If You Were Given A Free Gift (of Time)

If you were given an (all expenses paid) extra week sometime this year, what would you do with it?

Take the kids back to Disney World the week of the Disney Princess Half Marathon and be sure to include one full day of writing at the resort where I will create the next Disney Princess—Willa Baker, the only chubby princess who wears chucks and has a smart mouth and a dream to be a cake decorator who’s pretentious mother proved through a DNA test that they are descendants of royalty. Cool, huh?

If you were given an extra day what would you do?

After running the “Extra Day 10K,” I’d have a pancake brunch at IHOP with the family, of course. Then take the kids hiking on some nature trail that includes ruins of some sort (gotta love ruins), and afterward sit on a picnic table with a notebook and pen and write a short story that incorporates the ruins in some mysterious or creepy sort of way, then out to eat again—anywhere that features ridiculously large cocktails that basically taste like fruit juice, but make me feel warm inside.  And, knowing me, I’d still like to go to bed on time because I know I won’t get any extra time the next day—that’s just unreasonable.

If you were given an extra hour?

On work days, that would give me 12 extra minutes with each patient—wow, how I love that idea. I know for sure I’d be walking the ones who could walk and have a meaningful conversation about something other than medication side effects and recent lab work.

On a non-work day, I’d tune into a (FREE!) writing lecture, like the ones hosted by Michigan State (http://cls.matrix.msu.edu/celebrity-lectures/). I’d start with John Irving, then Margaret Atwood, then Maya Angelou, then Kurt Vonnegut, then Terry McMillan; oh my, there are 31 writers to choose from, I need more than an hour!

An extra 10 minutes?

I’d stretch after running. I normally skip it to save precious time which is probably why my hamstrings and calves like to throw hissy fits.

One free minute?

Breathe and meditate. I almost typed medicate—huh, that’s weird.

One free second?

Wink at my husband. Of course then I have to explain for 600 seconds why that spontaneous gesture occurred.

C’mon readers, what about you? What if you were given a free gift of time? BTW, you are not allowed to say sleep, let’s assume that you are either well-rested or buzzing on caffeine.


Personality Speculation

I was looking up some information on Type A personalities because I might very well fall into that category. I came across a study conducted in 1976 that asked the following questions, which I will attempt to answer honestly.

Do you feel guilty if you use spare time to relax? Yes, in fact, instead of resting with my kids last night when we rented The Emperor’s New Groove, I had a notebook and pen in my lap so I could take notes on story structure and plot development.

Do you need to win in order to derive enjoyment from games and sports? Well, I got pretty upset that I missed out on winning a pie in a 5-mile race last summer when the over-all winner counted against the age group wins, and the bitch beat me by 4 full minutes before getting on a plane to travel to another race in Washington D.C. C’mon, lady, give us normal people a chance, will ya? (I do hope she enjoyed the pie.)

Do you generally move, walk and eat rapidly? I learned how to eat an entire meal in 8 minutes at Field Training in the Air Force. Can you blame me for holding onto this talent?

Do you often try to do more than one thing at a time? I don’t know. I suppose I tend to prep dinner, do dishes, pack kids lunches, direct homework, and ask the kids about their day all at once, but who doesn’t?

I think for my next leg of research, I need to focus on how Type A’s can develop the gift of patience and ability to break from multi-tasking. In the meantime, I have to post this blog, pick up the mail, get Carolyn off the bus while reading a paragraph of my book, and then prep dinner while talking to Hannah before I pick up Sarah.

Hey readers, where do you fall on the spectrum?

Super Bowl, Habits, and Cheese Dip

Why Do I Watch the Super Bowl?


None of my favorites advanced to a playoff,

No time to squander or wait for a kick off.

I love a good game,

But each year feels the same,

And the TV just mocked: You won’t click off.


I genuinely seek new experiences, but some yearly traditions can label me a creature of habit, i.e. the Super Bowl. Admittedly, it’s a program which I have zero reason to watch other than pure entertainment. But this single evening event holds the attention of 111 million Americans each year; it gives us some brief connection, some subject to discuss both before and after with colleagues, strangers, etc. It gives me something to ask my patients whether they will or did watch it from their hospital beds. It gave the elementary school a spirit day so the kids could wear the colors from “their” team (Carolyn chose Eagles because she likes birds and Sarah chose the Patriots because she thinks it’s the cool thing to do). And since I’m not working on this icy, rainy Sunday in Northern Virginia, I will make some warm comfort food and join in the tradition.

Someday if the Redskins (or Lions) ever make it, I might be more enthusiastic. Until then, I’m more excited about my cheese dip, but that’s not unusual, cheese dip rocks!

Game On!

Well, If John Grisham Can Do It . . .

“The Running Test That Has Tormented Sport’s Biggest Stars Turns 50.” Thus was the title of an email I received from Runner’s World. Puzzled, I read Mark Dent’s article in its entirety, seeking especially the reason why “tormented” was the tantalizing adjective chosen to describe this simple fitness test.

The reader in me learned that this test is a 12-minute run on a standard quarter-mile track, running as fast as you can to see how many laps you are able to complete. The test had been developed by Dr. Kenneth Cooper for the Air Force in the 1960’s  (and is often referred to as the Cooper Test) and had since been used by championship World Cup soccer, NFL, and college basketball teams, FIFA referees, police recruits, and high school athletic programs. Studies confirmed a correlation between the number of laps to VO2 Max—an indicator of aerobic, or oxygen-carrying, capacity of individuals which is why it was an effective and objective measure.

The runner in me wanted to know how I fared in this brutal test against time. Unfortunately, the closest high school running track is closed to the public (grrrrrr), so I did the test on the trusty treadmill in my chilly basement while my dog stared at me with his why-aren’t-you-taking-me-running eyes. The article stated that for women in their 20s-30s, four laps is fair, five is good and six is excellent. Yes, I’m officially 40, but I can hold myself to a higher standard because this is my test and my treadmill.

I ran 6.8 laps.

The writer in me had to write down this meager accomplishment before it got lost in my running logs only to be discovered posthumously by my daughters who may or may not give a hoot if their mother could run the Cooper Test at the age of 40. It wasn’t the most fun, but it didn’t kill me. I slowed down my initial pace just slightly after five laps, but then sped up again during the last two minutes. It is an interesting test because, unlike typical races and tempo runs, you are not finishing a certain distance; your finish is dictated by the clock. And, FYI, getting mad at the clock won’t make it go any faster.

A little detail tickled my attention and perhaps made me want to try the test even more: The article stated that author John Grisham approached Dr. Cooper at a fundraiser and told him, “I hate you. We had to take that darn 12-minute test so many times.”  But also that he’s “still running.”

Ah, taking the Cooper Test, I’ve now crossed metaphysical paths with John Grisham. Perhaps next time we’ll cross paths will be on the New York Times Bestseller list. Until then, John, I’m “still running” too, and maybe next time I’ll hit lap 7.

(Take that 20 and 30 year olds!)

Article by Mark Dent: https://www.runnersworld.com/vo2-max/the-running-test-that-has-tormented-sports-biggest-stars-turns-50