Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buddy's Got A Brand New... Daycare

Buddy will be changing daycare at the end of August (big sigh of relief).

The long-term impact...
  • Possibly better learning opportunities since it's a larger center and located in a child-friendly and resource-rich part of town.
  • We will be able to meet other families in our neighborhood, have playdates, etc.
  • It may be a resource in navigating the local schools when the time comes (a very big deal in Chicago).
  • They have Spanish in the classrooms, fish in the hallway, and a rabbit in the toddler room. 'Nuff said.
The short-term impact...
  • I no longer have to go downtown to bring him to daycare (his current setting is at my workplace). This frees me up tremendously, even though my daily commute will be longer, since my work schedule varies considerably each month and it's been a drag coordinating daycare and work on those weeks I don't work Monday through Friday.
  • I no longer have to make the commute with him. No more fending off busy little hands that want to grab other people's striped pants, newspaper, or iPhone. Not to mention my glasses. And I can read on the train again!
  • It's $400 less a month. 'Nuff said.
Oh happy day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weighty Matters

I've been thinking about this posting for a while, a couple of months in fact, ever since Jen M. wrote about it on her blog.

The problem is, what I want to say keeps changing.

But I'm tired of thinking about what I might write about it - at this point I just want it written.

So in a nutshell...

I have struggled with my weight and eating my whole life.

I finally feel like I have a healthy relationship with food and with exercise.

Part of getting healthy with those things has included a weight gain after my last significant weight loss, which was not done well.

I've had to be okay with being heavier during the time that I got healthier, but I've always known I didn't want to stay that way. I've made inconsistent efforts over the years towards losing some of that weight (plus, you know, there's been some life stuff that's gotten in the way), but I've also been scared to commit to losing more than a portion of the weight I had put back on.

I told myself different stories in which my having lost all that weight was a bad thing - that it made me weaker, that I didn't look good, that it wasn't sustainable.

None of which is true.

The truth is, I liked how I looked back then, and I liked how I felt. For the first time in my life I felt my outsides matched my insides. And I was strong, and with some minor changes to my eating (and much healthier thinking), it would have been sustainable.

Plus, I've progressed enough in my running this year that the extra weight is now limiting me.

So I'm ready.

And, inspired by a quote from Journey to 13.1, "It's a dream until you write it down, and then it's a goal," I am writing down that I am committed to losing 25 pounds.

After that we'll see. Twenty-five pounds doesn't entirely bring me to where I was before, but it's within spitting distance of it if I decide that feels right.

Wish me luck!

Englewood Reserve

I went out to the Englewood Reserve to run - it's been years since I got to go trail running!

Before our trip to Ohio I hoped I could hit the trails, though I couldn't remember if the reserve was paved all the way in or not. It started with a steep paved downhill, and then a long curved drive that climbed back up, all lined with tall trees. I love hills, so even though I wasn't convinced that I would find trails I was already happy with the run. But then I got to the first open area and found trails, hoorah! I immediately took off my iPod and stashed it in my shorts – I just can’t run on trails and listen to music at the same time. It feels disrespectful somehow, never mind the fact that I've got to watch my footing. And these trails have lots of rocks, roots, and quick up-and-downs.

I ran one loop and was surprised at how short it was, so I decided to just pick a path, follow it to the end, and then find another loop to take. After a while I ended up on one path bordering the lake. Very narrow, very overgrown, lots of serrated leaves catching at my calves - I prayed that my good luck with poison ivy would continue to hold. I saw a snake, thin and writhing, right before I was on top of it – there was no room to move around so I just went over instead.

The trail got narrower and narrower (and the leaves sharper and sharper) so when there was a chance to leave I took it and ended up back on the main road. Followed a couple of different loops in that area then rejoined the trail by the river, came back to the first loop I had run and just ran that a few more times until I felt I should probably head home. Decided to run up that initial steep hill I’d run down - made it!

Heavenly. To be in all that green, to have every step different, to not worry about how fast I was going but just have my pace shift with the trail. Just my breath, my feet, and the ground I was passing over.

I don't know if I'll get back any more on this trip so I am writing this down to carry it close to me when I'm back in the land of concrete and steel.

Whoa, mama.

Here's an interview with Anita Ortiz, female winner of the Western States 100. Inspiring, yes, especially when she talks about her strategy for the race. But also sobering. Aside from the fact that I need more than 4 hours of sleep a night (oh, how I wish I didn't!), I'm glad my life isn't all about running.

Today I'm taking more inspiration from Michelle at "Back of the Pack," who sounds like she's literally more my speed, and yet manages to run marathons and ultramarathons anyway.

Here's to running long in miles, and years, and with kids, and resting well to boot!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Junk Miles

I had a very unsatisfying run this afternoon, made worse by knowing I had all these great runs over the weekend. I felt like I made dumb choices, the two main ones being that I ran on pavement in shoes that are best on the track, and I started off too fast when it really does take me a full mile to get warmed up. Plus I was kind of experimenting with my form, which might have been better to do in a more controlled setting. Like the track, say.

I thought I would try running on the sidewalks lining Lake Shore Drive (heading north from where I work up to Lincoln Park) since I enjoy walking on them and I don't like running on the lakefront that far south - but enjoying those walks did not translate to enjoying the run. Or maybe it would have if I hadn't made those aforementioned mistakes. I don't know. There was exhaust from the cars on LSD, there was sticky warm air coming off of the lake, there was construction and tourists and lots of traffic stops. Plus I don't know my way around Lincoln Park at all and was running out of time, so once I got there I pretty much just ran in a little circle so I wouldn't get lost and then turned back around into the traffic, tourists, and construction.

So much for changing things up on a workday run. On the way over I passed the track and thought, "Oh, maybe I should just run on the track, it'll be nice and breezy, it'll feel comfortable, I didn't get to at all last week, I miss it," and then I just kept going, wanting to try something new. But it takes me too long to get anywhere good from downtown, so that doesn't work for my short runs - by the time I get someplace I like I have to turn around again. So forget it. No more exploratory runs from work. I like the track and I'll just stick with it.

It probably didn't help that I had an unsatisfying day at work prior to this, no? Or that I've been feeling F-A-T? So much for all that lightness and joy I was raving on about.

In the end I was too disgusted with myself to even shower - I just wanted to come back to the office and get through the rest of the workday.

The Dude calls days like these "junk miles" and says they're useful. I don't run so many days a week that I want to have any of them be junk. But I suppose maybe I learned some things that will be useful to me later.

Like don't run downtown!

Monday, July 20, 2009

What a Week --- Part 2

Lately I've been reading the book "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall, and there's lots and lots in it I could talk about, but what stayed with me this week on these tough runs is when he talks about the joy of running, how children and certain athletes and the Tarahumara Indians that he's writing about all have this profound joy in their running, a lightness in spirit, and how that ends up being a lightness in their physical running as well. And how his own running is transformed in trying to emulate that lightness.

This speaks to me because I feel that I frequently have that joy in my running - so often when I pass people on the street I see grim, intense faces (and I'm sure the same is true for me too sometimes) but so often I know I'm smiling instead.

And sometimes when the running is hard I can call on that lightness, think about being light on my feet, imagine myself breathing in light, see all my muscles and tendons and ligaments and bones being held together loosely, connecting lightly, instead of being tense or locked together --- and it helps.

I called on this for the first run with Buster in particular, both at the beginning when I wasn't yet warmed up and when it seemed impossible to do this kind of run with a stroller (remind me again why I chose to run 6 miles with a baby in tow*) - and then again at the end after I ended up running an extra mile and a half... a little bit too fast... in the sun... and was hurting, oh, just a little bit.

And that lightness carried me through.

*Why am I doing this? Because I love it, and I want to run much more, much farther, and I want to love it all the way. And if some days that means taking the baby along, well, endurance is endurance, yes? Seems like good practice for the kinds of crazy-ass races I want to run someday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What a Week --- Part 1

It was not at all the week I was expecting, and my feelings about it have been all over the place.

Tuesday was my day off, and I had just finished some cleaning up around the house and was settling down with lunch and a book before getting ready for a nice, long, rambling run down to the lakefront and back: no watch, no goals, just go enjoy the sun, the lake, and the run. Then I heard a key in the lock. What's this? The property manager didn't say anything about a visit. Oh, it's The Dude, with Buddy, wanting to know why I haven't checked my voice mail at all this morning since Buddy IS SICK and has been sent home from daycare.

So no run that day but instead a trip to the pediatrician and figuring out which one of us will take which day off from work to stay home with him. The Dude took Wednesday, I prepared to take off Thursday if need be.

Wednesday I was still a wee bit cranky about having lost my afternoon to myself and my planned run. Looking at notes I wrote that morning I see I was planning to post about the advantages/disadvantages of only doing three runs a week, since I had missed one at that point with the likelihood not only of not making it up, but possibly missing another one as well. You know, super-concerned mom stuff.

Well, he was feeling better by then!

At four-thirty The Dude and I conferred by phone and decided Buddy should stay home another day after all - he was in good spirits but had had a bit of a fever again that afternoon. I stayed an hour later at work to get things cleared up... that went far more smoothly than expected... and by the time I left I was even looking forward to a day home with Buddy. Perhaps I could even go running with him!

Thursday Buddy was in fine form with just a sore throat. The sun was shining, the air was dry. We went to the park and I scored big time at the library, stocking up on light summer reading to fortify myself for the weekend evenings when I would be a Pitchfork widow (a three-day indie music festival here in Chicago).

And our run? Wonderful. Kind of grueling since it is harder with the stroller and I didn't quite get the hang of doing a long run with it until my second try over the weekend. Plus my wrist is not back to normal (I doubt it will heal until Buddy can both walk on his own and follow directions so that I neither have to carry nor wrestle him), and I didn't pace myself well, and I went farther out than I'd planned. BUT...

I got to see things I don't normally (in that park I usually run on the grass and am always watching my feet to make sure I don't trip): wildflowers, water fountains, and a bird and butterfly sanctuary.

I got to hear things I don't normally since I usually run with music: the wind in the leaves of the trees by the river, kids playing, Buddy ba-ba-ba-ing once he woke up.

I discovered a nice loop within that park that I can use to extend my runs when I want (and made use of this three days later when I went running with Buddy again).

I came home just in time for The Dude to take over Buddy-care and me get my ice bath and hot shower before The Dude had to head off again to rehearsal.

Plus there was the joy of getting to be Buddy's personal salt lick. He kisses me with a wide open mouth, and after my run he gave me a kiss - then drew back, made a funny face and smacked his lips a bit - then leaned right back in again for another kiss, another taste, and so on.

And having gotten to spend that day with him I started looking forward more to the weekend. Sure enough, more fun excursions and another couple of runs including a long one that was much less grueling since I'd learned the lessons of the first one. And lots of playing on the floor. I'd been a bit worried about what it would be like to take care of him now that he's mobile - no more plopping him down somewhere and knowing he'll stay put - but it's way more fun now that he can get himself around. Way more scary (I'm not telling you what he did on Monday that had my heart stop for a moment), and a bit more tiring, but more than made up for in the increased joy of being with him. So a good week after all!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Huh!

So last night I realized that my new favorite late-night snack, Honey Maid graham crackers, spread thinly with Smucker's Natural peanut butter (and accompanied by a small glass of milk), tastes exactly like Nutter Butter cookies.

I don't know whether to be happy about this or scared.

Friday, July 10, 2009

9:53

That is how fast I ran a mile during my speedwork session today.

The second mile (after warming up for a mile and running my first fast one at 10:20).

And while some of you speed-bunnies out there may be scoffing, saying that you couldn't run that slow if you tied lead weights to your feet, I have never before run a mile that fast. So I am pretty well pleased.

Could 9:30 be that far behind?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wave Bye-Bye, Buddy

Heading home today after a wonderful week in Ohio with Nana and Emma, and visits to Grandpa and Grandma. None of us want to leave.

What I will miss most (aside from Nana, Grandpa and Grandma) -
  • being able to walk around with bare feet;
  • watching the birds in the morning;
  • sitting outside on the back patio reading with an eye on Buddy;
  • sitting outside in the grass with Buddy listening to the wind in the trees;
  • getting out for trail runs and hill repeats;
  • going on hikes with the family;
  • watching the Food Network (we don't have cable).
What Buddy will miss -
  • Emma (Nana's dog);
  • Bugsy and Shade (Grandpa and Grandma's dog and cat);
  • grass under his feet;
  • watching the birds at the feeder with Nana in the morning;
  • concrete to practice crawling on (great traction for little toes);
  • and probably a lot more than I'm not cognizant of, to the extent that he's capable of missing anything yet.
I'm already starting to tear up so I will just say "Bye-bye! We love you!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Beautiful Day

We went to visit the Aullwood Audubon Center yesterday, and what a treat that was!

The Dude took off his shoes and pushed Buster in his new lightweight stroller through the grass and over dirt paths and gravel, with Buster kicking his legs in delight every time the road got bumpy.

We went into the woods for a nice easy hike and it was just beautiful - the sun coming through the trees, the brook trickling by, a field of ferns in the shade.

At the rose garden we startled a young deer and watched it bound across the grass into the prairie, white tail flashing.

Then up into the prairie, where we watched barn swallows swooping through the air, and the many bees buzzing over the wildflowers.

Places like this make me think of the summers spent visiting my grandmother in southwestern Germany and how I would walk up into the fields behind her house, with the sun, and the buzzing of insects, and the breeze rustling in the tall grasses.

I often wish that I lived closer to the outdoors when I visit places like this. Today I will be grateful that I do have such rich opportunities to be outside, and to share those times with people I love.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Aahhh...

We're here in southwestern Ohio for the week, visiting the fam. It's been Buddy's first opportunity to go on a hike, play in the grass, and be up close and personal with his Nana's beloved dog, Emma, and he's been loving all of it. And sleeping like a champ, which makes The Dude and me very happy as well. All that fresh air!

We've been fitting in our runs while here, and I'm looking forward to getting to do a couple of trail and hill runs as well. I don't get to run those much in Chicago.

Fresh air and good sleep for everyone!