Sunday, February 23, 2014

The week's successes

The big success of the week was Jeremy keeping his stomach bug germs to himself. I'm not sure I can even credit myself for sanitizing the house and not coming within 2 yards of him for 36 hours. It was surely just pure luck. Vomiting all night is no picnic itself, but I don't ever want to try to do it while taking care of a sick little one at the same time. We dodged a bullet. 

Moderately successful was my last track workout before next weekend's half marathon. I completed it, minus one recovery jog and a bit of warm up and cool down, so there's that. During the 4x1.5 miles at half marathon pace, I was slow for all except one, making me wonder why it is my goal pace to begin with. Expectations of how fast you should be are funny things. I started thinking of a workout one day in college cross country. I remember it was early in the season and we were doing 1200s around the practice football field. Having the football team practicing all the while made it not unlike dodge ball to us runners, but with balls and large people to dodge. But anyway, about half the team was crying for some reason. I had no idea what was going on; instead, the other dry eyes and I stood there bewildered. My hunch tells me it had to do with self expectations and comparisons to others, which is a tough thing to deal with along with the pain of godawful workouts like endless 1200 repeats. So at least the only person aware of my slowness this week was myself. And I was disappointed, but I'm also excellent at coming up with excuses (see my last race report). All in all, marginally successful. 

And for my final success of the week, we move on to craft projects. To some, I may be an artsy craftsy type. To others, I'm an amateur. But the sheep project? Nailed it. 

I'm working on the rest of the flock in an array of spring colors!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring! Or, the last month of winter

The locals keep telling me this is an especially cold winter. I wouldn't have known the difference since I couldn't remember what southeastern winters were like after being away three years. But it sure has seemed cold! It's harder keeping a toddler occupied when he a) won't wear a hat or gloves or any jacket other than his brown one outside and b) won't get in the car. At least he has an excellent imagination and plenty of little people animals, Mickeys, Legos, and coloring books inside.

But it has warmed up! At least temporarily. So we have gotten to spend more time outside, chalking up the driveway again, digging in the flower beds, and filling the "we-cycle gahbage can" again and again. H actually knows what gets thrown in the trash and what gets recycled already. Good little environmentalist.  

Besides our crayola 48 pack(s) of chalk (we go through them quickly), other art supplies that we love for use indoors (for next week when it gets cold again) are our crayola window markers and gel markers. Finally a white marker that works! I had one as a kid, in the shape of a mouse, that didn't really do much, so the technology has improved! The best crayons are still our Melissa & Dougs. They are squared off and impossible to break, as hard as a toddler might try. We have a Melissa & Doug sticker book with vinyl restickable stickers. There are 5 different landscapes and about 100 stickers for each. Very loved. And yet another Melissa & Doug product we have is a stamp kit with washable ink. Our animal stencils have come in handy for making shapes out of our fingerprints. We have a little more playdough in the fridge (I will never buy playdough it's so easy to make), but we keep accidentally leaving it out, rendering it useless. Or actually it is useful for making painful indentations in the bottom of feet when it is stepped on.

I have enjoyed a few warm runs, just in time for a half marathon taper. This time I will try not to completely stop exercising in the 10 days before the race. I don't step on the scale too often, but when I did last time, there they were, 2 winter pounds that must have been put on with all the heavy winter gear. But never taken off. Wow these 4 months between half marathons went quickly. As always, I should've done more! With spring comes a little more motivation to get outside running, and maybe even to get to the pool more than once every 2 weeks. Ah we'll see. Which, growing up, always meant "not gonna happen." But I bought a shiny new swimsuit in case it does ever happen again.

 little hands at work

just before the jump

clever little one knows he's cute

Monday, February 10, 2014


It's funny, the questions I am asked lately seem to come from two polar opposite standpoints. I am asked when I am having another baby or when I am going to do another Ironman. Maybe these come from the same line of thinking though -- it's time for SOMETHING right?

I shouldn't be, but I am a little amazed every time I hear of  a mom of a young toddler who is expecting again. First of all, who are these babies that let their moms have 30 seconds to themselves to even consider that there is time in the world to care for another? My little one may be shy around strangers, and he really likes to be at home lately, but he would probably be considered an "easy" baby by exactly no one. That is not a bad thing! I love how interactive he is, but it can be a little exhausting. I know this means he is learning so fast and wants me to keep him challenged all the time. But where would an infant fit in?

Secondly, Jeremy has pointed out that I am unusual in the length of time I have breastfed. It never seemed unusual to me, since my family is just the same. Recently I filled out an online survey about nursing past a year. It asked about everyone I had discussed this decision with, and how supportive they were about me breastfeeding past a year. I really hadn't considered it much until then, but I didn't give a second thought to nursing past a year. Of course I would continue, and I'm pretty sure I neither asked anyone's opinion (I knew the opinions of those who matter anyway) nor cared what others thought. I've almost gone two years now, and still there is no magic number in my head that will bring this all to a stop. It's the natural thing to do. Babies aren't meant to be spaced too closely together; moms' bodies are not ready for it, and the babies are not ready to give up the level of care they get as the youngest member of the family. So really, nobody breastfeeds past a year? I know I'm getting "old" but I can't quit something so good for my toddler for the potential sibling just yet. I definitely don't want to criticize moms who do choose to cut short their breastfeeding years. This is just something that I believe to be the right thing to do with my little one.

The next question, about when I will do another Ironman, I really don't have an answer for. My motivation to train says it is still not time for me. That's what I DID for 10 years, and I loved it. But this is a completely different season in my life, and I love it too. Ironman just doesn't fit in right now. I know my baby is almost 2, and so many moms are back out there well before first birthdays, and that's fine! It's just not for me.

I read a quote from a speedy age grouper that said something about there being no award for mom of the youngest baby at an Ironman. And that once those baby and toddler years are gone, they are gone! So true, what a wonderful time in their little lives. I don't want to miss too much, and I already miss my baby even when I'm gone for a couple of hours at a time.

But the competition to come back fast is very real in triathlon circles. It caused me a bit of stress right after my cesarean. I felt like I was lagging behind where I should have been. But really, everyone's open abdominal cavity surgery is different. Was it because I never went into labor? Maybe. Regardless, it was not a competition. Exercising as much as I did while pregnant and running until Hunter was born means I was just plain lucky. It didn't make me tougher than any other pregnant mom, or less lazy, or crazier either. Ok, maybe crazier. There is no standard number of exercise hours that will make you the fittest pregnant mama, or how many weeks you should take off after delivery, or how many months after the birth that you should be able to race or to PR. It's ok with me to not have a goal of getting in another Ironman until Hunter is in high school, if ever. I'll take my 6 or 7 hours a week of exercise and do the most I can with it for now. And hopefully I can keep Hunter's illusion of me alive. As he said, "Hunter fast, Dad slow, Mom fast." That's right baby, don't forget it!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

River Trail 15k

I decided somewhat last minute to do a race on the Arkansas River Trail where I regularly do long runs. I have gotten to where I am fairly familiar with every little bump in the road over these parts. And sometimes that works to a runner's advantage; I am not sure it helps me.

Race week started last Saturday with a 12-miler that included some moderate pickups, which left my calves sore the next day. My calves are very rarely sore. But they were challenged again on my Sunday birthday climb of Pinnacle mountain. "Run" does not really describe what you do for at least half of it. I even used my hands climbing over some boulders. The downhill is probably what added to my soreness. Despite the steepness of my neighborhood streets (Garmin says our street right in front of the driveway is a 20.5% incline), they do not prepare me for boulder scaling. 

Anyway, I did my track workout of 8x800s on Wednesday. It hurt and left me super tired, despite being significantly slower than last time I did a similar workout. I ran easy Thursday, sat on the couch (just kidding, not with this toddler) took off from training for a whole day, Friday, and raced Saturday. Have I laid out enough excuses yet? Well here is another: Friday night I got chills and felt feverish for a while before going to bed. I was actually afraid I was developing mastitis since I had some plugged duct pain as well. But by the middle of the night I was over it and fine.

Sometimes it is frustrating to listen to people always have their excuses in order before a race even starts. Sandbagging, anyone? Other times, especially when it's -- ahem -- yourself, you realize that not all races are going to come with perfect circumstances. Particularly when you only put it on the calendar a few days before. So you have all these reasons in your head about why it could suck so that when you do well, or even just ok, you come away happy. Right?

My race plan was to go out at a 7 min pace, then try to pick it up slowly. After a 6:50, 7:00, 7:10, then 7:19, I kind of gave up. I did manage to pick it up from there instead of continuing the 10 second trend, but I finished the 9.3 miles with a 7:09 average. I let go of the 3rd place female and even let 4th place pass me in the last mile. Way to race, Joy.

Now I know I'm not the only one who has these bad race or even training days. Sometimes it seems  (thanks again, social media) that nobody else has this happen. It is tough to put out there that you are disappointed. Does that mean that your training plan was not ideal? Are you just lazy? Not naturally talented? Can't take a little discomfort or pain? Going out too fast? I don't think any of those are necessarily true. As much as we research in exercise science to get averages and trends, there is such a huge variability on race or test day. Take it from me, record holder in the Biggest Time Difference in Ironman Marathons category (yep, 2 hours and 52 minutes between best and worst -- but I am just going to blame weather for that).

 You can never quite replicate that perfect prerace ritual, however hard you try. And I have come to realize that maybe with a little age (I have been running for about 22 years now, triathloning for 17), but also maybe with the unpredictability of having a toddler who may wake up between 3 and 6 times a night, I just have to do the best I can do on race day.

Even with all my excuses built up, that I repeated to myself over and over during the race (not good internal dialogue, by the way -- the ipod would've been a better distraction), I still didn't come away feeling happy about the race. But I am happy about the 13.5 mile total workout I got in, so that when next race day comes in 4 weeks, maybe I can feel good about it.

And now, the toddler this week :)

Playing in the bed, which is the most fun thing ever

Is it just me, or does he look about 5 years old here?