what I can do physically.  You have to have a strong core to do just about anything else.  Plus, I’m supposed to all-out avoid certain activities because it can worsen the condition.  For example, yoga is something I can’treally practice right now because I need to avoid positions where my organs would weigh on my belly (e.g., planks), as well as extreme twisting positions (e.g., anything Warrior-like).  Sit-ups and crunches aren’t to be done because, although they would strengthen my abs, they wouldn’t help close the gap.  They actually tend to make the condition worse by making the muscles more ‘stuck’ in their current, separated place.

If that’s not enough, it sort of interferes with my running.  (There’s a reason that those pro runners aren’t just lean but have washboard abs!)  When I first started running, I needed to have water with me, even though I was running but minutes at a time.  I was SO out of shape that I needed the hydration – and the feel of something cold slipping down my wind-sucking throat.  So I’ve worn a belt with water bottles from the get-go.  I can now complete my average run without water, yet I still have to wear my belt or I’m uncomfortable.  The belt actually helps me hold in my weak middle.  It’s basically a crutch that I need to wear in order to run without feeling like my belly’s going to split in two and my guts are going to fall out.  A bit dramatic, I know, but I really do get the sensation that everything in my middle is falling forward.

So in this time of “rest” from running, I have decided to regroup on several fronts and re-attack this problem by beginning the Tupler program again.  It only takes a few minutes three times a day to do the exercises, which initially consist of simply sitting up straight in a chair and squeezing the abs in for various counts.  But I hate it.  I hate it because it looks like I’m doing not-much-of-anything, yet it’s harder than it looks to do the exercises while holding the proper posture.  (Don’t even get me started on the elastic and velcro “splint” that I need to wear.) The bigger obstacle, though, is that I hate it because it reminds me of this weakness that I have.  It forces me to face on of the “broken” parts of me.

Oh, and this just hit me!  Yet another reason to eliminate this toleration is that I want to be able to quit talking about it.  I’m tired of explaining myself when someone invites me to go to yoga with them, or asks why I’m doing something else during fitness class when everyone else is doing crunches.  It’s annoying and – you guessed it – forces me to face it, time and time again.  Plus, since most people have never heard of the condition, it probably makes me sound like I’m making it up or that I’m making too big a deal of something.

So first up, I am reframing the way I think about it and how it makes me feel.  Instead of thinking that I’m broken or somehow damaged, I’m simply going to focus on the fact that “I am healing.”   (Sending many mental thanks to my friend Christine for this one!)

Plus, I’m going to quit being such a perfectionist about it.  I’m supposed to do several sets of 100 of the ab squeezes, three times a day.  I’ve always felt like I needed to stop everything and sit and count those out.  Instead I’m going to do them while seated (probably right here at my desk) and doing something else.  Instead of counting them out, I’m going to set a timer or just keep an eye on a clock.  (Each set takes 2-3 minutes.)

I took pictures of my belly today.  I won’t lie to you.  They’re absolutely, WTF-is-that? terrifying.  I’m considering posting them with ‘after’ pictures when I get to after.  Who thinks I have the nerve?  (Who thinks I’ll get to ‘after’?!)

Does anyone else have any fitness-related tolerations they need to eliminate?

Melissa and Alice’s Sijahk Yoga Adventure

I’m doing a little writing/marketing work for Sijahk Yoga.  So I went there to observe how this new, empowering mix of yoga and taekwondo actually goes down.  Because of Alice, I didn’t expect to participate, but Christine allowed me to join in at the end, even with my shoes on.

I jumped in as she was finishing up the session with first portion of the Goddess form.  It felt really good – I didn’t realize exactly how tight my legs muscles are since I’ve been off my normal fitness routine for a month now.  I’m going to practice those poses – and the other stretches – to try to keep myself as pliable as possible.

This outing also reinforced for me my need to squeeze in any form of exercise I can until I can get back to running and my need to get serious about eating better.  Those mirrors in a martial arts facility are very unforgiving.

Eek!

Eek!

See the line I added?  Compare that to the line of my outer leg.  Yeah.  The outside of my thigh used to run parallel to the line (and the piping on my pants), when I wore these pants last summer.  Today, I saw just how far my hips are jutting out.  I felt like I looked like a block in the mirror.

Time for Alice and I to get busy.

Name That Shoe – Part Deux

I thought I was going to have a hard time settling on a name for The Shoe – because I liked all of my choices so much I didn’t know how to pick.  But in an unexpected turn of events, my mother offered up a name I like even better.

But before I get to that, allow me to share additional suggestions from my friends:

  • Michele offered Shoewood, Tootsie (kind of imagined myself going, “We ready to go, Toots?”), Anita Seat, Go-Go (as in “go, go Gadget foot), Happy (as in Happy Feet), and The Great Gazoo.
  • Amy offered Sammy (as in Sammy Sneaker).
  • My brother suggested Skip.

Now, without further ado, allow me to introduce (drum roll, please)…..

 ALICE!

Alice Marie

Alice Marie

Mom read the list of names I’d brainstormed, then she declared, “Alice,” with an it’s-so-obvious nod.  Her tone was so final and the suggestion so hilarious, it couldn’t be anything but Alice.

Her middle name is Marie simply because  15-20% of all women apparently have that as a middle name – with the other ~80% divided roughly evenly among, Ann(e), Lynn(e), Mary, Leigh, Sue and Elizabeth.

Of course there was a little more to the decision than that.  We figured it would be great when I’m talking to someone about what Alice and I are up to.

Me: “Alice and I are thinking about trying an indoor cycling class at the Aerobic Center on Friday.”

Someone else: “Alice…? Who the f**k is Alice?”

Mom also accompanied me to Michael’s to buy Alice a face.  I’d planned to get a face before I’d settled on the name.  But of course, I first needed to know first if The Shoe was a boy or a girl.  Luckily we were able to find the eyes and mouth there.  Mom had the flower for her hair at home.  Emily has some other flower hair clips, so Alice can change it up with her moods.  And boy is she moody.  She also has a sassy side:

Alice after a few drinks

Alice after a few drinks

Yeah, Alice and I are going to make the most of these three weeks together.