Category Archives: Uncategorized

Selling Out

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nanowrimo

It’s November again, which means it is National Novel Writing Month. For some reason, I let my son talk me into participating this year, even though it means writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

It is an ultra-marathon for writers.

This also means, my blog might be sporadic, since all of my mental powers will be utilized in the writing of the next Great American Novel. Or, would it be considered a Great American Novel since I live in Germany? I’m not sure. Regardless, my Chick-Lit Sellout Novel is under way.

My fluffy white dog, who, bless his heart, doesn’t know a thing about the end of daylight savings time, started whining from his kennel at 4:00 am, rather than 5:00, and thus, my ‘writing time’ was carved out of the day for me by a twelve-pound Havanese.

I’m not going to show many people my sellout book. I call it that because I do not expect it to be quality literature. It is a light read, and as such, it might have a chance of being published someday. If Hemingway were alive, he would write a sellout book too–just to get his foot in the door.

So, the challenge is on, and hopefully someday my novel will be on shelves in bookstores, though you won’t know it’s mine because I’ll have to use a nom-de-plume.

Digital Christmas Card

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I love getting real Christmas Cards in the mail, and I am sorry that I didn’t get a single one sent out this year. But I am hoping that when our winter travels are over, I will have an awesome ‘Happy New Year’ card for you. You should expect those around Valentine’s Day.

Christmas is about to change radically for the Wellman family (see my post ‘Adventure for Christmas‘ on Uncommon Childhood), and honestly, I am still a little scared about doing things differently. If the kids DO get any tangible presents, they will be ones that can fit into a backpack. While this Christmas will be different from any we’ve had thus far, when this season comes to a close, our family will have some great stories to share.

The season has nothing to do with elves and trees and gifts, but it is a day we remember that the Creator of the Universe came to earth, taking on human flesh, so that we might be pulled out of the darkness. That is a reason to celebrate!

Now, take a walk with me down a snowy memory lane, as we take a peek at Christmases past.

Love and blessings to you!

Keri

Gollum Fish Sticks

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There are a few things you should know about our family:

1) While we haven’t always had a nutritarian lifestyle, we now avoid processed foods.

2) Being a recovering Theater-major (and instead becoming an English Lit geek and writer), I have tried to instill in my children the idea that they must choose practical fields of study, which subsequently assures they spend every spare moment involved in some sort of creative ‘art.’ I suppose some apples don’t fall too far from the tree.

3) Though we don’t dress up as elves or wizards, we DO enjoy the Lord of the Rings books, movies, and the unabridged audio books on CD (which can last an entire road trip to Italy and back).

4) My eldest child wants to be a filmmaker.

5) I forced him to get braces so he can flash a Hollywood smile along with his “I’d like to thank my Mom” speech, as he accepts his academy awards (yes, there will be more than one award).

6) I can be boastful and slightly biased about my children (because they are awesome).

This is a little video William made in honor of his friend’s birthday. It is a parody of a Tyson commercial and is one of the funniest things I’ve seen–and I hope it’s not just my Mama-glasses tinting the view. 

Enjoy!

Diagnosis: Fat

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My permanent medical record clearly states something I have suspected for years: Mrs. Keri S. Wellman has fat thighs.

The doctor was not quite that blunt. However, the diagnosis of Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome basically means I need to replace the flab on my thighs with actual muscle.

I’m in unmapped territory here.

About mile eleven on Sunday, my right knee began to ache. I stopped and stretched. By mile twelve I was popping Ibuprofen. I walked a good portion of mile thirteen. During mile fourteen, I tried willing myself into an out-of-body experience. It was mentally counter-productive, since the Grim Reaper, who is often involved in such things, is not the most inspirational running companion.  I was elated to reach mile fifteen without the help of paramedics.

Ten minutes after my run, my knee felt fine. It occurred to me that perhaps subconsciously I was creating pain as an excuse to not perform well. Because as we all know, when you are slow, it is better to be hobbled than lazy.

The doctor assured me I’m not that psychotic. I’m just flabby.

So, it’s time for some strength training for me. I also foresee many squats in my future, which do not include picking up stray M&Ms from the floor.

This could be my chance to change history: medical history, that is.

The next four weeks will be a battle between Lazy Keri and Someother Keri. Lazy Keri may not come out of this alive. Frankly, it’s hard to do away with someone I’ve been so comfortable with for so many years.

Yet, the fact remains: Lazy Keri cannot successfully train for a marathon. Someother Keri must take her place.

I just hope she’s strong enough to win.

Stats:

Miles: Sunday 15, Monday 0, Tuesday 2, Wednesday 6

Miles projected: the goal is to have an 18 mile run this weekend. I’ll keep the rescue team on speed dial.

Weather: it was perfect for my long run on Sunday: cool, and overcast with sprinkles. It amazes me whenever I call that type of weather “perfect.” The forecast is for sunshine & warmth—70s & 80s.

Terrain: for the 15 miler, I went all the way around a big lake we have here in Franconia. It was partly forested, had a moments of elevation, and lovely little beaches. The path changed from pavement to rock at times. It also split off between pedestrians and bicycles, so there was no fear of being run over. A fantastic running trail.

Wildlife: the usual deer, rabbits, and birds. However,  the Brombachsee trail had areas containing wild boar. These big, fuzzy pigs were begging food from passersby at the fence.

Switching Gear

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The way to a woman’s heart is through her running gear.

Maybe that’s an oversimplification, but it’s pretty darn close.

“I’m looking at racks and racks of running gear,” said the voice on the phone. “What do you need?”

My heart fluttered. After sixteen years of marriage, the spark is still alive.

My husband was calling from a huge, American-style shopping mall on one of the military installations a few hours from here. When you have lived in Germany for four years, you come to appreciate the very places you consider the bane of American culture.

Not only did my husband pick up three running outfits, the perfect hat, and the perfect socks; he also found the Oakleys I’ve had in my shopping cart for three weeks on Altrec.com. There was only one pair left in white–the shop clerk had to get them from the back.

I should make this clear: love cannot be purchased. Nor can it be returned with the receipt, even if in the original packaging.

Love is patient. Love is kind. But love is also a man who will buy coral-colored running shorts for his wife.

That is love in action.

I went for a six-mile run today geared up like a superstar. No doubt, the village children will soon be asking me to demonstrate my Nathan hydration pack. My landlady will nod in approval as she notes my “Supernova” running shirt (as Germans know Adidas is superior to Nike). I’ll look at all of them sweetly through my Oakley Flak Jacket XLJs and smile as I scrawl my autograph on a PowerBar Gel pack.

Or, maybe they’ll stare at me as if I should be institutionalized.

It matters not.

While the new running gear makes me feel like an elite athlete, rather than a middle-aged housewife, I am happier knowing my husband and children support this endeavor.

After all, if they weren’t behind me, I would trip over the starting line.

Stats:

Miles: Thursday 4, Friday 6

Miles forecast: 16 on Sunday, heaven help me.

Weather: rain. sun. rain. it’s still too cool to be summer.

Terrain: sometimes I do the treadmill to remind myself why I should run outside–rain or shine. Thursday t-mill inspired me to run outside today. I was rewarded with a parting of the clouds for my Roller Coaster Plus run. I even got to wear the Oakleys:)

Miss Congeniality

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If it weren’t for my impaired mobility this morning, I would not believe I ran a half-marathon yesterday. I have photographic evidence of the race. I have personal, eyewitness accounts, yet it all seems dreamlike to me. I ran 13 miles yesterday—at Rothenburg: a course so challenging, they had an ambulance stationed on each hilltop.

I’ve never been an athlete. I have ten pounds I can’t seem to get rid of at any price. And though gummi bears are fat free, they don’t qualify as health food. I have kids and a husband and a dog. I have laundry to do and floors to wash. If I can run a race of 13 miles, it’s possible for anyone.

Sitting here trying to stretch my legs while typing gives me time to reflect on yesterday’s race (if indeed that was me running).

Lessons Learned:

*Though drinking coffee is NEVER a wrong thing to do, I also should have done a short warm-up run before the race. Instead, I had a carafe of coffee while the kids ate ice cream.

* At about mile 7, one of the runners made the mistake of asking where I was from. This began a 1 mile, one-sided conversation, where I blabbered to kill some time. And time I did kill, for my pace slowed down to a 12 minute mile. Finally the guy said, “I need to go faster now.” Oops. (For the record, I picked up the pace and ended up beating him).

*Bring headphones. The last mile included a long, uphill slope, straight from Twilight Zone, that seemed to never end. A little Superchick would’ve helped.

*Going downhill is easier than going uphill—use it to your advantage.

*Focus. At times, I felt simply mindless. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, though I do remember staring at some ponies. More focus on the actual running might have helped.

*Shoe laces. The shoe with my timing chip came untied at the start. Because I had to stop, I was left behind by the quick-paced pack.

*Holding back. I was so worried about not having enough energy left at the end of the race that I held back in moments when I should have pressed on.

*My Nathan Hydration pack was a lifesaver. I tried drinking the lukewarm mineral water at the water station but ended up splashing it all over my face.

*PowerBar Refuel Gel packs helped me to keep going when I felt like giving up.

*My shoes and socks were perfect! No foot aches at all.

*Positive attitude. With few women entered in the race (and most of them younger and belonging to racing teams), I knew I would not be getting any trophies. However, I opted to be the friendliest runner of the day. While my fellow runners didn’t seem to appreciate my congeniality, the spectators who waited along the road were awesome. Each one of them deserved (and received) a smile, a wave, or a ‘danke’ from me. The little kids, I applauded. It was fantastic that people would sit out (for two hours or more) just to watch the runners. I loved it.

*Cheerleaders. It was such a boost to see my friends & family along the route. They waved & cheered & took funny pictures of me. Even though the other runners were uber-serious, I had people who loved me, rooting for me.

*Training. Even though I slacked off during vacation, I can tell my training has paid off. Many times during the race, Pink Shirt Lady was ahead of me (she was faster than she looked). However, she was breathing really hard, whereas I was able to cheerily converse with her. I ran with her for a while, and then passed her on the hilly side of the course.

*Best of all was having the kids run the final stretch with me. It was worth all the effort just for the photo finish.

The Rothenburger Halbmarathon was a success for me. I kept a good pace (despite hills that could send people into cardiac arrest), I kept a good attitude, and I did not finish last.

Now, onto Füssen!

Post Race Stats:

Miles: 13.2

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Average Pace: 10:17 minutes per mile

Calories burned: 1680

Weather: partly sunny in the 60s, a few sprinkles at the end—perfect running weather.

Overall feeling: if I can conquer Rothenburg, I can conquer anything.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Run

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Walking the cobblestone streets of Rothenburg today with my runner’s bib in hand certainly gave me a heightened awareness of the terrain. I also wondered how exactly I would get from the starting line, all the way down the bluff, and to the river. It all looks so flat on the street map.

Instead of my two-mile run, I sprinted my heart out in swim class today. I surprised myself, and a couple other people, by moving from fifth place to second. And while I was a little shaky when it was all over, I found I had strength left to watch my kids’ lessons, rather than lay in a heap in the corner.

I have to admit, my stomach is doing some flip-flopping tonight, and it’s not because of gluten. Only 17 women have signed up–and the older women belong to running clubs. This race might be tougher than I’d expected. I’d at least hoped to finish anonymously in the middle of the pack.

Yet despite the butterflies mysteriously fluttering throughout my nervous system, I sat at a table on the Marktplatz, had dinner in the fading sunshine, and had a glass of wine with my husband.

No matter how I do, I know there will be five people at the finish line who consider me the winner.

The Fine Art of Bug Spitting

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The problem with running on a summer evening is that because sweat runs down your back like the Mighty Mississip, there’s nothing left with which to spit out bugs.

This is why I run in the morning, while the bugs are still sleeping.

I have been released from the depths of dingy hotel workout rooms and am back pounding the pavement of the lovely country roads of Franconia. My schedule became more tangled than the kids’ kite strings during vacation, and it is proving a challenge to straighten it out.

To answer last week’s questions:

1) One does not train while on a cruise of the Rhine River. Instead, you sit and drink coffee for three hours while listening to Brazilian tourists sing drinking songs. Judging by their stout bodies, these men had years of experience in the drinking of beer.

2) The climbs up to the castles in the sweltering heat were workouts in themselves. Simply arriving at the top without dehydrating was an accomplishment. I didn’t even think about doing hill repeats.

3) After a day of tromping around castles, I sought out the hotel workout room. The place was deserted, so I was able to choose whichever TV channel I wanted: SpongeBob in German or tennis. The match was less than spectacular.

4) Perhaps I was “supposed to” run 15 miles the day we drove back. However, I have discovered “supposed to” is a relative phrase. In reality, I am supposed to balance having a real life with marathon training. I postponed my long run until the day the guests were safely on the train to the airport. I couldn’t do 15 without injuring myself, so I did 11 instead. And honestly, I was quite proud of the 11.

Vacation has been a lesson in flexibility. The trick is to determine how much flexibility I can have without compromising performance. The test of my flexible vacation schedule will come on Sunday, when I run my half-marathon.

I’ll bring extra water, so I can perfect the fine art of bug spitting.

Stats:

Miles: Tuesday 11, Wednesday 4, Thursday 6

Aches & Pains: My right knee was just killing me after the long run. I’ve dedicated more time to stretching, which has helped a lot. On a positive note, I was able to climb up the castle paths with relative ease. It felt great to not gasp for breath or fear a heart attack on the climbs.

Weather: Intermittent summer. Sunny & in the 70s low 80s on some days. Cloudy & in the 50s & 60s other days.

Wildlife: lots of deer, rabbits, bugs, and farmers’ wives hoeing the fields.

The Ugly Duckling

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I was two miles into my twelve-mile run when a duck flopped out from the woods. It rapidly waddled along the trail, trying to escape the daunting footfalls of the intrepid marathoner. The duck quacked, flapped its wings, and rose a few inches before hitting the pavement. It complained loudly and hobbled down the path, as quickly as its webbed feet and odd body would allow.

If this were a story of fiction I would say, as I drew near, the duck suddenly launched itself into the air, soared above the river, and led a column of its compadres to the safety of the nesting ground. I would then tell you the duck inspired me to keep moving, no matter how inelegant I felt.

But this is not fiction.

The duck flopped back into the bushes. I heard a splash and a lot more quacking.

I had ten miles left to contemplate this message from nature.

The literal interpretation suggested I was a creature out of her element: waddling along looking ridiculous, while the real runners passed by.

If the interpretation hinged on flying, then it meant I would be unsuccessful in my attempt to soar. Nature was telling me to fling myself through the bushes and plunge into the easy stream of my pre-running life.

Or maybe, just maybe, I was reading too much into things.

Sometimes, ducks just fall into your path.

I read messages in nature: they are the Creator’s sticky notes, attached to the massive calendar of my life. Some notes challenge me, in order that I might grow. Other messages encourage me to press on, to stay the course.

At mile nine, I saw the swan.

Stats:

Blog Neglect: high.

Family and training neglect: low.

Miles: last week 26. Monday 5.

Total Miles (since training began): 222.

Weather: Last Tuesday I did the treadmill, and subsequently vowed to do the treadmill only if tornadoes were actively ripping up my running paths. Otherwise, I had good weather. Saturday was gorgeous (though a little too hot), and today is also sunny and in the 60s.

Something New: I began doing pace training. 200 meters fast, 200 slow, 400 fast, 400 slow, etc. I did that for the first two miles of my four mile run, and while I thought I had slowed down for the last half of the run, I was actually running faster than ever. I ended up averaging a 9:16 mile (on the roller-coaster route), which is a personal best.

Some things I Never Thought I’d  Say:

“It was too sunny on Saturday.”

“After the first five miles, I was ready to really run.”

Something Funny My Six Year-Old Said: “You have a LOT of muscle! I can’t even feel your bones!”

Aches & Pains: I was fairly rubbery-legged after the 12 miles. I discovered muscles I never knew existed. Also, my fingers swelled up like sausages after my long run. I quickly pried off my wedding ring. The swelling was most likely from the way my water pack had been pressing on my shoulders. Nothing serious—just weird.

Accompanied Mainer

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1 bottle of wine shared between 2 friends over 5 hours does not a hangover make. Rather, it was staying up until an hour I’d not seen since the last baby was weaned, which made me a little less than sporty for my eight-mile run.

I couldn’t help myself. Not only were my brother and mother here, but so were two friends. One was a new friend, but the other knew me when I was still feathering my bangs. When everyone else retired, my dear friend and I stayed up, talking until the candles burned themselves down to nubs.

Hospitality and marathon training can live in harmony.

Sunday morning found me on my scheduled run, with my brother, who had skipped the high school girl giggle fest, biking beside me. Even with nearly half a liter of wine in my system, and only 4 hours of sleep, I could still keep under a ten-minute mile. The delightfully flat trail by the river Main (pronounced “mine”) helped immensely.

Marathon training is entirely doable when you have company. In fact, training is better when someone you love is riding a bike or running with you. I was blessed with good running weather while my brother was here, and he was able to see firsthand my tangled maze of running trails. Together, we happened upon an idyllic trail, which ran for miles along the river Main.

While the path along the Main will be a perfect place for my weekly long run, I can never see it again without being reminded of my brother, and the five thousand miles that lie between us.

From this point on, the river trail will be a place where joy and sadness are forged into kinetic energy.

Stats: I am proud to report I have not slacked off during training. I didn’t do the half-marathon, but I can catch the next one.

Miles: May 3rd-May 9th a weekly total of 21 miles.

May 10th-May 16th a weekly total of 21 miles.

Terrain: my brother was able to do the shorter runs through the countryside with me without his knees killing him. On the long runs, he took a bike. We went all through ‘my’ territory. Then we ventured to the next town, where we found the trail along the Main River. These were the best runs I’ve had. My brother sets a good pace–and talking to him made the time fly by. He also motivated me in a way only brothers can by simply saying, “I’ll race you home!”