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After years of sloth, I am now a mama who runs and practices yoga. I write about exercise; parenting a grownup child as well as two little kids; and whatever is annoying me at the moment.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Magnificent miles

This past Saturday I had an AWESOME trail run. It was the kind of run I'll be doing this fall, when I do my first 50K race.

Lily pads and loveliness
I attempted to meet with some Flatlanders Ultrarunners, a not-unsizable running group with roots in suburban Chicago that I found through Facebook.

A few of them were starting at Bullfrog Lake at 6:30, though most seem to begin at 8 -- too late of a start for me. I talked my running buddy Andie into coming with me. Good thing, because the Flatlanders were, um, fast. They got us to the start of the trail -- but after that, we were on our own.

The run was glorious and hard. It was hilly and rugged, and also popular with mountain bikers. (Single friends, this is where the guys are!) As I ran, I was giddy. Sweating, struggling at points, but so happy to be out of the city and in woods, on trails, in near-solitude. I kept thinking of that Illinois tourism slogan "mile after magnificent mile." Yup.

 Two days later, I am still so wicked, wicked sore. But still smiling!

Week three, 50K training:

Monday: Rest day/core exercises
Tuesday: 5.3 miles -- super rainy run
Wednesday: 7.6 miles
Thursday: 30-minute spin class + stretch class (in lieu of hill training. I need to stop blowing off hill training)
Friday: Yoga/core exercises
Saturday: 14.4 miles -- trail run!
Sunday: 5.6 dragass miles

Total mileage: 32.9 miles

Friday, August 15, 2014

My sweet Tory: Life has an Act II. And an Act III and IV...

This week I hit a work anniversary, which I discovered by the number of people congratulating me on LinkedIn. That LinkedIn, so thoughtful!

One former Sun-Times colleague, who has gone on to write books and do other fabulous things, sent a nice note congratulating me on my "second act", referring to our mutual departure for journalism for other pastures. (My "greener pasture" is communications/public relations. Insert smartass comment.

This same week, my oldest son, who is 21, had a pretty big setback. He found out he has to leave college because he doesn't have enough money. It's been a challenging year for him, personally and professionally.

You could not pay me to be 21 again.

He's bummed out, naturally. And moving back to his dad's.

I am filled with helpful suggestions, naturally. That's what moms do.

But what makes me a little sad is not that he's had this setback or that he won't bounce back. He is an incredibly kind, smart, wonderful guy. Always has been.

What makes me ache for him is that I'm not sure he sees that he's going to have a second act, a third act, and more. When you get knocked on your butt, hopefully you get back up and really take a look at the opportunities around you.

I know he'll find his way. But I really, really, really am trying to just be supportive and guiding, and not overbearing in telling him what to do.

I may have to sit on my hands and not touch my phone.

I have lost count how many "acts" I've had already.

50K ultramarathon training, week two (last week):

Monday -- 20 min yoga DVD
Tuesday -- 45-min spin class (rainy day, skipped run)
Wednesday -- 5.3 miles
Thursday -- 7.2 miles
Friday -- "group centergy" class (core, yoga, Pilates fusion)
Saturday -- 12.3 miles
Sunday -- 5.4 miles 
Total weekly mileage: 30.2

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Princesses of the park

My 3-year-old daughter a week ago figured out how to pedal her tiny pink Disney princess bike. And now she wants to ride it all.the.time.

"Mommy. I want to ride my bike. Mommy, can I ride my bike? When can I ride my bike? I can ride fast now. I want to ride my bike all the way to the beach. (We are a few miles from Lake Michigan). I am going to ride fast! I am going to beat my brother!" (They love beating each other. A lot.)

This weekend she was able to get herself pedaling from a stopped position, no longer needing the little push she requires last weekend. She was indignant when I tried to help.

It's awesome.

Little artists at work
At the park the other day, she was suddenly keeping up with her super-fast climber monkey of a brother. No playground equipment was too high to scamper up, and there was nothing her brother could do that she couldn't so either. 

As she was doing all I this, she chattered away. "I can climb high! I can do anything!" I am strong!"

And, "Mommy, we're princesses of the park!" High praise, considering princesses are the best thing ever in her world.

If only I could freeze the confidence she has. I'd save it  in an ice cube tray  that I could pull out of the fridge as needed when, later in life, she developers doubts. Or someone puts doubts in her head. God.


Speaking of confidence and strong girls, last week was my first "official" of 16 weeks of ultra training.

Monday Yoga DVD
Tuesday 5.3 miles + core work
Wednesday Hill workout -- 4.7 miles running back & forth over Cricket Hill with friends
Thursday 8.2 miles + core work/physical therapy
Friday   Rest day
Saturday  13 miles -- trail run
Sunday  5.6 miles
Week one total mileage: 36.8 miles

Monday, July 21, 2014

What time is it? It's time to train. What time is it? It's time to train.

Today began the first official day of training for the 50K race.

Training plan here.

Today is a rest/optional day. In my house, that meant trying to sleep in until 6, but instead being woken up at 4:30 and again at 5-something. Coffee, take me away.

I would write more but I have to go look at the "fort" my 5-year-old built downstairs, no doubt with the couch cushions. He's a pretty good fort-builder.

Actually, what else is there to say? Just go train, right?

Any ultra folks taking a look at this training schedule, I welcome your feedback.

Note -- headline of this post is a play on Bubble Guppies' grownup fish (aptly named "Mr. Grouper") who chants "What time is it? It's time for lunch! What time is it? It's time for lunch!" It gets stuck in my head regularly, so I decided to share.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

"Wet it go! Wet it go!"

I had a great run today. Really, really great, with legs feeling young and good.

Recently I signed up for my first ultramarathon. And since have been wrangling with how in the heck to train for one.

I've asked lots of folks for advice -- experienced 50- and 100-mile runners. (Gulp. I can't even fathom...) My friend who ran Boston. An online friend who runs ultras quite a bit in the mountains. And, of course, Google.

The plans you find on Google are all over the place. Some have you running a boatload of miles, including 26-milers, as in plural. 26-milers are also marathons, which historically have kicked my ass to hell and back.

Some have hill work. All require Sunday runs after your long run on Saturday to get used to running on fatigued legs. (For fatigued, trashed legs, see every marathon report I've ever written. Ugh.) Some folks recommended to just follow a marathon schedule and add in a Sunday run.

It was kind of daunting. And intimidateing.

But, perserverance pays off. Talk to enough folks and study options enough, and you come up with something.

It also helps to "WET IT GO!" as my little 3-year-old girl LOVES to belt out in the car, like a million other little girls who are still engrossed with Frozen and the "Let it go" song that every girl seems to know.

She did so today as we were driving back from a really fun playdate in the Chicago 'burbs with good friends.

I don't normally take inspiration for running from Disney movies. OK, I never do. But recently, as I was compared training schedules and notes from friends on how to train, I was just like, what am I doing?

Just chill. Follow a basic schedule marathon-like training schedule, get a run in on Sundays, rest if I need to and just chill. I've been at 25-30 mile weeks for a few weeks, which gives me a good base (I think) to start my official training next week. I'm feeling good. Why am I worrying? It's just running. Let it go, as my girl would say!

One of the pieces of advice I got was to do long runs, if at all possible, on unpaved surfaces. Which is tough when you live in the city of Chicago.

So I headed to the burbs today to a forest preserve, having mapped out about an 8-mile swath of trail. I even had a long-time running buddy who joined me, which helps so much. She was a good sport.

Parts of the trail were pretty much mud and grass, parts were that nice urbanized crush gravel that is so smooth to run on.

It was GREAT. 10 miles and my legs felt fresh when I was done. I was tired from not bringing water (d'oh). And I forgot bug spray. (d'oh). Obviously I'm a city dweller spoiled by lakefront paths that have water fountains every few miles.

But the advice about not running on concrete was so great. Running on 26.2 miles of concrete in past marathons has just pounded me down and made me (and my legs and hips) feel awful.

Today, I could have kept going for miles.

I still have so much to figure out. Trail shoes. Hydration. Nutrition that doesn't make me nauseous, an issue in past long runs and marathon races. But I will.

Even if I don't do everything "perfectly", I feel like it's going to be OK.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Registered for my first 50K ultramarathon!

After a week of pretty terrible back pain, I'm finally back to feeling better. Good lord, I don't know how people live with chronic pain. It was just awful.

But I'm back, folks.

And, I did it! I mean, I signed up for my first 50K trail race. Woohoo!!! 50K is 31.0686 miles, so I'm told.

I ran a 25K with these folks in March. It was brutal and wonderful. The race directors and participants were just great. I can't wait to get out there again.

Me on the right, with my awesome trail running buddies in March at the Palezoic Trail Runs - Cambrian Springs 25K/50K.

I'm still trying to figure out a training plan. The race is in November, so 20 weeks out, yeah, it's time to get moving.

And though I don't have to worry about this quite yet, I have to figure out nutrition and gear and all that.

I'm working with my very patient physical therapist to strengthen my core and back.

I don't care how fast I run this. I just want to finish out there, in the beautiful woods.

I ran 12 yesterday and thought hmm, I'd just have to run 19 more to do a 50K...


Monday, June 23, 2014

Ice day

Today it's back to work, after a week-long vacation.

I'm exhausted and mentally fried. (Parents will understand this.)

I've been awake off and on since 4, lying on a bag of ice to stop the shooting pain up the back of my skull after jacking up my neck and shoulder a few days ago.

Yesterday was the day when you pay for being "off" for a week and not taking care of crap at home.

"Off", of course, is funny because you do just as much kid-related work, including cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. as you do when you're not on vacation. The difference is, you get to blow off the other things in your life, like scrubbing the bathtub, paying bills, and looking for the car's new auto insurance cards that you're legally required to have in your car.

(Don't get me wrong. It was a really great vacation. We had a lot of fun with the kids.)

It was a pretty summer day. And there we were, my husband and me, doing stuff at a maniac pace. He was trying to figure out why black specks are coming out of our kitchen sink faucet. And doing other stuff I wasn't paying attention to.

That's because I had to tackle that damn bathtub. I bleached out the mildew that was driving me crazy. Scrubbed the bathroom. Did six loads of laundry. Cleaned out the disgusting cat pan and vacuumed up the kitty litter he flings EVERYWHERE. Discovered he may have peed on our dirty bathtowels that had been awaiting a trip to the washing machine since before we left for vacation. Transferred 1,200-plus photos from my phone to our computer, since iCloud was stalking me with threatening notes that it could no longer back up my babies' photos and whatever else is on my phone.

And I yelled at my kids. Too much.

Sometimes I am a crap parent. They just want to play. And my attention.

I feel like a jerk. I have everything you could want -- a nice home, great family. You're not supposed to complain when you have all that. You're supposed to look like you're handling everything gracefully. Single friends can and will point out that you signed up for this, they wish they had it, and that you should just shut your trap. I can somewhat ignore what I imagine people are thinking about me, but I still feel like I should be able to juggle all of it better. And with more grace.

As I laid on the bag of ice, praying the back pain that was newly developing in my mid-back would not flare up its own inflammation party, I ticked off all of the stuff I'm neglecting. My oldest son is going through some challenges right now and I want to be more in tune with him and available to him. I haven't talked to my mom, who's still in a nursing home, in weeks. (I've tried to call, just haven't gotten through). I still haven't found those damn insurance cards. I need to figure out some financial stuff, like, today. I haven't yet looked for a training plan for that ultramarathon I want to do this fall. Hell, I haven't yet emailed the race director to see if the race I've eyeballed is even happening.

Ugh. This is not grace under pressure, not one bit.

Not even the sly cookie-stress-eating I'm quietly indulging in while the kids aren't looking. "Cookies before lunch, kids? You should never, ever do that... *whistle*"

So today is a day that I mentally think of as an "ice day", a metaphor for stopping the urge to fight the overwhelmed feeling and fret fret fret. Just lay on the bag of ice and try to focus on one thing at a time. There's no way I'll get everything done I think I should, and it's dumb to fret about it.

I've got about 20 minutes till the kids get up. Time to find that bag of ice again.