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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, 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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Evil Mom and the splinters

We hit our local splash park yesterday to grab a break from the delicious heat and humidity. (I am still not over #chiberia, not one bit.)

And I noticed something great.

After a few seconds maybe of hesitation, my kids were tearing around that water park, squealing and laughing.

No one was clinging to our legs. No one was whining (well, at least not initially) to go home.

They loved it. It's great to see the kids get older in so many ways.

It's also interesting to go on vacation with these two. We recently spent a week in southwestern Michigan, as we did last year, including renting the same great house. We love this place. It's the first repeat vacation spot for us since having the kids, and it was fun to see the kids remember things from last year.

We did all the usual fun stuff, beach, parks, etc. And mommy got lots of quality running time with runs that started after 6 a.m. (!!)
Beach babies

Skipping rocks with daddy

Nothing could go wrong here, right?

Quality mommy running time
My 5-year-old little guy also had what must have been a pretty vivid dream while we were there.

I was lacing up my shoes for a post-dawn run one morning and he emerged from his room, wild-haired and sleepy-eyed. He insisted there was an Evil Mom in the house and he saw her. He could not stop talking about Evil Mom. 

I told him there were no such things as monsters and he had had a bad dream. I did not ask him why no Evil Dad.

He was so annoyed with me. "Mommy, I didn't say monster. I said Evil Mom and I saw her!"

So then I explained to him, patiently, that I was not evil. "No, not YOU, Mommy. It was a different Evil Mom!"

I decided to not take that personally.

We heard a lot about Evil Mom off and on through that trip.

And that was before the splinter episode.

After M-man was wandering around the enclosed porch area while we were preparing dinner, he announced he had something in his foot.

Boy, did he.

Two rather large, deep splinters. Oh god.

The next 20 minutes were bedlam. It's a good thing these rental homes are spaced out, or I'm sure someone would have called DCFS. 

M-man screamed as Daddy held M-man and I dug out, slowly and excrutiatingly, the splinters out of my son's foot. They were deep and kept breaking as I'd pull a little bit out.

M-man yelled I was a bad mommy and, the ultimate insult, that I was a poopyhead. I yelled back. My husband tried to calm both of us down. 

It seemed to go on forever.

I couldn't believe a kindergartener could be so strong, he was fighting and kicking so hard. I was sweating a lot. I told my husband mid-course that birthing this child had been easier. 

My daughter did not quite know what to make of all of this, so she walked around us, giggle and throwing something at me.

I wanted to resign my parenting credentials right then and there.

Fortunately, the exorcism, er, splinter removal, finally ended when I got most of the splinters out. My husband poured me a large drink.There were still a couple little bits left in his foot, but neither of us could take any more.

A few days later, my son had another damn splinter in his foot. (Yes, I told him multiple times to make sure he wore shoes.) I sat on him and got it out, much quicker this time. Again, I broke a sweat trying to work that out while he shrieked, flailed and yelled. But I got it out.

We're back in Chicago now. As I write this, he is sitting across from me, quietly eating toast in his PJs. He just smiled at me. Now he's showing me where on my kitchen floor a spider had been hanging out earlier this morning.

Hopefully, Evil Mom and her tweezers will not have to come out again any time soon. This morning's peace is much, much nicer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Kiddie race report!

Have I mentioned that I have kids? And that they're awesome?

My kids ran a 100-meter race on Sunday. It was their longest-distance race.

And, they kicked some kiddie butt.

My new favorite races may be the ones I don't run at all. It's much more fun to watch a 3- and 5-year-old tear out of a start line.

A work acquaintance sent me a link to a new 5k race, the Daniel Horyn Skokie Swift 5K, in a suburb close to the city. I will admit that I've never heard of the namesake, a teacher who sadly died very young of cancer.

What got me was, well, there was a kiddie race.

I love that my kids ask me about running and races. I have been promising them a race.

This was perfect -- a race, and a fundraiser.

We set out Sunday morning, much earlier than we usually are up and about, and headed to the burbs. Of course, my anal get-your-butts-moving-out-the-door-drill-sergeant tactics made us get there ridiculously early. And it was a pretty cold day for June.
Pre-race, listening to the race director. They always listen this well.

Finally, we lined up. On your mark, get set, go, bullhorn! M-man tore off, a kindergarten blur. He needed no prompting. My daughter hesitated, but only for a second, and she was chugging down the street, all business.

I ran alongside C-girl, cheering for her. She didn't look at me once, instead just running her little heart out to the finish. M-man was waiting at the finish line for us, looking like, "now what?"

It was awesome. There were bags of candy and hugs at the end. And medals around their necks. And high-fives all around.

They have asked me when they can race again.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Fix my back, fast!

As a mama, like all mama, I really, really, really try.

That includes reminding myself that this is what I signed up for.

And that my kids are sweet little dollfaces. Fortunately, they really are.


That also means minimizing any grumbling to my single, childless friends who would like to have what I have, even if it was just some of it. (My friends who fit this bill are laughing now, i.e. a lot of my running buddies, noting I fail at this... )

I can live without Botox, live with an annual pedicure and go years without hitting a street festival or wine tasting.

But what I really, really want is someone to fix my mommy back.

About every six months-ish, niggles will form along my mid-spine, almost like something is alive in there and wiggling around.

That wiggling starts to feel inflamed, and it grows. Within hours, it can be excruciating, reducing me to tears, bitchiness and a week or more of pain. I get nauseous when the pain is really bad. It just sucks.

I always try hard to self-manage it. I jam my back against a tennis ball and roll on it until my back is bruised, alternate heat and cold, spend money I can ill-spare on one desperate massage, which invariably gives me a few hours of release but never solves the problem. And then I'm in pain AND mad I've wasted money.

It's like there's a mad fiddler in there and he's just getting warmed up. And he hates me.

It's my fault. I pick up my daughter too much. And she's pushing 35 pounds. But if she were yours, you'd pick her up, too. She's an ultimate dollface.

I've tried docs/physical therapy and chiros in the past.

Docs/PT takes too long. By the time I can see a doc and get a referral to PT, the suffering has usually passed.

Chiros, in my experience, have been bloodsuckers who want me to sign up for a bunch of prepaid sessions, during which I am convinced they are going to snap my spine with their really hard twists and cranks. I hate them.

Actually, I know there are some out there who don't just try and hustle their patients. I would love to find one of them. But I always find the hustlers, unfortunately.

I used to go to a naprapath, which was the closest I could find to a place where I could drop in for a session or two, and actually have my back feel better.

But I lost track of that guy. He was a really weird dude anyway and reeked of cigarettes. And didn't accept insurance.

Fixing my back is like everything else. It's gotta be quick, convenient and preferably something I can squeeze into my imaginary lunch hour.

Or be open at 5 a.m., when everyone in my house is still sleeping. (I can't even find a yoga class that will start that early. I've looked). Wait, that cuts into my running. Better make it 4:30 a.m.

(Fortunately, it doesn't hurt when I run. Only when I do pretty much anything else, except when I'm laying on a bag of ice. As if. Try doing that with a 3- and 5-year-old tearing around your house. Or at the office.)

So someone invent the fix-mom's-back-drop-in-clinic. That fits in my impossible, ridiculous hours.

If you provide free child care, take insurance and offer a bonus chilled glass of sauvignon blanc, I will love you forever.