Friday, December 14, 2007

The Story of Jack-Jack

Okay, okay, I'll post. I'm not sure I'm ready for the blog world yet, but I'll at least put this out there - my husband leaked the news so I'm getting requests for more info.
Have you ever seen the movie The Incredibles? This is Jack-Jack.
Now we have our own Jack-Jack.

Here he is - about 16 hours old - Jackson Ryan - born at 3:08 am, December 7th, and weighing in at 8 pounds 12 oz.

Until a week ago, this cute little girl was our youngest child. And even today, she still got up in the morning and wanted to climb into her daddy's lap and snuggle. She's seven, and wow does she seem like such a big girl all of a sudden when you see her holding her little brother, who was only about 6 hours old in this photo.

But there are details - oh so many. I'll sneak in a few, then I'll sneak in a nap - or two. At 36 weeks I had a dr. appt. 3 days later I was induced, because amniotic fluid was leaking. According to the nurse, you time labor for the amount of time you feel the contractions. The pitocin drip was started at 8:30 pm, but I didn't feel the contractions until 1:00am, and just after 3:00 am, out he came! So, pretty quick and painless. Okay, I complained a little. Maybe a lot. But he's beautiful and amazing and how can you complain when you have this new little life. It's amazing with each new child how much love you discover you have inside. All three of our girls are completely enamored of their new little brother and we're adjusting well. My husband and I are both exhausted - but we're a family of 6 - I guess that's to be expected.

Jackson came home Saturday, but a Sunday blood draw proved his bilirubin to be too high (jaundice). He was put on a double phototherapy light, which, by Monday, was increased to a triple light because the level kept climbing. The combination of the high bilirubin and weight loss (down to 8 lbs, 2 oz) threatened to put him back in the hospital on an IV, but thankfully yesterday he turned a corner - the level dropped and he gained weight - an ounce and a half. It's been frustrating because we're only supposed to take him off the phototherapy to feed and change him. One of the lights can be wrapped in a blanket without the bed, so we sneak in our share of snuggles, but it'll be exciting when it's over, and we can take him out to play and go christmas shopping. For now, we just call him the Glow Bug baby.

Other than looking like he has an infant suntan, he looks pretty content, don't you think? Can you imagine how big he would have been if I carried him to full term?

Now I just have to figure out how to get holiday shopping done, whether or not we can sneak over to the cabin (in our new 4-wheel drive vehicle that fits all of our family into it) to play in the snow for New Year's, and when, oh when, to I get to go for a run . . .

Cheers, and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Truths of my current life

  • Until today, it's been over a month since I read anybody's blog or wrote one of my own. That sounds sorta like an AA meeting confession.
  • I ate 4 chocolate chip cookies for snack this morning and felt guilty about the one I put back in lieu of a chewier looking one.
  • I ran a 5k a week ago in 28:01. I think it's my slowest time ever. And I loved it.
  • Our seven-year-old completed her first triathlon last month. She was hysterical at the water start and tried climbing up me as if I were a beanpole, to escape. Her big sister and I held her hands and waded through the water to the other shore. She never stopped screaming until she was out of the water. But you should've seen the smile on her fast as she sped down the hill on her bike, amidst all of the volunteers telling her to slow down. I wasn't sure she knew how - she just learned to ride a bike, and didn't know how to ride up the hills.
  • I drove to four different libraries to pick up books yesterday, and went to the bookstore. I went to the same bookstore again today.
  • The first week of school, the bus our 6th grader rides never showed up. She was nearly an hour late to school all week by the time I got her there.
  • Our fourth-grader's class is going here on a field trip friday. The last time her older sister went on this trip with the same teacher, they were instructed to stop in the middle and stand silently to just listen and exist for a moment. Right then someone farted and it's always been our daughter's favorite part of the trip.
  • I got no sleep last night. There was sporadic mysterious beeping from somewhere in my bedroom that kept waking me up. When I'd finallly get up to investigate, it would stop. Sometime around 4 am, I discovered it: my seven-year-old used my bathroom to brush her teeth last night, waaaaay overran the water, and let the sink fill up. It slowly drained all night, at times overloading the pipes. The leaky pipe dripped below into a basket of first aid supplies. As it dripped onto the digital thermometer, it caused it to go haywire. It's drying on the counter.
  • I still have three more months to be pregnant. He already moves around all the time and I rarely get any rest. We still vacillate over name choices. December 13th would be a great day to have a baby, but it's not my due date.
  • But yesterday I discovered I can cut my Tums intake in half because I bought papaya enzymes.
  • I bought clipboards today for two of our kids to do homework in the car while I shuttle the third home through rush-hour traffic from the other side of the city after soccer practice.
  • I fixed boxed mac&cheese for dinner last night. It was horrible. I'm going to Costco today to pick up some popcorn chicken for tonight's dinner. It might be horrible too.
  • Our seven-year-old triathlete just started swimming lessons and loves them with a passion. Go figure. Did I mention the triathlon swim was in salt water?
  • Our nine year old girl is having a birthday this Saturday. She has a soccer game. For her birthday she really wants a skateboard. Sunday she's taking her friends to play laser tag.
  • Our dog brought all three of her new tennis balls out the kitchen at 7:00 this morning, one at a time, in hopes that someone would take her out to play fetch. She had no success.
  • I just ate two more cookies, and I think I need a nap.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Ramble Time

Ramble time sounds like rumble time - what is that, big time wrestling or nascar? That's how my brain works when I'm pregnant. I can't think of anything and I'm totally dyslexic when it comes to typing.
So, my intent was a couple of topics. But . . . my 11-yr-old has taken to sitting here staring at me while I type, so I'm rather distracted. That's what it's like being a stay-at-home mom with kids at home all summer. I try to keep them occupied, but . . . We did go listen to a band downtown today - the Paperboys - they were pretty decent, and you can't beat free. We even went to a raptor program at the library and rode city buses. She's still sitting here staring at me, though. Now you understand if I haven't visited your blog lately, because I can filter mine while I type, but I can't necessarily filter anyone else's while I read with her sitting here.
So, I'm ready for summer to end. The weather has gotten cloudy. I live in Seattle, go figure. We're done with vacations for the most part. My husband finished his 6-month long training goal and completed a half ironman last weekend. It was truly inspirational. He had a great swim and a great bike, then had some back cramping/spasm issues that required him to walk the remainder of the run course in order to finish, and finish he still did. My youngest and I (and the dog) wandered around the corner, out about 200 meters from the finish line, where finishers couldn't see how close the finish was. It was fun to talk with (at) the people coming in and see the realization on their faces when they learned they were almost through with a half ironman. My husband didn't even seemed phased by what I thought would be physical exhaustion - we went back and continued camping when he was done. He spent no time contemplating what his next event will be. I think he's becoming an addict.

And then there's still this baby thing. I felt great for a month or so, now I'm starting to feel yucky again. C'est lavie. I did something interesting this morning. I checked out gender prediction using the chinese lunar calendar. I've done it before - checked it against our other kids, and thought it only got 2 out of 3. But I did it again. It factors in the mother's age at conception, and the month the baby was conceived. It predicts all three of our girls correctly. So I checked for this baby. The supposed conception date, according to the doctor, is the first week of April. Two different ultrasounds have dated the baby about 10 days older, giving it a supposed conception date of late March - but the doctor says the ultrasound people are always a week off. When you look at the prediction chart - conceived in April gives you a girl, conceived in March gives you a boy.

In order to have been savvy and figured out the gender before now, you would have needed only to view my husband's blog - he tells it straight out.

But there's another interesting side to my story - The Sound of Music. That's right - the movie. You have to have seen it some time in your life. Here I go on a long tangent . . .

For complicated reasons, my husband did not know his grandmother, Anna, until he was an adult. However we were fortunate to have several visits with her and hear her tell stories in her heavy german accent before she passed away. She and her husband lived during the holocaust in Germany. Her husband was a pilot in the german army. Anna was a concert pianist and even played for Hitler. They didn't agree with Hitler and his agenda. When she was supposed to cursty for him, she bowed instead. They had five children - 1 girl and 4 boys - the youngest being my husband's father. I don't know all the details of their heroic journey - but that they really did escape over the mountains. Anna, alone with all 5 children. (Her husband joined her in the United States at a later time.) She was nursing her youngest child and so was another woman on a train along their route. This other woman could no longer provide milk, and Anna helped feed the baby to keep it alive. There were other tales of favors to the german soldiers somewhere along the early parts of the trip to help get herself and her children to where they could be safe. She was an amazing lady - very strong-willed.

So, this family with five children made it to the United States, and the children grew up. Two of them got married, only one had children. Fast forward to today, and only one of those five children is still alive, and not in good health. But the one that had two children - there was a boy and girl. The female has had surgery and will never have children. The male - he's my husband. To date, we've had three girls. So, if you've been able to follow all that . . . you look at the family legacy of all of that - the challenges that were overcome climbing the alps and keeping children alive to give them a chance at a new life and the future - and the future of a family. And then if you're like my husband and me, and you look at old-fashioned traditions of carrying on the family name . . .

. . . it's sort of ironic that the ultrasound dating seems to be the correct one. Not only does it date the baby to have been conceived in March, but we saw some pretty good visuals of a baby boy inside there. There is that minute chance that it's wrong, but we're pretty sure, against all odds, that it's a BOY!

And now, my three girls brought the dollhouse and ALL of its accessories out into the living room and it's time for me to provide afternoon snack, consider dinner plans, fold laundry, and fall asleep on the couch by 7:00.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

it's all because i used my voice

I don't often give myself priority in my world. I'm a stay-at-home mom with three (plus) kids. I'm not saying it's the right thing to do - lack of priority. It's just what happens. I get so busy meeting the needs of little munchkins that I give myself a back seat, and if there isn't time left over, so be it. It's usually when I get cranky and resentful that I get reminded that I need to do something for me - take care of me - give myself that priority. So when I haven't been running these last three and a half months (yes, I've been counting - there has been one day since April 16th), I seem to have even less of 'something' for me. Then you couple that with pregnancy and not feeling good and having to take care of the creature in my belly - I just get completely overwhelmed. But instead of getting resentful and cranky - after all, I really do get to play a lot, who could get mad about that - I used my voice, and told my husband something that I wanted for me.

Whew! I could've said all that in one sentence.

I was lying down last night in a dark room, writhing in pain with a headache - a bad one that pregnancy and sunny summer days with a glare on the water don't seem to help. My husband was doing some work on the computer in the other room. I randomly called out, "Can I do a race next month?" And really, instead of immediately responding with a clear answer, five minutes later he was asking what shirt size I wanted while he was finishing up registration online. And there you have it. I laid there, dumbfounded, and told him how many days I have to train. He tried to convince my that it's a short one, and that I could do it in my sleep, but although I'd like to think that I can, it's not gonna be so easy.

Today he woke me up at sunrise and somehow got me out the door. This is the pregnant mommy who's been sleeping in 'til 9:00, now getting out at 6:00. I can't believe I've been missing all of those summer sunrises. It was beautiful out and I got in two miles. I could lie to you and tell you that I went for a run, did even tempo, hillwork, and had some competition. The reality? I actually walked the entire two miles, my tempo was precisely even - 16 minute pace, there was a hill on the way home from the track, and I tried to speed up when the guy running laps went past me. But it was great to be out there. I think I might need a girdle or something for my ever-expading stomach and my running shorts are a little tight. Oh, well. If I have to walk that whole race next month, so be it.

So, I learned to use my voice and say what I wanted for me. I forgot that my husband always listens. I also learned this morning that part of that voice is wrapped up in my running (or walking). It's that time when all of my thoughts and intentions are for me. And when I write in my blog, it's all of my thoughts and intentions that come out and that's a good thing. It's priority for me. And really, the reason I'm currently getting that writing time is because all of my little computer users are still asleep. The early bird catches the worm, you know.

And . . . we found out what sex the baby is. But that's incentive for a whole other blog post. Unless you're savvy and you figure out how to cheat and get the information sooner. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I'm always amazed at how much fun can be packed into summertime in the Northwest. We've picked berries, wriggled our toes in the sand at low tide, gone camping, and been for a dip in the lake and in the river. We've seen outdoor theatre in the park, listened to summer concerts downtown, been to the library and read many books. We've taken the kids hiking, bike riding, horseback riding, swimming . . we've been to triathlons, street festivals, tea parties, played with friends . . .
. . . and there's still so much more of the season to be lived. We had a picnic dinner tonight for my birthday and went for a beautiful walk along the bluffs above Puget Sound. (My birthday is actually this weekend, but we're headed out of town for a triathlon, so I get an extended celebration :)
A couple of really cool things have happened recently. Our 6-yr-old, the youngest of three girls, has always been our 'baby'. But she's growing up. Her timing couldn't be better, either, with a new sibling coming along. She's learning all kinds of things that are giving her huge confidence. This spring she took off in reading and is now really into chapter books. While we were camping a couple of weeks ago, she learned to get over her fear of water. She isn't lap swimming yet, but she is having a lot more fun at the beach. Last summer we tried to get her bike riding, but she didn't show a lot of interest. So we tried again this week. It took some diligence on our part, but she was sooo excited to finally 'get it' and be able to ride with her sisters. The very same day she learned a very different skill. She's always been talented when it comes to art - really takes us by surprise. This new piece left us in true amazement:
Yep. The back of our PT Cruiser, nicely done is white on navy rock scratch. The clean slate before it was etched upon used to look more like this:

She thought it would rub off like when you write in the dust with your finger. No such luck. For comic relief, we've come up with many things she could have etched on instead of a smiley face. I guess we got lucky. We have a nice message to display to all those people who drive on the road behind us. Her birthday is next month. Instead of some colored pencils and paper, or some new paints and white canvas, we were thinking . . . maybe we'll just head over to the junkyard and buy her a door with a sharp rock collection to go with it.

(Ironically, the car has a dead battery. It happens. It's a car. Grown-ups understand this. ) When the child was confronted and asked why she would do such a thing to the car, she responded, "But the battery is dead, I didn't think you wanted it anymore." A true child of the new millenium - if the batteries don't work, it has no worth. Perhaps we'll do some learning on rechargeable batteries.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"From wonder into wonder, existence opens." - Lao Tzu

Life is a road map.

It's a big broad picture with shapes and lines and colors. Sometimes it has a key to decipher it, sometimes you're on your own. Whatever happens, you find yourself travelling down a road. It might be a many-laned freeway with frequent travellers all headed in the same direction. Maybe you end up on a dusty, bumpy, country lane with no signs and not an intersection in sight. Sometimes your sense of direction carries you to the destination you had in mind. Other times you feel lost amidst a myriad of intersections in a busy city. You can make frequent stops at the greenspace labeled, 'park', or many passes along the lakeshore to admire the view. Days can go by sitting in rush hour traffic in the smog with cranky drivers honking horns and flipping you off. Half the time there you struggle to get off on the exit you want. Better days might be driving through town to clearly marked stops. You can pause at the stoplights and watch the people and life pass by. The speed doesn't seem so rushed and hurried. I think some people choose to drive the same routes over and over; it's comfortable, familiar, predictable. Others like a little variety - a new scene, and choose new roads, often wondering where they'll lead. It's a little risky sometimes - you might get lost - but there's that chance that you'll discover something new and exciting along the way. Even though you might miss out on something new, there's something to be said of driving down the road you've been on a million times, those days with a sunny sky, the windows rolled down, and old music on the radio.

Funny thing . . . you're rarely the only one out there on the road. There are a lot of different road maps, but it's amazing how much they overlap and where they intersect. The other drivers on the road can make a big difference in how you experience the drive. Sometimes it's as if you're all pushing the speed limit in a pack on a long road trip, other times it's just the slow truck on a one-lane highway that forces you to slow down when you can't pass. It seems we all initially pull out the road map, figure out where we want to go, and head on down the road. But where we truly end up or where we spend our journey is anyone's guess. We pass each other and often leapfrog our stops. One road leads to another and the course becomes ever-changing.

I'm fascinated by maps. There's no concrete beginning or end to any trip, but I'm always up for the ride. It's amazing what you see when you look out the window and make frequent stops.


Here's a profile of the little face growing inside of me - early photos for the family album. This was taken the third or fourth week of June. I'll have another ultrasound at the end of July to check and see how the baby's doing. We don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl, but already have names picked out for either. Hopefully we'll be able to find out in a few weeks if we're adding a fourth girl to our collection . . . or if it's a boy and we'll need to get a new rule book.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rodents of the Skies

I learned something about myself this last week. I don't laugh often enough. I've thought about it lately - I'm a pretty intense person emotionally. I need to remember to loosen up more often and have fun. I'm a planner, a worrier, meticulous about detail. I think what finally clinched the whole needing to laugh thing more, was actually having several moments of it - day after day, and realizing how much fun it was - laughing, I mean. After driving across the state and camping in 95 degree weather with the kids . . . there really wasn't a whole lot to do there. We - on a rare occasion - didn't overplan with sights to see and activities galore. It was even too hot to play frisbee. There was a swimming hole, but you can't stay in there all day. So - hot and irritable to an extent, the kids didn't fall asleep until after 11:00. But my husband and I were awakened around 4:30 (to a gorgeous sunrise that I have no regrets about being up to see) by the squawking. Yes, the lovely squawking of the crows. If crows don't live in your neck of the woods, then you simply must consider the title of my post to understand. I mean - you're out in the wilderness - camping in the middle of nowhere - hot as hell and desert-like, but beautiful - and you're awakened by scavengers with scratchy voices. I think there is some Native American story about how the crow lost it's singing voice. If there isn't, there really ought to be.

So, admiring the colors of the morning sun . . against the contrast of the loud annoying birds, with tired jollies from lack of sleep and another hot day ahead of us, my husband and I started mimicking the birds - inserting words with what they might be saying to one another - and we just started cracking up and I couldn't stop. Then a looooong freight train rolled by - aways away, but quite audible. One of the kids sat straight up in bed from a dead sleep, watched the train intently, then laid back down and went back to sleep. The next child, out of the blue, and an assumed sleep, called out, "Are those stinkin' birds?!" All the more fodder for my inability to stop laughing before 5 in the morning.

I had another such unstoppable laughter episode involving mayonnaise and trying to make sandwiches on a beach towel under a tree in the shade. I greatly dislike mayonnaise, and that's all I'm gonna say about that story.

Camping was a blast though, it always is. Before our trip, we did something different this year for the fourth of July holiday and took the kids hiking. We went around the back side of Mount Rainier - checked with the ranger about the trail and everything. Should've been a great 4-mile hike with the kids - excellent views and not too much elevation gain. It was beautiful and warm and sunny - but the ranger never said anything about the snow. We spent two hours trying to connect the dots with the trail that was covered about 95% in snowfields. The kids finally lost the feelings of nervousness and frustration and sledded and skiied down the hills. It was really a beautiful hike . . . Mt. Rainier is one of those things in life that humbles you and puts life in perspective.
PS. I added a photo of Clint to my last post

Friday, June 29, 2007


Where does the time go? I can't believe how long it's been since I've written a blog or surfed on others. At first it was a fatigue thing from pregnancy - combined with a lack of running and a feeling like I had nothing to say if it wasn't relavent to running. Then I was gone. Gone, gone, gone. I could spend days reminiscing - and write pages and pages - so many memories. Sometimes I wish I could bottle it all up and send it out to sea. Someday someone could read about the beauty I've seen and how seeing the great big world out there somehow gives me a sense of inner peace. I know, it sounds sappy - but I almost starting crying once when I was out there - it was just so amazing.

I've gotta apologize for being AWOL - I didn't realize how it may seem when I'm pregnant and then I suddenly stopped communicating. I finally had enough comments and emails from friends to let me know how it appeared. Everything baby is 'so far, so good'. I've had a few ultrasounds and have photos of a beautiful little face with no name. I have another dr. appt. today. My due date keeps changing - sometime in December. We're still not naming the baby Boston.

Where, oh where, did I go on vacation? Two trips were chaperoning kids school camping trips - one in cabins and one in tents. The highlights: within 48 hours, standing at the tip of the contiguous United States (Cape Flattery in Neah Bay) and looking out at Tatoosh Island - to being amidst the Olympic Mountains at an elevation of 5230 ft - to hiking through mossy old growth rain forest - to chasing Dungeness Crabs at a saltwater beach at sea level. And waking up oh so early in the campground to the sound of the birds, and taking a walk with the neon pink sunrise reflecting over Sequim Bay.

The third trip was Grandma Camp. I am in awe of my mother. This was her third annual camp with all seven of her grandchildren. As a grown-up, we're free to hang out at the cabin and participate - but also free to play and have our own mini-vacation while we're there. She does intense crafty activities with the kids - concrete leaf print bird baths, watercolor painting . . glass plate art, she takes the kids into town to the candy store and out for ice-cream and swimming at the lake, she roasts marshmallows and popcorn over the fire - she cooks pancakes in the morning. They took walks and did some community service pulling an invasive plant down by the river. She surprised the kids and took them on a horseback riding adventure out a trail to a clearing where they were provided a catered breakfast feast. All the other five adults in attendance also rode horses. I, the pregnant mommy, hitched a different ride to breakfast. I was able to capture photos of the delight on my children's faces as they mounted horses, then was whisked away.

My ride was some cross between an outback wagon ride and feeling like Cinderella in her carriage. An older gentleman named Clint - a weathered sort of cowboy - was my driver. Bob & Wishem pulled the wagon. Before we left, I had a little bit of time to talk to Clint . . . get a feel for his pace of life and meet the horses. But once we started moving, we were both silent for the 45 minute ride out and also on the ride back. This was the part of vacation where my emotions took over inside me. The trail wound around Sun Mountain in eastern Washington, with the Methow Valley below and glimpses of Lake Patterson glittering in the morning sun. We rode through hillsides ablaze in sprays of wildflowers - most specifically the sunny yellow balsam root leftover from springtime. The light breezes blew through the aspen trees, almost twinkling like christmas lights. We road along quietly, listening to the wind and the horses hooves and the wagon wheels over the ruts. Every so often Clint would point out a grazing deer, or grouse crossing the trail. Big yellow butterflies would zigzag through the air around the wagon. There was just something about the sights, the sounds, the smells . . . the fresh air . . . that was just astounding - wondrous in its own right. Arriving early at the meadow where breakfast was served, I had time to talk with the chef - outback chef by summer, telemark skiier by winter - what a life. I nearly stepped on a gopher snake as it slithered past my feet into the nearby rock pile. They aren't poisonous, but at quick glance look very similar to a northern pacific rattlesnake. It was one of those moments in life when you don't know how you'll react - I sorta stared at it and watched it go by.

It's funny what people pull from a text and focus on. Clint seemed to attract attention, so I thought I'd edit the post and add a photo of him. I hope seeing him in photograph after reading the fine print, isn't like spoiling a good book by watching a movie. He just seemed to earn a small tribute of sorts, so here he is.


Now my kids are out of school on summer break for two months. Novice piano music fills the air at home. My youngest woke up this morning and told me she had a dream that she was a native american (she is not) hunting bison, but that then she saw some deer and went over to pet them and wanted to ride them. What a crack-up. I have a full summer schedule ahead - to include lots of sand, music, sun, beach days, walks in the woods, good books and great friends. Maybe I'll go for a run. I'll have to journal it all in my blog. I miss writing, and it's gonna take me eons to read through all the other blogs I've missed. I'll get there. It's summer, and all I have is time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Five Weeks

5 weeks and 1 day since I last went running. I've swam twice in that time period, and gone for a long walk on the beach once. Pretty exciting, huh? But, I've now been so inspired by comments from other strong women who've run during pregnancy. I never have before - don't know why. Currently, I spend a lot of time on the couch. You're supposed to exercise when you're pregnant, and I sleep half of the day I'm so tired. You're supposed to eat well when you're pregnant, but most of the time the thought of food makes me nauseated. I force myself to fix dinner, then go back to my couch. Sometimes the nausea fades and I get hungry, so I figure I better fill Up when I'm in the mood. Last week that was a Hostess Ding Dong. The week before it was a Hostess Fruit Pie - cherry if you must know. I should write and thank the Hostess company for fulfilling my needs. Today I made a trip to the International District to pick up some things for dinner that sounded good, only knowing that by dinner time I might not like the idea of food. And then there's the fluids - supposed to drink but have to use the bathroom every five minutes. And then how do you get proper rest at night when you have a headache, and you're up three times to use the bathroom again. It's truly crazy. To top it off, my mind is occupied by the fact that in a year from now, with an additional child crawling around, this house won't be big enough. So, we move. The median house price in this city is $475 thousand. The gas prices are the highest in the country, and the transportation system is in major turmoil. It's so cloudy and wet half of the year, that depression rates skyrocket and people become ill from mold allergies. But we love the saltwater, the mountains, the green, the city . . . it'd be tough to move from friends and family and all that we love, and it'll be crazy to stay. Ah . . . the cranky bored pregnant lady speaks . .

Here's a better story. The dog. She's a cross between a collie and a shepherd, but small - sorta looks like a cross between a black lab and a coyote. She's a great family dog - 6 years old, and amazing with the kids. She herds us like a collie would, and gets nervous when one of us is gone overnight. She's only barked at someone once - and the person was well-deserving of it. She's an indoor/outdoor dog, but stays in when we aren't home. We used to give her free reign of the house until she started eating - anything that she could get to. One particular day it was a variety of chocolate desserts my mom had brought over for a special occasion. So, we resorted to shutting her in the bedroom whenever we left the house. It's a big enough space with her bed in it. She's been fine in there, day after day, for a couple of years. Until last week. I came home to find that she'd chewed the bottom of a fabric window covering. Strange and frustrating, but I didn't think too much of it. The next day was disturbing. When I came home, she had completely shredded the window covering, including bending the metal wires. She had chewed a 3 foot hole in one of our thick blankets, and pulled down a hat rack, piece by piece. She had pulled everything (all the bedding, pillows, etc.) in it's entirety off of the bed. A paper grocery bag with some clothes in it was torn up, it's contents spewed. All items atop the sewing desk were flung onto the floor. A plastic bag with marathon items was chewed, but thankfully nothing destroyed. And last, but not least, I realized that she had been chewing at the bottom of the door to the extent that it will need to be replaced. What the

So we bought her a harness and had to start leashing her up outside when we left. (We have leash laws where we live and a dog isn't allowed to roam free. We also live near busy arterials.) It's a long leash, and she has water and a doghouse, and a nice grassy backyard. I still come home daily to find her tangled up in something. Most often, I just put her in the car with me and the kids to make quick trips. Yesterday I was trying to leash her up as I headed out to take the kids to school and she got mad. She saw the kids getting in the car, and hopped in. I called her out, and when she discovered she wasn't getting to come, she started circling the car nervously. I finally coaxed her to the leash and harness. This morning was a repeat. She hopped in the car. This time, when I called her out, she knew what was coming. So she ran off. Literally. As soon as we tried to call her, she trotted faster. The kids were all out of the car trying to help, and our 11-yr-old started running down the street after her, but it just egged her on. So . . . all the kids hopped into the car in a hurry as we drove down the street with the slider door open, going 'ding - ding' and the kids yelling for the dog. I'm sure the neighborhood was thrilled. We saw her zooming down the next street and caught up with her. I pulled over and pretended to be all friendly to her. With the door open, and the kids excited, she was only so eager to hop in for the ride. Anything to avoid that harness.

Just another day . . . what's up with the dog? Nothing has changed but the baby growing inside me. Can she sense it?

Friday, May 11, 2007

"In this box are two things I will show to you now. You will like these two things,"

Ted Geisel would be so proud . . .

Favorite Storybook Character Dress-up Day.
Some days are just meant to be so much fun.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Yes, we're having a baby . . .

It's like an experiment in sociology to tell your children that you're having a baby and watch what happens. It's been a crazy week - not to mention coming home from vacation, having 2 days to recover, and then having company stay at your house for seven days, finding out you're pregnant, and really just trying to recover from a marathon emotionally and physically and wishing you can run.

So, yes - if there was any question after my last post - I am pregnant, and no, I had no idea when I ran the Boston Marathon. It's kinda funny to think about - maybe my body had it's own way of telling me to slow down. And it's kinda funny to think that I carried someone along that never qualified - oops! It's kind of a worrisome thing, too - to know that I ran that far and pushed my body to the limit while it was concentrating on other things. I've tried and tried to find research on the topic of running marathons while pregnant, but there isn't much out there but the standard - run easy while you're pregnant and don't compete. There are supposed heart rate limits (140 bmp) and supposed temperature limits (102 degrees), but there are articles that refute that, too. Perhaps when I talk with the doctor, I can find more answers.

The whole thing about telling the children . . . when you find out you're having a baby, it's a pretty exciting thing, and you want to share it with your children. It is highly unreasonable to tell a six-year-old such news, and expect her to keep it a secret. But it's also still very early in the pregnancy and there are reasons to not tell the general public. We chose to live in the moment. The kids - mostly our youngest - told the entire population in a matter of hours she was so excited. I've had very healthy pregnancies, but you can never predict such a thing - only take it one day at a time.

One day at a time? Me - who has no patience? Me, who was asking what next and planning my next marathon? Oh, my. It's so hard to take it day by day and not think too much about it all since it's so early, but it's so hard to not think about it when there is this child miraculously growing inside of me. I know that I have a scheduled 2 more weeks of no running, possibly 4, to make it either 4 or 6 weeks of no running post marathon to let my IT bands heal. And really, with no upcoming race, I have no reason to hurry it. I swam Friday, and can continue to up that training, and water running, just not with too much intensity. And I can lift weights lightly. And I read yesterday that I could bike up until 10 weeks when the uterus moves up into the abdomen. Prior to that, it is protected, and even falling off of a bike would not hurt the baby. But with IT issues, I won't be biking until after that, and then, I guess, I could ride a stationary bike. But that means a tri is out. Grrrrrr. But I've read that people do it . . . if anyone has more thoughts on that, I'd love to hear them. I did go for a 2-3 hour walk on Saturday and did lots of yardwork - my little leggies were sore after, so that was too much. Maybe I'll just walk the dog.

I'm seriously gonna go crazy. I need some focus - something to keep me occupied to take the place of training and training goals.

And all of our children were intentionally named after places - just something we chose to do. All five members of our family have the same middle initial as well - kind of a family connectedness thing. But it's so early to think of baby names . . . . and I really just want to take a nap.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Reflections on New Beginnings

My sister turns 40 today. She's beginning a new decade. She told me she took some time off this morning to honor the transition. Pretty cool when you think about it - to take the time to pause and reflect - to look backward and forward before moving head on into the present.

Our oldest daughter, Kenaia, is 11 years old - named after Kenai, Alaska. The day she was born it was unusually stormy and windy. Her birth was very difficult and she came out with reddish hair and freckles. It all fits her personality. She's a determined little bugger - stubborn to the end, and likes to have things her way. She was an early talker, an early reader, and her current literacy skills blow us away. She could honestly be a published author right now. Books and writing are her passions, and she loves all things of the natural world, especially the wind, which she claims is her 'element'. Not only can she read into books, but she can read into people - she's very introspective. Her ability to comprehend people and situations is amazing. It makes me emotional to think about how she's grown into a little young lady. She's not only my daughter, but my friend and advisor at times, and a very independent creature. She's very true to herself and loves to explore. She's adamant about the fact that her true calling is to be a Dragonologist - to travel the world searaching for dragons.

Sydney is nine. When Sydney, Australia was named the site of the 2000 Olympics, we decided it would be a perfect name for a child. Sydney was born so fast that the nurse had to grab some doctor in the delivery room next door because our doctor didn't make it in time. And true to her name and her birth, Sydney is extremely athletic, fascinated by all sports, and does not like to wait for anything. In fact, not just sports, Syd is fascinated by everything. With her allowance, she bought herself a subscription to National Geographic Kids Magazine. She loves the Guinness Book of World Records. She loves Garfield and the Sunday comics and has a terrific sense of humor. She often hides around the house and tries to pop out and surprise me. She's a sponge for all sorts of information and can relay any information you request at any moment - how many people were on the Titanic, what caused the Great Chicago Fire, etc. What she really loves is animals. She has a very tender, compassionate side and gets emotional when it comes to any type of creature. She tells us that she wants to have a big house someday so she can have lots of dogs, and she wants to travel around studying animals all over the world. And play basketball for the WNBA.

Meissa is 6 years old. She was named after a place, just like her sisters - only farther away. Meissa is a double star serving as one of the head stars in the Orion Constellation. In Arabic, it means 'the shining one.' This child was also born under the constellation Leo the Lion, and in the chinese zodiac Year of the Dragon. You can only imagine the little fireball that she is. She's a true wild one - fueled by race cars, extreme sports, all things pink, fashion, hairstyles, and shoes. Several years ago she could tell you several different models of cars as they drove by on the street - yet she might also be able to tell you about the latest shoe designers. She has recently learned to read and is fascinated not only by books, but by the world of print that exists before her eyes in every moment of her day. She's a busy kid - constantly jump-roping in the house. Currently she has no aspirations for the future. She lives completely in the moment and enjoys every second of her day - inspiring others to join her. Whatever she chooses to do with herself, she doesn't let anyone or anything stand in her way, and she gives it one hundred percent.

That's a glimpse into my reflections today - inspired by my sister. And then a moment to honor the transitions before I move into the future - the unknown - the exciting, the scary, the thrilling.

I mentioned in my marathon posts that I wasn't sure what I'd learned yet. It took a while to gather and understand. But what I understand today, is that the body is an amazing thing. All things in life occur for a reason, and all things in life have their own timing - be it marathons or be it children. Well, what about both? I think it's sorta humorous that I can claim I finished the Boston Marathon ~ injured, without much training, and pregnant? Yep. Our littlest one has got to be the youngest Boston finisher in history. It's still very early - the baby won't be born until late December, but the speed of growth is rapid. Although currently smaller than an apple seed, it's heart is forming, blood is circulating, and it's liver has begun to function.

Today, we're celebrating new life as we head into the future. I'll have to reschedule the fall marathon, yet hold that Boston Marathon in my mind, understanding that the human body really can accomplish amazing things.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Now what?

I'm bored.
That great thing I wanted to do all my life has a check in the box next to it.

My massage appointment was cancelled today, leaving me a whole day open. I drove to the kids' school to drop off a bicyle helmet 'cause they're doing cycling in PE. I ate the last brownie for breakfast, and had cold slabs of seasoned tofu for lunch (the microwave is broken). And no, I'm definetely not a vegetarian, I just happen to like tofu. I've done the laundry and my house is clean - enough. I should get something out of the freezer for dinner since we have nighttime company all week, and I could clean a child's bedroom who's having a playdate today - but that's not my job.

But it's sunny and it's springtime and I can't run. I could go outside, but today I feel like if I can't run, what's the point? It's like drinking decaf coffee or showering before you get in the pool.
I really want what's next.

I spent all morning reading blogs. And I've read and re-read the comments from others on the accomplishment of merely finishing a marathon that meant the world to me. It's humbling to remember that everyone else is out there with their own agendas and ambitions and enlightening to take part in those journeys.

What's next? My training plan is all penciled out for the Bellingham Bay Marathon in the fall. (If you look at the photo of the footbridge in the link - and you were to walk north another 100 meters, you'd come to another similar footbridge that my husband and I were married on :) I'm supposed to do the cross-country ski leg of the Ski to Sea Relay (cross-country skiier to downhill skiier to runner to road biker to canoe - 2 people - to mountain biker to sea kayaker) May 27th, but I'm not sure that's going to happen. I'd love to do a triathlon. I've always wanted to, and now I've actually learned to swim and I have a bike. I want to do an ironman. I want to do a half ironman. My husband has convinced me that for my body right now, it would be wise to try a sprint first. That's easier said than done - to try to schedule that in this summer is insane between camping and long camping and my husband's race schedule. Chelan Man might work - we'll be there both days anyway because my brother and my husband are both participating and on different days. I wonder what a splash n dash is? And to clarfiy: 'Camping' designates a weekend trip, long camping is the longer trip to the California Redwoods and all the stops enroute. We're thinking we can fit in the Redwoods, Crater Lake, Mt. Hood, and we're considering Mt. Shasta/Shasta Lk, the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, the Lava Beds National Monument, and the Oregon Caves National Monument.

I long to see the world and go play in it, can you tell? And aside from all of those above desires, I'll just throw out there that I'd love to run NYC and London - but that's not a plan, yet - just a dream. I'd like to do Safaricom too, while I'm purging. And I might as well tell you about my Frito addiction. I eat them every day. Really. Mostly while watching healthy television programming late at night, but often for mid-morning lunch and sometimes they're a good breakfasttime treat or a dinner appetizer. In fact, I'm eating them right now. Like I said in the beginning - I'm bored. So, now I really oughtta go make myself a smoothie and email my swim coach about the triathlon training group.

Two questions of the day:
~Does boredom breed creativity or insanity?
~Who is 'Impey'?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Perspectives on Boston 2007

I don't think it has completely settled in with me just what I accomplished.

There are so many runners and so many stories and so many individual experiences --this one is only mine, and everybody else's is different.

The email alerts on severe weather that the BAA sent out days prior to the event were a little intense.
Saturday was calm in Boston - like the calm before the storm. Sunday morning it started to drizzle and a lady from somewhere in Texas described it as 'bone-chilling' cold. We drove up the coast of New Hampshire and into Maine - it was snowing up there while we were geocaching.

Sunday night the weather got crazy and the news media had a heyday. Every channel showed the storm system and hour by hour forecast of the tremendous power of the nor'easter with 40 mph sustained winds - gusts higher, many inches of rain, and temps near freezing. It became nerve-wracking figuring out how to layer for a race in such conditions. I heard one man interviewed who said you train in rain, you train in wind, you train in cold - but the likelihood that you'd train in all three is pretty slim.

By Monday morning the weather was pleasantly warmer - high 40's - and the predictions were that the rain would die down as the race started. Shuttling around all morning from the hotel to the state park to the start line to the athletes village and back to the start was messy.

This is a picture I took while sitting under the tents at the village - on a plastic garbage bag where I huddled on a 2 foot square patch for over an hour - wearing many many layers of polar fleece, goretex, and thankfully not the shoes I was to run in.

This picture is of the area between the two large tents at the village (the field at Hopkinton HS). It wasn't a fun place to cross.

Just as the race began, the rain stopped, it was warm enough to run in shorts, and for me, the wind never factored in. I actually felt great. I anticipated going out a little fast the first few miles with the downhill, but made sure I stayed really relaxed and comfortable. My first 5 miles were all in the 8:00 range, and that was fine, but I went conservatively after that and intentionally slowed my pace to what I thought I might accomplish in this long run. My next five miles averaged around 8:20's - perfect. I actually felt pretty good - all that cross-training has left me with relatively good conditioning - sorta.

At mile 9 my IT band started acting up. It was just mild at first - just sorta sore/tired feeling - but I could feel it - the same as that last long run I did in February. I hung tight for a little while, thinking one thing at a time - just get through the half. And I almost did that respectfully enough. I stopped for a couple of minutes - restroom stop and just to sorta gather myself. I started noticeably slowing down in there somewhere after the half and by miles 15 - 20 the pain just got worse and worse. I consider myself to have a pretty high pain threshold - (I've had 3 kids all natural childbirth :). But for me, IT pain gets pretty intense. It sorta feels like there's a big wide rubber band stretched along the lateral side of my knee and it's being pulled at the ends and plucked from the side. My gait become pretty awkward and my favoring my left knee was obviously creating a whole host of other issues for me. I walked every now and then - it was less painful and it gave me a break, and then I'd start again, only to go a little while and have it continue to get worse.
The Newton Hills approached. Having been a seasoned ITB runner, I know that uphills are easier than downhill. And truly, compared to the hills in the Pacific Northwest, I'm not sure what the worry is over those hills in Boston. The inclines, I'll call them, helped me tremendously. The uphill rolls felt better, but it got to the point that any kind of downhill decline had to be walked because I couldn't run anymore. So through the Newton Hills and continuing on. By mile 22, my pace was between 11 and 12 minutes. My right calf was doing all the work for my left knee, my quads were pretty pissed that I hadn't put in the appropriate miles in the months leading up to this, and my left ITBand was shot to hell. But I could still limp. Many a person would pass and touch my shoulder or say, "hey, you're doing great - you'll make it." I remember some bystander hollering to the masses, "Remember what race this is!" That comment stuck with me. This was the Boston Marathon. That thing I'd watched on TV when I was a kid and only dreamed about. That race I used to record every year and force my family to be silent while I watched it in awe and reverence. I spent many an emotional mile during this portion of the course - I cried every now and then when I wasn't holding back tears. It was hard to be walking at times when there were so many spectators lining the course and cheering and being supportive.
Around mile 23, I started feeling my other ITBand - it came on pretty suddenly to the point where I felt like I couldn't limp well anymore. I wondered what it would be like to come this far and have to stop. I never thought about what I might be doing to my legs by running on them. I just wanted to finish. Just before mile 24 I had some serious anxiety. It had gotten to the point where I'd stop to walk, and then I couldn't start to run again - my legs just wouldn't work right to complete the motion. I had a tense moment where I started hyperventilating and couldn't catch my breath. I actually considered the thought that I didn't know for sure if I could finish. Then I got mad. I'd decided way back somewhere that I didn't wanna come back and do this. I didn't wanna have to. And I didn't wanna live on, saying, "Yeah, I went to the Boston Marathon once - I never finished." I dug deep from somewhere within and started running. I told myself that I couldn't stop and walk at this point, because if I did, I knew inside that I wouldn't be able to continue. I blocked out everything else and focused on the thought that this was Boston, and I was going to be a finisher.

The finish line before the runners arrived.
I'm somewhere in there with that white space blanket on.

And so I was. I finished the Boston Marathon. According to the BAA, I ran a 4:07:13 - with an injury, and without really running much for 2 months. Aside from childbirth, I don't think I've willingly and intentionally put myself in that much pain in my entire life. It was truly a grueling experience. It helps to wear a Boston Marathon shirt around when you can't walk - people look at you funny, then they just smile. It's 4 days after the race and I can almost walk normally. The inability to walk made vacation highly interesting.
I'll have to post more later in tidbits on perhaps what I really learned from the experience - like I said in the beginning - I think I'm still figuring that out. There's a lot still in my head. I know that I'm tired. Mechanical airplane failures - switched flights - missed connections - airport food vouchers - shuttles that never arrive for some hole hotel the airline puts you up at in a city which will not be named somewhere in the middle of the country . . . a 6 hour flight that passengers can accomplish across the country took us 23 hours. And our lost luggage arrived on our doorstep late last night.
Vacation was amazing - but that'll have to be another post. And I've got loads of blog-reading to catch up on.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Marathon Weekend Plus

I feel that today I should be able to say something profound . . deep inspiration that I've learned from my training, what my goals and race plans are. But really, i have nothing. Seven weeks of injury recovery and mininmal running. Completey different exercise regime than I'm used to. A time change to adjust to. And a race forecast that changes by the hour. Yesterday it was forecast to be in the high thirties, raining, and 40+ mph winds. Lovely. How do you take all that into consideration and plan for a race?

I have a tattoo on my ankle. Maybe you've seen it - there's a picture on my first blog post. It's a kanji symbol for 'passion'. The reasons for it are multifaceted, but the basis is the way I want to live my life - with passion. I want to be able to take each moment, enjoy it completely, and live it to the fullest potential - to get the most out of my experiences and really live.

At this point in my life, Boston isn't just a race - it's an experience. It's the cleaning the house inside out for my parents to stay here and spending weeks making sure everything is in order for our children while we're gone. It's the picking and choosing of the hotels, airlines and rental car. The excitement of driving around Boston, then getting the hell out of the crowds when it's over and staying in the fancy villa in providence, rhode island. It's the walking barefoot on the beaches of the mightly Atlantic Ocean at Cape Code, with 40 mph winds in my face, and the funny little old couple who own the B&B we're staying at. It's eating at the hilarious restaurant in Boston Anne told me about that doesn't really fit tourists well. The many late nights I've spend looking up the geocaches that I'm going to log, and which travel bug I'm taking for a trip across the country. It's the checking out the coast along the New Hampshire seashore, and really being able to say I went through 4 states in 5 days. Coming from the west coast, you don't do that very often. (Our states are bigger. :)

So this big race - with the crappy weather and the unknown fitness level put to the test of a marathon? Fuel belt or pockets? One shirt or two? Shorts or tights? Gloves or not? Gatorade or water? Cliff shots or gu? Breakfast or not? I have no idea, really. I've gone through so many race scenarious in my mind. I know I want to start out conservatively the first several miles. (But if I'm freezing cold, I might just whip through the whole course really fast to keep warm.) After those first downhill miles, if I feel good, I'll take it up half a notch - maybe just a quarter notch - at it's my secret what a notch really is. At the halfway point, I'll gauge how I'm doing and make a pace judgement again. And if I'm still running by mile 19, I'm gonna go like hell. My PR is 3:25:17 - Vancouver, BC, 1994. My second fastest was Portland, OR last October with a 3:34:05. My slowest was Seattle, WA 1996 - 4 and a quarter hours, I believe. This marathon is # 9 for me. Boy, it'd be great to run really fast, and I know exactly the race I'd need to run and the splits I'd need to have. But come Monday, I truly think I'd be happy somewhere between 3:45 and 4:00. I think I need to slow down and enjoy this one - and really focus on actually surviving it until the finish line. There are so many factors going into this one, that sometimes you need to leave them all behind on the starting line, and when the gun goes of - just run.

Have an excellent weekend.
-# 12892 (wave 2)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pace Adjustments

Running too fast is how I injured myself, so it would seem logical to slow down. For a few weeks I barely ran at all, then I only allowed myself to run on the track or the treadmill. The treadmill was safe - I could set the pace and not cheat. The track . . . well, that just got me excited. Running on a brand new track in the springtime . . . the smell of it warming up after a light rain . . . coming around the last corner and down the straightaway. I just couldn't hold it in. And then sometimes other people show up at the track - and I just can't help myself and pretend it's a race. I don't think they ever know the difference - I just look like the average runner with headphones, but inside I'm scheming and unintentionally getting in interval workouts. Then I go back to the treadmill so I can slow down, and I find myself looking in the mirror for other people on treadmills to race. I know, I'm sick. I've just gotten really bored and antsy. I actually allowed myself to incline the treadmill once to feel a hill, and I've allowed myself to go downhill a few times. I figure that's good training for the first 5 miles of Boston. I often wonder if other people at the gym think I'm cheating my run and making it easy by going downhill. Maybe they don't notice.

I attempted to create some ways to slow down my pace last week. I had two very exciting training days. First, I now have an adjustment on my cell phone plan that will allow me to email my photos. So I took my phone to the track to practice taking pictures with it while I was running. I mean, why have it be a new thing out on the marathon course, and have it be impactive? I had to practice, right? But it didn't slow me down. Instinctively, I knew I had slowed down to take a picture, so I'd speed up again. My laps were on pace like clockwork - one 400 after another. And I'm proud to say that I'm up to 7 miles at a time. :) I haven't actually looked at my photos, but I know how many I can take so I can pace my camera-taking during the marathon.

But I found another way to slow myself down. I know it was naughty. My IT bands would probably be much safer on flat surfaces. But what would you do on a day like this?

Initially I was just sneakin' out to run in the sunshine - the mountains and the water were calling to me. I figured the concrete bike path is pancake flat and the dirt path is nice and soft, so I'd be just fine. Then I discovered it was low tide and I couldn't resist the beach - that soft sand and the waves breaking and the seagull cries . . .

So it was a little slanted, but if I came back the same way I got the slant on both sides, right? And I had my camera to slow me down - that's supposed to be a good thing - not going too fast. And then my terrain changed a little bit - that's where the naughty part comes in. Sometimes a week before an important race you shouldn't take risks, but sometimes you just have to live a little.

I was able to slow down that too fast pace by a whole two minutes! And I had a most excellent and uplifting run. Then I went back to the track and I'm still stuck on that quicker pace. But the way I figure, with lifting three days a week, yoga, massive stretching, water running and swimming - I've only gotten stronger and I haven't lost any conditioning - endurance, maybe - but my strength feels really great when I'm out running. So that's my excuse for not slowing down.

And??? I have NO PAIN when I'm running! I know it might come back at any moment but it's still exciting. I'm sorta looking forward to 'post-race' training because I do feel really strong and I can't wait to restructure my training and set some goals for what I want to do next. My swim coach has been a huge help and I'm feeling really comfortable with my stroke - thinking about all of those summer triathlons looming out there . . . but I gotta wait. It's like I have BB time and AB time. Before Boston and After Boston. I gotta reign myself in and do one thing at a time.

Happy Easter!

My fascinating fact about these Easter Eggs:
We died them with three things: purple cabbage, beets, and turmeric. (and vinegar and water)
Turmeric dye is yellow, beet dye is deep pink, and purple cabbage dye looks plum purple but the eggs come out blue. You mix colors like you learned when you were in preschool and you get new colors. The really odd thing, though - when you mix the cabbage dye (purple) and the turmeric dye (yellow) you get this glass of orange liquid. When you put an egg in it, it comes out green. This was truly the highlight of my Easter.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Honest Thoughts

Two weeks and counting 'til the Boston Marathon.
I've run far too many laps around the track lately - forever running in circles provokes all sorts of contemplation:

~ why does it take runners 45 minutes to go a half mile from the athlete's village to the starting line?
~ is it improper etiquette to wear a jacket you buy at a race expo if you don't finish the race?
~ i've never not finished a marathon . . . what if?
~ should i go out of my way to buy a smaller foam roller that will fit in my carry on, or should i just get out the bread knife and saw the one i have in half?
~ which old raggety running shirt should i pack to throw off somewhere in Hopkinton?
~ is 4 states enough to drive through in 5 days, or should we try 5 for 5?
~ will there be a sunrise that morning at the Cape, or will it be cloudy?
~ at which mile mark will my ITB start feeling like a rubber band pulled too tight?
~ what will Heartbreak Hill feel like after 49 days of not running any hills?
~ how much memory do i need in my camera for mid-race photo opportunities?
~ will vitamin 'I' get crumbly in my pocket if i don't put it in a ziplock?
~ for my pre-race meal, should i have roasted garlic or spicy chicken wings?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

All in a Day's Work

Okay, so the PT said I could have the gingerbread boy use a rolling pin to massage my ITB, but I think I'll stick to my foam roller from now on.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Does competition really breed success?

As a runner for most of my life, this has long been one of my favorite quotes:

"Beating the competition is relatively easy, but beating yourself is a never-ending commitment."

I could never really remember where it came from, or who to give credit to, until I just found this on a runner's blog. I think my brother had that poster on his wall when I was a kid. I remember cutting out the words from somewhere - maybe the poster or a magazine ad, and taking them with me to college to post on a bulletin board. I still have them in a file somewhere. I still don't know who to give credit to for writing it - someone at Nike has had a huge impact on my life. Those words meant something when my brother would quote them in a letter or recite them while we were out on a run - wise advice from an inspirational sibling. Those words taught me to look within from beginning to end, no matter what the rest of the field was doing. It's you that you go home with at the end of the day, and you that you need to feel happy with. It's your own reality that you live with.

I've struggled recently with my title statement - the idea of competition breeding success. It feels like that's what the world says, until I sit back and remember that success lies within. I'd have to better define success as truly defining who you are and being able to live to that potential to the best of your ability.

My recent quandary? Registering the oldest child for middle school. Fortunately in life, you have the power of decision, and the power to choose. In the Emerald City, the choices are baffling. We live in an area where the public school system is called a 'choice' district - really meaning - you choose. Often, in other places, your schooling is decided by residence or by income. Surely, those things factor in here is well. It could range anywhere from home-schooling to the private, elite schools. The public school system here allows you to choose from any school in the district - residence area is a priority, not a requirement. Within this public system, free to the common tax-paying citizen - are a myriad of selections: the neighborhood school, the advanced academic placement school, the alternative school, the athletic school, the rich school, the poor school, the multilingual school, the expeditionary model, the outdoor education school, the school for the social elite . . .

Which one is best for our child?
If competition were to breed success, it would follow that our child should be placed in a school with the utmost academic standards. Perhaps the choice should be a school with the wealthy in attendance to be able to better fund extra opportunites, furnishings, buildings, learning materials.

But then the reminder - competition does breed success - but that competition lies within - being true to who you are and what you can become with that self. And true success can only be measured in the eyes of the beholder. So - a school with a place that will allow a child to compete with oneself would then become the goal. It would have to be a place that mimics that core value, and brings out the best of the whole person in that child - academically, emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. As parents, making that decision for an 11-year-old child, is perhaps the most difficult decision we've had to make.

The rest of the story becomes long and political - with school visits, tours, application dates and times, waiting lists, priorities. We'll know results in early April, but they might not be finalized until August. But we did find that school. It just felt right more than anything, and it blew us away. The process really forced me to look at our children and who they really are, and how to bring out their personalities and motivate them. I'll post more on the school in detail when we find out if she got in or got put on the waiting list.

On running notes - the quote has put things in perspective for me today. Running is all about how I interpret it for myself on a given day. Running Boston with an injury will be interesting. It's still day to day right now with how my legs feel, but I still intend to make the most of the experience. And I believe I am in Wave #2, -not officially, but by looking at my bib number on the website. Considering my slower race with an injury, that's a good thing at this point, and it'll force me to relax and enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

treading water

Somehow I'm WAY behind in blogging, and can't fit in the time to write lately. I think about it all the time - think about all the things I'd like to blog about - zillions of topics stored up in my brain that come out when I'm exercising - lost in thought.

A couple of quick responses to things without having to find the right places to send them (multitasking):

D - thanks for checking . . . I think I get self-absorbed sometimes and forget to realize there are other people out there who take the time . .
Katy - jumprope club is like an after-school sport (remember, my kids go to an alternative school). At first we thought it was sorta hokey, then saw how amazing it is for conditioning, how much our child loves it, and what it does for her confidence.
- the postcards were aweswome and hilarious! - I'm not sure which one of us liked them the most
Anne - as far as the commute between the Cape and Hopkinton - we're actually staying in town before the race, and the Cape is after. Thanks tons for the eating out tips - Durgin Park sounds like a hoot!
Robin - you're oatmeal/egg concoction is fabulous!

And to everyone who reads and/or comments on my posts: You're all truly an inspiration. I get busy with my kids and feel guilty taking the time on the computer. Then I read posts and comments from all of you guys and remember what an amazing support system running and blogging is. It blows my mind how we can all connect through simple technology.

My journey to Boston and recovering from ITBS has taken me on an interesting journey. I've run exactly eight times in the last three weeks - either on the treadmill or the track. My longest run was 6 miles. I've been lifting weights - planning to train through this marathon instead of backing off too much. I've done yoga, I've been swimming, and I tried bike riding - that was a mistake - it set me back another week when I was feeling really well. Massive amounts of stretching and my foam roller have been the critical factors for me. I get really tired of it all, and I feel like I just wanna head out the door and fly - go for miles and miles on an early morning with no one around. It's not gonna happen yet. My husband is busy with training plans and schedules and I get jealous - it wouldn't be wise for me to get over-zealous and plan until I heal.

But what has really come out of all of this, is this pool thing. I like water. I can swim around and play. We do the beach a lot in the summer, and take the kids to the pool. But swim laps? It's not my greatest feature. The whole face underwater thing makes me nervous. And having to cope with another body in the same lane in the pool is a daunting task. Any time I've had to do pool time was because of an injury and the need for cross-training. I usually water-run, use a kick board, or create my own version of a side stroke. But really those things don't equate to the running I'm missing when I'm supposed to be training for what I consider to be a big marathon. So I needed to swim. Scary. My husband learned how. Last summer he overcame childhood near-drowning issues, faced the water head-on, and did his first tri. Now he's training for a half-ironman. With that inspiration, I figured I needed to overcome my fear. I really had no excuse.

I made myself talk to a swim coach about a class. Didn't register. Just talked to him. He said I really ought to be able to swim laps in order to take the class. I surfed the internet for stroke techniques (creative, don't you think?), then went to the pool. I swam for 45 minutes. Somehow, between the frustration of being able to run marathons and not swim, or being forced to take a beginner class if I couldn't do laps, something just clicked. At first I had to keep stopping to fiddle with my goggles, or breathe for a second because I was going too fast and thought that if I slowed down I would sink. I wrote down 800 meters in my training log. I wasn't until several days later that I figured out I swam 1600 meters. Perhaps it's a math class I should be enrolling in, but today I signed up for the swim class. I still can't allow myself to plan training until after Boston, but maybe there'll be a tri this summer mixed in with that running I'm looking forward to.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Red Wine and Chocolate

Oh, where HAVE I been, and what am I here to say?
(the red wine is gone - I just poured the last glass, and I could care less about the chocolate)

The world is a much bigger place than just me.

It's 5 and 1/2 weeks 'til Boston - the marathon of my dreams - and I'm having ITB issues. It's my own damn fault. It felt so good running so fast and far - until I ran my 17 miler and could barely walk by the end - literally. I should've known better. It's just like when you go out fast in a race, and you do it every damn time, and you know better. I got excited. And I guess I can still be excited at the thought that I conditioned myself to the point of maintaining a fast pace over a good distance. I'm capable of it. I proved it. Perhaps I needed to bottle it up and save it. I've run twice in the last two weeks - 3 miles each time. I'm done wallowing in my self-pity of injury and am in maintenance mode (icing, stretching, strength training up the ying-yang, swimming, arnica, glucosamine . . ) until Boston - then I'll reconvene with my brain and assess the situation.

I haven't wanted to blog. I haven't really wanted to talk about it or write about it at all. But then when I was at the gym there was this guy. Sometimes in life you need people to shake you out of your misery. This guy is always at the gym. He's probably around 75-80 years old. He always has on navy blue sweat pants and a white ribbed tank top. Sometimes he's on the bikes, sometimes lifting weights or on the rowing machine. He smiles and he talks to a few people, but he's fairly quiet. He's there to exercise. I doubt he's training for an ultra. I don't think he's into how sculpted his muscles are. I know he's not there for the social life. I'm pretty sure he's not breaking any records. But he's always there. He's there to take care of himself - to do what makes him happy.

I could write all night about how this little old man and my self-pity are connected, but I think it's as simple as my previous statement. The world is a bigger place than just me. In the long run, what's the big deal if I'm injured? I'm taking care of it, doing what I can. I can continue to do what makes me happy and healthy and move on. There is so much to be said of focusing outward instead of just focusing inward. And perhaps blogging about it doesn't just do something for me, maybe it will have an affect on somebody, somewhere else. The world is a bigger place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Fine Line

What to do, what to do . .

I remember when I was in junior college, our track team wore neon yellow t-shirts with a bright pink Nike slogan: Eat right, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, . . and go like hell!

We were conference champions that year, and I competed in 4 different events.
You just showed up for practice and did what the coach said.
I wish it were still so easy.

Now I design my own training plans, workouts, races, and nutrition. There are so many variables to factor in to know if I should be doing something different. I read a lot of training plans and updates on theories. Way back when, I received a college degree in Exercise Science, so I know a little about how my body adapts to training. I follow the 'no more than 10 percent' increase in training rule. I run the right amount of long runs before a marathon. I know I'm supposed to strength train in the off-season and stretch all the time.

My latest dilemma is pace. I typically run comfortably at around 8:30 pace - an average. It goes up and down. I know my long runs are slower and my speed and pace workouts are faster. What happens, though, when you have a week and you all of a sudden feel comfortable running faster? I know when I start out a marathon and it feels good to run faster and go with the crowd, that I'll end up paying for it later. So, in training, is it a mistake to be running faster if it feels good? How do you know if your conditioning level has simply improved, and that's why you're running faster. What if it feels really slow to run at the pace you were scheduled to run at? I'm talking - that comfortable 8:30 pace went down to under 8:00 this week - all week - culminating in my 10 miler at 7:52 pace. I head out, telling myself, "okay, slow . . . . " thinking that an easy 9:00 minute pace would be good for me, and slow and comfortable ends up at 8:00 minute pace, and then I pick it up.

That's all great and wonderful - I should be thrilled running so fast - in the back of my head I imagine how fast my next race could be. But my smart side says it's too fast too soon. So I took yesterday off. It's gonna screw up my mileage for the week, but I had to listen to my gut. And my legs don't feel so fresh. I know right there that it's obvious I should slow down - if I don't feel fresh - but then again, there are parts of any training plan when you are building or doing speedwork, and you don't always feel fresh. And going slower felt - well - slow. I even tried to do it on the track and pace it out really slow, and I went too fast. If I look at it logistically, it'd be like saying I did tempo runs all week. Bad news for injuries. But my question still remains - how do you know when your fitness level improves and you can train faster and not worry about the ramifications?