Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things that I am awesome at vs average at

So I had one of Those Days yesterday, where everything I tried to do just came out on the below side of average. My parenting was low on patience, my kids were low on cooperation, and my workouts were non-existent (attempt one) and then injury and corpse ridden (2.) In short, barf.

First, I slept through my window for my morning run, which was not brilliant but not the end of the world.

My first workout attempt was my Tuesday morning class, where the kids are set free in an indoor soccer field with a ton of toys and each other to maul and the moms do a bootcamp style class with a trainer who shouts at us (nicely!) It's called Mommy Rocks and it's at the Tyngsboro Sports Center and if you're local with young kids, you should go, because it's a great workout that goes by quickly, and it doesn't get better than that. I am going to go ahead and proclaim that my arms look about 14% better since I started the class about 3 months ago. AND /plug.

However, Nate was simply not feeling it this morning, and he wailed big time and I could just tell he wasn't going to go for it, so mid warmup I scooped him up, corralled the older one, and hustled them out to the car to go home, where I would then stew about it, still in my workout clothes for a few hours. Ha. Terrible strategy. I did not feel better about this after the stewing.

But! I had to get in my 3 miles from my training schedule in, so I knew that I'd be able to go (sans stroller!) when my husband got home. Whoo! It would be sort of hot but I'd take a shady course and 3 miles isn't too long blah blah blah.

Well. I did the miles, even though I limped the whole way through random hip pain. The real standouts, though, were my crappy mood and the random dead animal obstacle course I was apparently running through. So gross. Big ones! Ones that are not NORMAL on a narrow, not uncreepy path through the woods! Gahhh. Gross.

HOWEVER, I am not behind on my schedule. I got the miles in. I can be awesome and fast later. So that brings me to both topics today: Things I am average at vs awesome at. I am an average runner. I am not fast. I cannot go especially, mindblowingly far. BUT! I am awesome at doing it anyway. I chug along. I have logged 142 miles (in 4 states!) since I randomly decided to run 4 months ago. So there's that, at least.

And this morning's run was way, way better. I skipped the Pet Cemetery route and my hip kept its thoughts to itself and despite the fact that I was lugging my husband's work gear (I dropped off his car at the shop and then ran home) and my iPod kept straining toward freedom and my pants kept falling down, it was a good run. My legs were loose and I even managed some FARTLEK, which is not a piece of IKEA bathroom furniture. Or at least I don't think it is, and I do know my IKEA.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week One of Half Marathon Training: Done


Actually, I ran a bit less this week than I do in an average week (the new average, as opposed to the old average where I ran zero in a normal month), but I stuck to the schedule. I think I may have even skipped a mile due to jogging stroller tag alongs since I was solo in house parent while my better, more bearded half was on a business trip. I almost didn't get my scheduled long run in today, but then I went screeching out the door as soon as bedtime stories were read and somehow managed to run exactly 4.0009 miles without mapping it beforehand or really having any clue at all where I was going.

Big thanks to everyone who's donated to the CIGNA Falmouth road race (which I think I've mentioned, and possibly shout out while sleeping fitfully, is 7.1 miles) fundraiser, and who said nice things about my last, therapeutic blog entry about why I'm running. You are all what I believe the kids these days refer to as "the bomb"? Or similar exploding thing. There's still plenty of time to donate!

Oh, by the way, adding to the list of things that make me run faster: Skunks. Zoinks. I think I set a PR for the next half mile. Ah, one of the risks for dusk runs. Good times. We should have them point one at us at every mile marker in Falmouth. Personal records for everyone!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

So why am I running?

And I mean, specifically, why am I running this 7.1 mile Big Time Elite Runner, 10,000 participant race, also known as the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race? (Race, I knew ye when you barely came up to my knee and had no branding. Aye, my dad used to run ye. And I am apparently an aged, reminiscing old salty dog for this aside. So that's exciting.)

Well, I'm running it for a few reasons:

1) Because I like (well, "like," which is sometimes very close to hate) to have things to train for so I can push myself further and/ or faster.

b) Because I really, really do want to raise money for melanoma research.

Honestly, let's not mince words: Melanoma is a complete jerk. I would be happily using stronger, sailor-like terminology but I don't want to offend those with delicate sensibilities. So instead: If you have a party, don't invite Melanoma. It ruins everything.

Sunscreen! Apply early and often! Mole checks! Stay in the shade when you can! Hose your kids off with sunscreen, even if you have to hold them down! Seriously, people. Sun damage isn't pretty and neither is, you know, death.

So on that note, I would like to invite you all to be my therapists and I'm going to tell you about my mother. Running gives me time to think without small people shouting at me ("Mush, Mama!" is a popular command when I bring them in the jogging stroller. Also popular is putting their feet on the wheel to slow me down if I don't immediately answer their questions, like, "What's that?" about something that is now a quarter mile behind us. But I digress. (This happens often, you will find.)) and running this race in her memory to raise funds to fight what killed her is making me think about her more and more. Not that I don't always think about her a lot (when I can hear myself think) especially as I edge toward the age where she got sick, with two kids I want to see grow up, just like she had.

Maybe I'm biased, but she's kind of an extreme fox, right?

Our family, pre-cancer disaster. (I'm the littlest.)

She was 44 when she died. I was 13. She taught fifth grade, before she got sick and couldn't work anymore. She'd been sick, or at least the specter of sick, for years, but she'd been REALLY sick for the past 10 months. I remember she attended parent/ teacher conferences at the high school using a walker, and that night was the last one she spent upstairs, since she woke up unable to use her legs, and she never used them again. We built a wheelchair ramp in the garage, and used a sort of butterfly chair attached to pulley systems device to get her in and out of bed. When she wasn't in the hospital, she lived in a hospital bed in our family room. My dad moved a twin bed down there for himself, too, and I used to lounge on it after school, so she and I could chat. (Though I'm sure it was mostly me talking. Some things don't change. I am... verbose.)

It was during one of those chats that she told me that the one thing she most regretted and was most afraid of was not seeing my sister and I grow up, and then she cried. I remember telling her that it was fine, that we'd be fine, there was nothing to worry about with us, but as I get older and I have my kids I realize, of course, that it isn't the point, exactly, and I experience the loss in a whole new way. The things I look forward to seeing with my kids, that I can't imagine missing, that I can't imagine them having to do alone, that she missed. Proms, graduations, college, weddings, births. (She did get to see some of my more unfortunate perms, which is an extremely pale substitute. (I like to make jokes at inappropriate times.))

We have cobbled together a great life from the ashes, and while her presence is obviously missed, we do have a lovely step family now that we wouldn't have had otherwise. My kids have a living maternal grandmother who isn't the technical one but who adores them and beautifully does the mom jobs for me: The wedding dress shopping, the crib choice deliberation, the last minute 'which shoes should I wear with this dress' phone calls, the laugh-groaning at my dad's puns and even sometimes one-upping him with a superb and terrible one. We were lucky to find her. (Go, Dad!) My stepbrothers amuse me, too, although they laugh when I implore them to apply to be on The Bachelor, instead of applying for The Bachelor like they obviously should for my own personal amusement and that of my friends. (So, if you're reading this, there are some action items, kids. The Boston casting call is tomorrow!)

This past Mother's Day marked the 19th anniversary of my mom's death. Having it on Mother's Day was perhaps not my favorite, and my solution of trying not to think about it and going to bed early made a dent (I only cried twice!) but wasn't ideal. (If this event lineup were on Facebook I would very studiously not become a fan of it.)

So instead I'm going to raise money in the hopes that through education and research, other people can avoid this fate: See their kids grow up, meet their (gorgeous, if I do say so) grandchildren, reap all the awesome out of life.

And here is my fund raising link:

On a training note, my run this morning was ridiculous. The first two miles were just incredible. Not having the jogging stroller made it feel like I'd been shot out of a slingshot, and I just zoomed along. The final two and a half were like trudging through angry sweat soup, pulling an invisible rickshaw. Oof.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Oy. So who am I, even?

So, rewind to March of this year, and I am firmly doing the part of the Couch to 5K program at which I most spectacularly excel: Couch. But, I'm signed up for a 5K and I'm running it with a group of my girls and I fear their wrath if I drop out, so as soon as it gets warm enough out to run outdoors without losing a limb, I bundle up and be-glove myself and go. Run/ walk/ run/ walk/ trudge. Wheeze.

I am doing a slightly accelerated version of the program, since I didn't leave myself quite enough time (thanks, Mother Nature!) to do all 12 weeks, but I am not terribly concerned. My goals for the 5K are simple: Run the whole thing, and do not die. For bonus points, don't come in last out of your friends. (Sorry, ladies. My heart is a dark, mean place sometimes.)

Screwing around on the Daily Mile's route planner, I discover that a loop around a lake near my house is exactly a 5K from door to door, so I start run/ walking that puppy, and I can't imagine being able to run the whole thing. April seems to be sneaking up on me and visions of walking the race with a slumped sad shoulder situation begin to tease at my peripheral vision. I remember getting lapped at the MILE at a high school track meet. (Heh. Actually happened. 1993 was a banner year for me in effort.) I shoo them away but know they're there, ready to play in my head if I let them.

Then Week 2 of the Couch to 5K comes along and something clicks. Suddenly, I can do this. My brain shuts off and I, well, Just Do It. I run the whole thing, the whole 3.1 miles, and I don't stop. I am a Nike commercial. I am a person who gets up at 6 and goes out to run around a lake not just to escape the carnage that is breakfast with two boys under 5 who want to pour their own cereal and light their own waffles on fire but because she's actually running, not some run walk gasp dance. It's a breakthrough. I'm not quite there yet. I'm drunk on having done it, but I don't like it. I see the finish of the 5K looming ahead and it's the finish of not just the race, but my brief career as a runner.

I continue to get up and trudge through the runs. I log my runs on and friends of mine who are For Real runners encourage me. I start flirting with longer runs, tacking on an extra loop around the block to see how far it is, and then wondering if I can run 4 miles. It turns out that I can. I run on vacation! More than once! Suddenly I'm no longer afraid of the 5K, and I run it and finish and don't die. I spend a good portion of the afternoon after I run it lamenting my time before realizing that I'm not subtracting 10 minutes from it to account for the 10K that started 10 minutes earlier and was being timed on the same course. Oh. Heh. Yes. So I am not actually a tortoise. I'm not a hare so much, either, but possibly some sort of in between animal. Like maybe a hare with a shell that hinders its movement. Or maybe just a muskrat. Will ponder this animal question further at a later date. (You have my word.)

My T-Rex arms and I on the 5K home stretch

But then I still run! I run 4, 4.3, 4.5. One Sunday I completely lose it and head out for a 5.4 mile run and I don't stop, and when I see the house I'm disappointed, because I feel like I could go on and on (but that's it. No extra ons. For now.)

At this point, I start to wonder who exactly I am. Have I been assimilated by the borg or similar thing that I could look up on wikipedia but don't because self-diagnosis via the internet is always a terrible idea? In high school, I used to run long distance on the track team and immediately hide in the woods as soon as was possible, then wait for the runners to come back and trail behind them somewhat pathetically. (Sorry, Dad. Thanks for buying my letter jacket? Er.)

Then my sister and I completely, 100% (well, maybe 70%, let's leave 100% for if we ever do the full 26.2) lose our minds and sign up for a half marathon. I pay someone 35$ so I can run 13.1 miles at the end of this coming September. What? How did I get from there to here, exactly?

And then I lose it a little extra because some chit chat with my friend Debbie leads to us deciding that it makes perfect sense to run the CIGNA Falmouth Road Race, 7.1 miles in the middle of August and to do it for charity, raising massive amounts of money on top of intentionally running in the middle of summer. And so, I'm running that race, with a fund raising goal of a cool grand, for the Melanoma Foundation of New England, to raise funds for Melanoma research and general obliteration (I'm hoping) of the disease. I'll be running in the memory of my mother, Linda Davies, who died in 1991 at the age of 44 after a long battle with Melanoma. I miss her every day.

Really, though. Running? It's like I don't even recognize myself anymore. (But I am still wondering at what point I'll start looking athletic to the casual observer. Stay tuned.)