Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ravenswood Run 5K 2012 - Before

In less than two hours I'll be running the Ravenswood Run, my first attempt this year at a sub-30 5K. I don't have a good idea of how fast I can run it really, so I'll just try to go as fast as I can. Warm up beforehand, head out at a good clip but not superfast, and then see how I can speed up. Chasing people down is my favorite way to do that.

I've had my oatmeal and my coffee, it's a beautiful crisp and sunny day, the race is walking distance from my home, and I've had the two best nights' sleep I've had in a few months. Crossing fingers!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Keeping It Short So I Can Keep Going

For the last two weeks I've been sticking to shorter distances and taking them slower as well (and after taking a week's break, thanks to the baby and his nighttime demands). I'm liking the laid-back routine --- I feel I'm beginning to get back some enjoyment to my runs and with that more excitement about what I might do this season. Day by day I find my runs getting smoother and the recovery faster. I forget that in addition to needing to build my heart and lungs and muscles back up, which is relatively easy, I also need to get all that connective stuff back on track, the tendons and ligaments and fascia, and that takes longer.

I just entered my workouts into dailymile.com (you can see them on the right) and can now look over the whole year at once --- when I did that I could see that I had jumped back into multiple runs way too quickly, increasing distance AND speed AND frequency all at once. I was so happy to be able to get out on my own again (once I went back to work and Champ was at daycare) that I just plunged back in without giving my body time to accomodate to the new stresses. I think I also felt that these shouldn't be new stresses since I've been running for years... but of course not at these distances/speeds/frequencies since getting pregnant.

The other thing I'm excited about is returning to SWIMMING! I didn't swim much while pregnant, first because of the smell and then because the awkwardness of getting in and out of a swimsuit, and then I didn't have any good opportunity in the months at home with Champ. But the other day it suddenly occured to me that swimming would be the perfect antidote to all the baby-carrying and nursing I do. (Plus the hunching-over to minimize the current ridiculousness of my breasts, which I know is stupid but I can't help it.) I've been trying to do yoga at home to help with my back, but honestly the minute I step into the house it's all about chores (and baby-carrying and nursing...). But with the boys starting at the same daycare soon I'll have time to go to the pool again and I am positively giddy at the idea of slipping into cool water and str-e-etching out with each stroke. Lovely. Now I just have to go through my swimsuits and see which one actually fits.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Running Smart, Running Short

I've spared you all the back-and-forth I've gone through over the past weeks about what my running goals for the year should be. The short version is that, surprise, surprise, I want to bite off more than I can chew, and I've been flirting with injury as a result. (I get a couple of really good workouts in and suddenly I think I am impervious to the effects of waking up three times a night to nurse. Doh!)

But I find I can't not have some goal to work towards. If I don't have some goal, then I make up new ones with every single run, or missed run, or someone else's run. This is not very helpful to me.

Soooo... with all that in mind, I've joined an online running group of people shooting for a sub-30 5K. (As in below 30 minutes, for my non-running friends.) I don't tend to run 5Ks, so I don't carry a lot of baggage around this distance. And it's a short enough distance that the training won't require a lot of mileage. And I think I won't have to do a lot to be able to reach it... just enough to keep me interested and to keep me from making stupid plans I can't follow through on. I'll run the Ravenswood Run 5K in a week as a way of assessing where I'm at, and then find another 5K that I can use to train for my goal. And I've been enjoying the online group already.

And this way my mantra for the year doesn't have to be, "Don't run stupid."  'Cause that is definitely where I was heading.

Painting And Music

"Purely formal characteristics [in painting] exercise the senses as do string quartets, piano concertos, Dixieland. Because of this, the representation I am interested in is of those things only the eye can touch. I think of painting without subject matter as music without words. It affects our innermost being as space, spaces, air."
--- Kenneth Noland

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jealous Again

Of my twenty-something friends who have their lives together in a way I could not have even dreamt of when I was twenty-something... (and who presumably will be more accomplished at 40 than I feel).

Of my boss's 9-year-old daughter who is already quite an accomplished and creative seamstress. Or rather, I'm envious of the opportunities she has to pursue her projects. (I was forced to give away my proudest sewing creations when I was young. And yes, I am still bitter.)

Of women with babies who sleep easily and who are allowed to nurse uninterrupted.

I suppose that's it, really. But they have sat heavy on me in past weeks.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fail Club

A woman from my book group at church has started “Fail Club”. Here’s the description:

The Fail Club is a chance to admit to or devise a goal which may seem impossible, or at which you have already failed. Perhaps you are a hippopotamus and want to learn ballet? This is a place to voice a hope and, regardless of success, receive encouragement. We shall not fear failure, in fact we will befriend it together. 

I, of course, immediately signed up.

I’ve realized I’m not comfortable with actually naming my monstrous fat ambition*, so for now I’ll just say that it has to do with quilts, and art-making, and writing about art and quilts. I imagine I’ll also have a better sense of what exactly I’m trying to do as I keep moving in that direction.

I have, however, come up with a very nice list of reasons why it’s ridiculous to even consider doing so.

  1. Despite my degree in art history, I have not been part of any kind of serious artistic discussion in almost 20 years. But I read about art and visit museums, and just this week had lunch with two different people to talk about art, and have a list of others to reach out to.
  2. I have two children under the age of four and typically have almost no time to myself in a day. Except for my commute, or in the early morning, or when The Dude makes a point of taking them. And this will change as they get older as well.
  3. My artistic production over the last years has been haphazard at best. But I have been consistently working over the last two years, even if slowly, and have been doing enough to feel that I am learning and developing as an artist.
  4. I am an absolute beginner when it comes to working with fabric. True, but the only way to change that is to keep going.
  5. I haven’t found many people working in a way that feels simpatico to what I’m fumbling towards. But I have found a few and will keep looking.
  6. I very much fear how others will see me. The one quilter that I know in person works in a manner hugely different than I do. But that is only one person, and even looking at her work informs mine, if only in opposition to hers.
As I write out all my “good” reasons for thinking my ambition is ridiculous I am instead seeing how ridiculous these reasons are.

Guess I’ve got to keep going then.

*Or, my M.F.A., not to be confused with my “Secret Burning Ambition” (S.B.A.), which is running-related, and which seems farther and farther away as I continue to not get enough sleep.

A postscript. As I’ve been thinking about all this stuff over the last week, I’ve been coming up with more and more regrets about choices I’ve made (or rather, failed to make): in high school, college, graduate school… I think, in order to be able to move forward, I’m going to need to make a bit more peace with where I am, and possibly with who I was then. Maybe.

Continuing The Conversation

"Whatever an artist's personal feelings are, as soon as he fills a certain area of canvas or circumscribes it, he becomes historical. He acts from and upon other artists."
--- Willem de Kooning

"The tradition of art is the grand group dance of beauty and pathos in which the many individual centuries join in the effort and thereby communicate their particular contributions to the whole event... The soloist can emerge only after having participated in the group dance."
--- Arshile Gorky

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back At Work

There are so many things I want to write about that I easily get frozen. Because the truth of my life right now (outside of my paid work) is that if I can't get it done in five minute chunks it's probably not going to get done. And so I haven't been writing.

But I'm taking inspiration from a friend from church (thanks, Aubrey) and will start updating once a week, even briefly, even just half-formed thoughts. Because I'm reminded that even 5 minutes work on the things I love moves me further along on them (and this blog is one of those things).

So here are the notes on the homefront this week...

Champ's sleep schedule, so promising at first and even into the second month, has been disintegrating since he hit two months and then especially when I went back to work. But we have started sleep training this week and it looks like things are beginning to turn around.

I had crazy ambitious running plans based on the first runs after returning to work, but then lack of sleep caught up with me and I've had to scale things way back. Right now I'm committing to NOT making any plans until I get to the end of April and can more realistically assess where I'm at. I'm aided in this by a twingy tendon that needs to be treated gently NOW and not later if I'm going to get to run at all.

My quilting is continuing, albeit oh so slowly. As long as it's continuing. And I've started reading art books on the way in to work again, so my brain feels as if it's coming back alive as well. Oh so slowly.

But this weekend is Easter weekend and Nana is coming to town. The boys will be over the moon which makes me happy (plus I like spending time with my mother-in-law) and I should even get some time to myself here and there. All hail quiet time!