Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Obligatory Christmas Post

My fat, happy lump of a baby, posing for Christmas (or, just laying there because she can't escape).
She spent more time in arms and on laps than anything else, and passed out on my shoulder that evening before I could get her to her crib.

My fat, happy, hyperactive toddler needs a good deal of coaxing and distraction to get her into any pose. She no longer falls asleep on my shoulder or lap, and I'm sure she'll stay up as late as we'll let her this year.

About 10 seconds before screaming to let me allow her to run around the tree...

My hubby is pretty ambivalent about the season but I think having a toddler who reacts to the sights and sounds of the holiday makes it so much more special than it's been any other year. Sure, I got emo/sentimental about her first Christmas but it's this year that seems even more significant.

Now, we didn't do the Santa thing (she's already met one dude with an outa-control beard and I'm pretty certain she wouldn't sit on his lap). Call me selfish, but I just didn't want to deal with the screaming, germy, kids-cracked-out-on-sugar and moms-cracked-out-on-Starbucks insanity that is the scene at most American malls this time of year.

But we have had our share of walks to check out the neighbors' decorations, she's dismanteled helped with the tree a great deal, and as much as I pretend to bemoan the request every time she makes it, I love how she'll go, "Monkey? Monkey? Monkey. Monkey. MONKEY!" until I finally cave in and sing "The Christmas Monkey Song."

I just did a search for a video with no luck. All I can tell you is it took me 5 viewings to learn it and now I have to sing it until my voice caves. It's like 3 verses and 3 choruses and she knows how long the song should be so if I cut it short because we're in public, she calls me out. I'll spare your ears and not post a video of me singing it.

But I'm sure it'll be on repeat on Christmas Day.

What's your favorite Christmas song? Someone told me something yesterday about there being one about a rhinoceros. Let the You Tubing commence...

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Me vs. Christmas

Same battles, different year.
I say, "I'm gonna send cards!" Doesn't happen.
A year later, I say, "Now that I have a cute baby, I'm DEFINITELY going to send cards!" Doesn't happen.
This year, I say, "I'm going to FINALLY, REALLY send cards so people know I and my child do exist and are, in fact, still members of the family." Nope.

I say, "I'm going to plan and budget and get everyone a nice gift." I don't plan, don't budget, and people try to act happy about their cookies and socks.
A year later, immediate family agrees, "No one will buy anything over $40 for anyone else." Then, I get so much crap I'm in a funk of guilt and shame until June.
This year, we vow to only bestow unto others functional, thoughtful gifts, so I'll make and freeze my best meat sauce for relatives and they will, in turn, spend way too much money on me again and I'll be forced to feel like I'm living on hand-outs.

Why do the holidays do this to us? Year after year, we get up our hopes and expectations for the "ideal" Christmas to come to pass and every year, it doesn't! I'm not one for getting all worked up about the holidays but one, just one year I'd like to feel like a real Mom/Wifey/Benevolent Neighbor & Relative and get shit baked, wrapped, and in the mail on time.

Not this year, I guess. I think I'll just get a bunch of oven-ready heure d'oeuvres from Trader Joe's, give people specialty bars of chocolate in make-shift gift baskets, then duck out for a run during nap & the 18th run of "A Christmas Story," and call it a day. As far as cards go.. hopefully the family I'm "friends" with on Facebook will pass the word that we are well and wish all of our other blood relatives a wondrous holiday.

Christmas, I am no match for you and all of your... Christmasyness.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

peace, love, Final Fantasy and old vine zin

This post is inspired in part by the holiday - Thanksgiving - and an article I read in Runner's World several months ago. I don't remember the title or the author, but the gist of it was about changing the language of our own thought processes to have a more positive lookout on the tasks that lay before us. But not in a lame, reciting affirmations in front of the mirror, kind of way. It's just making one simple change to our internal dialogue: every time you think "I have to...", think, "I get to."

In the context of running, making this change certainly makes it easier to make it out the door. I get to wake up. I get to put on my sneakers. I get to go run. This tends to automatically make me think of the people who don't have the same opportunity I do to hit the pavement, and I naturally start to appreciate the run that much more.

But if I take it a step further and apply this thinking to other aspects of my life, well, things look pretty damn good.

For me, it's "I got to work today." On a day when people were lined up outside of soup kitchens because they're unemployed and can't afford a turkey dinner for their families, homeless, or both, I got the opportunity to pick up a busy shift. Now, I won't lie and say that by hour 6 of the non-stop Turkey frenzy, I wasn't hoping that people would eventually tire of entering the front door, but I won't soon worry about if I'll be able to afford groceries next week, or when I'll have my next hot meal. The people I took care of today took care of me, and for that, I'm extremely grateful.
And now, I get to clack away on my laptop like I've come to some sort of world-altering realization, I get to enjoy a glass (or 2) of wine, I get to watch my husband play his video game, and in the morning, I get to be the first person my daughter smiles at when I open her door. Life is good. (Hey, that's a nice little slogan. No wonder that T-shirt company makes a fortune.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Instruction Manual: How to Master Moving Twice in Six Months, Mother's Addition

Newbie Mistake: Trying to go about all other aspects of your day-to-day as normal.

Seasoned Pro: Forget it.
Everything will take twice as long. Twice as long to get dressed because you don't know if you packed that shirt or if it's in the laundry, twice as long to prepare a meal as you deliberate questionable concoctions of random pantry items so you don't have to throw them away, and twice as long to go anywhere because every trip involves loading the car full of trash to take out or crap to donate to Good Will. (Editor's Note: My sincere apologies to Good Will for all the crap we're giving you. It's good crap, we promise.)

Newbie Mistake: Holding onto items because you're *pretty sure* you'll wear them again.

Seasoned Pro: No. No you won't.
For starters, let me clear up a few things: You're NOT going to take the time to go get those pants hemmed, you're NOT going to make it to Hobby Lobby to find the ONE button that matches the rest on that blouse, and now that you know what it feels like to have a baby where your lungs should be, you're NEVER going to wear that sexy corset top ever again. Trust me, go ahead and lighten your load and you'll be much happier when you discover your new place doesn't have as much closet space, after all.

Newbie Mistake: "Really, my kid's great. I can pack and move and take care of her at the same time, no problem.

Seasoned Pro: No. No you can't.
You might be Super Mom and you might have a Wonder Baby who'll peacefully flip through board books for hours, but as soon as the boxes come out, the desk drawers are being emptied and the newspaper is flying everywhere, she will get into E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Even the most careful parent will find herself chasing after a toddler gleefully running around with AAA batteries clutched in a death-grip or lunging after that child about to perform a base-jump off a box. Now is not the time for parental pride. Ask for help, lots of it.

Newbie Mistake: Worrying about not running/working out for a week.

Seasoned Pro: Save yourself from your exercise OCD, or your back will make you pay.
That's pretty self-explanatory.

Newbie Mistake: Going for hours on end, staying up late to "just get it done" and basically burning the candle at both ends.

Seasoned Pro: No matter what you do, this whole moving thing will occupy your life, period.
No use in trying to rush, multitask, or work efficiently. Life will be crazy for a couple weeks but sure enough, you'll get back to normal, I promise. Hence my blogging while my daughter naps instead of rummaging through toiletries under the bathroom sink. I'll get it done one way or another, and if I don't, well, there's always later. When it comes down to crunch time we'll get shit knocked out and be on our way. Don't spend every waking minute fussing over details. If you don't sit down and take a break, you'll go nuts, and then when you do finally ask for help no one will want to because you'll be a nerve-wracked, sleep-deprived beyotch. No one wants to help a beyotch.

*~The End~*

Sunday, October 31, 2010

'da marathon

All in all, it was a pretty uneventful race, but I somehow found a way to fill a page with inconsequential details and, of course, a little TMI. Enjoy :)

The Start:

Chilly, 46 degrees, crisp and clear. I was able to warm up enough jogging and jumping around to start in shorts, a long-sleeved shirt over my T-shirt, gloves and my running cap. There was the usual bottleneck at the start but things opened up within the first few miles. I had to be careful to go out too quickly because of the cool air and the downhill start but my first 4 miles were still at an 8:00/mi. pace. Whoops.

The Single Digits / 1st Third:

Things were great through mile 8. I kept the ipod off to keep myself from getting pumped by a poorly-timed Green Day song and running too quickly. My mantra through the first third was "easy peasy." I thought about how much nicer the weather was than what I've been training in all summer. I thought about what I'd order at my old restaurant when we went out to eat later (side note: Papas Bravas, Spanish-style home fries, if you will, are FANTASTIC after a marathon). I thought a little about my race strategy and settled on deciding that whether it was fast or slow, I just wanted to be albe to keep running, so that's what I did.

The Double Digits / 2nd Third:

After mile 8 began the start of a 10-mile uphill battle. I didn't realize this until about 10 miles later; a fact I would have known if I'd simply looked at the elevation chart. Whoops. I knew about miles 8-12. I was familiar with those roads and had run them often in years past. Beyond that I figured we'd hit rolling hills, not mile after mile on non-stop, low-grade incline that would slowly eat away at my calf muscles. My pace suffered a bit too, as I struggled to maintain 9:00/mi splits through this portion of the race. The good news is, I kept running. No major GI issues and no major pains, even though the run itself was becomming a pain in the butt.

The 20's / "The 2nd Half":

We've all read about and/or experienced mile 20, the wall, and that the 6.2 miles following it are longer and harder than everything before it. What was great about yesterday is that this wasn't the case for me. By mile 19 we were back on Swamp Rabbit Trail - part of a rails-to-trails path - and heading downhill at a nice .5-1% grade. I was able to bring my pace back down a little but did struggle with the fact that my legs were starting to want to lock up and my low back was killing me. I pushed on though and started up the ipod to rock through the last portion of the race.

Mile 23:

Just as I started wondering if I might be getting close to a wall, things started feeling funny "down there" (did I mention I was surfing the crimson tide?) and I had to STOP and clench my cheeks together to keep things from, uhm, moving. I worried the immodium I took beforehand was going to completely fail me so I had to walk for half a minute until the sense of urgency went away. The combo of cramps plus running had made things suddenly rather uncomfortable. But I slowly got back into a jog and then a run just as I came up to my husband and mother a couple miles from the finish. I didn't really say anything to them, just took a swig of water from the bottle Zac handed me, and muttered, "gotta keep moving," and ran off. Later, Zac told me I had a real funny look about me but when I told him what was going on, he went, "Ahhaaaa..."

The Finish:

By mile 24 I was back at my old clip but realized the long uphill had slowed me down too much to qualify for Boston and just totally did not care. And I loved that I did not care. After all, there's always the spring. I knew I'd be proud of my time so I plodded on and conserved a little energy for a strong-looking finish, complete with devil horns and sticking out my tongue to the camera guy. (pictures later, if I can steal them from the website).

The Day After:

I'm walking like I'm 86 and my calves woke me up a few times last night, but other than that I feel good, I feel accomplished, and I'm looking forward to another couple days of lounging and pigging out before driving back to Georgia.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

reluctantly crouched at the starting line

I've been giving a small bit of thought lately to what I'm running for this Saturday, and all the usual answers just aren't appeasing my self inquiry.

To prove to myself that I can do it.
Well, already have, twice.

To prove to myself that I can do it after birthing a child.
Meh, not really an issue. If I can run around a restaurant for 14 hours, I can run 4 (hopefully less, which brings me to the next possible answer...)

To prove to myself that I can run it in 3:40 or faster after birthing a child.
I'm not sure just how much that whole childbirth thing plays into Saturday's race, considering she's now 15 months old and everything's been healed up for quite some time. I'm pretty far beyond the point where I can boast about my running abilities "just" after having a baby. Three hours and forty minutes (the cut-off for my age group for the Boston Marathon) is more about training and stamina. I think I have the stamina, even if I haven't trained as intensly as in the past.

So I know I can run it, and I think I can run it well. What is it then that drives me to do another? I mean, I don't exactly like running 26.2 miles. The fun disappears somewhere between mile 13 and mile 20, and the last 6.2, well... we all know how awesome THAT is.

My best guess is that I want to enjoy the entire thing. I want to feel like the distance and effort come naturally, and that maybe, some day, I might be able to do something even more crazy, like an Ironman, or even a 50-miler. Because as fantastic an achievement as running a marathon may be, let's face it: Oprah's not signing up for any ultras, so that level of BAMF-ness can remain firmly intact.

In the end, I don't think I'll know the answer to why I needed to run another marathon until I cross the finish line. Because then I'll be able to pinpoint the exact thing that pushed me through the race and made me keep going, and use that as my strength and focus as I move forward to see where else this crazy running thing might take me.

Monday, October 4, 2010


My 20-miler wasn't the glorious laugh-in-the-marathon's-face experience I had with the 18, but it was... nice.

"Nice" is not a word most people would use to describe having to run 20 miles, but that's about the only word I can think of to sum it up. It wasn't spectacular - no land speed records this time - but the weather was absolutely gorgeous, I didn't have to guzzle water like I've had to all summer, and having a Garmin to run with allowed me to make a few wrong turns and not freak out because hey, it was all going toward the same mileage anyway.

But my run did bring me to another question: why do some people run so much when preparing for a marathon. Besides my weekly long runs (with cut-back weeks / aka weeks of working too much to attempt anything more than 6 miles at a time) I haven't been doing much of anything, yet I know I'm pretty much on track for the BQ. How is this possible with 20-30 mpw?

And what if... what if I could run more? I'm almost scared to think what some *real* training might do.

Well, I'll have most of the rest of Autumn and the beginning of Winter to decide where my running takes me. I figure after I run on the 30th (25 day! Eek!) and qualify for Boston (while we're being cocky, here), I'll take some time to x-train and focus on some shorter races before deciding if I'll actually run Boston, and how hard I'll train for it or if I'll just sit back and enjoy the race on cruise control.

Monday, September 27, 2010

18 miles

Number of marathons: 2 going on 3

Number of 18-mile runs: 2, including the one I did yesterday.

Long story short, I didn't know crap about marathon training for my first marathon. I thought it was enough that I was working doubles at Olive Garden, racing around like a headless chicken trying to keep up with never-ending soup, salad and breadsticks. My longest run pre-marathon was 14 miles, about 3 weeks out. I finished the race in 3:59:59. I was actually doing pretty well up until mile 20, when everything completely fell apart, and my limbs about fell off. My body was rejecting all attempts to refuel or rehydrate with gut-wrenching cramps. My hips felt like they had become bolted in place and would no long swing. I got out lucky with my barely-sub-4.

The second marathon went better. I had successfully completed an 18-mile run, but bonked on the 20, only doing about 16. I did track workouts every week and hill repeats every other. I cross-trained to keep my IT bands in check. I went to yoga and spin every week, biked to work, and got a few deep-tissue massages. The result was a much better marathon, my only complaint being that I, once again, was experiencing major tummy issues. Gu's still hit my stomach lining like a bag of nails so I had to wog (walk/jog) a few miles until everything sorted itself out. I crossed the line in 3:39:00.

For marathon #3, I feel like I'm somewhere between the 1st and the 2nd when it comes to preparation. I'm doing the miles, but without a gym membership my only cross-training is yoga in the living room and serving. I did speed work for the first few weeks of a running regimen until I started working again and my only option to run was with the jogging stroller most days of the week. Yet somehow, I feel stronger than ever.

Maybe it was labor, or marching up and down hills every day, several times a day with a 25-lb baby on my back and a 60-lb dog leashed to each arm, or simply the fact that after a long day or a hard run I can't just collapse because I still have a child (and husband) to tend too, but somehow, I am stronger, and maybe faster, than before.

I ran 18 in 2:34 - about 13 on a treadmill during monsoon-like conditions, and the other 5 outside during a break in the deluge (once the Falcons/Saints game got to half-time, that is). I felt good. Like crazy good. When I got outside I was practically laughing out loud to myself that it was insane how good I felt, and that surely something was wrong with me. I only listened to my ipod (a bit of a crutch for longer runs) for the last 2 miles and finished fast.

I've heard from a lot of moms that they feel like they are better runners post-baby(ies) than before. I wonder what, exactly, causes this change. Is it because we're forced into a new roll in addition to all the others we play? Is it because our days off are still days on? Is it because labor and delivery elevates us to a whole new level of endurance and pain tolerance?

Who knows? All I do know, is that I'm doing 20 next week, and I am not going to bonk.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More conversations with myself.

Thank goodness for blogs, because if I was trying to keep any kind of record of my life in an actual diary (you know, the kind with paper, and binding?) it'd probably have an inch of dust on it.

Life's been interesting. Some ups and downs as of late, mostly my own, and mostly in my own head. I've been unimaginably frustrated with life in south-metro Atlanta (which is not Atlanta at all) and my husband bringing home stress from work hasn't helped. I'm still struggling with some homesickness, and sticking to any kind of training schedule has only been semi-successful at best.

I've been methodically checking off my long runs, at least. I'm due to run 18 Sunday. I have 36 days until the marathon. I ran a respectable 5K earlier this evening (not a PR, at 23:00, but not bad after running a couple miles beforehand and it being 87 degrees out). Like a trusted old friend, Running is there for me to interact with or just hang out quietly in the same room. Sometimes there's lots to share; those are the days I bust out 8 miles in an hour then go on to work a Saturday night shift at the restaurant. Sometimes, we only flirt with the idea of getting together; the Sundays when I'm just too beat from working doubles to even consider running double-digits, and I slog through 6 miserable miles instead.

I just hate when life takes away from my running. During my pathetic 6-miler (this was last Sunday, when I was first supposed to run 18, which I postponed for this weekend) I even considered NOT doing the marathon. The whirlwind of self-doubt started to build around me until my head was a cloud thick with despondence and insecurity. What business do I have trying to attempt a marathon. What does it even mean to me, anyway? What's the point?? The tears started to rise up from somewhere deep within me and nearly choked me out, making me stop in my tracks.

Stop. I said. This is ridiculous. You're talking about one - ONE - scratched run. One tired day. What the hell would you do with yourself if you didn't run? Could you really drive up there and not run the marathon? Retard.

And with that, I was back on track.

Life's still stressful, and so is running, sometimes. But more often than not, it's still been my reprieve. With highs barely cresting 80 in the near future (!!!!!!!!) the hope of effortless runs - easy runs that are actually easy, hard runs that don't render me useless for the rest of the day - fills me with a new sense of possibility.

Also, my husband just got a job. In Atlanta. The Real Atlanta. Where there are Cuban restaurants, independent businesses, sidewalks, parks, and the Beltline.

More happiness and optimism to come, I promise.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just a Quickie (that's what she said)

(Oh Michael Scott... I miss The Office. Are they really going to try to bring that back without Steve Carrell?)

Just a quick update on this whole running/marathon training thing.

Had 14-15 scheduled for yesterday. I'm only loosely following a Douglas-esque-type plan, and by "following" I'm really just looking at the progression of weekly mileage and trying to stick to that. I like the tempo repeats though and have been doing those. Don't think I'll do the MP repeats, however. My goal MP is 8:20/mile. I can't stand to run that pace on a TM (the only option I have right now for any kind of speed or tempo work since I don't really want to run on the local high school's black track at the end of a sunny, 90+ degree day), so I always wind up doing something quicker.

Anyway, the 14.7-mile run was really great but wound up being broken in two due to lunch plans. I ran 8.3 in the morning and bolted home to shower and get ready to go out only to get there and find out the baby really needed a nap and the husband already told his parents we weren't joining them. Whoops. So I decided I'd head back out in the evening to run a 10K loop to "finish" my run. I ran it in about 50 minutes.

Really?? After running a little over 8 miles in the morning I bust out a sub-8 pace for my second shift? No wonder I'm getting bored doing MP runs.

I'm not going to go messing with my time goal for the marathon just yet, but I'm realizing that with a 16-miler scheduled for next weekend and me still having 2 months until the marathon, a lot of good things might happen to my running. I really, really really can't wait for the temperatures to drop. This heat and humidity has me feeling like a bull in a cage; I just know I have an aggressive pace inside of me, it's just waiting for the right conditions to send me flying out the gates.

But, not yet. There's still ridonculous conditions to content with and I need to err on the safe side because now that I'm serving again (yipee... well, it's work, at least), I don't want to run myself ragged. So the hubby and I stocked up on 5-Hour Energy's, Gatorade, Gu's, and Bodyglide. We look like we're going home to conduct some sort of experiment with all of these miniature bottles, shiny foil packages, and brightly colored fluids. Bottom's up!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Eat, Pray, Love" - A Runner's Version

Food = Energy
Food = Love
Food = Vice

Finding balance between my never-ending desire to consume anything and everything around me that is made up of simple sugars and my more reasonable awareness that I require a healthy diet to fuel my running is tricky.

I used to have issues with running and eating. I ran because I ate, instead of eating because I ran. I couldn't consume a single calorie without worrying about when and how I could burn it off later in the day. A couple marathons and a baby later, I'm obviously much smarter about the whole thing... usually.

My problem now is that I know all too well that every calorie will be burned and then some. So I tend to go a little overboard. Spoons in the Nutella jar, 2-for-1 Pop Tarts, buttermilk pancakes kind of overboard. It just all tastes SO good. I've been feeling a little guilty about it, but I guess I have to figure that I do typically eat some fruits and vegetables during the day, take my multivitamin, and that I feel really well overall.

I think it all comes down to common sense. You can't subsist on Nutella alone (can you?) but you can't get into the habit of depriving yourself while training for any kind of endurance event. Love yourself, but respect yourself, too.

Two of my favorite paragraphs from this book so far:

1) Flexibility is just as essential for divinity as is discipline.
Your job, then, should you choose to accept it, is to keep searching for the metaphors, rituals and teachers that will help you move ever closer to divinity. The Yogic scriptures say that God responds to the sacred prayers and efforts of human beings in any way whatsoever that mortals choose to worship-- just so long as those prayers are sincere.

2) When Gilbert has a conversation with a friend about searching for meaning for life and loss through religion, he tells her, "You don't want to go cherry-picking a religion."
Which is a sentiment I completely respect except for the fact that I totally disagree. I think you have every right to cherry-pick when it comes to moving your spirit and finding peace in God. I think you are free to search for any metaphor whatsoever which will take you across the worldly divide whenever you need to be transported or comforted.

I've been reading this book in awe of Gilbert's drive to travel the world in pursuit of her own happiness and to find balance in all areas of her life. To her credit (and to combat how the movie trailer portrays the story), she is not out there just to eat pasta and find love. She actually makes a promise to herself to remain celibate throughout *most* of her journey, and spends a great deal of time scrubbing floors at an Ashram in India where she has to wake up every day at 3:30 AM.

I do not have the desire to dedicate 18 hours a day to meditation, but this book reminded me of something I have also read somewhere else: Prayer isn't just sitting down and wishing for good things to happen or for bad things not to happen. It isn't just begging and pleading. It's opening a door and allowing your soul to mingle with the world around you, pouring yourself into your surroundings and allowing the beauty of the world to come into your heart. It's an exchange of energy - of love.

While I am not down on my knees in a pew praying every Sunday, I realized I am praying every time I run. Sometimes it is a selfish prayer ("Please let me finish this run in one piece. Please let me not die of dehydration."), other times, there are no words at all. I'm just... aware. Every footfall, heartbeat, rustling of leaves, and sunbeam through the canopy of trees is enhanced. When I find myself focusing on that I'm filled with so much amazement and energy, I sometimes forget that I'm running.

This is the part where I say that I LOVE running, right?

Well, I do, but not like that.

Running makes it so that I can probably eat a bit more junk than a sedative person ought to. Running also gives me the chance to quiet my mind and connect with my surroundings. For those things, I am very grateful to have the ability to run and have a deep appreciation not just for the sport, but for the physical movement, itself. So I love running, just enough to do it as long as time and my body will allow, but not so much that it would take precedence over some major life event.

I think it takes more than a love of running to run. You need to love other things and receive a feeling of love FROM other places as well. When I run, I'm filled with the love I have for my daughter, my husband, our life as a family and our pets. I love the scenery, exchanging waves with others, the relief from finishing and the sense of accomplishment that follows. I love feeling strong, the slightly narcissistic sense that others are looking on in admiration and the way my butt looks in jeans.

Point is, it's not just the physical act of running, by itself, that I love. I don't think I could love running merely for the gross motor repetition any more than I'd love to play the piano with the sound completely muted. I don't just push keys for the sensation it provides my fingers. I need the sound, too. I need a sense of flow and the art of composition. So does my running. That's where I find the love.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

at least my mileage is better than my monthly blog average

I was going to look at the previous blog to see where I left off when I remembered- Oh yeah, total Whinebitchfest. Okay well let's get this one off to a better start, shall we?

I'm running a marathon.

In 12 weeks.

WTF is wrong with me?

I was *supposed* to meet a group of lovely ladies and now very dear friends at the California International Marathon in December and run THAT 26.2 mile course, which would give me 18 weeks to train, taper and all, starting today. Well with me not working (not having found/looked hard enough for employment and not really being a certified trainer yet) the bank account will simply not allow for such an excursion.

So the only reasonably local marathon I can make it to before 2010 comes to a close that might also give me the opportunity to attempt to qualify to run Boston next year is in 12 weeks back up in Greenville. The Pros: pseudo-hometown appeal, Oma and In-laws are there to watch the baby in case I'm limping across the finish line, no hotel costs or boarding fees, and it's the day before Halloween (I'm feeling a costume). The Con: I have 12 weeks to get ready.

Despite all my complaining about how hard it's been to run here, I've still been netting about 20 miles per week on pavement and getting in some cross-training. It hasn't been comfortable, or pretty. Not even the treadmill can offer any kind of respite from the inferno because "fix the fitness room's A/C" is not a priority on the apartment complexes to-do list. Seriously, 4 miles on the machine and I'm as soaked as if I'd jumped in the pool. But instead of smelling like chlorine or bromine or whatever cancer-causing chemicals they use, I reek of kidney byproduct.

Outdoors, there is no breeze except near water, which simply means the hot air is moving, instead of hanging in the air like a moldy bath towel.

Wow I'm really rockin' the imagery today.

My point is that I've been running and I survived July. Now I just have to survive a very ambitious training program and make it to the starting line on 10/30. It all kicks off todat with some tempo work, followed with some easy runs later in the week and 10 miles on Saturday. From there, my long runs go 12, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 18, with a couple cut-back weeks and a 2-week taper.

On a completely different note, Alexis turns 1 this week. She made it through the first year. WE made it through the first year. And most importantly, she survived a crazy mom and all of those bumpy jogger rides. She's the most amazing little person I've ever had the pleasure to know. I often look at her doing something brilliant and clearly advanced for her age (I'm not biased much, am I?) and think that she couldn't have possibly come from me. I feel honored to be this child's mother.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

c'mon ride the train

I've hesitated to update my blog for some time because every time I sat down to write anything, it turned into a bitch-fest. Now I'm back and I confess that I've been riding the pity party train, with envy at the helm and spewing a black cloud of misery out the smokestack.

What happened, I see now, is that I got burnt out after moving, and my body was simply rebelling against running. Over the past few weeks though, I've been paying too much attention to how dedicated other runners seem to their routines, thinking that something was really wrong with me that I couldn't muster the energy or drive to just commit to the miles. I mean, these are people who have several kids, organize races and run for causes, have jobs, AND train for marathons/triathlons/adventure relays. What right do I have even considering myself a part of any community with such capable people, when I struggle to drag myself out of bed before dawn to run 4 miles?

I didn't want to log on and dump all of that negativity here, but there it is.

I had to clear my head. Something wasn't right with my thinking and my husband would be the first to tell you that he'd more than had it with my self-deprecating talk. I needed to get back in the game, and I wasn't going to do it by reading fellow runners' blogs or Facebook posts and trying to compare running log notes.

I had to just run.

Thursday, July 8th. My car's thermometer stares me down with a bright red "103". My husband is watching the baby and I have a date with a 10K course that winds along the cart paths near Lake Peachtree. Still, I'm very excited. This is my first run since moving here that was:

A) Without my darling running partner.
B) Without my other darling running partner.
C) More than 5 miles.
D) More than 5 miles and not on a treadmill.

Just me, myself and I and, oh yeah, the highest temps I've ever run in.

It wasn't a great run by any means. I stopped every mile to gulp from my water bottle. I stopped at a water fountain and awkwardly positioned myself to let the water stream down my neck and back. But it did do one thing that no amount of self-affirmation in the bathroom mirror could have done. (Not that I've ever done that. Ever.) It reassured me that I was, in fact, still a runner. I mean, who else was out there? Other runners, that's who. All of them as red-faced and dripping with sweat as I was. All of us looking forward to the moment they could return to air conditioning. And I'm willing to bet, all of us as grateful to be healthy enough to withstand such an activity on this, the hottest day so far this summer, and still be crazy enough to look forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.

My runs are not funding cancer research or helping unborn children. I'm not crossing the country for anyone's benefit or memory. Let me be clear in saying that all of those things are wonderful and incredibly admirable, I'm just not there yet. Maybe once running and I have a more solid and reliable relationship, I can safely sign up for events and do great things for greater people and know that I'll always be able to put the miles in to make the effort worth it.

For now, though, I'm looking forward to running a bit more on my own. For me. Because I can. Because I'm a runner.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I love packing.

One of my favorite George Carlin routines is about our stuff. Our addiction to and accumulation of stuff. And that's the truth, if I didn't have so much ***damn stuff, I wouldn't need a house.

But we don't have a whole lot of stuff; we have more than a little but far less than most families I know. As Carlin points out, people move to have more room for more stuff. That's not us.

I've always been pretty anal about not letting our possessions get out of hand. The home I grew up in was always outrageous when it came to that. Everything we wanted to keep, things we thought we might need to keep, and everything else we were too lazy to actually sort through just sat in piles all throughout the house. These piles grew and grew and got shoved into corners, against walls, and forgotten on staircases. Watch an episode of "Hoarders." We weren't that far off from needing an intervention, ourselves.

I moved out of my house for the third the last time when I was 22 and I made a vow to myself to never, EVER, get buried in crap again.

Still, here I am with my life, my stuff, in boxes, and I know this moving process would be a whole lot easier if there weren't so many to fill. I just get endlessly annoyed at the decision-making that goes into sorting, packing, and moving. What's this? When was the last time I used/wore it? Is it my husband's? One of his exes? What the fuck is he doing still holding on to an old book of hers, anyway? And a how-to book about love?! Ha!! Obviously that wasn't of any help!

Wait, what were we talking about?

For the most part, I'm actually a thrower-away-er, sometimes to a fault. As per the nature of this blog, allow me to make another comparison between running and my life. Running: Moving quickly in one direction, not looking back (Except maybe on an out-and-back route, which I usually hate. I much prefer a loop.). You can't hold onto shit during a run. Hot spots? You can take off your sneakers and rub your feet or you can keep running. Sore legs? You can go home and pop a couple Advil or you can keep running. Hitting a wall? You can sit down and give up or keep running. Just not feeling it today? You can wallow in the reasons why or you can keep fucking running.

So when it comes to my life, I try not to hold on or hold back. Anything that conjures up sentiments I wish to retire, I throw away. Things that bear no relevance to my current situation, I toss. If it brings me back to a place I don't want to be anymore, it goes buh-bye. Whether it's two-week-old cheese that might still be OK or fifteen-year-old wrinkled and humidity-stained notebooks with song lyrics scrawled on the covers and "poetry" (read: Pre-teen Angst-ridden Lamentations) squeezed in between pages of biology notes.

Each mile is not the same as the one before it, and can not be run if you do not allow yourself to pass from one mile to the next. So go the pages of life.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a little bit about what I do... or, what I did

My last day at the restaurant was Saturday and I am proud to say I have survived being a server. Rather, the restaurant survived me. Too many dishes and pieces of glassware did not. You're welcome, Mikasa.

I was never married to being a server. Most nights, the latest I stay up is because of work, otherwise I'm in bed after the eleven-o-clock news. I suck at building a rapport because I don't remember names or faces very well. Serving has infiltrated my dreams on more than one occasion (my personal favorite: the Perpetually In the Weeds scenario, where I'm sat table after table after table and everyone is giving me their order and each time I try to go ring it in another table is sat and is whistling me over until everyone in the entire dining room is glaring at me because they have no food, no water, and no sweet tea), but for the most part, I don't carry my job around with me. Really.

But it's been one of the best jobs I've ever had. I love my coworkers, our Chef, Sous Chef, and the rest of the kitchen crew. I really like my boss, despite being certain that she had it in for me on more than one occasion (coming from the Olive Garden didn't help). The job has certainly had its ups and downs; too often would I leave hating myself because no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to make anyone happy. But just as often I'd leave with a sense of accomplishment. The best days were the ones when little old ladies would all but pinch my cheeks and tell me how fabulous everything was (even if they still think it's 1957 and tip me in change), or a little kid smiles up at me and says, "You're the BEST waitress EVER!"

When I was pregnant I pretty much rocked it, tip-wise. Except I didn't show through my work shirt until I was like 7 1/2 months. One time, I was describing some dishes to a table where a woman very engrossed in our menu when she looked up, startled, and said, "Oh my god you're pregnant!" The thing I got all the time is that not one part of me looked the least bit pregnant, except for the basketball sticking out from under my shirt. On my last day before my maternity leave, a customer asked the usual "how much longer do you have?" "Uh... like, 3 weeks and 1 day..." and she goes "WHAT are you still doing HERE? Go sit down!"

And the bad days, well, I can laugh at them all now.

Like the time I made a 6% tip for no apparent reason (3 days ago, actually). The couple was all nice and smiley whenever I was at the table, but in an intense argument when I wasn't, according to my manager.

Or the couple that our manager had to kindly ask to leave because their argument was far less discreet. There was yelling. And cursing. Very loud. On Valentine's Day. Ah... romance.

And the time I got yelled at and had a check presenter practically thrown back at me by a man who was very upset that someone else at the table had arranged payment with me before the end of the meal, because he had to pay and there would be no exception.

The numerous occasions that I had to tactfully explain (without sounding condescending) that "bruschetta" means "bread", and does not automatically signify a dish made with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to a person who was already very pissed off that we didn't have "normal" bruschetta.

The people who ask to sit outside at night, only to get upset at the lack of lighting and the size font on our menus.

And my personal favorite: Waiting on a table of 20-something 20-somethings, all Latin American (before you call me a racist, my coworker Jose, who's sister had been promoted and was the reason they were all out to eat, came up to me beforehand and said, "You're waiting on them? I'm going to tell you now: I'm sorry.") Remember that serving nightmare I described. That was this table. I couldn't make it around the table to get everyone's order without the person I started with pointing at his empty beer bottle, pointing at his watch, and then throwing his hands up in a "what the fuck?" kind of gesture. Yup.

I doubt I'll be returning to serving anytime soon, except for when I come back to Greenville so the baby's grandparents can see her and I can pick up a shift to make up for the drive. Unless Kevin Gillespie's restaurant is hiring. That might be worth the commute from Newnan to Atlanta.

Monday, May 24, 2010

life is perfect, never better, distance making the heart grow fond

Immediately after completing the half marathon last month my thoughts turned to planning the next race. I looked up the national schedule for all major half and full marathon races and was disheartened to see there wouldn't be any in the southeast until fall, except for the "Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon" somewhere in Georgia in June. Me + ankles + trails has always added up to unpleasant results in the past so I don't think I'll be signing up for that one.

There's a very German-themed race one town over from where my grandmother lives in Pennsylvania (lederhosen are optional) that I thought I could try, but that too, is out of the question because of timing. The hubby and I are finally honestly for real moving to Georgia next month, about a week before this race would be taking place. So without a definite race in my near future, my running is back in "maintenance mode," if that.

I say "if that" because running doesn't really happen when it's 95, muggy, and the baby is way off her routine because of driving, weddings, and having to share a seedy hotel room with Mommy and Daddy. We logged a sweaty 3 miles today when the sun was close to setting, but that's all I've done running-wise this weekend. I have a potential date with a treadmill tomorrow though, so hopefully these legs won't rust in this humidity and I won't go insane. Because the insanity that allows me to run outdoors in this disgusting pre-summer weather (or like a hamster on its wheel at the gym) is far easier to cope with than the insanity I'd suffer if I weren't able to run at all.

PS I'm so over traveling and carseats and not seeing my husband more than 2 or 3 days a week. And why do dogs need to come down with inexplicable bouts of diarrhea as soon as I cross into another state? And why haven't I received any phone calls about showings on our house this weekend?? And I don't even know what I'm going to do for work once we are here. I keep praying the house will sell and finding a job won't be such a pressing issue, but no such luck. In the meantime, Zac already organized a sit-down at a great daycare, which is fantastic and all but shouldn't I be employed if Alexis is to go there? I don't care how cute she is pinning other babies to the floor, she's not getting enrolled 'til mommy's on someone's payroll.

And Zac wonders why I've been freaking out. Or how something as minor as missing a workout can drive me over the edge.

I'm doing the best I can to seem reasonable and in control, but really, I'm Tracy Bonham screaming "EVERYTHING'S FINE!"

Which is why I run. Because even when I have to turn around and come back, for a little while those miles provide a nice wedge between everything I don't want to deal with and my mind's current inability to cope. I'm not going to be able to make any changes to our situation. Can't make the calendar pages turn any faster.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Recipe for success is spelled s-t-e-a-k.

5:45 AM, alarm goes off. I whack the snooze button (which was the plan when I set the alarm) to buy myself 10 more minutes. Whoever decided that races need to start at 7:30 must be that really annoying over-achiever who's like "I'm gonna run 20 miles before work, then take the kids swimming afterwards, then work on my racing scrapbook before I go to bed." Then there's me, who hasn't seen pre-dawn hours since Alexis was 3 months old, and gets really annoyed if asked to do anything before getting to watch Dr. Phil and downing a mug of coffee.

My tummy felt a little off. Was I actually nervous? Yup. This wasn't part of the plan, so I tentatively ate half a bowl of cheerios and took a few sips of some coffee/energy beverage Zac left in the fridge. I just didn't have an appetite for a big meal or real coffee. I figured that ribeye sandwiches (with arugula, roasted red pepper, and brie) the night before would have provided me with sufficient calories anyway.

I got to downtown Greer with 30 minutes to get my chip, hit the restrooms, and warm up. This was a pretty small race so I had more than enough time and didn't feel rushed at all, which is good because I was still kind of waking up.

Gun goes off late and without warning, and we were off. I'd put into practice what I've learned in previous races and decided to start out right up near the front. This saved me from having to go out hard to get out of the bottleneck that occurs at the beginning of almost any race. I hit "play" on my iPod but forgot to start my watch until about 30 seconds into the race. Whoops.

Miles 1-6 were really easy. I'd checked the elevation chart for the course and thought we'd be encountering some tough rolling hills, but all the inclines and declines were really gradual. But I couldn't help but think of the irony of holding an "Earth Day" run that goes by an airport. Hello jet fuel.

At some point during the race my earbuds started crapping out on me and I had to fiddle with them in the little armpouch I was wearing. My car key fell out, and a fellow runner was kind enough to scoop it up and slow down to hand it back to me. Thank you, fellow runner!

Back to the race- miles 7-11 were mostly uphill, but again, with very low (maybe 1%) grades. My competitive streak kind of kicked in when I heard other runners huffing and puffing and starting to try to speed up. I was feeling great so I just kicked it up a gear. I'm like that on the highway too, sometimes. I'm just not a fan of being passed.

Before I knew it, we were at mile 12. I was kind of surprised. I still have a lot of songs on my playlist I hadn't gotten to listen to yet! So I skipped forward to Green Day's "21 Guns" which powered me through the last mile. I almost got emotional, thinking about how lucky I am to have such a strong, healthy baby and to be strong and healthy enough myself to go out and do a half-marathon.

I crossed the finish line in about 1:45, and I'll find out my official chip time by the end of today. I was REALLY surprised by this. I think it was the ribeye and brie. Training may have had a hand in today's result too, but I think good food is a MUST. (NY-style pizza tonight, by the way. Oh, and BEER. Lots of beer.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"License and registration, please. Is that... whipped cream?"

When I was an intern at our local sports club, I did a big project and presentation for the gym-goers all about pre- and post- workout nutrition. Complete with a colored brochure, a myth / fact sheet, and a smoothie recipe even the club's nutritionist asked me for. Clearly, I ought to know how to do right by my body after a long run.

Cut to me sitting in my car before unbuckling the child and unloading the groceries, spraying whipped cream into my mouth because it's the only thing keeping me from passing out and blaring the horn with my forehead.

Somewhere between being a know-it-all student trainer and becoming a mom, sports nutrition has gone out the window. Instead, I'm stealing yogurt melts from my child, snacking on pop-tarts, and upending Reddi-Whip into my mouth. Anything for a calorie.

I've been doing a little better at dinnertime, though. It's easy enough to eat well, or not crappy, when there are Lean Cuisines out there, but I've actually been taking the time to prepare meals and I can definitely tell my energy levels and muscle recovery are improving. Granted, dinner is at 9:00PM (and accompanied by a large glass of wine), after everyone and everything else has eaten and settled down for the evening, but cooking food for myself kind of feels like giving myself a hug.

Still, it's obvious that I've got to do better. The only thing that kept me from pouring the whipped cream down the hatch while still en route back to the house was the fact that I didn't want other drivers thinking I was huffing with a child in the car. I also didn't want to accidentally huff with my child in the car.

And they warn about the dangers of texting and driving...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

just spending a little more time inside my own head, as usual

I don't have much to report / bitch / make meaningless observations about, but I thought it'd be interesting to share how I talked myself through my 10-miler today, since I conventiently left the ipod at home.

Miles 1-3 (all uphill) : This is the easy part. This is a cakewalk. This is nothing. Don't go out too fast. Your legs feel good but don't get too excited or you'll regret it going into mile 4.

Miles 4-6 : Wow, it's hot. My lungs hurt. Damn this pollen. I can feel it sticking to the roof of my mouth. I wonder if this is affecting my O2 uptake or whatever. Should I have turned down this road? Well it's rush-hour so there will be a lot of witnesses if anyone tries to mug me. Good luck to them if they do... they'd get my phone and my car key, and I'd make it to a phone before they'd find my car...

Miles 6-8: More than halfway there! Don't think I'll have to cut this run short after all. Wish I'd brought a water bottle. Oh! The water fountains are on in the park! *gulp gulp gulp*

Miles 8-9: Downhill, finally. Relax. Breathe. You got this. Keep it steady- two more big hills to go.

Mile 9: You fuckin' got this. You're not the fastest. May never be the fastest. But you're here, doing this right now, and that's pretty friggin' awesome. This hill is nothing. This heat is nothing. Just crest this hill and cruise on home.

Mile 10: Water!!!

I think having finally broken my double-digit barrier has given me another much-needed confidence boost with my running. Also, I really enjoy the excuse to chug a bottle of chocolate milk as my recovery drink. Pretty soon I'll have earned back the right... no, the privelege, to indulge in post-run ice baths.

Eighteen days 'til my 1/2 marathon. Still not planning on really racing it, but I know I'll be running it with confidence. And hopefully, at 7:30 in the morning, in much cooler temps. And also, with less pollen. Because that was really gross today.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sleep? Pfsh.

So I kind of signed up for a half marathon in, like, 3 and a half weeks.

Fortunately, I still accomplished my 9-mile run today despite a very fitful 3 hours of sleep thanks to whatever the hell is wrong with me.

Once every few months I get this unbearable, itchy, crawly sensation on every part of my body. It starts with an itchy toe, then my whole foot will itch, then up the leg, then my back and head... it makes me a little worried.

So I googled my symptoms - like any hysterically exhausted person would do at 4:00 AM - and came up with this: neurotic excoriation. Except, I don't really like that answer. For one, most cases of neurotic excoriation result in flesh wounds caused by obsessive scratching that won't ever heal because of obsessive picking. The other reason I don't like it is that it would lump me in with the rest of the dysfunctional Americans I already make fun of because they make me wonder how we've evolved as a species, what with all of our hoarding, addictions, and ADHD.

Unfortunately, there's no physical explanation for my itch-induced fits of insomnia. I had been prescribed Ambien for this a couple years ago, but I won't take that while home alone with a baby. I've never experienced any unusual side effects, but the last thing I need is to wind up sleep-driving while she cries in her crib because she can't find her paci.

This leaves me fretting about what to do about this race on April 24th. Sleep is so, so important to me, and I'd hate to think something as stupid as a little neurosis could keep from from sleeping or achieving my running goals. I'll run it no matter what, I guess. I mean, these 13.1 miles aren't going to wait for me to have a perfect night's rest, are they?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

16 miles and an unofficial shoe review

Yet another reason to frequent your local running store: they don't just clear their shelves for new models like chain stores do. In fact, if they know it's the shoe you want or need, they have no problem letting you walk away with last year's shoe instead of trying to convince you to shell out major dough for a sneaker with updates that you don't really need.

With that said, I would have bought anything with rubber and laces for $60 so long as I didn't have to run another step in my now tread-less Asics GT-2140's. Luckily, what I got for my money was last year's Brooks Adrenaline 9's.

The shoe: pretty good. I mean, I didn't expect to strap them on and start sprinting at a 6 min/mile pace. The thing is, it's kind of hard to gauge the quality of a shoe when you haven't broken in a pair of sneakers in well over a year. So all that "smooth ride" and "great transfer of motion" stuff that people write about kind of escapes me when my big toe (yay, more toe issues) feels like a knife is being driven into it because the top of the shoe has yet to be bent, twisted, and worn into submission. Also, my feet went numb on the first expedition forcing me to stop and re-lace my shoes to prevent any possible amputation situations.

On a more positive note, me and my new kicks logged 16 miles in 3 runs so far this week. So while I'm not making money doing real gear reviews (because I'm not spending the money on it, and that shit ain't free, unless someone wants to send me stuff, but I'm pretty sure I have to advertise or something on my blog...) I feel like I'm getting back to having a pretty solid base. Time to start looking at upcoming races in cities that I can easily drive to, since flying and hotels are kind of out of the question if I have to factor in the cost of entry. Which brings me to my next point...

Why is racing so friggin' expensive? I mean, the swag bag is cool and all, but if I kindly decline the t-shirt and free goo, can I please just pay for my bib and chip, which - let's me honest - can't cost more than a few bucks a piece. Yeah, I know there's the cost of hiring police to monitor the course and other venue expenses, but still, I can't justify flying and paying for lodging on top of a $100+ race. Which leaves me all depressed when I read race report after race report that I can't join in on the fun on my part-time server salary.

I worry that if I don't race I'm not a runner, despite the miles I may log. Why does it seem that you're not taken seriously in the running community if you don't cross at least a dozen finish lines a year?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thank You. Not an Alanis Morissette song, I promise.

I'd like to take a moment to thank running for so many, many things.

Thank you for letting me play like a real runner and do things like bust out a 7.5 mile run in 60 minutes.

Thank you for always being there for me, even when I break up with you for silly things like nursing an injury (broken toe much?) or being with child.

Thank you for making me feel strong and capable, even when I have all these new floppy bits that show through my cool running shirts and I still need to wear two running bras.

Thank you for helping me take 52 minutes today to run like before I was pregnant and rock out like before I graduated high school.

Thank you for giving me something else other than motherhood to define myself by. I'm fine with being fully immersed in the world of kisses, giggles, gurgles, and love (also snot, spit-up, and poo), but it's nice to take a break from babycenter.com and go over to runnersworld.com instead (just as much trolling and flaming, but way less paranoia).

Thank you for allowing me to not have to strictly adhere to a diet of steel-cut oats and bean sprouts. You may not enjoy chik-fil-a before intervals, but you sure do love it afterwards.

Most importantly, thank you for helping me undo years of bad behavior that may have lead to a decade or more of damage had I not rediscovered you after I was through being a smoking, rock-climbing, wanna-be-rockstar pseudo-badass.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If Clumsiness were an Olympic sport...

That damn toe. The left pinkie. It now requires either reconstructive surgery or amputation. Can you run without a pinkie toe?

After it's last mishap - a well-time collision with an old floor vent on the day I was supposed to go for my first postpartum run - it twists inward at an awkward angle and no longer makes contact with the floor. It also doesn't curl when I flex my toes (as a point of reference, I checked to make sure my right pinkie toe does curl, just so I knew for sure that the left one was messed up).

Now that it sticks up ever so slightly, it finds things to continue to stub itself on. The fact that the baby crap in our house seems to multiply faster than the gremlins doesn't help. My husband swore up and down that our house wouldn't become that house. You know, the one with walker 2 feet from the entryway, the jumperoo in the middle of the living room, the swing in the corner, and the high chair taking up half the kitchen. But alas, we have that house.

Anyway, it wasn't actually a piece of baby-restraining or entertaining equipment that caught my toe this time, it was the dryer. I know- how does my toe just reach out and collide with the dryer like that? It's beyond me. But running hurts again and I'm not happy about it. Notice the use of bold font.

I managed 1.6 miles on the treadmill before the dull ache progressed to a quiet roar so I switched to the elliptical to finish my workout. And I wonder, will I ever break 7 miles again?

To say I'm frustrated is an understatement.

I'm reading all my other mommy-friends' posts about exhilarating runs of 9, 10, and 16 miles and wonder when will it be my turn again? Do I have to wait until my daughter is in half-day preschool or boarding the big yellow bus? Is finally moving to Georgia the answer so that I have the husband there to assist in baby-care, or will my phalanges find a way to sabotage my efforts once more?

Ok, I know "Waaaah!" I'll shut up now.

Right now, my strength-maintenance plan consists of running when my toe is comfortable, and going at it on the elliptical or spin bike like a madwoman when it's not. I also decided I need to get back to doing yoga. Every day. My shoulders and hamstrings aren't sure they agree but I know they'll come around. And my hill running will thank me in the end. So will my baby, when my arms are able to accommodate her every growth spurt.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rules of the Road.

In order to not sound like a completely misanthropic bitch, I wish to preface the following blog by giving a kudos to you average Joe's and Jane's who choose outdoor activity over sitting inside playing video games or watching "Jersey Shore". Even more kudos to you if you have children and you drag them out with you.

With that said...

I can't stand how the first really nice day of the year draws out all the people who have been in hibernation since the first time the mercury dipped below 59 degrees. They don't know how to share the trails and bike paths, they don't call out to their hyperactive 4-year-olds to keep them from darting in front of runners and bikers, and they still dress like a winter storm is on the horizon (quilted down coats and Ugg boots on a 65-degree day? Really?).

Can we all just agree to follow a few basic rules so that us all-weather, all-terrain badasses can peacefully coexist with you fair-weather pseudo-recreationists? Because the only thing I love more than composing lists is to be able to run without having to dart into oncoming traffic because you don't know how to share the sidwalk.

1. Trail traffic should mimic road traffic. Keep right, pass left. If you are moving slowly, you should keep to the far right edge of the trail. Please do not wander in a drunken zig-zag pattern all over the path as you hollar into your blue-tooth because EVERYONE IN THE PARK NEEDS TO KNOW YOU'RE SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE PHONE CALLS EVEN WHILE WALKING.

2. I know I've mentioned this in a previous blog somewhere, but please, please keep your children and elders within arms' reach. Your children are little, don't look before running across the path, and are very easy to trip over. Your elderly are hard of hearing and startle easily when someone tries to pass on the left, often stopping short as they spin around in bewilderment, unsure which way to go and in the process blocking the path entirely.

3. If you are traveling in a group, it is not only helpful but extremely courteous to walk in pairs on the right-hand side of the sidewalk or trail, not 6 abreast. It is also nice if you're not all tapping away at your Iphones and Crackberries, updating your Facebook statuses. I mean, learn how to fucking converse, people.

4. Glen Beck is a jerk with a bad case of verbal diarrhea. This has nothing to do with parks or recreation but when I told my husband I was blogging he insisted I include something that shares our distaste for him.

5. Don't try to hand out religious pamphlets to a runner. It just doesn't work (or they're already saved or what have you). Yes, this has happened to me - not in our local park but on a run just the same.

6. Please provide enough room for the lady with the jogger or stroller as you pass each other on the path or sidewalk. I mean really, a quick glance up is all it takes to realize Oh, she's gonna have to go off the curb with her baby if I don't move over a little. Besides which, next person whose lazy ass doesn't move over is gonna get clipped in the achilles by a Babytrend tire.

7. Dogs. Leash training. Learn it. But, if you just carry your dog around anyway, please stay home. You're really annoying to look at.

That's all I have for now. If you have any more peeves to share, please do. Don't leave me hanging - I know I can't be the only person who has these thoughts... although, perhaps the jerkiest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Maintenance mode. It's a good, but very boring place to be, running wise. With no long races to train for, let alone much time to accomplish long runs while the baby is in my care, I've fallen into the running zone that is more than just working out but not quite like being in training. Like, if I had to push out a 7-minute mile right now I could. But... I just don't wanna.

And I started the pill this month. Sorry mom, but there will be no grandbaby #2 any time soon. I'm not sure if it's causing me to feel this ickiness that I've felt or if I just have it in my head that the pill is the culprit because I wasn't so fun to be around when I was on it 10 years ago (stop doing the math - I know, I was young. But at least I can say my First was also my Last). Regardless, I've just been tired, and kinda nauseous, and really not a fan of going out of my house. It's been so much easier, and nicer, to curl up in bed with the baby, playing and giggling and napping. This is how I felt (minus the wanting to lay in bed with a baby part) the first few days of every pill pack last time I was on it, so I figured this laziness can be attributed to that, but I worry that my lack of any kind of training routine can also be to blame.

I mean, if I had a run scheduled, I'd do it. No matter what. And I'd be lying if I said it didn't cause some issues in my marriage, because of course it would lead to those fun conversations: "You're too tired for me but not tired enough to run?"(him) and "You say you want to run a race with me but you never want to run when I do."(me). And now that I have the jogger, a weather shield and bunting so I can't be accused of child abuse for taking my child out on chilly days, I really should have no excuses. I mean, I have a friend that's been doing her long runs as scheduled all throughout the winter. In Omaha. What's my excuse?

I guess it's this pseudo-single motherhood thing. Being on my own most of the week makes it more difficult to get out there, and I hate calling on the grandparents to babysit when I want to run more than 7 miles, without the jogger.

Well the husband has officially signed with the company he's been working for as an independant contractor and located some decent apartment complexes with discounted rates for employees of that company. If all works out in the next few weeks, I won't be going it alone as much anymore, and maybe then I'll finally get myself out of maintenance mode and be able to start some real training.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Happy Birthday To Meeeee

In past years I've been stuck at work, pregnant and unable to drink, or both on my birthday, so this year I have absolutely no qualms with actually making my birthday known and celebrating it.

So, happy friggin' birthday to me.

I'm 27, which means I've graduated from being in my 20's to being in my late 20's.

I survived a year of being pregnant, keeping fit, continuing my education, and the constant uncertainty of my husband's ever-changing job situation (We're moving. We're not moving. We're moving. We're not moving... you get the idea).

At 23 - 6 months after quitting smoking and starting a workout regimine - I said I felt the healthiest I'd ever been in my entire life. I've been able to say the same thing every year since, including this one.

I am really glad I didn't wait until I was 30 to start having kids.

I love that getting older makes it okay (dare I say it- cool, even) to get caught up in "old-school" shit like watching Fresh Prince and Saved By The Bell.

Over a decade ago, when I was actually on the cross country and track team, I couldn't imagine actually craving to go on a run, let alone an "easy" 5, 6, or 7 miles.

While I often overhear younger coworkers' weekend plans with a twinge of envy, I wouldn't give up this homebody kind of life for anything. I'll take snuggling with my daughter, doggies, and husband over any downtown scene any day. Whereas before, one might be considered a loser for her lack of a social life, at my age it is totally acceptable to schedule a night in. Who cares if it's like, every night?

When you're anywhere between the ages of 19 and 26, being cynical usually just means you're jaded. When you're 27, being cynical means you're wise enough to accept the fact that nobody is above douchebaggery. Not even yourself.

There's so much more about this upcoming year and the age I will so proudly exclaim whenever carded for a glass of wine or martini (Shush. It still happens.) that I could go on about, but I'll sum it all up with saying that I am extremely grateful to be where I am. I really don't feel like I'm getting older, just... growing.

And it doesn't scare me that I'm fastly approaching 30, either. 30 is like the new 15 anyway, right?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

something to think about before you tip your server 7.5%

I have a beer and a martini in me, work last night was hell, and I'm ready to blog.

I ran my first race since before I got pregnant yesterday. I kept myself from racing my entire pregnancy because I didn't want to be tempted to push too hard, and I didn't want to pay for races if I wasn't really going to race. So going into this race, I had no way of gauging how I'd do.

The race is one our local paper sponsors every January, so it was just a downtown loop on roads I was mostly familiar with. I finished in 22:58 - nearly throwing up along the way - which I can honestly say I'm pretty happy with considering that I have not done any kind of structured speed work and have only been able to make it out for about 3 runs a week. Now I have a clear starting point, from which I can determine how I need to pace myself when training for the next race.

One thing I have not missed about racing or race training, however, would be having to work on the same day as a race or hard workout. The reality of being a mom in my late 20's hits me hard enough when I'm waiting on people still pouring Cosmos down the hatch at 11:00PM. Add a race to the mix and I'm just a mess. Put me in charge of a 15-top that does not grasp the fact that I can't telepathically order their food and beverage while simultaneously answering questions (and that no one will have anything in front of them so long as they hold me up at the table), and I'm ready to kill someone.

One of my coworkers told me I had the craziest "crazy eyes" they'd ever seen that night, as I exclaimed, "I'm fine! I swear!" after seeing that one of the couples at the table left me $5 on a $66 bill. They must have been disappointed that I - heaven forbid - had other tables to wait on and could not commit to being their personal servant for the evening.

So this is why I need to get faster - so I can race professionally. Sounds like a good plan, right? Although, I don't think beers or martinis play very well into that plan.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I can see clearly now...

I'm going to make a confession now that will probably catch me some major flack amongst the general female population: I've always thought the majority of moms who claim they don't have enough time to work out / eat healthy were just lazy.

Now hear me out.

I'm not talking about being a mom and running 50 miles a week. I'm also not talking about being a mom and making it to the gym 5 days a week. I'm just talking about getting out there, doing what you can, and making smarter-than-average choices when it comes to the food you put on your plate. After all, I know I am hardly the picture of fitness - let along running -perfection, as I accomplished a whopping 3 runs totalling 14 miles last week.

But amidst the chaos that I've come to accept as my life as of late, I am beginning to understand where the downward slide might begin. And it all starts with that one delayed workout.

It's gorgeous out - 62 degrees in January - I'm pretty well rested and I know that all it would take to bust out a few quick miles would be to change out of my frumpy nursing bra (which, by the way, is a piss-poor excuse for a bra) and into my beautiful new Fiona (an excellent sports bra, if you're on the hunt for one). But alas, reality is at the door, and she doesn't ring the doorbell. She knocks. First politely. Then, obnoxiously. Incessantly. Until finally, I am forced to cave and say, "OK, Life. FINE. I'll do whatever you need so that you will eventually leave me the fuck alone."

Except life leaves me alone at 11:22 PM. Not really the best time to run. It is, however, a fantastic time to catch up on the episodes of The Office I DVR'd on the TBS Tuesday-night marathon and sip on an oversized Bombay Sapphire martini until I feel fuzzy in the face.

So I think, "Well, tomorrow will be a good day to run. I've dealt with Life as much as I am capable of and it can't possibly expect more from me at this point." But sure enough, tomorrow comes, and Life springs a new one on me. The husband schedules the floors to be refinished, so we are kicked out of our home for a week. But then the husband comes home from work on Friday sick. Then I find out my mother mother - who the baby and I were staying with for 5 days - is also ill. Then the baby gets sick. Then the mother-in-law.

I have remained completely healthy through all this, but definitely a little worse for the wear. Which is why, instead of having ran today, I indulged in pizza, chocolate, and Bombay.

So to all of you moms out there who've had to put everyone and everything before yourselves - I offer you my empathy. It's hard to squelch that voice that screams at you to do what you want to do when everyone else yanks you in the opposite direction. It takes a lot to run. It takes a lot more not to.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

22:30 is the new 21:00

I just signed up for my first race in 15 months - since the marathon I ran a couple weeks before I got pregnant.

It's just a 5K, but I need to do something to see if I have my racing legs back. I've been doing my 5-milers at what I consider to be a respectable pace, usually busting out a sub-8 minute mile or two towards the end. I don't know if this will make my 5K time any better than my current personal best but I do feel that my legs are somehow stronger than before. Maybe it's the countless lunges with 17 pounds of extra weight resting on my hip to pick up dropped binkies. Or perhaps it's the fun new squat maneuver that involves getting up off the floor from a cross-legged position unaided (while holding the before mentioned extra weight). Surely, this child has become the best resistance routine these glutes have ever seen.

As I look forward to this race - now 11 days away - I feel like I'm ready to get back into running. Not like these past few months of me playing pretend a few days a week on the treadmills and ellipticals at the gym. I want to plan and train for races. I want to get excited about new gear and have a reason to use it. I want to be able to justify dropping a Saturday night's worth of tips on a new pair of sneakers.

I even re-subscribed to Runners World. I can't have that magazine showing up at my doorstep if I don't look the part, right? Besides which, I can only take so much of the parenting magazines that magically started showing up the day after I arrived home with Alexis. Of course I skip right to the "school age" portion of the magazine, because I enjoy hyperventillating about the day Alexis comes off the bus in tears because the other kids are just so mean and I wasn't there to kick their asses. I digress.

My goal is 22:30. That's a 7:30 min/mile pace (I'm sure you could do the math, but if not, don't feel bad because I sat here counting it out on my fingers). I know that in the past I've been capable of faster, but I'm not sure how much my body will tolerate this time around. My legs could take it, I'm sure, but I have new aches to pay attention to, such as the site of my incision. I've been warned that it could feel uncomfortable months, even years after a cesarean, but I have yet to learn google how it will affect my running down the line.

If anyone out there knows, please enlighten me!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My New Year

As we usher out the old year (or flee from it) and welcome the new, it seems many people are in the mood to reminisce. You, undoubtedly, have already been tagged by 27 friends on Facebook to complete some sort of 2009 survey or 'top 10 moments' list. I have too but the trouble is, I haven't been in a reminiscing kind of mood.

With the birth of my child, I'd like to say I've become a little bit more of a live-in-the-moment kind of gal, but that isn't exactly true, either. I still fret about the future, both far and near, and get caught up in meaningless details like a never-ending pile of dirty laundry or crumbs on the kitchen counter. One thing I don't do so much anymore, however, is get caught up in the past. At least not when it comes to anything that happened before Alexis came into our lives.

I'd heard women say before that their lives seemed to be missing something before having children. But as you don't know how good your life can be with something if you've never had it before, they didn't realize how much more complete they'd feel with a child. I personally despise trite phrases as a means of summing up my emotions about a life-altering event, but there's no other way to put it than to say that I, too, felt a new sense of completion as I first held Alexis in my arms.

Which is why I can't reminisce that much about last year. Everything up until the day I went into labor was, well, life as usual. Work, school, erands, even the ups and downs of pregnancy, were all experienced with a dulled sense of awareness compared to how much more real life became with a baby. My baby.

My new year started on August 5th, 2009. The first day of Alexis Rose's life also became the first day of mine.