Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daughter

We found out yesterday that #2 is a girl! I was shocked. I swore I'd be one of those chicks with all boys. It's funny, although I am so stoked about having a girl (pigtails!) there is a part of me that's sad we aren't having another boy. I kind of got attached to the idea that I'd have two little boys super close in age. I pictured them as teenagers and running with me at the park, well them running and old me trying to keep up!

Of course the silly thing is that a boy and a girl can do the exact same thing to me. It's just one of those things--the gain of a daughter means not gaining a son. When you gain one you sort of lose one. When I found out peanut was a boy I bawled my eyes out! I was not sad I was having a boy and I really didn't think I wanted a girl more than a boy or anything before finding out. Just when I knew it was a boy, I suddenly knew it wasn't a girl and for that moment I was sad about that. I got over it quickly though! I don't know, maybe these feelings are just weird hormonal pregnancy feelings.

In other news, today I ran with a group at the park by my house. It was 3 degrees! 3 DEGREES! Very cold, but the sun was out and there was no wind so it actually wasn't that bad. I hooked up with a group of local high school students, a couple of coaches and a couple of dads. They promised me they wouldn't go too fast. UGH. For the first half of the run I was struggling not to get ditched. I actually wouldn't have minded getting ditched, but for some reason my little legs wouldn't give up, at least not too soon into the run. I'm glad they didn't because once I caught back up I got lost in conversation and I ended up breaking away from the rest of the group at the end of the run! I just can't start out too fast these days. I think I am lucky to get going around 9:40 pace and then I can creep down from there most days. But some days I just feel like poo and can't go much faster, if that pace. It's day by day.

I ended up running 8 freezing, hilly miles with some on trails in under 9:00 pace which is seriously stellar for me these days. My legs feel like I did a hard 20, but I'll take it!

But it was nice to run with dads and their daughters. Maybe someday that will be me tagging along on the run as my son and daughter run with their teams.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Like My Arm

Between peanut, my class, my contracting job, my OS&F column and (oh yeah) pregnancy, I am a useless lump by the end of the day. I don't even know why I am bothering to attempt to post. I've attempted to post something three times since my last post only to get sidetracked and abandon the draft. Not to mention who knows if this will be coherent if I finish it!

I just finished a draft of my second OS&F article and it's fitting the topic is trail running. Strangely, for the first time ever this winter I've been digging the trails. Every other winter the trails scared me. Besides being afraid I wouldn't be able to tell where they were with all the snow, when I could see them they looked like trampled down ice sheets. They just screamed injury to me. Plus, they'd be slow as hell. That's probably the real reason--I didn't have the patience to get in my miles at 9:00 plus pace (if not 10:00 plus) when I could do the same run under 8:00 pace on the roads. But now that I'm slow as hell anyway, what's there to lose? As long as they aren't dangerously slippery, just tough to slog through I'm good. And loving it!

It's weird. I feel like I can put out a more intense effort on the trails. My legs are still strong, it's my aerobic system that's really being taxed by the pregnancy. So, I can run close to the same pace I run on the roads and my legs work a lot harder, yet my heart rate feels about the same. It feels so good to work hard!

I've discussed this before, but I so miss real training this pregnancy. I long for the track, a tempo and fast-finish long run. The trail running is almost a fix. But I want to NEED an ice bath. I want to fall asleep at the dinner table, not because my body is producing a brand new human being, but because I ran so damn much (sorry for the salty language. I'm just in the mood, I guess). Don't get me wrong, I am so excited for #2. I guess that's why I'm bothering to write about this. The conflicted feeling is strange. I've been trying to channel it into getting psyched up about my next comeback. But then I worry I'm going to get disappointed when I can't train to the level I'd like with two babies. Yes, maybe that's it. I miss training because I'm afraid it's absence is permanent. And even if it is I can't really be mad about it because it's for a good reason. Such a good reason that I would never regret it's absence, but the absence would still leave a big part of me feeling pretty sad.

On that trail run, I met a really nice girl and we got to talking about how underappreciated athletics is in our country, particularly for women. We both agreed that athletics is a really important part of a healthy balanced life. I highly doubt I'd have to give up running completely. I think it's a permanent part of me, like my arm at this point. But I'm not sure the type-A in me could be satisfied with fitness level running and not athlete level running.

Oh, I'm being silly. Just because I'm afraid to get attached to the idea doesn't mean I have to brace for the opposite calamitous result. No, I can hope for the best and cross all bridges as I come to them. That seems much more sensible. And I like hanging onto the hope of one day running fast again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Loop-the-Loop

Since I started teaching, by the time Friday rolls around I am a waste of space. It's go go go go go all week. On the days I don't teach, I am frantically working during nap times and any free moment to prepare for class. The weekends are spent reading the assignments and trying to get the little bit of contract work done that I have every week. I then have to steal an hour here and an hour there from mrp so I can squeeze some miles in. I have been trying to do longer runs on the weekends since I don't have much more time than three 4-5 mile runs during the week. So far, I've been managing to get the runs in--it helps that the weather has been FANTASTIC (well, relative to normal Januaries around here) and I have been able to get peanut out most days. However, mrp is going out of town for work Sunday-Tuesday. We'll see how badly I fall apart! Actually, my in-laws and my mom are coming to help in the evenings so it really shouldn't be any different than normal really. I'll miss mrp though.

Actually I miss him now. We have been so busy--he with work and the house and peanut and me with work and the house and peanut--that I feel like I haven't seen him in days. Peanut and I were playing in the basement this morning and peanut got into a box and started throwing colored tissue paper all over the place. I went to check it out and realized he got into the box where mrp stores all the notes and little artsy things I made and sent to him when I was away in NYC. I took out a couple of things and showed them to peanut and it really really made me think about how far we have come. Just 4 years ago I was preparing my valentine for mrp and now look at us. House, married, almost 2 kids. Yikes! Life happens at a blistering pace.

But besides realizing for the millionth time that time really does fly, I realized for maybe the hundredth time that when it's right, two people can really create something special. Looking at peanut savaging through a box filled with our love notes, mardi gras beads (long, probably boring story), glue-sticked origami paper collages and photographs of a slightly younger version of ourselves I couldn't help but really feel the awe and that no matter how difficult things are at times or how tired I feel or how nervous I am about where my career is headed or wondering how the heck am I going to be able to love TWO peanuts enough, that this is so so right.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Fresh Winter Air

We've had a heat wave in these parts the last few days--upper 30's and into the low 40's. What does that mean for your humble blogger? Why, it's time to bust out the BOB and take peanut for a run in the park! Seriously, we have been so cooped up and I have been so darn busy with work for my little contracting job and prepping for my class and the yucko cold and snow that we really needed to get out--both of us! I have never seen little peanut so excited to go for a ride than he was on Thursday and Friday when we hit the snowy bike path at the park. It was great! It's a little hard on me--it is pretty tough to push the BOB through snow and slush, let alone add in the whole pregnancy thing, but seeing peanut's happy little smily rosy cheeks and breathing in the fresh cool air was so so so so worth it! And he has been much happier because of it. He needs his outside time and he would like you to know that momma pulling him in the sled for 20 minutes at a snails pace is not cutting it, people!

Since I have the weather shield for the BOB, trail shoes and a new badass attitude, I think I will take him out as long as the trail footing is doable and the weather is at least 27 degrees. Yes, I will be THAT psycho runner lady all the neighborhood gossips about, but you know what? Peanut and I will have the last laugh with all the fresh air and extra vitamin D we get. So hmmmph.

In other news, I got in 7 miles on my own yesterday and I headed down to run with SERC this morning. I ran with the SERC group a few times when I was building towards my last marathon and had some spectacular runs. One of my buddies has been slowed by a series of unfortunate events so we hit the roads together with another buddy coming off the DL. We were pulling up the rear with our 9:05 pace, but it felt great, we had fun and I think all of us are pretty happy just to be out there at this point. There's nothing like sharing a great run with great people. I ran 6 with them and then headed out for another two to get in 8 for the day. I am super pleased with that. I decided I want to get in three runs during the week no matter how short or pathetic and then try to run 13-15 miles over the weekend. This weekend I got in the 15, so I am super thrilled. What is even more thrilling is that I have now run 5 days in a row and feel great, even after running a whopping (for these days) 8 miles. I think I might be able to comfortably do 10. Maybe next week.

Oh, yeah. Speaking of 10 miles, I decided that I need a goal to keep myself motivated to continue running in the face of nasty weather, inconvenience, work, and life stuff. Last time I was pregnant I had to keep going so I could run my 7.7 mile leg of the Speed Bumps relay at 31 weeks. This time, at 31 weeks there is a 10 mile race that I think I will shoot for. It may not be pretty and there may be several pee breaks, but I think I can do it. And worse case scenario, if I feel I'm not up to 10 I can probably switch to the corresponding 5k, but either way I'm still running at 31 weeks and that's the goal. Well, I hope to make it past 34 weeks, which is when I stopped last time, but really if I can get well into the third trimester up and running, what on earth do I have to complain about?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trail Running for the Rest of Us

I am working on my second article for Ohio Sports & Fitness. The topic this time is how trail running can help us race faster on the roads. Your input really helped with my last article, so I would love to hear your experiences with off-road training and how you think it's helped you improve your times on the roads or just generally made you a better runner. If you give me something really good, I'll quote you. You'll be famous!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Winter Landscape

It's Saturday and it's awfully snowy. On tap for me is to work on my syllabus for my class while peanut naps. Once he wakes up I have to get him dressed and send him off for adventures with daddy. And that's when I can get my run in through this tundra of a wonderland. I just love it when the snow sticks to all the tree branches! It makes the snow 30 times prettier (and more tolerable), I swear! I am hoping to run 15 this weekend. Since I will have the time, I plan to run 7. I might even run 8 if I am feeling good. We shall see.

Tomorrow I am thinking about heading out with a group that runs the trails at the park right down the street with me. Last time I ran with that group I gained a stalker. I think the stalker moved away, so I should be safe to try again. Plus, I'll move down a level or two now that I'm slow. Before I had to run with the faster guys (not a super competitive group). Now I can probably run comfortably with the main pack. It should be interesting--I have never really embraced running on snowy trails. However, now I'm willing to give it a try because a) I'm so slow it won't matter if I slow down even more; b) my trail shoes are about the only ones not well past their expiration date and c) I'm pretty desperate to run with some company. It's lonely stuck in my basement on the mill or running the same roads all by myself all the time. Plus, I'm not sure how long I'll feel comfortable on the roads. I need to make a move!

So, the class. It starts on Tuesday. I am very nervous and not sure exactly how to prepare. However, I believe deep down that I have the potential to be a great teacher, so I just need to now my material and prep the best I can and trust myself it will work out. I am petrified of turning off my students on the first day only for them all to drop my class! I sure hope not. I actually toyed with the idea of baking chocolate chip cookies for them and then realized that was cheap. Heh. Anyway, I better get to work on that syllabus!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Switch

Yesterday I put on my winter uniform: some tights, a long sleeve tech shirt with a long sleeve race t-shirt on top, my blue hat, mittens and of course shoes and socks. It didn't take me long to figure out I really should have taken that extra minute to check the weather. Holy crap! It was cold! Apparently, a long sleeve t-shirt doesn't cut it when it's 14 degrees and windy. For the first mile and a half I was straight into the wind and I thought my neck would disintegrate and holding up my cotton t-shirt over it did nothing to help. Once I turned out of the wind I was actually ok and I ran out a little over three miles doing some extra loops on some side streets to extend my 5-miler to 6. But once I turned back to come home, POW! There was that wind again. UGH! A little over a mile and I was out of it again, thankfully.

The first rule of winter running is DRESS APPROPRIATELY! Duh.

But I made it out for 6 miles and I actually ran at a non-embarrassing pace. I was under 9:00 pace for the second half of the run. That's very good for me especially with the wind and snowy streets.

When I contemplating my second pregnancy way back when I always thought I'd be less cautious than I was with peanut and run to my heart's content. In many ways I am less cautious this time: I have no problem running on the roads, even covered in snow; I have no problem pushing the pace every now and then; and I completely trust my body to tell me what's ok and what's not--no second-guessing this time.

As for mileage, little did I know that for the first few weeks my heart (and stomach and whatever it is that controls the imminent need to SLEEP) could barely get me out the door for 20 miles a week. It was a struggle to get that in. For the last month or so I've felt quite a bit better and ready to roll, but now life is getting in the way. Peanut's sleep troubles, my work, the holidays and lots of other stuff seem to keep me from getting out there and running to my heart's content. Now when I head out I am good for an hour and sometimes more (although my bladder doesn't have quite the same patience!) I feel good and happy out on the snowy roads and it's not pulling teeth just to log a measly 4 miles. When I was feeling really awful during the first trimester, I set the minimum standard to be 4 miles, 5 days a week or 20 miles. Last week I ran 30 miles in 5 days and felt great and unrushed. This week, I hope to run at least 4 today so I can log at least 20 in 4 days.

I don't know. Last time I was pregnant the severe drop off in mileage hardly bothered me. This time it does quite a bit more so. Maybe it's because life is getting in the way this time. Maybe it's because I was in the middle of my first post-pregnancy comeback when I got pregnant this time: a break in momentum. I don't know.

I think a lot of it is the frustration that comes with not being able to do everything I want to do. Last time I was pregnant, my life was pretty settled and the only big thing going on was being pregnant. This time, I've got a kid, a brand new teaching job (which I am so nervous about--January 12 is my first day!), a very part-time contracting job, a messy house I'm in almost 24/7, friends I haven't seen in weeks and lots and lots of sleep that must be had. I can't do everything at 100% these days. I can be a 100% good mother and beyond that everything else just needs to get what I have to give. And for the most part I find satisfaction in that decision. But that overachiever part likes to focus on what I can't do or am not doing. I wish that came with an off switch!

So for this brand new year I hope for lots of things--a healthy pregnancy and baby, a healthy and happy family, a vibrant relationship with mrp, a beautiful and striving peanut--but, most notably I hope to find more self acceptance, inner peace and allow myself more contentedness.