Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter from me and my Little Chickies!

Nothing like a little girl in an Easter dress!

Sharing her eggs at the preschool egg hunt

In Easter clothes at the playgroup party

Black Toenails and Cookie Dash Run

As I mentioned in my marathon recap, I somehow managed to get three black toenails in the St. Louis marathon.  I can't seem to shake that race.  It keeps finding ways to get me back!  Anyway, I figured I would explain the process of the black toenail to anyone who hasn't experienced it before. 

They say that ill-fitting shoes or running downhill alot in a race can cause black toenails.  I have seen that to be true in the Mountain Mist 50K when I am wearing my stiffer trail shoes and also running quite a bit of downhill segments for longer than normal.  But in St. Louis, I wasn't wearing different shoes (I was in my usual Nikes).  I was wearing new shoes and socks, but I don't remember this bothering me before.  It could also have been caused by all the water.  I ran through sprinklers and had a ton of water poured over me, plus I was sweating alot more than in the colder races too.

Strangely enough, a black toenail is not the first sign of a black toenail!  Neither is pain in your toes during the race!  I first discovered mine when I removed my shoes, and three toes on my right foot just felt the tiniest bit sore.  When I pressed on them, they hurt.  But I knew from experience that they would turn black.  Sure enough, they began to get very sore over the next few days.  Even having the bedsheets on them hurt alot one night last week.  Then after a week, they began turning black (or really more like dark purple). 

Over time they will actually separate from the nail bed, causing the nail to look translucent.  Sometimes they will fall off.  A new nail will grow from the bottom up.  This is a pretty slow process.  So...just in time for sandals season I have these three beauties to show off!

The Cookie Dash 5K run was held this morning.  Rick and I volunteered.  I was a course sentry, and Rick worked the finish line and took pictures.  See the start of the run below.

3 Black Toenails
Cookie Dash 5K Run

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tribute to Boston 2011

Today is the 2011 Boston Marathon.  A day that, had things turned out differently during the registration day, I may have been running.  An opportunity passed by?  Perhaps.  I guess only time will tell.  I wondered how I would feel as I got the athlete updates and heard the stories today.  Well, I can happily say that I was nothing but focused on their stories and their joy.

Here's a couple of athletes that stood out to me today:

* My friend and fellow Fleet Feet Racing Team member, Madelyn Patton, ran a 3:49:22.  I so enjoyed following her with the Boston Marathon athlete tracking tool.  It was fun to cheer her on (even though I know she couldn't hear it, maybe she could feel it?).  I felt like I was right there, waiting at each spot to see her come by.

* Kara Goutcher finished in 2:24:52.  I am becoming quite the Kara Goucher fan!  Seeing her run through her pregnancy and then come back to running so strong is amazing.  I know how hard that can be, and I am so impressed that she is PRing 6 months after becoming a mom (it took me 3 years but I am no elite athlete either!).

*Clara Grandt finished in 2:29:54.  This girl (she's only 24) shares a name with my daughter, so I had to check her out!  What an awesome namesake for my daughter!  She is such a pretty girl, and it so amazing that she was a top US women's finisher (I think 3rd)?

Of course, I really enjoyed hearing about all of the local runners' times, and I can't wait to hear their stories when they return.  I am beginning to see why this race captivates so many runners. 

If you want to learn more about the Boston Marathon, I encourage you to read the latest Runner's World magazine.  They had a great article about Boston, its appeal, and the tougher standards and revised registration process that came about after the 2011 registration process.  The Boston Marathon lives on as a race driven by excellence, one of the things that is the most appealing to me about it.  I love this FAQ from Runner's World about the unicorn, which is its symbol (a little silly, but read on!):

Q: Why was the Unicorn chosen as the symbol of the B.A.A. and the Boston Marathon?

Chosen by the founding members of the Boston Athletic Association in 1887 -- ten years prior to the inaugural Boston Marathon -- the Unicorn is believed to have been chosen as the organization's symbol due to its place in mythology. In Chinese and other mythologies, the Unicorn represents an ideal: something to pursue, but which can never be caught. In pursuit of the Unicorn, however, athletic competitors can approach excellence (but never fully achieve it). It is this pursuit to push oneself to his or her own limit and to the best of one's ability which is at the core of athletics. And for this reason, as the marathon matured, that the B.A.A. also decided that the Unicorn would be the appropriate symbol for the marathon.
--from the BAA (this expounded answer was found on this website.)

Go! St. Louis Marathon Pictures

Serious leg muscle picture (and my "2" for second chance)

Just in case you thought I made up the Cliff Blocks story!
Finishing!  This is a good one.  I may have to buy it.
Finisher's medal

Can you tell that my hair (and clothes) are soaking wet here?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again

I am sitting here holding the Go! St. Louis Marathon medal and recalling this past weekend's events.  I am just overwhelmed with thankfulness to my husband for suggesting that I head back to St. Louis this year to try again in the marathon.  And I am hoping that this will make a great "If at first you don't succeed..." story for my children one day.  This marathon had lots of ups and downs, but in the end, my ability to not give up is what I hope to remember most.

Friday and Saturday Before
We left Madison at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 8th for a 6 hour drive up to St. Louis.  The day started with me jolting awake and realizing that I'd forgotten to set my alarm clock for my 4:45 a.m. run with my friends.  I settled for 30 minutes on the elliptical machine instead and considered it good tapering. 

We made it to the arch by mid-afternoon.  I don't think there's a better way to be welcomed into St. Louis then by riding up to the top of the arch and looking out at the city below.  But our 3 year old had had enough of sitting still.  She made her point to us by loudly squeaking throughout the tour.  "Squeaks" was getting quite a few stares and annoyed glances.  Here are pictures of the view from the arch and of "Squeaks" as she takes in the view (while squeaking loudly in protest and clinging to the wall for dear life):
View from the arch
Our little tree frog "Squeaks" holds on for dear life.
We also were able to fit in the Expo that same day.  "Squeaks" had gotten blisters after insisting on wearing red dress shoes on the trip up, so I agreed to carry her in her baby sling.  Well, it is good for up to 35 pounds, and I am glad to say that it passed that test with my 31 pounder that day!  I felt like I got quite the workout traveling with her on my front.  Don't be fooled by how easy it looks in the picture below--that thing will kill your back.
Heading to our car from the Expo.
On Saturday, we visited The Magic House children's museum for free using our local museum's reciprocal membership.  I think we may try to visit a children's museum in every state we run in too!
The Magic House fun

That night I carbo-loaded on pizza from Imo's Pizza that we ate in a nearby park.  Maybe not the best choice, but it worked.  We got more snacks at a Target.  The children marveled at the escalator that even had an adjoining escalator for your cart!  We took a quick dip in the pool (the highlight of the hotel or "hoe-tail" as my daughter calls it). 

Race Morning
As usual before a marathon, I tossed and turned quite a bit on Saturday night.  I got up at 5:20 a.m. to take a shower and get ready to go.  Rick had decided to drive me to the start line, a wonderfully chivalrous thing for him to do--and much appreciated!   Of course, the children had to get up and come too.  They were surprisingly chipper for such an early morning!  The traffic was pretty heavy going onto the exit ramps near the start line, but since we weren't parking he drove me right to the start area to drop me off.  I left my drop bag with him before he pulled away.  Not needing a drop bag was another unusual luxury for me!  I had about 45 minutes to wait in line for the port-a-potties, stretch, and find my corral (B) before the 7 a.m. start.  I positioned myself near the 3:20 pacer but tuned him out after noticing his tacky skirt (yes, skirt) and his talk about walking through the water stations.  Not for me.  The temperature was in the high 60s, and it was nice to start without being cold.  This would not feel so nice later on, though.

The Race
UPDATE: I have since learned that "Cliff Blocks" is actually spelled "Clif Bloks."  I like my way better, so I'm leaving it!)
My first mile was a fast 7:21, and things were going well until I noticed something in my pants!  My Cliff Blocks were crammed into a tiny jewelry baggie and safety-pinned to my shorts and tucked inside.  Well, at the last minute, I added 3 more Blocks to my original 6 (I just couldn't finish them before the race and didn't want to waste them).  I guess the baggie couldn't hold them all, so it busted from the bottom.  Two Blocks were dancing all over my shorts, and the rest were not far behind.  I fished them out (feeling sorry for those who saw me!) and debated about what to do.  So here I am, my sweaty hand holding 9 melting, sticky Blocks designed for mile 20, and I'm at mile 2 of the race.  A photographer happened to be right there, and I held them out for a picture to preserve the fiasco!  I decided to eat them slowly, thinking that taking them too early was better than not taking them at all.  I struggled to use my sticky fist to grab waters, hit "lap" on my watch, and hold the Gu given to me at mile 8 (which I had absolutely no use for at that point).

I still managed to fall into a nice rhythm for the first 9 miles.  Though I did have one foolishly fast 6:56 mile, the rest were a little closer to the 7:30's I was shooting for.  I was majorly buoyed by seeing Rick and the children at miles 11 and 13.  I felt the need to try to tell him the Cliff Blocks story upon seeing him the second time (see below). 
The children playing in the nearby park while waiting to see me running.

Mile 11

Telling my story at Mile 13 (and I'm sure making no sense!)

Oh my gosh, am I still talking?
My half split was roughly the same as my Myrtle Beach split time, but I didn't feel as confident at all at keeping that pace up for another half.  Looking back at my splits, I began to slow down around mile 14---way too early to be getting tired.  This course was hilly and the temperature was so much warmer than what I'd trained in.  My body was just trying too hard to keep it up in the heat.  Honestly, I felt a little dejavou about the whole race--in a bad way.  Could a race really beat me down twice?  In the war between me and this race, this race had already won one battle! 

I continued on with a sub-9 minute mile pace until mile 22.  Seeing the spot where I'd dropped out was such an emotional experience.  And Rick was there!  He was holding two cups of Gatorade for me (the person in front of me in the picture below--I guess--thought Rick was an aid station and tried to take one!).  I was so tired by then, so I croutched on the spot to drink the Gatorade.  I was thinking about how 365 days had passed over this very fateful spot.  "You spilled," mumbled my daughter, and I thought, "Baby, that's the last thing on my mind right now."  I must've said something like, "I don't think I can finish today either," and Rick used the opportunity to say, "Oh yes you will!" and swatted me on the bottom as I slowly began walking.  I was now wearing his hat, which he lent me for a bit of relief from the heat.  That mile was a 10:12.
I am pointing to the spot where I dropped out last year. 
I'd like to say that there was some crescendo moment as the last few miles passed by me, but that just wasn't the case.  They were very tough, very slow miles, though I appreciated seeing the part of the course that I'd so longed to see the year before.  I started pouring a water cup over my head at each aid station and even had a volunteer pour an entire pitcher over my head near the end.  I later learned that the course was closed to those people who hadn't yet made it to mile 9 by 9:15 a.m.  Strong, very fit men all around me were walking, (I guess) also surprised by the heat that I now knew would keep me from entering any more April marathons.  I walked two more times in this race and saw several women pass me by, along with my top-20 finish.  It didn't matter today though.  This race was about retribution, and finishing was the way I would get that.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a 3:35 time on the clock at the finish line and managed a faster trot to get under in 3:35:43.     
Rick calls this picture, "Take that, St. Louis, and your heat!"
I ended up going to the medical tent due to a pretty persistent volunteer who wouldn't let me sit down on the ground like I wanted.  My legs were hurting and my stomach was a little tight (probably from excessive Cliff Blocks).  I lay down in there for about 5 minutes, but I knew I felt fine (well, much much better than Myrtle Beach) so I left there quickly and went to find Rick and the children.  Rick took the picture above of me, capturing what can only be called a smirk of triumph.  We stopped for a post-race tradition of ice cream, this time at the "famous" Ted Drews for melty concretes.
"Necessary" post-race ice cream
Do you think the race shirts could get any greener?  Am I a highlighter or what?
I must admit there's a bit of a let down after so much anticipation over this race.  We don't have another marathon planned until October, which is fine since it is too hot for them anyway!  I surprised myself with a 6 mile run on Monday (I can't ever remembering running the day after a marathon before) and an 8 mile run today.  My sore muscles are returning to normal.  Three black toenails remain, little reminders of a story that was over a year in the making--one with a very good ending. 
1 7:21
2 7:10
3 7:24
4 7:12
5 7:28
6 7:29
7 6:56
8 7:19
9 7:17
10 7:34
11 7:33
12 7:39
13 7:28
14 7:51
15 8:05
16 8:14
17 8:23
18 8:18
19 8:38
20 8:48
21 8:50
22 10:12
23 10:43
24 8:43
25 11:55
26 8:16
.2 2:39    

3:35:43 27th Female

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fortitude And Running Marathons

I am working on a post about Sunday's race.  Life has caught up to me, and I've had a ton of obligations since returning from our weekend trip.  I don't want to rush the entry.  But it's a good story with a good stay tuned!  In the meantime, I've been thinking alot about what I learned about marathons on Sunday, and I wanted to share. 

I learned this quote in high school and fell in love with it:

 "Did you not call this a glorious expedition? And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror; because at every new incident your fortitude was to be called forth and your courage exhibited; because danger and death surrounded it, and these you were to brave and overcome. For this was it a glorious, for this was it an honourable undertaking."  (emphasis added)
--Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Something about those words struck me all of those years ago.  Now that I am a marathon runner, I feel those words reverberating in my soul every single time I push myself to the limit.  It is an incredible feeling.  Then I looked up the definition of fortitude: 1: strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage.  How aptly this describes marathon running to me, especially the race on Sunday!  As the heat and hills were taking their toll on me, how wonderful it was to find solace in these words.  Though my body was weary, my mind was committed to what I had to do.  How amazing to discover this well of strength and courage inside of me! 

Here is what I know about marathons after having run twenty-two of them.  Each marathon is a uniquely different experience.  Yes, some are easy.  Some are very tough.  Some are crowded and frustrating and poorly organized.  Some are full of music and spectators and joyful energy.  Some are about who I meet along the way to chat with, and some are about the pleasant solitude.  Some are once-in-a-lifetime moments, and some are forgettable and mundane.  Sometimes they turn out just like I would have planned, and sometimes I look back and I'm glad they didn't turn out at all like I had planned!  I encourage anyone who is thinking about running a marathon to just give it a chance.  You may find your own soul-searching process awaits you!  

Flowers from my boy at the finish line!  Thank goodness for the park along the marathon course!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

See you in St. Louie!

The Go! St. Louis Marathon is this Sunday, and I am going in the hopes of NOT repeating last year's debacle.  In case you don't want to go back and reread it (it's NOT pretty!), basically I had a bad stomach bug but started the race anyway (darn stubbornness!).  I painfully covered 22 miles, with the last mile being the slowest at 25 minutes.  I finally decided to drop out and earned my first DNF (Did Not Finish) plus a trip to the nearest hospital and two bags of IV fluids.  This sadly led to my first DNF state in my quest for a marathon in all fifty states.  That was, until Rick wonderfully suggested that I try again this year.  This is a big sacrifice on his part and means so much to me. 

This will be my 22nd marathon, and you'd think I'd know what I am doing by now.  Yet each one is very different.  Last year's run proved how sensitive each delicate system of our body can be.  Though I want to hammer it in terms of running for deep revenge for last year's miserable experience, there is only so much one body can do.

Here are some reasons that this marathon will be a struggle for me:

*It's fifth in a series of four marathons and one 50K over the past 6 months (Marshall University  November 7, 2010, Rocket City  December 11, 2010, Mountain Mist 50K January 22, 2011, and Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach February 19, 2011).  The "marathon-a-month" thing can only take me so far before I begin to feel the effects of too many long distances in a row.  I am at the limit now.  I can feel it in my daily runs, which are leaving me drained and achy and with waning self-confidence.

* My recent PR (3:18) at Myrtle Beach was only a month and a half ago.  You can't expect to PR at every race, as Rick reminds me.  This may be one to take it easier on after such a good experience in that one (though on the flip-side, shouldn't I expect to be able to perform reasonably the same?).
*Training has been pretty poor for this marathon.  The 25K race I intended to use as my main good training run turned into an easier paced run.  As Jane says, at least I'm well rested!  Sometimes that can be a good thing.
This race left me beaten down, humiliated, and quite jaded about marathon running.  It is no longer about "when I finish" but "if I finish."  That became a new phrase to me last April.  And I'm ready for some revenge!  Whether if it happens in the form of another 3:18 or something more realistic (I am shooting for a 3:30), I am eager for the cathartic experience that finishing this race will bring.  {Well, upon second thought, maybe that isn't the word I was looking for!}

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Myrtle Beach Marathon - Rick's perspective

I guess to a large extent, I find running/racing to be a personal thing. Although I enjoy running with others, I can’t say that I feel a compulsion to blog about racing to share my experiences with others in written form. That’s something I’m working on and my wife is encouraging me to do. Katie says she can’t wait to blog about a race or a run and even has them half written while she’s still out on the course. I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point, but I feel encouraged hearing about others’ running experiences. So there may be some benefit to sharing my experiences too. This blog entry is to share and document my experience leading up to and at the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 19, 2011.

The Myrtle Beach Marathon was supposed to be the last in a string of longer races for us. That string started with the Marshall Marathon on November 7, 2010 and was supposed to include Mountain Mist on January 22, 2011. Honestly, in my mind, the marathons before and after Mountain Mist were secondary; a warm up and a cool down if you will. I started focusing on Mountain Mist 6 or 7 months in advance and printed out multiple training plans (including this one from Dink Taylor) to compare that were between 17 to 24 weeks long. I started seeking out the “euphoria” that only hill work brings and the adventure and solitude of running on trails when I could. I even stopped shaving my goatee in November as a reminder every time I looked in the mirror that I had a mission. The mission was to be well prepared for Mountain Mist and finish feeling pleased about it. The fact that I ran a PR and my first BQ at the Marshall Marathon (I wrote about that experience here) was a bonus the way I looked at it and an indicator that I was on the right track for a satisfying Mountain Mist. Well. I pushed myself right off that track. Looking back, I think I got a bit greedy. I went from averaging a little under 200 miles and less than 5,000 feet of elevation gain per month to 260 miles and close to 10,000 feet of elevation gain in December. On January 2, my body pushed back in the form of Piriformis Syndrome. It took me a little while to figure it out, but a pinched sciatic nerve shut my running down. I went from a hilly 20 mile run with Teddy on Sunday morning to walking during an easy warm up on the way to a track workout on Tuesday. As I was limping back to my car, I remember seeing Greg Reynolds on his way to the track and wishing I could run half as fast without pain. I had felt some discomfort in my left hamstring near the end of the 20 miler, but now I couldn’t even jog slowly due to the pain. So here it is, early January and I can’t run five feet much less 50 kilometers. I tried to hold on to the momentum and fitness I had by training on our elliptical machine, but that got old fast. I visited a chiropractor, finally figured out what was causing the pain, but wasn’t healed up in time for the race at the end of January. God had other plans for me and was likely telling me I was in danger of tipping the healthy balance between family, work and running. But I’m thankful about what He planned to happen next. I made a recovery that was nearly as quick as the onset of the injury. My running log shows several elliptical machine entries, then a “slow and uncomfortable 3 mile run” on February 1, a couple of runs on a treadmill, and then a run I titled “getting there” on February 8. I averaged under 8 minute miles for six miles with a left hamstring that felt mildly sore and tight at 11 days before the race. So, now it was time to taper for the Myrtle Beach marathon…

The Marathon
Katie does a good job documenting our marathon trips on this blog, so I’ll stick to the race here. I knew this race would be slower than the Marshall Marathon. 3:40 or so is what I estimated was a realistic goal. I made a deal with myself to start out with 8:30 miles or slower for the first 8 to 10 miles, and see what happened after that. That deal, based in logic, went right out the window when I got to the start line. The excitement, adrenaline, and ease of the early miles had me clocking in sub-8s by mile four. I talked myself into this pace by saying that I was coming off of a PR in November, this was a flat/fast course and I was “well rested.” Even though I reasoned that a 3:40 would have to be a satisfying finish time going into the marathon, now that I was racing, I really wanted a sub-3:30 marathon. There’s that pride and greed showing up again. So I went for it. “And why not?,” I thought. Aren’t runners encouraged to go for it? We hear stories all the time about people going for it and succeeding. So, I cranked out several miles in the 7:40s and 7:50s, and really enjoyed them. The course was nice, the crowds were good, the weather wasn’t bad (a bit warm and windy) and I was feeling good. I saw Katie at one point where the course turns back on itself and was glad to see her looking strong as I cheered her on. I caught up to and ran with the 3:30 pacing group (running with a pacing group isn’t something I normally do). Well, I went for it, but then I paid for it. At mile 21, I was reminded what I have learned at several other marathons. It pays to run to your ability level at that race. A negative split at the Marshall Marathon was so much more pleasant than this approach. Being properly prepared for and correctly executing a marathon makes for a much better experience. My mile 20 split was a low 8 and the rest of the way would be north of 9 minutes per mile. I hit the wall because of my foolish pride. My mind calculated how much longer I would be running at a 9ish pace for 5+ miles. Running that much longer was a dreadful thought. I remember really pushing to maintain a pace I would call a “slow run” and I was going to have to do that for quite a while. “Slow run” later became a “slow jog.” “Slow jog” became “stopped off the side of the road with a cramp in my hamstring” at one point. Those last miles were tough. Making it through those miles was an accomplishment. I ran a 3:41; almost exactly what I thought I could run going into the race. Running a 3:41 was tougher than 3:14…tougher but it didn’t have to be. Even though I couldn’t do much to improve my preparation because of the injury situation, my execution during the race made it unnecessarily tough. Even splits or a negative split would have made for a far more enjoyable (and possibly faster) marathon. I hope to learn not to let my pride trip me up. This experience has made me think about why I run. I’ve always thought that I run because I simply enjoy running. I enjoy being outside, having a chance to clear my mind from distractions, feeling closeness to God, sharing the company of another runner, feeling fit and healthy, getting a runner’s high…basically I enjoy the benefits running offers to mind, body and soul. Did the primary reason for running become so that I can look back at results with a feeling of pride and accomplishment? That will always be part of it, but I want to prevent that from being my main focus. I’m not fond of the outcome when it is my focus. That brings two scriptures to mind: Isaiah 40:31 and 1 Samuel 2:3

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Putting it into Perspective

Chillin' during the (two-hour) sit-down reception last weekend
If you've never met me in person before, then this blog is the main way for us to "meet," at least for now that is.  That thought actually kind of scares me a little!  I am focusing so much on one part that you may not be getting an accurate view of me.  I have been thinking about this alot and hoping that I am not coming across as being too focused on running.  Don't get me wrong, I love to run, but it's not who I am.

Thus, some things about Katie that you may or may not know:

*I run (at most) 4 days a week.  It is not a big part of my day, as it's mostly done in the wee morning hours. 

* I often feel like my training is inadequate, but I don't feel like putting in any more effort.  This leads me to "kamikaze run," a term used to describe Shalane Flanagan's once-foolish race strategy that now pretty well describes mine (see Runner's World article here).

* I raced 16 times last year, less than 1/3 of the Saturdays in the year.  I raced only 6 times in 2009.

*My main enjoyment in running comes from the fact that it is a common bond between my husband and me.  We met through running, have finished marathons side-by-side, and offer each other support and encouragement as we train.  I ache for all couples to have something like this that they can enjoy doing together.  I miss the frequent training we used to do together before having children.

*Our main focus for our marathons is childcare and available activities for the children at our destination.  The marathon is a distant dead-last in terms of what I think about as I am packing for one of our trips. 

* I have 60 posts on this blog, which I started last May.  I have 280 posts on my (private) family blog, which I started when my son was born nearly five years ago.  I spend a great deal of time uploading pictures to that blog, adding little stories from the month, etc.  I am on that blog A LOT.  It's a much better picture of who I am.

* I gave up my teaching career to stay at home and raise our two children.  I think alot about what my daily life will be like in two years when they are off in "big school."  My proudest achievement over the last four years has nothing to do with running.  It's teaching at their preschool so that I could pay their tuition with my salary. 

*I love being their mother and work daily on being a better mom.  My nightstand always has a collection of Christian parenting books on it.  I'd much rather get better at mothering than marathoning, and I'd much rather be remembered as a good mother than as some girl who did pretty well in some races.

So, it is my hope that my readers will understand where I'm coming from when I post on this blog.  I will continue to make it very running-heavy, because that's what it's about.  I just wanted you to know that that's not what my life is about.