Monday, August 31, 2009

All you need is love

Day three of school, and this is how Bethy signed her name to one of the forms:

"Bethy" (heart, drawing of her teacher Miss Maggie and one of Bethy), "I em (am) glad to be in shool (school). I love shool" (school).

Now that, my friends, is a good beginning.

The class guidelines are "bees" as in Be a good listener, Be kind, and so forth. Bethy is our little queen B so she is all over this concept and tickled to death she has a bumblebee with her name on it designating her cubby.

Already her Arabic teacher has talked with the students about Ramadan (their first day, which Bethy told me all about), and I have gotten rave reviews from her about the library and art classes and how she loves music class.

Breathing again.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

high hopes...high in the sky apple pie hopes

It's that time of year again...

This summer we presented Bethy with a choice. She'd been accepted to two schools here in Dubai. Which one would she like to attend this year? One, the school she attended last year; brand new, over the top beautiful, international, very expensive. Two, Dubai American Academy; established, has an awesome reputation, not as glamorous. Both schools have great after school programs, swimming pools, transportation. We left it up to her entirely.

I honestly thought she'd choose her old school, possibly on looks alone, or by force of habit. Mike in particular was hoping she'd go with choice #2, DAA, but neither of us were pushing any agenda. I had taken her to DAA for a tour, but nothing was open beyond looking out the glass door to the playground. To my surprise she chose DAA, the American school.

Instead of being out in the desert this school is next to the Mall of the Emirates...I think she can see the ski slope from the playground.

Little girl, big school.

After she decided on Dubai American Academy, Mike and I were so happy. I hadn't realised I felt strongly about it until the choice was made. You see, Bethy didn't have the best Kindergarten experience. She'd been bullied, had some real behavioral issues, and I felt that the sweet, friendly little girl who'd started at the beginning of the year had been replaced by an argumentative, often angry one who, some mornings, cried and fought because she didn't want to get on the bus. We didn't know: was it her, us, an age related thing, or the school?

I believe that no school is perfect, that a child can learn as much or even more from a difficult situation, but only within reason. We really want this year, first grade, to be wonderful, with learning and friends and happiness.

I couldn't fault her level of learning, the standards seemed awfully high to me for little kids. I mean, I remember Kindergarten being about play-doh and making friends and taking a nap after recess. No naps for these kids. Even so, the overachieving parents seemed to be asking that the kids get pushed even harder.

For Mike and myself as parents, we were concerned about the serious lack of communication between her teacher and ourselves. One day Bethy came home with a bloody bag of clothing, having had to change her shirt and pinafore, and no explanation from the teacher or nurse whatsoever. No note, no call, no text message, nothing. Another student had hit her in the nose with his water bottle. Hard. Apparently the attack was incited by a fit of jealousy: his friend chose to play with her rather than him. According to Bethy he was disciplined by having to take her to the nurse.

Another time he had to take her to the nurse when he threw sand in her eyes, again deliberately, and she had to have them irrigated and checked. Again, no communication to us at all from the school. This worried me. A lot. I tried to be the non-freak-out parent and didn't go storming down there to see what was going on. Maybe I should have. Mostly I asked Bethy a lot of questions about her day and tried to be a good listener. I wanted to support her teacher and respect her style of class management, but not at the cost of Bethy's happiness.

On the positive side, I liked her teacher's no-nonsense approach, especially since many of the children in her class were truly, truly spoiled. However, some prerogatives seemed a bit off. Perhaps it was just me, but I thought that getting along with other children was more important than, say, sitting like a lady so the other kids couldn't taunt "we can see Bethy's knickers!" (This was a major issue.) Her teacher came up with charts and ideas to help Bethy, but didn't follow through. She might chart for a day and then....nothing. Whenever I was at the school I would run into her teacher who would inevitably have a problem to tell me about, but if I didn't see her, I wouldn't hear anything.

We worried and all were relieved when school ended last year. It felt like the whole thing was spinning out of control.

Anyway, as the summer has progressed Bethy has drifted away from that kid we didn't know and back to the kid we do: helpful, loving, still a bossy boots and extremely talkative. (Hmmm, wonder where she gets that from?)

When I asked her why she chose DAA she said, among other things, that she hoped going to an American school would help us to go back to the USA sooner. Oh dear. She still wants to live in Seattle. And Thomas only wants to live here.

We met Bethy's new teacher. Young, blonde, enthusiastic, from the East Coast of the USA. I think they'll be a good fit. Her class assistant was lovely as well, and I immediately liked her for her gentle demeanor. During the "welcome" assembly they talked almost constantly about communication. This is what I wanted to hear. I am excited that the class will be celebrating American holidays like St Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day. Mother's Day will again be in May instead of March. She's already planning her Halloween costume.

I did wonder about the one rather oversized child from her class who showed up to meet the teacher with metal handcuffs hanging from his jeans belt loops. Is this a new fashion I don't know about? Am I the only parent who thinks this is a strange choice? Ah well. Handcuffs are very much NOT standard for the school uniform.

The bus company called yesterday to give us Bethy's pick-up time. Her ride will be 40 minutes shorter than last year. SO much better. Her day was an awfully long one, and riding the bus for an hour or longer one way was awfully hard on a little girl. Her first month at DAA will have shorter hours thanks to Ramadan, too.

Today is the first day of school. I am actually all nervous and keyed up but trying not to appear so. I desperately want this to go well. This morning Bethy put on her shiny new black shoes (that happened to have the letter "B" on them, serendipitous), her new uniform (a cute skort...hooray! A sensible choice for a kid. more comfortable and not as hot as her other uniform. I'm withholding judgement on the bow tie bit though...) and, though it showed up 20 minutes later than advised, got onto her new bus. I have the knack of opening the door down to a science no matter how humid it gets and didn't need to pitch her out the window like last year. She was off on her new adventure with hugs and a huge smile.

I may not breathe until she returns home as happy as she left. But I'm hopeful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rover wanderer nomad vagabond

I feel I ought to tell you about my last run before Ramadan began last week. This was with my marathon training group again. In anticipation, I think, of needing to stay within the city with its dumpsters to skulk behind (so as to secretly and discretely rehydrate during the Holy month), our group headed to the east of the city. Out where goats and chickens and even a turkey skittered along our paths, and the aromas of farm life are strong.

Running over sands and through cream and white-walled neighborhoods, not a soul to be seen, we hoofed it at various speed and ability to the water stations which stand along roads all throughout Dubai for thirsty souls. The water at these stations is surprisingly cold, and quite safe to drink.

As we made our way towards the city suddenly all the runners stopped, swerved to the right and gaped at something among the hedges. Being of herd mentality I zipped over too and was surprised to see white tigers, including a white tiger cub, peering back at us with blue eyes from their enclosures beyond the shrubbery. No one knew what the place was, nor why there were tigers; someone's pets, perhaps.

(OK, so I don't carry a camera on my runs and this photo is of a tiger in the zoo in Issaquah, WA, but the look is the same. This one actually sprang at Thomas much to the amusement of his keepers. Thank heaven for iron bars! )

Still not a soul to be seen, we ran past what someone claimed was the Jordanian princess' new palace. It is a huge and gorgeous place. I think the princess referred to is Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein ("Haya, daughter of Hussein" -the western friendly King of Jordan, not Saddam, another animal entirely). She is the second bride of Sheikh Mohammed, is my age, has a baby girl, and is an avid horsewoman. The palace would look very much in place in England, where she went to university, and is to my taste as well. There are "no photos" signs everywhere, and the grounds are not yet complete, but you can tell it will be magnificent.

We made it up a bridge and back into town, where there was a petrol station and another water stop. Now, this was the first place with any sort of real bathrooms and I slugged down some water and got into line. It took a very long time for the person in front of me to come out, and I dashed in and back out quickly.

Not quick enough, though. When I came out, everybody else had gone.

Not a runner in sight.

I had missed the announcement as to where we were running off to next, as I'd been standing in line for the loo.


Well, heck, what do I do now? I asked myself.

I ran up the bridge, figuring it would give me a good vantage point, but looking around, still no runners anywhere. The sweat droplets that I suppose I could have followed in good Hansel and Gretel fashion had evaporated quickly in the heat. Dang and double dang.

There was no help for it then. I would have to run alone or get a taxi.

I could see the Emirates Towers off in the distance, near the base of which is the parking lot where we'd started from. I was soaking wet and footsore, stinky and uncomfortable in athletic clothing away from the group. Yet another toenail had come off during the previous 2 hours of running at some point. I ran back the way we'd come for awhile, not trusting myself to find the proper way through the city, then, gazing down one particularly deserted looking corridor of walls and sand that I would be running through, I decided this was a bad idea.

No police officer would have the slightest bit of sympathy for me if I were attacked running alone in spandex and shorts, and there had been at least 10 kilometers of running though such terrain before where I was now. I turned around and ran back along and up the bridge and to the gas station. Bought a bottle of water and hailed the nearest taxi.

As it turned out, I got back to the parking lot at about the same time as the other runners.

I had one of those moments, as I was getting out of the taxi. I had addressed and thanked the cabbie in his language, gotten out and made the Arabic hand sign that means "wait," "slow down" or "be patient" to the honking cab behind us. (Holding all 5 tips of your fingers together and upward like you would for a continental finger kiss and moving your hand up...really good to know here.) While making the gesture I realised I'd done so without even thinking about it, or having to think, OK, this guy is from Karala, what are my pet Malayalam phrases? It was a good feeling, and I overtipped him for that as well as for sweating all over the seat.

Regrouped with the others, apologies were offered and easily accepted for the leaving behind and desertion bit.

But I swear I am never going to get left behind again!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I wish the real world would just stop hassling me...

We were offline for many days, (apologies), but the internet is up and running for us again, phew.

Ramadan began today. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, a holy month of fasting from before dawn to sundown for Muslims. This means nothing at all by mouth. No water, no food, no gum, nada. It's supposed to teach empathy for those who are starving, and to figuratively burn away all sins. Muslims also avoid any other sort of luxury or indulgence of the body during the fasting hours of the day. It's a time of reflection, of purification, a time to perform charity and appreciate your spiritual and family relationships. Really, it's a beautiful celebration.

For non-Muslims in a Muslim country, it can also be a pain in the patella.

Isn't that terrible of me to say? But true. Please understand that I respect Islam and the practice of religion. It's the idea of being thirsty that makes me vaguely cranky. I also wear long sleeves in addition to the long pants in an effort to dress appropriately, so being hot (like, HOT hot) doesn't help my 'tude.

Turnabout being fair play, it must be absolutely horrid to be a Muslim in, say, particularly the USA, trying to fast all month long while everyone around you is stuffing their faces, completely oblivious to your spiritual quest. (And in Northern climes where days are a lot longer so you have to fast several hours more than your Middle East counterparts). So here, by law, all adults except for certain groups like pregnant women and the terminally ill refrain from any eating or drinking in public, which includes in your car.

Rumors have circulated that the police in Dubai will be looking to give out twice as many tickets this year for infractions. Getting busted having a sip of water, for instance, netted a 1000 dirham fine last year. In other words, no matter how little you care about being culturally respectful, they make sure you will care. It's not worth it, and they have every right.

The restaurants and coffee shops are all closed until the sun sets, and then stay open late into the night and the starving folk feast...and feast and feast. Then they get up early to get something to eat before the sky starts to lighten and the whole cycle starts all over again. I can't imagine this doesn't wreak havoc on one's metabolism.

That we aren't allowed to eat in public of course instantly makes me crave gum and water and drive-through junk food and to have iced coffees brought to my car window...things not to be until almost October. Dry mouth is the way of the day when you're out and about. At least I get to sneak around behind the closed curtains of our home and be as infidel as I please.

Last year I was surprised at how many fellow non-Muslim expats dreaded and complained about Ramadan. Second time around, I wasn't looking forward to it, but considering everything, it's OK. A little extra self-control, a spiritual self-examination, bit of discomfort, can't really hurt, right?

And, perhaps childishly, I am looking forward to the fun of being at Safa Park this evening when they fire a cannon to mark the last bit of the sun slipping away. Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This heat has got right out of hand, it's a cruel cruel summer...

The city is crowded

My friends are away

And I'm on my own

It's too hot to handle

-Bananarama, Cruel Summer

The days have been indescribably hot. Thus I'm not even going to try and tell you how hot, how utterly blazingly wet and, well, damned hot. Instead I'll put up the data from Mike's work as to the conditions on his jobsite out in the desert yesterday:

I hope you can read it. The temperature was 46.33 C which translates to 115.4 degrees F. Now, that's hot by any definition, but what's staggering and far more pertinant to the actual experience is the heat index, which is how it actually feels: 69.16 C. That's 156.5 in F!!!

Bragging rights forever when you survive heat like that.

And Mike and I both wore jeans. Toasty.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I want to run...

The running continues. I run with the Striders on Friday mornings now, delighting in the sun rising, coloring the dust hanging in the air orange. I love seeing all the areas of Dubai from on foot; the construction laborers with their hard hats perched atop bright cotton scarves, sweat running tracks down through the dust on their faces, the people waiting for buses at temporary stops surrounded by the construction, the experience of running through aromas as varied as garbage heated to nauseating by the constant temperatures and the sharp queasy smell of the fish market, to the delectable early morning cooking at cafeterias, Indian spices wafting mouthwateringly through the air, and always, always the smell of sand.

I love the looks we get from the people we pass, from confusion to encouragement and even glee. I love running with the group, a herd, thumping along, though with the humidity there is a high "squelch" factor and there are plenty of sweaty wet footprints. As I don't want to get left behind and lost, I am well motivated to stay up with everybody else and do OK. It also helps that we stop every 3-4 kilometers for a water break. When the weather is like this the concrete is liberally splattered with sweat dropping off the runners, so hydration is very important. There is almost always a taxi lurking nearby at these stops, and I consider it a real achievement to ignore the sucker.

Our pathway can be a varied as through the souks, through tunnels, across Dubai Creek on a welcome Abra ride break, on dirt roads and past palaces, peacocks calling from the trees, running beneath the skyscrapers, or along the beach, date palms and mosques...

I wear a safety orange running shirt that personally I think gives me a strong resemblance to a traffic cone. I do so in the hopes that it will make me more visible to drivers, cyclists too. True, we are running as a group which should be easier to see than a lone runner, and the traffic is light on a weekend morning, and I am hyper about double-checking before I step out to cross a road, but I figure it doesn't hurt.

This last run I made a bit of an error. There are two training groups; the "slow" group and the "fast" group. The fast group runs a course longer than the slow group so that the two groups meet up at the fuel stations at about the same time. The fastest person, who has collected funds from everyone at the start, gets to each fuel station before everyone else and purchases cups and water and electrolyte drinks (and Coca-Cola for when you really need a boost!) and everyone else staggers in and gets some refreshment. Literally. It's all good fun.

Now, I am in the "slow" group and not the least bit unhappy about that. The fast group are a beautiful bunch of greyhounds and unless something changes radically in my life I shall not be joining them. Or so I intended. On the last leg of the run the runners, now tired, were spread out as we neared home and I followed the wrong group. I realised my mistake at the water stop out away from the city...not only were the folks all the "wrong" folks, but there wasn't supposed to be another water stop...there was supposed to be the parking lot and my car! I kept thinking we were going to angle over...

Anyway, one of the elite runners was joined by his daughter on her bicycle for the duration of the run. They both decided to go back to the cars instead of continuing on for the longer loop. It may have had something to do with me there, looking like I had about the IQ of a traffic cone. She runs the Predictor occasionally and in a very generous moment took pity on me, letting me ride her bicycle while she ran for about a mile to give me a breather. It made all the difference. I felt a bit bad about handing back a thoroughly sweated-upon bicycle; not the nicest way to express gratitude, but unavoidable.

The next night, running again at the Predictor, I was the last in again for that race, and the only girl to do two laps, again. All the other runners applauded and cheered me in across the finish line. That was kind of nice.

Good stuff all around.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Romance in a rearview mirror

I’m movin’ I’m feeling like I’m rollin’ on my own
(what could be better?)
Then somewhere drivin’ my car the radio turn it on
(what could be better?)
I check around in traffic from my point of view
(what could be better?)
Then I saw her in the mirror,
maybe the same thing has happened to you

-Cheap Trick, Romance In a Rearview Mirror

This blog entry is for you folk who want pictures and little prattle to sift through. Here you go: a few sights from today's Mommy-and-kids road trip:

I have sorely missed driving Snorkel Car (above...our Land Rover Defender 90...a serious toy) along the desert highways. The slow chuggy power of diesel...heady stuff. Plus, we look so cool.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Can't stop addicted to the shindig...

The dusty, hazy skies continue, though not as bad as before. The skies are more the usual summer white than the yellow soup junk. The kids and I have thus far avoided spending our days in the malls, only going once, to IKEA. We will undoubtedly make a different mall a day exploration sort of plan to get us through the rest of August. Hey, they're big, often beautiful, and most importantly, air conditioned. The kids can run around.

It was a red-letter day at IKEA in that Thomas is finally tall enough to go into the kids' play area, and Bethy is just under being too tall. In other words, they got to play and I got to wander IKEA all. by. myself. YES!!!

I was amused to see that the IKEA here serves shawarma, the street food of the Middle East (not unlike, say, hot dogs in NYC). It's grilled meat rolled up with vegetables (and often here in the UAE they put french fries in the middle too) and sauce in a soft flatbread. They're a great fast food and a bit addictive.

Despite the weather, Wednesday night I went for a run with Graham along the Arabian (Persian) Gulf, and it was a sauna. One of those nights where you open the car door and go ugh. If you have any brains at all you close the door again, smile to yourself as you put the car back into gear and say that's why God invented air conditioning. However, if you're like me you grimace and get out. Not only was Graham waiting for me, but I know the weather is going to get worse, probably much worse, before it gets better again.

Graham was looking disgustingly fit and ready to go. So we went. I am sorry to report that I ended up making him walk for a while during the 8 and some km run because, frankly, I was going to lose my cookies otherwise. He was a gentleman and didn't leave my sorry behind, well, behind.

It was marvelous to see him again; I've missed my Dubai cronies while back in the States, one of the perils of having two lands I call home.

Fast forward to Friday morning, 5:10 AM. The alarm goes off and I drag myself out of bed. Put on the running gear, down some water and half a banana and head out into the dark. I was going to run with the Dubai Creek Striders, the marathon training group, for the first time since I was sidelined by running injuries last fall.

I would run about 10K and get a taxi back, I promised myself. I wouldn't run the full 17 kilometers. (10.6 miles)

Well, you know what happened. It was a "I can't believe I ran the WHOLE THING" sort of deal. There was much commentary amongst the runners about "how nice the running conditions are this morning." Though gasping and sweating and plodding along, I was also having a great time chatting, running alongside this person and that, catching up on peoples lives and trips and races. By the time we were only 4k from the end I realised it would be silly to try and find a cab and that I might as well go for it.

Part of my motivation was that I'd found out that some of the runners had run a midnight 27 kilometers during a full moon training session the night before. They'd finished, gone home, slept an hour, and then came back out for more! Kookier than me.

We're all kooks though. I have proof. My throat like sandpaper, I got stiff-legged back into Bird Car. I checked the temperature of our lovely day. 104 F.


Who in their right mind thinks running in 104 degree temperatures is "nice"?!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Karma chameleon/ Do you really want to hurt me?

There are a number of tiny baby geckos skittering around in our house right now, and the cries of "Gecko! Gecko!" ring off the walls followed by skittering by two-legged kids and four-legged lizards alike. Gecko catching is once again on the menu...but, I thought, not for me. Possibly never again, and I'll tell you why.

It happened on a pleasant evening in late spring. Warm enough for the cicadas to be singing, but not so hot that they were deafening. Thomas and I headed out into the backyard to hunt our favorite prey...the enticing and defenseless gecko. Or so I thought.

Pretty soon we spotted one, a nice medium one on the garden wall. I cupped my hand quickly over it and gently scooped it up.

Now, in all the other times I've caught a gecko it stays mostly still in my hands, and the littler ones often stick around for a long time after I've opened up my fingers and Thomas and Bethy get to look at them for awhile. They're soft with slightly sticky little feet and not the least bit unpleasant. This time, however, my hands were filled with frantic activity that didn't...feel...right.

I opened my hands a little bit to see the gecko...and it's tail, no longer attached, flopping frantically around. In my hands. ICK!

I dropped both without delay. The gecko scampered off but the tail continued it's horrid disembodied dance around my shoes.

If I were not such a self-possessed person it is possible I would have freaked out.

As it was, I picked up Thomas and hauled him back indoors. ALL DONE catching geckos! I told him.

Totally grossed out, and feeling very, very guilty, I swore off gecko catching. Now, the gecko's tail is designed to come off so that predators will chase, and eat, it instead of the actual gecko. Having seen it in action, I can see it is a very effective defense, but come ON, I didn't hurt the gecko, though I suppose he can't be blamed for thinking he was my after-dinner snack.

The next night I was coming up our front walk and was stopped dead in my tracks by an unexpected sight. Perched over the kitchen window where I couldn't possiby miss him, giving me the eye, was a newly tailless gecko.

Aw man. I addressed the problem directly, hoping no neighbors were within earshot:
"You climbed all the way over the house so you could come out here and make me feel bad? Look, I didn't do it on purpose. I'm really, really sorry, OK?"

He didn't blink and continued to stare me down.

Fine. I went inside.

Most evenings he was out there, waiting for me, his pink wound growing into a stub, then slowly becoming a tail as the days went by. I would throw a "how's it going there, Stubby?" at him as I braved the gauntlet of his reproachful eye.

Finally his tail was all the way back, and after that he disappeared. I can only hope that his absence indicates that I am forgiven and that there's no longer bad blood between us, karma being what it is.

And, despite my claim to be finished with the entire gecko catching scene, I have started to catch geckos again. Only the ones in the house, to save them from the kids catching techniques. Apparently the word has gone out because one tried to hide under my foot yesterday. I like that.

Teeny tiny itsy bitsy gecko baby. With original tail.

Bethy holding the itsy bitsy teeny weenie can almost see it by the bottom crease of her fingers.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I got my mind set on you...

Happy or just plain nuts?

On Saturday nights in Dubai there is only one place you shall find me, and that is at Safa Park running the Predictor.

During the year the Predictor pulls as many as 150 runners on a Saturday night to make the circuit around Safa once or twice, depending on their level of...well, whatever it is. There were only 30 diehard runners last night, gathered in a small group on the grass, already sweating as they stretched and made small talk and tried to figure out why on earth they had shown up once again. The humidity wasn't bad at about 60%, and it was almost down to 100 F.

Neither of those two conditions were what made the idea of running ludicrous. It was the haze. The skies were like yellow soup and the air thick with sand dust. We couldn't even see the Burj Dubai, the tallest man-made structure in the world, towering nearby at 2,684 ft. There was nothing but a wall of pale, sickly yellow dust. Of the 30 runners, only 8 had opted to run the 2 laps (6.8 km). Though being of apparently sound mind and body, I had opted to be the sole woman among them.

There are few words to describe how much I regret eating like a glutton while we were in the States. Eating out all the time, snacking, and loving Mom food over 5 weeks has added up to some 13 extra pounds of unattractive and non run-friendly flab. Even the lovely and welcome breeze soon paled in consequence as we pounded around the track. It was not as difficult as I remembered running in Dubai had been for me last August, but it was terribly, terribly disheartening. There were almost no other recreational runners, just us. There were no Junior runners at all. Only consenting adults, fools that we were.

I think most of my difficulty was mental. It was only by the last third of the run that I got any sort of stride. Before that I lost track of how many times I dropped to a walk, which is the definition of misery for me. Finally, I got a good George Harrison song going in my head and that helped a lot. My time wasn't too bad when I finally slogged my way across the finish line, but it was no victory. All I can say is that I finished. I don't "DNF" unless I have a broken leg, and even then...well, I'd like to think I'd hop to the end. Yes, I am that much of an idiot: I buy into that "pain is temporary, quitting is forever" deal. Only 7 of us made it to the finish line that night.

"This is a sadistic sport," one of the other ladies observed to me as we stumbled out to our cars. I couldn't help but agree.

I drove home in a daze, sitting on a frozen ice pack, doing my darndest to melt a frozen water bottle which I shoved unabashedly into the cleavage of my jogbra. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I sucked down a Pocari, lots of water, and still had a pulse of 130 a good 35 minutes after finishing the run and getting home. I wondered what a doctor would have said about my predictably low blood pressure reading. "Just let me die," I told Mike. He refused, pushing fluids on me instead, not too worried, and rightly so. I stayed awake long enough to shower and sing Bethy her goodnight song, then collapsed into bed.

I can't wait until some of my favorite compadres come back to the track to join me in this insanity. Misery loves company, after all.

This running stuff is not for sissies.