Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just Do It

I've got the jitters. I'm a little nervous about my first 10-miler coming up this weekend. I've trained and I think I'm more than ready to run the distance, but there's so much more that I hadn't thought about. There's so much more to running a race that I guess I didn't know about or didn't know I should care about. When you identify yourself as a novice runner, anyone who has ever run a race before becomes an expert and everyone has some piece of advice. Over the past month, I've received countless pieces of unsolicited advice on "philosophies" and "strategies" of running. I have had not just one, but many people tell me about how to start, how to finish, and what to do with my splits. All things that until now I hadn't given much thought to. I think the advice is bothering me more than the thought of running down Broad Street on Sunday.

I've quietly listened to the advice, I've digested the advice, and I've really given some thought to it. And the thought is making me nervous. So on Sunday, I'm going to abandon all of the advice. For me, the novice runner, I'm going to stick with my usual philosophy for running and start by putting one foot in front of the other. I'm going to stick my headphones in my ears and hope The Killers, Moe., and AC/DC will keep me going from there. My strategy will be as always: if it feels good, I'll run faster; if it hurts, I'll slow down. My splits won't change that, but as usual, I won't be wearing a watch and I won't be looking at the clocks and calculating splits in my head - I think I'll have enough going on. I'll let my chip tell me my time at the finish and I'll be comparing that time against myself and training runs, not against the other 29,000 people running on Sunday. Being a novice runner, this will be a PR. So although I am thankful for so many people wanting to share their pearls of running wisdom with me, I'm going to just do this. But, I will take any last minute advice on where to pee before the start, that's the kind of advice I could use.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A for Apathy

My 3 year old has only two speeds: annoyingly slow and out-of-control fast. I'm actually not sure the kid knows how to just walk; he's either doing a geriatric shuffle or he's running wild. Today I had the pleasure of having my 3 year old accompany me to a last minute doctor's appointment. When we were leaving the exam room, my 3 year old came wildly running through the waiting room, caught his foot on a chair leg, went airborne, flipped, and rolled at least three times across the floor. When his momentum was finally stopped by an end table filled with magazines, he was stunned for a second and didn't move. I witnessed the whole event and started to walk calmly towards him through the crowd of waiting room gasps. When I looked up, all eyes were on him. Everyone was focused on my 3 year old on the floor and clearly very shocked - everyone except me.

Yes, I was on my way to help him up and make sure he was okay. But really, this was not a shocking event. He wasn't even crying. Within a few seconds he was making his way back up on his feet and was half-way standing before I even crossed the room to him. I brushed him off and said, "You okay? Let's go." An older woman sitting in the middle of his trajectory was not okay with my apparent apathy. She asked me three times, to the same answer of "Yes", if he was okay and wanted to get him an ice bag. But this accident was nothing new to me. I'm a mother of boys; my kids spend more time tripping and falling than they do walking.

As far as Type A personalities go, I've always been an A+, but my kids have mellowed me in certain respects. I have seen enough near disasters to now have a certain sense of apathy when I see them go down. Its not that I lack concern for them or their safety, but I am now pretty indifferent to the acts of them hurting themselves. I learned to suppress my horror when my first born was learning to crawl and started a collection of bruises across his forehead from bumping into furniture and doorjambs. That was just the start and the start of my detachment. I've seen them get kicked in the head by swings, trip into cement steps with their face, fall off bikes and scooters, fall down a full flight of stairs head-over-heels, and hop into the granite counter with their head. Sure, we've had a couple of trips to the ER, but for the most part my kids usually just pop back up and keep going. My 3 year old goes down so often, that we've become accustomed to shouting out "Man down". And 9 times out of 10 there are no tears. He trips, he gets up, and he keeps going. There's no time for or point in me getting upset; within seconds he's forgotten he ever was on the ground.

I've had other moms tell me that I'm "so calm". Maybe. Calm, apathetic, whatever you want to call it, I guess I am. The thing is, I can't stop them from being the way they are. They play hard and they fall often. I say "careful" a million times, I keep them out of dangerous situations, and I keep my hands on them when I should, but some of the worst falls have happened while they were standing right next to me, standing still. Sometimes they just fall out of nowhere; they trip on themselves. Apathy is my defense from going insane with worry about these everyday occurrences. I could make myself very sick thinking of all the ways they could hurt themselves in their lives. For just a brief second imagine two crazy boys in high school or college and you'll see where I'm coming from. So, I disengage and try to keep going. They fall, I pick them up, brush them off, and say "let's go". And we keep going.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Husband Material

I picked my 3 year old up from preschool this afternoon after spending the morning getting my hair colored. When his teacher was putting him in the car he said to me, "Mom, something's different about your hair." His teacher chuckled as she fastened him into his seat and referred to him taking note of my hair as "good husband material". But after she shut the door, she didn't hear him say that he didn't like the color. I did more low-lights than my usual high-lights today and my 3 year old said to me, "Its too dark Mom, I don't like it, I like your hair lighter." That pretty much cancels out any points he would have earned as a husband noticing hair.

My 3 year old is very observant, but brutally honest when it comes to my appearance. If I come out of my room in the morning in any type of exercise clothing, he will flat-out tell me that I don't look good. He has no problem telling me, "I like you better in 'regular clothes'." I often need to promise that I will shower and change into my "regular clothes" before I pick him up from school. And he always notices on the days when I am still in my yoga pants or tennis skirt in the afternoon car-line. But just the same, he will immediately tell me how "pretty" I look when I try to look nice. And he has his favorites that he likes me to wear. He actually cheered, "I love when you wear that shirt", one day when I put on the jeans and pink shirt that he likes. He's 3; imagine how great this could be for someone when he's 30.

On the flip side, my 6 year old just plain lies. He tells me what he thinks I want to hear. Maybe that's good husband material? Except, I don't want to hear that I look pretty when I know I don't; it makes me not trust his opinion. It makes me question the validity of any positive feed-back I get from him on my appearance. When my 3 year old calls me out on not blowing out my hair and says, "Mom, your hair doesn't look good wavy", my 6 year old defends me and says, "Mom always looks pretty". I know that's not true and I think I'd prefer the truth. I have a hard time accepting my 6 year old's compliments when he tells me I look just as pretty in my pajama bottoms and ripped old t-shirt as I do when I actually try. This approach could seriously backfire on him when he's 30.

So, what is good husband material? Regarding my hair, when my husband came home tonight he said within a minute of seeing me, "Did you do something to your hair today? Its darker". He took note, but note that he didn't offer up a compliment or criticism. That's my husband's material. I didn't ask what he thought and he didn't comment any further. I can count on an honest answer if I want one, a glowing compliment if I really deserve one, but I can also escape unsolicited comments that I might not care to hear. My hair might be a little too dark, my husband knows that, but he also knows that I already know that too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Running in Heels

I've become a runner. I don't know exactly when it happened, but I think I've now logged enough miles to earn the right to call myself a "runner". My husband, who has a few marathons under his belt, realized I had joined his club when I started throwing around terms like "PR" and "bonk". And the last piece of jewelery he gave me was a pink Road ID bracelet; only a runner could appreciate that. But I think it really hit me when I was sitting around with my brother, also a marathoner who is now training for his first ultra, and we started comparing our runner's feet. I'm only wearing black toe nail polish these days to cover up the bruised toes I acquired breaking in new shoes. The fact that I had to replace my running shoes because they had over 500 miles on them is something new for me too. I guess I have been spending a lot of time running.

Running is my rehab. Its my time to think and its something I've come to really need. After my second child was born, I couldn't run. I couldn't get more than a quarter mile before my legs felt like they were being ripped out of my hip sockets. Baby number two was just too big for my little frame. My doctors said I had too much tendon and ligament damage from my pregnancy and it might take years to recover, if I fully recovered at all. I took it as a challenge; I wasn't going to let something like childbirth dictate what I could do, especially since I could run just fine after baby number one. Once I got clearance from my doctor that my legs would in fact NOT fall off if I kept running through the pain, that's exactly what I did. It took me 6 months, but I ran my first real 5K at Big Sur that year and it was pain free. And I've kept running pain free. Running has fixed all of my aches and pains.

Now I'm training for my first 10-miler. Two weeks ago when I was coming up a hill at mile 8 out of 10 and started to feel a little tightness in my lower calf, I naturally ran through the pain. When the pain didn't go away, I rested and iced for a week. But when I attempted a short run a week later, after a full week of no running, I felt the pulling again in the first mile. I was devastated; running has always fixed me. I got some advice from a physical therapist friend who told me that I needed to rest my Achilles. Apparently the best way to do that is to wear heels all the time - no flat shoes, no bare-feet. If heels were appropriate attire for all occasions, I would wear them anyway, so this was not too hard for me.

So, what am I wearing around the house these days? Heels - all the time. I do laundry, make the beds, wash the dog, and cook dinner in heels. My husband came home the other night to find me getting ready to go for a run, wearing a short running skirt, athletic socks, and 3 inch wedge heels. I was a vision. I don't run in heels, but I don't switch over to my running shoes until I am ready to head out the door. The heels seem to be working though. I ran another 8 this morning with only a tiny reminder of the tightness halfway through and it loosened up by the end. I am facing the reality, however, that although I had hoped this 10-miler would be a springboard to longer races, I should just be happy to finish it without injury. I am determined to finish it and will run it in heels if I have to.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Diet Coke and a Smile

I'm back on the "stuff". Diet Coke that is. Its been about a year since my last Diet Coke. I used to drink a Diet Coke every afternoon, probably since college, but last year sometime I lost the taste for it. I gave up Diet Coke both times I was pregnant, and it was as hard as giving up sushi and alcohol; so losing the taste for it just out of nowhere was unexpected, but I was glad that I kicked the habit. But last week I was really tired and I grabbed from the Diet Coke stash we keep for babysitters. It tasted good, too good; and just like that I'm hooked again. Now I feel like it might be physically impossible for me to get through the day without an afternoon Diet Coke break.

What is it about Diet Coke? Why is it so good? I can't stand any other soda, a sip of regular Coke makes me sick, but there is something addictive about Diet Coke. Its like liquid crack. How much of the coca plant is really still in the recipe? I had one Diet Coke last week and every day since then, I look forward to my afternoon Diet Coke. Its the perfect "pick me up" for that tired hour around 3pm. It helps me get through the second half of the day with a smile - the after school, dinner, bath, bed routine with the kids.

Now that I'm back on the sauce, I noticed that the can I was drinking from had a red heart in support of women's heart health programs. It struck me as a little odd. I mean, let's face it, Diet Coke cannot be good for you, cocaine or not. But as I was enjoying my cool refreshing little bubbly delight, it occurred to me that this was an excellent way to raise awareness for heart disease risks in women. I don't know the statistics, but the majority of Diet Coke consumers have to be moms, also known as women. I know one mom who starts every day with at least one Diet Coke, just as others have a cup of coffee, and you dare not speak to her until she's popped the can open and had her first sip. I've heard other moms rate their day as a "one Diet Coke" or "two Diet Coke" day depending on the stress level of the day. Smart thinking Coca-Cola. They know that there are moms everywhere finding their smile again in their can of Diet Coke. They have us hooked, they might as well give us "the heart truth", as the can reads, while they're at it.